Friday, October 25, 2013

Lessons from Monsters University

I posted this a while back on my other blog, but never posted it here. It's written mainly to parents, but preteens may understand it too.

  I have lots of thoughts about Monsters University, but they are all rambling around in my head. So I'll see if I can get them down in writing and tell you how I think the lessons apply to ourselves and our kids. Since this blog is mostly about parenting joys and challenges, I'll be relating the lessons to some situations in our family. The children have all agreed to me sharing this.

I think the obvious themes are friendship, teamwork and persistence, but beyond that, one of the main lessons is that talent alone is not enough. Sully has scaring in his genetics and is a natural born scarer, but doesn't apply himself. He expects to get by on natural talent. That doesn't work out so well for him. 

I don't know about you, but most of my children struggle. However, I have a Sully in my family. He has many inherited talents from his birth mother. That child has never applied himself though so never really accomplished all that he could. He is gifted in many areas, but found out early he could get by without working hard. 

He recently began working toward some goals but found out that the laziness in the early years made it impossible to catch up in some areas. Sully figured it out of course, but the hard way. In biblical terms, to whom much is given, much is required. If God has gifted your child in certain areas, it's because he has big plans for that child that involve using those talents.

The opposite is also true. Desire, or really wanting something, is not enough. The path you want to follow might not be one you're gifted for. Mike wanted to be a scarer most of his life. He was the model student and knew all the ins and outs of scaring, but that wasn't enough. He just wasn't scary. 

People will say that you can do whatever you put your mind too, and while that might sound nice, it's not true. I  have a Mike in my house. A child who knew what he wanted to do, but when it came down to it, he didn't have what it took. And that's okay because that child has other abilities, he's just not seeing them. 

Like with Monsters University, some talents put you in the limelight and some put you in the background. Some people have what I call show off talents, the ones that get you lots of attention--musical ability, sports ability--but the support talents are just as important.

This next part will give away some of the plots so stop reading if you don't want to know some of the ending ahead.

Actions have consequences. In the movie Sully cheats. When he confesses to it, he is expelled. Mike breaks rules and is also expelled. I was glad that even though things worked out, they were still expelled.

We learn from consequences. I have a child who has gotten out of consequences by being cute and charming. He hasn't learned the right lesson from that. It will catch up with him. I also have two who have gotten away with poor behaviors because they were "refugees" (even though they really weren't because we'd been in the process three years when the earth quake happened). I had to be the bad guy to get teachers to hold them accountable for their actions no matter their background. 

I have children with diagnosises. They still have to do the best they can. Things like spending some of the formative years in poverty and in an orphanage, having ADHD or autism or drug effects is an explanation, not an excuse. All of us need to realize there isn't always a second chance so make the most of the first one.

There is more than one path to your dream. After being expelled, Sully and Mike almost gave up on their dreams, but then they regrouped and came up with another plan. The goal was to work on the scare floor. 

The original plan was to major in scaring at Monster University. But they took an alternate path of starting in the mail room and working their way up. Our kids need to realize that it's okay to fail. In real life there aren't trophies just for participating. Get up, replan and get going. 

Our family applied to adopt through our state. After a couple of years of nothing we realized that wasn't how we were going to add to our family. So we replanned, got an international home study instead, got loans and adopted through Haiti for the second time. It wasn't easy. Haiti changed its adoption rules monthly sometimes. But it worked. 
Everyones' talents and strengths are different. Don't look down on someone who doesn't appear to be talented or with it before getting to know them. Not everyone is athletic, smart or beautiful/handsome. 

In fact sometimes those people have so much confidence in themselves that they are useless to others. 1 Corinthians 1:25-28 says, This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength. Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.
Sully and Mike join together with a band of misfits for the Scare Games but they learn that each of them has a strength and by using each person's strength, they are a better team.
There will always be mean kids (and adults). Even Sully who started out as popular ended up on the wrong side of the mean kids. 

