Monday, December 9, 2013

NIV Adventure Bible Book of Devotions Review

NIV Adventure Bible Book of Devotions: 365 Days of Adventure   -     By: Robin Schmitt
I was contacted by DJC Communications to review a Zondervan NIV Adventure Bible Book of Devotions by Robin Schmitt.  This came with the Rock Solid Faith Study Bible and I did like this albeit it was not a Catholic bible.  I also appreciated this book of devotions.  Each day, there is scripture verse and a plausible scenario where one can choose either to listen to the Word of God, or choose to follow modern culture.  At the bottom of each page, there is either a section stating "Words to Treasure" or "People in Bible Times" or "Life in Bible Times" or "Live It".  Each section draws the reader into a better understanding of how to live out the scripture verse.  As a typical devotional works, there is one devotion per day for the entire year.  

What I like about it is that it is faith in action.  Teens and especially boys, as we all know, are bombarded with commercialization and the secular belief system.  Which goes against the Word of God and this creates confusion for our young teens.  As parents we need to help them grow in their faith and have a solid foundation so when they encounter peer pressure, God's word has been instilled in their hearts. And when they fall, they know we have a forgiving God and try not to do that again.  

A daily devotional geared towards this age group is ideal for preparing our young to face the world.  This book is geared towards boys and I think that's important because even though they share common struggles with their counterpart, they also have unique challenges all unto their own.  That does not mean that every scenario in the book involves boys, but the overall appearance will appeal to boys. This devotional book belongs to my son now and he will reap the rewards from studying scripture in this format.

I received a complimentary copy of NIV Adventure Bible Book of Devotions for my honest review. No monetary compensation was given for my honest review.

Advent Blessings,

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Bambinelli Sunday: A Christmas Blessing Book Review

Amy WelbornRecently I was asked to find a picture of the Bambinelli and I had no idea what it was.  So I googled it and learned that it is a sweet tradition in Rome that occurs on the third Sunday of Advent.  On this day in St. Peter's Square, one can find many children with their families waiting for a blessing from the Holy Father.  What do the children have to be blessed?  Their figures of the Christ Child - the Bambinelli - from their presepe at home.  This day is known as "Bambinelli Sunday".  Then shortly after I saw a newly published book Bambinelli Sunday A Christmas Blessing by Amy Welborn on the product reviewer list at the Catholic Company, I took it as God's providence that I should review it.

This fictional story is about one boy, Alessandro, who is temporarily living with his grandparents outside of Rome while his parents are away working in another country.  While missing his parents, Alessandro learns about the Bambinelli custom and decides to make his own to be blessed by the Holy Father, however things don't go as he planned and Alessandro learns about kindness, generosity, and forgiveness.

It's a very sweet story about an even sweeter tradition that happens each year on the third Sunday of Advent.  The illustrations by Ann Kissane Engelhart are wonderfully imaginative.  You can picture the scene in St. Peter's Square and the thousands of children who eagerly await the Holy Father's blessing on their bambino.  I loved this book and I will pass it on as part of a Christmas gift to a young child whose mother chose life.  We do not have Bambinelli Sunday in our church, but during our Christmas Novena, the manger scene it set up one piece a day.  I will tell others of this tradition and perhaps one of them will bring their baby Jesus to church and ask their priest to bless him.  Next week is the third Sunday in Advent!

This reivew was written as part of the Catholic Company Reviewer Program.  Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Bambinelli Sunday A Christmas Blessing.  The Catholic Company is the best resource of finding all of your seasonal needs such as First Communion Gifts and other items to enrich your prayer life.

I was given a complimentary copy of Bambinelli Sunday A Christmas Blessing for my review.  No monetary compensation was given.

Advent Blessings,

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Keep Christ in Christmas Activities With a Teenager

"I’m participating in the KEEP CHRIST in CHRISTMAS Blog Link-Up 2013, hosted by

Tina at Truly Rich Mom
Birgit at Designs By Birgit

Since I am a mom of a teenager, I need to keep our activities age appropriate so he can grow in a more meaningful way with Our Lord. 
 So, the fun crafts and activities that I enjoy, are not so fun for him any longer.

So, what does a mom who has a teenager do?

Include him in the adult activities of our church.

