Friday, November 16, 2012

TOS Review: Vocal Coach

When asked recently what she wants to do when she is older, Super Girl surprised me by saying she wants to be a Christian recording artist.  She has always loved music and singing, but she has never expressed an interest in sharing it with others in a professional manner.  This is definitely something she is drawn to currently, however, because she has expressed this desire to several people now.  The opportunity to use the Vocal Coach Singer program was one that I felt would benefit her and help her get a little closer to her dreams.

From the Vocal Coach website:
Chris & Carole Beatty, creators and founder of Vocal Coach, have taught and coached thousands of singers, young and old for over 40 years.
Vocal Coach is built on their passion for training the singers of today and tomorrow through their time-tested, million-selling products as well as in the Vocal Coach Voice Studio in Brentwood TN.
Vocal Coach Singer includes:

7 Training CDs:

  • Getting Started
  • Complete Breathing
  • Complete Warm-Up
  • Complete Tone
  • Complete Expanding Your Range
  • Complete Diction
  • Complete Performance

4 Workout CDs:

  • Daily Workout High Voice 1 & 2
  • Daily Workout Medium/Low Voice 1 & 2

Plus these great educational tools:

  • Guidebook – Full-size Instructional Guidebook to Ensure Success
  • Printable Lead Sheets – each exercise in our course, plus track lists
  • Personal Singer's Journal (Getting Started Journal & Workout Journal) to Track Your Progress
  • Vocal Coach Song Evaluation – Evaluation form to enable you to make more intelligent song selections
The retail price for the CD version is $119.99.  However, we received the MP3 version, which retails for $99.99.  Frankly, I feel that it is worth it to pay the extra $20 for the hard copy, as there is still the book to print out, and because honestly, it was a little overwhelming.  I found it confusing, trying to figure out where to begin with all the files. It was a bit easier once I printed all the papers out and got them in order.  However, then Super Girl was stuck working on the exercises at the computer.  I tried to load them onto my Kindle Fire so that she could do them in private, but it doesn't like MP3s.  I kept wishing we had the CDs, since I was going to have to burn the files onto CDs anyhow.  

The exercises seem to be benefiting Super Girl.  She has not had the experience of being in school choir, which is where both Mr. Man and I learned proper singing techniques, as well as warm-ups.  She definitely plans to keep working through the materials.  Obviously, nothing is as good as one-on-one instruction and feed-back from a voice teacher.  However, I think that Vocal Coach Singer can definitely help the aspiring singer that cannot afford on-going singing lessons, or are not sure they are that serious about it.  Though, if your family is like ours, and your computers are all in "public" areas, you will probably want to get the CD version, so that the exercises may be done in private!


***Disclaimer:  I received Vocal Coach Singer in exchange for my review through the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

TOS Review: Growing Up Wild

As part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I recently received a couple of DVDs from Growing Up Wild.  The Wild family is serving as missionaries in Papua, Indonesia.  They have four boys, and live in the jungle with the Wano people.  My children were very interested in the videos, as the older two boys seem to be about their age, and also because we have watched and enjoyed documentary series about indigenous peoples in Papua in the past.

The first DVD includes segments about the Wilds' house in the jungle and the houses of the Wano, a supply trip, and how the family uses the sun and water to provide a little bit of first-world comfort to their jungle home.  The segments mainly feature the boys and the Wano people, but are narrated by the parents.  My kids loved seeing the house the Wilds live in - especially the lego room!  I found myself wondering if I would get used to how open to the elements their house is, if I were to live in it.  I'm sure I would, but it would take some getting used to!

The other DVD we received was Volume 4, which features segments about the wildlife in the region, some aspects of Wano culture, and more about missionaries in general.  I think we were all a little surprised when the mom was talking about the older two boys' desire to have their noses pierced like the Wano children - and then they did it!  Granted, the mom made sure the boys really wanted to do it (she made them wait a year!), and it appears that several of the male missionaries have also done it.  However, I don't think any of us felt like we'd be able to do it ourselves!

The purpose of Growing Up Wild and desire of the Wild family is to "encourage children to impact the world for God's glory" - to spark a passion for reaching the people of the world in the next generation.  I love the way that the Wilds have tied these glimpses of their everyday life as missionaries into lessons that encourage children to really think about the world around them with a Biblical view.  There is an activity guide disc included with each volume, and each segment has a corresponding overview, set of scripture references, and activities suggested to really get more than just entertainment out of the videos.  My favorite part of the videos was the "at the end of the day" moment that wraps up each segment with a short devotional thought that ties the adventures from that segment in to a spiritual application.  

