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October 26th, 2011

Off-site Wedding Caterers Provide Flexibility

Off-site Wedding Caterers Provide Flexibility
Guest Blog By: Joshua K.

When preparing for a wedding, the bride and groom will be able to provide many reception locations that provide their own on-site catering. What happens if the couple would prefer to avoid using that in-house caterer and would prefer to look elsewhere for one? Some reception locations won’t allow this. Other locations will allow the couple to hire their own choice of Milwaukee wedding caterers to cater the event off-site from that caterer’s home location.

There are several advantages to using an off-site wedding caterer. The first is that the bride and groom can choose the caterer based on the food, instead of the convenience of coming with the reception hall. Some catering companies do not have their own catering hall locations, and only perform functions at off-site locations. This flexibility allows the bridal couple to choose their top choice for a caterer and their top choice for a reception location.

Think of it this way – is a couple obligated to choose the disc jockey just because he works at the reception hall they choose? The answer is no, and it should be the same situation when hiring a caterer. Remember, this is supposed to be the day of their dreams for the wedding couple. If that means choosing one of the Milwaukee wedding caterers that caters off-site, that should be an option open to them to make their day one to remember for themselves and their guests.

October 26th, 2011

Book Review: A Heart Most Worthy by Siri Mitchell

A Heart Most Worthy follows the lives of three young Italian women who all work in a dressmakers’ shop, each plying their own highly refined and specialized skills.  There seems to be a bit of a popular trend in Christian historical fiction following the lives of Italians in New York in the early 1900s, so if you’ve read one of those books recently, you’ll have a good idea of the settings contained within.

Now, normally I LOVE Siri Mitchell’s work.  She is on my list of authors who I must read when a new work comes out.  So, I was very disappointed that A Heart Most Worthy just isn’t up to the level of the fine writing she has presented in her other titles.  She Walks in Beauty is an absolutely amazing book, and I was hoping that Mitchell would write something comparable in her latest novel.

Unfortunately the diversity of characters, the omniscient point of view of the narrator (whom actually sound quite condescending although I’m sure those asides are meant to be humorous), and the shallow treatment of the subject matter and character development all left me wanting.

My favorite character was Annamaria, her love story is so sweet and actually fairly realistic if you believe in innocent, sweet love stories (I do!)  Julietta never did really seem to grow up.

From another author I may not have been as disappointed.  But from Siri Mitchell?  I’m afraid I was.  Please, please, don’t write from an omniscient point of view again, it really does jerk the reader right out of the story when the narrator pops in with some odd comments that don’t really move the story along or tell the reader anything that they can’t figure out by inference.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this title.


October 21st, 2011

Ever Worry About Identity Theft?

Do you ever worry about identity theft?  There was a time once when I DID have an identity theft threat, and honestly – it still gives me the willies sometimes when I think about it.  One time my identifying papers – like a wallet sized birth certificate were stolen from me along with a chunk of money I had in my wallet too, before someone found my wallet pitched on his back step.

If there had been a service like IdentityHawk for Canadians at that point in time, I would have been signing up for it very quickly.  As it was, I did get in touch with the government and they indicated that they’d put some kind of note in my file from there side, and that was the last I heard of it.  I’m not sure how effective it was, and sometimes I have my doubts…

Some identity theft protection services offer tracking for your SSN so you can be sure that no one else is using it.  That sounds really nice.  They also help you PREVENT identity theft before it happens, and provides you with identity theft insurance in case it DOES happen.  It truly is a suite of products for all identity theft concerns.

October 21st, 2011

Book Review: YHWH The Flood, the Fish and the Giant: Ancient Mysteries Retold by G.P. Taylor & Paula K. Parker

If you’re like most North American Christians, I’d have to say that your chances of having heard of a slender volume entitled YHWH are pretty slim.  Subtitled The Flood, the Fish and the Giant: Ancient Mysteries Retold, this work of biblical fiction is something of a Bible storybook for tweens and teens, and it’s excellent.

I think this is something of an undiscovered gem, despite the fact that it is co-authored by New York Times bestselling author G.P. Taylor.  Though it is titled YHWH this isn’t a particularly Hebraic Bible novel, the characters retain their anglicized names – Joseph instead of Yosef for example, so don’t let the title fool you.

What you will find are short stories gathered like beads on the thread of God’s (He is referred to YHWH throughout the text which is nice) ongoing story of interaction with His people.  It pulls out twenty vignettes from the Old Testament, covering the major stories and some lesser known ones as well (like Gideon and some of Isaiah) in chronological order.

The writing is full of life, and very respectful of the original text.  There are some inconsistencies, like the common Adam and Eve (but they have Hebraic names, one of the exceptions), their descendants, and animals eating meat before the flood – but for the most part it is very accurate.  It is important to remember that like all Bible storybooks, this is a work of fiction, not God’s Word itself, and as such it leans towards biblical fiction, where conversations are imagined, characters may be invented etc.

