Aug 18

Teaching Children’s Bible Stories with Wizzy Gizmo – A TOS Review

Wizzy Gizmo ReviewAre you looking for an entertaining audio drama that will help you teach children’s Bible stories? We recently received Audio Drama One: Who Created Everything? available from Wizzy Gizmo.  This adaptation of Genesis chapter 1 is part of the Old Testament Bible Series created to help parents practice the commandment in Deuteronomy 6:5-6 to teach the Scriptures to our children. 24/7.

About the Company

Wizzy Gizmo was created by Chris Del Aguila, a father of 3, minister of music, musician, author and sound engineer. He works with Justin Cummins, a father of 5, church planter, pastor, teacher, author and illustrator to create Bible teaching tools for kids. They have a passion to equip families to teach their children the Word of God. Rich theological truths are woven into Biblical and wholesome resources that the whole family can enjoy.

About the Product

  Audio Drama One: Who Created Everything?


Geared for Ages 4-12

An adaptation of Genesis chapter 1

Wizzy Gizmo Review

This one hour audio drama on CD has 22 tracks. Tract one is the theme song which can be listened to at the Wizzy Gizmo site. Tracts 15 has a Giz Quiz for you to test your knowledge after the drama. The remaining seven tracts contain bonus music soundtracks.

.The character Wizzy Gizmo is a mad scientist kind of fellow described as having blue hair, big glasses and knobby knees. The drama takes you away in your imagination on a journey with this scientist as he places the Bible in his Gizmovision machine and you are transported into the first chapter of Genesis at the beginning of creation. There are four kids, a robotic duck and a pup named Pepe who come along for the journey. You will watch as light is created, the earth fills with plants and animals and God creates man. The musical score is filled with catchy tunes and you will find yourself singing along with nonsense songs like Mango, Oh how I love you! and Strawberry Fields. The timeless truths of God’s Word are presented in a memorable way ensuring that your child will catch some important truths of Scripture while enjoying an exciting adventure. You will learn scientific facts such as the difference between plants (seed-bearing vs. fruit bearing), the purpose of the sun, moon and stars and more. Vocabulary words are explained throughout the drama and you will learn the definitions of such words as auspicious and firmament. Who could ask more from this excellent Bible teaching tool.

My Opinions of the Audio Drama

This drama has been one our favorite review items of the season! We listened to the CD while doing chores, running errands around town in the car and on a family road trip. My kids have played it over and over and we can all sing the Mango song in our sleep. The catchy tunes and dramatic background music help to remind the kids of the wonderful way in which God created our world. We loved the talking Spanish pup, Pepe, and his hilarious accent.  I was very pleased with the scriptural accuracy and the quality of the recording. Even the difficult concept of the Trinity was explained in a way that children can begin to understand this foundational truth.The characters were memorable and Genesis chapter 1 has never been presented in a more clever, creative way. This CD will be played over and over in our home in the next several months and we will look forward to purchasing Episode 2 when it is released.

Connect with Wizzy Gizmo on social media at the following links:






If you are ready to purchase your own copy for your next road trip, to play at bedtime, or to use during Bible time in your homeschool,  make sure you take advantage of the up to 10% discount just by sharing about Wizzy Gizmo on social media. If you would like to explore all that the Wizzy Gizmo product line has to offer, click on the graphic below to see what some of my crewmates thought about their other offerings.

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Aug 17

Ready for Routine

Morning routine

We have enjoyed the summer to the fullest this year. We played, we vacationed, we visited family and we spent some time at the pool. Now that fall activities are starting in our homeschool group, church and local recreation department, it is time to settle down into a new school routine. I am so ready for routine! Easing into a homeschool schedule helps us be more successful. We begin with a wakeup routine, breakfast, chores and then gradually add in our school subjects.We are planning to ease into our routine over the next two weeks. I know from experience that my crew does not do well with jumping in feet first.These are the things we are working on this week:

