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Thursday, May 23, 2013

My Home School Grades Review

My Home School Grades is a BRAND NEW program for tracking your homeschool child's grades and generating a transcript when needed.  Designed by a tech savvy homeschool dad and an exceedingly tech savvy homeschool graduate, My Home School Grades is perfectly designed for homeschoolers to easily and painlessly keep track of their student's grades in every subject for their entire homeschool career.  The program costs $49 for a lifetime family membership.  It is accessible across all your "smart" devices.  And it is a breeze to use.

Above, you can see my home screen.  There is a button under "STUDENTS" that says "Add Student". That's how you initially put your students and their basic info into the system.  Then, you just click on the student whose subjects/grades you want to enter.  When you do that, it will take you to that child's page.  There, you will see their picture (if you upload one) or icon.  Next to that is displayed their GPA and credits for this year.  Below their picture is a button that says "Add Class" and one that says "Transcript".  Click on "Add Class" to add classes.

This opens the box above where you put in the class title, and then use drop down boxes to enter how many credits it is worth, what school year it's for, whether it was a full year, one semester, or a quarter class, what subject the class is, and the student's grade level.  There are boxes to check if it is an AP/Honors class and if you want to grade with just pass/fail.  Then you choose how you want to grade the class.  You can just enter a single end of the year grade for the class.  Or, if it's dual enrollment, you can enter it that way.  Or, if you are really detailed, you can enter the class lesson by lesson like you would in a real teacher's grade book.  You can choose how the grade components are weighted, and even enter grades as letters, numbers, or fractions (like getting 23/25 right on a test).  If the Publisher is listed in the Publisher drop down box, then you can choose that.  Another Drop Down box will appear to let you choose the specific course, and there is a chance ALL the lessons are already input for you.  More publishers and curriculums are being added all the time.  On their website, you can watch a tutorial on entering grades or any of the other components of My Home School Grades.  Finally, to generate a transcript, just click that button below you student's name.

Above, you can see my son's freshman year info.  I have not entered grades for some subjects yet (he has a few more lessons to go), but this gives you a "real life" example.

The pros:  I could just gush and gush.  I LOVE this program!!!!  Really.  And I'm not a very grade oriented person.  In fact, I have to keep a chart in front of my at my desk just to know what grade my kids are supposed to be in.  And for elementary and middle school, I've always felt like giving grades for assignments is pointless.  I don't settle for less than an A.  They get it right, or we go back and fix it.  I'm homeschooling them so they LEARN the material, and if they didn't get it right, they didn't learn the material.  That's all my personal philosophy, but I thought I should explain because even with the way I feel, I LOVE this program.  I can track what each child did what year very, very easily.  Oh, and I forgot to mention you can keep track of activities/extra curriculars/awards too!  With the pass/fail option, I can just "pass" them on the subjects, but still have a very real, easy to refer back to record of what they covered and what activities they did each year.  And now that I have a high schooler, and grades really are an issue, My Home School Grades makes it SOOOO easy to keep track of everything.  Because I can award .25 credits, I can even keep track of shorter things like the grammar program we reviewed earlier this year.  Hallelujah!!!

The cons:  Really nothing.  I do wish when I edited a class and hit "save" that it would close that box then and the change would be automatically reflected on the class list.  I was trying to change a class name and hit save repetitively, and finally hit cancel, only to realize  when I when out to the home page and back to the student that the change had indeed taken place.  But this company has amazing customer service and I wouldn't be surprised if that is fixed as soon as they read this.  In fact, I was the first one to enter a child with two first names into the system which caused that child's account to freeze.  When I sent them an e-mail, they not only fixed the problem, but called me to let me know why that happened and that they had fixed it.  WOW!  And since I'm on my wish list, I'd love it if I could attach a picture to the activities/awards items...but that's just something that I think would make the program even better, not a necessary thing at all.

The bottom line:  My Home School Grades is an amazing program and the answer to every homeschool mom's prayer.  It's so easy to use, does exactly what you need it to, and is priced perfectly.  I think $49 is a great value for a family for a lifetime, especially for a product that will make your end of the year reviews/evaluations easy and creates a high school transcript at the push of a button!  I'd definitely recommend My Home School Grades as something every homeschool family should have.