Briskly written, full of vivid description, YHWH kept my oldest daughter (8) and I glued to the pages when we read a story together at bedtime each night.  I even found her reading it again herself in her own time, pouring over her favorite story – that of Joseph in Egypt – which is quite extensive and spans two story-length chapters.

I highly recommend finding yourself a copy of YHWH, it’s well worth owning.  I hope that a New Testament volume in the same vein is written so that I can enjoy it with my children as well.


Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book – all opinions are genuine and my own.


October 21st, 2011

Baby Gender Prediction

Some of my long time blog readers will remember that I received a gender prediction test to review when I was pregnant with my little baby Anne – she’s now 10 months old.  It was a urine test and it seemed to have some scientific merit.  It was accurate too – it correct guessed our baby gender, said I was having a girl, and I did.  Gender predictor tests are becoming even simpler to use than the rather complicated one I tried.

But what about websites that offer this kind of gender prediction test?  Can you really predict your baby’s gender online?  Well, first of all it looks like you have to know the precise date you conceived (heh, I NEVER know that, I was 2 weeks off last time).  Well, they do let you choose your day of LMP, but again…irregular cycles while breastfeeding over here.  And why do you have to put in your birthday and your husbands?

Ah hah!  The results include astrological information, so that explains it ;).  Now – can you make a determination of your baby’s sex based on the day they were conceived and your birthday?  I don’t think so.

Glad I don’t have to worry about it in any case – no matter how many boy or girl gender tests you try – God is ultimately in control, and He decided the gender of your baby before the beginning of time.  You and I can rest in His sovereignty.

October 21st, 2011

Since When Did Addictive Become…

I’ve been reading a lot of text surrounding the world of mobile apps for iOS devices – iPhones, iPods, iPads, etc.  And a key term I have been seeing used time and again is ‘addictive’.  When we speak of cigarettes being addictive, it’s a bad thing.  When we speak of alcohol, morphine, or heroin being addictive, again – this just isn’t good.

But when we speak of games?  Educational apps?  Puzzles?  I’m surprised by the breadth of apps that are being labeled as addictive.  It makes me wonder if the term is somehow changing in our language.  Is addiction positive?  People are certainly using it as such in some contexts.  Can losing oneself to a game, not having the willpower to resist, coming back again and again despite yourself…good?

I beg to differ.  Addiction – break the chain!  Whether it’s booze or tetris, don’t surrender your self control and consider it a good thing.  And just as importantly – don’t let your kids do it either.

October 21st, 2011

The Primary Care Physician: Your Best Friend

The Primary Care Physician: Your Best Friend
Guest Blog By: Jacob N.

It is essential that everyone has a doctor they can go to when they are sick or injured, and that can happen any time. It is impossible to know whether tomorrow one will continue to remain healthy or will end up hospitalized. Doctors are taken for granted until the time comes when they become people who hold life or death in their hands. This may be an exaggeration, but nobody would dispute the fact that a good doctor can save a life.

Finding a doctor can sometimes be a chore especially in big cities when it is difficult to even be familiar with one’s own neighbor. In the smaller cities and towns, a doctor can seem become a center of the community and essentially become like family with many of the residents there. In large cities, finding a doctor that understands each person’s situation and lifestyle can take time and be disappointing. That is why having a clinic which is welcoming and inviting to new patients is so important.

Take the city of St. Louis for example. Finding a primary care physician in St. Louis does not have to be that difficult. Any search online will enable a person to quickly locate medical specialists in their area who are more than willing to set up an appointment in order to get to know any new patients. Often the doctors are willing to make an appointment for that same day.

October 21st, 2011

Pic(k) of the Day: Art Showcase!

Well, pretty much everyone knows that we’ve been having an awfully fun time using the iPad here for both fun and for our homeshcooling.  I wanted to quickly share some art my girls had completed on the iPad!  The backgrounds are pre-made, but the drawings are theirs.

Drawn by Rose (5)

Drawn by Kaelynn (8)

Smack. Put up on my virtual refrigerator door successfully!  If you have an iPad and want to check out this app for yourself – iLuv Drawing Animals, you can find it here.

October 17th, 2011

Have Ideas About Improving Your Community?

This post brought to you by Aviva Community Fund. All opinions are 100% mine.

Our family lives in rural Alberta, and it seems like our community ALWAYS has development needs.  If you live in Canada, and have a great idea for bettering your community, and have the social media power to throw behind it to get people interested in your idea, then you need to hear about the Aviva Community Fund Contest!

This is the first year I’ve heard about the Aviva Community Fund competition, even those this is its third year running.  Basically, Aviva has $1,000,000 in their fund to give away for the purposes of community development.  You just visit their website to submit your idea, then get busy rallying people behind it.  The most popular ideas get a chance to win funds for their community.  As part of the competition, every time someone like Aviva Community Fund on Facebook $1 will be donated to Free the Children to support at-risk youth programs in Canada.  You can also Follow @avivacf on twitter.

