Thursday, December 18, 2014

Let Vacation Begin!

Well, not quite. But almost.

The kids have a half day tomorrow (Friday). Except one who has been excluded from the class party due to seriously poor choices the past two weeks. A full day of in-school detention made no difference, and the poor choices escalated to the child getting up and leaving the room during classroom instruction, starting arguments with the teacher and shouting over the teacher when she tried to continue teaching. The same is happening in music, art and PE.

Tomorrow (Friday) afternoon we are headed to Disney. We will spend Saturday and Sunday there. The lines will probably be long, but Jasmine is doing her history fair project on Walt Disney (leaders and legacies), so of course we need first hand research at the Walt Disney exhibit at Hollywood Studios. They have a film about his life and displays that show the development of the movies and parks. All sorts of memorabilia. Her project is due not long after they go back to school after Christmas vacation.

Jasmine had spirit week last week. One day was fiction character day.

And there was decade day.

And Christmas sweater day, but she doesn't have any sweaters, so she wore a shirt.

And the last day was dynamic duo day. A friend wore the "I'm with Thing 2" shirt.

The cats have a new favorite nap place.

This year the three youngest got Disney ornaments. I'm afraid all of the children have a very mismatched set of ornaments from ones I cross stitched in the 90's to the gold ones Walmart used to sell and personalize to whatever we saw we liked after Walmart stopped carrying the personalized ones.



After the church program. 
Kayla is shooting up and isn't too much shorter than Jasmine now!

Jessica, Adam and Deja joined us for Sunday lunch, and Jessica put the finishing touches on the homemade peanut butter pie.
Jasmine had her concert Monday night. She's in the back on the right.


Kayla had her first basketball practice for youth center 9-10's basketball last night. I think she will enjoy it. She is going to work hard on being aggressive in good ways and playing as part of a team. I don't have any pictures. The games start January 10th so I will take plenty of pictures then. Both twins are still in gymnastics. Kayla got two stars on her belt tonight.
Tyler flew in today. Yeah, the hair is looking a little rough. Haircut tomorrow before we leave for Disney.

Here's one of Jasmine's concert songs.



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Don't Forget to Add These to the Christmas Stocking part 2

The last post showed the books I've written for early school age girls. These books are for older readers. The first three are for girls ages 8 to 12. But if your daughter, niece etc. is 7 or 13 and likes them, great. Every girl is different so the ages are only a guideline. All the books shown are available on amazon.com HERE or Christianbooks HERE but please check your local Christian bookstore first.
This book contains fun quizzes to help girls discover their unique personalities, strength, talents and quirks. Some of the quiz titles are: Are You for Real? How Honest are You? What Kind of Smart are You? Are You a Mary or a Martha? What Does Your Room Reveal About You? Each of the 22 quizzes has a key verse, a take away point, and a puzzle, story or craft. This book is more fun when done with a friend or family members.
Review: Part of a series, The Christian Girl's Guide to ME: The Quiz Book was written by Katrina Cassel and features 22 fun quizzes for tween girls. They cover a broad range of topics, from personality to Bible knowledge, from character to hygiene and habits.

Every chapter begins with a Bible verse then tells a short story. Some of these are contemporary tales; others are re-tellings of accounts from Scripture. Readers then take a quiz. Answers and evaluations are provided after along with tips for how to improve or apply what is learned from the quiz. Simple illustrations and "Fun Fact" sidebars pepper the pages.

As with every volume in this series, the book comes with a trinket. We received a leopard print coin purse exactly like the one pictured.

What I Like: What girl doesn't love learning more about herself? My daughter (age 9) was instantly attracted to this book. It offers a fun approach to learning and growing. I especially like that it goes beyond revealing truths about oneself to developing truths in oneself; it helps girls discover what God has intended for them. Of course, I also love the heavy emphasis on Scripture and truth. My daughter loved the coin purse that came with it.
This book has eleven tips for being successful in God's eyes. They include: Use Your Talents, Do Your Best, Stand Up for What's Right, Walk with God and more. Each tip is taught through stories, puzzles, journal questions and other activities.
 Reviews: Our daughter picked out this book to use as a fun Bible study with her friends. The girls meet once a week and cover one of the "tips." The girls have enjoyed the book, memorized a verse each week and have had a blast doing the crafts. Our group of girls are in third grade. Some of the stories relate to girls a little older (ex. running on the track team), but overall they can apply the lessons to their everyday lives. Godly principles are taught throughout the book. The parents and girls in our group have all LOVED it!

