Monthly Archives: November 2011

The One and Only Miss Violet Remy: Review and Giveaway

The One and Only Miss Violet Remy: Review and Giveaway

Sacha’s<25: An e-novel about 9 year old Violet Remy and her group of homeschool friends who discover a mysterious package while on a field trip to the wetlands.

Home in the Trenches Product Rating (out of 10 stars)

Is it worth our time?  10 stars
Did it help us learn? 10 stars
Is it worth the money?  10 stars
Was it fun? 10 stars
Practicality-  10 stars
Quality-  10 stars
Kid Rating-  10 stars

I was contacted by the author, Angie Renich, in October to see if I would be willing to review her first e-published children’s fiction book for and about homeschoolers.  Angie  has worked in the publishing industry for more than 15 years, doing everything from editing to cover design to ebook programming. She lives with her husband and four homeschooled children in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

When her oldest daughter was in elementary school, she found herself hunting fruitlessly for modern children’s fiction that featured homeschool kids. Finding very little, she decided to write her own. That’s how The One and Only Miss Violet Remy was born.

I was a bit unsure how the whole ebook/kindle reader thing worked….but I thought that I would give it a go!    If you haven’t downloaded any ebooks from Amazon, it is actually really simple, and you can choose what device you want it sent to.  I had it sent to my iphone and ipad and my daughter’s ipod touch. I actually read the whole book on my iPhone.  Having it with me all the time was so convenient! The layout of the text on the pages was perfect!

I shot through this book.  It is easy to read and made me want to keep reading!  The flow of the story was great and the messages along the way are perfect for kids! I am really looking forward to using it as a read aloud to my kids this summer (although Joy will finish it before we make it to summer)!

Some of the goals of this book:

  • Angie wrote the book for her oldest daughter because she wanted her to have a story about kids like her, who were in a non-traditional school setting.
  • to be first and foremost entertaining, but also biblically moral without hitting the reader over the head with religiosity (if that makes sense).
  • to be educational in a subtle way; that is, wrapping plot points in educational info so that the reader learned while being entertained.
  • to point kids to other good children’s literature.

What I liked:

  • The messages in this book are well placed and not cheesy.  They include things like doing what’s right, being a child of God, perseverance, etc.  All things that as a parent I was thrilled to have my child read about and see Violet and her friends going through and learning!
  • The book was free from errors and was laid out well.  (Compared to some of the other books I have reviewed this year!)
  • This book would be great for homeschool kids, as well as those in a more traditional setting….I know that there is “mystery” surrounding homeschoolers-what a great way to “see” what they do!
  • How cool to have a book that is about homeschooled kids?  LOVE IT!
  • In case you are wondering, I have added this to My Ongoing Book List for Kids! We loved it that much!

What I didn’t like:

  • NOTHING!  I really loved this book and it made me happy reading it knowing how much my kids and your kids will love reading it too! I am really hoping that there will be other books about Violet and her friends coming soon!
This would make a great Christmas present!

Here is the AWESOME PART!  I get to giveaway a copy to one lucky reader!

Here is the important info on how to enter the giveaway for 1 copy of the ebook The One and Only Miss Violet Remy:

In order to be entered in the giveaway you must:

–Head over to the Facebook page for The One and Only Miss Violet Remy and like it.  Leave her a comment telling her Home in the Trenches sent you! Once you have done that leave me a comment (on this post) telling me that you did!

For Additional Entries:

–Follow me on GFC or Networked Blogs and leave me a comment!

–Share this giveaway on your facebook status and leave me a comment that you did!

–Tweet about this giveaway and leave me a comment that you did!

This giveaway will end Wednesday December 7th at NOON CST! (Please make sure that I have an email address to contact you if you won!)

The important information:

The One and Only Miss Violet Remy

By Angie Renich

e-book available on

list price $3.99

Product description: Nine-year-old Violet Remy and her group of homeschool friends discover a mysterious package while on a field trip to the wetlands.

Recommended reading age: 7 – 12, depending on the reader. But I think it’s enjoyable for all ages.

