Monday, November 4, 2013

Oh My Goodness! I've Been Nominated Again!


Thank you so much to the folks who nominated me!

For those who are visiting my blog trying to decide who to vote for this year, my wife, Sarah, and I, Tim, are full time missionaries who work with low income folks in a small town in northern Tennessee near the Kentucky border. We have three fantastic but unique boys - John Allen is 17 and is a cancer survivor with an artificial eye, Joshua is 12 and has aspergers syndrome, and Jacob is 7 and is developmentally delayed and is also on the autism spectrum. Life is very exciting and, needless to say, there is never a dull moment in our household.

Recently, however, life has been a little more exciting than we have wanted it to be. We were very blessed to be able to travel and minister this summer as a family for six weeks. Right before we left, our middle child, Joshua, had a severe panic attack. We were hoping and praying that it was just a one time thing, but, unfortunately it has not turned out that way. He has had several more since then and has also had other disturbing things happen to him such as shortness of breath, and unusual tics that he did not have before. Recently, his occupational therapist came to us and mentioned that she noticed some things as well and that he was actually digressing in therapy instead of progressing. We have had quite an ordeal trying to find what the problem is. Around the same time as all of this started to happen he switched medications and, ugh, also hit puberty, so it could be a number of things that are causing the problems.

I mention all of this not only for the plea for prayer, but also to give an explanation as to why I have not been blogging as much recently. We have had to give up many of the things that we have loved to do in order to care for Joshua and to give extra time to our other two children in order that they not feel left out. Recently I had to resign from The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew and had to say "no" to other blogging opportunities because I just do not have the time. I have not given up blogging totally, but it has had to take a back seat to some other crucial things for the time being.

I do thank you for visiting my blog and for your vote if you should choose to vote for Families Again instead of one of the other fantastic Dad blogs that have been nominated this year. Please have a look around and click on some of the labels listed to the right to read some of my past blog posts. Thank you again for visiting. God Bless.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Yes, I Am Among the Living!

The boys at the Peterborough Zoo in Canada.

In fact, all of us are among the living. Unfortunately I haven't been blogging as much as I should, however. Let me catch you up on a few things that have been going on in the Tinkel household. 

Yes, we had our big travel adventure this summer and loved it. We thank God everyday for allowing us to experience all of the things that we did this summer. I am still planning on catching you up with our adventures in the near future. However, right before our trip began, we found that we would have to change some of the medications that our two autistic children take. It seems that there was (and still is) a nationwide shortage of the meds that they were previously on. To top it all off, our middle child has hit the big "p" word...puberty. That has really thrown him and us for a loop. Having asperger's syndrome is bad enough for a child, but when the hormone changes and the mood swings hit it can get a bit overwhelming for a child on the autism spectrum. Things have happened with poor Joshua and we don't know if it is the change in meds or the body and chemical changes that are causing them. While on our summer travels he had two major panic attacks and a few minor ones. Thankfully, since being home, they have slowed down, but he still breaths very heavily and slouches a lot. We have been to the doctor several times now and all seems to be okay, but it is still concerning.

When we got home from our ministry travels we decided that we wanted to declutter our home. We just have too many things! Not that we are hoarders or anything like that, but, when you live in the same house for 13 years you tend to collect things. We enjoyed being able to pick-up and leave when God opened the door for us to travel and minister and we realized that we didn't need all of those extras. Besides that, we had a work group coming to help us do some fix-up things in the house and mission so we needed to get ready for them. So we rented a storage shed and spent two weeks sorting, cleaning, throwing away, boxing up, hauling to the storage name it and we did it. We are really pleased with the results, but we still have a long way to go. 

God has also opened up a door for us to supplement our missionary income on a very part time basis, so we have been busy in that area as well.

Unfortunately, all of the things mentioned above along with other family issues such as Sarah's mom recovering from cancer treatment and Sarah's grandmother getting older, have taken a toll on our nerves and our time. We realized that something had to give and, after much prayer, we decided that we had to make some hard choices. Choices that were very painful and resulted in many tears. One of those choices was to, hopefully temporarily, drop off of the TOS Review Crew. It is something that we have been involved with and loved for the past five years and had no intention of stopping. However, it was time to give it up for at least a short period. I was unable to keep up with everything that was required and I didn't feel that I was doing a quality job. We do miss it. We have made many lifelong friends from being on the review crew, and have been introduced to products that we would have never known about nor tried without being involved in this wonderful organization. As I said, though, we are praying that it is only temporary and we will be able to rejoin the crew in the future. 

Our mission work, homeschooling and blogging are not something that are on the table to give up, though. We love being full time missionaries and, unless God shows us clearly he wants us to change directions, we are continuing to direct Good News Mission. We also do not intend to stop homeschooling. Although we know many of the public school teachers in our area and love them dearly, I feel that our two youngest would fall through the cracks in public school. We also couldn't be as flexible in our ministry and our travels if we were tied down to a regular school schedule. Blogging, even though it has slowed down, is not going to stop either. I love to blog and feel that it has really stretched me and made me grow. It has been very therapeutic and a lot of fun for me to be able to do this. It has also opened many doors (i.e. the TOS Review Crew) for our family.

