Review: By the Way Book Series, Washington ~ Here We Come!

By the Way Book Series ReviewWe’ve never visited the state of Washington. Have you? For those of us who live too far away or extended vacations aren’t currently an option, we’ve got the next best thing. Our recent review of By the Way Book Series, Washington ~ Here We Come revealed you don’t have to leave home to explore God’s creation and learn about a fabulous US state.

By the Way Book Series is an informative collection of reads sharing fun facts about several US states and encouraging discovery of Biblical truth in everyday life. We had the opportunity to review Washington ~ Here We Come, our son’s first book choice. (Closely followed by Florida’s Treasure Coast ~ Here We Come, which we’ll have to visit soon!)

After perusing our choice of books, we anxiously watched our mailbox for our read to arrive. Our son was excited to receive his package and when it showed was thoroughly impressed with the quality of the book. The illustrations and images are well laid out, with plenty to learn amongst its pages.

Washington ~ Here We Come follows Alex, Lexi, Miss Cindy (their bus driver), and other team members as they discover the state of Washington and the heritage of that region. Together we explore such sights as Washington’s firsts, Olympia National Park, Ruby Beach, Quinault Rain Forest, and more. At each stop, we learn about the flora, fauna, and history of the area.

Our goal was to use Washington ~ Here We Come as our bedtime read, a quiet moment together where we read one-on-one. We started immediately, reading several pages aloud each night. We were not in a hurry to rush through the pages, instead choosing to fully absorb the text and open discussion before moving forward.

Washington ~ Here We Come was a fun read. We enjoyed learning about creatures such as the Banana slug which can reach lengths of up to twelve inches. (Imagine me shivering while my son giggles uproariously.) We read about Sitka trees used to make airplane frames in WWI. Native American history was explored, reminding us forty-two tribes still live in Washington today. As a parent, I truly appreciated By the Way subtly pointing my son to God. Each section spotlights God’s creation, His provision throughout history, and His goodness without losing focus of the immediate lesson.

There was much to cover. So much so, we will more than like be re-reading By the Way several times more before fully absorbing its contents. In fact, we could see how each By the Way adventure could easily be adapted into smaller studies in both science and history, prompting a world of discovery.

If you’d like to learn more about By the Way Book Series, please visit them at their website and on Facebook. To read helpful reviews like this one, and gain more insight into what By the Way Book Series has to offer, please visit The Homeschool Review Crew!

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Your Turn!: Which state would you most be interested in learning about?

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Book Review: Beyond the Tiger Mom

“This book’s thesis is that Western and Eastern parenting philosophies have vastly different strengths and weaknesses; therefore, parents on either side of the world can learn from each other…”
(Maya Thiagarajan, Beyond the Tiger Mom)

Beyond the Tiger MomBook Review: Beyond the Tiger Mom by Maya Thiagarajan is an intriguing, thoughtful book. Ms. Thiagarajan invites us into her world, giving us glimpses of her global experiences in education and parenting. She shares with us lessons learned both academically and experientially, sharing tips for putting the best of both worlds into practice.

Beyond the Tiger Mom consists of three sections: Academics, Achieving Balance, and Myth, Media & Metaphor. Chapters cover topics such as “Why Are All the Asian Kids on the Math Team?”, “Raising Readers”, “Memorization, Practice, Exams, and Other Things Asians Love”, and more. Each chapter closes with a handy “Tips for Parents” section, to help families apply concepts covered in the previous pages.

We found Beyond the Tiger Mom interesting and informative. We appreciated reading of Ms. Thiagarajan’s personal experiences and her interviews with Asian parents. Each chapter covered key concepts of learning, giving insight into methods both Western and Eastern parents use regarding this area of development. Ms. Thiagarajan does a wonderful job of clearly identifying strengths and weakness in both cultures while continually encouraging parents to seek the good of the student.

A thoughtful point Ms. Thiagarajan brings forth is the notion of finding balance. As parents/educators, we do not wish to over-stress our students with study so intense our children never have play time, but neither should we take our children’s education so lightly they do not take study seriously.

While learning disabilities were briefly mentioned, and confirmed, in her book, we would enjoy reading more on this topic. It would be nice to have a better understanding of how other cultures acknowledge and work through these challenges in education.