  •  getting up on time
  •  getting our new chore routine in place
  •  getting our school spaces set up for use
  •  organizing school supplies
  •  getting used to our new sports/AWANA schedule in the evenings
  •  starting Science and Literature assignments for co-op classes
  •  finishing up some review materials
  • completing one math lesson a day

Here are the mom tasks that I am planning on tackling this week:

  •  getting up an hour before the kids to start my day with devotions, a little bit of planning time and maybe a stretching routine. I am thinking about  trying this stretching routine by Denise Austin.
  •  I will be aiming for an hour a day to continue my school planning.
  •  beginning a Beth Moore study at church with my mom and sister
  •  studying and planning for my science class at homeschool co-op.
  • getting some new blog content together (Look for upcoming reviews about music, math facts software and audio dramas for kids. I also hope to share some about the way we use Sonlight curriculum in our homeschool soon)

I have found that sharing my goals helps me be more accountable. What goals have you set for this week? I would love to have some interaction on this post. Leave your comments below and I will respond as soon as possible.



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Aug 08

Egg in A Hole – THM Breakfast Recipe (S)

As long as I can remember, my kids and I have loved a recipe we call, “Egg in a Hole.” We take buttered whole wheat bread, cut a hole in the middle of the bread using a cookie cutter or small cup turned upside down and fry an egg inside the whole. Since starting THM almost a year ago, I have learned to adapt some of my old favorites and make them THM friendly. I adapted this breakfast recipe from this Bread in a Mug recipe. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!

egg in the basket


photo courtesy of aspherical element via Flickr 


Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 1
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp golden flax meal
  • 2 Tbsp almond flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • pinch sea salt
  • Butter
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Mix the first seven ingredients in a mug until combined.
  2. Pour over a greased waffle iron. I spread it thin so it will make two square waffles.
  3. When ready, cut a hole in the center of the waffle bread with a cup or small cookie cutter.
  4. Butter the bread and place in a hot skillet.
  5. Fry an egg in the center of each piece of waffle bread.

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Jul 30

Analytical Grammar – Mastery in Minutes (A TOS Crew Review)

Image (10)

As I prepare my son for the start of 7th grade in a few weeks, I set some educational goals for the upcoming school year. One of my goals was to focus on grammar mastery. I have been on a quest to find a grammar curriculum that would not consume large amounts of our time. My oldest son is an avid reader and has a very good grasp of vocabulary and the English language. My question was, how do I keep all the important grammar rules fresh in his mind for testing purposes without bogging down in loads of busy work? Enter the Analytical Grammar company. We were recently sent one copy of Analytical Grammar, which retails for $94.95 (This includes one teacher book and one student book) for review purposes. This course is intended for 6th grade and up. Analytical Grammar Review

About the Company

Analytical Grammar is run by a mother daughter team. Mom Robin Finley is a retired teacher who developed this program in her classroom after being told by her department chairs that they would not purchase extra curriculum for her 5 language arts classes. She could not transport her one set of grammar texts to multiple classrooms, so she took initiative and developed her own curricula! She has a heart to help students and believes that if grammar is taught logically and sequentially, there is not a need for “daily” grammar work throughout the years. She used her curriculum over 12 years as she tweaked it and made it what it is today. After using it in her own public school classroom, she was approached by a local private school asking her if her materials were for sale. That was the start of Analytical Grammar. As her daughter Erin Finley Karl came through her mother’s classroom, she was educated using the Analytical Grammar materials and then went on to teach middle school using her mother’s materials for a few years. Now you can find Mrs.Karl helping her mom run their company and working part-time as a public affairs officer for her local military base. She is also a Major in the Air Force Reserves. If you would like to connect with the authors on social media you can find them on Facebook and Twitter at the addresses below.