So, although you won't see as many product reviews from me (there still may be some), Families Again is not going away. For now it is here to stay! Talk to you again soon.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Know What it Takes to be the President? Play The Presidential Game - A TOS Review Crew Review

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I have always been fascinated with history and politics. I don't know why. Maybe in my mind they go together a little bit. Maybe it's because my dad was a big history buff. Maybe it's because many major historical events happened when I was a youngster - the Bicentennial, the race to the moon and the first men on the moon, Watergate, etc. Whatever the case is, I love everything about history and politics. My wife moans when a new presidential election cycle begins. I am pretty much glued to the TV watching debates, speeches, campaign coverage and cheering for my favorite candidate.

Because of my fascination with politics and the presidential election, when I found out that we would be receiving The Presidential Game to review, I was thrilled. 

When you play The Presidential Game you actually learn what it takes to become the president of the United States. Oh, okay, you don't have to make any stump speeches or shake hands and kiss babies, but you do learn a lot about the electoral votes and why they are so important. You also learn the strategies and reasons why some states are so important to candidates while other states are rarely visited by the hopeful future presidents.

The game is amazingly simple but also requires an amazing amount of strategy and thinking. The Presidential Game requires two players or two teams who take on the role of either the Democratic candidate (blue) or the Republican candidate (red). Each candidate has a set of 150 chips and three dice that are either blue or red depending on which party they represent. The game also contains 80 political cards, 40 "Write Your Own" political cards, a game board, a Score Pad and an Electoral Webmap Calculator Access Code that you can use to access an online Calculator that will help you keep score for the game. 

I'll tell you ahead of time that our internet is broken at our house, so we tried to access the Webmap Calculator on my phone but we couldn't get it to work. Therefore we just used our heads and the scorepad. You will find out later how useful the online Webmap Calculator could be and how much easier the gameplay is with it.

Each candidate rolls one die to decide who goes first and then the game begins. The game lasts for 30 weeks (or as many as you decide if you want to play a shorter game). A week is really one round of turns and a 30 week game lasts about an hour.

Before a turn begins the player must state if he is going to campaign or fundraise. If he chooses to campaign he must say which three states he is going to campaign in. We'll discuss this option first. Once the states are declared, the player rolls all three dice and then decides where his chips are to go. If he rolled a 6, 4 and 2 and declared Tennessee, Indiana and Pennsylvania then he decides which die corresponds with which state and places (or removes) chips from that state. For example, he can place 6 chips on Pennsylvania, 4 on Indiana and 2 on Tennessee if he chooses. Or he can put the 6 on Indiana, the 4 on Tennessee and the 2 on Pennsylvania. You get the picture. If he already has chips on one of those states he simply adds more chips to what is already there. If his opponent has chips on that state, he deducts the amount of chips that correspond with what is on that states die. For example, if the Republicans had 4 chips on Indiana and the Democrats rolled a 6 and allocated those points to Indiana then the 4 Republican chips would be removed and 2 Democratic chips would be added. That would mean that the Republicans just lost the lead in that state and the Democrats took over the lead. I know that this sounds a little confusing but the directions explain it a lot better and it really isn't that difficult.

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If you choose to Fundraise in a state you can only choose to Fundraise in California, Texas, New York or Florida. Those are the states that have the most electoral votes out of all 50 states. When a player declares which state he is going to Fundraise in and rolls the dice, half of the total of all three dice must be places on that state. For example, if the player declares Florida and rolls three dice that total 16, 8 chips must be places on Florida. The remaining chips can be places on any other state or states that he chooses (Florida included). Again, if his opponent has chips on a state that he chooses then chips will be removed and added accordingly. Fundraising is where the "Politics Cards" take place as well. At the end of a Fundraising turn, the player that Fundraised picks a Politics Card. The Politics Cards are fun! They may say something like this. "You declare that you are Mormon. Add four chips to Utah". Or, "The opposing candidate wears loafers to a Western party in Montana. Add four chips to Montana". Occasionally a card may be a negative and you may have to remove chips, but usual they are positive and you add chips. Unless a card says to play immediately, you can play these cards during any one of your turns.

So you see, chips are being removed and added all of the time. And the score changes all of the time. After each turn a player adds up the electoral votes for each state that he leads in. Usually you just add (if you take over a state) or subtract (if you lose a state) but that requires you to remember closely which states you just campaigned in and which ones you won or took over. Many times John Allen and I would get so involved in the game that we would lose track and have to physically count all of our states instead of just adding or subtracting. That is where the online Electoral WebMap Calculator would have come in handy. It remembers all of those things and adds and subtracts for you. The confusion about keeping score was the only downfall when we played, but the game is so much fun that we easily overlooked it.

