The Typing Coach Review

With the change from keyboards to cell phones, iPads and iPods, we all need more typing practice at my house. I had my daughter to try The Typing Coach Online Typing Course created by The Typing Coach

My middle daughter reviewed this course with me. When my daughter first started The Typing Coach typing program, she watched a thirty minute course introduction tutorial on getting started and read accompanying downloaded articles. Lessons are designed to be completed one lesson per week over ten weeks with at least twenty minutes of daily practice. We received a one-year subscription.  

Requirements: Microsoft Word or another word processing program is needed for the lessons as well as a printer to print the student packet of typing assignments to read as you type as well as the tests. My daughter used WordPad on her laptop. Adobe flash player is required for the audio clips. We ended up signing on through my computer which had more updated programs while she did the actual typing on her laptop. 

Her review input: "At the beginning it walks you through all of the steps to use the course, thoroughly explaining each step." The actual lessons started with top row, number row, etc as is typical for most beginner typing lessons. My daughter commented that it felt like the program was designed for a younger student. 

In retrospect, I should have set up these lessons for her little brother who has not had as much typing experience as her instead of just hoping she would increase her typing speed by using it. I think he would have used the program more often and more willingly than she did, though that was not clear until she tried it for herself. 

It's set up in a very organized way. Checkboxes (a newer feature that wasn't there when my daughter first started six weeks ago) help to see exactly what the student has done. Students can check off what they complete. 

Lessons are designed to be completed in order and cover:

* Course Introduction
* Slower Paced Lessons
* The Practice and Testing Center
* Before and After Snapshot
* Having Good Posture
* Home Row
* Top Row
* Bottom Row
* Shift Keys
* Typing Practices
* Number Row
* Serious Practicing
* The Final Assessment 
* Conclusion 
* Course Evaluation and Feedback 

One of the first lessons was typing The Gettysburg Address which my daughter had previously memorized so there was familiarity with the lesson. I was happy that good posture was addressed. Our family as a whole tends to do more laptop work lounging in the living room instead of consistently seated properly at a table. The serious practicing component required the student to complete the four practice tests repeatedly until done error free including not looking at the keyboard. 

She listened to audio and watched video portions from her iPod and used her laptop for the actual typing components. Unfortunately our modem was fried by lightning twice during this six week trial, and was slow even after repaired, so we didn't experience the audio components working clearly after the first two weeks of using the program. 

There are built in time limits including tests only allowed once in a two day period, I assume so that the student will then practice what they missed. 

There is also a "teacher resource center" which helps parents and teachers guide students through The Typing Coach lessons. The course is designed for kids 12 and older to complete independently with occasional assistance as needed. Slower paced directions are included for younger students. Incentive charts and "typing tickets" rewards are also available to print if that is motivating to your student. 

Who doesn't want to improve their typing speed? Of course we do! The Typing Coach may be just what you are looking for. 

Crew Disclaimer

The Typing Coach Online Typing Course {The Typing Coach Reviews}


Thin Stix Review

Thin Stix are the latest version of Kwik Stix from The Pencil Grip, Inc. redesigned with a thinner, longer tube and a smaller tip for better control. We compared this set of Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors with our original (and much used) Kwik Stix as we painted rocks for a Mother's Day gift. 

While the two sets have a lot in common, the Thin Stix worked perfectly for adding details to our design. The tubes easily twist up from the bottom like chapstick or glue sticks. I think this new longer thinner design is even better than the original Kwik Stix for smaller hands to grip. 

We have successfully created art projects before painting with Kwik Stix solid tempera paint sticks on paper and wood, so we wanted to try something just a bit different this time. (Another review crew friend suggested painting rocks. Click the link at the bottom of this post to see all the different ways crew friends used their Thin Stix.) The rocks were so much fun to paint, and Grandmommie loved her gifts. She added them to her earth box. It has been raining a lot here. I was happy to discover that instead of washing away the color, our painted rocks are just as vivid after the rain. 

This Thin Stix six pack includes red, yellow, blue, green, brown, and black colored paints. A handy plastic tray is included for easy storage both in and out of the cardboard box which they came in. 