Facebook –

Twitter –

Analytical Grammar Review

About the Course

Season One – The Analytical Grammar course is intended as a three-year course teaching grammar mastery and language mechanics. The first year or “season” as the book describes it, contains ten weeks of intensive grammar instruction covering 10 units of the curriculum at a pacing schedule of one unit a week. After this, no new grammar is taught for the remainder of the year. It is recommended that every two weeks, you spend one day completing a review exercise from the Reinforcement and Review book (not included). The student conducts these review exercises independently and can grade the exercises on his own, correcting his mistakes. Our focus for this review was on the first season.

Season Two – This year is begun with one week of review from the Reinforcement and Review book (sold separately) and then you teach units 11-17 at a pacing of one unit a week. Afterwards one day a month is set aside for review. This completes your study of grammar.

Season Three – The last season is focused on usage and punctuation as you teach the remaining units 18-34.

There is an alternate schedule included on the website if you would like to complete the course more quickly.

Drew Analytical Grammar

The Books

The Teacher Book –

The paperback teacher book is 392 pages of teacher notes and student book answers. It begins by explaining the program and giving pacing suggestions. Then there are notes on grading the exercises and tests. I found reading this beginning material very important for implementing the course in our homeschool. The next section gives teacher’s notes for each unit in season one with suggestions for possible shortcuts to use if needed. Next you find answer keys for the student pages with occasional teacher’s notes sprinkled in. Season Two and Three continue in the same manner.

The Student Book -

Skills Support Analytical Grammar This 396 page paperback text contains everything you need for three years of grammar studies with the exception of the Reinforcement and Review book should you choose to use it. The units are broken down into a notes section that introduces each unit, followed by three exercises, a skill support assignment and a test. The exercises reinforce the topic discussed in the unit and have the student actively marking and diagramming sentences. The skill support exercises are intended to teach paraphrasing paragraphs, for the purpose of helping the students with essay tests, book reports and other writing skills needed in the upper grades.The exercises and tests can be removed from the book easily by tearing on the perforated lines. Leaving the notes sections in the bound book provides a great easy reference manual that the student may use in the future for writing projects in other subjects.You could also choose to remove the notes section and place in a binder with page protectors.I thought this was a very handy idea.

Here are the topics covered in Season One

  • Nouns, articles and adjectives
  • Pronouns
  • Prepositional Phrases
  • Subjects and Verbs
  • Adverbs
  • Patterns
  • Helping Verbs
  • Conjunctions

Season Two and Three cover these topics and more

  • Participle Phrases
  • Gerund Phrases
  • Adjective Clauses
  • Comma Rules
  • Punctuating Quotations
  • Semicolons and Colons
  • and more……..

If you are interested in seeing more of the materials, you can view some sample pages on the website.

Our Opinion of the Materials

My son commented that he enjoyed the fact that Analytical Grammar had taught him to identify how words are used in a sentence. He benefited greatly from the section on prepositional phrases. After having spent the last two years in an intensive writing class in our local co-op, he has had lots of practice with adjectives and adverbs, but he had forgotten the details of identifying some of the parts of speech. I loved the idea of teaching grammar mastery for 10 weeks then using the rest of the year for review. I think this is exactly what I was looking for in a grammar curriculum for my son. I found the teacher book extremely helpful when grading exercises with my son. We were able to quickly identify any errors in the text and correct them as we went. When grading tests, I benefited from the points value given for each sentence. We used the first 5 units over the summer and plan to continue through unit 10 for the first 5-6 weeks of our official school year. I plan to purchase the Reinforcement and Review book to use the rest of the year completing one exercise every couple of weeks. When we come across grammatical concepts in other subjects, we will pull out the books and review as needed. We will do Season One for 7th grade, then continue next year with Season Two. If you would like to hear what other families had to say about Analytical Grammar and some of the other products they offer, check out some of my crewmates reviews by clicking on the graphic below.

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Jul 30

Wordless Wednesday

We will be making a trek to Virginia midweek to visit grandparents. Here are some pics from our last week of summer school.