After 30 weeks (or rounds) of play, the game ends and whoever has 270 or more electoral votes is the winner of the election. During the whole game John Allen and I were constantly taking states (especially the big ones) from each other and trying to stategize (is that a word) to gain enough electoral votes to win the game. The Presidential Game really is a lot of fun!

So how much is this great game that is for players from the age 11+ to adults? You can order it for just $35 by clicking here or on any one of the hilighted links above. It is well worth it. We love it and, even as we speak, have the game set up ready to continue (we played late into the evening) when I finish this review!

As usual many of the other TOS Review Crew members reviewed this game and you can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below. Happy Game Playing!

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Time4Learning - A Schoolhouse Review Crew Review


I have a confession to make. My laptop has been on the blink for a couple of months and I have been out of the loop as far as writing posts. Thankfully, I have been able to review Time4Learning before, so I do have some experience with this wonderful program and can write an educated review.

Time4Learning is a computer based program where a child is given his own login and password. After the child logs in, he is able to choose between four subjects - Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Sutdies. Some grade levels offer a few more choices but those are the core areas. After a child has completed his work, he is rewarded with some games on the "playground" that he can play.

There are several things that I really like about this program, but one of the things that I like the best is the fact that there are options for a parent to control almost everything that you can think of. Here are some of the parental controls that I liked the best. 

  • I know for Joshua and Jacob - our two children that are on the autism spectrum - making choices can be difficult. If there are too many selections they will become confused and frustrated. Time4Learning allows a parent to limit the selections and even choose what their child is going to learn each day. 
  • Another really great feature for parents who have children with short attention spans is that the parent can choose how long each lesson will last. Now that is really cool! If you know that your child can only handle 10 minutes of math then you can set the lesson to be only 10 minutes long! That really alleviates frustrating temper tantrums from having to complete a lesson that is too long and the child has lost interest.
  • Still another fantastic feature, especially for parents who have children like mine, is that for each subject you can choose one grade level above or below what you signed your child up for. Joshua's academic levels are all over the board. I would say that his reading skills are above grade level and his geography levels are off the chart. His math levels are way below what they should be. With Time4Learning you can choose between three levels for each of the subjects that you child is working on. You just have to be knowledgeable enough about you child's academic level to choose his average grade level when you first sign up.
  • Another wonderful feature is that the parent can view what the child has chosen each day (if they haven't already selected it for him) and how the child has progressed in each area. The "Parent Administration Section" is very detailed and allows you to view a lot.
  • Last, but certainly not least, as far as parental control is that a parent does have some control over the reward games section as well.
I think this would be an appropriate time to mention that Time4Learning is not a faith-based program. Some of the things can have a bit of a worldly approach to them. Although the creators have done a very good job in trying to make the program non-offensive to all users, there still may be some things that you may object to. I mention that here because in our experience there were a couple of reward games that we didn't particularly like. That was a couple of years ago, however, so those games may not be available anymore.

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Another plus for parents who keep track of state standards is that Time4Learning  keeps up with those things as well and has a whole section for your state. You can even pick activities that will teach your child the things that they are expected to know in your state according to your state's standards. We don't pay attention to state standards that much, but I know for some parents it is important - especially in states where the homeschool laws require you to keep track of those type of things.

The lower level programs are done with good quality animation where the subject is explained with animated videos and then the child works on that particular subject. The older levels, however, require more reading which may be a draw back for some parents.

Finally, another great feature is that a parent can print out worksheets for extra practice if they so desire. I know that many times I have felt like one of my children need more practice but I really didn't want them sitting in front of a the computer any longer. Printed out worksheets are a fantastic option to have.

I really like the price as well. Time4Learning is just $19.95 for the first student in the family and $14.95 for each additional student per month for the prek-8th grade programs. The high-school cost is just $30 per month. You can find out more by clicking here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above.

Many other members of the TOS Review Crew reviewed Time 4 Learning and you can see what they had to say by clicking on the banner below.

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Because you are Strong - a Review of a Fantastic Bible Study for Young Men!

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As a father of three boys, I am always looking for good books and resources for my sons to read that will lead and teach them to love and honor the Lord more. Even when I do find something that I think would be useful, however, I always read or use it ahead of time to make sure it follows God's Word. I was very pleased to find that the Bible study Because You Are Strong published by Doorposts fit the bill perfectly.

There are a couple of things that I really like about this great resource. Number one - it really hits the nail on the head - no pun intended since the publisher is called doorposts! What I mean by hitting the nail on the head is that the contents are really what a young man needs today. Since the title is Because You Are Strong, you probably won't be surprised to know that the chapters all have to do with strength. Some of the chapters include Strength for the Race, Strength to be Valiant all the way to Strength and Gray Heads. Each one has a passage or several passages of scripture that the student will study. Which brings me to point number two.

