Thursday, May 30, 2013

Lulu Roman - You Won't Hee Haw Over Her Great Testimony - Instead You Might Boo Hoo!

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!

What is the Recipe for a Simple, Healthy, Meal? Simplified Pantry of Course! - A Review

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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.

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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 mouth! Anyway, one of the first recipes that caught my attention was "Slow-Cooker, No-Defrost Chicken Pieces". I liked the fact that the author has thought of everything. Even how most people (including me) hate when they forget to take something out of the freezer to defrost. With this group of recipes you don't have to defrost, just throw the chicken into the slow-cooker, add the ingredients and go about your business!

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...mouth. I think you get the point. 

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!

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Amazing Attraction!

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.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Can You Really Learn Science Naturally? - A Science Naturally Review.

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Another little known fact about Tim - I love to read mysteries. I have always loved them. Some of the first books that I read were some of "The Bobbsey Twin" series. I then went on to reading Hardy Boys and other   mystery books. I remember finding a book by the author Phyllis Whitney and loving it. She wrote great mysteries for young people. I must have gotten my love of mysteries from my mom who loved reading Agatha Christie novels. 

Now for another little known Tim fact - I was never good at science. It's not that I didn't like science, there were many things about science that I enjoyed. I just never made very good grades in any science class. So, when I found that there was such a book as One Minute Mysteries: 65 More Short Mysteries You Solve With Science! from Science Naturally, I was really excited. What I wouldn't have given to have a good mystery novel that helped me learn science! Well, after calming my rapidly beating heart, I decided to assign this one to John Allen. Even though the recommended age is for kids 8-12, John Allen really likes mysteries as well and, like me, has a difficult time with science. 

I asked John Allen to write a short review of what he liked about  One Minute Mysteries: 65 More Short Mysteries You Solve With Science! that you will find below. I will then elaborate more at the end of his review.

I enjoyed reading this interesting book. You read a short story that always involves science. At the end there is a question presented to you that you must answer. Turn the page to find out if you are correct or incorrect. One story talked about a boy and his family going on a whale watching trip. After the captain saw on the sonar that whales were heading toward them, the sister wanted to know how everyone was so sure that the whales would come up to the surface. She thought that, since they were fish, they wouldn't need to come to the surface. Her brother, however, was sure that they would come up. Who do you think was correct? You'll have to read the book to find out.

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I would have to agree with John Allen that this award winning book is very interesting. This is the third book in the author's, Eric Yoder and daughter Natalie Yoder, "Mysteries You Solve With..." series. There is another Mysteries You Solve With Science book, and there is also a Mysteries that You Solve with Math edition. The book is divided into four "science" sections - Life Science, Earth and Space Science, Physical and Chemical Science and General Science - with 15 stories in each. A Bonus section with five more mysteries makes up the total of 65. As John Allen said, a short fictional story that includes science with a mystery that you must solve before turning the page. When you turn the page the story concludes with the scientific answer to the mystery.

As I mentioned before, the suggested age level for this book is for kids from age 8-12 but I think that readers of any age would be fascinated by these great mysteries. I know I was! In fact, I really didn't think that my two youngest, who are both on the autism spectrum, would be interested in One Minute Mysteries: 65 More Short Mysteries You Solve With Science! but I was totally wrong. As I was writing this review I got them together and read the whale story that John Allen mentioned above. I thought I would have to do a lot of explaining on how whales are not mammals  etc. but boy was I mistaken. Joshua piped up right away and was able to give me the answer. Instead of "Oh ye of little faith." I think it should be "Oh me of little faith!" I'm going to include this in their homeschool. This will be a great supplement to their homeschool science!

Now, of course One Minute Mysteries: 65 More Short Mysteries You Solve With Science! from Science Naturally can be read by homeschoolers and non-homeschoolers alike, but the only experience that I have is from a homeschooler's perspective. I know that a typical homeschool science book can cost a lot! Fortunately this book does not cost a lot. It's only $9.95! Such a deal! Just click here or on any of the hi-lighted links above for more information.

