Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The Hidden Message BOOK REVIEW

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

History, some like it, some don't.  I must say, growing up that history was one of my least favorite subjects.  As I've gotten older it has become more interesting and important to me.  Our newest book review is The Hidden Message of the Great Seal (How Foundational Truth from The Dawn of Liberty May Rescue a Republic in Peril) by Michael Kanis from The Hidden Message, LLC.  I received a free copy of this 256-page softcover book.  It has a nice glossy front and back cover and heavy duty semi gloss interior pages.  It is a fairly heavy book!  It's approximately 9" x 12" and printed in landscape format.

Because of its size and orientation, it is a little awkward holding it to read.  The author clearly states that this is NOT a history book, but boy is it loaded with wonderful historical facts that supplement any historical study.  What a great supplement to any studies covering our founding fathers, the Declaration of Independence, or other histories from that time period (1774-1783).

1782 version of seal (it went through many revisions over the years)

Wow, can I just say "Wow?"  Sometimes I am easily impressed and I must say that I was not disappointed with the wonderful "nuggets" found in this book.  Our Great Seal.  From its creation, the seal had great meaning.  Just like the Declaration of Independence, our Founding Fathers had a great fear of God and their intent for all purposes was for us to be a nation founded on the principles of our God.  I LOVE how the author, Michael Kanis, has woven scripture throughout the entire book showing the connection to Godly principles.

Sample page

There are 24 chapters that carefully walk you through the history of the seal including important characters such as Charles Thomson and Francis Hopkinson (very well known for his allegorical stories and strongly extroverted personality).  Michael explains how the idea was birthed and who was involved in its creation.  He explains how much of the symbolism has been misinterpreted and corrupted over the years.  The Bible says there is "nothing new under the sun," and that is never more true than in the explanations of how many of the meanings about the symbols in the seal have been twisted to mean something else, something to do with the occult or contradictory to God's word.

Satan has always used diversion and confusion as a tactic in distorting true meanings.  As I read what Michael had researched I remembered hearing about many of the "meanings" he said we are used to hearing.  About what the seal stands for and means.  Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams were tasked with creating the seal and before it was finalized it was turned over to Charles Thomson who completed it in two weeks.  Learning more about the history of Charles Thomson (the seal's final creator) was very insightful and interesting.

Partial timeline that is included in the book

The Seal is an allegory. Symbols with deep meanings and stories behind those meanings.  With its creation over 236 years ago, why are we just now hearing about or learning more about the meaning behind the seal?  Over time, explanations have been given that seemed complete at the time so generally, no one questioned it anymore. I also believe that God moves in many ways and situations for "such a time as this."  We are in one of those times for sure and I believe that God tasked Michael Kanis with the job of digging back into what the Founding Fathers intended when the seal was created.  The deep meanings are timely for what we are experiencing these days and the historical and biblical connections are not just "coincidences."  There is a lot to learn from this text.

Michael spent thousands of hours on the research for this book and it is evident by the plethora of information that it contains.  He weaves into the story how everything was connected historically and it helps to understand what he has found and definitely broadens your horizons with the knowledge that comes from his research.

I am so glad that I decided to review The Hidden Message of the Great Seal (How Foundational Truth from The Dawn of Liberty May Rescue a Republic in Peril) from The Hidden Message, LLC and I highly recommend it.  There is so much more than just the history of the Great Seal.  Be sure to click on the graphic link below to read what my fellow Crew members have to say about this book.  Be sure to use the 50% discount code (HOMESCHOOL) before May 30, 2020 if you decide to get this book.  The coupon code is only valid on his website,

The Hidden Message of the Great Seal {The Hidden Message, LLC Reviews}

Friday, April 24, 2020

30 Prophesies: One Story BOOK REVIEW

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

What a wonderful resource to have and great timing with our recently reviewed Easter Storybook.  Bible prophecy is powerful and what better way to introduce it to your littles than by reading them 30 Prophecies: One Story (How God's Word Points to Jesus) by Paul Reynolds, illustrated by Sarah Douglas, and published by Christian Focus Publications.  I received a hardback copy of this 100-page book.  It has a sturdy binding and nice heavy-duty semi-gloss pages.