It is laid out in a systematic way. Each one of the chapters is laid out in a weekly format. Each day the student is instructed to do a reasonable amount of work that builds upon the previous days work. Each chapter is a little different, but each chapter involves some type of in depth Bible study. Now, I really like that aspect because I love in depth Bible study and Because You Are Strong does a wonderful job of teaching that type of study to young men. Let me give you an example of this by giving you an example of what Week One tells you to do. 

Week One - Strength for the Race - has you focusing on Hebrews chapters 11 and 12. On Day 1 the student is to Pray before they read and then Read the chapters. There is a short section where the student is to write down their thoughts. Day 2 has them meditating and memorizing key scriptures. Day 3 and Day 4 has the young man asking the 5W - Who, What, When, Where and Why questions about the passages. I really like that method and am so glad that when John Allen completes this study he will learn this method. On Day 5, the student will Review and Apply what they have learned. 

Each week is a little different, but the emphases on learning and in depth study is always there. I think I have mentioned before (I'm typing that with a grin on my face) that I really like that about this study. I am really pleased with this and, as I said before, I am looking forward to John Allen completing this study and discussing it with him. 

There is also a girls study that can be purchased, and, although I have not seen it, I am sure would be equally valuable for girls. Click on the link below to see reviews on the girls study.

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So, how much does this wonderful resource - Because You Are Strong - cost? Only $12 for a softcover copy! There is also a PDF download version available. Just click here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above to find out more.

As always, many others on the TOS Review Crew reviewed this Bible Study and another Bible Study written for girls and you can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below.


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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Missions in Action!

Most of you know that my family is a big supporters of Compassion International. In fact, that is the only mission, other than the mission that we belong to, BCM International, that we actively support. We support six kids, either financially or as correspondence sponsors and love each one of them. The following video shows what can happen when a child that is in poverty is loved and supported. To learn more about Compassion International or about BCM International just click on the links above. Enjoy the video.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Our Crazy Mixed-Up Summer Part 2 - The Daisy National Air Rifle Match in Arkansas

Most of you know the story of how John Allen got into shooting. If you don't, just click the link below to all of my posts involving shooting sports. He is not the best shooter in the world by far, but he has had some success. We have been blessed to have been able to attend many great shooting championships and to attend the Daisy National Championships - three times when he was younger and shot in the Daisy National BB Gun Championships and, for the past two years, the Daisy National Air Rifle Championships.

Let me tell you, Daisy puts on a fantastic event. They really treat their shooters right and put on an excellent event. The facilities that they choose are top notch and they give a lot of "extras" to the kids who participate. This year all of the shooters were given a free pass to a magnificent place that had a state of the art arcade, bowling alley, go cart track, restaurant and laser tag all in one building AND another free pass to a miniature golf course. The team from Bend of the River Shooting Sports that John Allen shoots for had a magnificent time - as you can see by the pictures below.

But, of course, the main reason they went was the shooting. This year we had two veterans Wesley, who has been shooting Air Rifle for about four years and John Allen who is in his second year of shooting Air Rifle. The other two members of the team, Austen and Keith were first year shooters. All of the team, though, shot on the BB team, so they have many, many years of shooting experience between them. Air Rifle, although it has many similarities, is more difficult than BB. Air Rifle is one of the shooting disciplines that they shoot in the Olympics. The team ended up placing 8th out of 14 teams this year which was better than last year, so they were pleased. Two other shooters from Bend of the River, Anne and Sam, shot as individuals and did quite well also. We love the shooting sports because of the camaraderie that the team has. They encourage each other and have really become friends with each other. They have a lot of fun at competitions like this and I really think that is what keeps John Allen shooting. The shooting family really is like a family. We have made a lot of friends in shooting. Friends that I'm sure will last a lifetime.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Saving Money is Simple with Couponing Made Simple by Christi the Coupon Coach - A Molly Crew Review

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Do you know what a "Blinkie" is? What about a "Peelie"? Do you know what O.O.P. means? What about BOGO? I know what all of these things mean and have learned how to save a lot of money as well! As full time missionaries living on a limited budget we need all the help we can get when it comes to saving money. We also need tools to help the low income folks that we work with save money as well. When I heard that we were going to be reviewing Couponing Made Simple by "Christi the Coupon Coach" Bassford I was excited because I could then kill two birds with one stone - save money ourselves and teach others how to save as well.

First of all, as Christi explains early on in her book, Couponing Made Simple, is not "extreme couponing". You don't have to have a closet full of coupons nor a room full of items that you buy while on sale but may not use for umpteen years. It also isn't one of those on-the-edge-of-illegal deals where you hear of folks getting arrested for illegal trading or copying or something like that. This is just common sense every day smart couponing.

But, what is "common sense every day couponing"? How do you buy $100 of groceries for just $10 as Christi shows many times in her book? I mean, I've clipped coupons occasionally and used them, but never saved anything like that. Well, there is a system and a tried and true method that Christi uses and Couponing Made Simple explains it all in simple and easy to understand language.