I'm fortunate to belong to a diverse parish which has many prayer and worship activities 
in a few cultures.

Here is what we will be doing:

We will join in the "Caminata Rosario" walking rosary for Our Lady of Guadalupe.

We will participate in our Christmas Novena evening services. 
 For nine days, we will go to evening prayer service hosted by our different ministry groups. 
 Some nights it will be conducted in English, other nights it will be in Spanish, 
some nights in Tagalog and others in Polish.

We will go to our Penance Service.

We will go to our Parish Christmas Concert.

One evening, we will attend Simbang Gabi

and the next evening ~ Las Posadas.

We will have a busy week of faith and culture enriching activities to prepare for the birth of Jesus.

May God bless my son and draw him closer to him, 
as he participates and walks with the members of our parish.

"I’m participating in the KEEP CHRIST in CHRISTMAS Blog Link-Up 2013

sponsored by the Catholic Bloggers Network.

Be sure to visit as many links as possible, listed at the bottom of this post.

I would love to hear of other ideas on how to have a meaningful Advent for teenagers.

Here are the others who have joined up in the Keep Christ in Christmas Linkup.  Please pop over and visit them as you can.  I've learned a lot of great teaching tools by visiting the bloggers below.

Equipping Catholic Families: Keep Christ in Christmas

Simply Homeschool Living Advent Series 12/1 - 12/25

Fifth of Five Keeping Christ in Christmas - Blog Link-up 2013

Coffee Moments with Sam The Light of Hope

Hand-Maid With Love: CHRISTmas Presence: Keep Christ in Christmas 2013 Edition

Open Window Making hay while the Advent wreath shines

Faith Filled Freebies: Keep Christ in Christmas

Written by the Finger of God: Not Christmas as Usual

On the Way Home: Keep Christ in Christmas

Sue Elvis Writes: Bring Christ to Others

Mommy Bares All Why Celebrate Christmas Even After #YolandaPH

Canadian Catholic Mom Keeping The Little Ones Focused: An Advent Link-Up

Mountain of Grace Homeschooling Keep Christ in Christmas

Em’s Estuary: Keeping Christ in Christmas

Happy Little Homemaker: December Devotion: Immaculate Conception

Adoro Ergo Sum: How We Keep Christ in Christmas O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

Home to 4 Kiddos Keep Christ in Christmas

Embedded Faith Boldly Be the Christ in Christmas

City Girl, Country Home Emmanuel Is With Us. Are we WITH HIM?

Journey to Wisdom: Trusting in your Awkward Fiats

Joy of Nine9 Waiting in Joyful Expectation Like a Child

Splendor in the Home Ideas For Keeping Advent and Christmas Holy

Training Happy Hearts 10 Ways to Celebrate the New Liturgical Year

A Catholic Life Advent: The Beginning of the Liturgical Year & Source of Rich Meditations

