icRKphJXQm-ezth8lntKydifkDg The Loose Screw: July 2012

Monday, July 30, 2012

Schoolhouse Crew Review~Zane Education

We've been using Zane Education for the past few months at our house.  What is Zane Education?  It is the world's largest and most comprehensive library of fully subtitled educational videos currently available online. Zane offers over 1500 curriculum-based online educational videos for 11 different subjects and 260+ curriculum topics.  These videos are for grades K-12, and I can see adults learning a lot from many of the videos as well!  Zane Education videos are perfect for the visual learner, and can be used by schools and home educators for all students, including special needs, ESL, and gifted.  Subjects available are:

*Library Skills
*Religious Studies
*Social Studies

Zane Education does not just offer videos.  They have an online quiz database of over 23,000 curriculum-based multiple choice questions, lesson plans, and a Study Center  full of resources. Zane Education is aligned to state and national standards.

Research has shown that there is a powerful link between the use of subtitles on video to improve children's reading and literacy skills. It makes sense-with a struggling reader, I have seen that watching the words on screen along with the video is very helpful.  Zane education calls this use of subtitles and closed captioning as 'The Missing Piece'.

There are a variety of pricing and membership options.  The options are:
Basic membership: Free
Topic Taster membership: $5/month
Bronze Membership (all videos in a subject): $8.99/month or $98.89/year
Silver Membership (all videos for an age/grade): $12.99/month or $142.89/year
Gold Membership (access to everything): $17.99/month or $197.89/year
*Through August 31, use the code ZE855HSM  to get a 35% discount on any annual Gold, Silver, or Bronze membership subscription!

We've had a very positive experience with Zane Education.  Chad has enjoyed the videos, and I have a great example of how helpful they can be:  Here in Utah, July 24th is Pioneer Day, the day our state celebrates the Mormon pioneers arriving here. We have lived here 8 years and only know the very basics of the history.  Our daughter Alyssa was a dancer in a production depicting the pioneers travels, and before we left to watch the production I had Chad watch a few videos on pioneers and the Mormon migration. It was helpful for him-during the pageant he was pointing out things that were similar to what he had watched, and I think he enjoyed it more.

Negatives for our home were that videos can be from a secular standpiont (e.g evolution instead of creation), and I would have liked to be able to enlarge the videos to full screen. There is a 424-page Christian Home Learning Guide (reg priced $49.95) that is yours free with an annual subscription.

There is SO MUCH information Zane offers. To make the most of your experience, I suggest downloading their various 'Getting Started' and User Guides. To learn more about the Zane education philosophy, click on their Learn about Us page.  They also have an FAQ page to answer your questions, and be sure to visit/like them on Facebook.  To read more crew reviews of Zane Education, click on this button:

*Disclaimer: I recieved a Gold Membership to Zane Education in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

WINNERS!!!! Purex Coupon Giveaway!

The three winners of the Purex Lets Be Honest campaign giveaway, chosen by random.org are:

*Candace M.

Congratulations!   I've sent you an email with instructions.  Thanks everyone for entering!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Book Review and contest~Inescapable by Nancy Mehl

Inescapable was a real page turner-I couldn't put it down! I had never read one of Nancy Mehl's books, and now I am hooked! Inescapable is the first in the Road to Kingdom series. It is full of mystery, combined with the Amish and Mennonite lifestyle. Lizzie Engel is torn between two worlds, and will do anything to keep her daughter safe. Estranged from her parents, she must return to her home town of Kingdom, Kansas, where she believes everyone is against her. She must also learn to trust in God. This book is a new favorite of mine!

About the Book:

Lizzie Engel is used to running away. At eighteen, she left her Mennonite hometown, Kingdom, Kansas, with plans never to return.

But five years later, the new life she built is falling apart. Lizzie knows she's being followed, and she's certain the same mysterious stranger is behind the threatening letters she's received. Realizing she'll have to run again, the only escape Lizzie can manage is a return to the last place she wants to go.

Once she arrives in Kingdom, Lizzie is confident she'll be safe until she comes up with a new plan. In reacquainting herself with the town and its people--especially her old friend, Noah Housler--she wonders if she judged her hometown and her Mennonite faith too harshly. However, just as she begins to come to terms with her roots, Lizzie is horrified to discover the danger she ran from is closer than ever.

No longer sure who to trust and fearful for her life and the lives of those around her, Lizzie finds she has only one place left to run--to the Father whose love is inescapable.


