It’s Christmas Time!

And as always, time is very full, and running short! We have two children in the Christmas play tomorrow night at our church, so they have needed to be there for several rehearsals. The name of the play is “Christmas Hang Ups”, and the children are costumed as ornaments. One of our boys is a cowboy ornament, the other is a Michigan ornament, in honor of where we came from.

Since the twins have play practice late this afternoon, and their dad is doing the lighting, he will take them, while I take our two older boys for their hair cuts. I have a hair appointment tomorrow, so it’s been decided that the twins can get their hair cut while my color is setting.

This week, we have a group of people from church doing Christmas caroling. Last night, they came to our street, and my husband and I went to the doors to invite our neighbors out to hear the singing. we gave them each a dozen cookies, a Christmas card, and an invitation to our children’s play, along with our beautiful candlelight Christmas Eve service. Tonight, we will go do the same in someone else’s neighborhood, and THEY will be the one’s going to the doors.

All in all, it’s been a very busy couple of weeks, and I’ll be very happy when all the rush is over, even though a lot of it has been good. Doing the caroling, which was meant to be a blessing to others, turned out to be one for us, as well, especially as we kept hearing from people that they didn’t think anyone still did caroling! I hope you are all enjoying this time of year, too! :-)

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Been Busy, Busy, Busy!

November was hugely busy. First, a whirlwind trip back to Michigan for a loved one’s funeral. Let me tell you, you know when you have very special friends who make it possible for that to happen, without whom I would not have been able to get there, have a place to stay, a car to borrow, get home, and have money for expenses. Thank you both, you know who you are, and I love you both, very, very much! After that, between time change weekend and going back and forth between three time zones, I was REALLY tired for a while, but am better now.

Meanwhile, I’ve been working on a large order (100 cards) of Christmas cards for our hair stylist. I have 40 more to make, which she will receive by Wednesday.

Our Thanksgiving was very quiet, just us this year, and my husband worked until 2:30 that day, so we simply had dinner at our usual dinner time. I prefer to do that on holidays anyway, if possible, rather than trying for a mid-day meal. I’ve no wish to be up in the middle of the night to put in a turkey like my mom did.

Our Christmas tree is up, though not yet decorated. I’ll post pictures once it is, though.

Well, there you have it, a quick update. There will be more in future posts, as soon as I have time to upload photos and such . . . things like my teens at the turkey bowling their youth group did, lol!

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Out Of The Box Games: T. O. S. Review

As my final crew review for this year, I really could not have asked for a better one. :-) Never fear, I will be returning to the crew after the new year, with more great products to tell you about. Meanwhile, I’ll still be around, letting you in on “My Journeys”!

Up until recently, I had never even heard of Out Of The Box Games.

However, since we got rid of all of our board games when we left Michigan, I had promised to rebuild our collection here in New Mexico. My goal has been to rebuild as much as possible with educational games, so when given the chance to review the game Snake Oil, from Out Of The box Games, I really wanted to do this one, and I am very glad I did, too!

I want to tell you something we learned from this game . . . Snake Oil, and Snake Oil salesmen really existed! During the 1860’s, Chinese laborers working on the Transcontinental Railroad would, after hard, physical labor, rub sore muscles with an ointment made from water snake oil. They shared the ancient Chinese remedy with their American workers. Products containing water snake oil are still in use today by some herbalists. Eventually, snake oil was commercialized, and in the early 1900’s, a sample of Clark Stanley’s Snake Oil Liniment was tested by the U.S. government, at which time it was discovered to contain no snake oil at all. Because swindlers had been using it and making false claims, the phrase “snake oil salesman” was born. Today, we might refer to politicians, used car salesmen, etc . . . as “snake oil salesmen”.

