Monday, March 31, 2014

Captivated: finding freedom in a media captive culture {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

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Captivated Movie Review
Recently, my husband and I began leading the young adult Bible study at our church, and my husband decided to start off with the book of Colossians. While I believe one of the main themes of this book is the preeminence of Christ, it was the verse in chapter 2 verse 8 that really stuck out. I thought, what a perfect verse for young adults who are either attending college, looking for that perfect mate, or just trying to find their way in this big, wide world. I decided to memorize it myself because it's such a great reminder for people of all ages who are trying to live as Christians in an anti-Christian culture.
The timing couldn't have been more perfect!
Media Talk 101 sent members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew a copy of their Captivated DVD, a documentary which was created to help people find "freedom in a media captive culture." Guess what verse is on the DVD cover? Yep, Colossians 2:8. (If you have your Bible handy, look it up!)
We can't escape screens. They surround us 24/7. Consequently, technology is here to stay. It's not really bad in and of itself, is it? I don't think so, in fact, it can be quite a wonderful thing. I wouldn't be writing this review without it, but boundaries are a must if we want to keep ourselves from drowning in the Sea of Media. The Captivated DVD is the perfect tool to educate yourselves and your children about the dangers of becoming media and technology addicts.
Founded by former youth pastor, Phillip Telfer, Media Talk 101 is a non-profit organization that provides multiple resources from a biblical perspective for equipping adults and young people with the tools needed for media and entertainment discernment.
The Captivated DVD is a production of Media Talk 101 and is the winner of several prominent awards. Phillip Telfer wrote, produced, and co-directed this 107-minute, high quality documentary that is about media's impact on our culture and the increasing need of discernment in not only our choices in media and entertainment but how much time we are devoting to them. While the documentary isn't necessarily anti-media, anti-entertainment, or anti-technology, it opens up our eyes to the fact that people of all ages have become distracted from the things of God and consumed by the things of the world.  

