Nov 13

Snake Oil from Out of the Box – A Review

Out of the Box Games Review

About the Game

We love playing games and we try to set aside several nights a month to play games together. We recently had the opportunity to try out Snake Oil from Out of the Box Games.  This game was a crash course on good communication skills. In just about five minutes, you can teach nearly anyone how to play Snake Oil. Unlike many family games, Snake Oil is easy to set up, can be played in under 20 minutes and will entertain and educate the entire family. It can be played by 3-10 players or in tournament style for up to 24 players.

Snake Oil retails for $19.99 and is for ages 10 and up. The box has two types of cards in a plastic tray. There are 28 customer cards that are double-sided, providing a total of 56 customer choices. These cards sit in a vertical slot in the tray. These customer cards list occupations such as a nurse, teacher, caveman, etc.Out of the Box Games Review

Basic Game Play

One player chooses to start as the customer and draws a customer card. He selects a choice from either side of the card and then adapts the persona of that customer for the duration of his turn. The second set of cards are the word cards, of which there are 336. These cards are divided among the 4 horizontal slots in the tray. The other players each draw six cards for their hand and choose two-word cards to “create” a product to pitch to the customer. After each player has a turn to pitch his product, the customer choose  his favorite and gives them his customer card.  All players the restock their hand so they maintain a set of six cards. Play continues until each player has a turn to be the customer. The person with the most customer cards at the end of the round is the winner. As you can see, the rules are quite simple.


There are several variations of the game in the instructions. You can increase the number of word cards per person for more choices, or you can play the Snake Oil Live version where you have a game host that moderates and three players act as contestants. The rest of the players are the audience. The contestants each draw six cards and create a product. They stand up in front of the audience and pitch their product. After all three contestants have a turn to pitch, the host has the audience cheer or make a show of hands to choose the best pitch. This round is repeated with new contestants and the winners of each round try to beat each other out in the last round.

The tournament version is similar to the original, you just set up several games simultaneously by dividing up the cards between the groups and the winner of each game plays each other in a tournament round. Snake oil is also a great tool for the classroom teacher. When teaching about the old west you could insert a game of Snake Oil after sharing some facts about real life snake oil salesmen. If you are wanting to encourage public speaking and problem solving, try using Snake Oil. If you want to introduce the ideas of marketing, this game could be a very useful and creative teaching tool. Here is a free resource with ideas on how you can use this game with grades 5 and up in the classroom. Here is a short video with a brief description of standard game play.

Our Opinion of this Game

We tried this game with our family of five. My husband and I played with our boys ages 12 and 9. The youngest is 4 and she enjoyed playing with the plastic box insert and the discarded word cards since she was too young for purposeful play of the game. She sorted them in the four boxes and made up her own game as we played alongside her in our living room. Lydia game play

Our middle son was frustrated at the beginning, because he had never been asked to play a game that required him to use so many communication skills before. He ended up quitting the first round, but after watching us have so much fun, he quickly rejoined the game and became interested and engaged the rest of the game. We found ourselves laughing hysterically at some of the descriptions of make-believe products that we created in our minds.

My son chose the “Santa’ card for his first round. He decided to fully embrace the persona of Santa complete with the large belly as shown below.

Santa persona

The other players looked at their word cards and here are the products we came up with: giggle dirt, a pillow tent and a shadow shovel. We each pitched our products and we had a blast trying to convince “Santa” to choose our product. My husband made the comment that one of the standout features of this game was the fact that it can be short or long depending on how much time you have. One round was completed in about ten minutes for our family of 4 players. We have found that sometimes we don’t want to have a game night because of time restrictions, but with this game, we can still play a full game in a short amount of time. word cards

We also took the game to my brother’s house and played a game with eight people. It turned out very well and my brother who really despises most games, loved Snake Oil!

Brother salesman

Game PlayFun with games

Overall we really enjoyed the game and felt that even kids a little younger than ten ( in our case as young as  seven) were able to enjoy the game. We will be playing this in the days to come and it just might show up at some future family gatherings!

If you would like to read what other folks thought about Snake Oil or another edition Snake Oil – Party Potion from Out of the Box Games click on the graphic below.

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 Out of the Box Games Review

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Nov 07

Faith on Friday – #2

Gentle answerI need to meditate on this verse. It is definitely

one for the mom arsenal. Be blessed today as you

go forth and train your children!



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Oct 31

Faith on Friday – #1


Lord upholdeth fall

 May you be encouraged with the words of Scripture today! Our God is

able to keep us from falling.






