Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Book about Puberty that Came at a Perfect Time for Us {+ a Discount Code!}

Eeek! It's happening! My oldest is becoming a tween in just a couple weeks. It seems like just yesterday, I was looking a this:

Now, I look at this:

An adolescent who is entering his double-digits, one whose foot now fits perfectly in my hiking boots, whose face just sprung a "big kid" pimple the other day, and whose head no longer tucks under my chin when I hug him.

Sure, my oldest is still "my little boy" and always will be in some ways. However, he will never again be literally "little". For, just as God designed him to do, he is growing in "wisdom and stature" at an incredible rate these days.

That rate means "the time" has come. 

What time?

The time for "the talk"
. Or, the series of talks. You know, the 1:1 chats with Mom and Dad when we discuss with our boy what's happening in his body, mind, and heart and what's happening in those of other boys and girls about his age.

How is that time here already?!

{Affiliate links are included below.  See disclosure.}

A Resource that Came at a Perfect Time

Changes Book Cover

I am not sure how my boy got this big this fast, but I am certain that Luke and Trisha Gilkerson offered me a review copy of their newest book CHANGES: 7 Biblical Lessons to Make Sense of Puberty, at an ideal time.  With it as a resource, navigating talks with my boy will be easier, and better yet, more Biblically-based, for me! 

CHANGES: 7 Biblical Lessons to Make Sense of Puberty is the second book in a three-part series which includes The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality and Relationships: 7 Lessons to Give Kids a Greater Understanding of Biblical Sexuality, due out in Spring 2016. This slim, 45-page, soft-covered book packs a lot into its user-friendly pages.

A 9-page introduction for parents explains why the book was written:

(Luke and Trisha) were already in the habit of sitting with (their son) and his brothers most evenings, opening Scriptures with them, and talking about how the Bible applies to our lies.  (They) wanted him to learn about sex the same way, focusing on God's Word... We want to be the first dominant voice our kids hear when it comes to the subject of sex.

Then, it lays out how the book is presented and suggests that you might:

Read (chapters) aloud word for word.  Or read them aloud and interject your own thoughts.  Or read them ahead of time to give you a basic outline for what you want to say.  Do what feels most natural for  you and your children.

It makes the wonderful point that :

...God the Son was born in the likeness of man, He did not think himself above the process of puberty.  He experiences the same hormone and psychical changes we all do.  This only further dignifies puberty,,,as good change enacted by a good God
Finally, it talks about when to approach "the talk" with your child and how to get over your own fear about it if you happen to have one.

After that, there are seven user-friendly lessons aimed at parents and adolescents together.  Each of these includes:

  • an opening thought
  • Scripture reading
  • explanations
  • talking points
  • user-friendly diagrams, call-outs and formatting

Lesson One looks at the adolescent years of Jesus and aims to help your child see that the changes that happen during puberty are both natural and good.

Lesson Two looks at the overall process of change in the human body throughout life and how puberty is just one of these changes - not something to be feared.

Lesson Three addresses hormones and the mental and emotional changes of puberty.  It aims to teach your child that God designed natural internal mechanisms in the body that guide the process of puberty.

Lesson Four looks a changes common to both boys and girls, noting how things like changes in height, body odor, complexion, etc. are natural parts of a transition to adulthood.

Lesson Five focuses on the changes that girls face, such as fat deposits, breast development, and menstruation.

Lesson Six discusses the changes boys go through, including muscular growth, facial hair, voice changes, testicular growth, and ejaculation.

Lesson Seven addresses physical attraction as both good and powerful, a thing adolescents need to steward their sexual development well during puberty.

Finally, the book closes with some "What's Next" thoughts, including the need to approach teens with "gospel-centered optimism". Undoubtedly, with tools like The Talk series on hand, parents will be equipped to do just that. I know that
CHANGES: 7 Biblical Lessons to Make Sense of Puberty is a resource I will be turning to with my son in the coming weeks and months.

Get a 10% Discount!
Changes and The Talk

If you love God's Word and have children at the cusp of puberty, too, I would recommend this book.  It truly is a family-friendly tool to give your child a biological and Biblical understanding of puberty.

Use promo code Happy10 for 10% off
CHANGES: 7 Biblical Lessons to Make Sense of Puberty or The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality at Intoxicated on Life through 11/25/2015.

