Oct 16

Learning About Christian Worldview with iWitness books – A Review

IMG_5762.JPGApologia Review

Are you looking for a visually appealing book with stunning graphics that is informative and interesting and also teaches your kids about the Christian worldview? Look no further than the iWitness books from Apologia Educational Ministries. We received iWitness Biblical ArchaeologyNew Testament iWitness and Old Testament iWitness for review recently and I was very impressed. Christian worldview study has been a topic of interest to my husband and I for several years and my twelve-year old son has just reached the age where he likes to engage in conversations with us about deep topics like Christian apologetics and religion. These three titles kept all three of us engaged and interested from cover to cover and at only $14.00 each with a reading level geared for ages 11 and up, they will be on our Christmas list for some of our extended family members!

You can stay in touch with Apologia through the following social networks:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/apologiaworld
Twitter – https://twitter.com/apologiaworld
Google+ – https://plus.google.com/105053356034237782125/posts
Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/apologia/

About the Author and the Series

Doug Powell is a best-selling author, apologist, speaker, graphic designer and musician. He holds a Master of Arts in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. He has written two iWitness books Resurrection iWitness and Jesus iWitness under another publisher and has authored three in this series through Apologia. Two more titles are due to release in 2015, iWitness World Religions and iWitness Heresies & Cults.

Apologia Review



iWitness Biblical Archaeology is a softcover 62-page 6″x 9″ book. The layout is simply stunning. As a lover of all things scrapbooking, I loved the vintage scrapbook feel of the layouts. This title was my favorite of the three because I have always been interested in archaeology. I enjoyed the journey through each page as I learned about discoveries small and great in the world of Biblical archaeology. This book covers topics such as the Flood, looking for Noah’s Ark, the Exodus, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the burial shroud of Jesus and much more




Apologia Review


Old Testament iWitness is a 60-page softcover text that is 6″x 9″. It has the same beautiful layouts delicately crafted with colorful ancient art and religious symbols scattered throughout the pages. Pictures of original scrolls of scripture are in the background. Sections include information on who wrote the books of the Old Testament, where they came from and how they were collected and placed together. Differences between the Protestant Bible, the Hebrew Bible and the Roman Catholic Bible are explained. Terminology such as Torah, Tanakh, Apocrypha and Septuagint are explained. The estimated time periods for each book of the Old Testament are listed and the authors, when known. A short discussion of important archaeological finds that concern the Old Testament are also included. The book ends with a timeline of Old Testament History.



Apologia Review



New Testament iWitness is a 60-page 6″x 9″ softcover book explores many of the questions Christians have about the New Testament. Things like canon criteria, the authority of church fathers, books that were rejected or termed spurious, differences in copies of the Scriptures and how they were copied. You will learn about the apostles and the apostolic age and expand your knowledge of the ancient texts.





Our Opinions of the Books

My husband commented that “they are very thorough and interesting.” My son stated, “I enjoyed learning about the archaeological finds that support the Bible and learning more about the history behind the Bible.” We felt like these books really feed the curious mind and stoked an interest in us to learn more about our Scriptures and Biblical history. I felt that these would be great gifts for pastors and Sunday school teachers. I think that I will include these as required texts for my children as part of our Bible curriculum before they graduate. They are concise and engaging, but not so long that you get bored with the content. I think these would be a great asset to any homeschooler’s bookshelf and I know that we will be pulling these off the shelf time and again in the future to help us learn more about our spiritual heritage and history.

If you would like to read what other Crew members thought about these books. Click on the graphic below.

Click to read Crew ReviewsCrew Disclaimer

Permanent link to this article: http://conversaving.com/2014/10/16/apologia-iwitness-books/

Oct 14

Spaghetti Squash Pie

Spaghetti Squash Pie (S)Looking for a great fall meal to add to your Trim Healthy Mama menu? Look no further! This hearty fall dish is enough for a crowd and is an easy S meal to throw together in advance. I think it would easily feed twelve. We are a family of 5 and I planned for this recipe to feed us twice, but I think we might actually get three meals out of it.

Start out with a medium-sized spaghetti squash. I picked up mine straight from a pumpkin farm in the mountains. I washed the outside and cut the squash in half.

cutting a squashScoop out the seeds with a large spoon.

removing seeds

Place the squash cut side down in a baking pan of water. Place in a 350 degree oven for an hour or until soft.

baking spaghetti squash

Now scoop out the flesh of the squash with a fork or spoon and place in a 9×12 baking dish sprayed lightly with cooking spray.

scooping out the flesh of the squash

Cut butter into small pats and place on top of squash. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese.



Combine the browned and drained beef and sausage with the marinara sauce in a large bowl.

Layer on top of the squash.

layering the spaghetti squash pie

Top with cheese and bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until cheese is melted and casserole is bubbly.