Designs by Birgit: Elf on a Shelf and Santa Claus

Catholic Inspired: Faith-Centered Family Christmas

A Slice of Smith Life: How we keep Christ in Christmas

Catholic All Year: Three Reasons I love Advent

Mary the Defender: Christmas The Battle Begins

Truly Rich Mom: Keep Christ in Christmas

Day By Day in Our World: 40 Days Seeking Him and Keeping Christ in Christmas

Diapers and Drivel: Keeping Christ in Christmas

Raising Soldiers 4 Christ: Keeping Christ in Christmas

Rosary Mom Keep Christ In Christmas With A Teenager

Tercets: Keeping Christ in Christmas: Join Church Ministries

Campfires and Cleats How We Keep Christ in Christmas

Life Unabridged: Celebrating the Fullness of the Advent and Christmas Season

Homeschooling With Joy Keeping Christ in Christmas

Mrs Domestic Bliss Gingerbread Nativity

The Chic Traveller Keeping Christ in Christmas

California to Korea Keeping Christ in Christmas

Dominique's Desk Keeping Christ in Christmas

Our ABC Life: An Advent Update

Journey Living: Anno Domini

The Road to Rome: Advent Prayer and Reflection Resources

Life of Fortunate Chances: Keeping Christ in Christmas

Quidquid Est, Est!: Reblog: Advent Posts

Advent Blessings,


Monday, November 25, 2013

Saint Scripts 2 Review

I was given the opportunity to review Saints Scripts Series Two from Equipping Catholic Families which was a collaboration of mom and daughter.  Her daughter, Kelly, provided the wonderful and unique artwork and Monica did the rest!  They're a great team to teach others about the Saints and Mary!  Each saint kit includes 20 full color saint cards with picture and biography. Each kit ALSO includes 20(+1) half page black and white templates with the colorable picture, plus information format for kids to research and fill in the Saint details.  Monica includes instructions and suggestions for different ways of using each Saint Scripts Cathletics Craft Kit at home or in the classroom!  Once you purchase a saint kit, then Monica sends you the link to download it to your computer.

This weekend, I brought them to my Homeschooled Religious Education class that meets once a month.  During the rest of the month, the parents are teaching their children at home.  My job is to assess their progress and help fill in the gaps if needed.  Our syllabus doesn't address saints until early next year, but Monica sent them to me so I could review the kit during the month of November so I brought them in.

Here is what I did: I had printed out the saint cards on cardstock for durability.  I placed them out on a table and my class gathered around.  I have young students from 5-7 years of age so some are early readers and others are just learning.  They're first reaction was to guess who the saint was and they were able to tell some of them from Kelly's artwork.

Kelly's artwork is really special.  It has a fun and youthful tone to it.

 Then the readers in the group, took initiative and read the saint names aloud.

This started a discussion of what each saint was holding and why they were holding it.

They especially liked the archangels and Mary.

I had out the black and white templates and waited for their response.
It was as I suspected, can I do this one?  Can I take it home?
They were eager to learn about the saints!

It worked wonderfully well at exciting my class with learning about the saints.  
The illustrations drew their interest and the map made it real that these saints once lived and walked this earth.  And that they too, can be a saint.

Thank you Monica and Kelly for giving me this opportunity to review one of your saint kits!  I intend to print out a second copy of the colored ones to be used for a memory game and will let them pick a saint from the pack of black and white templates to learn more about with their family.

Peace & Blessings,

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Solemnity of Jesus Christ the King


Today is the Solemnity of Jesus Christ the King who is king over all creation.  In the Catholic Church, we celebrate it each year on the last Sunday before Advent to remember His authority over us all. For my class today, I spent some time teaching my class about Jesus Christ as King.

We made these book marks that includes a prayer.

And then followed up on an activity that they were supposed to do at home with their families.  
They had been instructed to write a Family Mission Statement.

We talked about how Jesus is supposed to be included in their Family Mission Statements.  
That by obeying,being kind and loving; they honor Jesus when they treat their family in a loving and obedient manner.

We then decorated our mini Christ the King cakes (banana bread with chocolate chips).  
The gum drops represents the jewels and the Rolos represents the gold found on royal crowns.

We had a great class celebrating Jesus Christ as King!

Peace & Blessings,

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Rock Solid Faith Study Bible Review

I was contacted by DJC Communications to review a Zondervan NIV teen bible.  Rock Solid Faith Study Bible for Teens, obviously has teens as its target audience and based on the masculine cover, it would draw the attention of young males rather than girls. I must say for starters, it is not a Catholic bible nor does it have an imprimatur stamp of approval. I verified this by checking the USCCB website to see if it's listed on their approved translation list and it is not.  This is a protestant study bible but does it mean, that it's not useful to Catholics? Absolutely not. It's an incomplete bible (i.e. Maccabees), however, if a teen has a strong foundation in their Catholic faith then they can certainly use this study bible. If they do not, then I would advise to look for a Catholic study bible. My son has a good foundation in his faith, so I have given this bible to him.  

What I most appreciated about this study bible are the features found in each chapter. For young learners or for those who are not familiar with the bible, these features aid in learning and helps with making scripture understandable.  The features include:
  • Rock Solid Promises which teaches what is and what is not promised in the bible
  • Rock Solid Principles which applies the bible to relationships, sex, money and more
  • Rock Solid Plans which explores God's plan in daily life
  • Unshaken People which provides scriptural examples of overcoming challenges 
  • Unshaken God which points out God;s unyielding attributes.
  • Additional features at the back of the bible include reading plans, topical indexes, a concordance to help find verses and colored maps.
I especially liked the Think section in the Rock Solid Truth because it makes the reader think about and apply what they are learning as they read the bible.  It helps bring God's truth to your daily life.  I believe it also helps the reader put into action what they are learning.  For it is not enough to just read the Word, we must live it in our words and actions.