Since the solid tempera paint in the Thin Stix dries in just 90 seconds, colors can be layered on the painted projects. 

My daughters teach violin and piano lessons in our home, and occasionally their students' siblings visit during the lessons. I set out the Kwik Stix on our back porch while they visited last week, and kids joined me happily painting rocks. We gathered gravel from our driveway, searching for rocks with at least one flat side to color. We discovered that it was easiest to add thicker layers of color to hot rocks as the paint glided, actually the paint almost melted onto the hot surface as we colored. This was so much easier than using paint brushes! Hooray for non drippy less messy Kwik Stix Thin Stix! 

Organization is a constant goal at our house, and there always seem to be messes to tackle. I appreciate this method of painting without the typical spilled water and dripping paintbrushes that accompany traditional painting. 

Vacation Bible School is happening soon at our church. Thin Stix will be just right for using with the three and four year old class. Our theme is Galactic Starveyers, so painting space rocks might just be one of their craft activities. I hope the Pencil Grip company adds all of their Kwik Stix colors in this thin version. 

The Pencil Grip, Inc. has many products in addition to their Kwik Stix line. I have recommended the unique pencil grip for years as one of the most comfortable options to facilitate a proper pencil grip. They also have weighted therapeutic toys and a weighted pen which includes a built in pencil grip on its barrel. 

Find them online on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest


Crew Disclaimer

No Mess Art with Thin Stix Classic Colors {The Pencil Grip, Inc. Reviews}


Red Nose Day

The following is a promotional post with Grace Hill Media.

Red Nose Day is an annual fundraising event, and special night of television organized by Comic Relief.  It has received tremendous support from fellow Americans, celebrities and corporate partners driven to end child poverty — one “nose” at a time.  Christian organizations that receive funding and benefit from Red Nose Day include Covenant House and charity: water.
To help raise awareness and aid in the fundraising efforts, NBC has dedicated a special night of television programming on May 25.  Actress 
Julia Roberts, will join adventurer and Christian, Bear Grylls in Kenya for “Running Wild With Bear Grylls.”  The full line-up includes "Celebrity Ninja Warrior for Red Nose Day" at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT, the 9:00 p.m. episode of "Running Wild with Bear Grylls," and "The Red Nose Day Special," at 10:00 p.m. which will premiere the “Love Actually” sequel.   

As we near the start of summer and think about vacations and time off with families there are others who are not nearly as fortunate to enjoy those luxuries. On May 25th NBC television will air Red Nose Day, a live telecast aimed at ending child poverty.

Don't miss these inspiring video featurettes below:

Ed Sheeran and Peaches Special Feature

Ludacris and Robert Special Feature

For readers, churches, community leaders -anyone- who would like more information, who would like to help spread the word about Red Nose Day on Thursday, May 25 and/or to donate please visit:

Red Nose Day is unique in that multiple charitable organizations will benefit from the three hour live program that night. The event is all about coming together, to have fun, and make a difference for kids in need.  The goal is to end child poverty, here in the U.S. and around the world -- one nose at a time.
The fundraiser began in 1988 by U.K. director, Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Four Weddings and a Funeral) and recently started in the U.S. Red Nose Day raised over $36 million in 2016,and over $23million the previous year, totaling over $60 million in its first two years in theUS.
The two charities among many others that will benefit from Red Nose Day are Covenant House and charity: water.  These are just one of many organizations that everyday work tirelessly to make a difference here at home in the U.S. and around the world. What’s staggering with the statistics is that this is happening right here in the U.S.

We’ve learned from Red Nose Day charities that:

• 1 out of 5 young people live in poverty.

• Every Year, More Than 2 Million Kids in America Will Face a Period of Homelessness.
• 57% of homeless kids spend at least one day every month without food.
It’s heartbreaking with regards to the homeless kids and youth as it puts them in such danger of human traffickers – something I know so many of our churches and organizations fight against.  We have an opportunity to make a difference and keep some of these kids away from the streets.
We hope you will consider taking the time to help those in need and checking out both ministries and finding a way however big or small to support them. We’re called to help those in need and we often forget that although we are fortunate to live in a country that provides us with a lot – there are many children right in front of us who struggle to even get a meal a day. We hope you’ll think about ways you can help our youth and even join in on the fun and put on a Red Nose and post to your social channels with the hashtag: #rednoseday

Red Noses are available at all Walgreen locations.  For those wanting to do something fun and get involved, stop by Walgreens and buy a red nose.