Lydia lining up her bears in the window
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Jul 27

Planning Resources – Things to Enhance Your Homeschool Planning

#homeschool planning resoursesToday I am sharing a roundup of some of the things I am using in my homeschool planning this year. I thought that I would also share some of the things that have worked for me in the past. I am even going to share some cool things I have found on Pinterest or other blogs that I have yet to try. I LOVE me some office supplies and planners, so hang on to your hat as I try to inspire you to get in preparation mode for the upcoming school year.

Homeschool Planners

my planner

Photo credit: Sara Grajeda via Flickr


I have used the Well Planned Day planners in the past and found them to be a great paper planner for homeschooling. I loved the inclusion of tear out report cards in the back and the visually appealing graphics. There is room to plan for up to four children, with lots of extras like budgeting pages and Bible reading plans.This year’s version is available for $26.95

The Schoolhouse Planner, downloadable version is something I have used in the past because I have free access to it as a result of my affiliation with the TOS Review Crew. I have found some really awesome planning forms and tools within its pages. It really has everything you could ever imagine in its pages and you can customize many of the PDF pages. This digital version sells for $39.00


This year, I was sent the Hey Mama Schoolhouse Planner for only the cost of shipping. I have started to use it and will update you as I get deeper in my planning on my opinion of this new product. So far, I think I am going to really like it. It is on sale right now for $16. I like the simplicity of the layout. I am trying out a new planning method this year of putting everything on paper as a pacing guide so I know where I stand to finish on schedule. I will use the monthly calendar pages at the beginning of this planner for this purpose. Then the two-page spreads will contain what is actually done by the children each week. I found this planning method at Only Passionate Curiosity. She even has a free downloadable planning pack.


If you are the creative type, this is a very cute way to make your own customized planner on the cheap using a composition notebook.

Here is another one that requires more steps to put together, but it looks very customizable.

I also found this free printable planner on Pinterest. I like the look of the graphics and the simplicity of the record keeping,

365::62 - moments so quietly gone

 Personal Planners


I used to always have my handy-dandy Dayspring pocket calendar in my purse for reference and to keep track of my work schedule, church events, etc. I have not had one of these for several years and was delighted to see the new and improved version that is now available for $7.99.

The Cozi calendar app was something I really enjoyed using before getting a smart phone. I loved that I could use it from the laptop, but found keeping an online calendar that I could not access when out and about was difficult to maintain. I was using a pocket calendar when out, a wall calendar for the family and the digital calendar on the laptop so I could keep the family journal there. This worked for a while, but soon became tedious.

Photo credit: Sarah Reid via Flickr


When I got an iPhone about a year ago, I had just begun using Google Calendar and decided to merge everything to this platform so I could access it from my phone and the laptop. I love the ease of use and the fact that I can send reminders to my phone for events and my husband can view the calendar from his computer at work. I have yet to get anyone in the family to use Google calendar with me so I am planning to keep my wall calendar and go back to a small paper planner that I can take with me on the go. I feel like I still need the visual of a larger layout and the ability to see ahead the events that are upcoming rather than a little dot on my phone calendar.


I recently won a blog giveaway for a Classic Life Planner from Erin, I watched You Tube videos of the planner in action and I can’t wait for my new customized planner to arrive. I will definitely let you know what I think of this as I see how it works for me.

Homeschool Reference and Encouragement Books


What Your Kindergartener Needs to Know by E.D. Hirsch, Jr. – There is an entire line of books for K5-5th grade. A great reference to help you aim for the important things to cover in each grade

The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling by Debra Bell – My all-time favorite homeschool reference book. It literally covers everything you could ever need to know about homeschooling.


Flourish Book Review


Growing Up Duggar by Jill, Jinger, Jessa and Jana Duggar – This book is full of some great tips for child training, relationships and the many things that happen in family life. I have been inspired with some great ideas from this book.

Flourish by Mary Jo Tate – This is my latest favorite book that has helped me really envision more for my life, homeschool and blog.

401 Ways to Get Your Kids to Work at Home by Bonnie Runyan McCullough and Susan Walker Monson – this has been an excellent resource in helping me make a plan to teach my kids all the skills they need to know about home and property management before they leave home.

