Monday, June 17, 2013
Sunday, June 16, 2013
If you follow me on facebook then you have seen my posts about our journey with Joshua, our 12 year old with asperger's syndrome. Asperger's syndrome is on the autism spectrum. Kids with asperger's are fascinating. Some folks call them "little professors". Oh, yes, they have their social challenges, but they can also be highly intelligent in some areas. Children with asperger's often will fixate on certain things. It's like a light goes off in their head and they go through a stage where they have to know everything about a certain topic. It could be a sport, a movie, a T.V. show, or school subject...you just never know what it might be, when it will start, or how long it will last.
When Joshua was younger, it was Thomas the Train. He had to watch every show. He knew every character in the series. He collected the different trains and the different play sets. He read every book or we read it to him. He knew, and still does know, everything about Thomas the Train.
Later he moved on to helicopters. It was amazing! He could literally tell you everything that you wanted to know about almost any helicopter you could think of. Since heightened senses are also something that an asperger's child has, that brought a whole new dimension to his knowledge. He could (and still can) hear a helicopter coming before any of us could. He could then tell you almost exactly what kind of helicopter it was by the sound.
Other topics that have caught his interest are bowling, football, and, most recently, WWE wrestling. Yes, as in professional wrestling! Let me tell you the story.
I think that you all know that Sarah and I are directors of a ministry called "Good News Mission" to the low income housing area and really all of the low income folks in the town where we live. There is a little old lady that comes up to the mission by the name of "Miss Glenda". Miss Glenda is the Grandma of the projects located right across the street from where we live. She is always helping someone out. She even gets up at four o'clock in the morning and walks through the projects picking up cans and sweeping the sidewalks! She is an amazing lady.
She is also a lady who loves watching professional wrestling. She would come up to the mission and try to talk to the boys about wrestling, but, since my boys were never permitted to watch it, they really couldn't hold a conversation with her. Well, we decided to allow them to watch it so that they could talk with Miss Glenda and, sure enough, after a while, it became one of those things that caught Joshua's interest and he had to learn everything he could about it.
One year he received a huge, thick, wrestling encyclopedia from Sarah's mom for Christmas. He devoured that thing. I mean he took that with him everywhere he went and read it over and over again...and it truly was thick! It actually fell apart and we had to buy him the new updated one.
One day we were on the way to therapy when Joshua asked if we could play the flag game. He said he would describe a flag and I needed to guess what kind of flag it was. Well, since I had no idea that he knew what any flags looked like, my curiosity was piqued and I agreed to play. The first couple of flags were pretty common flags like the United States flag of Canada. Then, however, he began to describe flags that weren't as common but still recognizable like the flag of Japan. I was amazed, because I had no idea he knew all of these flags. Finally, he described a flag that was blue with a shield on it and a "little British flag" up in the corner. Well, now I was truly shocked. First of all I didn't even know he knew what the British flag looked like let alone a blue flag with a shield and a little British flag in the corner! I guessed a couple of countries that are related to Britain but was wrong every time. Finally I gave up and, in an exasperated tone, Joshua said "Dad, it's the flag of Fiji!". I countered "Joshua, how in the world do you know what the flag of Fiji looks like?" To which he answered "Oh, well that's where Jimmy Snuka, the professional wrestler is from."
It seems that beside the description of all of the WWE wrestlers in his encyclopedia, was the flag of the country in which they were born. He knew all of the flags from studying them in that big thick book!
Well, I decided to "strike while the iron is hot" and study everything we could about geography and other countries since that's where his interest was at the time. That was a decision that I am glad that I made. That incident happened a few years ago, and we have bought him geography book after geography book and he has really taken to them.
A couple of weeks ago we were playing a geography game online. The further you got, the harder the questions were. One level was all flags, and, of course, he got everyone of them correct almost without fail. I wasn't surprised at that. What I was surprised at was when they played small audio clips of languages and you had to choose what language it was from a list of four languages and he got almost all of them correct as well! Even the complicated languages like Russian. He didn't even look at the choices, he just listened to the clip and told me what it was. He didn't know all of the words, mind you, but he knew enough of them or could tell by the accent of the speaker.