From buying the newspapers - Did you know that there are actually different types of inserts that can save you money on different types of things? Did you know that there are websites where you can look and see what types of coupons are going to be in the next Sunday's circulars? (For that matter, did you know that there are coupons that you can print off of computers and that if you have multiple computers you can print they will allow you to print more? I didn't either.)

To organizing the coupons and circulars - Have you ever put a coupon in a special place only to pull it out and find that it was outdated? This won't happen if you have an organizing system. Don't think that this step has to be hard. It can be simple and not require a lot of things or a super lot of time to accomplish.

To finding the right deals - Remember, at the beginning I said that this wasn't extreme couponing? Well, in Couponing Made Simple, Christie tells you how to avoid buying things that you don't need or seeing coupons and thinking "Oh, this is cute" or "Boy this is a good deal" and buying things even if you don't need them.

To finding the good deals - Did you know that there are some products like shampoos, conditioners or lotions, where it may look like a good deal but really there is more water in the product than actual product? I didn't. Couponing Made Simple has actually made me think about products that I buy before I buy.

To finding the right stores and even the right cashiers - I knew that some stores were more favorable to couponing than others, but did you know that there are cashiers that are more favorable to couponing and it could make your life a lot easier if you know the right stores and the right cashiers?

To making your own bargains - The real bargains are where you use store specials, coupons, and other things like "double stacking" (Don't know what that is? Couponing Made Simple will tell you.). And, it really isn't that difficult to understand or do.

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Although we have been on the road a lot during the time that we had to review Couponing Made Simple and haven't been able to utilize what we have learned in this book as much as we would like, we have been able to use some, and the little, extra, things that she talks about have really made us think and read labels before we buy. We are looking forward to using her full system when we get back from our travels and settle in for our long "fall and winters nap" of not traveling as much. We are looking forward as well to teaching the ladies that come to the mission we direct on how to use this simple method and the simple ideas that Christi presents in this small but easy to read and easy to use book. I give this a two thumbs up!

So, how much is this small but packed-full-of-information book? It's well worth the price of just $18. Just click here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above for more information. Happy Saving!

Other members of the TOS Review Crews "Molly Crew" reviewed this as well and you can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below.


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Monday, July 22, 2013

25 Truths - Life Principles of the Happiest and Most Successful Among Us - A TOS Review Crew Book Review

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No, this isn't a post about my 25 Truths for happy and successful living, it is actually a book review for a fantastic book by Ed Douglas published and distributed by Ed Douglas Publications. If you are a friend of mine on Facebook (or even a personal friend) you know that I am trying to be more positive in my outlook on life. Although I have always tried to be a positive person, the past few years my family has gone through some trying times and I realized how down on myself I had gotten. This past year I was introduced to the whole genre of success books and have really enjoyed reading some of them. As with any type of book (or music or anything), however, there is the good and the bad and it is sometimes difficult to sift through it all. As a Christian, I always try to find books that line up with God's Word and don't compromise the values that it teaches. Even some of the Christian success books can go to wild extremes that I don't like. 25 Truths is fantastic book and is not one of them. It lines up with everything that I believe.

I originally thought that I would give this short, 150 page book to John Allen to read. It's geared toward his age group of 6-12 grade, and I thought he would like the fact that each chapter is only a few pages long and therefore doesn't take long to read. I thought he could use it almost like a devotional book. However, when I received 25 Truths in the mail and looked it over I decided to take it and read it for myself. What appealed to me about the book? Well, probably that it was just 150 pages and each chapter was just a few pages long and wouldn't take too long to read! No, really, there were many other things, and I am definitely going to hand this over to John Allen soon to read. Let me list what I really liked.

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First and foremost, of course, I like that Ed Douglas is a Christian and 25 Truths is a Christian based book. No, it isn't a theological book filled with scripture references for every single thing he says, but he does use verses to back a lot of what he says and I found that the areas where he doesn't list scripture at the beginning of the chapter are theologically sound as well. The author is a Christian and makes no bones about his Christian faith and beliefs. I like that!

Secondly, as I mentioned before, the book is very easy to read. Each chapter is about 3-5 pages long and are based on principles that Ed Douglas has gleaned from life experiences as a Christian, banker, coach, author, athlete and more. In almost every chapter there is a great story that illustrates one of the "truths" (which I'll get into in the next point) in a great fashion. I found myself reading each chapter and being very disappointed when it too quickly ended. Each chapter illustrates one truth and concludes with a quick summary. The author then includes five or six questions that help you think through your life and how that particular truth applies to you. You can either write in your short answer, or do what I did and just answer them in my head.