Paperless Home Organization by Mystie Winkler – great ideas for simplifying your record keeping and managing email.







These are books on my homeschool/mothering reading list

Planning resoures

Life Skills for Kids by Christine M. Field

7 Tools for Cultivating Your Child’s Potential by Zan Tyler

Quiet Times in Loud Households by Kimberly Eddy

Help for the Harried Homeschooler by Christine M. Field

Created for Work by Bob Schultz

Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends by Sarah, Stephen and Grace Mally

The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling Teens by Debra Bell



I hope some of these resources spawn your creativity and help you plan the best homeschool year ever! Blessings on your homeschool!









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Jul 23

Are You Ready to Flourish? – A Book to Help Moms Find Balance (A Crew Review)

Flourish for Homeschool MomsOne of the hardest things moms face is burnout. When we add up all the responsibilities of home management and organization plus throw in working at home and homeschooling, we have a recipe for disaster if we are not careful to learn principles of organization, time management and goal setting. In her new book entitled, Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms, published by Apologia Educational Ministries, Mary Jo Tate shares her stories and equips homeschool moms with the tools they need for long-term success in life and business. Flourish Book Review

About the Publisher

Apologia Educational Ministries has been serving the homeschooling community for many years and is a trustworthy name in science curricula for homeschools. However, their ministry goes far beyond Christian science materials. They also offer materials for history, biblical worldview, language arts and a whole host of books to help equip and encourage homeschool moms. They sponsor a yearly homeschool moms retreat called,  Real Refreshment.

 About the Book

Flourish Book Review   Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms is available from Apologia Educational Ministries for $15.00. This book was written with homeschooling moms in mind, but would be easily adaptable for moms in all walks of life. There is literally something in the book for almost all women. The sixteen chapters in this 288-page paperback cover topics such as:

  • Finding Balance and Flourishing
  • Using a FREEDOM toolbox (Focus, Reflect, Educate, Eliminate, Discipline, Organize, and Multitask)
  • Time Management
  • Goal-setting and creating a Big Dream
  • Using planning tools such as yearly goals, a monthly calendar, a daily task list ,and a running to-do list
  • Dealing with interruptions and distractions
  • Adjusting our attitudes
  • Nourishing yourself personally
  • Child training
  • Managing the home
  • Single parent homeschooling
  • Managing and growing a home business
  • and more……..

Appendix A is a recommended resource list broken down by topic. Some examples of the topics are homemaking, life management and education. Appendix B contains a list of planning and self-evaluation forms for you to use as you navigate the book. They are also provided as a downloadable link with the purchase of the book.

About the Author

Flourish Book Review


Mary Jo Tate is a single, home educating mom of four boys. She runs a successful freelance editing and book coaching business and is the author of Critical Companion to F. Scott Fitzgerald and several business courses. She hosts the “Flourish at Home” radio show for the Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network. She is also a convention speaker. She enjoys sharing her love of reading and writing with others and feels impassioned to encourage, inspire and equip homeschooling mothers.

Connect with Mary Jo Tate on Facebook and Twitter

My Thoughts and Opinions of Flourish

I was excited about reading this book from the beginning, but I have to admit, I have read MANY books for homeschool moms. I have read volumes on organization and home management and I was wondering what I might learn from this book that I didn’t already know. My problem has always been implementation. I am a great planner, but the follow-through is the hard part for me. When I started the first chapter, I was engaged with the material. I identified with the author and saw some of the ways that this book might be able to help me. I was first struck by this quote from page 19 photo 2 (5)My ideal never seems to be my reality. I have this skewed mental picture that if I just get up earlier, get more organized, or set loftier goals I will reach my ideals. I took a good hard look at my ideals and found out they didn’t mesh with my reality. I had to come to peace with that. In reading this book, this was one of the greatest revelations for me. I started following some of the steps in her “Taking Action” section at the end of each chapter.