Our kids need to realize that not everyone will like them. Kids will make fun of their color, special needs and weaknesses. By making home a safe haven, they can overcome the effects of the mean comments and the teasing. They can learn that they have value because God created them in a unique and amazing way. That may be hard for our special needs kids to understand. But there is usually a strength to balance the weakness. My one who struggles with math and science can sing and play drums. Some kids may not have those obvious talents but they may be a good friend, able to take care of pets or to organize. Build on your child's strengths to overcome the hurt from mean kids. If all else fails, walk your kids to class carrying a baseball bat :)
Well, those are my rambling thoughts on the movie. Like I said in the beginning, there are the obvious themes of teamwork, friendship and persistence. Those fall in place with the other lessons.

What did you think of the movie if you saw it?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Lessons from Old Testament Women #2

     If you've read through my The One Year Devotions for Girls Starring Women of the Bible devo, then you've already read this. But it's a good lesson anyway. (And if you get the book, there are 364 more to read!)

God Has a Special Plan Just for You
     For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11
     Trust in the Lord with all your heart;  do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6
     Just as God created you to be unique and special (see Sept 18), he also has a special plan tailor-made for you. Sometimes it's easy to fall into the trap of being and doing what everyone else is doing--or doing what others think you should do, not what you really want to do. It's important to look for God's plan for you and follow it rather than copying what others are doing. Each person's plan is different. Think of the plans he had for the Old Testament women.
  • God created Eve to be the mother of all living things. No one else could do that job.
  • God planned for Mrs. Noah to be the one who, along with her husband, stepped out in faith and saved her family. She led her family into a new world after the flood.
  • God planned for Sarah to be the mother of the child who would fulfill God's promises to Abraham.
  • God planned for Puah and Shiphrah to be in the right place at the right time to spare many Israelite baby boys.
  • God chose for Jochebed to save her young son who would live in Pharaoh's palace and lead his people out of bondage.
  • God planned for Ruth to go to a foreign country and be part of Jesus' family tree.
  • God put Esther in the right place at the right time to save her people.
     These are only a few examples of the plans God had for each of the Old Testament women we've read about. He has an equally wonderful plan for you. It doesn't matter to God if you're popular at school, or a super brain. It doesn't matter if your parents are rich and influential or if you're being raised by a single mom or a grandparent. God's plan is designed just for you, and you are the only one who can fulfill it.
     Ask God to guide you each day and be willing to do the things he asks you to do. As you read your Bible, look for God's instructions to you. Listen to his voice speaking to your heart, and he will keep you on the right path to fulfill his plan for you.
Thinking it Through
     Read Proverbs 3:5-6. What does it mean for you today?
    Ask God to show you his plan for you today and follow as he guides you through his Word and his Spirit speaking to your heart.

Look for this book at your local Christian bookstore to read about more women of the Bible.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Wow! I'm Blessed.

I have more reviews of my new book- The One Year Book of Bible Trivia--before it's even been released than I have of any other one book. Some of my books have no reviews! Of course I know that this is because Tyndale sent copies to people to be reviewed, but those people did not have a write a positive reviw. They were asked to write an honest review. And not everyone likes the same thing in books.

This is a really cute book. It's actually more of a devotional than just trivia. It is set up to where each page is for a different day of the year. Then it asked a question and gives you multiple choices or true/false options. Then it discusses the scripture the question was taken from with a little devotion towards the end followed by the answer and the verse where you get the answer. My oldest daughter and I went through the entire book looking at the different questions and answers and of course there were things we all remembered from growing up reading the Bible. You know the familiar stories we heard in Sunday School. But then there were things asked that I hadn't thought of or remembered.

We thought it was a really interesting way to start out the day. Gives you something to think about and chew on while putting scripture into your hands every day. I think it's a great book for ages 10-14 and its available in both paperback and e-Book formats.

I feel this is a book that is well put together, gives great application to the lives of kids and will inspire the kids to delve more into scripture. This is a great asset to any home.

The One Year Book of Bible Trivia for Kids

I found this book to be very informative and it does appeal to kids at least 5 years old and up in my very personal recent experience. I'm simply saying this because I tried doing the devotions in this book with a younger crowd and it wasn't that they didn't understand exactly, it was mostly that there are better books geared towards toddler, some similar in this line. Also most toddlers I have encountered don't yet know the stories as well as their older siblings so they aren't as interested in answering the trivia. I even went so far as to poll some willing adults in the use of this book and they also found it enjoyable and were impressed that it had come from a book geared for children.