The winners are chosen based on how many votes the idea receives.  To get people behind your idea you can contact your local press and encourage people to support your community campaign.  People are actively encouraged to use facebook as a means of spreading the word, and getting an insurance broker to support your idea increases the chances of winning!

Ideas can be submitted until November 30, 2011, so get thinking!

Visit Sponsor's Site

October 16th, 2011

TOS Crew Review: Visual Latin Level 1, Lessons 1-10

Our family received a downloadable version of Visual Latin Level 1, Lessons 1-10 to review as part of our duties on the TOS Crew.  What a blessing it has proven to be!  Visual Latin is a lot like attending Latin class, only more fun!  These are visual Latin lessons (hence the name!!) that are recorded on video for your child to watch.  There are also pdfs included of worksheets and vocabulary lists for review.

I took a couple of years of Latin in high school and the instructor’s approach reminds me a lot of my high-school teacher’s.  Standing in front of a blackboard, teaching grammar, vocabulary, and sentences, Dwane makes it so much more engaging.  He’s a bit zany, his sentences are funny, and he gets students right into working with reading complete sentences and translations without bogging down in a LOT of grammar.

Each lesson is broken into three parts, the first teaches grammar, the second teaches sentences where you can see the grammar in action and develop translation skills, and the third teaches reading – this is sort of an immersive experience.  I’d have to summarize the program as more of a reading approach to Latin than an old school all grammar all the time approach; if you’re familiar with Cambridge, this is a bit similar.  So, there are 30 lessons per level, each level is a year’s worth of study (unless you are a high school student), so you can do one lesson each week, one part per day and one day of vocabulary review would make four days of Latin/week pretty easily – the lessons are short and easy to get done.

If you’re wondering about which pronunciation this program uses, there isn’t really an easy answer.  Dwane does his own Latin thing.  It’s a bit classical, a bit ecclesiastical, and a bit Dwane.  I love his approach (explained in the free lessons – see below), he’s pretty laid back about pronunciation approaches, his is a hybrid, but I love his accent.  My daughter is already mimicking his cadence and style of Latin speech.

Your child will need to be familiar with some basic grammatical concepts before diving in – verbs, nouns, and pronouns at this level.  My oldest daughter (8) is already pretty familiar with these ideas, and you need to make sure your child is comfortable with them, because the course dives right in and starts with the most important Latin verb ‘to be’ (sum, es, est, sumus, estis, sunt).  You can find the complete scope and sequence here as a pdf download.

Any beginning Latin student who can read English confidently and has basic grammatical knowledge can profit from this course regardless of age, though it is suggested that high school students supplement with further study using Lingua Latina Pars 1 and Lingua Latina Exercita 1 alongside level 1.

We purchased an iPad a couple of months ago and have been learning how to use it in our homeschool, and Latin on the iPad is amazing.  Visual Latin also has DVDs available to purchase, and the downloads can also be used on your computer, iPod or iPhone – there are two versions, high-resolution for the iPad and lower resolution for the iPhone/iPod.

My daughter has some sensory integration issues – especially when it comes to handling paper (that makes homeschooling fun).  I was so surprised when it was time to do the Latin worksheets – I had recently purchased PDF Expert which lets you write directly on pdfs, so I let her do her worksheet in that…and she had fun!

We did one part of a lesson a day, and there is one corresponding page for each part of the lesson.  When I said it was time to do her worksheet she said, “Woohoo!”  Okay, we study Latin and I have NEVER heard “Woohoo!” when it comes to doing a worksheet.  We’re in love with doing worksheets on the iPad now so I completely appreciate the all-digital option.  If you don’t have an iPad you can print the pdfs.

My daughter is literally BEGGING me to keep going with Visual Latin instead of our other program now, so we’re going to keep on with it and see how it progresses!  I can’t tell you how many times she’s told me how funny her Latin teacher is, she’s really enjoying the language now and actually starting to understand how to read it.  There is also Christian content that is very naturally presented within the course – double bonus!

Do you want to try Visual Latin out?  I recommend EVERYONE get the free introductory lessons if you are interested in learning Latin through ANY program.  The first four introductory sessions explain a bit about Latin as a language, and the many benefits to be had by learning Latin (there are MANY, trust me, Latin is worth it).  You also get two complete regular lessons to see how the course itself is structured and laid out.  And…they are free!

When you’re ready to purchase, you can buy lessons 1-10 as a download for a single family for $25, or get the DVD for $30.  If you buy the entire first level you can get lessons 1-30 (all of level one) for $80 on DVD – a bit of a discount on that.  Level 2 is also available and there are different prices if you want to show the recordings to a group or co-op.  There are also live online Latin courses for Lingua Latina available if you prefer to go that way.

You can find many more reviews of Visual Latin over at the TOS Crew blog here!

Disclosure: I received Visual Latin Lessons 1-10 Download for free to review this item.  All opinions are genuine and my own.


Jennifer. Follower of Yeshua. Wife of one man. Homeschooling mother of 5.