Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Amazing Grace

A neighbor's son makes creative art pieces using old and new horseshoes. This was one of my favorite items for sale. It is a cross that says, "Amazing Grace." I love it!

God saved you by His GRACE when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us so long ago.
Ephesians 2: 8-10 (NLT)

I will link this post up Tots and Me's Wordless Wednesday's Linky and at Scripture and a Snapshot at a Glimpse of Our Life.
Scripture and Snapshot

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

DIY Plastic Bag Jump Rope

Do you have any extra grocery plastic bags hanging around your house? I bet you do! Do you want a project that will keep your children active and busy for hours?

My daughter came across a Life Hacks for Kids You Tube video online called Clever Bag Hacks. She watched it and really wanted to create a jump rope using plastic grocery bags. The project took several hours to complete, but was worth it. She had so much fun making her jump rope.

First, she cut the bottom and tops off of MANY bags.

Then, she overlapped them and pulled to create a knot. Please watch the video for this step.

We taped the top of the braided bags so that she could use two hands to braid. Braiding was much easier this way.
Braiding the Pieces
It gets a little harder connecting additional bags. She also trimmed the edges. Towards the end her hands were getting tired so the braid wasn't as tight.
Ready to Try it Out
Yep, she is one happy camper. She loves her new jump rope. This is a great DIY project for younger children.

Thank you for visiting A Learning Journey. I will link this post up at Tots and Me's Wordless Wednesday Linky and Year Round Homeschooling's Hearts for Home Blog Hop.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Studying the Fifty States

The new school year is right around the corner. I am slowly introducing subjects to Alyssa's schedule to get her back on track. 

We started studying the fifty states again. This time we are using a curriculum called, Fifty States Under God created by Joy Dean. Here's a sneak PEEK at what Alyssa's been working on this month. There's so much History and Geography information jam-packed into this book. I hope to share more about how we are using this curriculum in the near future. 
Research and Read Facts
State Symbols and Interesting Facts
Historical Story Account
Thank you for visiting A Learning Journey! Enjoy your day!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Bowling with Friends

My post is a little late this week. My daughter came home Sunday night so we've been spending quality time together. We had a blast this week visiting several friends and hanging out with our neighbors.

Our bowling trip was huge success! All the smiles made me one happy mama. I am most thankful for the Kids Skate Free program every summer.

I will link this post up at Tots and Me's Wordless Wednesday Linky. Have a great weekend!

Friday, July 29, 2016

BookLook Blogger Review: I Believe in Jesus written by John MacArthur

BookLook Bloggers offered me the book I Believe in Jesus: Leading Your Child to Christ written by John MacArthur to review. The 32-page hardcover children's book was published by Tommy Nelson (A Division of Thomas Nelson Publishers) and illustrated by Dominique Mertens.

About the Author
John F. MacArthur is the pastor and teacher of Sun Valley, California's Grace Community Church. He is also a featured teacher at Grace To You ministry. MacArthur is the author of several best-selling books such as Slave, The MacArthur Study Bible, and The Gospel According to Jesus.

My Review
The Gospel was presented in simple age-appropriate language easily understood by children. MacArthur tells the story of salvation in picture format in this beautifully illustrated book. The spiritual message is profound as it discusses the importance of Jesus, Our Savior, and how much he loves us. We are encouraged to trust His plan and remain faithful.  

We first read the book during our morning devotional time. It began with the Creation story. The beginning of the story discusses how God created the entire world. Then, the book further explores temptation, disobedience, and Adam and Eve's sin and their removal from The Garden of Eden. The story continues with the birth of Jesus in the Bethlehem stable and revealed his Godly character and perfect actions growing up. His death and resurrection was gently and appropriately discussed. 

The book offers occasional reflective questions for children to ponder such as "How can God forgive me like that? Will it take a long time for God to forgive me?" Each section of the story indicates referenced Bible verses. On several pages additional referenced verses are given to further explore the concept. The book ends with a prayer where the child proclaims their belief in Christ and receives Him. They apologize asking God for forgiveness and thank Him for all He has done. The book also inspires children to share this Gospel message with their friends and welcomes them into God's family. 

The author makes it clearly evident that we are ALL sinners and that sin is present today. He is also quick to point out that our God is loving and forgiving so we must ask for His forgiveness. The book explains God's love for us all and how he saved us when he died on the cross for our sins. 