The only aspect that I did not like, is the lightness of the text especially in the titles and numbering of each chapter.  One aspect that I question is whether teens would be drawn to this in a book format when we live in a world of technology.   I'm not a teen and for someone in my age range, I prefer to have the bible in a book format rather than reading it on a screen.  I would think the opposite is true for teens so hopefully Zondervan has an app that can be downloaded on an iphone or ipad for those who prefer technology over books.

I was given a complimentary copy of Rock Solid Faith Study Bible for Teens from DJC Communications.  No monetary compensation was given for my honest review.

Peace & Blessings,

Halloween/All Saints Celebration

My RE class is different this year from previous years because the program changed from a traditional RE format where the kids are taught in a classroom by a catechist 3 times a month to being homeschooled by their parents.  Now I only have my students once a month and my job is to review and evaluate on what they've been learning.

My first review class was on Catholic Parenting and the families had been instructed to do various activities such as having a special dinner to honor your dad or father figure.  For this week's activity, they were told to tell their dad what they love about him and share fun memories with them.  Each week had a different activity with the goal of drawing the family closer together as a unit and towards God.  My students shared their experiences and then we reviewed the importance of prayer, especially before meals.  To build on the idea of prayer, I put a number of different objects in a bag and pulled them out one by one, asking if anyone knew what it was, i.e. rosary, bible, candle, holy medal, holy card, holy water, children's devotional...etc.  Then I asked what all of these items had in common and what they are used for... a couple of children responded correctly "to pray."

And since our class was right before All Saints Day, I made these saint cards emphasizing virtues:

I made each child a set focusing on girl saints for the girls and boy saints for the boys.


With the extra time I had, I decided to have a mini All Saints party.

We had a Happy Saints Memory Game that I had printed on sticker paper and adhered to foam squares:

We used Jennifer's Saint Guessing Jar Game which was a huge hit.  Here was our set up:

Lastly, I sent my students home with a All Saints themed Halloween goodie bag:

Each bag included a Hershey's Chocolate bar with a Shine for Jesus wrapper, a holy card, a rosary, an angel coin and Halloween chocolate kisses.  

Happy belated All Saints Day!


Monday, November 4, 2013

Bible and Prayers For Teddy and Me Book Review

I was given the opportunity to review another children's book called Bible and Prayers For Teddy and Me as part of the Kregel Blog Tour Program.  This book is geared towards very young children and I would also say, towards boys. There are some pictures with girls but it did seem that the main buyer would be purchasing it for little boys.  The cover has a soft puffiness to it that's fun for children to hold.  As the title indicates, it is a bible with prayers after each section. It's meant to be a first bible to teach children the main stories. The prayers are designed to draw the young child into the story as well as to teach them how to pray to God.  The poetic style didn't flow strongly throughout the book - it was definitely a bit disjointed.  The illustrations are super cute and drawn in a style ideal for children.

If you're looking for an introductory book to teach your very young child about the bible, this book fits the bill.  The added bonus is that while your child is learning about the bible stories, he is also learning how to pray.  I would also note that the bible stories are told in a basic format as to include all Christian denominations.  I enjoyed the book and would recommend it for young boys.  I did bring this book to my CCD class of 6-8 year olds and it didn't draw much interest.  I would say that their younger siblings would be the target group.

I was given a complimentary copy of Bible and Prayers For Teddy and Me by Christina Goodings and illustrated by Janet Samuel for my honest review.  No monetary compensation was given.

Peace & Blessings,

Saturday, October 12, 2013

2013 Our Lady of Fatima Rosary Rally

Mother Mary protected us from the wind and rain by her mantle this afternoon.  
We had a wonderful turn out for our rally this year especially since we didn't prepare 
that far in advance.  
In fact, we initially felt that we would join another local rally however;
we felt the nudging of the Blessed Mother to do this for her Son and she was not to be ignored!