Flourish - Take Action!Journal entries from Flourish

This book made me take a serious look at my life and what I want it to look like in 5 years, 10 years and so on. I realized that it is ok to dream big. If I never try to reach for my dreams, I definitely won’t realize any of them. I had several deep discussions with my spouse about our hopes and dreams and we decided on a few action steps we needed to take to make them a reality. There is so much inspiration in these pages. I loved the quotes scattered throughout the book in the sidebars. Here is an example of one that spoke to me.

good habits


I will be reading this book again and probably highlighting and marking up the pages. I was surprised at how much I gleaned and I am sure that any mother will find some inspiration, help or encouragement in these pages. This book will be on my top ten list of recommended titles for homeschooling moms. Although some of the chapters didn’t directly relate to me,  (I don’t have a home business and I am not a single mother) I took away knowledge from these chapters to share with others and store up in case I ever find myself in need of this advice. If you are looking for a thoughtful, inspiring and encouraging read, and are ready to find meaning, purpose and balance in you life as a homeschool mom, make sure and pick up a copy of Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms today.


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Jul 23

Guest Posting on the Laundry Moms Website Today

Have you ever been overwhelmed with life? Sitting there going over your to-do list in your head and wondering how you are going to get everything done? This was me a couple of months ago. Each day for me as a mom is filled with scheduled activities and interruptions. If you are a do-er like me, sometimes the busyness never ends.

A month ago I had the opportunity to go on a medical mission trip to Romania for 10 days. As I spent time preparing for the trip and took time to really be present on the trip, putting distractions aside, it helped me really get perspective on my everyday life. Before the trip, I found myself turning like a hamster on a wheel, moving but feeling like…

Head on over to the Laundry Moms website to read more.

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Jul 20

Five Random Photos from Our Week

<a href="http://”>20140720-235703-86223985.jpg
Fun with friends at the peach packing plant


One of the foam magnet creations the kids made

David serving at the local homeless ministry


Homemade chalk paint

A field trip to the roller rink

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Jul 12

Finding a Balance in the Crazy Life We Live

I have been thinking about my focal words for this year recently. I chose balance and focus. I have been reading a really good book entitled, Flourish by Mary Jo Tate. (Watch for the review coming soon!) This book has caused me to think about my goals and really being intentional about my life again. I find that halfway through the year, I tend to lose my mojo and begin to stall out in the motivation category. Add in summer break and I really just want to chill. This is nice for a few weeks, but then I start feeling pressure to get things done before school starts back. Here are the things I am learning in regards to each of these words at this time in my life.


Focus on the things you can change and let go of the things you can't.

I have been putting off some tasks that I wanted to get done this summer, because I thought that it would take all day to do them. I made a commitment with myself to just try to work on them 30 minutes each day. I have finally started to see some progress. Here are some of the things I have accomplished this week by  using this process.

  • clean out my junk drawer
  • get rid of a big stack of papers that needed sorting/filing – still working on this project
  • cleaned the vinyl on my back porch
  • bathed the dog
  • worked on annual homeschool assessments for my kids – still working on this project
  • backed up photos from my iPhone – hoping to finish this project tomorrow

As I have started to just BEGIN some things this week, I have been surprised by the progress. If you are feeling stuck and unproductive, try just picking something that has been bugging you and just GET STARTED. Even if you only have 15 minutes a day, you will start moving forward. I have also been meditating on the fact that my ideal in my head and the reality of my life are two different things. If I am always focused on the ideal, I will never be happy with my reality. Meditating on this has been really making me realize how discontent I can become if I am not present in my reality. Coming to grips with my reality has given me a new level of contentment with my life.


I have been reminded of the importance of saying “no” and I am finding a greater balance in my life. I have taken on fewer reviews, I have been putting my phone down more, I have been trying to spend more time with my kids and husband and I have been trying to step away from the computer more often. Balance is also about keeping Christ at the center of my life. When I filter all my activities, opportunities and encounters through His eyes, I realize the things that are most important.

I hope you will be encouraged today to find more FOCUS and BALANCE in your life.

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