We do believe that if we can all raise awareness about this issue – we can all end child poverty one nose at a time!

Disclosure: No compensation was received for sharing this promotion.


Scripture and a Snapshot

You don’t even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? It is a mist that appears for a little while. Then it disappears. Instead, you should say, “If it pleases the Lord, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:14-15 

     My daughter took this picture early this morning. My mom said it looked like a rainforest outside today. It has been so humid you can almost see the heaviness in the air and definitely feel it, between the rain. It will disappear and our dry summer heat will be here soon. Such tangible references help me understand God's Word. Mist that disappears compared to our life. It is passing so quickly. As a parent, watching my children grow is just one clear example of that. And through it all, I do need to always ask: "if it pleases the Lord."   

     Thank you for joining Scripture & A Snapshot. Leave a comment with a verse that God has placed on your heart this week, or leave a link to your own post sharing a Scripture and a snapshot. Take time to visit  some of the other links, too. If you would like to join our group Pinterest board for Scripture & A Snapshot, simply follow the board then let me know your Pinterest name or email used there so that I can add you to it. 

Scripture and Snapshot

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Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

Last week, we shopped and saw a box of prepared chicken cordon bleu, and my daughter turned to me to say how long it had been since we ate that. The whole family enjoys it, in fact she even made a completely homemade version for us before. It took hours to prepare! Today, I created this easy version, and it will be added to our list of family meal recipes. 

We cook chicken in bulk in the electric pressure cooker, and my oldest daughter deboning the chicken led me to consider the best way to use it and remember her sister's wish for chicken cordon bleu, thus this recipe was created. 

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

16 oz dry noodles, boil in chicken broth 
Deboned fully cooked chicken
Sliced ham, 5-8 slices 
Swiss cheese, 5-8 slices
8 Ritz crackers, crumbled

This could easily be adapted for more. 8 servings would fit in a large casserole dish, but we had exactly 5 slices of Canadian bacon left in the package, so I made 5 servings in our deep stoneware casserole dish. First the boiled noodles and remaining broth they were boiled in were poured into the pan. Next I scooped five 1/2 cup portions of shredded chicken on top of the noodles. A slice of Canadian bacon topped each pile of chicken, and above that a slice of Swiss cheese topped it off. My daughter agreed crumbled Ritz crackers would resemble the breading on the traditional version, so she sprinkled that on top of the cheese and visible noodles. We baked it for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, and it was delicious! 

Let me know if you try it. 



Scripture and a Snapshot

God, pick up the pieces. Put me back together again. You are my praise! Jeremiah 17:14

     Both of my daughters enjoy sewing. I enjoy watching the care they take with each new thing they make. My youngest daughter has been working on this quilt. She has ripped out seams and re-sewn pieces to make it all line up just right. Isn't it encouraging to know no matter how much we mess up, God has a beautiful plan for our life! 

     Thank you for joining Scripture & A Snapshot. Leave a comment with a verse that God has placed on your heart this week, or leave a link to your own post sharing a Scripture and a snapshot. Take time to visit  some of the other links, too. If you would like to join our group Pinterest board for Scripture & A Snapshot, simply follow the board then let me know your Pinterest name or email used there so that I can add you to it. 

Scripture and Snapshot

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Multi-vendor online party

You surely know by now that I'm an independent consultant/manager with Lilla Rose. If not, click my link and check it out!

A few online friends and I joined together to share each of our direct sales businesses with you. Many are also homeschool moms!

Click here to join us. The party is wrapping up, but it's not to late to grab some of the final offers like free shipping.

My friend Martha Hope is a Pampered Chef consultant. I have so many of their products in our kitchen. My favorite is the covered stoneware baker. We made baked potatoes in it last night. Martha shared about her business: "With Pampered Chef products I am spending less time in the kitchen. We eat less fast food and my family now sits down to a family meal most nights. I love Pampered Chef products. I trust the quality of this product and want to help others see how wonderful it is." Find her here:  https://www.pamperedchef.com/pws/marthahope       

So party with us, and check out the "after-party!" 


