Thursday, November 19, 2020

CrossTimber (A Homeschool Crew Review)


Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

What is in a name??  When naming our children, we often put a lot of time and effort in finding the perfect name.  Does it sound good with the last name?  Do the initials spell anything bad?  Will other kids that my child goes to school with make fun of her if I name her after Great-Grandmaw Helga?   I know I spent much of the 10 months of pregnancy with each child worrying about the perfect name but I never gave much thought about the meaning of each name.   When it came to my youngest, I opted for Ashleigh because it was a combination of two cities in North Carolina where my husband was from - Asheville and Raleigh. Jordan turned out to be a name that I liked alot from the TV show Crossing Jordan.  I thought they worked well together, and so that was her name. For all I knew, that perfectly sounding Ashleigh Jordan could mean "Child who eats bad sushi".. I just never gave it much thought beyond how it sounded with our last name.

I was given the opportunity to receive an 8x10 Plaque Print from CrossTimber with the meaning of Ashleigh's first and last name and I am happy to report that her name definitely does not mean "Child who eats bad sushi".  In addition to the plaque, we were also given a set of the AmazingName Print Activity Sheets.

CrossTimber  offers a large array of personalized gifts that feature the recipients name meaning as well as the country of origin from where the name derived.  They also include inspirational verse from the Bible that pair well with the meaning of the name.  They offer a number of various gift options: Plaques featuring a single name (in either 5x7 or 8x10 sized options),  Name Plaques featuring up to three names (in the 8x10 option), Coffee Mugs, Music Boxes and animated cartoons featuring the recipients name. They also offer plaques that feature the Names of God.  For this review, I was offered my choice of an unframed 8x10 plaque with my choice of up to three names on it.  There were many different design options I could pick from with options such as faith inspired designs with crosses, beaches and mountains for backgrounds, elegant Celtic style backgrounds featuring Celtic knots and crosses, and pretty butterfly backgrounds in a wide array of colors. 

In the end I opted for the Silverblue Butterfly design option with Ashleigh's first and middle name.  She loves butterflies and that Blue butterfly was just too pretty. I knew she would absolutely love it.  

 Once the design was selected, ordering was easy.  There's a selection of frames you can pick from if you want your plaque to arrive already framed, as well as some add on options such as matching bookmarks that you can pick.   After carefully typing the names I wanted on my plaque (and double checking for spelling to be sure that I didn't fat finger a typo), I was done.  

About two weeks later, I received a large mailing envelope in my post box.  The envelope was well reinforced with a very thick sheet of cardboard inside, so that it maintained rigidity to keep it from being bent or folded while in shipping. Inside was both the name plaque and the AmazingName Activity sheets. 

The plaque itself is printed on high quality glossy paper. My phone sadly does not do it justice.  The colors are bright and vivid, the lettering is crisp and it really turned out pretty.

As you can see, Ashleigh Jordan does not mean "girl who eats bad sushi" but instead her first name, derived from Anglo-Saxon means peaceful, concord, harmony and healing meadow.  Her middle name is Hebrew meaning river flowing down; humble before God, and lifted up with grace. Seeing the meaning of her name, I do think her name is quite fitting for her.  For the most part, she's a peaceful child, but she can be untamed like a river, for sure.

In addition to the plaque, our package also contained the AmazingName activity sheets.  These were super cute and contained a wide array of mazes, word find puzzles, writing practice and coloring sheets that each incorporated her first name into the activity.  

Ashleigh immediately took the more adult style coloring sheets which had a mountain scene as well as some mandala style animals. Unfortunately, as she is still working on them, she refuses to allow me to post her incomplete work.  

We really like the products that we have gotten from CrossTimber, but this time and in the past.  Four years ago we had the opportunity to the 5x7 plaque.  At that time, I decided to also purchase one of the coffee mugs that they offered, as I was going to give the plaque and the mug to my husband as a birthday present.  The plaque has been in our glass cabinet since we received it and the colors of the plaque look just as good as the day we received it.  My husband has used the mug almost daily for his coffee and with the exception to a chip on the back from when he dropped it one time, it has stood up well to daily use and still looks amazing as well. So I know the plaque for Ashleigh will be something that she can keep and enjoy for many years to come.


For more information about CrossTimber and the many options they have for gifts for your loved one, be sure to visit their website.  You can also find them on the following social media sites:



 Members of the Crew were given their choice of either an 8x10 plaque or a combination of Name Bookmarks and NameCards in their design of choice.  Be sure to click the banner below to see what everyone chose and read their reviews today.