About Author Nancy Mehl:

Nancy Mehl, the author of 12 books, received an ACFW Carol Award in 2009 for her novel For Whom the Wedding Bell Tolls. She has a background in social work and is a member of ACFW and RWA. She writes from her home in Wichita, Kansas, where she lives with her husband, Norman, and their puggle, Watson. Visit her website at http://www.nancymehl.com/.

Click to purchase Inescapable!

 Win a Handmade Mennonite Quilt from @NancyMehl! RSVP for her INESCAPABLE Facebook Party 7/26! Celebrate with Nancy by entering her "Inescapable" Giveaway and connecting with her during the Author Chat Party on 7/26!

Find out what readers are saying here.

One winner will receive:
  • A Handmade Mennonite Quilt
  • A copy of Inescapable by Nancy Mehl
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on July 25th. Winner will be announced at the "Inescapable" Author Chat Facebook Party on 7/26. Nancy will be hosting a book chat, testing your trivia skills (how much do you know about the Mennonites?) and giving away some great prizes!

So grab your copy of Inescapable and join Nancy on the evening of the July 26th for a chance to connect with Nancy and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Don't miss a moment of the RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 26th!

*Disclaimer: I received this book from Litfuse in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Schoolhouse Crew Review~Christian Keyboarding

Let's face it-in our world today, it is necessary for our children to learn keyboarding!  Sure, my son at age 9 is great with the mouse, and can 'hunt and peck' words when he needs to.  But that is not enough, and the sooner he learns to type on a computer keyboard proficiently, the better!  Keyboarding for the Christian School is an award-winning e-book created by Leanne Beitel that Chad and I had the opportunity to review.

We have tried a few keyboarding programs in the past-they were okay.  They were full of flashy games-that is not what you will get here, and I like that.  We used the elementary version for grades k-5.  There is also a version available for grades 6 and up.  There were 32 lessons, nice and short and to the point, and each lesson built on the last.  It was just enough work for Chad to do without getting bored or frustrated.  I must admit-my son likes all the flashy games, so I wasn't sure how he would do with this program, but he did great!  He was very proud of his accomplishments learning the keyboard!

I loved that scripture is part of this curriculum-if you have to be learning to type anyway, why not be learning and memorizing bible verses at the same time?

The price of Keyboarding for the Christian School is very affordable (and I like that too!)-it's only $12.95 for the elementary version in regular or large font, and just $15.95 for the grade 6 and up version!  This is great because you can use it on a tablet or electronic device, or print it out, whichever works best in your home.  I chose to print it out, which worked fine for us.  If you prefer to purchase a hard copy, you can for $45 which includes shipping and handling. *Great news-now through 8/29, you can save 20% on your purchase using the code SUMMER2012!

Go to the Keyboarding for the Christian School website to learn about package deals and other products available, teacher resources, testimonials, and to view sample lessons.  I was very impressed with this affordable keyboarding program, and plan to purchase the higher grade version when the time comes.

Click the banner below for more reviews of Keyboarding for the Christian School:


*Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge in exchange for my honest review. 

Giveaway!!!! Purex Detergent

Purex has some great promotions going on right now!

*Enter the Repin it to Win It contest for a chance to win a year's supply of Purex Triple Action detergent and Purex Crystals-ends 7/23!

*Purex Tweetstakes-Follow Purex on Twitter @Purex  through July 20th.  25 winners will win a coupon for a free bottle of Purex detergent!

*Purex is giving away a one year supply of Borax plus $1000 cash-enter here

*In the Let's Be Honest promotion going on right now, one winner a day will win a year's worth of Purex detergent!

* There is a new Purex Life Article on Summer laundry safety tips-check it out!

The Let's Be Honest promotion has a bunch of short videos making fun of everyday life-they are really cute!  It was hard to pick a favorite, but I thought #4 Hamper reminded me of my house! 

The Giveaway!!!!!!

Purex is giving 3 of my readers a coupon for a free bottle of Purex Triple Action detergent!! You have four chances to enter (leave a separate comment for each entry):

1. Mandatory entry-  View the Let's Be Honest videos at
 and leave a comment letting me know your favorite one.

2.  Extra entry-Like, share, or retweet your favorite video for one extra entry-leave me a comment to let me know what you did!

3.  Extra entry-Like The Loose Screw on Facebook for one extra entry.

4.  Extra entry-Tweet, post on Facebook, or blog about this giveaway for one extra entry-leave me a comment with a link to your post/tweet.