Finally, the 25 Truths themselves are fantastic and timely. Some, such as Practice - It Makes Perfect, Tell the Truth, and Be Slow to Judge, are things that we have heard all of our lives. Others, like, Take it One Step at a Time, Make Every Day Your Best Day, and See the Glass as Half Full were very good reminders of how we should view and go through life. A few chapters didn't have themes that I had heard all of my life and really made me think. Play to Win is an interesting theme especially since we find ourselves telling our children to "just have fun" or "if you did your best that's all that counts". You may think, by looking at the title of that chapter, that you wouldn't agree with what he says, but he really makes some great points and I encourage you to buy the book to find out for yourself what they are.

In fact, I really encourage you to buy the book and read it period. It may be short and easy to read, but it is full of excellent reminders of how God wants us to live our lives. Although I didn't find any fault in anything that I read, you may not agree with every jot and tittle in the book. That's okay, though. It will get you to think about what he is saying and, especially about your own life and the little things that you can do to make your life happy and more successful. Probably the thing that impressed me the most about this book was how Ed Douglas included the plan of salvation at the end of 25 Truths. If you don't read any other section of the book, please read that one. It alone can change your life.

The price of this book will make you happy as well. The $12.50 that you would spend on the book is well worth the price. Just click here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above for more information. Happy Reading!

Many others on the TOS Review Crew reviewed this book and you can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below.


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Friday, July 19, 2013

Thars Gold in Them Thar Hills! Or is there? - A Susan Marlow, Goldtown Adventures Book Review

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Ever since I can remember Susan K Marlow has been talked about by TOS Review Crew members. The Crew has reviewed her books many, many times and we have had the great privilege of reviewing her books before as well. The only problem was that her books always seemed to be geared more toward girls or at least had girls as their main characters. When we reviewed another series written for younger readers it wasn't so bad. Although the main character was a girl, there were a lot of male characters in the series and Joshua loved it. However, Joshua is older now and her older series with a girl main character just wouldn't work anymore. Then, I found out that there was a new Susan K. Marlow series with a boy main character and was thrilled that we were going to review Tunnel of Gold - book 2 of her new Goldtown Adventures series published by Kregel Publications!

I love Susan K. Marlow's books because they are rock solid Christian children's literature. Don't get me wrong, though. This isn't one of those sticky-sweet-never-gets-into-trouble-always-does-the-right-thing type books. Her characters are always realistic and get into a lot of trouble that kids growing up out west in the late 1800's would get into. In Tunnel of Gold, geared toward readers aged 9-13, Jem Coulter, his sister Ellie, his cousin Nathan and the rest of the characters in the book are so realistic that by the end of chapter two you feel like they are your friends. They're definitely kids that I would want my boys to be friends with. Only I would keep an eye out to see if I could minimize the mischief that they were sure to get into! 

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Jem, his sister Ellie, and his cousin Nathan (who is a city slicker that just moved in with Jem's family a couple of months before) are out delivering firewood when the whole town grows quiet. It is so eerie that they go to investigate what happened. So, what caused this silence in Goldtown, the town where Jem lives and where Jem's "Pa" is the new Sheriff? I mean, this is dead silence! The stamp mill, which is so loud that it shakes the town day and night stops working and there is no sound from the mine itself. What happens when Jem finds himself in the middle of a riot of mine and mill workers? What happens when Jem has to choose between right and wrong even when wrong could save the town? What happens when Jem's father is ordered to choose wrong so that the town will be saved? You'll have to read the book to find out! Trust me, you won't be disappointed. There is adventure on every page mixed in with a little fun, mischief and a lot of learning about what God wants us to do in tough situations.

We read Tunnel of Gold while driving home from taking my oldest to work at a camp in upstate New York. The ride was long but this great book helped the hours to go by swiftly. Now, let me tell you, that is a real accomplishment since the two boys that I was reading it to (while Sarah drove of course!) are both on the autism spectrum. They soaked it up and when I asked what they thought of it some of the comments were:

"Grrrreaaat!" - Jacob (said along with the happy dance that is his newest thing).

"I love it!" - Joshua (along with two thumbs up which means he really, really, likes it).

 "The characters are so funny and the plot keeps you on your toes!" - Sarah even chimed in with a comment.

So, there you have it! The Tinkel family really loves Susan K. Marlow's new Goldtown Adventures Series. We are going to be traveling a lot during the rest of the summer, and I have a feeling that this book will be read again more than once. After all, like any great book, you always find out you missed something when you read it again!

In fact, I'm thinking about buying the first book in the series - Badge of Honor - as well to read along the way. After all at a price of $7.99 each plus $2.50 shipping and handling or both for $13.95 plus $3.00 shipping and handling can't be beat. You can even get the books personalized and there are free Enrichment Study Guides that you can download. Just click here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above. Happy reading!

Many other members of the TOS Review Crew reviewed Tunnel of Gold and Badge of Honor and you can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below.