You can also purchases Changes and The Talk at Amazon.

Enjoy Luke and Trisha's Other Products, Too

I have not had the pleasure of reading all of Luke and Trisha's books nor of taking their courses, however, I have always been pleased with those I have. With faith and family products, homeschooling helps, healthy living resources, and an astronomy course, the Intoxicated on Life store has something for many!

How will you help your children understand puberty from a biological and Biblical perspective?

Sunday, November 15, 2015

6 Things NOT to Do For a Saint Peg Doll Swap!

Guess what I, a creative-but-not-crafty one, signed myself up for recently? 

A saint peg doll swap!

{Note:  This post contains some affiliate links for you convenience.  Should you click through one and make a purchase, we may receive compensation at no extra cost to you.  See full disclosure.}

A Peg Doll Swap? 

You know, one of those fun swaps where you paint a certain number of wooden pegs and other folks do, too.  Then, you all swap what you painted, so each of you goes home with a beautiful, hand-painted set of dolls.  Simple, fun, and special... right?

Well, sort of...  

For me, the day of the swap was, indeed, simple, fun, and special.  Seven of the nine ladies involved in our swap were able to meet for tea, snacks, fellowship, and saint-doll swapping while our children enjoyed playing together.

The part that was not so "simple, fun, and special was the actual painting and sealing of the wooden peg dolls. 
For me, that experience was fraught with "oops"es and "oh no"s (but, thankfully, lots of encouragement from my children and a bit of laughter, too.  For, yes, I can - and did- laugh at myself and my mistakes.)

Now, in case you are thinking of jumping into a peg doll swap yourself,  let me offer my examples of my errors to, hopefully, pave the way to your ease.  Avoid these potential pitfalls so you'll meet with success sooner than your actual swap day!

Pitfall One: Painting when the Kids Are Around (without extra pegs to share)


Oh, did my kids ever want in on painting these guys!  However, the swap I was in had guidelines that stated kids could not participate in the painting. 

Now, that would have been all well-and-good for me if my children actually slept like other children do, leaving me to paint in peace during personal wind-down times.  My kids, however, were not blessed with typical sleep cycles, which meant Mama always had to paint with the children about.  That, in turn, meant repeating all variations of "I'm sorry.  Not this time..." to my kiddoes, who, of course, took a keen interest in what I was doing and wanted to join in. 

Next time, to keep everyone happily engaged, I will buy plenty of extra pegs so my children can paint alongside me.

Pitfall Two:  Thinking the Painting Can Be Done in a Sitting or Two

Sure, some of the fabulously talented Moms in my group were able to bang out beautiful pegs in just one painting session or two.  Not me!  Between having to multiple layers of paint for coverage with some of the colors I chose (like the one for St. Joseph Yuen's head!), waiting for certain parts of each peg to dry so I could paint on details, and making myriad touch ups over mess ups, painting pegs ended up being a project that took me more crafting sessions than I care to admit.

During my next swap (because I am crazy enough to do this again despite my lack of craftiness), I plan to dedicate an out-of-the-way shelf in my home to keep pegs-in-process on.  That way, I can paint just one portion or details of the pegs a day. 
For, honestly, I think that dedicating five-to-ten minute painting spurts will likely offer me fuller focus, a steadier hand, and less collective time spent on damage control than doing it the way I did it this time did.

Pitfall Three:  Painting on Newspaper

Mom (or the kids) want to do a messy craft.  What goes on the table?  Newspaper, right?

Wrong, if you're painting saint dolls.  I quickly discovered that plastic bags work so much better.  Trust me on this.  If you are not are a developing crafter like me, damp paint will make it to the bottom of our pegs, causing the newspaper to stick when you pick the pegs up to paint again, and a gentle peel of a peg off plastic is so much easier than the tediousness of removing stuck paper bits.  So,yes, work on plastic. 

And have an egg carton nearby.  They are perfect for upending pegs in when letting the pegs' bottoms dry, so you do not even have to peel pegs off plastic.  
Pitfall Four:  Toting "All Touched Up" Pegs Without Wrapping or Sealing Them


After touch up after touch up on my peg dolls, I finally got to them to a point where I smiled in victory.  Almost done, I thought.  But before I seal them, I will bring them to show a friend whose completed hers so she can give me some final tips.