Make sure to leave your email address so I can contact you if you are one of the winners! The winners will be chosen using www.random.org

This contest will end at midnight MST on Wednesday, July 25, 2012.  I will email the winners the following day. GOOD LUCK!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Book Review~Almost Amish by Kathryn Cushman

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Almost Amish
Bethany House Publishers (July 1, 2012)
Kathryn Cushman


Kathryn Cushman is a graduate of Samford University with a degree in pharmacy, but all her life she knew that she wanted to write a novel “some day”. For her, “some day” came in 2003, when she started writing and never looked back.

Her first two manuscripts remain firmly ensconced in the back of her closet (the dust bunnies tell her they really are terrific!). Her third attempt became her first published novel.

A Promise to Remember and Leaving Yesterday were both finalists for the American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award, and Waiting for Daybreak was a finalist in Women’s Fiction for the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award.

On the homefront, she has been married to the wonderful and handsome Lee for nearly twenty-five years now, and their two daughters are currently braving the worlds of high school and college.

They’ve lived in Santa Barbara for over twenty years. It’s a beautiful place and Kathryn feel blessed to be there (although a seventy degree Christmas still leaves her dreaming of a white one—or at least a colder one!)

When she's not writing or reading or braving seventy degree holidays, you’ll find her trying her best to keep up with her daughters in their various theater, softball, dance, and filled-with-activity lives.


Proving the Simple Life Isn't So Simple After All

Overcommitted and overwhelmed, Julie Charlton is at the breaking point. She knows she should feel blessed as a mother and wife--but she just feels exhausted. And then, the miraculous happens. Her sister-in-law Susan, a Martha Stewart-in-training, lands the chance to participate in a reality TV series about trying to live like the Amish and needs another family to join her. It's just the break Julie needs.

But the summer adventure in simple living soon proves anything but simple. With the camera watching every move, Susan's drive for perfection feels a lot like what they left behind, while Julie suddenly finds herself needing to stand up for slowing down. Whether it's cooking, cleaning, or dressing differently, each new Amish challenge raises new complications...and soon each woman learns unexpected lessons about herself and her family.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Almost Amish, go HERE.

My thoughts~ This is a great idea for a book.  Several years back, I watched a TV series where a family was moved and had to survive as a frontier family of the past.  I really enjoyed the show, and this book is along the same lines.  With my love of Amish fiction, it was a winning combination for me!  We all tend to think the grass is greener on the other side, and in this book it is apparent that living a 'simple' life doesn't mean an 'easy' life.  The characters in the book were on a journey of discovering what is most important to them.  This is a book I recommend!

Schoolhouse Crew Review~Apologia Who is my Neighbor?

Apologia Educational Ministries is one of my favorite homeschooling resources.  This company produces quality, Christian products that I have never been disappointed with.  I was happy to review Who is my Neighbor, the third in a four-book series titled What we Believe. Although this is the third in the series, I believe you could pick it up and use it without having gone through the previous two books in the series.

Apologia teamed with Summit Ministries to create the What we Believe series, a bible curriculum designed to teach your children the essential beliefs of the Christian faith.  The series is for ages 6-14, and is written at about a 5th grade level.
The titles in the series are:
*Who is God?
*Who am I?
*Who is my Neighbor?
*What on Earth can I Do?  (not yet released, expected to be released in 2012)

Who is my Neighbor? contains eight lessons:
*Does Anyone Really Need Me?
*How Can I Make a Difference?
*Who is My Neighbor?
*Why Did God Make Families?
*What Can I Do For My Country?
*Why Can't We All Just Get Along?
*Who is God's Family?
*Why Does the Church Need Me?
Each lesson is full of information, activities, stories, and scripture.  This is a hardback book with full-color pictures.  The price for the book is $39.

You can also purchase a beautiful Notebooking Journal for $24.  This spiral-bound journal corresponds to the lessons in the book, and would make a wonderful keepsake of what your child has learned.
Also available for $8 is a 64-page Coloring Book.  The coloring book would be a great addition to the study for younger children listening along as well. 
At the Apologia website, you can take a look at all the products available, as well as learn a little more about the company.  There are parent resources and sample lessons available as well.  Once again, I was thoroughly impressed by an Apologia product.  I love the way the book is written to the student in a conversational tone.  Chad (9yo) enjoyed the stories and pictures very much, and I plan on going through this series again in a few years.  It would be a great study for the entire family. 