Squash topped with cheese

This recipe made a LOT. You could easily halve this recipe to feed a family of 5 or 6. I would love to hear from any of

you if you try freezing this recipe. I might try using a smaller pan and making two casseroles with this recipe next time. I would freeze one and cook one. I hope you enjoy this as much as my family enjoyed it.



Spaghetti Squash Pie
A hearty family friendly, low-carb dish that is a crowd pleaser
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 12 servings
  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 4 cups sugar-free marinara sauce
  • 1 pound ground turkey or ground beef, browned and drained
  • 1 pound italian sausage, browned and drained
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese
  1. Cut spaghetti squash in half and scoop out seeds.
  2. Place cut side down in a baking pan.
  3. Add a couple of inches of water to baking pan.
  4. Bake @ 350 degrees for about an hour or until soft.
  5. Scoop out the squash from the shell with a fork.
  6. Spray 9x12 baking dish lightly with cooking spray.
  7. Place the cooked spaghetti squash in bottom of pan.
  8. Top with pats of butter and sprinkle with salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese.
  9. Take browned beef and sausage and combine with marinara sauce in a large bowl.
  10. Layer over the squash in baking pan.
  11. Top with cheese.
  12. Bake @ 350 for 45 minutes or until cheese is melted and dish is bubbly.


Permanent link to this article: http://conversaving.com/2014/10/14/spaghetti-squash-pie/

Oct 03

Some Pig Screwy

Fried Twinkie at Fall Festival:  $2.00

Entry Fee for Rodeo Arena:  $3.00

Fee for Greased Pig Contest in Arena:  $1.00

Getting My Redneck Fix for the Year:  Priceless

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s that fall festival time of year again, that time just after late summer when the sun has thoroughly baked our brains, and we suddenly think it’s a really good idea to eat lots of fried food, buys lots of handmade crafts, and watch lots of people act just plain stupid.  The most popular festival in my red neck of the woods is “Barnesville Buggy Days” every September in Barnesville, Georgia (second right at Atlanta and straight on till morning).  The festival is named after the horse-drawn buggy industry that used to exist there.  Today, however, there are not many buggies at Barnesville Buggy Days.  Oh, you may see some bugs, or some people that bug you, or a man with buggy eyes because he bit off too large a chunk of a fried pickle, but chances are that you will not see an actual buggy.

I had not been to Buggy Days in 4 or 5 years, but when a friend called to say that his family was going, I said “What the heck, I’ll go see what’s new”.  Now, this friend was none other than the Campmaster, Steve Blackston, the man who we camped with last year and almost drowned with last year due to record October rains.  But this time, the outing was just a fall festival – what could go wrong?  And, even if the fall festival was an epic fail, there was always the chance that I could find a fried Twinkie to make everything better.

I was soon reminded of why I had not been to Buggy Days in years.  Unfortunately, nothing had changed – same crazy people, same bad crafts, same greasy food.  To make matters worse, there was now a tent in the middle of the festival where a tone deaf young lad was belting out song lyrics:

All you want to do is ride a cow, Sally

Ride, Sally, Ride!

Or something like that.  Frankly, it was hard to hear all of it with my fingers in my ears.  There were bleachers in front of the “singer”, and some people had the cruelty to deposit their grandparents on the bleachers while they went around shopping and eating.  Looking into the eyes of these poor souls, I wondered if this is how Simon Colwell got his start.  Or Charles Manson.

Craft selections always remain the same through the years – leather belts with designs etched into them, velvet paintings of Elvis, velvet paintings of dogs playing poker, and velvet paintings of dogs playing poker with Elvis.  You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog, cryin’ all the time belts the young singer behind me.  (By now, an ambulance has taken away most of the grandparents on the bleachers.)  Arguably, the best fall festival craft (scheduled to be inducted into the Fall Festival Craft Hall of Fame in 2016), is a small wooden frog with ridges on its back.  By taking a wooden stick (included with the price of the frog) and slowly rubbing it up and down the ridges on the frog’s back, one can magically mimic the sound that the thousands of real frogs around your house make any given night.  Picture the heartwarming scene of your child on your front porch, wood frog in hand, repeatedly making the sound Rodduppp!!, Roddupp!!, Roddupp!! until such time that you threaten to cut off his fingers and demand that he come inside and watch cartoons.  Sadly, the charm of all crafts ends after about the first three seconds.  Sort of like a pet fish.

Smoke wafting from the food area brought me out of my craft stupor, and I remembered that I had not yet seen a fried Twinkie.  There were barbecue stations, chicken stations, funnel cake stations, and fresh-squeezed lemonade stands.  In the center of this health food mecca, there was a shaded eating area, under tents graciously provided by local funeral homes.  (No one found this ironic but me.)  At last, I saw a fried Twinkie booth, and before you can say plop, plop, fizz, fizz, I was enjoying that golden, crunchy (yet creamy) goodness.  Some might say that two dollars is way too much money for a fried Twinkie, but these same people probably also bought wood frogs, so what do they know?