Wrong move!

For seeking advice from those who've gone before is wise, but neglecting to wrap painted peg dolls individually to travel is not.

Imagine my chagrin when I proudly pulled my painted peg dolls out of a bag at my friend's house only to notice dings in almost every one of them!  Many of my St. Joseph Yuens had freckles; my St. Martin de Porreses' black cloaks had new red and gold flecks in them and white undergarments on both saints were no longer just white.  In fact, every single doll beckoned for a new touch up due to my gaffe.

I could not believe it!  There I was thinking I was but a small suggested detail and some
Modge Podge layers away from being done, but, in actuality, I was many newly-needed touch ups away. 

Praise God that my friend lent me paint to begin touch ups as our children played and that I had left ample days for more work before the swap day was upon me.

Next time, I will most certainly wrap each doll in tissue or put it in a baggie when transporting them. 
In fact, since the day of this mishap, each peg doll I have transported - sealed or unsealed - has had its own tissue wrapping or baggie.

Pitfall Four:  Not Letting Modge Podge Dry Enough

Imagine, too, my friend's surprise when she pulled her "finished" peg dolls out to show me what the dolls look like when sealed with Modge Podge only to discover that her saints came out in clumps.  It appeared that, even though she had let her saint dolls dry for what seemed like plenty of time, the Modge Podge had still been just tacky enough for the dolls to seal themselves together.

My friend was quite good-natured about her clumped-together saints.  As she carefully pried them apart, she commented that they must love each other deeply since they wanted to hug so much.

I am all for saint-love, but not for even more touch ups necessitated by stuck-together saints, so I let my
Mod Podge layers dry good and long between layers and, especially, before wrapping my saints to bring to the swap.

Pitfall Six:  Being Unaware of Modge Podge's Attractive Quality

Before this project, I had never cracked open a canister of
Modge Podge in my life.  When I did, I was happy to see that the glue-like stuff was quick and easy to apply.  I was less enthused to realize that as the white goopy mummy-like texture it began as on the saints seemed to attract every little particle from the air as it dried into a clear hardcoat.  Seriously, I have no idea where the little bits of stuff that dried into the finished peg doll coats I painted came from.  Yet, there it was.

So, from now on, I will embrace imperfection and "texture".  Super smooth finishes just don't happen at my house.

It Was All Worth It

Thankfully, great finishes do happen elsewhere.  At least figurative ones do. 

As I said before, the actual day I swapped saints with others went wonderfully.  Moms and kids enjoyed time together and now our family is the proud owners of 14 fabulous hand-painted peg dolls (with four more coming from moms who couldn't make it to our get together.)  

Indeed, all pitfalls aside, the experience culminated in precious time and talent shared.  our new saint peg dolls collection is beautiful!  

Should you choose to paint peg dolls on your own or with a swap, may you learn from my experience and enjoy the end result just as much!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Can You Draw a Stick Figure? Then You Can Study the Bible as a Family! {A GrapeVine Studies Review}

{When you're a blogger and love a product, you become an affiliate for it.  That is what has happened for us with Grapevine Studies and their Old Testament 1 studies. If you click through links and make any purchase, we may receive compensation at no extra cost to you.  See our full disclosure.)

When your kids like to draw and you want to engage them in more Bible study, what do you do?  One thing you can do is check out any of these great products by Grapevine Studies:

When our family was given an opportunity to review a digital download of the teacher's manual and student books for either the Birth of Jesus or the  Old Testament 1 studies, I was thrilled.  I have heard nothing but awesome things about Grapevine Studies before and had them "on my list" to check out "someday".  For me, in this case, "someday" has come -- and blessedly so!

Just What Is Grapevine Studies?

In a nutshell, Grapevine Studies is a company that seeks to make Bible study simple and engaging in order to grow disciples for God.  In my opinion, they meet that aim with flying colors for any family (or classroom group) that likes to quick-draw.

Teachers manuals are well-laid out so you, the parent or teacher, can read the opening pages and, then, with a few supplies, just open-and-go with your children, offering them short 5-15 minute lessons four times a week or a longer 40-60 minute lesson once a week.  Right in the manual are full color examples of what to draw as you teach as well as script that you can use.  Could it be any simpler for you?  Fabulous!