Sample chapters available at here! 

A quick update and an Advent resource

A quick update and an Advent resource

Wow, Thanksgiving is over and the Christmas holiday season is in full swing!  This has meant that I haven’t had a whole lot of free time.  On top of that, some of you may have heard that right before Thanksgiving my husband and I helped our community theatre win $25,000 from Chase Community Giving.  That took up a lot of time.  I really appreciated everyone who took the time to vote for our theatre.  We are also full swing into rehearsals for the upcoming show, The Sound of Music.  Having 3 children who made it in the production means 9 volunteer hours for me!  I have been working on sewing costumes!  One dress down and one almost done!  I am a quilter, not a seamstress!  I am actually going to be a pretty good seamstress by the time I am done with this production.  I even managed to put in a zipper all by myself!  (This is huge!)

The first dress I sewed! (and altered!)


We are getting decorations out a bit at a time and will be starting our Advent book this week on December 1st!  We have been using the same book for 5 years now.  The kids squeal, yes actually squeal, when they see me pull the book out of our Christmas bins!  The book is titled, The Advent Book, by Jack and Kathy Stockman. I just checked to see if you could purchase it because it has been out of print.  It has been reprinted as of this year!  Here is the link to check it out!

I am not reviewing this or getting a portion of the sales, we just love this book and have such great family memories from reading it each evening together as a family.  It is basically the Christmas story retold through 25 days.  On day 1 you read the page with door 1 and open the door. Day 2 you read day 1 and then day 2.  Day 3 you will start at day one and read to day 3.  You get the idea….  The artwork is beautiful and the words are written in a way that young and old can enjoy them!

Here is what their website says about it:

The Advent Book is designed to be a family heirloom and the centerpiece of an annual Christmas worship tradition. The large full-color book with beautiful illustrations features 25 unique doors, each opening to reveal a picture and a segment of the Christmas story. The story is told in simple concise language so that even young children can be included in this Advent tradition. A new door is opened each day from Dec. 1st through Christmas in the manner of an Advent calendar. Because the doors are reopened and added to every day, family members enjoy the anticipation of remembering or revealing what is behind each door and learn the Biblical story by heart. NOTE: The Advent Book, created by Jack and Kathy Stockman, was formerly published by Crossway Books (2000-2007). The 2011 printing of the Heirloom Edition by Open Doors is similar to the classic cloth-bound First Edition, but with enhancements: gilt page edges, debossed gold stamping, double sided ribbon, and an elegant matte finish. (The inside door pages of every edition of The Advent Book are the same.)

What special traditions does your family have to celebrate Christmas?

I’m Done Trying to live the “Christian Life”…

I’m Done Trying to live the “Christian Life”…

I recently heard a sermon by James MacDonald and I just had to share some of my notes and thoughts on the topic of living the Christian life. You can click here to watch it in it’s entirety.

I think we have all spent a lot of our lives trying to live “the Christian life”… And we have done it incorrectly.

Yes, you read that correctly….we have been living incorrectly!

I know I have tried to do what I am supposed to do… The lists go on and on in the Bible of how we are supposed to live.  But do you know what?  Doing that by myself is tiring, and really impossible. It’s a vicious circle of trying to read my Bible everyday, or living with right attitudes and constantly failing, picking myself back up and trying all over again!  In fact it is impossible!

As A Christian, I thought it was important for others to see me living a Christian life.  James MacDonald changed my thinking.  Hold on before you start writing me nasty comments….

People do not need to see me living a Christian life and they don’t need to see you living a Christian lifewhat they need to see is Christ living in me and Christ living in you. Christ living in me is the Christian life when I am fully submitted to him.

He (Jesus) is the Christian life.  Pastor MacDonald went on the say…”Down with the exhausting life (trying to do it ourselves), up with the exchanged life (Jesus doing it in us)”

He used the analogy of a glove…if we try to have a glove hold something up or do anything, it can’t by itself….the only way it can hold a book up is if our hand is in it….The Holy Spirit is like our hand in the glove and we are like the glove.  The glove can’t doing anything by itself!  Neither can we!