With rosaries in hand, we had about 40 Fatima apostles today who stood in the public square praying for peace, conversion of hearts and repentance. 

We joined in with over 11,000 public rosary rallies today across the US.  
All praying for the conversion of America.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

Peace & Blessings,

Monday, October 7, 2013

A Donkey's Tale Book Review

Product DetailsMy most recent book review is called A Donkey's Tale by Stefano Gorla.  I received it from The Catholic Company for my honest review, as part of their book reviewer program. It's a unique perspective of telling the New Testament Stories of the bible from a donkey named Ladan.  The first chapter gives the fictional Ladan's autobiography which is sweet... "I am Ladan, son of Abinar, son of Nad."  Ladan is present to some extent in each story.  Either he is observing the scene or he is actively involved in it and is giving "the inside view" of each story. This is a sweet book with a total of 30 stories with each story on one or two pages plus illustrations.
Younger children will focus on one story at a time but older children can read more than one at each sitting.  For non-readers, this is not a good choice unless someone is reading it to them.  Some of the illustrations give a good hint as to what the story is about and others are too vague.  Overall, I liked the book for young children as a way to teach the bible stories.  It doesn't take the place of the bible, but it helps enrich their understanding of Jesus.

Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on A Donkey's Tale. The Catholic Company is the best resource for all your seasonal needs such as First Communion gifts as well as ideas and gifts for the special papal Year of Faith.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Prayer Starters & Patron Saints

Our religious education program has changed at my church this year.  Instead of having a classroom of first graders each week, we've switched to a homeschool program.  Which means the main teachers of our students are the parents.  The families will come in once a month and divide up into parent and children groups.  Even though I miss having my students each week, I'm happy that I get to review once a month, what they've learned from their parents.

Today we talked about prayer and the various types of prayer.  I found the best prayer starter prompts over at Catholic Icing and if you are a subscriber, you can download her printable for free!  Lacy has fabulous hands on resources for young children to learn about God and their faith.

There are 24 prayer starters in each set.

Since it was our first class, I introduced them to two patron saints of students
This idea came from Jessica over at Shower of Roses:

St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Catherine of Alexandria

I'm offering up prayers for all of our parents, as the primary teachers of their children, may they find inspiration and guidance through the grace of God.

Peace & Blessings,

Monday, September 16, 2013

Bumper Wipe Clean Activities Review

I've had another opportunity to review a children's book from Kregel Publications and it was fun to do so!  The book, Bumper Wipe Clean Activities, is geared for preschool  to kindergarten age children and as the title states, it's a reusable activity book. Each page has a 1-2 sentence explanation of a bible story and then a direction on what to do.  The book includes a dry erase black marker that is used to connect the dots, draw through a maze, trace a word...etc.  And the advantage is, that it can be wiped clean and used over and over again. The pages are sturdy and durable with brightly colored illustrations.  For young learners, it gives a snapshot of a bible story so it's faith forming and good for developing fine motor skills. I like it because they have so many wipe clean activity books out there with commercialized themes (i.e. Hello Kitty, Disney Princess or Thomas).  It's breath of fresh air that there is an option for parents who want their children to learn how to hold their pencils and do so in a faith building method.  Plus It's a small book that can easily be put in mom's purse and brought out during car rides or when trying to keep a young child occupied.  I can also imagine it being used in a preschool setting as busy work.  I would recommend this book for families and schools.

I was given a complimentary copy of Bumper Wipe Clean Activities by Kregel Publications for my honest review.

Peace & Blessings,

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Julie Freeney Designs

Julie Freeney is an incredibly talented artist who now has her collection of stained glass-inspired paintings of floral and plant life patterns for sale on Etsy.

About 20 years ago, Julie created this piece of art of my dog and it looks just like he did!
She drew it from a picture and captured him so intricately.  Even the expression.

That's my Stormy dog :)

Since then, her talent has grown and I am the lucky recipient of this beautiful necklace.

Isn't it gorgeous?  
She creates using all different types of colors, shapes and floras in her jewelry.

You can also purchase her beautiful creations in prints.
Julie is new to Etsy but she won't be for long.  Her talent is amazing!
Here's a link to her site:  Julie Freeney Designs

I also bought this one:

Black & White Tiger Lily Art Pendant, Flower Necklace, Flower Pendant, Flower Jewelry, Floral Glass Pendant (AP0005)

Each time I wear either necklace, I am stopped and asked about where I got them.
Very original quality work.