We were encouraged by reading Beyond the Tiger Mom! Whenever we take on a book specifically relating to education, it’s possible to find areas of study we’ve glossed over. Instead, we found much to confirm we’re not only on the right track, but already implementing the ideals put forth.

This was an enjoyable read with much to ponder. We appreciated learning about Eastern culture and their parental perspective on child rearing, and discovering their viewpoint on Westerners. The “Tips for Parents” portion of each chapter are a great check for those looking to fill in any gaps in their child’s development.

As Ms. Thiagarajan pointed out, childhood should have balance. May we be inspired and encouraged to seek the Lord to find the right fit for our children. Only in Him will balance be found, enabling us to not only reach our littles academically, but in leading them to Christ.

FTC Disclaimer

Your Turn!: Consider this statistic… “The well-publicized study titled ‘Early Warning Confirmed‘ by the Annie E. Casey Foundation,… third grade as a particularly important year. If a child is strong in reading and math in third grade, then he will do well throughout school.” We’d love to hear your thoughts on training up children early!

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Book Review: The Kingdom of Oceana

I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a free copy for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.


kingdom_oceanaEvery once in a while, we discover a book filled not only with exciting adventures, but something new to be learned. This month, we had the privilege of receiving one such read and we’re excited to share it with you.

A fictional story set in Hawaii, The Kingdom of Oceana, tells about 16-year-old Prince Ailani and his brother Nahoa who trespass on a forbidden burial ground and uncover an ancient tiki mask, unleashing a thousand-year-old curse that threatens to destroy their tropical paradise. With the help of his ancestral spirit animals, his shape shifting sidekick, and a beautiful princess, Prince Ailani must overcome his own insecurities, a lifetime of sibling rivalry, and a plague of cursed sea creatures brought forth by the tiki’s spell.

What We Liked… The Kingdom of Oceana is a lovely read. The story is intriguing, the characters charming, and we learned a great deal about Hawaii. We found ourselves unable to put the book down; reading it in one afternoon.

What We Loved… The beautifully illustrated front cover is not to be missed. Also highly appreciated were the study guides which accompany The Kingdom of Oceana. This is obviously a work of the heart and it shows.

And What We’d Change… Nothing! This was a work of art from beginning to end. We look forward to reading more Mitchell Charles in the near future.

To learn more about The Kingdom of Oceana, and Hawaii, visit the WEBSITE filled with helpful learning pages and guides. You can also read the first chapter of The Kingdom of Oceana, or listen to the audio chapter.

One day we hope to visit Hawaii for ourselves. What a blessing it would be to see all the places mentioned in the book and give God the glory for His wonderful creation. Until then, we’re blessed to enjoy exciting books which take us to another place and encourage imagination.

📢 Chime In!: Surfing or SCUBA diving, which would you prefer?

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Book Review(s): Questions…

book_review_questionsDuring the course of my walk with Christ, I have asked Him many questions. I’ve pondered my purpose, whether I’m failing in my parenting, how I can be a better wife, and how much worse things can get before He finally calls us home. But did you know the Bible is filled with questions God has for us?

Why would God have questions? I assure you, it is not because He doesn’t have the answers. Rather, He desires to guide us into deeper understanding and wisdom. In Questions God Asks and Questions Jesus Asks, Mr. Israel Wayne once again seeks to edify and encourage readers with each unique chapter. We are taken through a series of questions meant to engage us and bring us closer to God.

In Questions God Asks, Mr. Wayne discusses important topics such as “Where Were You?”, “Why Are You Angry?”, “Is anything Too Difficult for the Lord?”, and several more.

In Questions Jesus Asks, Mr. Wayne continues with such chapters as “Who Do People Say That I Am?”, “What Will It Profit a Man?”, “Do You Want to Get Well?”, “What Were You Arguing About?”, and more.

Both books are brilliant. We enjoyed each tremendously. We found them to be easy reading. But don’t let that fool you, the questions themselves are deeply moving and demand answers.

How We’re Using Them… In lieu of a boxed Bible curriculum, our family chose these reads to start off our homeschool day and Our Morning Basket for the entire first semester. We slowly went through each book, chapter by chapter, breaking down the message God shared through Mr. Wayne and searching the Scripture references provided.

And Why… The Lord blessed my heart when reading through these books and I wanted to share the blessing with my children. Each of these questions encouraged our children to understand more of God’s character, Jesus’ divinity, and our relationship with each.