This is a great new book by an experienced christian author who has written several other books for children.This book is great for pre-teen girls-my 11 year old niece loves it and she doesn't really like to read.The book covers many aspects of being a teen or preteen girl including What is Success, Using Your Talents, What is Peer Pressure and standing up to bad peer pressure, walking with God and sharing your faith, also integrity, honesty and most important-getting along with your family.The book has discussion questions, quizzes, puzzles and projects to do.It would make a great book for a Junior or Junior High girls Sunday School class or other group to use for a study book.

Want the preteen girl in your life to learn more about the Bible this year? This book goes through the Bible book by book teaching key points and helping preteens apply Scripture messages to their own lives. It includes puzzles, journaling, crafts and more. Why not do the book with your daughter or as a family? 
Review: I purchased this for my 8-year old daughter, who is a strong reader and has gone through the God and Me! series already. This book has gotten her into some books of the Bible that she might not otherwise read. It also stays away from the sometimes-forced scenarios of how to apply God's Word. Instead, it focuses on the actual lessons learned by the people in the Bible. 


For girls ages 10-14, this daily devotion book looks at Bible women from Eve to Abigail to Mary and Martha. It covers both Heroines and Villains because we can learn from both. The book includes not only the well known characters like Rebekah, Esther and Mary, but also some lesser known ones such as Acsah, Drusilla and Huldah. These women faced some of the same issues still facing girls today such as jealousy, sibling rivalry and overcoming obstacles. The book has dated devotions, but you can jump in anywhere.
Review:

If you’re looking for a relevant, interactive devotional book for your daughter, consider Katrina Cassel’s The One Year Devotions for Girls: Starring Women of the Bible. Each of the 365 devotions is set up like this: First, it provides one or two key Scripture verses (written out in full). Next, the author gives a devotional essay that ties the Scripture to a female character from the Bible. The often thought-provoking text is written with compact clarity. Finally, readers find more questions to consider and a suggested plan of action on the margins of each page. Every seven days, the book provides a quiz, an activity, or a puzzle. These weekly breaks help review recent lessons. While the puzzles usually feature a verse from the Bible, the quizzes seemed geared to help girls identify their strengths and weaknesses, similar to what you might find in a popular teen magazine.

The book highlights not only familiar women, such as Eve, Ruth, and Esther, but lesser known women, such as Hagar, Vashti, and even a few nameless characters. Readers are encouraged to learn from not only the wisdom of the characters but from their mistakes as well. In addition, the book is set up in chronological order, which makes it feel like a journey through the Bible.

What I Like: I love the format. Each devotion fits on one page, and is packed with encouragement, helpful suggestions, and excellent questions to ponder. They are well-written, and teen-friendly. The quizzes and puzzles are a refreshing angle. Plus the book is very reasonably priced.



For both boys and girls ages 8-12, this book goes through the Bible chronologically challenging the reader to answer a question each day. The question draws the reader into the devotion, which holds the answer. Questions include: What Bible king was given 15 extra years of life because of his faithfulness? What pair of animals attacked the children who mocked Elisha for his baldness? Who was hiding in the winepress when God called him to be a judge? Which Bible mom gave birth to twins? and 361 more!  
Reviews: The One Year Book of Bible Trivia for Kids opens the door to brush up on Bible knowledge! This book may even possibly teach kids a few new things too. It's friendly format is basic, yet appealing. The meat of the book is straight to the point and readers will begin a yearly journey starting in Genesis and finishing with the book of Revelations.

Each of the devotions has a title ( for example: A Willing Learner), a Question ( What Jew really wanted to preach about the Lord but didn't know Jesus was the Messiah?), a multiple choice answer (a. Apollos, B. Agabus, C. Timothy), For You (a section that asks a question for the reader to contemplate the devotion at hand and apply it to their life), and the correct answer to the trivia question with the accompanying Bible Verse in which the answer is found ( in the devotion, I mentioned the answer is A and the story can be found in the book of Acts).

The 365 Biblical Trivia devotions are written as if speaking to the reader. The age recommendations is 10 -14 year olds but I think even a younger child interested in their faith can grow from using this book daily. This devotion could even work for a family time discussion. Reading through the book, I was even challenged by some of the trivia questions!

I recommend checking this book out for yourself. I very much enjoyed reading through it and am excited at the change to present it to my own children. I'm sure this title would be a blessing to any kid craving that deeper relationship God.