In his documentary, Phillip Telfer sets out to answer several questions regarding modern media (computers, video games social media, TV, music, cell phones, etc.). He uses several methods such as history; interviews with authors, speakers, doctors, and pastors; and personal testimonies to uncover the truth about the dangers of becoming captivated by one of the number one stumbling blocks to our growth as Christians - media and entertainment consumption. These methods are strategically weaved throughout the film, but for the review's sake, I will touch on each of them separately below.
The film starts off with a milestone in communications - the telegraph! Yes, Telfer will take us back in time to the mid 1800's where you will learn a few interesting facts about the telegraph and the role that this new "technology" played in the Titanic tragedy. You will also see how the telegraph paved the way for what we know today as the Internet. Your eyes will be opened to Hollywood's history, how its moral code has dramatically changed over such a short period of time, and about the development of the current rating system for motion pictures. The historical aspect of the documentary is fascinating, and my family really learned a lot!
Did you know that in a typical home there are more TV's than toilets? How about more TV's than kids? More than ever before, children are able to "shut out" parents and adults by way of a constant stream of some form of media. Don't be fooled. This media is not meant to be neutral. Whether we like it or not, there is an agenda, and sadly, our choices in entertainment show that we as a culture lack a true fear of God. We desperately need help from other brothers and sisters in Christ to navigate this "digital landscape."
In the Captivated DVD, many prominent people, a few of which were familiar to me, contribute their professional input on the subject of media and entertainment consumption and offer advice to help us view everything in the world through a biblical lens. They also call parents to action to help their children find freedom from unhealthy media addictions. Below, you will find a list of all contributors in no particular order - I hope I didn't leave anyone out!
  • Tim Winter, President, Parents Television Council
  • Joe Schimmel, Founder, Good Fight Ministries
  • Kevin Swanson, Director, Generations With Vision
  • Major Phil Willis, U.S. Army Chaplain
  • K.P. Yohannan, President, Gospel for Asia
  • Melissa Henson, Parents Television Council
  • Maggie Jackson, Author and Journalist
  • Kirby Anderson, Director, Probe Ministries
  • Ray Comfort, President, Living Waters
  • Dick Rolfe, CEO, The Dove Foundation
  • Bob Waliszewski, Director, Plugged In
  • Phil Chalmers, Author and Speaker
  • Dr. Ted Baehr, Founder, Movieguide
  • Al Menconi, Author and Speaker
  • Dr. David Murray, Professor of Theology
  • Raul Ries, Calvary Chapel, Golden Springs
  • Dr. Dimitri Christakis, Seattle Children's Hospital
  • Dr. David Walsh, Author and Speaker
  • Dr. Jeff Myers, President of Summit Ministries
  • Mark Bauerlein, Professor and Author
Such a broad variety of knowledge was discussed within the topic of media and entertainment consumption that I find it difficult to summarize it all into one paragraph. I think it will be easier to list some of the nuggets of wisdom you will hear in order to whet your appetite a bit. In this documentary, you will learn about:
  • child brain development and the effects of modern media
  • impact of violent media
  • effects of multi-tasking
  • physical impact of media on our bodies
  • impact of video games in the home
  • what percentage of kids have a crippling addiction to video games
  • literal meaning of the word "amuse"
  • how healthy eating, exercising, and limiting technology helped children who were diagnosed with ADHD
  • why things are getting worse in the TV/movie industry
  • where you will find the empty philosophies of this world
  • how media fosters escapism and the false sense of accomplishment
  • benefits of limiting media
  • unbreakable link between what we see and hear and what we do
  • importance of spiritual leadership in the home
Famous quotes are sprinkled strategically throughout the film, too, which adds a nice touch. My favorite one is, "Television is an invention that permits you to be entertained in your living room by people you wouldn't have in your house." David Frost
Personal Testimonies
In the film, real people share how their addictions to media negatively affected their lives before they found freedom.
  • One young woman describes her addiction to Facebook which had become an idol for her.
  • Another describes the impact her addiction to loud music had on her life, and how Jesus freed her.
  • One large family shares the incredible benefits of their media fast.
  • Teens who spend a year at Shepherd's Hill Academy tell about the positive changes in their lives due to no social media and lots of hard work.
  • One lady tells of her crippling addiction to Farmville and how getting sick was her wake up call.
  • One young man testifies to the importance of really having to work at something and getting true joy and satisfaction from it. Before his media fast and becoming a Christian, he listened to horrible music and filled his thoughts with ungodly things.
  • Another tells of his media fast for a month and how he learned to forage. He didn't realize how much TV impacted him until he eliminated it. Now he has more time to forage, play the guitar, spend time with his family, etc.
Some of the testimonies are extreme cases, but I think all of us can relate somewhat to the alluring nature of media and entertainment. I love how inspiring each testimony is and how each person helps viewers realize that life is so much fuller when Christ captivates us!
There are over 2 hours of extras which include extended interviews, a word from the producer, a promo for Gospel for Asia, and a movie trailer. The extended interviews by Dr. David Murray, Mark Bauerlein, Phil Chalmers, Dr. David Walsh, Joe Schimmel, Kevin Swanson, Raul Ries, and Dr. Jeff Myers are just as wonderful as the interviews included in the film. Do not skip these!
My family and I watched the DVD together and then talked about it afterward. I really appreciated my oldest son's candidness regarding entertainment and media consumption and sharing how even when you have parents who are diligent in this area, falling into temptation can still be a problem. Even though none of our family members are true addicts, media is a part of our everyday lives. This DVD truly is a great reminder to keep media in its proper place and to use it for good. It's even inspired us to schedule a media fast for our own family.
Though intended for adults, this documentary has been approved for all ages. Even my 8-year-old was able to sit through the entire thing. I highly, highly recommend that you watch this with your family as I did with mine. It's creative, informative, and very well done. Do a favor for yourself and your family. Find out if you've been captivated, and take the necessary steps to break the chains of media consumption. Restore peace, joy, and freedom in your home before it's too late, and choose to be captivated by Christ! You can watch over 15 video clips of the Captivated DVD to see if it's right for your family. They're the reason I wanted to review this DVD!

