embracing life and letting God


Aletheia Writing Magazine for Christian Teens ~ TOS Review

Today is
The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew and I are pleased to share with you

 A L E T H E I A
In the Greek meaning:
Ah-LAY-thei-uh (Ancient)
Ah-LEE-thei-uh (Modern)

This is one of those special moments when I get to share with you something unique in our journey of learning. 

An absolutely original magazine.  A magazine written by teens [maybe even your teen] for teens.  A portal for Christian Teens to express their faith and writing and story telling talents from their heart of adventure and vision.  Tailored to youth 13 to 19, this quarterly magazine, is for the teen writer, photographer and artist in your home. 

Spring 2011 Cover

To see more of this Issue go to Aletheia Writing Magazine.com 
go to the link ^ on their home page to view your own Sample Spring 2011 Issue.
We received the Fall 2011 issue of Aletheia as well as the Summer 2011 Digital issue.  I must tell you, I was thoroughly impressed with the quality of the magazine.  Sturdy pages, allowing us to read the magazine whereever we go, not having to worry about it becoming too worn out or torn easily.  The simplicity of the designs and reader submitted photos made for such an appealing looking magazine.

The submissions come from students, male and female, of all teenage years.  These were wonderful stories, poems, photographs and art.  The imagination and thought they poured into their works were nothing short of inspiring.  The level of maturity determines the depth of the story.  But, even the youngest writer has a way of filling a page with great imagery and heart.  

In each publication there is a featured contributor where they share their own personal biography and Story in the magazine and the web page.  There is also an interview with a fabulous artist Joe Goode. 

My absolute favorite story was 'Ordinary',  a story about a young man discovering the extraordinary in the ordinary through the joy of a young lady's viewpoint.  My other favorite was 'Sensative'.  Oh, You will just have to try their magazine for yourself because I could go on and on with every little detail of what we enjoyed about Aletheia. 

These stories are so heartfelt.  Creative.  I loved this magazine.  My Soaring Eagle really enjoyed having these short stories to read in the between times.  He has tried his hand at writing, being a wonderful story-teller himself, so I pray that he may be inspired to write a story to submit the Aletheia someday soon.  I will be continuing our subscription to keep the inspiration flowing and to enhance our literature based learning.  Maybe I will have some published writer's and artist's in a Publication of Aletheia in the future.

We are excited to offer Christian teens a healthy platform in which to express themselves, especially in a culture that so definitively shapes and saturates their worldview with unhealthy imagery and values.

Moreover, we're interested in publishing teen work in a quality manner while preserving its honesty and integrity- we're not interested in dumbing down or overly sanitizing the writing we receive.

But whether teens use their writing to explore the darker realities of life or celebrate the brighter ones, their writing, in the end, must contain hope.

In addition to the literary and artistic expressions of Christian teens, each issue offers a variety of unique features: a Writer's Challenge, the Featured Contributor, a book review, Glory to God for the Beauty of Nature, Ancient Ink, and an interview or other feature for edification and enjoyment.
You can enjoy your own subscription of

Subscription details:

Aletheia is filled with original literary and artistic work from teens across the country
and also includes several unique features.

Four issues per year. 40 pages. Color. Price includes shipping & handling.



For shipping to Europe please email us at writealetheia@gmail.com.

"At Aletheia Writing Magazine, we are excited about our contributors and the articulation of their Christian faith and experiences in writing. This magazine is geared toward youth ages 13 to 19. Because contributors’ ages vary, the maturity level of situational content may likewise vary."
You can find more reviews from TOS Homeschool Crew members HERE.
From My Heart to Yours,
Mindy B.
Revelation 12:11
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Time4Learning Online Curriculum ~ TOS Review




and today I am pleased to share with you

Time4Learning is an online, interactive, complete educational curriculum for children in preschool through the 8th grade. Homeschool, Afterschool, or Summer learning enhancement this online learning program uses a combination of animated lessons, interactive activities, and reinforcing worksheets to teach Language Arts, Extended L/A, Math, Social Studies, and Science.