While these books were not specifically designed with children in mind, there was no chapter which did not minister to my family as a whole. Each question presented met each of us in a special way. I would especially recommend these books for students in junior and senior high, although younger children could easily benefit from following along with parents.

Yet again, the Lord has used Mr. Wayne in a mighty way. Both Questions God Asks and Questions Jesus Asks bring our hearts before the Almighty with grace and love. Read them. You’ll be blessed.

“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
~ John 17:3

📢 Chime In!: Which Biblical question has God (or Christ) asked which has spoken the most to your heart?

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Book Review: The High School Handbook

High_School_HandbookSometimes you come across a resource so good you just can’t stop recommending it. That is exactly how we feel about The High School Handbook. This one book contains so much helpful information regarding those all too important years, you just might not need another.

In The High School Handbook, Ms. Schofield does an excellent job of laying the groundwork for Jr. and Sr. High. She provides a helpful, step-by-step process to organizing your students’ workload, as well as ideas on how each can be implemented to their fullest. She explains, with clear reasoning, why each step is taken and how it benefits both your student and yourself. To further assist you with each step, Ms. Schofield has graciously placed helpful sample forms throughout the book, showing how her family has organized each area. She has also included blank forms for you to copy and use at your own disposal, making your job even easier.

Ms. Schofield covers every area of Jr. and Sr. High that you could possibly imagine. If you are unsure of how to organize your classes, this book will help. If you are unsure which classes are needed to attend a university, this book will help. Need tips on grading, courses standards, transcripts, and college? This book is definitely the one for you. From Language Arts and Arithmetic, to Driver’s Ed and Work Permits, this book has something for everyone.

On a personal level, I am extremely grateful I chose to read the book before our children started junior and senior high. Our children were still in elementary school (we are not including sixth grade as part of “middle school”). Had I waited until the summer before junior high, I might have stressed myself out with the amount of paperwork and organizing needing to be done. However, having read the book a full year in advance, I had plenty of time to prepare whatever forms were necessary. I very much appreciated the sections on Missionary Opportunities, Apprenticeship, and College at Home, as each of these areas are of particular interest to our family.

Once again, I find myself cracking open the pages to dig even deeper; hoping to find new sources of information or perhaps little facets I might have missed the first few go-rounds. High school is here in full force, with graduation a few short years away.

I highly recommend The High School Handbook for everyone with a child going into Jr. and/or Sr. High. Even if you don’t homeschool, it will help you to better understand what classes your child should be taking in their studies. It will help you prepare them for ACT and SAT exams, College Applications, and other areas common to upper grades. I greatly encourage you to read this book. Don’t wait until your child is about to start their higher education, help them now. You won’t regret it!

📢 Chime In!: For those of you with children already in Junior or Senior High, was there a particular book(s) that you found helpful in organizing the chaos?

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Book Review: Full-Time Parenting

I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a free copy for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.


“Full-time parents look for every opportunity to teach and train their children in the ways of the Lord… They don’t want to let a single opportunity slip by without being able to impart important eternal truths to their child.”
~Israel Wayne, Full-Time Parenting


How much of our day is spent parenting our children? Perhaps not enough. If we want to have lasting relationships with our children, and provide them with a solid, Biblical foundation for adult life, it’s time to embrace full-time parenting.

In Full-Time ParentingIsrael Wayne clearly and simply lays a Biblical foundation for parenthood. He gently encourages each of us to take our roles seriously, asking what God wants for His children. Full-Time Parenting addresses such topics as the father’s role in parenting, child training, the “Perfect Family” Syndrome, techno parenting, and more.

We found Full-Time Parenting, to be honest, spectacular! Israel Wayne does an incredible job of laying Biblical groundwork for every chapter covered. He constantly seeks to edify the reader; always encouraging parents to seek God’s will. Full-Time Parenting is engaging, thought-provoking, and to the point. Every chapter a blessing from beginning to end.

There were a few sections which especially caught our attention. “Hospitality: It’s Not Just for Women Anymore” was an interesting chapter and sparked quite a bit of conversation. “A Christian Education Manifesto” was amazing. Scripture, Scripture, and more Scripture encouraging parents to carefully consider their children’s education. “Why Some Children Leave The Faith” was an apt warning in today’s society.