Now, for most people these events would already constitute a full evening, but friends of Campmaster Steve Blackston know that the party is just getting started.  It was time for the main event – greased pig catching at the nearby rodeo arena.  Yes, you heard that right.  Billed as the 2014 Old Fashioned Games for kids and adults alike, the greased pig contest recalls this country’s colorful past, a time when we apparently all ran around trying to catch slippery pigs.  We were told that the successful pig capturer gets to keep the pig, and I guess the prospect of this made up for the three dollar admission fee to get in the arena just to watch the event.  We also soon learned that there was an additional one dollar fee for each actual participant in the greased pig contest, which angered many of the parents.  I looked into the pleading eyes of my son and gave him a dollar anyway.  I didn’t want him to grow up and become Charles Manson one day, because I denied him the chance to capture a squealing ungulate.

Due to the surprising number of people there, it took us a while to find empty seats in the stands.  The large crowd either testified to the strong community spirit in Barnesville, or it exposed the fact that we were all slightly off our rocker.  I haven’t seen this much clamoring over a pig since Arkansas Razorback pigskin coach Bobby Petrino got in a wreck with his girlfriend riding on the back of his Hog.  Well, I thought, at least my son only paid for one race, so we will be out of here soon.  Haha.  We quickly saw that there were about 5 different age groups for kids and one group for adults that wanted to participate (not that there is anything wrong with that).  In addition, there were 5 to 6 races per age group.  That’s a lot of pork.  Don’t tell the Tea Party.  Or PETA for that matter.  Unfortunately, my son was in one of the later age brackets, so I witnessed around 30 races before I finally saw him in action.

 What I witnessed cannot be adequately described in words.  Now, I have to admit that my family gets a bit animated fighting over the last piece of bacon at Saturday morning breakfast, but the greased pig contest was in a totally different universe from that.  I envisioned one pig versus one kid, but there were 50 to 60 kids lined up against one pig per race.  And these kids were determined, let me tell you.  They were constantly leaning over the starting line trying to get that extra edge over the competition.  It was obvious that their mama had told them to bring home the bacon.  The pig for each round was rode around in a golf cart close to the spectators and close to the participants, I guess so they could all see the quality that they might be getting.  It almost had a pageant air about it, like a reality show on TLC.  I kept expecting the “singer” from Buggy Days to suddenly erupt in song – There she is, Miss Hamerica!  (Sorry, shameful pig joke.)  After the golf cart display, each pig was given to a man in the middle of the arena, who dutifully rubbed the pig down with slippery dishwashing detergent.  From what I could tell, ladies, he was unhitched.  There is nothing a woman admires more than a man that is good at his work.

And then, it was show time!  50 kids straining at the starting line, eyes on the prize.  One pig in the middle, eyes on a peanut shell lying on the ground.  With a sudden rush, the kids stampeded toward the pig, but the pig stayed where it was, sniffing the peanut shell.  You could see what was going to happen before it happened, and you instinctively wanted to turn away.  But, just like coming across a car wreck or an episode of Honey Boo Boo, you looked anyway.  The first kid jumped on top of the pig and wrapped it up with his hands.  The second kid jumped on top of the first kid, the third kid on top of the second, the fiftieth jumped on top of the forty-ninth kid and so on.  From the bottom of the pile, you could hear a muffled squeal.  When the umpires, or whatever they call themselves, broke up the pile the winner and the pig, looking slightly more crooked than before, emerged from the bottom.  Several kids were limping, either from being trampled or having their foot stepped on.  They received prompt medical attention, but I did not see the pigs get any medical care.  Would that have involved a hambulance?  (Second shameful pig joke.)  I saw this same event 30 or so times, collision of pig and people, muffled squeal, kids limping, before my son had his run.  And all the while kids and parents were flipping out dollar bills like they were going out of style.  (The ironic thing is that most of these people would probably not buy premium sliced bacon in the store because it is too expensive.)  My son lost his round badly, but I am not sure whether I am ashamed or proud of him for losing this event.

We left before the adults could start the competition.  I didn’t want to risk seeing somebody I knew, like my doctor or dentist, participating.  I could never again look them in the eye after that.  In fact, I think I’ve gotten my redneck fix for a while, maybe even permanently.

Of course, I’m probably kidding myself.  I’ll wind up going back to Buggy Days in another 5 years.  That fried Twinkie will have been fully digested by then.