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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Our Crazy Mixed Up Summer - Part One! - Bridge Community Church's Vacation Bible School

Those of you who follow me on facebook know that the Tinkel family is having a crazy, fantastic, mixed-up summer. Various members of the family are traveling to or through at least 14 different states and provinces (yes I said provinces) in two different countries and we will collectively travel over...hmm...I haven't completely counted it up yet, but I know it will be upwards towards 5000 miles. Our summer is packed with something going on almost every week. We actually started about three weeks ago and are really now on Part Three of our crazy, fantastic, mixed-up summer, so I have some catching up to do. This post is Part One of a Ten Part Series so get ready to come along on a bumpy trip with the nutty Tinkel family (we must be nuts for attempting something like what we are attempting)!

As I mentioned before, Part One was about three week ago...I think...I've really lost track of all time...when Sarah and I directed our churches first annual Vacation Bible School. Our church is a very young church - only about a year and a half old. Last year we didn't have a VBS, but Sarah really felt that God was leading us to direct one this summer and I felt the leading of the Lord as well so we began the planning about four month ago and had a fantastic time with The Bridge Community Church's "Children of the Bible" 2013 VBS.

The VBS was a great success. We had plenty of help and a lot of kids. In fact, we had so much help and things ran so smoothly that when an adult or teen showed up and asked where they were needed we really didn't know where to put them. All of the workers were awesome and fit what they volunteered to do perfectly. Thank you Lord!

Sarah trusted the Lord at a VBS when she was young, so Vacation Bible Schools are near and dear to her heart. She loved directing this one and took a lot of pictures. Below you will see some of the highlights. I actually thought that Sarah and I had taken more pictures than what I found, but I guess we were just both too busy to remember to take them. Oh well, enjoy what I found!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I Always Wanted to Be in the Circus!

The Peru Amateur Circus that is! Yes, that's another little known Tim fact. You see, I spent about five years of my young childhood in Peru, Indiana. They were great years spent in a great town. Thankfully, I have relatives that still live in Indiana, close to Peru, and whenever we are there we still visit Peru and some of the sites.

Peru has a great history. Peru is now called "Circus City USA". The story that I remember being told as to how Peru got it's nickname goes as follows.  Peru is a railroad town, and way back in the early 1900's many of the great traveling circuses would have their winter headquarters their. I can still remember seeing some of the old elephant barns where they used to house the great behemoths during the cold months. Because they traveled from town to town most of the year, the winter months in Peru were usually the longest that the circus performers ever spent in one place. Consequently, many of the circus performers retired in Peru. In 1960, some of the retired circus performers came up with the idea of starting an amateur circus in Peru and training the youth in the area in some of the different circus acts.

It has been continuous to this day and has turned into quite a production. These are not willy-nilly circus acts, they are big time circus acts that are only performed by school aged children form elementary school up through high-school. The only adults that actually perform are the clowns that come to entertain the audience out while the riggers are getting the three rings ready for the next act. Of course the trainers, riggers and spotters are adults as well, but the actual performers are all kids. Nowdays, if you are in the circus for so many years while in highschool, you can earn college scholarships. It is no suprise that they do. When you audition and are chosen for an act you are put through a rigerous training and practice schedule that runs from March through the actual circus in mid July.

A good friend of mine was in many acts over the years and later helped with rigging. My own cousin actually road a motorcycle across a highwire. That's not all, however. The motorcycle had a trapeze attached to it that hung below the highwire that a girl performed tricks on. The motorcycle was somehow attached to highwire because at one point in the act, they would flip and my cousin would actually be upside down on the motorcycle under the highwire while the girl on the trapeze was above the highwire. There was no net, but my cousin did have a safety harness. Still there was danger. At one point during one show the safety harness broke while he was upside down. He was able to hold on and they were able to upright the motorcycle before they immediately ended the act for the night.

Anyway, I loved going to the circus and dreamed of someday being in it. My plan was to start off as one of the Tiny Titans that performed on the side by side trapeze. There is a video of a recent performance of the Tiny Titans below. Unfortunately we moved to Pennsylvania before I was ever able to join the circus and fulfill my dream. Maybe someday. In the meantime, I will continue to support and promote the Peru Amateur  Circus and all that they do with the youth of Miami County, Indiana where Peru is located. Enjoy the videos below. I think you will see that although the circus may be called an "amateur" circus, there is nothing amateur about the professional quality performers.

The Tiny Titans

The High Wire Act

The Flying Trapeze

The Teeterboard Act Making a Special Appearance at a Shrine Circus

Monday, June 17, 2013

Joshua Loves Learning Geography from Memoria Press - A TOS Review Crew Review

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Last night I sat down to work on this review but got a bit sidetracked. As I was thinking of these materials and how much Joshua likes them, I began thinking of our journey with Joshua that has led us to the place where we are now. If you would like to read about that journey just go back to the previous before this one on my blog. It will tell you a lot about why Joshua absolutely loves and excels at learning about other countries. I'll give you the short version as to why we were so thrilled to receive Geography I - The Middle East, North Africa and Europe from Memoria Press

Joshua is our middle child who was blessed with Asperger's Syndrome which is on the autism spectrum. One of the traits of some asperger's kids is that they latch on to certain subjects or things and become "little professors" and learn all that they can learn about that thing. Joshua has gone through Thomas the Train when he was younger to bowling, football, helicopters, WWE Wrestling (I hang my head in shame at that one Smiley). Most recently it has been geography. Thankfully this phase has lasted for a few years now and has really developed and expanded. So, now you know the short version of why we are so excited to now own the Memoria Press fourth grade Geography I course. 