Name Cards, Bookcards, Activity Sheets & Plaque Personalised Gifts {CrossTimber Reviews}

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Julie Naturally (A Homeschool Crew Review)

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. 


Growing my understanding of the Bible has become a priority in my life lately, especially with the uncertainty of today's world in many different climates.   Lately, I find myself drawn to the words of the Apostle Paul and the letters he wrote. 


 Because of this, I was pretty excited when I was given the opportunity to review two Bible studies, Faith Journeys Bible Study Series: Romans bundle  and Faith Journeys Bible Study Series: Philippians   from Julie Naturally, both of which focus on two of the letters written by Paul.

For this review, I have worked through the study over the book of Philippians. This study is a 4 week survey of the entire book of Philippians with daily reading and questions to help understand both what Paul meant as well as how one can apply his words to our lives each day.  Each week the study provides a reading assignment that focuses on approximately one chapter of Philippians, dividing the reading over the course of 6 days.  By the end of the study, the reader will have read the entire book of Philippians.  


The daily lessons take roughly 10-20 minutes in total depending on the reader and how in depth with their answers they get when answering the questions, making it easy to fit into a busy schedule. On the 7th day, the study offers a cute coloring page (for the Philippians page these were various heart pictures to color).  Also included in the study were four weekly Bible verses for memorization.  These were easy to print out and to place in areas where one can see them and review them over the course of the week to help remember them. 

The Book of Romans study follows the same format with a few exceptions.  Rather than 4 weeks, since the book of Romans is significantly longer than Philippians, the study is 8 weeks in length.  In addition, the Romans study also has 8 videos available on the website under the members area that has author Julie Polanco discussing the weekly reading.

How I Used It

Because these were digital PDF files, I found it really easy to print these out, punch holes in them and put them into a 3 ring binder.  The Philippians study was the smaller of the two studies, which was 45 pages in length while the Romans study, being a longer study, was 97 pages to print. I was easily able to print out both studies and put them inside of a 1 inch binder that I use for my current Bible studies, making it easy to keep it neatly together and accessible. I simply placed a black piece of cardstock between the two to keep them separate. 

I found the breakdown of this study to be a good pace, without too much reading each evening.  This was extremely useful as I'm doing another study at the same time as I actually am the Women's Study Leader and spend my Bible time also preparing for each week's study. This study was easy to fit in during my evening time and was not overwhelming with reading as some other Bible studies that I have done in the past. 

Each portion is labeled for the week as well as the day of study.  For six days out of the week, you're given a portion of the bible to read, followed by a few questions that ask you to think about the passage, what it means to you, and what we can learn from it to apply to our lives each day.

On the 7th day, rather than reading, you are given a drawing to color and enjoy.  For the Philippians study, these drawings are hearts of various designs.  The drawings are not really intricate,  unlike some of the more complex adult coloring designs, but they are fun and a good relaxation activity to do while focusing on what you learned through the week. 

The Romans study also contains drawings to color on the 7th day of study each week, however, these contain Bible passages to focus on while coloring. 

I really liked the memory verse memory cards that were included with the study.  The kids are required to memorize a verse every week, so I really liked them seeing that Mom was also working on scripture memorization.  There are four verses for memorization for the Philippians study and eight for the Romans study (one for each week of their respective studies).  None of the verses were especially long or difficult for memorization. 

 I enjoyed printing out the verse and placing it on my fridge (because lets face it, most of a mom's time is spent in front of the fridge) so that I could review it and eventually test myself each time I was in the kitchen.  I made a point of reviewing the verse prior to each time I opened the fridge.

I was only sad that I do not have a color printer as the purple water color background is so pretty.  One thing though, is I had to print a second set of the memory cards because they are printed on the same sheet as Week 1 Day 1's study.  Not a big deal. 

Overall, I found this to be a great study for the book of Philippians.  It focuses on joy:  the joy of giving, the joy of believing, the joy of service, and even the joy of all circumstances, even suffering.  Paul is the perfect teacher to remind us not only of his joy in suffering, but in Christ's suffering for our sins.  I really enjoyed this study and look forward to starting the Romans study as well as watching the accompanying videos the author has provided.

#hsreviews #julienaturally, #juliepolanco, #faithjourneys

To find more information about these Bible studies, as well as other products by Julie Polanco, please visit her website.  You can also find more information on the following social media sites:



 Members of the Crew have been using one or both of these studies during the review period.  Be sure to click the banner below to read their reviews today.


Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Homeschool Code Academy (A Homeschool Crew Review)

 Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.  

For the last month, the Homeschool Crew family have been using Python for Beginners: Learn Coding at Home from Homeschool Code Academy.

Homeschool Code Academy is an online based curriculum for homeschool students to teach computer coding to students. Designed by Matt Bohn, a homeschool parent who is also a professional software engineer, business owner, homeschool graduate, and college graduate, the website offers self paced video lessons as well as hands on challenges for your homeschool student that allow them to put the skills they learn to use. Middle school and high school students taking this  introductory Python course will learn to make their computer speak, draw colorful 2D graphics, and create an arcade style space game complete with sound effects and keyboard controls.



For this review, we decided that Garrett would be the one taking the Python course. You may remember recently we attempted another similar course and it was over his head from the start, so I was a bit reluctant in trying this course, expecting similar results.  However, nothing could be further from the truth.

Mr Bohn's teaching approach really seemed to have worked well for Garrett.  The lessons are extremely precise but are taught in such a way that he was able to follow along pretty easily without much help from me.  My role has basically been just take video and pictures as he works thru the lessons. 

The program required me to download a secondary program called Thonny to the computer.  Thonny is an integrated development environment for Python that is designed for beginners. Basically, it's where he writes his code and runs the scripts that he's writing.  The program was free of charge and is the program instructor Matt Bohn uses while teaching so it makes it super easy for Garrett to follow along using the same program.  It also helps that Mr Bohn doesn't speak extremely fast or flies thru the lesson but instead takes his time, explains the basics and even shows examples of common errors in writing the script he's teaching really helps for a better understanding of the material without quickly going over Garrett's head.

Thonny running on the desktop with one of Garrett's scripts

While working on the lesson, Garrett just keeps the thonny program open while he's watching the lessons and he can pause the video and work along with Mr Bohn on each lesson.  

 Here's a video of one of the scripts Garrett had to write in one of the lessons.  For this lesson, he had to create a script that told the computer to speak.   He had a TON of fun with this particular lesson as he quickly realized that the computer would say anything so long as he wrote the script, including telling his sister to go take a bath.

After the student completes a portion of the course, they are given a few different challenges where they must meet an objective using the skills they have learned.  These challenges should first be attempted by the student on their own, however, if they get hung up, there is a video key that provides the answer for the challenge, so the student can see where they struggled and attempt it again.  

Garrett has actually done really well in the challenges (again, I think this says a lot in regards to the instructor and the method of teaching of the course).  In the video below, Garrett was using the "Print" command to write a script in which he created an upside down pyramid. 


 I really like the step by step process this program is using and the challenges that help to allow Garrett to use what he's learning multiple times before moving on.  These challenges haven't been straight copied from what he scripted in the lesson, but instead makes him use those skills in a completely different way, requiring them to use critical thinking skills.  This really helps for them to use those skill in multiple ways, rather than just regurgitate the material from the lesson. 

I also like that this course is self paced.  With Garrett being special needs, he tends to need a bit more time to work on stuff and he does tend to get overwhelmed when he struggles with something, resulting in him shutting down.  So far, the pace of this course has been perfect for him and we're about a fifth of the way thru the course, but I know if he needs to go back and review, he can rewatch videos without an issue. 

Overall, we're really happy with this course and I think Garrett is learning a lot from it.  I look forward to seeing how he progresses with it and see how he takes what he learns and transfers it to writing scripts for his Arduino Uno and Raspberry Pi. 

For more information about Homeschool Code Academy and the Python for Beginners course, be sure to visit their website.  You can also find them on the following social media sites:



Members of the Crew have been using Python for Beginners with their families for the last month.  Be sure to click the banner below to read their reviews today.

Python for Beginners: Learn Coding at Home {Homeschool Code Academy Reviews}

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Bible Unearthed (A Homeschool Crew Review)

 Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. 

The family and I have been enjoying learning about the wonderful world of archeology and how it helps support the Bible with the new, soon to be released video series Bible Unearthed from Drive Thru History® Adventures

Our family has enjoyed previous Drive Thru History series and are huge fans of host Dave Stotts, so we were super excited when we learned we would be reviewing this series before it's released.  Along with the 12 video series, we also were given access to the curriculum that goes along with them.

For this review, we originally approached it as if we were going to use the videos over the course of the 12 weeks, going in depth with the resources provided by Drive Thru Adventures.  However, my kids had other plans and decided they wanted to watch all the videos instead. What we ultimately decided was that we would first watch all 12 videos without using the resources.  Once the videos were completed, we would then return, re watch the videos, one video per week, and then utilize the resources and activities that were provided for each week.   