Don’t be fooled. While Mr. Wayne does an excellent job of presenting God’s view of full-time parenting, there is nothing easy about what God is calling us to. In fact, being a full-time parent is going to be the toughest job you will ever have. But, God is good. He doesn’t expect perfection. He only expects us to give it our all.

Join us in the incredible adventure of full-time parenting. Prayerfully ask the Lord to show you what He wants of your family, spend dedicated time in the Word seeking His face, read Full-Time Parenting, and allow the Lord to do a mighty work in your home.

“Whether you are a single parent or a faithful Bible-teaching, patriarchal leader of your home, it isn’t ultimately about you. It’s all about God and His marvelous grace. Throw yourself on the merits of Christ and watch in amazement what He can do in and through you and your family.”
~ Israel Wayne, Full-Time Parenting

📢 Chime In!: What do you find most pulls your focus away from being a full-time parent?

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10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom

“Imagine never having to worry about your children again. That would be the life, wouldn’t it? No more sleepless nights, stressful days, or a stomach tied up in knots because of what your children are going through that you can’t control, or what might happen to them that you constantly fear.”
~10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom

10_Secrets_BookReviewIs it just me, or do we ladies worry a lot? We worry about pleasing people, we worry about doing enough, we worry about doing too much. We worry, worry, worry about everything and everyone. Perhaps it’s time to take a step back, refocus our thinking, and learn a few secrets to becoming worry-free.

In her book, 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom, Cindi McMenamin helps us gain a better understanding from whence our worries derive and what a Biblical response to those worries ought to be. Gently reminding us of the Only One who can calm our fears and care for what we love far better than we can, Cindi does a lovely job addressing all areas of parenting and directing us to the Perfect Parent, Jesus Christ.

Covering such topics as “What If I’m Not Doing This Right?”, “Will They Ever Get Through This Phase?”, “You Did What?”, and more, Cindi McMenamin offers encouragement and Biblical wisdom.

“I’m sure you and I would never worry at all if we could be assured that our children would be happy, healthy, and safe all their days. But life comes with no such assurances. And while I personally can’t promise the well-being of your children, I can offer you ten ‘secrets’…”
~ Cindi McMenamin

While the entire book is a gem, filled with Scripture, my favorite portions of the book come at the end of each chapter. Here, Cindi includes “Putting Into Practice”; practical tips for putting each new worry-free plan into place, complete with an “In Community” section making this book a small group study! I would also be remiss if I did not mention both Appendix A & B; you’ll want to make a point of gleaning from those pages as well.

Although this book is mainly written for the benefit of mammas, I believe the Biblical wisdom found in these pages applies to all areas of life, not just parenting. God wants us to rely on Him, leaving our anxiety at His feet; fully trusting Him to meet our needs and the needs of our family.

I pray God would do a mighty work in each of us, giving us wisdom to train and disciple our children in such a way as would bring glory to His kingdom. May the Lord work in each of us as parents, helping us to live worry-free lives dedicated to His work.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
~ Philippians 4:6-7

📢 Chime In!: Are you a worrier, too? Share with us your favorite Bible verses for overcoming moments of anxiety and stress!

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Cindy Lou and Sammy Too Go To The Mall

“My name is Sammy and today my friend Cindy and I are going to the mall. I’m her guide dog and my job is very important. Cindy is legally blind and it’s my job to keep her safe…”

– Cindy Lou and  Sammy Too

Book-Review_logoMy kids are animal lovers. Often while we are out and about, we will see cute, furry friends and my children will want to shower them with affection. It’s taken a little time for them to realize some dogs have a job to do and we need to let them do it.

Cindy Lou and Sammy Too Go To The Mall is a charming story written by Cheryl McNeil Fisher to help young children understand that some dogs have a very important job to do. Sammy, an adorable golden retriever helps children better understand what his job is and how we are to act when he is nearby.

This story is lovingly told, filled with gentle advice on how to act around and towards guide dogs. For those unfamiliar with guide dogs, this will open the mind to the importance these dogs have in the lives of those visually impaired.