Time4Learning includes:

•Online curriculum for grades Pre-K through 8th
•More than 1,000 interactive animated lessons
•Self paced lessons
•Math & algebra tutorials & printable worksheets
•Language arts, phonics & grammar lessons
•Interactive, project-based reading activities
•Science (grades 1st – 6th) & social studies (grades 2nd – 7th)
•Detailed reporting for easy record keeping
•Extensive lesson plans & teaching tools for parents
•and much more…

A membership based program, once you set up your password protected accounts for each child you are ready to begin learning.  Your children choose the 'Lessons' tab and choose from L/A Extension, Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Studies.  The lower the grade level the less the subjects are offered.  Precious Princess had Language Arts and Math for K. 

Once your child completes one section of the subject they are working in, they are given 'Playground' time.  The 'Playground' is a listing of 100s of fun online video games rewarded to them for completing their work.  These are such fun games as Pac-Man or Asteroid.  Yay!  My kids Love to be rewarded with computer game time so this was just even more incentive to get the job of learning done. 

Student Progress Report
Student Progress Reports Show you:
  • What lessons were completed during the day, week, or month.
  • What lessons were begun but never completed.
  • Grades/percentages of testing completed.
  • Duration of lesson.
  • Are Great record for lesson plans to print out via pdf.

If your child has been placed in a grade specific level but he/she is not ready for that level or needs to move up a level, you are able to move them to the appropriate learning level that suits them the best. 
Language Arts

Rhino Legend:  He worked at the 5th grade level and every subject seemed to suit his learning ability.  The Language Arts section was full of animated, interactive graphics with fun skits presenting the information i.e. synonyms, antonyms, vocabulary, spelling etc.  He loved this section above the other subjects.  It was the most engaging and interesting to him, holding his attention the most.  The 'Old Time Word Show' was almost like not doing school at all.

We did not work on math as much as the other subjects because it is a subject he does well in and we needed to focus on them for increased learning. 
The Social Studies involved more interaction with me due to all of the reading.  There were lots of fun facts, Q & A sessions in the midst of the lessons, map labeling, Listing of States and suggestions for activities and books to see about in addition to the material presented.  They even suggested keeping a Science and Social Studies notebook to keep up with different written facts and maps along the way


Soaring Eagle:  He was working at the 8th grade level.  His strong suit is not math, so the math was a bit of a struggle for him at times but it was good to have that challenge for him to see when his strengths and weaknesses are.  He enjoyed most of all the Social Studies portion.  He felt like he was learning more information than his regular curriculum had provided or he just missed.  We agreed that the information was presented in such a fun manner that maybe he just saw the facts in a whole new light and it really 'sunk in' because he was enjoying it.

Language Arts
Precious Princess:  She had a great time on her Kindergarten activities.  They were a bit simplistic at times but it was fun and colorful and full of cute animals. 

The only drawback that we found was when we had to stop in the middle of a lesson or there was a glitch on our computer, when we logged back in or came back later, they had to start the lesson/test over in order to receive credit for that section.  In the L/A section you have to go through all of the videos completely, again, without being able to skip.  For Precious Princess, when she wanted to go to the Letter Journal pages again, it took her a while to get to that point.   

  • No contracts! Cancel at any time!
  • $19.95 per month for the first child
  • $14.95 per month for each additional child
  • Two-week money back guarantee!

To find out more about Time4Learning you to visit their Frequently Asked Questions page.

To see even more reviews for Time4Learning visit our TOS Homeschool Crew Blog to read more.

From My Heart to Yours,
Mindy B.
Revelation 12:11

I received access to Time4Learning for a free 1 month trial for review purposes only.

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The Flame of LOVE

"I can master it," said the ax.  His blows fell heavy on the hard, strong shell.  But each blow only made his edge more blunt until he ceased to strike.

"Leave it to me," said the saw.  With his relentless teeth, he worked back and forth.  But to his dismay, all of this teeth were worn out or broken off.

"Ha!" said the hammer.  "I knew you could not do this.  Let me show you how."  But with the very first blow his head flew off, and the steel was unchanged.