She LOVES to read!!

There is an introduction that describes what it must have been like when Jesus met up with Cleopas and his friend on their walk to Emmaus.  It also covers the format for each story.  Each story covers just 2 pages.  The format for each story is as follows (from page 13 in the book)
  • Prophet/Dates - Who was God's messenger, taking the prophecy to the people, and when did it happen?
  • Prophecy Made & Prophecy Fulfilled - Direct quotes from the Bible of the prophecy itself and its fulfillment.
  • Then and There - What the prophecy meant to the original hearers
  • Prophecy Fulfilled - How Jesus fulfills the prophecy
  • Scarlet Thread - How does this prophecy fit in with what God is saying about His 'One Story'? The story of how He is saving people from satan and keeping them safe to be with Him forever?
  • Application - So you've learned about the prophecy, the fulfillment, and how it ties into God's 'One Story' ... but what does that mean for you?
  • Prayer - sample prayer in response to what you have read/learned.

It is written for a read-to-me age of 5-11 and a read-to-myself age of 6-12.  Little Bug is 7 and was able to read it pretty well and because she knows pretty much all the stories in the Bible she was not shocked by any of the content.  There are a few stories (like one of her favorites-I don't know why- about King Herod and the death of the firstborn sons) that you might want to skip for your young child.  As a whole though, these stories are absolutely wonderful to have in your child's tool chest of Bible knowledge.  I really like how it breaks it down into the above sections and helps the reader to decipher what they are reading and what it really means.  There are said to be 353 prophecies of Jesus in the Bible and the author says he has chosen just 30 of those.

Timeline from 2000 BC to 0 AD

There is also a timeline of the biblical authors of each of the books covered in the stories that spans from 2000 BC to 0 AD.  It is broken down by authors and the chapters from the book where they are found.  The prophecies are also broken down into three sections that include:
  • From the Fall to King David
  • Major and Minor Prophets
  • Prophecies Made by Jesus about Himself

Table of contents

It is more of a teaching book rather than an enjoyable story format, but that being said, what a wonderful resource to pair with a related Bible story from your child's favorite Bible storybook.  It can really help the older ones to break the stories down and gain deeper insight into what the story is really trying to convey and how it all works together in the big picture.  Little Bug just read this at bedtime with her daddy for their nighttime story reading.  I will be continuing to use the resource in our ongoing Bible study lessons during homeschool time.  I think it is even great for my high school student who could use some clarity at times with subjects such as Bible prophecy.

I think my favorite part is the Scarlet Thread sections.  What a wonderful thing to have in each story.  I appreciate the thought and insight put into these sections that get our kids to really see the purpose of what is happening.  That and the fact that each story is only 2 pages which keeps you from getting too bogged down into the story or missing the simple point of what is being said and conveyed in God's word. I keep calling them stories but they are truly short excerpts, prophecy statements, that are broken down for the reader to understand what is being said.

10 Key Memory Verses

Character Profiles on Bible study story authors

The last chapter, Chapter 30, is an epilogue that Jesus will come again.  The book concludes with 10 key memory verses about Messianic prophecy, Character Profiles (of the authors of the books of the Bible covered and listed in the timeline), and Prophecies broken down into sections with related scripture references.  The sections include the following:
  • Prophecies about Jesus' Birth
  • Prophecies about Jesus' Death
  • Prophecies about Jesus' Resurrection
  • Prophecies about Jesus' Betrayal and Rejection
  • Prophecies about What Jesus Did
  • Prophecies about Who Jesus Is

We give 30 Prophecies: One Story two thumbs up.  It will be a treasured resource book in my arsenal for Bible study.  You can connect with Christian Focus on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM, and YOUTUBE.  Please also be sure to click on the graphic link below to see what my fellow Crew members have to say about this Bible prophecy resource and the two other books reviewed Psalms for my Day and Not If, But When (Preparing our Children for Worldly Images).