You can purchase the Captivated DVD for $16.95 (free shipping), and right now there is also a special offer going on: if you order 2 DVDs, you get the second one for only $5! One to keep and one to give away.
To read what other Crew Members thought about the Captivated DVD, click the banner below.

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Surprise Visit and Other 40th Birthday Stuff

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For my husband's 40th birthday, I had to keep a secret for over 3 months! (I let the kids in on it, too.) Boy was I glad when the morning of March 21st arrived. I expelled the biggest sigh of relief ever when I heard the doorbell ring at 8:15 a.m.. When I opened the door, there stood my husband's dad and stepmom, the 2 people I was so VERY happy to see!

Curious, my hubby, only half-way ready for the day, crept down the stairs and gave me that furrowed-brow-who's-ringing-on-our-doorbell-at-eight-in-the-morning look. (His real birthday wasn't until the 24th, so he really wasn't expecting anything unexpected.) I furrowed my brow right back at him and said, "It's for you." And FINALLY, after he peeked around the front door, I could let out that HUGE smile I'd been holding back for what seemed like forever. :D

And what fun we had! "Pa" and "Cici" got to watch the boys shoot at archery class and see Shiloh's awesome moves during her flag football game. It was fun watching Mark's musically talented dad play the piano with Mullin and give him some fine tips. Such a blessing to attend church with them and have them see Lincoln play his snare box with the band for the first time!

They treated us to many delicious meals out, which my kids thought was AWESOME. And me, too, since I didn't have to cook the whole time. ;) Thank you! Mark did make his amazing, homemade tomato soup, and I made a special "Over the Hill" cake.

Our surprise visitors left Sunday afternoon, the day before hubby's actual birthday, so more celebrating was in store. It was more like a 4-day 40th birthday celebration. :)

Birthday eve, Dad surprised the kids with "No School on Monday" since he took off work. Joys of homeschool, baby! Birthday morning, sweet daughter serenaded her daddy by playing "Happy Birthday" on her keyboard. She learned it just for the occasion. Then, dad made his own cinnamon-roll-waffle-birthday-breakfast. And shared with the family. :)

Later, we went to the $2 movie theater and saw The Desolation of Smaug again. We ate a simple meal at home, and then rented Book Thief.

A fun, relaxing day, just the way dad wanted it. :)

Hope your 40th was all you hoped it would be. We love you!!!

Monday, March 24, 2014

40 Things We Love About You

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to my amazing husband
Here's a little something the kids and I put together to celebrate you on this special day.

Hope you have a wonderful and memorable 40th birthday! We love you.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Lincoln The Ring Bearer

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Sorry, I couldn't resist.

On Valentine's Day, while Lincoln and Shiloh were planting pea seeds, I found the One Ring buried under layers of dry soil. We've had this ring forever; it came in a board game - LOTR Trivial Pursuit, perhaps? Anyway, it's the same ring we used to play Hide-n-Seek-the-One-Ring for Mullin's 5th birthday party. *Sigh* Eons ago.

Sentimental, yes. And how it ended up in a garden box, I will never know. Glad we found it, but now it's a bit corroded. I guess this is how the real One ring should have looked after spending, what, 500 years at the bottom of a lake?

Well, never will our One Ring be lost again thanks to a little sister who loomed a chain. ;)  (What can you NOT make with Rainbow Loom?)

Wear it well, Lincoln, and may the odds be ever in your favor. (Oh wait, different story.)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Dollhouse Makeover

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I was reminded of two things over Spring Break:
  1. How much I really DISLIKE painting
  2. How much I LOVE doing things for my sweet girl

As our Spring Break date grew near, I was thinking how great it would be to do something creative and crafty with my hands and to take a break from all my computer work. Hmmm, let's paint that dollhouse we got from Goodwill like 3 years ago.

The planning and picking out is always so fun. I let my daughter pick the paint color - she chose the lovely New Grass Green.