Once again, we are "striking while the iron is hot". He announced to us that he wanted to learn a lot of languages but the first ones he wanted to learn were Spanish, French and Russian. So, our young fifth grader is now learning Russian from a set of books that a missionary friend of ours that served in the Ukraine gave to him.
I could tell you other fascinating stories about his love for countries and languages but will save those for another day. Could we, however, have found Joshua's calling? Time will tell. Until then, we are praying that God will continue to guide us in Joshua's and all of our boy's learning so that they can be all that He wants them to be.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Bible Science Experiments and Daily Dilemmas - A Review of Two Great Devotional/Object Lesson Books for Kids!
Little known Tim fact #umpteen thousand - I have been involved in the camping ministry for almost all of my life. I began as a camper when I was younger then I became a counselor, head counselor and eventually a program director. Way back when I was a counselor I would always look for things that would help me with devotions and other special times with my campers. Even today I am constantly searching for materials that I can use with kids in the Bible clubs and day camps that I direct. Bible Science Experiments and Daily Dilemmas, two products from Christianity Cove, have been a fantastic hit in my ministry.
As you can see from their tag line above, Christianity Cove's main goal is to "Lead kids to God's love" and I found that the two products that we reviewed did just that. Many of the reviewers from the TOS Review Crew used them with their children, but I chose to use them with my Bible Club kids and they really enjoyed them. Let me talk about each product separately.
The picture above is talking about Bible Science Experiments and it is spot on. I really wish I would have had this fantastic ebook when I was a counselor at camp, but am sure glad that I have it now to use at my Bible clubs and other ministries. Don't get me or the banner above wrong, though. These scientifically based experiments that have have Biblical applications will be equally enjoyed by both boys and girls. It's going to be used a lot this summer at our day camps for the kids that live in the low income housing area in our town.
There are 25 experiments in this ebook divided into five sections - light, color, motion, magnetism and gravity. Each experiment/object lesson starts off with a scripture. I really like that because it gets you focused on God right away instead of getting bogged down with the details of the experiment. It then gives a list of all of the materials - usually all simple materials that can be found around the house. For example, the very first experiment uses a drinking straw, glass and tap water. The materials are that easy to find. The object lesson then goes on to explain the very easy steps. You do not have to be a science expert to perform these neat experiments. After each experiment you ask a question or two (What happened to the water in the straw?), answer the question and explain what happened, and then go right in to a short devotional.
In this case, you put a straw down in to a glass of water, put your thumb over the top, and pull the straw out of the water. The water seems to defy gravity, stay in the straw and not fall out. I won't get into the the scientific explanation. You'll have to buy the ebook if you want to learn that. The Biblical example, though, is that God does not always follow the laws of nature. He made nature and can do anything He wants, like part the red sea, or walk on water. There is a lot more than that, I'm just giving you the basics. As I said before, you'll have to buy Bible Science Experiments to get the rest of the story!
I am in the process now of thinking about what experiments might go well with the stories that I am going to teach at day camp this summer. I really think that the kindergarten through sixth graders would love these and that the object lessons will really compliment my stories. I may even allow my junior high and high school aged helpers to do them. I think they could learn a few things from them as well. Bible Science Experiments is a keeper!
Another keeper is Daily Dilemmas. The banner above describes this book well. There are 26 sticky situations that deal with almost any situation that a child in today's world has to face. Gossip, revenge, bullying, peer pressure, persecution, cheating and more. Kids have to face so much more than when I was a kid or even when I first started counseling at camps 30 years ago. I really like these short devotionals geared for older elementary school aged kids or even middle school kids. To be honest, I really think that high school aged youth could really learn a thing or two from these lessons and perhaps even lower elementary children if it were broken down and explained.
Each devotional starts out with a short scenario. It is then followed up with scriptures that the child that is having problems in the scenario might use to help him or her make a decision about what to do. Then, there are four possible solutions to the problem that you are to read through and discuss with your children. In one scenario Owen is having problems with a kid from his baseball team bullying him. Owen has gotten so angry that he has even thought of getting even and revenge. What should he do? Of course, the story in the book is much more detailed than that, but that is a simple example of the types of devotionals in the book. After you read the story and the scripture verses to your children, and then decide which possible solution would be the best, you turn to the back of the book where each solution is discussed and the best choice is revealed. You can then discuss it further with your group.