*Disclosure: I received this product free of charge in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Book Review~Annie's Truth by Beth Shriver

As an avid reader of Amish fiction, I was excited to have the opportunity to read and review Annie's Truth by Beth Shriver.  I had not read anything by this author before, so it was fun to add another author to my growing list of favorites!

Annie's Truth is book 1 in the Touch of Grace Series.  Annie Beiler is a young Amish woman in a tight-knit community in Virginia.  She never questioned her Amish roots, and had plans to never leave her Amish community.  She accidentally comes across the family Bible, which does not contain her full birth information.  Annie soon learns she was adopted, and begins questioning everything about her life and her future. 

Despite her family's objections, Annie decides to set out on a search for her birth mother.  This means entering the English world and leaving everything she knows behind.  As she discovers more information about the circumstances of her birth, she struggles with understanding where she belongs.  Is she Amish or English?  Annie must decide which world she belongs in, and possibly suffer the consequences of leaving her community.

Annie's Truth was a wonderful, engaging story.  As an adoptee myself, I was extra-interested in this storyline.  The characters were well-developed, and I really felt myself caught up in Annie's struggle.  I look forward to reading the second book in the Touch of Grace series, Grace Given, due to be published in 2013.

*Disclaimer: I received this book free of charge from Charisma House Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A sweet little boy is waiting to come home!

Some wonderful friends of ours from church are in the midst of an amazing journey-international adoption!  Having adopted domestically and being adopted myself, I am so excited for this family!  Adopting internationally can be very expensive-averaging $35,000!  This little baby is currently living in an orphanage and is 1 1/2 years old. 

I love supporting compassionate people like these however I can.  Would you consider joining me?  Their blog is Tweets from the Nest, and it is full of information on their adoption journey.  They have a paypal button on their homepage that you can click on, and they are raising money with these cool t-shirts and wrist cuffs.  I'm certain they would also appreciate your prayers as they excitedly await their little one's arrival!

Thank you!!

Schoolhouse Crew Review~Professor B Math

Professor B E-Learning is an online math program for preschool through 8th grade.  The parent is the teacher and guides the child through the online instruction, building a strong foundation in mathematics.  Click here to read the history and philosophy of Professor B Math.  Here are the three different levels available:

*Instant Master Teacher Level 1 with Workbook & Answer Keys: Pre-k though 2nd graders and remediation of older learners. Introduction to Addition/Subtraction Facts - Counting to One Hundred - Lower Addition and Subtraction - Higher Addition and Subtraction - Place Value Fractional Parts & Order - Time - Money

*Instant Master Teacher Level 2 with Workbook and Answer Keys: 3rd grade through 5th grade and remediation of older learners. Multiplication/Division Facts and Problem Solving - Introduction to Fractions - Fractional Equivalence - Addition and Subtraction Fractions

*Instant Master Teacher Level 3 with Workbook & Answer Keys: 6th through 8th grades and remediation of older learners. Multiplication/Division of Fractions - Decimals - Percents

What is different about Professor B Math is that there is no sound in the lessons.  This is purposely done so that the parent will not leave the child to work independently.  Everything you need to say to your child is right there on the screen.  This makes it very easy to just jump into your math lessons without preparation. 

Professor B Math claims your child can learn three years of math in each level! Depending on how many minutes a day your child works (average 10-45 minutes), that's three years of math finished in approximately 10 months! Now, I have not had 10 months to work on this program so I can't back that up, but feel free to go to the website to read more for yourself.  Basically, you are in control of how fast or slow you want to get the level done-I like that!

When you go to http://www.profb.com/, you can view a sample lesson.  There are also free placement tests, a 30-day free trial, as well as lots of information on achievement data and the Professor B method. Professor B's FAQ page will answer a lot of your questions about the program.  Pricing for Professor B E-learning is month-to-month at $20 for the first level.  There are additional discounts for buying additional levels at the same time.  A three-year subscription is $100 for each level. 

Personally, I thought Professor B was a great program for teaching math to your child.  I originally started Chad (grade 3) in Level 1 to see how he would do.  He did well, although there were some things he was missing.  We mostly worked on multiplication in level 2, including skip counting, and we did a lot of workbook pages.  Although Chad wasn't thrilled with the lack of sound on the online program, he sure got good at skip counting, which will definitely help with his multiplication facts. I thought the workbook was great, very thorough and a good complement to the online program.  The only problem I had was keeping track of which online lessons we had done. The program does not keep track for you, so it is a good idea to keep a notebook nearby to track which lessons you have done.  I could see where the pricing might be too high for some families with multiple children.  For my one child, it would be doable, but maybe not with multiple children. 