"Shall I try?" asked the flame.  And it curled itself gently around the strong, hard steel, and embraced it, and would not let it go. 

The tough steel melted.

There are hearts that are hard enough to resist the forces of wrath, the fury of pride.  But hard is the heart that can resist the warm flame of Love. 

-Author Unknown

From My Heart to Yours,
Mindy B.
Revelation 12:11
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Wise Alec Nature Nuts Science Trivia Game~ TOS Review


 Oh yea, it's time to get your game on!


My Own Sense and Sensibility

and today I bring to you, from


 For game players: Ages 8+
Number of players: 2 - 4 educational, nature, trivia, exercise

Wise Alec Nature Nuts is Science trivia with a nutty twist! Fun elementary school nature topics that challenge players of all ages.  What a great way for us, with our busy curriculum, to include Science and Nature in our day-to-day learning and play a game at the same time.  Wise Alec Nature Nuts is a fun way to get in a relaxing, yet challenging game of learning all about the Earth, Plants and Animals.

"Explore the marvels of nature with the trivia game based on the award-winning Wise Alec™ Family Trivia Game. There are 300 questions to test your knowledge of animals, plants, and the Earth. Two levels of questions on each card let everyone from the nature novice to the eco-expert play together. Plus, Wise Alec™ cards will have you doing tongue twisters, brain teasers, and fun exercises!"
The cards from this game can also be used to expand your own set of Wise Alec™ Family Trivia Game to bring even more fun Science Trivia to your family fun.   

It is a great way to encourage my children in their knowledge because they are 'rewarded' for what they know. But, they also learn from what they do not know when asked a trivia question or hear the trivia questions of the other players.  Even my Precious Princess, who is 5 years old, joined in the game and surprised us, when we simplified the 3 point questions a bit, with how much she knew. 

The kits contains:

  • 1 color coded dice
  • Questions cards [There are 4 sets of cards with different subjects]  
    • 50 Animal Cards  
    • 50 Plant Cards
    • 50 Earth Cards
    • 50 Wise Alec Cards
Each card contains a 3 point and a 7 point question, 3 being easier, 7 being a little more challenging.  We really have had a good time with this game. 

Example of the questions on the Subject cards are:

  • "What's an eagle's most keen sense?" ~3 points
  • "What is the eagle's position on the food chain?" ~7 points

The Wise Alec cards present more interesting and fun choice such as:

  • "STUDY BREAK: Hop from side to side 15 times." ~3 points  FUN!!

To play the game one player rolls the dice.  The color the dice lands on determines your choice.  Red for Animals, Yellow for Earth, Green for Plants, Purple for Wise Alec, Blue to pick your own subject and Orange to have the player to your right pick a subject for you.  The player has a choice between the 3 point or the 7 point question.  We allowed them to, if they chose the 7 point question and could not answer it, change to the 3 point question.  Everyone agrees to the point goal and you play to that goal. 

 Our only 'cons' about this game are that the cards are a tad flimbsy and can be bent easily.  The dots on the dice rub off when hands are sweaty or from taking it in or out of the great box.  Otherwise, the magnetic closure on the box and the directions printed directly on the box are a real bonus to this compact travel game.

To find Wise Alec Nature Nuts visit Griddly Games Inc to find a retailer near you or visit Amazon.com where it is available for $14.99
Also available:

Wise Alec Civilize This! Travel Game ~ a world cultures game

 Wise Alec Sports Buff Travel Game ~ a sports history, athletes and rules game 
Our family recommends this game for fun and learning.  Here is what my children had to say:

Soaring Eagle:  "I like that it was fun but you were also learning something.  I like the cheesy jokes on the Wise Alec cards."

Rhino Legend:  "It's cool and fun."

Precious Princess:  "It's fun."

Play and Learn!  Enjoy!

For more wonderful reviews come on over to TOS Homeschool Crew and what other mom's and dad's are saying about Wise Alec games.

From My Heart to Yours,
Mindy B.
Revelation 12:11

I received this product free of charge for review purposes only in exchange for my honest opinion. 
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It Is Too Rocket Science

The U.S. standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches.  That's an exceedingly odd number.