The Scripture quotations were taken from the International Children's Bible. The Bible verses reinforce the message and are applicable to life. The referenced verses enable the child to dig deeper into the Bible to further study the Word at their leisure. It seamlessly incorporates and explains Biblical truths such as the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 

My Daughter's Review
"I think the illustrator did an outstanding job. I also love how at the end it encourages you to say a pray. The book talks about creation, Adam and Eve, sin, Jesus's birth, and His resurrection. I think that the author did an amazing job writing. It also encouraged me to look up verses in the Bible."
Fantastic Illustrations

Overall Thoughts
I Believe in Jesus is an exceptional book for children to read and learn about salvation. The topic is pertinent for children to hear. This well-written book is a great way to introduce children to Christ. It's easy-to-read and seems doctrinally sound. 

I am grateful we had the opportunity to review this book, because this resource is helping my daughter understand salvation and God's love better. Thankfully, she made the decision to believe in and receive Christ as Our Savior years ago. Her faith grows every single day and books like this support and reinforce what we believe. The powerful message will help guide her decisions in the future. I am impressed with this book.   

The book can be purchased for $14.99 at the Thomas Nelson store or through Amazon for $10.91.

Note: All prices are subject to change without notice. 

I recommend this book to Christian families, churches, Sunday schools, private Christian schools, and non-believers seeking more information about Jesus. It would make a perfect Christmas or Easter gift. I would say that this book is suitable for children ages 3 and up. 

I received a complimentary, free copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers Review Program in exchange for an honest, unbiased review on my blog. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this information in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising." 
I review for BookLook Bloggers

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Blogging for Books Review: The 4 x 4 Diet by Erin Oprea

The most recent fitness and nutrition book that I reviewed was titled, The 4x4 Diet: 4 Key Foods 4-Minute Workouts 4 Weeks to the Body You Want written by personal trainer and former marine, Erin Oprea

My interest was sparked when I saw the book listed on Blogging For Books so I took the leap and requested it. I was thrilled when the package arrived. I am a single work-at-home homeschool mom and finding time to workout is a chore. It usually gets set aside due to exhaustion or lack of energy. I believe this book will guide me in the right direction towards a healthier lifestyle. I also know that it is time for me to take action. 

The 240-page hardcover book is a step-by-step program or guide offering suggestions and tips to help you lose weight, boost your energy level, and obtain a leaner physique. The author's motto is "Lean and Clean." In this recently released book, Erin inspires her readers to put everything they learn from the book into action. The 4-week program is thoroughly described at the beginning of the book. It is based around 4 simple yet effective principles, 4 key Tabata workouts, and 4 key foods to eliminate from your diet. 

The fantastic book is divided into four main sections. Notice all the 4's! 

What's Covered?
Part 1: The Clean and Lean Lifestyle (Chapters 1-3)
  • Road to Living Clean and Lean
  • What is Clean and Lean?
  • Overcoming Excuses
Part 2: Eating Clean (Chapters 4-8)
  • The 4 Clean Eating Habits 
  • All-Star Ingredients and Kitchen Tools
  • Prep Day
  • Recipes for Every Meal
  • Recipe Variations and Substitutions
Part 3: Getting Lean (Chapters 9-14)
  • The 4-Minute Workout
  • The Equipment You’ll Need
  • Before and After Every Workout
  • Mastering the Three Levels of Tabatas
  • Tabata Variations and Modifications
  • Exercises for Injuries and Ailments
Part 4: The 4x4 Diet (Chapter 15)
  • Beginner Tabatas + Cutting Out Starches at Night
  • Beginner/Intermediate Tabatas + Cutting Back on Sugar
  • Intermediate Tabatas + Cutting Back on Sodium
  • Intermediate/Advanced Tabatas + Cutting Back on Alcohol
The foreword was written by Carrie Underwood who was trained by Erin Oprea. The clean and lean lifestyle is based on the foundation that the more you move, the more you stay lean. The author believes that if you apply the four key habits to your life and utilize the four-minute workout called Tabata, then you can maintain a clean, lean lifestyle. She motivates you to stick with the program until the end for positive results to appear which include less bloating, less belly fat, improved cardio stamina and endurance, increased muscle definition, and the chance to break addictions. I skimmed the diet portion, because I was familiar with the nutritional content from previously read books. 