If you're a fan of the original Drive Thru History series, you'll find that Bible Unearthed is different.  Dave Stott's is still part of the series, however, there is no driving around locations with costumes and narration.  Instead, Bible Unearthed is more a panel style learning - the hosts sit around a table discussing the world of archeology and the amazing finds made that help to support Biblical history. Dave still interjects some humor in his usual way, but you'll find that Bible Unearthed is a much more formal type of setting.  Now, with that said, that's not to take anything away from Bible Unearthed.  But it is not a Drive Thru History and one should not expect it to me.

What Bible Unearthed is, however, is a 12 part series to really dig into the world that is Biblical Archeology (pun was intentional) by exploring the history, importance and impact of archaeology and how discoveries help us better understand the ancient world.  The series is hosted by three individuals - the first two are host Dave Stotts and Drive Thru History writer Randall Niles.  The third individual is Dr. Titus Kennedy who is a field archaeologist working primarily with sites and materials related to the Bible.  An Adjunct Professor of Biblical Archeology at Shepherds Theological Seminary, Kennedy has been involved in supervising excavations and surveys at several archaeological sites in Bible lands, and has conducted artifact research at museums and collections around the world.  In other words, he is an expert in his field and very knowledgeable in the material he is presenting. 

Thankfully, unlike many of the boring, grey haired college professors I had in my days, Dr Kennedy is lively and presents the material in such a way that is both entertaining as well as highly educational. After episode 1, my kids were absolutely hooked on the videos.  This created a problem (not really) as that they didn't want to wait a week for the next video - they wanted to watch them all.  I compromised with them and said they could watch 3 per week (M-W-F) IF they agreed to revisit with the resources after the watched them one time thru. Garrett especially has REALLY enjoyed watching the videos as he's big into both educational style videos, Dave Stotts, and Archeology, so this series has been right up his alley. 

The series starts by introducing watchers to what is archeology, how archeologists conduct surveys of archeological sites, and the impact that their findings have had on Biblical history.   Providing plenty of visuals such as examples of the equipment used as well as demonstrating it's usage as well as replicas of various artifacts.   The series then takes viewers out into the field to show them what real archaeological studies involve.

The 12 episodes each run roughly 13-16 minutes in length. 

Episode 1 - What is Archaeology?

Episode 2 - The Impact of Archaeology

Episode 3 - Locating Archaeological Sites

Episode 4 - The Life of an Archaeologist

Episode 5 - What's Being Discovered Today?

Episode 6 - Archaeological Mysteries

Episode 7 - Top Discovered in Bible Archaeology

Episode 8 - Getting Involved with Archaeology

Episode 9 - Trends in Archaeology

Episode 10 - Weird Archaeology

Episode 11 - Accidental Discoveries in Archaeology

Episode 12 - What's Left to be Discovered?

There's tons of material presented that even those know quite a bit about archeology will find something to learn that they didn't previously know.  For me, that moment was when Dr Kennedy brought viewers to Jerusalem to see an example of a stone tomb that would have been like that Christ as buried in.   I always have seen imagines of a cave with a stone in front of it, but that wasn't at all like what Dr Kennedy showed. Instead, the stone was made almost like a pocket door, rolling to the side in a slot with an archway in front of it.  I personally thought that was pretty fascinating.

Drive Thru Adventures also provides various resources to go along with each video.  These resources include articles to help viewers dig deeper into the material being viewed, scripture reading, and activities such as making timelines and copying/translating ancient texts.  Also provided are worksheets with comprehension and discussion questions that coincide with each video to help students to pay closer attention to the material.

We have completely viewed the all the videos of the series and will be returning to video 1 next week so that we can really focus on the material as well as utilize the resources provided.   I highly recommend this series for anyone who enjoys archeology,  Biblical history, and/or Dave Stotts. Be on the lookout for it's release in the future.

For more information regarding the upcoming release of Bible Unearthed, be sure to visit Drive Thru History Adventures website.  You can also find more information on the following social media platforms:


Be sure to click the banner below and read the opinion of other Crew members and see how they liked Bible Unearthed. 