The One Year Book of Bible Trivia for Kids is great to jump start the mornings – and it’s a fun way to get the children off on the right foot instead of fighting (although I make no promises or guarantees that you’ll have the same or similar results about siblings getting along). The book is dated from January 1st through December 31st, but while some of the readings are themed like for the new year or for Christmas, you can really just pick and chose which ones to read on which days depending on what you want to cover. Of course you can just read it in order as well! The choice is yours.

The book has 400 pages and measures 6 inches by 9 inches which fits great in my tote bags and my purse for on-the-go devos for the whole family. An example of what you’ll find is for July 2nd, the topic is “Learn From It” and you’ll have the trivia question (take turns having the children guess or have a different child guess each day) then a short devo reading corresponding to the trivia, a “For You” question to open up discussion and then the trivia answer along with a Scripture verse. In the back of the book is a Scripture Index that outlines which Scriptures are used for which date, so you can pre-read and get a sense of what you’ll be covering before doing it with your children.

It’s not colorful on the inside but that is okay as it’s more to focus on bringing God’s Word to the child and giving them a way to make it relate to their life through fun trivia. I know some don’t like the Bible and fun together but if it sticks to Biblical truths and gets the Scripture into the hearts of children then I’m all for a little fun during devotional time. Since there are no years this can be used over and over to cycle back through time and again, and while it’s geared for ages 8 to 12 I can see other children who may be older or a bit younger also getting a lot of out this and enjoying it as well.

Don't let the cover fool you. This book is for all 5th-7th graders. (Even 4th and 8th graders too!) Readers will learn how to give their grades a boost, make testing easy, face life in a new school, deal with old friends and new, live out their faith at school and more. It uses quizzes and sound bytes of information to help kids learn to not only only survive, but thrive in middle school.
Review: If you have children, relatives, neighbors or friends who are starting middle school, Katrina Cassel's book,The Middle School Survival Manual offers a timely dose of practical encouragement. It is filled with study tips, friendship pointers, personality quizzes, thought-provoking questions, and planning charts to help all types of students. Each lesson ends with two or three "Verses to Think About."

Cassel's goal is to let students know God is with them and has a good plan for them, and teach students how to organize their lives, live out their faith and make the most of the middle school years. Beginning chapters cover topics such as goal-setting, improving grades and test performance, and adjusting to a new school. Cassel continues by teaching students about friendship and faith, how to choose the best activities, and identifying academic and personal strengths.

Cassel uses current education theory (e.g. Howard Gardner's multiple intelligences; visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning styles) to coach students to be in charge of their own learning. She also guides readers in choosing friends and repairing suffering friendships, as well as being a gentle witness for Christ in various school situations.

A chapter-by-chapter discussion guide is included at the end of the book.

What I Like: This is an excellent guide for students transitioning from elementary school to middle school. Cassel's practical steps will calm apprehensive students, and her wise advice will inspire confident students to reach out to others and tell them about their faith.

I like the way each chapter begins with an engaging story, followed by personal questions. Readers are asked to think about their own response in a similar situation, in order to connect more easily with material in the chapter. I also really enjoyed taking the quizzes and finding out more about my personality. Many middle school students will find this information new, interesting and helpful.

Faith in Christ forms the foundation of each chapter, and Cassel assumes readers are growing and maturing in their walk with Jesus. However, you could use much of the information in a public school setting as well.


So these are my suggestions for your daughter's, niece's etc Christmas stockings. Books are also a great way to start out the new year.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Don't Forget to Add these to the Christmas Stocking! Part 1

Please check your local Christian bookstore and give them your business first. So many are struggling.

Suggestion: If you give the book as a gift, consider adding cute colorful markers for writing in the book or the craft supplies to make one or more of the crafts.
For ages 5-8ish girls:


 REVIEW: (I copied these from amazon.com so there are different sizes, styles etc)
My daughters and I have been reading this book together and we just love it! We have really enjoyed the fun activities included in the book and my girls look forward to reading together each day. We love that it all comes from a biblical perspective and that the girls are learning important things, like working together!
 REVIEWS:
Oh my goodness! We started a Bible study with grade 2/3 girls (10 of them) and we all LOVE the book and the small group of girls! We were going to meet every 2 weeks but are now meeting weekly. The book is great, goes through every book of the Bible, some less thoroughly than others, and it is awesome! We gave each girl one of the backpack Bibles for girls as well. This book makes an awesome book to do with a couple of girls.