Permanent link to this article: http://conversaving.com/2014/10/03/some-pig-screwy/

Oct 01

Preschoolers and Peace – A Book Review

Preschoolers and Peace Review

We have a unique challenge in our homeschool with all my kids spread apart by four grade levels. Homeschooling multiple ages can be challenging at times. This school year we have a middle schooler, an elementary student and a preschooler. I was recently sent a copy of Preschoolers and Peace: Homeschooling older kids with success while loving the little ones at your feet by Kendra Fletcher for review. In this book you will find advice on setting up routines and schedules for your preschoolers. Kendra Fletcher has been author of the website, Preschoolers and Peace, since 2006 and this book is a culmination of the best ideas and advice found on her blog. She is the homeschool mother of 8 children and has been homeschooling for the past sixteen years, so she has lots of experience to share. She is also the author of another e-book which I reviewed last year entitled, Circle Time.

The ProductPreschoolers and Peace Review

Preschoolers and Peace: Homeschooling Older Kids with Success While Loving the Little Ones at your Feet is a 47-page e-book, which includes 13 short chapters. It is available in Kindle e-book format for $2.99. It is an easy read with hyperlinks for further reading. The chapters include ideas and advice for the following topics:

  • Mom’s identity
  • Preparation to homeschool
  • Planning around preschoolers
  • Keeping toddlers busy
  • Sample schedules
  • Homeschooling boys
  • Chores for little ones
  • Help for the mom who has only preschoolers
  • Preschool chores
  • and more……….

There is a four-page resource list at the end of the book which consists of a link to a free preschool e-book (requires email subscription) and links to articles from the Preschoolers and Peace blog. The resources are organized by chapter, which makes it very easy to navigate directly to the topic of choice. I perused the links and gleaned some new ideas especially geared to my preschooler.

My Thoughts about this Book

What a timely book this was for me! The first few pages gripped my heart with the brief discussion of finding our identity in Christ. Most home school moms devote so much time and energy into their homes, kids and homeschools that they begin to find their identity in these things. Your jobs begin to define who you are and can become a stumbling block in your life. Kendra exhorts us to make sure that our identity is in Christ and that we are not making “idols” of the good things in our lives. I was challenged to let Christ be my ultimate identity and out of that heart to seek God. When my identity is in Christ, I will be equipped to share the most important thing with my kids, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you are not a Christian homeschooler, this book may not be for you as she unashamedly shares that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the foundation of her homeschool at the outset.

After focusing on mom’s identity in Christ, the book moves to preparation for schooling through prayer. I loved the idea of creating a prayer box using Christmas cards that you receive to pray for families throughout the year. I am planning to do this for our second semester in January after our holiday cards arrive. We already spend daily time in prayer as we are praying for the countries in the 10/40 window this year, but I think we could use index cards to add prayer needs to the box and draw from them each day as a part of prayer time. I am looking for ways to go beyond rote prayers with my kids.

The planning chapter was especially helpful to me as I have tended to approach my school planning with the oldest kids in mind. I feel like the content that they are studying is somehow more important, so I have generally just wedged the youngest one into the daily schedule wherever time allowed. I have devoted most of my time to planning for my older two as they have taken on more challenging curricula. After reading this, I realized that I need to spend more time planning activities to keep my youngest (aged 4) constructively occupied during school hours. When she is left to her own devices, it seems that chaos inevitably ensues shortly thereafter, which sometimes derails the older kids school day. There are lists of practical activities that you can have your preschool engage in during preschool hours. I was inspired to come up with a couple of new ideas after reading her list. One of the ideas I came up with was having our read aloud time outside and letting my 4-year old draw with sidewalk chalk while we were reading. Everyone benefited from the sunshine and change of environment. I tried the idea of having table play time by having her sit at the table with us during school and occupying her with activities such as playdough, workbooks and other small toys. We are working on sitting still for small amounts of time. I have added a new toy she suggested to my Amazon wishlist. Have any of you ever heard of Wedgits?

I also love the idea of gathering everyone together first thing in the morning for some group or circle time. We have done this off and on with success. I am finding myself praying about the individual needs of my children more since reading this e-book and realizing that I need to embrace my children and their needs each morning with a heart of love. I need to be mom first, schoolteacher second. As I learn to love the little ones at my feet and tend to their needs along the way, keeping my focus on Christ, I will have the strength to homeschool the older ones with success. This ebook has ideas for moms with preschool-aged kids but there are nuggets regarding scheduling and routines that can apply to most any school-aged kid. If you would like to read more opinions of this little e-book gem, click on the graphic below.


Click to read Crew Reviews Connect with Kendra Fletcher and Preschoolers and Peace on social media  at these links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PreschoolersandPeace
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KendraEFletcher
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/kenj/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+KendraFletcher/posts
You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/user/preschoolersandpeace

  Crew Disclaimer




Permanent link to this article: http://conversaving.com/2014/10/01/preschoolers-and-peace-a-book-review/

Sep 28

Missional Moments

GIC Missional MomentsOur family was so blessed to be able to participate in the annual Global Impact Celebration at our church this week. We are so blessed to have a mission-minded church and I am full to overflowing with all that God has taught me this week. I will be pondering and meditating on some of the things I have heard this week for a while. We began the celebration by having a continuous Bible reading in our church for three days prior to the start of our meetings. Night and day there was a church member in the sanctuary reading aloud from the Word of God. My husband, my twelve-year-old son and myself participated and it was a very special experience.Here are some special things that God has spoken into my heart this week.