To order My Home School Grades, or to try it out for 2 weeks for FREE, you can go to My Home School

To see what other members of the Mosaic Review team thought, go to the Mosaic Review blog.

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Waterproof Bible Review.

The Waterproof Bible?  Okay, seriously, this is sheer brilliance.  One of those "I wish I had thought of that" sort of things.  After all, I have lost one Bible already to an unseen, undiscovered, spilled cup of something in my car, which left my Bible weeping for days and about 5 inches thick when all was said and done.  And, did I mention, I have kids, so you know nothing is sacred with them around.  My Bible has been stepped on, ripped, and tossed about the car on more than one occasion.  So, this waterproof, nearly indestructible idea is just amazing to me.  Here's a little more about it, with some apologies to Dr. Seuss in advance.

Blue one
Pink one
Lily one (on pre-order- available in August)

Tree one

DO they have the NLT?  NLT is fine for me.

KJV  and  NIV  and NLT- just look, you'll see.

Plus, they have the ESV, and even the NKJV.

Take it, take it anywhere. 

Take it, take it here or there.

In a garden?

Up a tree?

Especially camping with me.

And if you drop it in the mud...

Rinse it in the sink- no scrub!

In the sink?  Yes!  IN the sink.  

Hurt by drink?  NOT hurt by drink!

Can you rip it?  Not so much.  And it's very nice to touch!

What if you're caught in the rain?  
In the rain?  It's not a pain.

On the pages, water beads.

To dry them off, just close and squeeze.

But if this Bible is so tough, 

HOW can I make notes and stuff???

Notes and markings are so easy.
Use pencil, ball point pen, and dry highlighter as you please-y.

I MUST have do I get it?

Go to BardinMarsee, no need to sweat it.

Need more details?  Now is the time...for me to end this silly rhyme...and give you what you need...'cause this Bible's sublime.

The Waterproof Bible is available in all the translations listed above, and can be purchased in either the full Bible or the New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs.  Thus there are two different prices- $44.95 for the complete Bible and $24.95 for the other.  Given that these Bibles are virtually indestructible and will last a lifetime, I think that's a great deal.  Not only are they great for outdoors, but you can take them in the bath and read while you soak.  And if you know a serviceman or woman, they make a great gift for them because they will stand up to anything.

Want to see what other members of the Mosaic Review team thought?  Just go to the Mosaic Reviews blog.

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Monday, May 13, 2013

Catch-up, totally random post

1) This week is our last week of school.  I'm not sure who is more excited--me or the kids.  Can I get a woo-hoo and an amen?

2)  Except it really isn't the last week because TJ has one more week of science and both he and Em have math to continue with (funny how you can't finish a 5 day a week math program in three days each week by just doing one lesson a day, LOL).

3)  I'm on the worship team at our new church, and as such, there are times when I have to sing by myself.  That's not my thing, I'm a harmony singer.  But I'm really being stretched by God to be obedient, and so I occasionally find myself singing alone into the mic.  Today was one of those days.  Alas, I have yet to chase anyone out of the building screaming, so I guess that's good.

4)  My mother got remarried a few weeks ago.  It was great to see my brother and his wife, and two of his friends that are like extended family.  Now, my mother and her husband are on a 5 month RV trip to Alaska.  Yep, you read that right.  5 MONTHS.  I heard from her tonight, and they are in Texas tonight.

5) I really need to do a photo catch-up post for, oh, I don't know, the past few months.  But I have pics to edit for my son's recital (which actually is in a week, but we did posed pictures at the dress rehearsal), so that has to happen first.

6)  TJ is amazing.  He's done TWO Apologia science book on his own this year.  Love that kid!

7)  Soccer is over for the summer.  Whew!  Love watching him play, but also love having a little but of life freed up.

8)  After Scott's recital, he will take a break from his regular piano lessons and spend a bit of time learning how to play chords so he can play along with guitar chords at church.  I think he's excited about that.

9)  So, Sari has wanted to do ballet for EVER.  Really.  But a bit of family related awkward circumstances meant that the school that all her friends go to is not an option for us, so I've been putting her off.  Well, she's done being put off, so she's decided to take up aerial silk like her sister.  Her first class was yesterday, and she LOVED it.  But she's very sore today ;-).