The painting part is always not so fun. It always takes longer than planned and it's messy. I so don't like the whole paint, let it dry, paint, let it dry, paint, let it dry process. I start to get a wee bit antsy after like the first hour. ;)

Sandpaper wasn't really working on the red, wooden tub, so I had to pull out some old, gloopy primer. I couldn't even get it to mix up all the way. Grrrr. Primer is sticky and smelly and yucky and not to mention an extra step. I decided to skip the primer altogether on the dollhouse and hope for the best. Semi gloss on super smooth white boards - oh, boy.

Using a roller helped tremendously, but I still had to slap on 4 coats of paint! Shiloh helped paint the roof, but I did the rest. It may have taken me all week, but the dollhouse and Lego tub turned out pretty swell. And I love that the mistakes don't show in the pics!!

My girl is happy. Which makes me happy. Which makes it all worth it. :)

However, next time any of you who happen to be my friends or people who truly care about my sanity hear me talking about a paint project, please, please remind me of how much I DO NOT like to paint!! Or better yet, just offer to do it for me. ;)

Friday, March 14, 2014

Mango Languages {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

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I don't know why I find foreign languages so fascinating, but I do. If only I were truly fluent in one!

I started foreign language study with my boys when they were in third grade and with my daughter when she was in second grade. My boys and I have studied Latin, we've all studied Spanish, and this year my oldest is branching out and taking French. I was so excited when I found out Mango Languages was offering the Schoolhouse Review Crew a chance to review their product, Mango Homeschool Edition.


We received full access to over 60 languages for an entire year for up to five people in our home. What's more? Each person can study more than one language at a time! That equals language paradise for me. :)

Many of you may have already heard about Mango Languages since they've been around for about 7 years and are the #1 language learning system in libraries across the nation. It is a conversation based learning program designed to provide a safe, fun, and encouraging community environment where users can communicate with other users and access additional resources that will give the best possible scenario for a successful, interactive language education.

Q. So, what's so great about the Mango Homeschool Edition if you can just use the library?

A. Well, libraries only get about 10% of what's offered in the program. They only get the first level in each language and no community support.

If you or your children are interested in learning how to speak a different language or many different languages, stay tuned to learn all about Mango Homeschool Edition, how we are using it, and what we think so far. This program is intended for ages 6 through adult, so it's great for the whole family!

The toughest part of this program is choosing which language to learn. After you log in to your account, you will be able to access your personal dashboard. Before choosing a language, you can quickly set up your account by clicking "Manage your Account Settings" and entering some basic information such as time zone, email address, and a profile picture if you wish. (This will be helpful later on if you choose to participate in the private language communities/forums.) After that, you can click on "The Commons" on the left-hand side of your screen to peruse all of the languages that are offered.

So many languages so little time! Many languages I've never even heard of before. There's Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Dutch, French, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Korean, Latin, Malay, Norwegian, Polish, Russian, Scottish, Spanish, Turkish, Urdu, Vietnamese, Yiddish, and MANY more.

While deciding on a course to take is exciting, it can be a little overwhelming at the same time. So, if you aren't quite sure which language you want to learn, you can explore before you join a "Space." The language communities you join are called Spaces, and if you look at my Mango Dashboard graphic, you can see the three Spaces that I have joined. Once you join a Space, you can begin your language lessons and can enjoy access to all the resources offered within that course.

Now, before you actually commit to a language, there are a couple of things you can do to get a feel for the one you are interested in:

1. Try a demo: Most languages in the community offer this feature so you can hear the language spoken by natives and peek at the language's culture.

2. Read an overview: Here, you can see what is included in the course (also known as a passport), how many journeys (levels) there are, and the topics that will be covered in each journey. Number of journeys vary for each language.

Once you join a Space, you will have access to the Files section which is located right beside the Journey tabs. Files provide a course guide in PDF format. This has proven really helpful for review!

How We Are Using Mango Homeschool Edition

Personally, I've always wanted to study Greek or Hebrew, and out of those two, my kids chose Modern Hebrew. Every morning (except for Fridays) after Bible and read-aloud time, we gather 'round the laptop for our family Hebrew lesson. The courses are designed specifically for individual use, however, we are doing Hebrew together. My 12-year-old son, on the other hand, is also taking Spanish using his own account, but I will touch on that a little later.