The author scattered tips and reminders throughout the book. For example, you should drink at least half your weight in water. She also addressed the common excuses people have for not eating right and excuses given for not working out. She encourages her readers to stay active and not play the blame game which ultimately keep you from meeting your goals. She also mentioned that it is okay to have a cheat day 1-2 times per week as long as you remember to moderate your eating habits. 

When discussing the four clean eating habits, Oprea stated which foods to avoid and when to avoid eating them. She listed the common foods or drinks high in starches, sugar, sodium, or alcohol. The author also offered healthier alternatives for daily meals to replace unhealthy choices. She explained the "why" behind not overindulging in these items and teaches others how to read labels properly.  

The author also included a short list of ten "All-Star Ingredients" and five of the author's "All Star Kitchen Tools" to have on hand. These lists are helpful to those wanting to get started quickly with the program. Each tool indicated the recipe from the book that requires the tool and other ways to utilize it. For example, the spiralizer is used when making Zucchini Noodles with Pesto and Tilapia. Other foods which use a spiralizer are cucumbers, carrots, squash, apples, and potatoes. This helps the reader better understand the usage of the tool so they don't feel like they have one use for it. The "All-Star Ingredients" section also consisted of bulleted recipes containing the ingredient and other ways to cook with that ingredient. I've had my eye on PB2 (a powered peanut butter substitute) for quite some time now for smoothies and yogurt parfaits. I recently purchased some in hopes to try a few of the book's recipes. The Peanut Butter Chocolate Protein Brownies sound very appealing.   

Oprea’s book contains an assortment of delicious 4x4 recipes. My favorite recipe categories are the desserts, snacks, and breakfast selections. A few recipes included in the book that I can't wait to try are: Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Pecan Crunch, Stuffed Quinoa Peppers, Spicy Bahn Mi Wrap, Lemon Pancakes with Blueberry Compote, Rice Paper Wraps, Chicken Caprese, Lemon Pepper Cod, Oven-Roasted Spicy Almonds, and Cookie Dough Hummus. 

Familiar healthy grocery shopping tips are offered such as don't shop on an empty stomach and shop the perimeter of the store. These are two tips that I really need to start following soon. There were only a few ingredients that I don't purchase often such as kale, unsweetened almond milk, PB2, and Ezekiel bread. The book provides readers with ingredient variations and substitutes which makes it easier to try new recipes. For instance, a substitute for all-purpose flour is almond or coconut flour. Coconut or soy milk can replace unsweetened almond milk. Did you know that unsweetened applesauce is a substitute for butter? I will often substitute it for butter in my baked good recipes. Oprea reminds readers about this little factoid. You can try honey or stevia as a replacement and healthy alternative for sugar.

The recipes are arranged by meal categories. They include an ingredient list and basic instructions. Several cooking tips make the meal prep easy such as the use of shredded rotisserie chicken instead of having to grill boneless chicken breasts. 

Recipes Fall Under These Meal Categories
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Sides
  • Snacks
  • Desserts
  • Smoothies
My favorite part of the book were the Tabata workout exercises. What is a Tabata exercise? I have to admit the first time I heard about this type of exercise was after reading an article about Carrie Underwood, my favorite country singer. She was a fan of these workouts and I've been wondering what she does to keep her body in shape and to have such great legs. The Tabata exercises reminded me of the HIT (High Intensity Training) exercises I did many years ago. 

Tabata exercises are short interval circuit training or workout sessions which utilize a variety of movements while weaving in short rests. The book provided three different levels of Tabata workouts: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. Each level offers 10 different Tabata rounds. Each round is a different Tabata exercise. All Tabatas consist of 8 rounds. Your goal is to perform each of the rounds with 20 seconds of intense exercise alternated with a 10-second rest which is equivalent to a 4-minute workout. I love that she says, "You can do anything for twenty seconds." You have the option of changing the number of exercises completed during a workout session: You can do 1 exercise 8 times, 2 moves completed 4 times, or 4 exercises done twice. If you mix and match 4-6 of the 8-round Tabatas, then you'll have a complete daily workout lasting approximately 16-24 minutes. You choose whether you'll do those workouts in one sitting or spread out the 4-minute workouts throughout the day. Workout at least 3-4 times a week and you're on the road to success. It sounds a little confusing, but after reading the book it'll make sense. Her workouts are accompanied with step-by-step black and white photographs demonstrating each movement followed by thorough and detailed explanations. I do wish the pictures were larger and in full color, but that would make the cost of the book higher.