Why was that gauge used? 

Because that's the way they built them in England, and English expatriates built the U.S. railroads.

Why did the English build them like that? 

Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used.

Why did they use that gauge then?

Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.

OK!  Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing?

Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that's the spacing of the wheel ruts.

So who built those old rutted roads?

Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (and England) for their legions.  The roads have been used ever since.

And the ruts in the roads?

Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels.  Since the chariots were made for Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.

The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot.  And bureaucracies live forever.

So the next time you are handed a spec and told we have always done it that way and wonder what horse's behind camp up with that, you may be exactly right, because the Imperial Roman war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends of two war horses. 

Now the twist to the story...

When you saw a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there were two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank.  These were solid rocket boosters, or SRBs.  The SRBs were made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah.  The engineers who designed the SRBs would have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site.

The railroad line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains.  The SRBs had to fit through that tunnel.  The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track, as you now know, is about as wide as the width of a horse's behind. 

Vision.  Do you have a Vision?  Can you see beyond the simple and sometimes challenging circumstances and why you are doing what you are doing? 


Isn't it funny how some things seems so strange how they 'come about' and yet God has a perfect plan all along, even hundreds of years before?  We seem to forget the bigger picture when we are in the parental war trenches and all we can focus on is getting through our child's next challenge. 

But God!

God's Vision for your future, and the future of your children is amazing.  Though struggles mount and we are bombarded by the evils of this world we have a Big God with a Big Plan, Jesus.  'It is done'. 2000 years ago, God finished it, and redeemed us all.  God created us for this perfect time in history.  Everything we do, say, and think today impacts our tomorrow.  What we teach our children impacts their tomorrows. 

Are we enabling their sin because we are afraid of 'the battle" or are we standing with them in the trenches to teach them how to govern their selfish desiresand LIVE for the One and Only? 

Are we standing with them as they learn to become the godly men and women they are destined to become or are we throwing them to the wolves and saying "it's time for you to figure it out"?

Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and spacious and broad is the way that leads away to destruction, and many are those who are entering through it.  But the gate is narrow (contracted by pressure) and the way is straitened and compressed that leads away to life, and few are those who find it. ~Matthew 7:13-14
What seed of vision have you planted in your children today? 

And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision,
and make it plain on tables, that he may run that reads it. ~Habakkuk 2:2

From My Heart to Yours,
Mindy B.
Revelation 12:11

"See the Big Picture.  Nothing is ever as it first appears.  Pain passes.  Adversity passes.  Look beyond your current hardships.  Something incredible is being produced.  The resurrection followed the crucifixion.  Promotion follows adversity.  So, get your eyes on the bigger picture." ~Mike Murdock
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TOS Review: "How to Have a H.E.A.R.T For Your Kids"


Bon Voyage!  Our journey has officially begun. 
I am so grateful to bring you my first review of the year and blessed beyond measure to bring to you from:


How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. For Your Kids

"...homeschooling is more than an educational choice - it's a lifestyle." ~p. 23
I just have to say, for my first review of the 2011-2012 Crew Year, this book was "a very present and well-proved help in trouble" [Psalm 46:1]  Anyone with me?  Parenting is the hardest job you will ever have as well as the most rewarding.

Rachael Carmen stepped into my life and reminded me, bottom line, you must be at the end of yourself to truly discover freedom in leaning on, trusting in, relying on FULLY The Lord's sovereign care.  When I let go, He starts to really show off.

Ms. Carmen has written with honesty and transparency of her own journey as daughter of the King, a mom, wife and teacher.  She flawlessly incorporates their life experiences with the truth of how to make it all work.  Her ideas are simple enough for everyone to put into action, and effective in a way that will draw your heart closer God as well as closer to your husband and children.  The theme that seems to resonate so greatly with me is the fact that with these simple acts of faith and service we discover a freedom like we may never even knew existed. 