10)  The same set of awkward circumstances meant that even though there were two different major performances this weekend involving homeschooling friends, we weren't able to go.  I hate that, but I hate the awkwardness of being at social events with people who'd rather my family and I were never seen by them again even more.  I hate times like's like salt in a forever-open wound.  Okay, pity party over.  On with my life.

Probably more things to blog about, but that's all I can think of now, and 10 seems like a good number.
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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Photo Ready Giveaway Ends on the 14th

Don't forget about this amazing giveaway!  It ends in just TWO days.


Welcome to the Photo Ready Giveaway Event

Organized by: Mom Powered Media

Now let's talk about the fabulous prize package which includes:

Canon EOS REBEL T4i 18.0 MP CMOS Digital Camera with 3-inch Touchscreen and Full HD Movie Mode (Body) - Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II SLR Zoom Lens - Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS Telephoto Zoom Lens - Telephoto & Wide Angle Lens Set - 3 pc Filter Kit: UV/ Polarizing filter/Fluorescent correction & Case - 32 Gigabyte SDHC Secure Digital Memory Card - Secure Digital USB Card Reader - Universal Memory Card Wallet - Pack of LCD Screen Protectors - Additional LP-E8 Rechargeable Lithium-ion Replacement Battery Pack - Well Protective SLR Camera Gadget Bag w/Pockets & Strap - Full Size 59" Tripod W/Case - Focus DVD Guide to Digital SLR Cameras - Focus Digital Grey Card Set for color correction - Focus 5pc Deluxe Lens Care & Cleaning Kit - HDMI cable

One lucky winner will receive the Canon EOS REBEL T4i Prize Package {detailed above}!

Giveaway ends May 14th at 11:59pm, open worldwide residents, ages 18+. Residents outside of the US will receive a $750 Amazon GC instead. To enter please use the Rafflecopter form below.
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Disclosure: I received no compensation for this publication. My opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own. One Blessed Mamma is not responsible for sponsor prize shipment. Please contact with questions or to see your business or blog featured on the next big event!
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Ooka Island Adventure Review (Revisited)

I was first introduced to Ooka Island in November of 2011.  If you click here, you can read my first review of Ooka Island.  We loved it then, and we still love it now.  So what is Ooka Island Adventure?  Well, here's a 45 second video that explains it:

Basically, Ooka Island Adventure is computer software that plays like a game and can teach a 5 year old child to begin reading after just 8 hours of instruction, or provide continuing reading instruction for students through 2nd grade.   It can be used for schools, home reinforcement, or homeschool.  Ooka Island is aligned with the much-publicized Common Core Standards, although having reviewed the program before the CCSI became a "thing", I can tell you I don't notice any differences.  Your child plays Ooka Island on your computer, but their progress is backed up on the web, allowing them to play it on any computer the program is installed on without loosing their place.  Here's a little more about the game directly from their site:

Ooka Island’s Learn-to-Read System for children ages 3-7 will ensure skill mastery in the five pillars of reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. Ooka Island is a revolutionary reading platform for PC and Mac that tutors your child through a compelling, yet robust curriculum and adapts to his or her strengths and weaknesses as they move along the path to fluent reading.
Ooka Island uses several different components for instruction.  First, they use catchy tunes (available free as an app, by the way).  They also have different games that each focus on a different skill in reading like visually identifying letters that form sounds they hear or even them speaking the sound aloud that they see on the screen.  Your child's positive progress earns them in game recognition and also allows them to save "Ooka Elves".  And as they progress, your child unlocks books to read and answers questions about them.  Here's a printable resource that track the books they unlock:

There are also printable workbooks that go with the different stories so you child can do tangible work to reinforce what they do virtually.

Finally, there is the Lighthouse- a parent specific area where you can find the printables I mentioned above, but also where you can see your child's progress through the different skills that go with the lessons.  You can view a report card, like the one below, to tell you exactly how your child is doing:

The pros:  My daughter really likes Ooak Island.  She in now at the upper age for the software (8, but in second grade), but she is a delayed reader, and still needs many of the lessons Ooka Island teaches.  Because she is not very interested in formal reading lessons, any tool I can use like Ooka Island that makes reading fun is a blessing.  She does Ooka Island without complaint, and I am one happy mamma.  We love Ooka Island in this house!  And since my last review, it's only gotten better.  I love the reports and printables in the Lighthouse, and also the fact that my daughter can play it on multiple computers.