I say fourth grade, but the Geography I description on the website actually says fourth grade plus. Let me explain why I think that description of "fourth grade plus" is really spot on. We have been blessed to review and to personally buy a lot of Memoria Press materials over the years and have really enjoyed using them. Memoria Press, however, is a very advanced curriculum. Unless you have a child that is used to the Memoria Press curriculum, is advanced in their own right, or has a particular interest in a subject, you may have to adjust the curriculum a bit. Although Joshua fit into one of those categories because he has a great interest in geography, because of his aspergers syndrome and small motor problems we did adjust how we used it a bit and, as I write this review, I will tell you how. 

When you receive the Geography I course from Memoria Press you actually receive a whole packet of materials. If you used the third grade materials from Memoria Press then you studied the states and capitals of the United States. The Geography I packet contains a "States & Capitals Review" Student Workbook and Teacher Key, Quizzes, & Tests book to be used once a week during the year while your student studies The Middle East, North Africa, and Europe. It is a great review that has the United States divided into eight sections. You review one section a week for eight weeks then start all over again. Each time they change it up and review the states and capitals in just a slightly different way. Unfortunately, although we have studied states and capitals some with Joshua, we haven't studied them enough for him to really be able to use this portion of the Geography I set. I am looking forward to supplementing using these more next year as supplementary material for a more formal study of the states and capitals.

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The United States review was a great bonus, but the Geography I - The Middle East, North Africa and Europe was what we were really anxious to sink our teeth into. We received three books, the Student Text, the Student Workbook, and the Teacher Guide, to aid us in this study that is intended to be done about three times a week. Memoria Press has this region of the world divided into eight sections for study purposes - Middle East, North Africa, Mediterranean Europe, Central Europe, The British Isles and the Low Countries, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe: Part I and Eastern Europe: Part II. Let me describe each book separately and how we used it.

The Student Text - One thing that we have been very blessed with in our children is their ability to read higher level things. Joshua's problem is not his reading ability, it is his hyper activity and attention span. He can't sit still long enough to read long chapters in books, his reading material needs to be in short spurts. That is what I really liked about the Geography I Student Text. Each country description is one page long with a map of the country on the opposite page. The text for each country includes sections titled "History's Headlines" that gives a brief history of the country, and "Tour of Today" that talks about what is going on in the country now. It also contains a chart, "Fast Facts" that gives the capital, other major cities, languages, population, religion, etc. about the country, along with some black and white pictures of or about the country and the flag of the country. Although the pictures in the book are black and white, the Memoria Press website has a link where you can view all of the pictures from the Student Text in color. Joshua found the text very interesting and loved it. Although he didn't have any problem reading it but it does seem to be written at a little higher level than what most fourth grade students are accustomed to. The "Teaching Guidelines" did say, though, that the text could either be read by the student or the teacher could read it aloud in class. 

The Student Workbook - Here is where Joshua had a little bit of a problem. However, it was not with the workbook itself. The workbook is very simple. Each country has only one page to fill out. It includes the country name, capital, ancient name, and a section called "Fun Facts" where the student fills in two or three fun facts that were either given to him by the teacher, or found by the student himself in the text. The bottom part of the page is a map that is to be filled in using the terms from a word bank. As I mentioned, the workbook is very easy to fill out and is not complicated at all. The problem is that Joshua has very poor writing skills because of his small motor problems. It is very difficult for him to write let alone label and color a map. So, for this section I just asked him the questions and we discussed the text and other things - basically doing it together. Since we only had about eight weeks to review this material, next year, we are going to delve into it all more and I am going to have him fill in the student workbook more doing a little each day. I think he could handle that.

The Teacher Guide - Is basically the same as the Student Workbook with the answers filled in, but also includes quizzes and tests to be given throughout the study.

We really, really, enjoyed this material and, as mentioned above, we plan on continuing to use this next year. That is the real "mark" of whether we really like something or not - are we planning on continuing to use something. With Geography I - The Middle East, North Africa and Europe from Memoria Press that is a resounding "YES!".

Another "mark" as to whether or not we like curriculum is the price. Can you believe that all of the material listed above costs only $48 if bought together?! The materials can also be purchased separately. The separate items range from $5 - $14.95 in price. You can find all of this by clicking here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above. Happy world hopping!

Many other TOS Review Crew members reviewed this and other items from Memoria Press and you can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below.

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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Strike While the Iron is Hot!

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 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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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