Peace & Blessings,

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Candle Classic Bible Review

I am participating in another Kregel Publications Blog Tour by reviewing The Candle Classic Bible.  This is a christian bible that is retold into 365 stories.  Just the right size for one story a day for little ones.  The book cover and many pictures within have a vintage type of style to it.  I like it instead of the big brightly colored ones for young children.  I would think it would capture a child's imagination and bring them into the story. My son is a bit older and he read through a number of the pages and said "it lacked details" but considering it's geared for younger children, that was done intentionally.  It's written in an easy to read format that can be read in many sessions or for older children, they can focus on multiple stories in one sitting.  I do appreciate the titles before each story with the referenced scripture. I can see this story bible being used in homes as well as in an elementary classroom.  This bible is not appropriate for memorizing scripture but definitely for learning the morals, lessons and stories within it.  I believe it's a good place to start for teaching children about God and their faith.

I was given a complimentary copy from Kregel for my honest review.

Peace & Blessings,

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Misery Loves Company Book Review

Misery Loves Company by Rene GutteridgeMy latest book review is a mystery called Misery Loves Company by Rene Gutteridge.  The premise of this book is the disappearance of a grief stricken widow.  She works from home as a blogger and after writing a negative review of a best selling author, she is nowhere to be found.  I felt a bit confused in the first few chapters with the roles of the characters and had to go back a couple of times to clarify who was who and what was happening.  And even to this point, I don't think the author wrote how the main character was kidnapped.  I may have missed it but I believe the details were left out.  This may not have been important to the author but I wanted to know how it was done.  I also felt the book was a bit misleading with the "Don't tell me it's terrifying.  Terrify me" comment in her review. I expected more of a thriller aspect to it that left me a bit disappointed.   I didn't want goriness like Stephen King's Misery but if you're going to say "terrify me" it builds up an expectation to be terrified.

After the first few chapters, I found the book to be compelling enough with wanting to know what was going to happen next.  I read the book in a couple of days and overall liked it.  It's a good book to read over the summer while at the beach or pool.

Tyndale House Publishers has provided you with a complimentary copy of this book.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Bible Stories Painting Book Review

I am participating in a Kregel Blog Tour this month with my review of Bible Stories Painting Book 2.  
As the title implies this is the second one in the series of bible stories painting books.  
The one that I am reviewing has two paint pallets on the inside covers with one page pictures of a popular bible story.  The child dips a paint brush in water and then onto the paint pallet.  
Then, paint on one of the 16 bible stories with 8 from the Old Testament and 8 from the New Testament.
Each story has a sentence or two of explanation of the bible story. 
 Candle Books publisher markets this painting book as mess free and it is for the most part. 
 The paint pallets do not make a big mess but the child must remember to wait about 5 minutes before closing the book in order for the paint to dry.

I asked my 5 year old nephew to test it out and give me his opinion.  
He asked me "what does opinion mean?" 
 I said, "you can tell me if the paint works good or not so good."  
His reply, "I can do that.  I'll give you my opinion."

Here he is pressing down the pages. 
 I think he was skeptical if the paint was real and would work. 

It worked similarly to watercolor paints.  
Only a little bit of water on a paintbrush was needed and the color turned out great.

Watercolors are more transparent then this paint.  
Which means the color strength was definitely better in this painting book.

 This painting book serves a dual purpose:  painting fun and faith formation.

It is geared towards young children who are just learning to read.
For the faith formation to occur, the parent needs to talk about what's on the page.
Otherwise, it's an ordinary painting book.

His opinion was that "the colors worked good and it's fun."
I told my nephew he could keep it so he'd have many more hours of painting fun.
That put a smile on his face :)

The Bible Stories Painting Book 2 is ideal for quiet activity either individually or as a group.
I think a preschool or kindergarten teacher could use this as enrichment when teaching a bible story.
All you need is a paintbrush and water and you're ready to start.

I was given a complimentary copy of Bible Stories Painting Book 2 for my honest review.  
The opinions used were my nephew's and my own.