I have used Daily Dilemmas a lot with my Bible club kids and we have had some really lively discussions. And let me tell you, the possible solutions can often be tricky. There are sometimes two or three that could possibly be the best solution. The author does a good job in the back of the book "Reflections" section in explaining each possible solution and why the one best solution really is the best solution. This book is another keeper and will be used a lot in my ministry!
I love these two products, and I also love the price. Daily Dilemmas is just $29 for the downloadable ebook, and Bible Science Experiments can be purchased for $25 for the ebook download. You can find them both by clicking here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above. Happy devoting!
There were many products from Christianity Cove that the TOS Review Crew reviewed and wrote about. You can find all of those reviews by clicking on the banner below.
Monday, June 10, 2013
My oldest son John Allen has been interested in computer programming for a long time. He has been through a couple of computer game programming courses and has created a couple of neat computer games. His dream is to one day create Christian computer games that can be downloaded for free from his own website. He hopes that he can get a lot of advertising for his site and therefore be able to make a living. However, although he has learned the basics in how to create a computer game, the only course that he has ever had in creating a website was a few years ago and he has forgotten most of it. That's why we were so excited to be able to review Let's Make a Webpage, an ebook by Motherboard Books.
Although the Motherboard Books website says that Let's Make a Webpage is for ages 8 and up, and John Allen has much more experience than a typical eight year old when it comes to computer programming, I thought this would be a great opportunity for him to brush up on his webpage building skills. There are so many sites, now, that use basic templates to help you "build" a webpage and the creativity that you have is often limited. This curriculum, however, teaches you how to build a website basically from scratch. It does require a simple download of "CoffeeCup Visual Site Designer". "CoffeeCup Visual Site Designer" is a program that writes HTML code as you design your webpage. I think that you'll see that it is all very simple.
Let's Make a Webpage, I had two thoughts - it's thorough but easy. So, Thorough and Easy are going to be my main themes for this review.
It's THOROUGH - Okay, I'm going to admit that I didn't do much with this curriculum myself. I'm not the computer "Geek", my son John Allen is, so he did most of the work and I'll let him comment a little later in the review. I did, however, look over the ebook and try to glance at what he was doing periodically. And My Goodness! What I saw when I looked over the ebook was that it was very thorough. The author, Phyllis Wheeler, leads you step by step into every aspect of your webpage. And I mean every aspect. I've copied and pasted the table of content below so that you could see what every chapter entailed.
As you can see, she includes every type of bell and whistle you could think of to put on your page. However, in order to keep her ebook easy to follow, she had to guide the programmer in a particular direction. Instead of allowing the reader to think of any imaginable kind of webpage to develop - which could be infinite - she suggests interviewing someone and then developing your webpage around the interview. Now, when I said thorough, I meant thorough. She even takes you step by step in doing and writing the interview. As you can see below she then goes into every detail of designing the webpage. Since I teach Bible to kids, one biblical phrase came to mind when I was thinking about this ebook and the way Phyllis Wheeler wrote it - everything is done "decently and in order". It is all step by step and logically written. Nothing is out of place or confusing. It is very thorough.
Table of Contents: Introduction for Parents
Lesson 1: An Interview
Lesson 2: Download and Set Up the Program
Lesson 3: Add Text
Lesson 4: Make a Table
Lesson 5: Add Photo
Lesson 6: From the Internet, Add Animations
Lesson 7: Browser Check, Backgrounds, Photos
Lesson 8: Sound
Lesson 9: Links
Lesson 10: Post Your Work
Appendix: How to Upload to the Internet
Now, lest you think that something this detailed and thorough must be difficult to understand, let me rest your mind at ease that although it is thorough, it is also very EASY. Phyllis Wheeler makes it very easy. She has such a way to her writing that it is almost like she is right there talking with you. I love it! There is no complicated computer language in this ebook. It is all just easy and flowing. And she is also very encouraging. At one point after asking the student programmer to experiment she says "Now that looks cool! Do you want to stick with that?". I mean, how neat and encouraging is that? It's like she's having a conversation right with you!