H: Have a Heart for the Things of God

In this chapter Ms. Carman introduces us to the truth that:

"In order to reach the hearts of your kids, you must first have a heart for the things of God."  ~p. 31
Putting the Lord first makes our journey just that much sweeter.  Our hearts are softened, our character changed because we realize that we can do nothing without Him.  He continually saves us as we call upon Him for salvation.  We need God.  She calls her being at the end of herself "Way Out Beyond Myself", where she feels the weight of the world and doesn't know what to do. God is the only answer.  Prayer - asking for wisdom and understanding, lifting our children before the Lord, is where complete freedom comes and He leads us on that narrow path to humility and His perfect plan.

E: Enrich Your Marriage

This is one that is near and dear to my heart.  The Lord has brought me through this journey of discovering how important it is to make my husband and our marriage the most important, only second to God.  In this chapter she challenges us to remember the truth about marriage and how the world threatens that truth.  Are we willing to fight for the covenant promise that we made before God?  Are we allowing God to be the head of our marriage and kneel before Him, together, calling on His salvation?

"Have you ever thought about what you are living 'out loud' in your marriage? Do you actually live like you actually love your spouse, or even like him? Do you live like you are glad you said, 'I do'? Have you ever thought about the fact that people are watching and learning from your marriage, including your kids, your friends, your neighbors, and even strangers?" ~p 64-65

A: Accept Your Children

"Genuine acceptance of our kids means a radical change of perspective - a paradigm shift.  It means seeing our children as gifts from the hand of the living God.  It means realizing these kids were not sent by God to drive us crazy.  Isn't that good news?" ~p 100

This chapter has to be my favorite.  Simply put, my job is not to change who my children are but pray and ask God to reveal His plan for their lives to me so that I may raise them to give Him glory.  They are not mine to 'fix' because they are not broken.  They are His to guide and mold and I am his vessel as they grow into young men and women of honor and integrity.  His timing was perfect for their life, in this time, on this earth. 
"We must seek God first when it comes to molding our children, or we will make the mistake of molding them into our image instead of His." ~p. 108

R: Release them to God
Probably the hardest thing  a mother has to do, at least for me.  Our children belong to the Lord.  And as Ms. Carman shares, this truth can be 'ultimately liberating'. Freedom!  "Do you trust God?"  Our surrender of letting our children go to pursue the plans and purposes of God in their life means they learn total surrender to God.
"It's a growing, intimate, passionate pursuit of God's perfect plan without our sinful and selfish limitations." ~p 128
How beautifully Ms. Carman relates the story of Hannah and Samuel in relation to letting go. Mary and Jesus. You must read this chapter.  I needed it and may go back and read it again.  What subjects, what curriculum, are they completing enough in one day, is their rebellion going to last forever, are they cleaning this the way "I" want them too?  I let the little petty things creep in and fail to remember how precious our time is together.  This is where my heart falls on knees of prayer and Holy Spirit must come in comfort and wisdom, guiding me to know "HOW' do I do this Your way Lord?"  But God...
T: Teach them the truth

Truth!  Teaching our children the truth of who God is, what Jesus did for us and how He sent His Spirit to always be with us is Critical, life and death.  Our world hammers our children with lies of who they should be or what they should do.  The Truth we give them can set them free.  Freedom! Truth about their character, about their choices, about sin, about life, about ... the list goes on and on.  The Word of God is their source of Living Water that will give them life-giving truth.  Am I showing Truth to my children through my life?
"We live truth when we do the laundry with a grateful and joyful heart."
"We can live truth by allowing it to set us free from worry, panic, exhaustion, and despair." ~p. 171
You will truly enjoy this book.  It tenderly guides and instructs you into knowing what hope there is in surrendering our whole lives to God and depending on Him completely for our every need and the needs of our children.

You can find this book at :

Apologia Educational Ministries for a reasonable $13.00.  Find it

Thank you for allowing me to share this review with you.  Blessings!

From My Heart to Yours,

Mindy B.
Revelation 12:11

As a member of
The Old Schoolhouse Crew I received this product free of charge for the sole purpose of sharing an honest review. 

To read more reviews of this book check them out
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