After I log in to my account, I click "Mango Passport Hebrew" under Spaces which will take me to my selected course. Then, I click on the button "Login to Mango." This will take me to my Hebrew Welcome Page which provides important information such as the date of my last login and where I left off. As you can see in the screenshot below, at that time we were on chapter 3 lesson 15. I can choose to resume right where we left off, or I can choose to go back and listen to a previous lesson for extra review if we need it. I have done this a couple of times!

There is only one Journey in the Modern Hebrew course and it's comprised of 10 chapters. Each chapter is divided into a certain number of lessons which varies from chapter to chapter. Lessons are taught by the use of slides in which a female voice reads instructions and prompts the user to respond to any questions. All Hebrew words are spoken by a native male or a native female.

Basically, the formula for these language courses is this: listen, repeat, listen, repeat. It starts off with just one word or a short phrase and builds to a complete conversation. For instance, by the end of the first Hebrew lesson, you might be able to say, "Good morning. How are you?" And if asked the same question, you might be able to respond, "I'm good, thanks. Okay, see you later." There are about 50-60 slides in any given lesson which takes my children and me about 30 minutes to complete since we are all trying to repeat and practice what we are learning.

Grammar and cultural notes are scattered throughout the lessons to give you a better understanding of the language. A female voice reads these notes, but anytime there is a Hebrew word, it is spoken by a native person.

Another feature within the lessons is voice comparison. If you have a microphone hooked up, you can record your own voice to try and match it as best you can to the native speaker's voice.

I really like this way of learning - seeing slides, hearing the language spoken by natives, and reviewing what we've learned through lots of repetition. It's definitely a work out for this old brain, but I do love the method! If you are considering in this program for your family, keep in mind that it doesn't actually teach the writing part.

If you do want to practice writing in your language of choice, you can utilize the Journal section or create a document on the website . If your browser doesn't handle that particular font, it won't work. We are not able to practice writing Hebrew since we don't have the Hebrew font on our computer.

In a nutshell, here is what they currently offer on their site:

*Over 60 different languages
*Progress Assessments

*Built-in journals, discussions and wikis
*Collaborative learning spaces
*eNote messaging
/chat rooms

*Access to embedded/downloadable content

*Support from other community members

*Calendars to schedule meetings or study groups


I mentioned earlier that my 12-year-old is also taking Spanish. He does this on his own by logging in to his personal account. He really likes being able to go through the lessons alone without any distractions from the rest of the family. :)

I am able to keep an eye on what he is doing by linking his account to mine. This is a great feature for parents. You can link accounts in "Account Settings" under "My Tools." I can see how far along my son is in his Spanish course, view any discussions that are going on, etc. Right now, my son is in chapter 5 on lesson 24. He hasn't participated in any discussions or forums yet. Basically, I have the ability to log in as my son and see everything that he is doing. I am anxious to be able to view progress reports and track test scores, but those are a couple of features that are coming soon!

Coming Up . . .

Currently Mango Homeschool Edition is in the Beta phase and in the process of perfecting and adding features that will make the program more user friendly for homeschoolers. Some of these features include:
  • Pretests for proper placement
  • High school credit ratings
  • Printable quiz reports
  • Ability to see right/wrong answers on quizzes and tests
  • Inclusion of age appropriate foreign films through Mango Premiere
  • Addition of members in the community who already know a foreign language well
  • Enhanced Tracking and Progress Monitoring - including seat time (for students and parents)
  • Goals and Personal Lesson Plans (both stand-alone and tied into Mango courses)

  • Resume and Portfolio Builder
We were not able to use these features, but it is likely they will be ready within the next few months. Even though these features were not available to us yet, we've enjoyed using the program as it is. Taking the Hebrew course without all of the extras has given us plenty to do! It will be nice, though, to be able see right/wrong answers on quizzes as this was something that frustrated my son who is taking Mango Spanish. Hebrew doesn't have any quizzes, so this was not a problem for that course.