Just for Me! The Bible

The Just for Me! series includes a number of nonfiction activity books targeting specific age ranges. This title, Just for Me: The Bible, is "a fun guide just for girls ages 6-9." Written by Katrina Cassel, it incorporates stories, puzzles, games and activities with solid information about the Bible.This book follows sisters Katie and Sarah as they encounter life. Each of their stories relates back to a lesson or introduces a specific story or fact from or about the Bible. Their father serves as a guide on this journey of discovery.
The text is broken into ten chapters. Each includes several invitations for interaction, from mazes, Rebus activities and memory verses to crafts, quizzes and codes to decipher. Every book of the protestant Bible is presented, from Genesis to Revelation, with at least one major story from that book.
The illustrations by Shelley Dieterichs offer simple line drawings done in black and white. An additional novelty: the book comes with a cross-shaped carabiner.

What I Like: This books offers an excellent foundation of biblical knowledge for young girls and does it in an interesting way. I like that the information goes beyond Bible stories to Bible knowledge, like who wrote the Bible, how long did it take, etc. The activities are varied, which is great for maintaining interest. I also like the connections made between then and now. Sarah and Katie's stories help show how relevant the Bible is to us today. This book would be a wonderful tool for road trips!
REVIEW:
Just For Me! Friends: A Fun Guide Just For Girls Ages 6-9, written and illustrated by Katrina Cassel, is, as the title says, "a fun guide just for girls."

This girl-friendly book is packed with information and ideas about friendship. The book is divided into nine chapters. Each chapter deals with some aspect of friendship, such as the definition of a friend, how to be a good friend, and tips on finding and making friends.

Each chapter also has at least one friendship-related puzzle, Bible verse and "girl story." Many chapters also have activities and quizzes. The book is interactive with places throughout the pages for the reader to record their thoughts and ideas.

Numerous pencil-sketches illustrate the pages. Answers to the puzzles can be found in the back of the book.

What I Like: Everything.

What I Dislike: Nothing.

Overall Rating: Excellent.

Age Appeal: 6-9

Christine M. Irvin - Christian Children's Book Review



Girls ages 7-11, although the interest level goes higher (I'd planned it for 8-12s)
REVIEWS:
Promises for God's Princesses is a devotional book that is geared toward girls ages seven to eleven years old. This book is a ideal pick to getting girls interested in starting daily devotions or if they are just looking for another great one to add to their collection. This book is an ideal choice for all girls no matter what their interest or specific personality type.

In this book there are 100 devotions. The devotions are numbered but not dated. I like the the devotions aren't dated because if one is missed, you can simply just read the next one without worrying about falling behind. Each of the devotions start with a title followed by scripture and a short devotion inspired by the scripture mentioned. At the end of the devotion, there's a application which asks questions and encourages the reader to reach out to God in prayer pertaining to what was read. I would say each devotion could be read in about 10-15 minutes and the application time depends on the style of the reader. I know as well as praying, some girls like to journal and this book would fit well with any specific style as a leeway.

The book is hard cover so it makes this devotional easy to take along without worry of it wearing out easily. The outer cover features cute illustrations of all types of girl characters representing different things such as knitting, reading, painting, soccer, fashion, and more. The inner pages are very light on imaging but still look very nice. The text in the book is a nice teal color. The images on the pages include circles, butterflies, flowers, ladybugs, and an image of one of the girl illustrations featured on the cover. The book is super cute and does well to appeal to the desired age range.

The devotions are written well and offer encouragement, self discovery, and inspiration to Walk with God. Girls will discover who they are in God and how they can be more like Him in their day to day. Rest and reflection are certainly important in our world which seems to be ever so busy. I think teaching girls and offering books such as these to them is most important. I would most certainly recommend this devotional.


"Promises for God's Princesses" by Katrina Cassel is a super cute devotional for girls. I would say that this devotional is appropriate for middle school girls and older. The devotional is girlie, and carries the theme of being royalty in God's family, but it tackles a lot of tough issues that teenagers face. The devotionals themselves are short, only one page (front and back) for every day.

I liked the variety of topics that are discussed in these devotions. Cassel touches on kindness, listening, being an example, filling the mind with good things, hard work, faithfulness, and dignity. The devotions do a great job of pulling together situations that teens can relate to and Biblical principles and truths to encourage Christian growth.

Each devotion has a Bible verse that is the basis for the message, and it is printed in a large, bold font at the top of every devotion. This makes it really easy to know what the bottom line message is, and where to find it in the Bible, for further reading and study. With references to social situations, pop culture, and historical events, this devotion is the perfect daily reading for the teen/tween in your house.