The cons:  In my previous review, I mentioned what a large download Ooka Island is, but this time, we received it on a thumb drive, which was brilliant.  It installed quickly and easily. My only con would be the pricing.  At $12.95 a month for one child or $19.95 for a family (up to 4 students), it can add up.  There is yearly pricing available ($124.95 and $149.95 respectively) that gives a discount over the per-month fee, but it still can be a bit expensive for some families.  (There is a promotion right now where you can get up to 30% off the fee though.)

To give Ooka Island a try, so to the Ooka Island website.  To see what other members of the Mosaic Review team had to say, check out the Mosaic Reviews blog.

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Thursday, May 9, 2013 Special offer for Mother's Day AND a Giveaway!

I have seriously pared down on the number of magazines I get these days, but I still have a special affinity to cooking magazines.  YUM!  So when I got this offer to blog about's special Mother's Day promotion, you know I jumped at it...especially since they offered me a free subscription  AND one to giveaway on my blog!

Here's some info about offers people a fun, easy way to discover new reads and helps them track their magazine subscriptions. Shop the great magazine subscription deals at for Mother’s Day 2013! You’ll find incredible savings on Mom’s favorite cooking, celebrity, crafting magazine subscriptions and more. Don’t forget about all the moms in your life—your aunt, sister and your grandmother! Give her a gift that keeps on giving!

I have to say, the ordering process was SUPER easy.  I chose Cooking with Paula Deen, and I can't wait to get my first issue!  For your chance to win a free subscription, enter below.  Sorry, but this one is open to U.S. Residents only.

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Friday, May 3, 2013

Ring the Bell DVD Review

What do you get when you combine the talents of Steven Curtis Chapman, Casting Crowns, and Matthew West with baseball legends Rick Sutcliffe, John Kruk, and Ben Zobristin in a Christian movie directed by Thomas Weber, and award winning producer, writer, and director and produced by Mark Miller, the lead singer of Sawyer Brown?  You get an amazing new movie called Ring the Bell.

Here's the official info:
Slick, big-city sports agent Rob Decker has it all. But on his latest mission to sign a high school baseball superstar, Rob becomes stranded in a small town where the simplicity of life—and the faith of the people—stands in stark contrast to his own fast-paced, win-at-all-costs mindset. Torn between these two worlds, will Rob have the courage to let faith transform his life? Sometimes the next big thing isn't what you expect.

 Wanna see a clip ?(trust me, you want to):

OBM says:  You can probably tell, we really like this movie.  It has such a great message about life being about more than money and fame, and about how sometimes the ones who think they are stepping in to help those less fortunate find out they themselves are the ones who need help the most.

So, here's how this went in my house...I started the movie so I could watch it and write this review.  Scott came and sat down making some comment like, "Steven Curtis Chapman is in this?  COOL!"  Before long, Sari appeared, then disappeared (to call her other brother to come watch too), and reappeared with TJ behind her.  My husband and Mimi got home, and they joined in too.  Even the new kitten in our house couldn't compete with Ring the Bell.  Mark Hall delivers one of the best "altar calls" I've ever heard, touching and real.  It's the kind of movie that really, truly could change lives.  And I'm beyond thrilled that one of you, my readers, can win your own copy of Ring the Bell.  In case you aren't the lucky winner, you can buy Ring the Bell here.

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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Saving Memories Forever Review

Saving Memories Forever is a two part system--smartphone app and website--that allows you to record, organize, and share the life stories of your family, yourself, or even your children....or anyone really.  It's available as a FREE service for up to two "storytellers", or two people recording their stories.   The free service also caps the amount of people who can listen to your stories at 10 listeners, with a max of 5 stories listened to per day.  

Here's how it works.  Once you download the app, you input information about your first "storyteller".  Then you choose from a list of age ranges, and once you do that, you will get a screen like the one below with questions that pertain to life at that age.

Choose a question, and then record the storyteller's answer to that question.   When you are finished recording, the app automatically offers to upload the recording to Saving Memories Forever's secure website.  The stories are stored there forever, but you can download a copy of them to your own computer with for a fee (with the free app) or for free (with the paid version).  After your story is uploaded, if you have the paid version, you can go to the website and upload pictures to go with the storyteller.  You can also tag the story with key words to make it easier to find years from now or upload Word documents to go with the storyteller if you have the paid version.  It's that simple.