Disclaimer: I received this product in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.  

Friday, July 6, 2012

New Laundry Detergent Recipe

I've been making my own liquid laundry detergent for about three years now-it is such a great money saver!  Click here for my original recipe, which I still think is great!  Recently, I came across a powdered detergent that includes OxiClean and fabric softener, and is safe for HE machines.  I found the recipe at Howdoesshe.  I've been using it a few months now, and really like it!  The photo above shows all of the ingredients (no, that's not pink cheese-its shredded Zote soap!).

1 (4lb. 12oz) Box of Borax-found in detergent aisle
1 (3lb. 7oz.) Box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda-found in detergent aisle
1 (3lb.) Container of Oxiclean-found in detergent aisle (this is optional)
2 (14.1 oz.) Bars of Zote soap-found in detergent aisle (you can also use Fels Naptha
2 (2 lb.) Boxes of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda-found in cooking aisle
1 to 2 (55oz.) Bottles of Purex Crystals Fabric Softener-found in detergent aisle (this is optional, use more for a stronger scent)

Grate the Zote soap.
Mix all the ingredients (I used a bucket)
May put in any container to dispense-the empty Purex crystals container works great!
Use only 1-2 Tablespoons per load!! Put directly in drum of washer for HE machines.
The finished product-isn't it pretty?? It smells great, and I love that the whitener and softener are included!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Book Review and Facebook Party~Hope Springs by Kim Cash Tate

About the book:

 In a small community where everyone is holding tight to something, the biggest challenge may be learning to let go.

Hope Springs, North Carolina, is the epitome of small town life-a place filled with quiet streets, a place where there's not a lot of change. Until three women suddenly find themselves planted there for a season.

Janelle hasn't gone back to Hope Springs for family reunions since losing her husband. But when she arrives for Christmas and learns that her grandmother is gravely ill, she decides to extend the stay. It isn't long before she runs into her first love, and feelings that have been dormant for more than a decade are reawakened.

Becca is finally on the trajectory she's longed for. Having been in the ministry trenches for years, she's been recruited as the newest speaker of a large Christian women's conference. But her husband feels called to become the pastor of his late father's church in Hope Springs.

And Stephanie has the ideal life-married to a doctor in St. Louis with absolutely nothing she has to do. When her cousin Janelle volunteers to stay in Hope Springs and care for their grandmother, she feels strangely compelled to do the same. It's a decision that will forever change her.

As these women come together, they soon recognize that healing is needed in their hearts, their families, and their churches. God's plan for them in Hope Springs-is bigger than they ever imagined.

About the author:

Kim Cash Tate is the author of Cherished, Faithful, Heavenly Places, and the memoir More Christian than African American. A former practicing attorney, she is also the founder of Colored in Christ Ministries. She and Her husband have two children.

Link to buy the book: http://ow.ly/bAPH2
My thoughts on Hope Springs:
This is a  meaningful book about  family, friends, and a community coming together.  There are serious issues that happen throughout the story-terminal illness, race, religion, and more.  The characters were deep and real, and I found myself feeling like I knew them and was cheering for them as they dealt with their own personal struggles. The setting of the small town was perfect for this story.  I enjoyed Hope Springs thoroughly and had a hard time putting it down!  The only problem I had while reading it was keeping the characters straight!  There are so many of them, and I got confused several times.  After about halfway through the book, I had everyone figured out.  I recommend reading Hope Springs and will consider reading more by Kim Cash Tate.

 Win a Kindle Fire at @KimCashTate's Hope Springs Author Chat Party {7/10}!

Celebrate the release of Hope Springs with Kim Cash Tate by coming to her Author Chat Party on Facebook.

Find out what readers are saying here.

Grab your copy of Hope Springs and join me for an Author Chat Party on July 10th at 8:00 PM EST (that's 7:00 Central, 6:00 MST, & 5:00 PST)!

During the evening Kim will be sharing the story behind her new book, posting book club questions, testing your trivia skills, and of course, there will be plenty of chatting and fun giveaways - books, gift certificates and (I'm so excited about this) - a Kindle Fire!

But, wait there's more – she’ll also be giving you a sneak peak of her next book too!

RSVP today and then come back on the 10th ... and bring your friends!

*Disclaimer: I was given a copy of Hope Springs in exchange for my honest review.