To use Mango Homeschool Edition, you may purchase 1 subscription per individual in your home. There is no limit to how many languages an individual can study. Pricing is as follows:

1 subscription is $18/month or $125/year 
2 subscriptions is $28/month or $175 /year                    
3 subscriptions is $38/month or $225/year                
4 subscriptions is $48/month or $275/year             
5 subscriptions is $58/month or $325/year

You can pay on a month-to-month basis without the hassle of a contract and quit at any time, however it is cheaper to go ahead and purchase a subscription for an entire year. For one subscription for one person, you save about $91.

Our Opinion

I think Mango Languages is a quality language program. I like that it's online and super easy to use. (It can be used on any computer.) A huge plus for me is that there isn't any preparation (WOOT!); we just sit around the computer and click through the slides. I love that it is convenient to repeat words or phrases over and over again. Personally, I am enjoying the fact that it is primarily focused on the speaking part. We've done our share of conjugating verbs and declining nouns before, so this is a nice break for us all!

If we continue to use Mango long term, which I'd love to, I think I might have to assign some writing, though, much to the dismay of my kids.

Now, to be completely honest, my kids aren't always jazzed about Hebrew time. Some days are harder than others and forgetting what you learned over the weekend can be frustrating come Monday when it is time to start a new lesson. Sometimes their participation level is superb and sometimes they mumble their way through. My oldest observed that in real life we would never use some of the phrases we've learned, so this can hinder motivation levels a little bit. To be fair, though, most of the language we are learning is very conversational and can be put into practice.

I love that I have my own account and can go through courses as time permits. I started Biblical Hebrew and while I thoroughly enjoy it, finding the time to do it on my own is challenging. I am hoping that over the summer I can really focus on my own language time. :)

One last thing - I think Mango Languages would be a great program for someone to take if he/she is planning a trip to a foreign country. The types of conversations taught would be really helpful for getting around an unfamiliar place. For instance, in the Hebrew course, we are learning how to ask where specific places like hotels and museums are located. You can tell from the image of the Table of Contents above that the chapters are geared toward helping you be able to communicate with natives in their country.

The best way to really understand how this online language program works is to try a demo. So, go and try one now, and see if Mango Languages is right for you!

To see how other Schoolhouse Review Crew members used Mango Languages, click the banner below.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Quick and Easy St. Patty Snacks

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Don't have time to come up with some kind of elaborate green-themed spread on St. Patrick's Day but still want to at least acknowledge that the holiday exists? Try these.

You only need:
That's it.

If you're feeling especially snazzy, you can even give them a fun name like Lucky Leprechaun Sandwiches or something. ;)

If you'd like to make naturally dyed green frosting, you can view my St. Patrick Cupcake post. :)

Linked to Try a New Recipe Tuesday and Works for Me Wednesday

Have a Glow-in-the-Dark Easter Egg Hunt {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

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glow-in-the-dark Easter egg hunt

 My kids, especially my 8-year-old daughter, had lots of fun with our latest Schoolhouse Review Crew product! I mean, who doesn't like hunting for Easter Eggs, right?

Egglo Entertainment  sent our family an interactive, glow-in-the-dark Easter egg hunt program created by Darcie Cobos to help us celebrate and teach the true meaning of Easter. It is adaptable for all ages, however, it is ideal for children ages 4-13. We received the following products from the Egglo Adventure Kit :
Ever since my kids were little, I have made it a priority to teach them about Jesus and the significance of his death and resurrection, not just on Easter but all throughout the year. Based on the Scripture from John 1:5, “The Light shines in the dark and the darkness has not overcome it,” this program, especially the Glow in the Dark Egglo Eggs, is a great tool that we as Christian families can use to illustrate that Jesus is the Light of the world and to help our little ones truly understand the joy of Easter. I wish I would have had this when all of my children were younger!

Egglo Review

Glow in the Dark Egglo Eggs come in the colors yellow, blue, green, and pink. There are a dozen eggs per box and six are plain while the other six bear a decorative cross. To activate the glow-in-the-dark effect, eggs must be charged with light: 20 minutes in sunlight, 30 minutes in UV black light or fluorescent, or 45 minutes in Tungsten or incandescent (home) light. Egglo eggs perform optimally in complete darkness and glow best for about an hour with the glow effect diminishing over 2-3 hours.