The Snake Oil game was developed by Jeff Ochs, who came up with the concept for Snake Oil in 2008 while on an airplane flight. He and his colleagues were reading a catalog to pass the time, and noticed a recurring theme, that many of the product names consisted of two random nouns. They began playing with random noun combinations to create new products, and entertained themselves for the rest of the flight. You can find out more about the creation of the Snake Oil Game by reading here.

I like to have games that are easy and quick to learn. Snake Oil definitely fits the bill. It is truly a right out of the box game! I also like to have games that we can all play together, and this one fits that bill, as well. It is recommended for age 10 and up, but even my boys who actually function at much lower than age ten were able to play right along with the rest of us, although the smaller of our twins, who does function much younger, needed a little help. The Game Snake Oil sells for $19.99

Everything needed comes right in the box. There is no need for score keeping, there are no dice, or anything like that. The contents of the box are a plastic tray which holds 336 word cards, and 28 double-sided customer cards, which allows for 56 different customers. Playing is quick and easy. Each player takes six word cards, and the players select one person to begin by being the first customer. That person draws a customer card, looks at both sides, and decides which customer he or she wants to be, for example, the card I just randomly took from the box has Prison Guard on one side, and Fashion Model on the other. Once the customer chooses who to be, the other players quickly choose two noun cards from their hands to create a product, and take turns “pitching” their products to the customer. It can get fairly hilarious, especially when a player has to go with word cards (nouns) that really have nothing to do with the customer’s chosen persona. :-) The customer chooses which product he or she likes best, and that “salesman” gets the customer card. At the end of the game, the player with the most customer cards is the winner.

One small warning, we did come across a few noun cards that we preferred not to use. You can easily remove them and still have a ton, or, if the reverse side is something you are OK with, maybe use double-sided tape to put them together with other nouns you don’t want to use. I didn’t think of that, until I took a look at my scrapbooking stuff, lol!

Here is a quick little video showing how Snake Oil is played:

There are variations on the game, as well, such as Snake Oil Tournament Play (12 – 24 players) and Snake Oil Live, with which a large group (can we say teen game night, anyone?) can be entertained.

My family is really enjoying this game, and our kids are learning without even being aware, which my regular readers know is something I love!

Please check in with Out Of The Box Games on their various social media:

https://www.facebook.com/OutoftheBoxGames

https://twitter.com/OTBgames

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If He Had Not Come: A T. O. S. Review

If He Had Not Come is a wonderful Christmas book that we have recently been given the opportunity to review. It was originally written by Nan F. Weeks, and has been updated and reintroduced by David Nicholson.

David Nicholson is a retired teacher and a short term missionary, who discovered Nan Weeks story when his own children were young. For many years, he read it to them each Christmas, and has now chosen to bring it to today’s generation.

According to the “about” page on David Nicholson’s website, there is very little known about the original author, Nan F. Weeks, other than that she was a teacher and writer of stories and curriculum for children, and that the original version of this story was included in an anthology, Christ in the Fine Arts, by Cynthia Maus, published in 1938. He does ask that anyone who has any further information about Nan Weeks please contact him.

If He Had Not Come is beautifully illustrated by Charles Jaskiewicz . The pictures are classic in style, very timeless, in my opinion. There are interactive discussion topics at the end, for use in families and Sunday School, plus, a going deeper section written by Josh Mulvihill. This book is available here in casebound hardcover for $18.95.

I loved this book. There is no other way to say it. And, I intend for it to be a part of our Christmas tradition from here on in.

If He Had Not Come tells the story of a little boy named Bobby, during one very unusual Christmas. On Christmas Eve, unlike most other nights, Bobby is excited to get to bed and to sleep, so that Christmas morning will come that much sooner. First, though, he and his dad sit by their Christmas tree for their daily Bible reading, which included John 15:22, including the words “If I had not come.” Those words are uppermost in Bobby’s mind as he drifted to sleep.

When Bobby awakens in the morning, he wakes to a somewhat shocking sight, there is absolutely no sign of Christmas! His dad isn’t there, his mom isn’t there making breakfast as she always does. When Bobby runs out of the house and starts looking all around town asking why factories are open on Christmas, as well as stores and other businesses, people didn’t know what he was talking about.