A little known Tim fact is that I worked with learning disabled kids for eleven years. I loved working with them, and I loved learning about better ways to teach them. I think that this book would be an excellent introduction to programming a webpage not just because of the reasons that I listed above, but also because it, as much as an ebook can, uses different learning styles to teach you how to design your webpage. I am a very visual learning. I like to see what something is supposed to look like. I love the fact that the author uses a lot of graphics in Let's Make a Webpage. For almost everything that she asks you to do, she has a graphic for what it should look like. I really like that, and that fact alone makes me want to try to make a webpage myself. I would have never thought that my middle child with aspergers syndrome could do something like this, but I really think that with the encouraging and flowing dialogue and graphics, that he could actually learn how to create a webpage.
Which brings me to what John Allen had to say about Let's Make a Webpage. He really liked it, but as an almost seventeen year old that has had some programming experience, he said that he thought it was too easy. Now, in my finite computer brain, nothing can be too easy, but to someone who knows his way around computer programming a little bit, this might not be a challenge. However, in this day and age with so many hi-tech and computerized things, learning how to work on a computer and design things is almost a must. The earlier you can begin to teach a child the better. Even if you don't expect to go in to a computer field, but want to go into something like marketing or business, you need to know how to develop a webpage. This curriculum is perfect for a young child or for a person that is not very computer literate. I really liked this ebook and I'm going to look into some of the other products that are offered by Motherboard Books.
So, how much is Let's Make a Webpage? I know from experience that some computer courses, even those written for younger children, can cost up to $100 and more. This ebook, believe it or not, only costs $19.95! You can find out more about it by clicking here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above. Happy Programming!
Motherboard Books has quite a few products to choose from and The Schoolhouse Review Crew got to review two of them. You can find what some of the other members of the crew had to say by clicking on the banner below.
Thursday, May 30, 2013
Wow! You have got to watch this. Do you remember Lulu Roman from the old TV show Hee Haw? Well, she is now in her sixties and doing better than ever. She has lost weight - a lot of weight - and has learned many lessons. I won't reveal a lot because I want you to watch the video. I will say that I had to fight back tears because in so many ways I can relate to some things she said. No, I am not overweight, but there are people in my past that I had to forgive and, even more importantly, I needed to forgive myself. Thank you Lord for the example of Lulu Roman. What a testimony!
If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know that we have been blessed with two autistic children. Our third son is equally unique. He was diagnosed with a rare eye cancer when he was 15 months old. He is cancer free but now has an artificial left eye. Because of our children's unique health problems, we try to be very healthy eaters. Unfortunately, it can be very expensive to eat healthy. We have tried many of the special healthy diets that are recommended - no food coloring, no preservatives, etc. etc. We have even thought about gluten free diets, but whenever we've read up on it, it always seemed very expensive. Most programs suggest throwing almost everything out in your cabinet and buying expensive "healthier" replacements - something that we couldn't afford on our meager budget.
When I found out we would be reviewing Simplified Dinners Gluten Free/Dairy Free by Simplified Pantry I was very excited. When I looked at their website and saw that one of the reasons why this plan was written was for "Those wanting to test out a gluten and dairy free diet for health reasons, but who would rather not invest in a whole new set of ingredients and cooking skills", I knew that this was for us!
So what makes this plan different than any other plans that we have tried? Well, let me tell you why Simplified Dinners Gluten Free/Dairy Free is a "recipe" for success. Now, I'll bet you didn't know that I really enjoy cooking. Before marriage I could barely boil water or put a TV dinner in the oven. Since marriage, however, Sarah has taught me to cook and I have learned to follow recipes to a "T". Let me warn you, though, that when I cook, I tend to wander and talk so much that it is hard to follow what I am talking about. So, since this review is patterned like a recipe I may do the same thing. Just wade through the babble and I think you should get the main points.
Two tablespoons of No unusual or expensive ingredients - Do you remember what attracted me to Simplified Dinners Gluten Free/Dairy Free in the first place? The statement that you don't have to clean out and restock your pantry or buy a lot of special stuff? Well, they are true to their word. The recipes use commonly found things that you can find in your grocery stores anyway. Unless you are talking about Tamari sauce, which, by the way, is a substitute for Soy Sauce which is a lot more salty and doesn't contain any gluten. Anyway, I had never heard of Tamari sauce before and found it difficult to find in the grocery but...oops...there you go...I was babbling again.