As for your children, they just follow along with what you guide them in. 

Young children steadily and enjoyably familiarize themselves with the major figures and events from the Bible through drawing stick figures and simple shapes as well as answering questions about Bible readings.  So, basically, they Hear-Draw-Review, engaging themselves in auditory, kinesthetic, visual, and interpersonal learning

Older students do similarly, however, they also get introduced to more Scripture, basic Bible geography, and Bible study skills that require a Bible dictionary, etc.  The method for older children's learning, then, becomes Read/Hear (depending on who you have read the Bible passages)-Draw-Review (by speaking or writing).  Student pages have room for children to write out memory verses and, if they write small, to answer review questions in writing, too, so families can opt for what works best for their children's strengths: oral or written responses.

From the first grade level on up,
Grapevine Studies include timelines of biblical characters and events.  The first lesson in the study is a timeline one which offers children an overview of what they will learn in the study.  Then, with each subsequent lesson, children cycle back to the timeline to review specific parts of it.  With this timeline feature, then, Grapevine Studies offer faith, simple art/expression, language arts, and history skills all in one simple-to-use package.  Love that!


Grapevine Studies offers products as both e-books and printed ones to meet the needs of different families and teachers.  The license for families states that the e-books are "for use by members of your immediate family", while the classroom permissions allow for copies for "one classroom for one calendar year from date of purchase"  So, going the e-book route might be the wisest choice for those with large families and those teaching co-ops or other classes, while sticking with print versions might make sense for those with printers that suck up lots of ink or those that want to really just open-and-go!

For us, e-book versions worked since I was able to reference the teacher's manuals from the screen of my computer while printing out pages from different levels to see which suited my children best before settling on one specific level.  However, now that I know which levels best suit my kids, I think, with future Grapevine Studies, we might save ourselves printing and simply buy printed copies of the student books.  I am still debating.  Whatever I choose, I am simply happy that there is a choice:  printed or e-book.  Grapevine Studies makes the choice yours!

Simple Supplies for Teaching

For the  Old Testament 1 studies at levels 1 and 2 supplies are simple and likely what you already have on your home.  For the teacher:
  • a Bible (online or print)
  • the teacher's book
  • a dry erase board and 8 colors of markers (or chart paper and markers, or copy of student pages and colored pencils if doing things with a small enough group to just sit at a table together)
  • a Bible dictionary (in print or online)

Each child needs:

  • a Bible (online or print)
  • a student book
  • colored pencils (markers, crayons, or other colored writing utensils)

For levels 3 and 4, the teacher's supplies is the same.  Children, however, also need:

  • a topical Bible
  • a concordance  

What We Found Was a Good Fit for Us

Since my children and I both know the story of the Birth of Jesus better than the Old Testament, I was included to go with a digital download of the teachers book and student's books for the Old Testament 1 for our review.   However, before making a final choice, I check out the helpful How to Choose? Where to Start? information first.

Choice for Old Testament 1 made, I then checked out the helpful Information About the Levels information.  After checking this information out, I knew I wanted to check out Old Testament 1: Level 1 Creation to Jacob since it includes a traceable version of the product, which provides faint lines of all the drawings forfor less confident children to trace over.   For at least one of my children sometimes gets frustrated "keeping up" with siblings during drawing activities, even though the child loves drawing.  I could not decide however, if my middle child would be better served by Level 1 or Level 2, because I thought she'd like extra room to draw, which is contained in Level 1 traceable, but would also appreciate the opportunity to memorize Bible facts, which is part of Level 2.  Likewise, while my oldest is at the right age for Level 2, I liked the idea of the geography in Level 3 for all my children, and especially him, as geography has been a big focus for us lately.   Likewise, Level 4 called to me, since both my oldest and I could get in the habit of using more Bible study tools and, sometimes, my son does well with a stretch as far as age/grade levels goes, especially with his reading lately.

Indeed, because my children are all over the place with their language arts and drawing skills, as well as with their strengths and interests, I could see each of the levels providing benefit. Kindly, I was given the chance to try out Level 1 (ages 6-8, with Traceable version for 3 and up), Level 2, (ages 8-10), Level 3 (ages 10-12), and Level 4 (ages 12+). 