The devotions are indeed very manageable and I would suggest using them before heading out the door in the morning or right before bed, sometime when you can actually focus. These are not "on the run" type devotions.

My only complaint with this book is that the Bible verses listed in the book are either from the New International Version or International Children's Bible, but they don't' appear to be marked at the bottom of the page and often I had to look through a few versions of online Bible software to figure out exactly where the quote was coming from, and it is confusing for children at times if their Bible doesn't match. I try to keep to using the same Bible translation as what they children use in their classrooms. Because this was a review copy this might have just simply been overlooked and remedied later, it is hard to say.

Overall I enjoyed the book and would recommend it. I plan on putting our copy up and trying it again when my children are school age. Their older brother who is in 3rd grade this year does enjoy using this book when he is with us for visits.

     In regards to her comment about the devotions, they all use the New Living Translation, which is Tyndale's translation, unless I need to exact words of another version in which case it should be noted on the devo.

The One Year of Bible Trivia for Kids contains answers that many have about the Bible and answers it in an easy-to-understand way. Each devotion includes a question and answer along with Scripture to go along with the question and a short story or thought to get you thinking. It also includes something for you to apply to your own life in regard to that day's topic.
I have enjoyed going through this book and we have been using it in our homeschool routine each day. The book says that it is for children up to age 14, but I would say that it is for anyone who wants to learn more about the Bible. If you have questions and are wanting answers that are easy to understand, this is the book for you. This is the perfect homeschool resource and would also be helpful in family devotions or nighttime family Bible time. I can highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to dig deeper into God's Word!

Book reveiws really do help sell books so if you read a book you enjoy or that you think will help others (anyone's book, not just mine), take the time to write a review and post it on all the online bookstores you are familiar with. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Quiz Book Review

It was nice to find a new review of the quiz book. Reviews really do help to sell books.

The Christian Girl's Guide to ME: The Quiz Book

Part of a series, The Christian Girl's Guide to ME: The Quiz Book was written by Katrina Cassel and features 22 fun quizzes for tween girls. They cover a broad range of topics, from personality to Bible knowledge, from character to hygiene and habits.

Every chapter begins with a Bible verse then tells a short story. Some of these are contemporary tales; others are re-tellings of accounts from Scripture. Readers then take a quiz. Answers and evaluations are provided after along with tips for how to improve or apply what is learned from the quiz. Simple illustrations and "Fun Fact" sidebars pepper the pages.

As with every volume in this series, the book comes with a trinket. We received a leopard print coin purse exactly like the one pictured.

What I Like: What girl doesn't love learning more about herself? My daughter (age 9) was instantly attracted to this book. It offers a fun approach to learning and growing. I especially like that it goes beyond revealing truths about oneself to developing truths in oneself; it helps girls discover what God has intended for them. Of course, I also love the heavy emphasis on Scripture and truth. My daughter loved the coin purse that came with it.

What I Dislike: Personally, I don't like the interior illustrations. They seem a bit dated and unnecessary, but they don't bother my daughter. I'd rather they left room for the girls to doodle themselves.

Overall Rating: Very good.

Age Appeal: 8-12

Publisher Info: Legacy Press, 2012; ISBN: 1584110872; Paperback; 192 pages; $9.99

Buy it Now at for $8.19!
OR Buy it at for $9.89.

Special Info: You may also be interested in another book in this series which we reviewed last year: The Christian Girl's Guide to Style.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Lots of Book Reviews!

Wow! I didn't realize how many reviews I'd already have with the book not yet released. I love that people took the time to write and post reviews.