Anyway, as I said in my introduction, many gluten free/dairy free programs can be quite expensive, but I found that I had most of the ingredients included here already in my cabinet. What I didn't have was fairly easy to find and inexpensive to buy at the grocery store. That was very palatable to me!
One ounce of Ease of use - I probably should have put this as my first point, but Simplified Pantry came about when a young mother had her third child. She said that she no longer could remember ingredients to recipes and what she was supposed to purchase at the grocery store. Her children and other things took up too much time for her to recall the complicated recipes and ingredients that she had been using. She realized that she need to pare things down in her kitchen to make that part of life simpler. So, she developed simple recipes that use simple ingredients that can be altered to make several different dishes. Boy I wish I would have thought about that. Don't you think that would be a neat idea for other things in life as well? I could create a chore chart where a few different...oops...I digress again.
Anyway, it really is neat to look at this ebook. It is fascinating to read. The author, Mystie, Winckler, starts off with her story and then the idea behind Simplified Pantry. She then goes on to explain why her family started on the journey of a gluten free/dairy free diet. Then come the recipes! (I'm going to switch to a new point now, because these recipes are delicious, but they are also easy to use which is the point that you are reading right now but I will be quiet because I am babbling again.)
Three cups of Delicious - Who would have thought that gluten free/dairy free eating could be delicious? My concept of a special diet like this always included boring and untasty food. I remember hearing about rice cakes and other untasty sounding things...oops...digressing again...back on topic!
These recipes, however are very delicious and very easy to make. We found that many of the things that we were already enjoying were included. All we had to do is tweak a few things to make them healthier for our family. And, do you remember me saying that the author developed a basic recipe with basic ingredients that could be altered to make several different dishes? That was fascinating to me!
Let me give you an example. We eat a lot of chicken around our house. I won't tell you why because I would be babbling again so I'll just
All of the recipes start out with one basic process and sometimes some basic ingredients. They then go on to explain how you can alter that recipe to make several different things. Can you imagine that out of the "Slow-Cooker, No-Defrost Chicken Pieces" recipe you can make Orange Honey Chicken, Fruited Chicken (Including Cranberry Chicken which is one of our favorites), Teriyaki Chicken, Peanut Butter Chicken, Margarita Chicken, and Taco Chicken? All of the recipes are like that but usually with more dishes that you can choose from.
And don't think that this plan just uses chicken! There are recipes for pork, beef and fish as well. There are soups, stews, side dishes, desserts, salads, main dishes...everything you can think of! And we need everything you can think of around our house. I mean, with three growing boys each with different tastes it is hard to please everyone. John Allen likes...oops...
We love this cookbook! It contains many of the recipes that we already love, but makes them healthier, cheaper and easier to make. We haven't used the recipes long enough to find out if a gluten-free/dairy-free diet has helped the kids (we have cheated somewhat anyway), but I really like it that we are all eating healthier (and that it is cheaper and easier).
A teaspoon of Inexpensive - Last but not least in any "cookbook" of ours is how expensive it is. I think that you'll find the price for Simplified Dinners Gluten Free/Dairy Free to be very palatable. The cost is only $12.95! Just click here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above. Don't worry if you aren't in to gluten free/dairy free diets. There is an ebook cookbook that is patterned just the same as the cookbook I described above, but with no dietary restrictions - just healthy, inexpensive, easy recipes. But wait! If you use the code TOS2013 at checkout, you can save 30% on anything on the Simplified Pantry website! The code only works until June 3rd so act quickly.
Speaking of everything on the website. Other folks from the TOS Review Crew reviewed other items such as Simplified Dinners and Paperless Home Organization. You can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below. Happy Cooking!
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Okay, I know that was a corny title, but there is nothing corny about this video. There may be some place in America where a person can watch Britain's Got Talent live, but not at our house.I have to watch it via video. I'm not necessarily a big fan, but over the years I have enjoyed some of the youtube posts of some of the fantastic artists that have competed. Of course Susan Boyle was one of my favorites, and, more recently, Only Boys Aloud. I just saw my first post from this seasons crop of potential winners and it is another great one. The groups name is "Attraction" and they do shadow dancing. DON'T TOUCH THAT DIAL! Before you click off of this post thinking it will be totally boring, think again. I was quite moved and I think you will be as well. Enjoy.