Once we received our digital downloads and I had a chance to review the entirety of each student book level by myself and to show my children some samples, as well as to test some pages out in them, each child's level became clearer to me:

  • my five-year-old prefers the traceable version of Level 1.
  • my eight-year-old wants the traceable version of Level 1 on "challenging" days, but typically does well with the non-traceable one
  • my nine-year-old is currently using Level 2 even though Level 3 is more suitable to him.  Why Level 2?  For a very simple reason I probably should not admit:  Mom can be lazy at times.  Or, rather, seek sanity through simplicity.  By using only Levels 1 and 2 with my kids, I reference just one teacher book at a time.  Referencing both the Level 1/2 teachers book and the Level 3/4 one together was not hard, but I am all about the simplest way these days.

While we at at admissions, let me also admit I have caved to ease over challenge for my son. My oldest
could really handle the
Level 4 book as well as the Level 3 one.  However, like I said, I want to stick with referencing one teachers book for now.  Plus, Level 4 does not include the Student Drawing Page that the other levels do, which my oldest thoroughly enjoys.  Plus, although its Quest pages are good, they are not something I have been finding time to do orally with my oldest and are also not something he relished doing in writing by himself.  For my son greatly dislikes any writing exercises and, since we have other writing things for him to do right now, I did not want to taint enjoyable Bible study with his writing protests.  Better to stick to mostly drawing and oral response and discussion at this point to strengths and Bible go hand-in-hand in my household.  The Level 4 version I tend to reference more for my own studies when I have a moment.  I also hope to use the Quest pages with my children later in the year when our other writing exercises slow down.


Sometimes we do our Grapevine Studies in spurts, with one bite-sized piece of the chapters at a time.  At other times, we do full chapter at once.  It all depends on how our eclectic, experiential, often-out, sometimes home studies are going!  Either way, I just love how easy the approach of the program makes it to fit into our schedule.  Simple supplies, well-laid out teachers book, and user-friendly student books bless us with the ability to balance studies into our full schedule of fun and learning helping us make our way through learning more about:
  • Creation
  • Adam and Eve
  • The Fall
  • Noah and the Flood
  • Tower of Babel
  • Job
  • Abraham
  • Isaac

Plus, just in case we forget anything, there is a section review included halfway through the books and a final review at the end.

When we first sat down to do the studies, I broke out the white board, white board markers, my computer with the teachers book up on the screen, the student book pages, colored pencils, and markers.  I personalized the script, and draw away we all did, keying into key figures in the Bible.  As we did, my oldest tended to help his younger siblings, which thrilled me!  (Any tie he shows the virtue of helpfulness, it does!)

Timeline complete, we then carried on with lessons as directed in the teachers book.  We did add one thing, though: personalize!  Oh how my kids like to add to their stick-figuring at times!


We also came to skip almost any writing utensil-to-paper beyond drawing, since the drawing part of the program is the part my kids like best.  We've had enough writing for all three of my kids with other things lately, so, instead of writing out Bible verses and responses to questions, we just did these things orally.

Doing things this way has made the program work, and work wonderfully, for my children and I.  We truly appreciate the method of Read-Draw-Review (with the additions of listening, personalizing and discussing) and I love how easy and enjoyable
Grapevine Studies makes fitting Bible studies into our lives!

Learn More

Without question, I'd recommend Grapevine Studies to others!  Studies are fun, simple-to-use, and effective for learning the Bible and are leveled for any age!  They'd be great for:

  • busy families like ours that want to more regularly fit focused, fun homeschool Bible study in!
  • co-ops and Sunday school classes that want to focus on understanding the Bible
  • those who appreciate opportunities to practice both short and long-term memory skills using faith-based materials
  • folks with different learning styles, particularly visual learners
  • parents seeking a new approach for family devotions
  • families with preschoolers through highschoolers
Really, just about any Christian family or school might enjoy
Grapevine Studies!

If you'd like to see if they are, indeed, a fabulous fit for your children or class, find FREE SAMPLES of Grapevine Studies here. Print them out, test them, and you may get hooked, too!

Grapevine Studies Review

You might also want to check out the reviews of 100 Schoolhouse Review Crew families that were blessed to check out Birth of Jesus or the  Old Testament 1 studies.

Get social with at Grapevine Studies:

Obviously, I love Grapevine Studies!  If you try it out, I'd love to hear what you think of it, too.
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