Bobby tries to go to his family’s church, but there is no church, just a sign that says “If I had not come . . .John 15:22″. He sees that sign in many places, like a children’s home, hospital, homeless shelter, etc. Running home, he picks up the Bible from which he and his dad had been reading the night before, only to find that after the book of Malachi, the remainder of the pages are blank, except for a faint outline of writing “If I had not come.” You will want to read the book to find out what happens next!

I appreciate this book because it makes it very simple to understand the message of what this world would be like if He had not come. I know that many non-Christians believe that all of these things would still be here, because they believe people are basically good, and would provide them, but that is not the truth. Any good that is in this world is here only because of the presence of the Holy Spirit, and when Jesus comes back for believers and takes them with him, the Holy spirit will go as well. This book is written for age six and up, and is simple enough for children to understand (including children even younger than age six), yet though provoking enough to make teens and adults think, too. We tend to take for granted the things we have as a direct result of Jesus having come to pay the price for our sin, and this book really brings it home.

You may also find out more on social media at:

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Clued In Kids . . . A T. O. S. Review

My kids and I have had such a fun time with this product from Clued In Kids!

This is a great product to use with the kids. After all, what kid doesn’t enjoy going on a treasure hunt? The set up time for mom is super quick and simple, and then the kids just take off searching for their clues. Take a look at how easy this is here.

Clued In Kids was created by a mom who grew up in England, and becoming inspired by a British TV show “Treasure Hunt”, began creating treasure hunts for the children in her neighborhood. But, there is so much more to her story, and I encourage you to read about it here.

We received two pdf treasure hunts. We received Happy Tummy Treasure Hunt, available at $5.99

And Thanksgiving Treasure Hunt, also available at $5.99.

These treasure hunts are appealing to a wide variety of ages, with some being great for kids as young as age four, while others can be organized by older kids and adults to be done with younger kids. It truly DID only take me about five to ten minutes to get each one set up! My kids didn’t even notice me going around hiding the different clues, as they were involved in other things at the time. Then, I came in and said “Who is ready to go on a treasure hunt?” Do you know, they were all excited enough to even put away their electronic games! :-)

I chose to have my boys work together on searching and figuring out the clues. I just really thought it would be better for them, and it was. They took turns reading the clues and filling in answers. There was one clue in the Happy Tummy hunt that involved coloring to be given the next clue, so for that one I printed four copies so they could each color their own.

Here they are, finding one of the clues . . .
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Intently solving various clues after they found them . . .
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One of the things I really liked was the idea given for making alterations, if the answer to one clue (which led to the next clue) was something that doesn’t exist in your home. It was suggested to just hold back that clue and have them do a physical activity instead, and then give them the next clue. I chose to do something else. One clue had them unscramble the word “Bike” to discover where to find the next clue, but we don’t have any bikes. One of the kids has a Ripstick (a kind of skateboard) though, so I got them to unscramble that word, and that is where they found the next clue.

I think MY favorite part was when they were supposed to run around the house gobbling during the Thanksgiving Hunt. Instead, I had them run around in our court on our street, which you can see in the video below.

We really enjoyed Clued In Kids Treasure Hunts! They would be good for a party, a play date, or, as we used them, just for a fun time with your kids!

To check out Clued In Kids on their various social media, please look below:

Twitter: @cluedinkids
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cluedinkids
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/cluedinkids/

95 crew members reviewed a variety of Clued In Kids treasure hunts, both pdf and physical versions. Please click on the banner below to read what they all thought!
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Learning About The Partial Solar Eclipse . . .

So, last week there was a partial solar eclipse, which was visible here in NM. When I showed my kids how easily we could make a pinhole projector, they were totally on board!