Psalms for my Day, 30 Prophecies: One Story & Not If, But When {Christian Focus Reviews}

Something New, A Garden Mini Video Update

Just a quick video update on the garden.  Can't wait to get planting.  Broccoli and cauliflower are already in but must get the rest going. Our last frost dates are supposed to be about May 1 to 10 but I think I am going to start planting this weekend.  Close enough, right??!  If we get a late frost I will just need to scramble and cover things up.  Hopefully all will be good :)  Happy planting!

Saturday, April 18, 2020

April 2020 Garden Update

I just love this time of year when everything is starting all over.  The perennials are sprouting everywhere and things are green again.  My rhubarb and apple mint are going crazy.  So is the peppermint, citrus mint, and chocolate mint plants.  The strawberries are blooming, the asparagus is coming up (we've already harvested about 10 spears or so over the past week), and the hostas are coming right along.

Asparagus with strawberries


Blooming strawberries

Each year seems to get a little better in our garden plot.  The area is approximately 30 feet by 50 feet.  It has gone through a LOT of changes over the years.  First, we tilled and direct sowed, then we dug trenches and created 30 inch wide raised bed areas (that was very successful).  The problem was always the horrible weeds that kept taking everything over no matter what we did or how much we mulched.  We finally decided to try square foot gardening in raised beds and that has been a pretty successful work in progress.  We started with wooden 4 foot by 4 foot beds that eventually rotted out so we started replacing them with composite board kits specially made for square foot gardening. I kept finding them on sale for dirt cheap and as we did this we extended most of the beds to eliminate as many aisles as possible (more planting area, less weed space).

Apple mint and asparagus beds with cinder blocks

Our 4 x 4 raised beds turned into 4 x 12 beds and even one 4 x 20 foot bed!  We connected the strawberry beds together to form two 4 x 12 areas. One area houses all strawberries and the other has strawberries and rhubarb plants.  I am working on getting strawberries established in the asparagus bed to help suppress the weeds that always grow and to of course gain more strawberries!  We diminished our aisle space tremendously and kept up with the weeds pretty well last year.  The beds have very few weeds throughout the growing season due to the mulch layer (LOTS of chicken compost and wood shavings!).  What grows up over the winter and into early spring is easily eradicated as you can see from the work in progress pictures.

Heavy grass growth in the aisles from year to year and over winter.

Prior to weeding bed

After weeding, putting down more mulch, and beginning
to lay landscape fabric into the aisles

The apple mint and asparagus beds that have been connected have always been an eyesore and never well maintained.  I had seen where one raised bed option was to use cinder blocks.  It got me thinking.  Could we use that in this area?  We decided to try it this year and I think we are REALLY going to like this!  I am excited to see how it will fare over the summer.  If we can conquer this area in the weed department we will have accomplished something we have not been able to do for years.  I also saw where one of the homesteaders that I watch on YouTube uses commercial landscape fabric for their entire garden with no mulch or other cover at all.  We are trying that this year too and I like it!

I like the clean look of the fabric.  We are still working on it.

I am chomping at the bit and cannot wait to get the planting going.  We have broccoli and cauliflower in a bed already, but so much more needs to be planted.  Our last frost date is supposed to be after May 1-10.  I need to be patient!  I am really looking forward to the harvest this year.  Each year the structure gets better with the improvements we are working on.  This year might prove to be successful in the weed suppression department, I sure hope so anyway!  How does your garden grow?  Is it planting season yet where you are?  Hoping we all have a successful growing season.  Many blessings to you and yours.

I can't wait to get these in the ground!