The pros:  I'm really into genealogy.  Before I had kids, my mom and I would spend hours and hours researching my family history.  But then I had kids, and the hours I had spent before on researching my family are now spent on laundry, and cleaning, and schooling.  So I love how this simple app allows me to still preserve my family history but without all the work.  And even better, you can search the site to see if anyone else has recorded stories about your family, and if they have, you can request that they share them.  And while certainly having researched your family history might facilitate you making those connections with others on the site, no research at all is really necessary to record the stories of your current loved ones or even past loved ones via yourself or another family member.  This system is SO much better than the taped recordings I have of my great aunt talking about her parents, because they are poor in quality and require a tape player to listen to them.  Saving Memories Forever stories can be listened to by anyone, anywhere with a computer.  

The cons:  I have an iPhone 4, and everything worked fine for me.  I have no cons at all.

The bottom line:  My uncle is a great storyteller, and keeper of family stories.  But he's getting up there in age, and I have thought for years how great it would be to record him telling his own story and the stories of his parents.  Now, with Saving Memories Forever, I can not only record them, but I can share them with all the rest of my family members so they have that history, those stories, too.  That is priceless.  I'm loving Saving Memories Forever!  Plus, they have a Saving Memories Forever blog and other resources on their site to give you more ideas of how to use the app or more questions to ask.  

The free Saving Memories Forever app is available with from iTunes or on Google Play.  The paid version is $3.99 a month or $40 a year.  It allows for unlimited storyteller and unlimited listeners, as well as some of the other difference I listed above.  Here's a link for a comparison chart of free vs. fee.  In the unlikely event that Saving Memories Forever ceases to exist, all accounts will be changed to lifetime accounts with the ability to download your stories for free.  I love that they have thought that through and have a plan just in case. 

To see what other member of the Mosaic Reviews team had to say, go to the Mosaic Reviews blog.  

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Hey God, I've Got Some Guy Named Jonah in my Stomach and I Think I'm Going to Throw Up! Review and Giveaway

****I received a free copy of this book in hopes that I would write about it on my blog.  All opinions expressed are my own, and a positive review is not guaranteed. ****

Sometimes, I think those of us who are brought up in the church can hear the same Bible stories so many times, we stop appreciating the wonder of them.  But what if you could read the "same ole' stories" with a new spin on them?  No, NOT by changing the scriptural story, but just looking at it from another perspective.  Well, now you can...

About the Book: Oh sure, we've all heard the story of Jonah and the Whale a hundred times. But have we heard it from the perspective of the whale who experienced that history-making event?  Hey God, I've Got Some Guy Named Jonah in My Stomach and I Think I'm Gonna Throw Up! imagines how that great sea creature from the incident might tell his side of the story, helping kids ages 4 to 8 discover a creative way of learning about that guy who was supposed to go to Ninevah.  The "Parent Connection" feature (inside the book) will help moms and dads take the story further with scripture references and tips on how to talk with their children about what really happened. 

About the Author: Troy Schmidt has writing and video production credits ranging from assignments with Disney (The Mickey Mouse Club) and Nickelodeon to Max Lucado's Hermie franchise. He is currently the lead writer for The American Bible Challenge hosted by Jeff Foxworthy on the Game Show Network. Troy and his wife have three sons.

The series:  This is just the first in a series!  Other books available include Hey God, Can You Stop the Rain so I Can Get off Noah's Smelly Ark? and Hey God, I'm Having an Awful Vacation in Egypt Thanks to Moses!
OBM says:  ALL my kids, not just the 8 year old, enjoyed this version of the Jonah story.  My 8 year old wanted my to tell you she loved it, and thought it was funny.  While Hey God takes a little artistic license (it would have to since the real story is not at all told from the whale's perspective), it manages to nicely reinforce the key point of the story--obey God when He tells you to do something!--in some very creative ways.

Hey God, I've Got Some Guy Named Jonah in my Stomach and I think I'm Going to Throw Up! is available beginning today, May 1st, via B&H for $9.99.  Or, one lucky reader can win their own copy by entering the giveaway below!

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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