Here are three:
The One Year Book of Bible Trivia for Kids opens the door to brush up on Bible knowledge! This book may even possibly teach kids a few new things too. It's friendly format is basic, yet appealing. The meat of the book is straight to the point and readers will begin a yearly journey starting in Genesis and finishing with the book of Revelations.
Each of the devotions has a title ( for example: A Willing Learner), a Question ( What Jew really wanted to preach about the Lord but didn't know Jesus was the Messiah), a multiple choice answer (a. Apollos, B. Agabus, C. Timothy), For You (a section that asks a question for the reader to contemplate the devotion at hand and apply it to their life), and the correct answer to the trivia question with the accompanying Bible Verse in which the answer is found ( in the devotion, I mentioned the answer is A and the story can be found in the book of Acts).
The 365 Bibical Trivia devotions are written as if speaking to the reader. The age recommendations is 10 -14 year olds but I think even a younger child interested in their faith can grow from using this book daily. This devotion could even work for a family time discussion. Reading through the book, I was even challenged by some of the trivia questions!I recommend checking this book out for yourself. I'm sure it would be a blessing to any kid craving that deeper relationship God.

What kind of fruit did Eve take from the tree of knowledge of good and evil? A. pear; B. apple; C. we don’t know.
What did Jesus serve the disciples for breakfast? A. fruit and cereal, B. fish and bread; C. manna and quail.
Learn a little Bible trivia while learning more about God’s message within the Bible. This One Year book features 365 trivia questions that lead into meaningful devotions about the questions. Each devotion also includes a For You section, which gives a simple application to kid’s lives. And the answer to the opening question wraps up the devotion and gives readers biblical references to read.
This book will keep curious kids on their toes and give them a reason to open their devotional and Bible daily. They can also use their knowledge to test family members each day. [The answers to the questions above are C. we don’t know and B. fish and bread.]
I had a privilege of trying this book with the kids I babysat and they loved it. Elizabeth said, "I love the pictures and the questions. It helped me think." Jack, the younger one liked looking at all the pictures and seeing what was next, even though he was only 2 1/2.
I mentioned this book to my cousins, and one of them said, "Man, I wish I lived closer to your house, so we can do devotions again." My other cousin said, "I like the Bible Trivia because it helps me learn more about the Bible and God's Word." I gave them a few trivia questions over the phone and read them the first few pages.
Even though this book may be for older kids, the toddlers I had liked the pictures and the applications that I made for them using the devotional book.
I highly recommend this book to any parent! Although, it won't be published until October 15, 2013.

Bible Trivia for Kids: The One Year by Katrina Cassel is a book for kids age 10 or so and older to test their knowledge of the Bible.
The format of the book is a daily devotion based on a Biblical trivia question. The devotion explains the passage from which the question is derived. Then there's an explanation of what it can mean in your own life.
This is something that parents and kids could do together, say, over dinner or before bedtime. It's too advanced for younger kids though, in my opinion. The only thing I didn't care for is that each devotion is dated. I just don't like dated devotionals, because it makes it seem like if you don't start on January 1, then you might as well not start at all.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Lessons from Old Testament Women #1

Old Testament Women: God Created You to Be Unique
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. Psalm 139:14
There are many principles we can learn from Old Testament women that apply to your life right now, right where you are. It doesn’t matter whether you are home schooled, or in in public or  private school.It doesn’t matter if you’ve been a follower of Jesus most your life or if faith is new to you. These principles are for you.
The first one is this: God created you to be unique. Remember Eve? God created her as a full-grown woman in the Garden of Eden in his own image. Eve was the first woman, so of course she was individual, but so are you. God doesn’t have a limited set of molds he uses to create people. He makes each one with his or her own looks, personality, talents, and strengths.
Think about your friends. One might be short, red haired, musical, and love roller coasters. Another might be tall with dark skin and dark hair and be the track star. You may look totally different from either of them and have some shared and some different interests.
God made you your own person. When you try to be like someone else, you cheat yourself of the individuality God gave you. Sure, it’s okay to try the same hairstyle as one of your friends or to want an outfit similar to hers, but you shortchange yourself when you try to be her and not yourself.
Look for the things that make you unique and special. Are you outgoing? thoughtful? good at planning? Can you sing? identify all the constellations? decorate cakes? God gave you the looks, talents, and personality traits he wants you to have. It’s up to you to develop them and to be willing to use them for him.
Thinking It Through
What makes you special? How are you using your own talents and personality traits for God and others?
Pray Psalm 139:14 as a prayer of thanks to God—and really mean what you say. Next time you find yourself wishing you were more like someone else, think of these words.
Adapted from The One Year Devotions for Girls Starring Women of the Bible.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Jasmine's Journal

If you remember, I have not yet posted Jasmine's end of summer journal entry. That's because I hadn't typed it in. But now I have, and here it is. Jasmine did hers all on her own including revising and writing the final copy so if parts are a little rough, that's because it is entirely her work.