You'll want to choose exercises that workout different muscles each day. Oprea even included Cardio Tabatas in her book. Read the book for additional modifications. Mixing up a variety of exercises helps prevent boredom and keeps you interested in your workout. If I were to do the same workout every single day, then I would quickly become bored with it. This book eliminates that problem. Don't forget you should always stretch your muscles for 5-10 minutes before and after a workout. The author encourages you to also slowly add in 5,000-10,000 steps if not more as part of your daily cardio. All of this information is covered in this book. 

Gym Equipment Needed:
  • Yoga Mat 
  • Resistance Bands
  • Jump Rope
  • Dumbbell Weights
  • Foam Stretching Roller
  • Tabata Timer Phone or Device App (Optional)
  • Pedometer (Optional)
The book gradually introduces more difficult Tabata workouts. It eases into the incorporation of four helpful clean eating diet habits: Cut out starches, reduce amount of sugar intake, cut back on sodium, and limit amount of alcohol.

The weekly meal plans offer a clean eating objective, a list of grocery shopping items to add to your cart for each meal, foods to remove from your diet, recipes to try, and a lean workout objective. References and an index can be found at the back of the book. 

Overall Thoughts and Results
The 4x4 Diet book is an easy-to-read book organized into bite-sized chapters. It is a very helpful and motivational tool. It is a short, quick read. The workout and meal plans appear to be manageable yet include a great deal of flexibility. The book teaches you how to reduce the amount of sugar in your diet and introduces you to healthier alternatives. It also includes a wide variety of ready-to-use tasty recipes.

I am already laying out my plans to implement the principles into my daily nutritional plans and routine. I would say that I am definitely a sugar addict and reducing the amount I eat will be the toughest obstacle for me. Too often I experience the awful side effects of an unhealthy diet and sugar over consumption including but not limited to sluggishness, moodiness, bloating, and highs and lows. Another obstacle for me will be not eating starches after 4pm. 

I will begin with the Beginner Tabata workouts #1 or with the Cardio Tabatas. I will aim for 3-4 workouts per week. I will gradually increase the number of Tabata workouts and the difficulty level each week using the suggestions provided. I hope that this book will be the answer to my prayers. I'll wait for my body to adjust to the new workout routine before challenging myself too much. I will, however, change the exercises daily to provide variety in my scheduled workout.

The book was informative, concise, and encouraging. The author's writing style seems down-to-earth and straightforward. I believe her workout and diet plan is simple and will be effective in yielding positive weight loss results. 

The hardback book can be purchased at Amazon for $15.84 or at Barnes and Noble for $15.84. The retail price is $25.99. If you are interested in reading this book, then I would grab it while it's on sale.

Please Note: All prices are subject to change without notice.

Do you have a strong desire to change your lifestyle for the better? Are you wanting to understand how to eat clean and stay fit? Are you looking for a structured yet simple program that will give you the body YOU want in just 4 weeks? I believe this is a great book to jumpstart your nutrition and fitness program towards a healthier lifestyle. Erin’s passion, extensive knowledge about the topic, and her nutritional approach will encourage and inspire you. 

I recommend the 4x4 Diet book written by Erin Oprea to individuals wanting to improve their overall health and wellbeing. This is an excellent book for busy moms wanting a quick yet intense workout to help maintain a healthy weight or to get back in shape. Your eating habits may improve if you take the advice given to heart and are willing to try the workouts. I was impressed with the coverage in this book. If you are familiar with nutritional terminology but haven't heard of Tabata workouts, then you'll want to read this book. This book may be more suitable for beginners, individuals new to fitness arena, unless you are in need of a refreshing motivational perspective or a way to break a workout plateau.  

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I received a complimentary, free copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest, unbiased review on my blog. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this information in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."  

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Virtual Refrigerator: Swan Love

My daughter is fascinated with the details of adult coloring book illustrations. She's been experimenting with gel pens and colored pens as she colors. She recently surprised with a special gift. She brought home a picture of a swan she colored for me. She said she colored the picture section by section over several days using an assortment of colored pencils. Do you see the hidden heart by the swan's neck?

I have so much love for my little girl! I appreciate every single one of her homemade gifts. Thank you Alyssa! I can see your hard work and attention to detail in this beautifully colored swan. Thank you for taking the time to color it especially for me. I hung it up on the refrigerator. Can't wait until you come home!