My 12-year-old son let me borrow his desk lamp to activate our Egglo Eggs. After about forty-five minutes of exposure to incandescent light, our eggs were ready to glow!

Before I get ahead of myself, I want to mention a few things we did prior to our glow-in-the-dark Easter egg hunt. First of all, my daughter and I listened to The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure (audio download) and followed along in the accompanying storybook. The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure is a 40-page, fully illustrated softcover book that will take your children on a thrilling treasure hunt through time in which three kids Hardy, Ana, and Pascal and a dog named Zeke search for clues that will lead them from one glowing egg to the next. Each glowing egg contains a Bible verse on a scroll that the children will need on their journey and a clue that will lead them to their next destination. Along the way, they learn about the Easter story and ultimately that Jesus is the greatest treasure there is!

Their unexpected adventure starts off in the attic while they are looking for a board game to keep them occupied until their special glow-in-the-dark Easter egg hunt at church that night. Of course, they are quite surprised to stumble upon a large, glowing egg. Closing their eyes to shield them from the blinding light, they are transported to their first stop, Egypt. After three more adventures - one underwater, one atop a volcanic mountain, and one through a beautiful, green valley, the three children finally come to rest in a peaceful clearing surrounded by friendly animals. In the clearing, they see a shining cross and receive their final scroll which clearly explains the reason we celebrate Easter.

My daughter also colored a picture and made (with my help) a decorative Easter banner to hang in her room. We used Egglo Egg decorations from The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure Program Guide (explained later in this review), colored cardstock, and curling ribbon.

A few days before the egg hunt, my daughter and a friend had fun filling the Egglo Eggs with Scripture Scrolls. Short Bible verses are written on the tiny scrolls. There are 12 in all. My daughter added some candy later. :)

On the eve of our egg hunt, my oldest son hid the glow-in-the-dark eggs in our backyard for his younger brother and sister to find. (My boys are very much in that don't-take-my-picture stage.) The pictures I took out in the dark aren't very blog worthy, so I am not going to include those. Below, you can see shots from after the egg hunt, though. My daughter liked opening each of the scrolls in her eggs. My 12-year-old son had fun searching for eggs in the dark, and my daughter has really liked everything about this Egglo product!

While this program can be used for individual use as we have used it, it also works well for church outreach events, Sunday school lessons, youth groups, Christian schools, and other Christian groups. The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure Program Guide will meet all of your planning and organizing needs for hosting an extraordinary family or large group Easter event. It's a 60-page, step-by-step guide available by download, and it includes useful resources such as how-to instructions, decorating tips, snack suggestions with recipes, devotion and story ideas, activity pages, comprehension questions, egg hunt guidelines, invitations, Egglo Egg decorations, coloring pages, Jesus is the Light of the World poster, and more.

This guide is very graphic intensive, and I had problems loading it at first. It wasn't cooperating with my Windows Reader, but when I switched to Adobe Reader, it worked much better. To save ink, I only printed the pages we planned to use instead of printing the entire guide.

I've already mentioned a couple of things we used from this guide, but we also made one of the yummy snacks when my daughter had a friend over. It's called "He Is Not Here." The doughnut represents Jesus' empty tomb, the Oreo is the stone that was rolled away, the graham cracker is just the platform, and the frosting with coconut is grass. The girls really enjoyed making them and eating them! A healthier alternative to this snack is provided in the guide as well. But as you can see, we didn't go with healthy that day. :) More snack options are in the guide as well.

Overall, this has been a really fun, unique product. I encourage you to make your Easter celebration especially memorable this year with a glow-in-the-dark Easter Egg hunt. You can purchase the complete Egglo Adventure Kit for $64.99. Items can also be purchased individually. Following is the list of products included in the Egglo Adventure kit and their individual prices:
  • The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure storybook ($12.99)
  • The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure book on narrated DVD ($19.99)
  • The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure audio download ($2.99)
  • 12 Glow in the dark Egglo Eggs ($11.99)
  • 12 Egglo Treasures Scripture Scrolls ($4.29)
  • 12 Bible Verse Scroll Stickers ($3.29)
  • 12 Egg-cellent Easter Adventure Character Stickers ($3.29)
  • 12 Easter Egg Stickers ($3.29)
  • Glow in the dark event program guide or curriculum ($14.99)
Discounts are offered on bulk orders, so check the FAQ tab on the website for more information if you want to plan a large-scale event.