High School Essay Intensive from IEW

The following is a review of High School Essay Intensive from Institute for Excellence in Writing with the TOS Homeschool Review Crew. 

Both of my daughters' high school classes have repeatedly been enhanced by lessons learned from IEW. Andrew Pudewa's voice has become a familiar one in our home through his DVD lessons. 

 photo logo_zpsv3ninrd3.png

This program designed for students in grades 9-12 can be completed in its entirety, or you can choose to focus on specific sections. They offer: 

  • General Strategies for Essay Writing
  • Understanding and Preparing for the New ACT Essay
  • Understanding and Preparing for the Redesigned SAT Essay
  • Strategies for the "personal essay" 
As my daughter registered for the ACT without essay writing and is not taking the SAT at this time, those two options were not our primary focus. Instead, she concentrated on the general strategies and personal essay portions to sharpen her essay writing skills. However I will have her return to the other two sections to glean highlights from their test-taking tips. I briefly reviewed the ACT prep section and loved the components teaching students how to analyze different perspectives and then to compare and contrast their own perspective with the others. That is an important life skill! 

Our review box included IEW's Portable Walls for the Essayist which is a tri-fold folder of cardstock printed on every side with helpful tools for essay writing. My son has benefited from their original portable wall which has helped him to block out distractions and concentrate. This is just like that but with new content. The five DVDs are each in sleeves in a nice leather like case, and set of 26 printed pages of notes to accompany the DVD lessons. Additional handouts (or download link) can be purchased for use with multiple students. Practice and homework are built into the lessons.  

Although these are recorded from a live one day class and could theoretically be completed at home in one day, my daughter broke it down into more manageable two to three hour segments each time. 

My daughter shared: "The IEW High School Essay Intensive teaches students important lessons about writing essays. Included with the DVD lessons is a portable wall which has important tips that you learn from the lessons printed on it. From the very beginning of the lessons you jump right in and learn that writing essays is not always easy. The lessons are engaging and easy to follow. One of the things that I learned with the course is how to properly structure your essays so that all of the paragraphs fit together. Also, included is a handout booklet which allows you to answer questions discussed during the lessons. This helps a lot as it keeps you listening and paying attention so that you don't miss anything. In some of the lessons it discusses how to prepare for the ACT and SAT essays. Overall it's an extremely helpful course if you want to improve your essay writing skills."

So the very simplified version of how it works for us... pop in the DVD, listen, press pause, write, repeat last three steps, discuss with mom. Of course the actual process is lengthy, but the instructions are clear and easy to follow. The handouts make the lessons even easier to follow as key points are printed (including word lists on the original portable wall) and spaces are numbered for notes. 

Official guidelines are included from both the ACT  and the College Board. Analyzation, evaluation, and logical reasoning skills are built into the course. 

Did you know that the five paragraph essay is not always the ideal model? In fact, some college instructors even deduct points if students use them! These lessons show alternatives and teach students how to make their essays stand out. Expository, descriptive, argumentative, persuasive, analytical, narrative, and personal essays are all discussed. I'll plan to use this with my son, too, when he is in high school. 

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/iew  @IEW
Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/iewriting/


High School Essay Intensive {Institute for Excellence in Writing Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer


After the Rain

Our last camping trip ended early with awful stormy weather. We packed up faster than ever, and then my husband drove through the storm to get us safely back home. I love the heaviness in the air and the smell before it rains, but after the rain comes the beauty. 



Scripture and a Snapshot

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. James 1:17

     Thank you for joining Scripture & A Snapshot. Leave a comment with a verse that God has placed on your heart this week, or leave a link to your own post sharing a Scripture and a snapshot. Take time to visit  some of the other links, too. If you would like to join our group Pinterest board for Scripture & A Snapshot, simply follow the board then let me know your Pinterest name or email used there so that I can add you to it. 

Scripture and Snapshot

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About Awakening to God Today (ATG Today):
A devotional journal to help you enjoy your walk with God, with thanksgiving from your heart, everyday touches and prayers. Inspiration for 8 minutes with God at the start of your day, learning to hear His voice, memorize scripture, pray and journal. Lots of great ideas to build your faith, share scripture, encourage others and strengthen family devotions.