Personal Evangelism is Something that I Need to Focus On and Make a Regular Part of My Life

  • My son and I attended a evangelism class by a dear friends of ours, Paul and Elisha Sewell, whom we have supported as a missionaries for a couple of years. This was a kickoff to our week of mission events and services at church. They serve on college campuses and mobilize college students by reaching them for Christ and discipling them and then sending them out to all nations as missionaries. They target ethic students and have seen students from all over the world come to Christ. It is an awesome ministry that I am thrilled to be able to participate in. If you would like to learn more about Launch Global, check out their website. Drew and I took some of these great points home with us from the class
  •  We are to be about God’s work. Using the acronym FISH helps us remember what we need to do.
  • F- Find lost people, go where the lost people are. Make a list of lost people who you know. Begin to pray for them.
  • I – Interest – create interest by sharing a story. Write out your salvation story and be able to share it in a few minutes. Most people do not have time for a long story. Have a short version. You an also share a story about an answered prayer.
  • S – Share. If they show interest, share God’s story. We learned how to draw a simple bridge diagram that is a very easy and simple way to share the Gospel. I found an example on You Tube. Check out the video below.
  • H- Help. Help them identify any barriers to salvation and then help them receive the gift.

Persecution is Real and There is SO Much I Can Do Through Becoming Aware and Committing to Prayer

  • I had the privilege of hearing Joseph Hovsepian share the story of how his Iranian Christian father was martyred for Christ. The message of forgiveness was woven throughout his testimony. A quote that stuck with me was, “Forgiveness is not forgetting to remember, but remembering to forget.” We have got to get on with this life as a Christian and not let unforgiveness hold us back any longer. God has work for us to do! Forgiveness is not always felt, it is an action we take by faith.
  • Hovsepian Ministries works through media to reach the country of Iran with messages of hope and salvation in Christ. They provide programming and Christian music for the underground churches. Below is an example of some of the film work that they do. We need to be in prayer for these brave brothers and sisters in Christ.

I Need to Create Some Free Time in My Life So That I Don’t Miss Divine Appointments

  • Learning to say “no” has been a skill that I am having to learn repeatedly it seems. I am asking God again to help me weed out the unimportant to make room to pursue the things He has in store for me. I want to have time to talk to the cashier at the grocery store, walk over to the neighbor’s house and visit, call up a friend on the phone, etc. I will miss out on the best things if I fill up all my time with the “good” things.
  • There is so much we can be involved in here and around the world. I have so many things on my heart that need some prayerful consideration. I am going to start by laying it at the feet of Jesus and asking Him to give me one opportunity this week to share my story and God’s story with someone else.
Alaska missions decor

Our Sunday School Class decorated a room for the missionary from Alaska. We served smoked salmon dip and Moose Tracks Ice cream to church members as part of our taste of missions night to raise awareness about our mission partner’s ministries

Alaska, taste of missions


  • This morning was the end of a refreshing week. I am full encouragement and ready to GO and TELL. We had some ladies from our local women’s shelter come and join in with our choir this morning. I caught a snippet of it on video and I want to end this post with this song because our God is AWESOME!I
  • MG_5544

Permanent link to this article: http://conversaving.com/2014/09/28/missional-moments/

Sep 18

Teaching Accountability Through the Use of My Student Logbook – A Crew Review

student log book collage

Teaching accountability and student organization can be one of the most rewarding tasks of a homeschool teacher when fruit is realized. At the beginning of this homeschool year, I knew that my third grader was in need of this skill. I use an assignment list in binders for each of my students, but I needed something that was simpler for him. I wanted My Student Logbook Reviewhim to get used to doing tasks in a specific order and checking them off of a list himself. Enter My Student Logbook. We were sent the undated student logbook with the rainforest cover for review. From the beginning, I loved the simplicity and slim design of this product. It is intended for students in 2nd grade and up and is available as a physical product for $15.00. You can choose from dated or undated books and there is a PDF instant download available for $10 for an individual student or $20 for a family license. I have tried many planning systems over the nine years we have been homeschooling and this product stands out from other planners because it is a logbook, more of a record of things completed, than a traditional planner. The logbook is an implementation tool to help your student develop organization while carrying out your homeschool plans. I found it necessary to continue to use my old system of planning in a traditional planner and the use of assignment sheets in addition to the student logbook.