Growing Up Wild separately for $18.99, or you can purchase the whole set for $80.99.  I feel like these videos are worth the price - the videos are good quality, and children as well as adults will have their interest captured by this family of "wild" boys!


***Disclaimer:  I received two volumes of Growing Up Wild in exchange for my review through the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  All opinions are my own. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

TOS Review: Your Child's Profession of Faith

The Schoolhouse Review Crew was given the opportunity to review works from Grace & Truth Books.  Given my choice of 10 titles, I chose Your Child's Profession of Faith.  You see, Super Girl has always had a great faith in and love for God.  On several occasions she has told us that she prayed "the sinner's prayer".  She has a strong relationship with Christ.  However, last summer, she asked me how she could be sure she is saved.  I had some heart-felt discussions with her, and I think I helped set her mind at ease.  However, I hoped this book would help, should the question arise again - whether from her, or another child.

Your Child's Profession of Faith is a good book, and one I will keep on my shelf.  However, it was not quite what I was hoping for.  I was looking for something that would help be a help in counseling children who are questioning the solidity of their faith.  Chapter 7, "The Manifestations of Faith", will definitely help with that.  However, most of the book before that has to do with the nature of children - "intellectual immaturity", "changeableness", and gullibility.  The book does stress the importance of cultivating a child's strong relationship with Christ over time, rather than the quick conversions that are sought in many childrens' ministry settings.  However, I felt that this section, as well as all the parts about making sure your child is truly ready to be baptized, were not what I was looking for.  The particular church I belong to does not teach that baptism is necessary for salvation, and therefore we do not normally practice it, which means those passages just don't apply to my situation.

I feel like Your Child's Profession of Faith is more a book for the parent who questions the validity of their child's faith, rather than the parent of a questioning child.  It is good, Bible-based advice, and straight-forward.  It wasn't quite what I was looking for, but still an excellent reminder to be careful with my childrens hearts, because "if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea" (Matthew 18:6).

Your Child's Profession of Faith is available from Grace & Truth Books.  The price is $7.50 for a soft-cover edition, 119 pages.


***Disclaimer:  I received a copy of Your Child's Profession of Faith in exchange for my review through The Schoolhouse Review Crew.  All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

TOS Review: Journeys of Faithfulness

Journeys of Faithfulness is a devotional book from Sarah Clarkson.  It is aimed at girls ages 12 and up, though I think if a girl is mature and thoughtful, it would be appropriate for girls as young as 10 (Super Girl is reading it at age 11).  The book is broken into four sections, each focusing on different women from the Bible:  Mary & Martha, Mary (Jesus' mother), Esther, and Ruth.  There are three chapters in each section, with each chapter containing a fictionalized narrative about the subject, a devotional reading, and a short Bible study (3 to 5 passages).  Both Super Girl and I have found the book easy and engaging to read, however, I keep wishing that there was a bit more to the actual Bible portion of the study.  Journeys of Faithfulness is definitely a topical study, rather than a biographical study.  None of the Bible passages are actually about the women the book focuses on, but rather look at character aspects the author wishes to stress from the lives of those women.

I really like Journeys of Faithfulness.  However, I feel that it is a little light for my taste.  I think it would be an excellent starting point for a girl to get into a more in-depth study of one of these women.  Or, maybe it is just right for introducing a young girl to Bible studies of this nature, because it is not too heavy, nor does it have a lot of "homework".  I just feel that, even for teenaged girls, there is a lot more to be learned from the actual Scriptures than is shared in this book.  I would love it if there were additional resources to go along with it, such as a more in-depth workbook.  As there is more focus on the fictional accounts and the devotional reading, rather than the Bible, I don't think I'd recommend this book as a part of a girl's homeschool curriculum.  It is decent and appropriate for extra-curricular reading, though.  I frankly think I'd treat the book more as historical fiction than a devotional or Bible study.

Journeys of Faithfulness is available from Apologia.  It is currently $13 for a soft-cover edition.


***Disclaimer:  I received a copy of Journeys of Faithfulness in exchange for my review through The Schoolhouse Crew.  All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

What a Great Night! (No Politics Here!)