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Oct 30

Treasure Hunting Fun with Clued in Kids – A Review

Clued In KidsReview

Who doesn’t love treasure hunts? When I was presented with the opportunity to review the Homework Reward Treasure Hunt and the Playdate Treasure Hunt  Clue Book from Clued in Kids, I knew my kids were in for a treat. I have special memories from childhood of my dad writing clues in the form of poetry for myself and my siblings every Christmas. We would receive the first clue and off we would go in search of our series of clues leading to our “big” Christmas gift. It was so memorable, yet it took a lot of time for my dad to put together. With Clued In Kids products, the preparation time is on average 10 minutes. This no-hassle approach to setup makes parents more apt to set up treasure hunts on a regular basis.

About the Company

The Clued In Kids company was launched by Helen Bertelli in November 2013 and was born out of her trek through family hardships. She and her daughter contracted autoimmune diseases and now that they are on the road to healing, she has realized the importance of chasing her dreams and living each day to the fullest.

About the Products

homework treasure hunt

We were sent two different products for review. The first product was the Homework Reward Treasure Hunt. It is a part of the PDF Printable hunts offered by Clued in Kids  and sells for $5.99. It takes 8 minutes or less to set up, works for groups of 1-10 kids and is intended for ages 5 and up (although my 4 year old participated.) The full-color 8-page PDF can be printed and used multiple times. We printed in black and white to save ink and the clues still came out nicely. I loved the idea behind rewarding kids for completing homework at the end of the day. As a homeschooler, we don’t regularly  assign homework to our kids, but we were able to tweak this product and use it as a reward for a great day of diligence in our homeschool. I told the kids several times throughout the day that if they finished school in a timely manner, they would received a special reward at the end of the day. The kids were guessing all day, but they never guessed that I had set up a treasure hunt. I simply downloaded the PDF product to my computer and then printed off the clues. Two clues were included on each page of the download. I cut the clues in half and then hid them in the places described. The clues had the hiding places printed in small font on the bottom for easy hiding and there was a master list at the end of the file that told me where each clue should be hidden. All but one clue was hidden inside making this a great rainy day activity or even something to break up a long, cold winter day.

Clued In KidsReview

I also loved some of the educational components to the hunt.The clues required some critical thinking and math skills to be used by the kids to reveal the location of the next clue. Decoding messages, reading phrases backwards, and finding a hidden item in a picture were some of the ways used to solve a clue.The clue shown below required the kids to write a time on a clock to determine which location to search next. (The next clue was in the sock drawer.)


Here is a picture of the kids just after I told them about the treasure hunt.


I handed them their first clue and they were off! Here is a video clip showing you how excited they were as they progressed from clue to clue.

My favorite clue from this hunt was the one that we folded into a paper airplane. They kids loved flying it around the house.

paper airplane clue

The treasure was found by using teamwork. The kids had lots of laughs and it generated a lot of excitement. They were thrilled with their reward. Here is what I included in the treasure basket.


  • certificate for an outing with mom or dad
  • an apple
  • candy corn

If you would like to get your own free copy of this treasure hunt, you can sign up for their newsletter here.

Clued In KidsReview

The second product we received was the Playdate Treasure Hunt Clue Book which is available for $8.99. You can entertain and delight from 1-10 kids with this product and it is intended for ages 4 and up. The intent of this product is to use it for a playdate gathering. What a cool playdate idea! This is a pre-printed tear off pad that is mailed to you upon purchase. We received the product in excellent condition in the mail and I scheduled a playdate with my children’s cousins for this hunt. We turned it into a fall-themed party and all the kids from ages 3-12 had a blast. We started the party with homemade mini pizzas and apples. After the meal, the kids gathered together and I gave them the first clue.


Each clue has a name line where you can assign which kid is to solve that clue. I assigned the backwards clue to my youngest nephew. The older kids lifted him up in front of the bathroom mirror holding the clue so they could read the clue. He thought he was big stuff to have his own clue to solve.reflecting on the clue

There were squeals of delight, laughter and a good dose of healthy competition involved in this supercharged playdate. The kids enjoyed searching around the house for the clues and it was cute watching them complete the group assignments for clues. One clue involved singing the ABC’s while pretending to use a hula hoop. Here is what I captured on film for this clue.