The planner consists of setup instructions in the front of the spiral-bound paperback logbook. The front cover is made of clear plastic with a durable black vinyl back cover. Next you will find instructions on how to use the logbook to create high school transcripts. You can watch videos on the website that explain this process and the setup process. This didn’t apply to me with ages of my students so I skimmed over that information. There are some samples of how you can setup your logbook in the introduction. I chose to use a 5 day week format using a 36 week school year..I was able to read through this material and have my logbook setup and ready to go in under 15 minutes. Easy Peasy! Here are the things you will find included in the logbook:

  • 6 Checklist pages – these are removed as needed from the book and folded to make the reusable foldover portion of the logbook. See the example below. If you need more than six over the course of the year, the copyright allows permission to copy this page for personal use. I anticipate changing the list or order of Luke’s tasks probably each semester. I simply wrote a descending list of the tasks and subjects that I wanted him to accomplish each day. Things such as chores, I lumped into categories such as morning and afternoon chores rather than list out each one separately. student checklist
  • Over 50 Calendar pages (shown under the foldover portion in the picture above). These pages can be customized to fit your style of homeschooling. They have dated pages available, but since we school nearly year round, I chose the undated book. You can peel back the foldover portion to reveal a notes section where you can record any pertinent information that you would like to remember from that day or week. So far, I have not used that section.
  • The back portion of the logbook has an All About Me Page. I customized this with a back to school photo and I was thrilled with how it came out.All About Me Third Grade
  • Prayers and Goals section – a one page lined sheet for free writing.
  • Bible Verses Memorized. I used this to keep track of the verses Luke has been memorizing in AWANA. I was surprised to find out that in the last 5 weeks he has already learned 13 verses!
  • 3 Books Read Pages – I will keep track of his school book list and homeschool book club selections here.
  • 3 pages to record events, projects, field trips, presentations or activities. We have our first field trip of the year tomorrow, so I look forward to using this page. I think I will also make notations as to whether I took pictures, saved paraphernalia from the event, etc.
  • .3 pages to record test scores
  • The last page is reserved for recording highlights and memories from the year.
Completed logbook page

One week of a completed calendar page


We found this product affordable and easy to implement. I liked the way that the logbook allowed me to transfer responsibility over to my son for completing the task list. I was able to see at a glance what things remained to complete in a day, and I was able to use it as a record to report to my husband on whether non-school tasks such as chores were being accomplished. Although we used it simply as a task list and recording tool, you could easily record page numbers, hours spent, grades and more in the boxes of the calendar pages. It is very versatile!  If you are looking for a great tool to help assist you in making your students more independent, consider giving this product a try. You don’t have to take my word for it. Head on over to the Schoolhouse Crew Blog to read more reviews of this product.

My Student Logbook Review


My Student Logbook ReviewConnect with My Student Logbook on Social Media

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/MyStudentLogbook

You Tube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMxzpy91vov8a8nDpyp2ihQ

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Permanent link to this article: http://conversaving.com/2014/09/18/teaching-accountability-through-the-use-of-my-student-logbook-a-crew-review/

Sep 17

Water for the Thirsty Soul

Books to Encourage the Homeschool MomHave you ever likened the need for encouragement as the longing for drink when you are thirsty? I know there are times when I just LONG for some water in the hot Georgia sun. I also find my soul longing for encouragement. At these times, I run to my Father God for some much-needed love and affirmation. Today, I want to share a list of some books that have encouraged my heart over the last year. Grab your favorite beverage and snuggle up for some good reads that will encourage your mama’s heart.





Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson

This book is a great one for mom’s of littles. I wish that someone had given me some of the advice that I received in this book five years before I read the book!








Saying Goodbye to Survival Mode




Saying Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine

I really loved the focus on saying “no” to things. Many moms struggle with this skill.












Growing Up Duggar by Jana, Jill, Jessa and Jinger Duggar

As a second-generation homeschooler, I identified with many of the concepts presented in this book. It was a good read and encouraged me that there are still families that are serious about training their kids in godliness. While I don’t agree with all standards the Duggars uphold, I admire their commitment to godliness.This is a good read!









keep the good in your boy





Six Ways to Keep the Good in Your Boy by Dannah Gresh.

This book was loaned to me by a friend. I enjoyed it so much, I would like to have my own copy to reread. If you have sons, this is a must read.















Kisses From Katie by Katie Davis

This book touched me to my core. I shared it with several of my mom friends. It would even be a good one to read to your older kids. It is a true story of sacrifice and love and one girl’s mission to change the world one child at a time.







Radical by David Platt

This book was very challenging to me. It changed my thinking and made me want to do great things for God.



If you are looking for some more great reads,


check out some of my fellow bloggers suggestions.