My daughter is a little too young for this one, but I plan on holding onto it for a few years until she is old enough to really understand it better. I would highly recommend this one for those looking for a way to get the girl in your life into the devotional routine. This one does a great job of tying together things that are interesting and relevant with Scripture. Loved it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Catching Up

This is a catch up post of everything from Thanksgiving until now.

Jasmine helps me in the two year old room at church. They love her.
Two Sundays a month Adam & Deja and Hunter & Jessica join us for Sunday lunch. We all like Chinese, but usually we grill something or I have something cooking in the crockpot that's ready when we get home from church. I didn't have anything ready this time so grabbed Chinese on the way home from church.


Deja had never played Rummikub before, but she caught on quickly.

Doesn't Adam look thrilled that we stopped the game to take pictures? Not.

The puppies visited again. They are not even a year old yet!

Look at the size of his paws! If our puppies get a hold of something, we might be able to get it away from them before it's trashed. If these puppies get something, forget it. Especially if it's food.


This is the first time we've gone to breakfast with Santa. I wasn't really sure what it was before so never bought tickets for it. And with only five of us, it was only $25. When there was 9 of us it would have been $45! But it's an okay breakfast (think powdered scrambled eggs, bacon, pancakes, boxes of cereal, fruit) plus the kids get a present.


I was really good this year :0




Here's my complaint. For the boys in the 9 and up group they had nerf guns, glow in the dark basketballs, nerf footballs, regulation soccer balls etc. The gifts were out of sight and Santa's helper just chose one and handed it to each child. But you could see all the kids sitting at tables eating with their toys in front of them.

For the nine and up girls, there were only play make up kits. They would have been more suitable for 6-9. Personally I wouldn't give out even play makeup and nail polish to other people's kids because make up is something each parent has to make decisions about. Kayla loved hers (and now she has polish, glitter and eye shadow smeared all over herself), but we negotiated for a boy toy for Jasmine. The younger groups got dolls, play tents, Lego sets (I would have used those for 9 & up not 6-9 because they were big sets), cool trucks etc. The baby toys were amazing too. It was only the 9 & up girls that didn't have any choices and weren't really appropriate.

Fourth grade students have to create something to sell at a business expo to raise field trip money. Kaleb is at a different school and doesn't have to do it. He went on the same field trip last week, and they even ended up having charter buses, but I think the school system picked up the extra expense.



Jasmine marched in the Christmas parade Saturday.

Here's a very short clip of her here at home:
video


We bought a new smaller tree to replace our old one. Last year we had a real tree but don't want to spend that much money for something we're just going to through away afterwards. In GA we bought living trees still in their buckets at a nursery and planted them outside afterwards.


It came with lights already on it. We haven't put any ornaments on yet.


Jasmine set out three nativities.
We all made sugar cookies.






Ty David called from Kentucky to talk over some Christmas plans. We are making a very quick trip to Disney with a military pass. Jasmine's history fair project is on Walt Disney, so we're going to Hollywood Studios to the display about Walt Disney, how he made his first movies and how he got the idea for the parks. This should count as a primary resource! It's going to be really crowded because we're going the weekend before Christmas.

Jasmine had a choir festival Monday evening. I posted two videos in the last post.
 I got one very bad news e-mail from a teacher today which does NOT put me in the holiday mood!!

I mailed Jeff's Christmas presents today. He leaves for Korea January 10.

Most of my shopping is done. A few last minute things to get and a few things I'm waiting for in the mail.

Saturday night I only slept two hours when I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep. Sunday Night we were up helping Jasmine finish homework until 12:45!!!!! Last night I couldn't fall asleep until after 2:30, and we have to be up at 5:00. So it took me three nights to get 8 hours of sleep!!

I got my first present of Christmas today. A package from Tyndale, who has published three books I wrote. Their present is almost always my first present.


Cats not included! The back thing is a book with readings for each day of the holiday season. The front one is to hang on the wall. Now to find a spot. Sometime I will post photos of our walls. They are pretty full.

Ahead we have too much homework and too many projects, a dental check up and cleaning, an orthodontist appt, a daytime parade on a school day that all the preschool and kindergarten kids anywhere nears us attend. So there are school buses blocking very small residential roads. There is the boat parade that we've never gone to but might, our church program, the winter band concert, a meds appt, and IEP meeting, our Disney weekend, the rock climbing wall on the way back, and then the Christmas Eve service followed by all our big kids coming over. Then I plan to do nothing for a week except drive three hours so my kids can see a hockey game!

So what's ahead for you?