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Friday, March 07, 2014

Read Through the Bible with Your Kids {No Pressure Version}

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From the time my kids were itty bitty, I've faithfully read and taught the Bible with them at least 5 days a week throughout the school year. But, we've never read through the entire Bible. There are books we haven't read aloud like Numbers or heaven help me, Song of Solomon.

Toward the end of last year, I started thinking that reading through every page of the Bible with my kids was something I really wanted to do before they left the nest. I can't believe I am typing this, but I am closer to my first born leaving the nest than I care to admit!

With a 14-year-old, a 12-year-old, and an 8-year-old, I knew 2014 was the year we needed to start this blessed endeavor.

In order to carry this out, I knew I wanted a "no pressure version" of reading through the Bible. What do I mean by "no pressure?"

Well . . .

I didn't want to be bound by reading a certain number of chapters in certain books on certain days, etc., a daily quota to meet, if you will. I didn't want to set the read-the-Bible-in-one-year goal and then fail to meet the goal. (I don't do well with failure!) I wanted reading through the Bible to be a blessing and not a chore.

Not that any of those things are bad. However, I am a natural task master, and I want to do everything in my Jesus' power to NOT treat this as a task.

So, our simple goal is this: to read through the Bible. If we can do it in one year, great. If not, we will continue on in 2015.

What does this "no pressure version" look like in our home? First of all, I printed off this list of the Books of the Bible and hung it up on our dry erase board. We pick a book and read it until we finish it. We read for about 20-30 minutes Mondays through Thursdays. Dad does Bible study on Fridays. (We will count the book, Matthew, he's teaching, but it will probably take a LONG time to get through it!)

So far, we've read 11 of the 66 books. Some we've read in one day, others have taken several days or even weeks like Proverbs. We are also reading some Psalms along with the other books we're reading.

When we finish a book, I highlight that book in green on our Books of the Bible List.

I like that I don't ever feel like we're getting behind or that we must hurry through some portions just to catch up to a schedule.

This "no pressure" reading through the Bible system is working really well for our family!

Have you ever read through the entire Bible with your kids? What worked for you?

*Update as of January 2015

Update as of 2016: It did take longer than one year for my children and me to read through the Bible together, but I am so glad we didn't give up! It actually took closer to a year and a half for us to get through, especially since we only read together 5 days a week instead of 7. This is one endeavor that I will never regret. :)

Linked to Thoughtful Thursdays

Monday, March 03, 2014

Who Would've Thought Chemistry and Physics Could Be Fun?

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I pretty much loathed chemistry in high school, but it was a required class. The teacher constantly messed up. Bless her heart, I think she hated teaching chemistry as much as I hated taking it. Biology was her specialty. NOT chemistry. As for physics, I don't even think I took that class. I like science as long as math isn't involved. :)
I was skeptical about teaching learning chemistry and physics with my elementary child, but Apologia has been great! I reviewed this book last November and was impressed. We've been continuing with Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics since the review. We are now half way through the book having even more fun. I thought I'd share a couple of recent experiments that my daughter enjoyed.
In this one with the egg, I was really preparing myself for a big mess like a busted egg and maybe even a busted glass. But no! Everything went according to plan. I love successful experiments cuz we have been known to bomb on some.

I so remember doing this when I was a kid. I even did it with a huge bucket of crayons. Round and round I'd go. And to think I could have counted it as a physics experiment. Who knew?

In all honesty, there are just some things that are still kind of boring about chemistry and physics, but thank you, Jeannie K. Fulbright, for making chemistry and physics bearable and even fun. ;) Hopefully, my daughter will have an easier time of it if she takes it again in high school.

What are your favorite ways to teach these subjects? Anyone absolutely love chemistry or physics?


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