Permanent link to this article: http://conversaving.com/2014/09/17/water-for-the-thirsty-soul/

Sep 16

Goal Setting and My New Favorite Tool

7 min life pin7 Minute Life Daily Planner ReviewThe 7 Minute Life is a company committed to helping you learn time management skills while boosting your productivity and organizing your life. Time management strategist Allyson Lewis has created an excellent time management tool called The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner to help you prioritize and organize your life. I received this product free of charge for my honest review. If you are anything like me, you are juggling many balls on this path we call life. I call myself a wife, mother, teacher, blogger, registered nurse, homemaker, student of the Bible, cook, soccer mom, board member and more. Those descriptions don’t include my hobbies and other bucket list items that I try to squeeze in on occasion. I have found as my kids get older and busier, the way I have always done things such as organizing and goal setting is not working anymore. I have been looking for new ways to improve my productivity and simplify my life. I have been inspired in the past to set goals, but found that I always wrote them in notebooks or on notepads and then put them aside, never keeping them in front of me. Out of sight, out of mind.

7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review

When I received this 270-page wire-bound paperback book, I looked through the volume and noticed the thick frosted cover. It was curling from the summer heat but I quickly fixed that problem by attaching an extra-large rubber band that I found at a local office supply store around the book. The introduction explains the philosophy of the 7 Minute Life. The emphasis is on prioritizing, organizing and simplifying your life at work and at home. For homeschool moms, this could help you run your homeschool, a family business and your personal life. The planner is meant to assist you with identifying your high priorities, set goals, list unfinished tasks and build the relationships of your choosing. Time passes so quickly and this system is designed to help you make the most of your time so that you can make a difference in your world. The idea of the 7 Minute Life comes from research that Allyson has read that states that an average adult has an attention span of 7 minutes. She created the exercises in the front matter to be able to be completed in 7 minutes and says that by giving 7 minutes to having a written plan for the day, you can greatly boost your productivity. By using the THINK-WRITE-DO philosophy explained in the book you simply take stock of your priorities and goals using the process and worksheets outlined in the front matter of the planner. This section took me a while to complete. I had to take time to process and really dig deep to get these ideas on paper. The first three assignments were “Life Ideas” that included determining your top 10 values, Discovering your life purpose, and establishing 90 day goals. You continue from here to complete 10 “7 Minute Micro-Actions” These worksheets included listing unfinished tasks, brain dumping on the mental clutter worksheet, listing all the home repair items that need to be attended to and more. t was rather freeing to get some of those things off my mind and on to paper. I liked knowing that all that information was in one safe place and I could review them daily as I sat down to use the planner. After the thinking exercises, there are some undated calendar pages. A year at a glance page, and several 90-Day Calendar Worksheets. They are not formatted like your standard planners. Next, I simply committed to write down five high priority tasks to complete by eleven o’clock each day. This is called the 5 before 11 principle. Since I am a homeschool mom and have many interruptions to my day, I usually turned that commitment into five things to do before I go to bed. This principle is recorded on a Daily Progress Report. The remainder of the planner is filled with enough pages for 90 days of Daily Progress reports for you to use in planning and executing your goals. Take a look at the sample below.

7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review

The Daily Contacts section is intended for businessmen and women to list the contacts that they make each day, I tweaked this column to apply to my role as a homeschool teacher and blogger and used it as a daily brain dump area or extra to-do list. The 5 before 11 section was the most impactful daily activity for me. It was like making a contract with myself to follow-through on the tasks. There is a check box at the very bottom that states, “Did I do what I said I would do today?” It was very gratifying to be able to check that box at the end of the day. The Life Connections section is where I documented those that I came in contact with that day whether in person or by phone or email. The Unfinished Task list is where I transferred some of the items I wanted to attend to from my master Unfinished Task List. I did not use the What I Spent column. I liked the water glasses and food journal areas for you to keep track of your health. There are boxes for amount of time spent sleeping, exercising, reflecting and reading. I used this planner each morning after my devotional time before the kids get up to map out my day and set my goals. I found it very useful to take these 7 minutes each morning to plan.

health record 7 minute life

The Daily Progress Report is a two-page spread. The opposite page (not shown) is a typical calendar style column with times for you to list appointments. There is another column for voice mail. I did not use the voice mail column as intended. I tweaked it and wrote notes of things that came up, emails that I needed to attend to and various other things. I am still tweaking the columns intended or business. The thank you note section I used as intended on days where there was correspondence that I needed to attend to, on other days, I used it to list my prayer requests for the day or week. It is easy to rename or repurpose the columns to fit your needs. I tried to use washi tape to cover the column titles that I repurposed but found that using white out or simply striking out the title was much faster. After writing my 5 before 11 each morning, I simply had to execute and follow through on my plan. I found it empowering to accomplish my list each day. I felt and acted more productive. I even added things to the unfinished tasks list each day when I had a few spare minutes to work on a micro action.

I really like the concepts behind this program and think it would be extremely useful for most moms. I like that it is undated and you can use this at any time of the year, however I think I would like to see a version that had all twelve months rather than just a 90-Day setup. This would be more conducive to homeschool moms. I greatly benefited from evaluating my priorities and listing out my goals. You can get your copy for $24.95 with a 100% money-back guarantee. Ten percent of the proceeds of the purchase go to helping provide food, water and education to the needy. This product is intended for adults, but teens ages 14+ may be able to use this system successfully.You can learn more about the concepts of the 7 Minute Life by watching the video below.