The treasure was finally found and the kids enjoyed little party goodies such as whistles and candy.

treasure found in dishwasher

The treasure was found in the dishwasher

dividing the spoils

dividing the spoils

A sweet treat at the end - smores cupcakes

A sweet treat at the end – smores cupcakes

Overall, we had a very positive experience with these products. I loved the ease of the clue pad in physical form because I literally just tore the clue from the pad and hid it around the house. I think that the clue pad products would make great gifts for Christmas. I was thinking you could give the Playdate Treasure Hunt Clue Book with a certificate stating you would host a treasure hunt and provide the prizes. Most any child would love to receive an experience and I think parents would appreciate a non-toy gift. The PDF Printable hunts only take a few minutes more and would allow you to use the hunt again with another group of kids. You could also tweak it and use it again for your own kids. I think my AWANA preschool class would enjoy the hunt and I could see using these at family reunions, birthday parties, Sunday school gatherings or home school co-ops. Anywhere you have a group of children gathered and need to keep them entertained would be a great place to try Clued in Kids products. Our family gives them a big thumbs up!

You can connect with Clued In Kids at the following social media channels:




If you would like to read more about the other types of treasure hunts available through Clued in Kids, check out the reviews of my crewmates by clicking on the graphic below.

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Oct 28

Gaining a Better Understanding of the Scriptures through ‘Mysteries of the Dead Sea Scrolls”

Mysteries of the Dead Sea ScrollsNew Liberty Videos Review

Mysteries of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Secrets of God Revealed by New Liberty Videos was sent to us for review a few weeks ago. Filmed at the Bible Museum in Goodyear, Arizona, this film provided me with some great food for thought and even sparked an interest in me to learn Hebrew! I have had an interest in the Dead Sea Scrolls discovery for a long time and I was glad for the chance to learn from these knowledgeable men more about the history of the Bible and how the Scripture was carried forward and translated over the years.

New Liberty Videos Review

The video is available for $19.95

through New Liberty Videos

The 60 minute DVD is appropriate for all audiences, but in our family it interested the 12-year-old and up crowd. The film consists of three parts:
Part 1 – Is an informational, historical and archaeological explanation of what the Dead Sea Scrolls are and how they were found. You will learn about how they were studied and how infra-red technology has opened more doors by enabling more fragments to be read and understood. The jigsaw puzzle of fragments has been able to be ordered more correctly with the invention of this technology and its application to archaeology. Joel Lampe is the presenter of this section and his resume includes international director and senior curator at the Bible Museum in Goodyear, Arizona and a worldwide lecturer. He has a wealth of Biblical knowledge to share.
Part 2 – In this section, you will gain an appreciation for how the ancient Hebrew language was composed. You will learn the importance of word pictures and how they beautifully illustrate and explain many of the words of Scripture. Even with no knowledge of Hebrew, you will walk away from this segment having gained some knowledge and understanding of how the language works. The teacher of this segment is Dr. Frank Seekins. He holds an honorary Doctor of Divinity for Hebrew Word Pictures. He has studied Hebrew word pictures for over 26 years and is the acknowledged founder of this study.
Part 3 – The most revered, printed and studied book of all time, the Bible, is discussed in this segment. You will span history with Dr. Craig Lampe as he shares the impact that men such as Constantine, Jerome, Erasmus, Martin Luther and William Tyndale had on the spreading of the Gospel through their involvement with the Forbidden Book. See samples of the Geneva Bible and learn about the suffering of our fathers in the faith as they were faithful to the call of bringing God’s word to people in their own language.

My Opinion of the DVD’s

The lecture feel of the video will turn off some who are looking for more of an entertainment value in a film. For education purposes, it was highly informative in my opinion. I felt that it would be a great addition to a high school Bible class. My twelve-year old son watched the first segment of the film with me. He mentioned that the first speaker was rather monotone and he had a hard time listening to him. For me, the tone was overcome by the great artifacts and visual aids shown during the lecture. Dr. Seekins had a more pleasant voice and I was surprised that I enjoyed his topic more than the other two sections. The Hebrew Word picture segment ended up being my favorite. I was inspired by the thought that there is so much more that I could learn from God’s Word by gaining a better understanding of Hebrew Word pictures. I decided to make a little sign to hang on my bathroom mirror to remind me of the meaning of one Hebrew word, Shalom.

Hebrew Word Picture of Shalom Before watching the video, I really had no interest whatsoever in Hebrew, but after seeing the perspective that word pictures gave me through a few common Biblical terms, my interest was piqued. I think this would be a nice addition to any believer’s video library.

If you would like to learn more about the other films produced by New Liberty Videos, check out the other reviews by my crewmates. They reviewed Anthem for a NationThe Forbidden BookA Nation Adrift,
Teaching Origins Objectively, and Warriors of Honor

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Oct 27

The New Future of Conversaving

Mr. Conversaving says that is about as boring as watching the grass grow.  And that’s a problem that is going to be solved real soon.  Look for Conversaving to become the true husband-wife blog it was intended to be!

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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!

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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.

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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.


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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.

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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.


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