There are multiple features on this app. Each day you can upload pictures or graphics and record your thoughts and prayers to prompts such as "Lord, I pray today that you will..."

The feature I enjoyed most is their daily Bible verse.

You can watch the video ‘How Do You Keep Living After the Death of Two Children’ at: www.awakeningtogod.org and see Mission, Vision and Strategy under About.

A little about the founder’s: Gerald & Jeannie Long experienced success and wealth based on the values of the world and also the deepest grief and suffering from the death of two of their three children.  On their journey, God has revealed His grace and glory to them in extraordinary ways.  In particular, they’ve experienced how God is able to redeem the most painful areas of our lives and turn them around for good.  Gerard has caught a deep awareness of eternity and Jeannie has experienced God’s presence and glory when she was close to ending her own life.  Their marriage has triumphed when all seemed lost and they’ve learnt invaluable lessons on their unbelievable journey.  And, they have a very clear message of God’s calling for each Christ follower to obey the Great Command and the Great Commission.

The purpose:
·         to inspire and encourage thousands of people in their walk with Christ (hopefully, leading to another ‘Awakening’ – see 2 Chron 7:14); and
·         to raise the funds to: dig a well in 100 villages in India, provide 40,000 meals to widows and orphans, 15,000 mosquito nets and a medical team for immunizations, cataract operations and other services.

Watch promo video(60 sec) - https://youtu.be/QmYoDXjHi8o

How to:
1. Signing Up (Apple users) – Tap the App icon on your iphone    > tap search icon at the bottom > type in ATG Today > tap Get > type in itunes password > the App will download > register your details (bottom RH corner) > log in and enjoy ATG Today.
2. The link to download the app, if needed isawakeningtogod.org/today

Disclosure: Compensation was promised to reimburse for the purchase of this app required for this blog review.

The Secret Bridge Book Review

The following is a review of The Secret Bridge from Lamplighter Publishing with the TOS Homeschool Review Crew. 

Lamplighter Publishing reprints some of the best books that our family has ever read. We first discovered them when I was searching for wholesome books for my avid readers. They filled a need and have been shared repeatedly with extended family members and friends. This company purposefully instill values through literature by reproducing these old treasures. Their mission from Luke 1:17 is "to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." 

My daughter was the first one in our family to read this book. (She saw the lovely cover on the Lamplighter website and was interested even before it was shared with the review crew as a potential review!) Our family loves Lamplighter books!

She shared soon after she started reading it that it moved pretty quickly and kept her interest.She also liked the "pretty fonts." When letters are exchanged in the story, they are shared in old fashioned artistic print fonts specific to each character that is writing. She shared her review with us:

"The Secret Bridge is a beautifully written story filled with adventure, love, redemption, and hidden secrets. One of the things that I enjoyed most about this book was seeing Bridget (the main character) discover Jesus for the first time. Throughout the book it shows her growing and maturing in her faith. The plot of this book is really exciting and will always leave you wondering what will happen next. As secrets become too deep for Bridget to handle and she becomes unsure if she can keep her promises will she rely on God to help her out. Kindness and forgiveness are both very important parts of this story. Amy Le Feuvre one of my favorite authors and The Secret Bridge is now one of my favorite Lamplighter books."

My daughter and I both thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The Secret Bridge is not a modern novel, yet the story is so applicable still today. As my daughter observed, "it was written over 100 years before I was born." I think middle school through adults will enjoy reading it. 

This beautifully bound book is equally lovely on the inside. But the outside cover is absolutely worth mentioning, too. Do you prefer reading e-books or physical books? I like the convenience of a back-lit e-book when a bright lamp would be disturbing, but holding an actual book is my first preference. This book though hardback is soft, sort of a feeling between leather and cloth, and it is not heavy. I'd love every book I read to have a cover that felt like this. Lamplighter also offers books and their Lamplighter Theatre audio dramas of many of their titles. 

Visit Lamplighter online through these links: FacebookTwitter, and Google+


Crew Disclaimer

The Secret Bridge {Lamplighter Publishing Reviews}