There are some great free time strategy tools available at the website as well as a getting started page.

Connect with The 7 Minute Life via FacebookTwitterPinterestGoogle+ and You Tube 
Read what other moms thought of this product by clicking on the graphic below.

Click to read Crew ReviewsCrew Disclaimer

Permanent link to this article: http://conversaving.com/2014/09/16/goal-setting-and-my-new-favorite-tool/

Sep 14

Fall Recipe Roundup

I felt the feeling of fall in the air tonight. Tomorrow is my birthday and will be my last cheat day for awhile. I have been allowing myself a few more off plan meals now that I am at goal weight with my Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle change. Although I am still maintaining and can afford a cheat now and then, I feel noticeably more fatigued and just generally blah when I eat off plan. So here is my ode to fall with a collection of some great looking fall recipes and decorating ideas.

Fall Mood Board


To get to these recipes and ideas, just hop on over to my Fall Pinterest Board. I hope you are inspired to try some new recipes or make your own decoration. I am planning to print out the Fall Bucket list or I might even attempt to take a screen shot and set it as my screensaver on my smartphone! Happy Fall Ya’ll. Check back next week for some more Fall Pinspiration!

Permanent link to this article: http://conversaving.com/2014/09/14/fall-recipe-roundup/

Sep 09

Audio Drama for the Entire Family – A Review of Under Drake’s Flag

Under Drake's Flag AudioHeirloom Audio Productions recently sent us an audio drama for review. I had heard many positive reports of the G.A. Henty books in the homeschooling community, but had never read any of them to my children. Under Drake’s Flag is an audio drama adaptation of the book, Under Drake’s Flag, by G.A. Henty. It follows the adventures of Sir Francis Drake.

About the Product

Analytical Grammar Review


This two-CD set is available for $29.95 (prices accurate at the time of this review and subject to change) plus shipping and handling ($5.95). Included in the set is a condensed study guide booklet in the CD case and access to a free PDF download of a longer companion study guide. The running time for the audio is two hours. It is recommended for ages 6- adult.

The audio drama is produced by Bill Heid and directed by John Fornof. This movie-quality radio drama features an acclaimed British actor, Brian Blessed. The award-winning sound designer, Mark Drury is known for his work on The Chronicle of Narnia Audio Series. You will recognize the style of the musical score if you are fans of the Adventures in Odyssey radio series. Composer John Campbell is credited with their music along with other popular audio dramas.


The conflict between England and Spain for control of the high seas provides a dramatic backdrop to the story. The high-seas adventure includes sword fights, encounters with pirates, a rescue in shark-infested waters following the journey of two boys becoming men under the influence of their hero Sir Francis Drake. The boys are learning to conquer their fears and grow their faith aboard The Golden Hinde. They also are faced with some of the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition. Your children will see history come alive in this action-packed story and will want to listen to it again and again.

The condensed version of the study guide included in the CD set is in booklet form and is meant to help parents or teachers better understand the principles and storyline of the drama. There are sets of questions for each part of the story and each set of questions is broken down as follows:

  • Listening Well – these questions are intended to help with recall and listening comprehension.
  • Thinking Further – these questions help you delve deeper into the nuances of the story and increase interest. Helping you speculate and come to conclusions about the story is also part of this section.
  • Defining Words – a list of words in the story to learn. No definitions are given.

The end of the booklet has three topical Bible study suggestions that come from themes in the story. Godly Character, True Manhood, and Confessing Christ.

The free downloadable PDF Study Guide is the full version of the condensed booklet. It is 27 pages long and includes many more questions and vocabulary words than the booklet. There is also a helpful list of resources for more study of Sir Francis Drake.

How We Used this Resource

Study Guide for Under Drake's Flag

We first listened to this drama on a 12 hour road trip. It was a great way to keep the kids entertained in the car and it enraptured the entire family from my four-year old to dad. After returning home, we listened again and used some of the questions from the study guide to help us deepen our understanding of the story. I plan to pull this audio out again when we study the Spanish Inquisition and encounter Sir Francis Drake in our history studies in the future. I think the study guide would also be useful as a springboard for essay writing. Middle schoolers on up should find plenty of material for short character descriptions or thematic essays within the study guide.

Connect with Heirloom Audio Productions on Facebook for updates on their upcoming new releases. In Freedom’s Cause, the story behind the life and legacy of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce is scheduled to be released in November.

Read what other crew members had to say about Under Drake’s Flag clicking on the graphic below.

Under Drake's Flag Reviews

Crew Disclaimer

Permanent link to this article: http://conversaving.com/2014/09/09/audio-drama-for-the-entire-family-a-review-of-under-drakes-flag/

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