Many other members of the TOS Review Crew reviewed One Minute Mysteries: 65 More Short Mysteries You Solve With Science! and you can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below. Happy reading!

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Spring has Sprung in the Tinkel Yard!

Spring actually sprung a couple of months ago but I am just now getting around to posting about it. The Tinkel's love spring. Oh, we don't love the occasional severe storms that come along with spring, but we love the flora and the freshness of spring. We are, by no means, great horticulturists. In fact, there are sections of our yard that are quite overgrown and need to be "taken back". We do, however, enjoy buying new plants and tending to them. Every year we add at least one rose bush and several other plants, bulbs or trees so that we have things that sprout, grow and bloom all spring and summer and even into the fall. Below are some pictures of this years crop of beautiful flowers!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Hands on History Activity-Pak: Composers - A Homeschool in the Woods Product Review!

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Having a child on the autism spectrum is not always fun on several levels. Homeschooling is just one of them. However, once you find something that clicks with an autistic child, things become a lot easier. One of the things that we found a long time ago that clicked with Joshua was lapbooks. We don't always do them, and there are times that we start them and it takes forever to get them done (if we ever do), but they are still fun for him and we try to do them as often as we can. When I found out that we would be reviewing a Hands on History Activitiy-Pak: Composers from Home School in the Woods I was excited. Not only does it contain a lapbook but it also contains many more things that Joshua has enjoyed and is still enjoying. The fact that it focused on music and on composers made it even more exciting. Our kids love music! Unfortunately, I had never been able to find a good method of teaching Joshua any music appreciation type things. A lapbook that taught music appreciation and taught about composers sounded like something that would be right up his alley, and I was not mistaken.

Okay, it is true that I said that this is a lapbook. Remember, though, that the official title of this product from Home School in the Woods is Hands on History Activitiy-Pak: Composers. This is much more than a lapbook. This is truly an "Activity-Pak". My previous experience with lapbooks is little sections called matchbooks or fans (or some other type name) that you complete and place in a specific spot in your lapbook. When it is all done you have a dozen or so small projects that each teach you a little about a specific study. Since this is the first Home School in the Woods lapbook that we have ever worked with, I can't attest for all of their materials, but this lap-book is much different than anything else that we have worked with.

This lapbook has only six main sections but each section is huge and takes up a large portion of the file folders. And, speaking of file folders, you don't just use one little file folder to complete this project. You can see from the pictures below that several pages and flaps are added to the lapbook and each main project takes up at least one flap and often more than one. Let me tell you about each of the projects first, then, in keeping with the musical theme, I'll tell you our "Bravos", or what we really liked about Hands on History Activitiy-Pak: Composers.

As I mentioned before, there are six main projects that you complete for this Home School in the Woods Activity-Pak:

  • Activity One: Periods of Music - Have you ever wondered how music evolved throughout the ages? I've always thought it was humorous when I hear parents say something like, "Ugh! The music of today is terrible. I just don't understand it." What they fail to remember is that their parents said the exact same things about the music that they listened to. But, I digress! Anyway, the periods of music covered here are much broader. You won't find how 20th century music got from swing to rock, but you will find how music evolved from the middle ages to the 20th century.
  • Activity Two: Keyboard Vocabulary - Little known fact about the Tinkel family #1 (you will probably learn several while reading this review) - Three out of the five members of our family have taken some type of keyboard lessons. Both Sarah and John Allen have taken a couple years of piano lessons and enjoy tinkering around on the piano. I (Tim) took several years of piano and organ lessons and have toyed around on the accordion. Can I play any of them! Anyway, this section won't teach you how to play any keyboard instrument, but will tell you what a lot of musical terms mean. Have you ever wondered what a "Gregorian Chant" was, or what the difference was between a "March" and any other type of music? Or, have you ever wanted to know what musical terms such as "pitch" or "forte" meant. Well, even if you have never thought about those things, you'll learn them here.
  • Activity Three: Collection of Composers and Activity Four: Composers Timeline - I'm going to put these two sections together because they both talk about Composers (and I also realize tat this review is getting lengthy and I want to do this product justice and not scare you off with a lengthy review). Anyway, I have always loved different types of music and have always been interested in composers. Unfortunately, I could never learn when a specific composer lived or what he wrote, and therefore could never place a particular style of music where it should go in a time period. These activities will help your child do both of those things. You'll learn about the composer, what he wrote, and make a neat timeline that tells when he lived.
  • Activity Five: Pieces With a Purpose - Have you ever wondered why a specific piece of music was written. Maybe you haven't wondered "why" at first, but once you learned the history behind a hymn or other piece of music then you appreciated it much more. That is what this section does. It takes six reasons why a composer might write a piece of music and gives different examples of music written for each purpose. It really is fascinating.
  • Activity Six: Music Appreciation - Little known Tinkel fact number 2 - Music has been a big part of the Tinkel family for years. My father, mother and sister had (and have) wonderful voices. My father, brother and I all played trumpet. In fact, I had the privilege of playing in some wonderful concert bands and even toured Europe with one of them. I've played and  learned about a lot of different types of music and compositions. Unfortunately I've not necessarily passed my appreciation for different types of music down to my children. This section does just that. Remember, I said that this was much more than a lapbook? Well, it is. Included in the materials are over 90 minutes of recordings of different music by different composers who lived in different eras. You'll learn about them all (or as many as you choose) in this section.
  • Bonus Activities: And I said there were only six! Well, it is true that there are only six, but there are a couple of other activities that, in order to make your lapbook look complete, you need to...well...complete. One is about different types of music down through the centuries and how new instruments were invented to play the different types of music. Because of that, orchestras have evolved and changed to include (or in some cases do away with) different types of instruments. I had never thought about that before but it is really interesting.You'll also learn in this activity how an orchestra is set up. After completing this activity your child will be able to tell where each instrument is placed when they watch an orchestra on TV or perhaps even live. The other bonus activity has to do with composers again. In this activity you can make composer cards. In this activity you'll learn what pieces different composers wrote. There are a couple of different ways that you can make the cards. You can either make them with the compositions placed on the back of the composer to be used as flashcards, or you can print the compositions separate from the composer cards in order to use as a matching game.

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Now for the Tinkel family Bravos (well really just Joshua's and my Bravos).
Bravo One: The Hands on History Activitiy-Pak: Composers is extremely well done! It is complete from the directions on how to put together the lapbook to how to do the lapbook. It may seem like a monumental task to put the lapbook pictured above together, but they make it extremely easy. There is nothing left to chance. Everything is specific but easy to follow. We have had no problem completing this lapbook and neither should you.
Bravo Two: It is also well done when it comes to the different activities. At least for us. Let me explain. We have done lapbooks where the child has to read about something and then briefly write down what he has learned about and Indian tribe (for example) on a tepee, or what he learned about a tropical island on a fold out of a bowl of fruit. Because Joshua has small motor problems and can only write so much without his hand getting tired and his writing even more sloppy than it already is, I would usually have to write for him. Although there is some writing involved with this Home School in the Woods Activity-Pak, most of the activities involved are typed out for you so all you have to do is learn, color, cut and paste, and put together the lapbook! This really helped.
Bravo Three: We extremely enjoyed the extras. Just last night Joshua fell asleep as he and I were listening and discussing some of the different styles of music and composers. We were describing how each piece of music made us feel inside and thinking about why the composer might have written that type of music. It is this type of thing that really places Hands on History Activitiy-Pak: Composers over the top when it comes to other lapbooks or unit studies that we have done. It is these special times that we have had while working with this study that have really sold me on Home School in the Woods. This is one company that I am going to keep going back to! 
You might think that all of these things wrapped up in one "Activity-Pak" would be quite expensive. However, if you did, you'd be wrong! All of the above mentioned things are just $18.95 for the download version or $19.95 for the CD version. Just click here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above to get to the Home School in the Woods website.
As always, other TOS Review Crew members reviewed this and other items from Home School in the Woods and you can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below. Happy Homeschooling and Happy Listening!

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