I believe I have mentioned that our church congregation is very small.  We're still trying to reach people for Christ, though!  One of our programs is a "character building" program for kids, similar to scouting.  I lead the older girls group, and we have been working on our Recreational Sports badge.  They have to participate in four different sports, and one of the options is bowling. Since we are severely lacking in leaders, there are not enough adults for me to take the girls out of the building and have adequate supervision both with them and at the building with the other groups.  So, I got creative!  We have a long hallway at the church, and we have some donated soda in 20 oz. bottles (which no one is drinking, as it is rather flat).  We found a soccer ball, and printed blank score sheets.  I played the roll of "ball return" and "pin setter", and the girls had a blast!  We only got one game completed, but as we have to play three games for the badge, this means we get to "go bowling" again next week!  Other benefits: it was free, there were no ugly shoes-of-questionable-cleanliness, no cigarette smoke, no drunken bowlers three lanes down, and we could hear each other quite well (since there were no other balls and pins crashing around or inappropriate music blaring).  Now that we have it figured out, we should be able to get our other two games in next week.  I'm just so happy that everyone enjoyed it so much, and everyone participated.  I'm also glad that two girls from last year finally came back.  We have at least doubled the number of kids that are attending in comparison to last year, and it's not because we have anything fancy or material to give them!  I see these kids thriving on the real interest and attention we're giving them, and it makes my heart swell!  Tonight, I'm so thankful for a fun and successful youth night, because they aren't always - our first week this fall, we had my own two children.  That was it.  Tonight, we had 13 kids!

Three My Old

Super Girl is 11 years old.  Before she was even born, Mr. Man and I decided we were finished having kids.  Life was good, and we were happy.  Then, we felt God speaking to us about our family.  We obeyed, and ended up with another baby in our home after 8 years.  Things would never be the same, and for that, I am grateful.  My Little Miss is a force unto herself.  Without her, my days would definitely not be the same.

Little Miss has her own...

  • Sense of style.

  • Vocabulary.  For example, lately, she loves to spread out a set of foam beadles (beads) and play with them.  She plaused the tv show she was watching earlier.  And, when she tells people how old she is, she says, "I'm three my old."  Apparently, the word "years" and the word "your" are related in her mind, so it translates "years" into "my".  I have also heard her talking about Sticky Mouse (Mickey Mouse) and singing about Nakey Doodle.
  • Fierce Independence.  She often gets upset if anyone, especially her older brother, tries to help her accomplish something - unless she's asked for help.  Even then, it'd better be on her terms.  Sometimes, she downright shocks me with what she can do.  She roller skated today!  And, she was good at it!  Granted, she was wearing those little Fisher Price preschool skates, but she fell down less than the older two did.  However, it wasn't because she was holding on to anything.  Not even the wall!  I was utterly amazed to watch her little legs shuffling her around the skating rink, while much bigger, faster kids whizzed by her.  It didn't faze her at all - in fact, she was thrilled to be a big kid, out there skating.  It never occurred to me that she'd want to skate and actually be able to do it!  The grin on her face was just so precious - she loved every minute of it!
There are so many other ways my Little Miss is unique.  And, yes, she drives me crazy with her shrieking and screaming on an hourly basis sometimes.  But she also brings such joy into our lives, and I can't imagine our family without her.  I'm so thankful God chose to bless us with this particular "three my old".

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Promise in Death

I am thankful for death today, and the promise it holds for those of us who have accepted the grace offered to us by Christ.  Not one of us is promised tomorrow, or even a next breath.  However, those of us who have accepted God's gift have a hope and a joy that counteracts the sadness of death.  We know that waiting for us is something more glorious than we can even comprehend in this life.  I was reminded of this today, as I sat behind an elderly couple that sometimes comes to our church.  The man seems so very frail, and has obviously had a stroke or some other debilitation that limits his speech and movement.  As we sang the first two praise and worship songs during the service, he and his wife sat quietly.  But as the lyrics to Mercy Me's "I Can Only Imagine" began, I felt tears begin to fall from my eyes.  Not because of the sentiment of the song, but because this man was singing along.  He obviously knew the tune, and it surprised me.

I don't really know the man I'm writing about - I can't remember his name.  I do know that he used to be a pastor, and people speak glowingly of his godly teaching.  I know that he and his wife recently lost their adult daughter.  It seems to me as if he is nearing the end of his life.  As we sang the song, I couldn't help but wonder what the words must mean to this man.  A lifetime of serving God, studying the Word, and all the things he's seen - and knowing it will come to an end fairly soon.  Does his heart leap up at the prospect of dancing for Jesus?  Does he ponder the thought of seeing God in all of His glory?  I did not get the feeling that this man fears death - but rather, that he may just be a little excited about it.  The hope, the promise of the rest of eternity, spent doing the only thing that will matter to us any more - praising our Creator.