Thursday, April 9, 2020

History on Horseback BOOK REVIEW

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Do you have a horse lover in your family?  Do you enjoy learning history through exciting, real-life stories?  History on Horseback: The Early Years from Sonrise Stable Books just might be what you are looking for.  I received a free softcover copy of this 197-page history laden horse series for kids.  The Early Years covers 1493 to 1866.  It is an adventurous history resource focused around horses and their role in history.

The History on Horseback series began with the author simply researching and working on a Christian Horse Study Guide. She quickly realized that there was some very interesting history in the making.  She anticipates that there will be a series of 3 books when her series is completed.  Volume 1 begins with the Spanish explorers and the arrival of horses in America and ends with the Civil War era.  Volume 2 will pick up with post Civil war and Volume 3 will cover up to the current day.  The History on Horseback Series is not currently a full curriculum.  There is an activity guide in the works that is scheduled to be completed towards the end of this year, 2020.  Her future hope is to have computerized interactive guides available with self-grading quizzes.  Once the study guides are completed it should work as a full semester or full-year curriculum.  For the time being it works well as a supplement or just for enjoyable reading.

The recommended age for this book is 12 and up.  I would agree with this.  My plan was to use this as a read aloud for my crew (1st grade and 10th grade).  I read the stories but failed to capture either of their hearts or interest.  My 1st grader liked listening to the stories, but even with them being short, I did not maintain her attention.  That being said, I LOVED the stories!  My thought is that it is definitely not made to capture the interest of my 1st grader (thus the age 12 and up recommendation) and my 10th grader dislikes or at least has no interest in both history and horses in general.

I am a horse nut.  My background is engulfed in horses (sadly I have never owned my own).  I rode and showed horses in both high school and college.  My degree in Animal Industries includes a specialization in Equine Science.  To say these stories intrigued me goes without saying.  I learned something from the very first sentence!  I did not know that there are "no true wild horses in the United States."  They actually descended from "tame" horses brought over from Spain.  I also enjoyed reading about the pit ponies in the coal mines.  Some historical topics that are covered include:

  • horse racing
  • slavery
  • Lewis & Clark
  • trains and transportation
  • Oregon trail
  • stagecoaches and Wells Fargo
  • military
  • Civil war
Table of Contents

There are a total of 53 stories.  So many tidbits and "nuggets" of information to learn.  I am really enjoying just "reading" about this fascinating history.  My love for horses no doubt taints my opinion a little, but the stories are well written, non-fictional, and very informative.  We all know that story of George Washington, but do we know about his horses?  Have you ever heard the story of Nelson and Blueskin and what they meant to Washington?  Don't be mistaken, the history is not just about the horses.  It does include plenty of historical information at the time of the events surrounding the stories.  The stories are short, generally just 2 pages, but packed with information.

The book concludes with a wonderful teaser for Volume 2.  It shares the story of Jim Key ("The Most Wonderful Horse in the World") and his trainer/owner William "Doc" Key.  What an enjoyable story about a man and his horse.

I personally would recommend History on Horseback: The Early Years if you are a history buff and/or love horses.  If you enjoy good historical stories then this series would fit the bill.  I agree that it is written for and would best suit age 12 and up.  I can't wait for the other two volumes and the study guides.  You can connect with Sonrise Stable Books on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM, PINTEREST, and YOUTUBE.

Please also be sure to click on the graphic link below to see what my fellow Crew members have to say about this historical horse series.

History on Horseback: The Early Years {Sonrise Stable Books Reviews}

Monday, April 6, 2020

A Little Help From My Friend

Not a very becoming picture, but a daily reality in my world.  I scoop the poop in my chicken coops daily.  This helps keep this fresh, clean, and hopefully disease free.  Lately, I have had a little helper.  One of my new hatches from last summer. Her name is Matilda (Tildy for short) and she is a mutt easter egger.  Pretty sure her dad was one of my mixed barred rock roosters and her mom was most likely one of my easter egger hens.  She is a sweetie and very curious about everything.