Highlights of Summer
Jasmine Cassel

     This summer was a blast, but the three biggest highlights of the summer were Cozumel, Mexico, St Louis and Indiana.
      One of the places we stopped on our cruise was Cozumel, Mexico. Cozumel is a beautiful place. The water is two different shades of blue, In Cozumel, Mom and I went to the different stores. My mom bought three different colors of the same shirt. Next we went into a bigger store where we looked at chess sets. (She doesn't talk about the excursion we went on!)
     Another highlight of summer was St Louis, Missouri. St Louis is called the "Gateway to the West." In St Louis we went up to the top of the arch, which is 630 feet. The view from the arch was incredible. You could see the Cardinal stadium.
     The last highlight of summer was Elkhart, Indiana. In Indiana we went to Mrs. Juanita's in-laws' lake. At the lake I went on the raft that's anchored in the sand. Then we went in a pontoon boat. We picked up Mrs. Megan and a couple of her friends. We drove around for a while then we dropped them back off. Then we drove out to the very middle of the lake and jumped off the boat.

     This summer was a blast but these three things were the best and hopefully we'll get to do something similar next summer.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

First Review

Here is the first review (that I know of) of The One Year Book of Bible Trivia for Kids. This was written by someone on Good Reads

The One year book of Bible trivia for kids is an amazing book designed to help kids learn the Bible while having fun taking short quiz's and reading a short devotion for every day of the year. My children and home school children are having a blast reading the days and will often read ahead and the past days they missed just to have some extra fun. I would highly recommend this book not only for kids but parents and teachers to read and express the literature with their kids and family members. This is even a fun refresher for some of the grown ups. I am very pleased and I think you will be too.

You can buy it on amazonHERE

Monday, August 26, 2013

Coming Soon

Learn a little Bible trivia while learning more about God’s message within the Bible. This One Year book features 365 trivia questions that lead into meaningful devotions about the questions. Each devotion also includes a For You section, which gives a simple application to kid’s lives. And the answer to the opening question wraps up the devotion and gives readers biblical references to read.

This book will keep curious kids on their toes and give them a reason to open their devotional and Bible daily. They can also use their knowledge to test family members each day.

Coming in October! Be sure to get your copy.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Kaleb's Journal

I already posted Kayla's journal. Here is Kaleb's.

My Summer


Kaleb Cassel

     This summer was awesome, but three highlights were Carnival
Victory, Key West, and Cozumel.
     Carnival Victory is a cruise ship. It has a waterslide and a
pool. On the waterslide I went fast because I was laying down. At the bottom of the slide there's water. At the pool I swam underneath the water. I played with Kayla in the water. We had fun on the Carnival Victory.
     At Key West I ate Key Lime pie. I went on a bus and learned
about Hemmingway. I also went to the Eco Discovery Center. I saw the nurse shark and little fish. I also went on a playground. The swings were a little hard for me to jump out of. I saw an iguana. At the beach I splashed the girls. I played and had fun at Key West.
     In Cozumel, Mexico, I bought a guitar and maraca. I met a
Mexican with feathers. He really looked like a parrot.
     These places were fun to go to. I had fun this summer.

Here are some photos to go with his highlights.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Best of Summer part 4

I'm not sure anyone actually reads this blog, but just in case they do, and just in case they remember that I was supposed to post a Best of Summer part 4, here it is.

This is the stuff we did within two to three hours of our house.

Rick took the kids to Lowes twice to make projects.

We took the dogs kayaking twice. They love it.

We went to the bay twice.

Tyler and Jessica went to a water park.

We went to Destin and to a new beach.

We hung out at the pool--when it wasn't raining. And it rained part of the day or all day about 90% of our summer vacation days.

And to end the summer, Kayla and Jasmine were in the play Rapunzel last week.

Kayla in the middle as Ogre #2

Jasmine as Monique, Rapunzel's mother.

So that was our summer.

What was the highlight of your summer?