Cindy Lou and Sammy Too Go to the Mall: The Adventure of a Guide Dog Team is a wonderful special education tool for teachers and students, enjoyable for children of all ages to read and to learn about the blind community and courageous guide dogs. Above all else, this delightfully illustrated tale is a story about loyalty and friendship. As readers see the world through Sammy’s eyes, they can feel the devotion and love he has for his owner. Educational and heartwarming in equal measure, Cindy and Sammy are certainly a winning team.

This story is a very easy read, one even young children can work through quickly. The kids and I enjoyed reading this story very much and learned several new facts about these special animals.

We highly recommend this story as an addition to your library. You will enjoy getting to know Sammy and hearing his tale. These dogs are truly remarkable!

iPhone Only Photography

“The best camera in the world is the one that’s always in your pocket.”

                                     – David Molnar

Book-Review_logoBetween having an incredibly good-looking husband, four adorable kids, being involved in way too many activities, and blogging, it’s safe to say I take a lot of pictures! I average about five hundred pictures per week, depending on the events we’ve got planned. If I can find a faster, easier way to not only take those pictures, but also clean them up for personal use, I want to know about it.

It seems I’m not the only person looking to streamline their photography. A few months back, a friend sent over a post heralding an upcoming book by David Molnar. What struck me right off was Mr. Molnar’s advice, “The best camera in the world is the one that’s always in your pocket.” Most photographers want to sell you on their favorite camera, which can be discouraging if you cannot afford to run out and buy the latest Canon or Nikon. Mr. Molnar encourages us to forget the fancy stuff and use what you have right at your fingertips… your iPhone! iPhone Only

To be honest, I hadn’t been too impressed with the standard Camera app which came with my iPod Touch (same apps apply as those on the iPhone). It didn’t capture images with the same clarity as my Canon PowerShot and I quickly gave up the notion of being able to use it. Intrigued by the notion of being able to dwindle down the amount of stuff currently congregating in my purse, I immediately signed up for the free intro to Mr. Molnar’s book, anxious to see what I was missing.

Oh, my! All I can say, is that I wish this book came with my iPod from the get-go. In fact, if you love photography as much as I do or at least use it as much as I do, immediately stop reading this post and head over to his website. HERE you can purchase the full e-book and get started on your iPhone photographic journey right away.

iPhone Only Photography is so simple even a child could read it; so engaging every iPhone holder will want to read it. This book will make you want to dig out your iPhone and play. Mr. Molnar gives us eight chapters full of tips, hints, and advice on how to take pictures like a pro and edit them to achieve maximum affect. Each chapter leaves us with a challenge, a helpful recap, and further inspiration taken from other iPhone photographers.

iPhone Only Shrimp

Personally, I can already see a marked difference in the pictures I am taking and using. Through reading iPhone Only Photography I have learned so much, making my job as a memory keeper and a blogger all the more fun.

Don’t take my word for it! Type in the hashtag #iPhoneOnlyPhoto while using the Instagram app and see what the buzz is all about! If you haven’t downloaded iPhone Only yet, what are you waiting for? This is one book you won’t want to go without.

Time to Chime In: Name one challenge you’ve come across when trying to shoot memorable pictures.

Demanding Dudley

“‘Dudley’ his mother replied softly and kindly, ‘Is someone being a Demanding Dudley?'”

Book-Review_logoCharacter training is a must. What good is a well-educated child who is a monster? Anything which helps my children better learn manners, character, and general etiquette is always a good resource, in my opinion.

Demanding Dudley is an adorable story about a fuzzy little guy who needs to learn his manners. Through Dudley’s interaction with his mother, we see how bad manners yield no results and good manners produce good things.

This was a charming little book. The story was easy reading, enjoyable, and a thoughtful lesson; the illustrations creative, colorful, and cute.

My son really enjoyed this story. He thought the main character, Dudley, was quite funny. Mom really enjoyed the character traits being shared and the lessons learned. In addition to this adorable book, more fun can be had at The Wiblets website! There you will find games, goodies, a list of currently available books, and more.


Please click on the image above to be taken to The Wiblets website!

Demanding Dudley is just one of several Wiblet books written by Deneen Renae. Renae’s The Wiblets series of educational picture books is perfect for bedtime, and is built on pillars of hard-won parenting experience. Her “positive trigger phrase” method of calming and educating has proven itself effective in reaching the hearts and minds of children at any stage in their emotional maturation.

If you’re looking for a fun, creative way to teach basic manners to your littles, these might be just the books for you!