Here is our pinhole projector!
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We went outside at about 3:40 our time, and watched it for a while, and then went back out close to 4:30, which we’d been told on the news would be peak time.

We tried doing it with the blank card stock on the ground, but it wasn’t working very well . . .

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So we ended up having one child hold the pinhole projector, and another hold the blank card stock. They took turns, so that everyone who wanted to, got a chance to do both, and everyone got a chance to just look, as well.

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Their dad got home from work while we were still outside and decided to get in on the action, too!
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Here is a short video of the action for your enjoyment!

addendum: I totally forgot to mention that one of the boys next door got off the school bus (arms full of books and homework) as we were doing this, and stopped to see what we were doing. he thought it was pretty cool, as did the lady on the other side of our house, who was leaving to go somewhere, but wandered over first to see. Homeschooling rocks! :-)

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A Nation Adrift (DVD) . . . A T. O. S. Review

New Liberty Videos is a company which produces Christian DVD’s. Bryan Barkley has been producing Christian movies for 30 years, ever since he became a believer while producing the documentary “Set Free,” which was filmed in San Quentin prison. Before that, he worked in Hollywood as an editor on several television series, including “B.J. And the Bear,” “Sheriff Lobo,” and “Quincy.”

For purposes of review, I received a physical DVD entitled “A Nation Adrift”, which is available for $19.95.

A Nation Adrift is the true story of how God’s sovereign hand guided the founders of America. It is a lot like a visual timeline, with sound. Of course, in the beginning, most of the visual is done with paintings and such, and narrated quotes of the founding fathers. Quotes which, I might add, show quite clearly that they fully intended this country to be founded upon the Holy Bible and Christian principles. In fact, if you really think about it, most of our laws that have been around since that time are based directly upon those things.

A Nation Adrift actually begins WAY before the founding of America, all the way back to the beginning of the conflict between Islam and Christianity, which continues today. It takes us through Christopher Columbus’ journeys, the pilgrims, the first Thanksgiving feast (which was NOTHING like Thanksgiving meals today), & the Mayflower Compact.

You will see much about the Revolutionary War, and George Washington, a Christian man who became our first president. There was wonderful narration throughout, quotes from Washington and others, along with beautifully done visuals.

This DVD truly does cover quite a lot, for we also have much narration, quotes and images from the Civil war as well.

Eventually we came to relatively more modern times, beginning with World War 1, and continuing on through World War 2. At this point, the visual becomes more than the paintings and such that had to be used earlier, because it is covering a time when we were beginning to have “moving pictures”.

Throughout the second half of the DVD “A Nation Adrift”, we begin to see changes leading to our country’s drift away from God’s plan. This DVD is supposed to be for “general” audiences, however I personally would caution you that there is a point after we get to more modern times when I sent my children out of the room, as there were topics being dealt with that I’m just not prepared to discuss with them at this time. I did not send them out during the material about Margaret Sanger, because I wanted them to see her for who she really was, and the evil she founded. I have adopted special needs children, and mixed race children, and they were shocked at the direct quotes from Margaret Sanger regarding her agenda to convince black people to get on board with birth control, because she believed their population should be radically lowered, and quotes regarding how those who were retarded should also be eliminated. There was one quote where she said that the best thing a large family could do was to kill one of their infants.

It was at the point where there were detailed drawings and audio descriptions of late-term abortion that I sent my kids out to play. I am 56 years old, and had seen this before, and it was still disturbing to me, so I knew it would be to them as well. There also was video of a church being attacked by demonstrators for gay rights that was very disturbing, because it was clearly not faked. Members of the church could not even leave to go home because they were being attacked, and the demonstrators were holding signs which said “we want your children”, while shouting the same. Now, I do believe that God has given us free will, but that sort of thing is NOT going to change anyone’s mind, in my opinion.

All in all, I think this is a very well done documentary, and I would recommend it for adults, church leaders (all church leaders!), and possibly high school students, but not for young children. It is very well done.

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