She has now decided that my "poop" bucket is a fun place to investigate in the mornings.  It makes for a challenging task of trying to clean the coop.  I get so tickled with her.  She wasn't always so curious and generally didn't want anything to do with me until she got a jealous streak with her "sister" Dolly.  Dolly is my personal "parrot."  Dolly is another mixed breed hatch from last year, the same hatch as Matilda. Completely different parents as Dolly came from a different coop than Matilda (different parents).  Dolly has been my personal buddy since she was a chick.  She is the one that loves to fly up or over to my shoulder and just perch and hang out.

My perch buddy, Dolly

Matilda decided one day that the extra attention might be kinda nice.  She started coming over every time that I would pay attention to Dolly.  Before you knew it we were friends too and now she will actually come over when I call her by name.  If you have chickens and want them to be "pet" friendly, aside from certain breeds that tend to be pet friendly, you just need to spend LOTS of time with them when they are chicks.  When I touch and pet my chicks on a daily basis, I tend to get more pet-friendly results.  If I miss a day or two, they seem to quickly revert back to wildness.  Chickens are funny, curious creatures and I doubt you would ever regret trying them out should you ever feel the urge to get some.  They provide wonderful eggs, meat if you choose to slaughter them, and endless entertainment.  Laughter is good for the soul.  Bless you today!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The Easter Storybook REVIEW

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

If you are looking for good, Christian resources then be sure to see what David C Cook has to offer.  We have purchased several resources (including music, books, Bible studies, and curriculum) from them over the years.  The Easter Storybook (40 Bible Stories Showing Who Jesus Is) written by Laura Richie and illustrated by Ian Dale is no exception to the quality of what they have to offer.  I received a hardcover copy of this wonderful 93-page book of illustrated stories of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection.  The hardcover is very nice quality with sound binding and the pages are of semi-gloss heavier paper quality.

The opportunity to review this wonderful resource has been such a blessing and the timing couldn't have been better.  This Covid-19 pandemic has turned our world upside down.  Church services in person have been canceled and the Easter play my kids and husband had been practicing so hard for will not happen as originally scheduled.  Being able to read this Easter storybook about Jesus and the resurrection has brought joy to Little Bug's world.  She LOVES the Easter story.  The bonus is that there is so much more than just the Easter story in this book.

The book covers the life of Jesus before, during, and after his death.  It is written for ages 4-8 (grade level 1-2).  It is great as a "read to me" for younger children and easily read by "read by myself" level readers.  Little Bug is in the 1st grade and was an early reader in Kindergarten.  She doesn't have any problem reading and understanding the stories.  The graphics are wonderful (colorful and well done).  The stories are told with greater detail than usual.  Laura tells the stories with insights (a kind of narration), what the characters are thinking or might have thought at the time.  It really draws you into the story more and helps for greater understanding for little ears.

Table of Contents

There are 40 stories that begin with Jesus in the Temple and end with His ascension.  The stories are from the 4 gospels and the book of Acts.  Each story opens with a scripture verse (ESV), tells the story, and ends with a thoughtful question that brings the story to life for the reader (real-life application).  There are scripture reference notations throughout the stories so you can refer to passages in your bible.  As a bonus there is a story allegory in the back of the book, The Light, that tells the story of the blind man having his vision restored.

Wonderful graphics

Storytime in the evenings with daddy is very special to Little Bug and this book was perfect for their nightly readings.  She has been enjoying the stories tremendously.  They read one story each night.  She loves the Easter story anyway and this book has brought new joy to her.  Other uses for this book could be for simple bible study or scripture memory.

We give The Easter Storybook two thumbs up!  What a wonderful resource to show and pour God's love into your little one(s).  It is also available as an ebook.  We loved this book so much that we just placed an order for The Advent Storybook also by Laura Richie.  You can connect with David C Cook on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM, PINTEREST, and YOUTUBE.

Be sure to click on the graphic link below to check out what my fellow Crew members have to say about this wonderful Easter resource.

The Easter Storybook {David C Cook Reviews}
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