Bible Unearthed {Drive Thru History® Adventures Reviews}

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Election Results 2020



I try not to get political on this blog.. However, elections effect us all.. So here's where I stand... 
It looks as if Biden is most likely going to be our president. The outcome will be what it will be.. and there's nothing that is going to change that..
 I leave it in the Lord's hands as that's all I can do...
In the end, I'm right with myself on my vote as I voted my conscience and that's all I can do. I'll at least take solace in the fact that the Senate will have a Republican majority and will at least help to stop anything too over the top. 
Am I scare for this country? You bet I am.. Will I be screaming not my president? No.. Will I be outside yelling at the sky because the election didn't go the way I had hoped.. That's a negative. Will I call those who voted opposite the way I voted a whole bunch of nasty names such as the ones I've been called for the last 4 years? Nope, that won't happen either. 
What I will do is continue to pray for this country and for the people in it... and pray that the fears that I have fail to fall into fruition.. and I'll pray that the hatred that has been shown for the last 4 years ceases because there won't be an "evil orange man" in office for them to blame it on.. I'll pray this country starts to heal, regardless to who's in office.
At the end of the day, we are all Americans.. Black, white, yellow, brown, gay, straight or other , male, female or whatever one identifies as (no particular order, before you jump my butt for that one), we all want to see what's best for this country and I hope nobody wants to see us fail..
After all the ballots are counted, after the election is called, my only prayer is that we are all just good to each other... 
"Thou shalt love thy Lord, thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.. And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" - The TRUE Leader and King - Jesus Christ.

“The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.” ’

Tuesday, November 3, 2020 (A Homechool Crew Review)

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. 

For the last few weeks, the kids have been using a supplemental program off the internet called to help them solidify their math knowledge and continue practicing skills they have already learned. is a website that provides video lessons as well as printable worksheets to practice what they have learned. The one-year family subscription includes four complete math courses, Basic Math, Advance Math, PreAlgebra, and Algebra 1

This web based program works in four steps:

Video lessons:   The video tutorials are simple and straight forward. No distractions, just Rick Fisher writing on a white board to show examples and demonstrate solutions.


Printable Worksheets - Students write problems out and solve them with pencil and paper. This enforces concepts and methods as the students work through each essential step.

 Quizzes - Once the student is confident with what they have learned, it's time to put that to the test. There is a quiz at the end of each chapter and a final quiz at the end of each course.

Earn Badges - Keep students motivated by feeding that instinct to achieve and collect! Students can earn badge awards as they complete lessons and do well on quizzes. offers four courses for different levels of study: Basic Math , Advanced Math, Pre Algebra  and Algebra. 

 Each level is broken down by topics of study such as fractions, geometry, ratios and more.  This makes it easy to target one particular skill that the student needs to work on.


Students first watch a short video lesson (roughly less than 5 minutes) taught by math instructor Rick Fisher who teaches concepts via white board lessons.  First he explains the math concept and then he works out examples while the student follows along.  

Following the lesson, a printable worksheet (along with answer key) is available for printing out for the student to work through in order to practice the math skill learned.  The worksheet also contains review questions from previous lessons so that the student continues to use that knowledge and hopefully cements the skill into their knowledge bank.  Each worksheet also contains a word problem at the end to help students use critical thinking skills in figuring out what process needs to be used to sold the problem. 


How We Used It

 The kids have been working their way thru the Basic Math section of the website in order to remediate any gaps they might have in their math knowledge.  As we have recently completed our lessons on Fractions in our current math curriculum, we have been primarily focusing on the fractions section of the website, allowing the kids to continue using their knowledge.

We found that fitting into our school day was pretty simply.  I would print out the worksheets for the week ahead of time and use used them at the start of our math class as a review.  I would play the quick video, just to refresh them on the skill, and then have them work on the worksheet for about 10 minutes.  

The kids watching the video lesson before starting the day's worksheet

The kids have enjoyed (as much as they can enjoy math) using the website videos and the worksheets each day.  Ashleigh especially has had fun with the word problems each day, as she's used them as a way to vent her frustration with being stuck in the house under California Covid guidelines.  Each morning we have a bit of a laugh at her word problem answers.  Can you notice the theme??

While a minor issue, I did find that the answer key to go along with the worksheets do tend to have mistakes on them.  For example, for  2 3/4 + 2 2/4 , the answer would be 5 1/4.  However, the answer key had 6  1/4.  Another example had the kids reducing the fraction 2/8 to it's simplest which would be 1/4 but the answer key stated 1/2. 


Overall, I'm finding that has been a great complement with our math curriculum and has helped to solidify the skills the kids are currently working on. 

Be sure to click the banner below to see how other families on the Crew used with their families.

Math & Algebra Family Subscription { Reviews}


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