What does the Empowered life look like?

We walk not according to the flesh, but according to the spirit.  This allows for a life of peace.  In the flesh we cannot please God.  All believers get the Holy Spirit when they believe and are saved, but the question is Does the Holy Spirit have all of me, and all of you?

What does being filled by the Holy Spirit mean?

Filled— controlled, thoroughly influenced, there’s no room for anything else!  It is the essence of who we are.

The command of being filled is actually a passive command-we are the object being acted upon.  We can’t do it.  Looking at the Greek we find that it is plural…for every believer.  It is also in the present tense….it is continual…one baptism many fillings!

The Bible says don’t be drunk, but be filled with the Holy Spirit….if you are drunk you are not in control anymore….not with your body, mind or emotions.  The same goes with being filled with the spirit…you are no longer in control of your life…the Holy Spirit is in control of you.

When you are led by the Holy Spirit you have:

  • confidence….you shouldn’t have fear.
  • Intimacy with God
  • Security—the Holy Spirit lets us know that we are God’s—if you sin you will quiet the Spirit’s voice in your life

Do not grieve the Holy Spirit–by doing things that we shouldn’t do.

Do not quench the spirit—this is done when we don’t do what we should do.

Either of these lead to a life in the flesh!

Since filling of the Holy Spirit is continual you need to make sure you are confessing all known sin (attitudes and actions) and asking to be filled (Luke 11)

Mark 11:24 “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

*****Sorry if these are not the most coherent of thoughts….they are from the notes I took while hearing this sermon.  I hope that you will take time to watch it yourself.  He tweeted that this was one of the top 5 messages he has given!  WOW!


The Reading Game: A TOS Review

The Reading Game: A TOS Review

The Reading Game: A TOS Review


Sacha’s<25: The Reading Game is a fast-action memory card game. It includes a six illustrated books. The cards & books work together to teach sight words. Ages 4+

Home in the Trenches Product Rating (out of 10 stars)

Is it worth our time?  8 stars
Did it help us learn? 8 stars
Is it worth the money? 6 stars
Is it useful to me? 7 stars
Practicality-  7 stars
Quality-  9 stars
Kid Rating-  5 stars

Faith (4 1/2 years old) was so excited when the package came in the mail with The Reading Game in it!  She could hardly wait to open it up and play it.  Are you familiar with Wordly Wise? We not only use WW… we LOVE it!

The author of WW now brings us this new memory card game played with 10 cards (5 sets of words) during each stage of the game.

The game is played with 2 players-one student and on teacher/tutor/older sibling–taking turns flipping over 2 cards and trying to find matches.  If you flip over 2 cards that match you have to say the word on the cards before you “win” them.  After playing a series of 6 “stages” or games your student will  have mastered 30 words and will be able to read the first book in the series. Here is a video to show you how the game is played.  (Please note that the card backs are in color now, see the above photo.)

It sounds simple, doesn’t it?  Yes and no.  Faith really had a hard time remembering what the words were.  She was getting frustrated very quickly and would then want to quit.  We took the game very slowly and even after playing it multiple different times she still hasn’t learned enough of the words to read the book.  I think that if she was a little older this would have made a big difference in how much she liked it.  She wanted to like it and would ask to play, but just got upset too easily when she couldn’t remember a word and knew she wouldn’t be able to read the book if she didn’t know the words.  We have had the game about a month now, but she can only read maybe 15 of the words from the first set (Skunk) of cards.  We have played through the 5th stage of the game.

From The Reading Game Website:

The Reading Game is a learn-to-read program consisting of six illustrated storybooks: skunk, snake, bear, penguins, unicorn, and zebra. Each book comes with a simple word matching card game. Each game is played in six stages, each of which teaches five words.

Frequent exposure through play hard-wires these words into long-term memory. The card game requires two players, the student and a tutor. When used in classrooms and reading centers, parent volunteers or student “reading buddies” can easily be shown how to play the matching card game. By transforming rote learning into a fast paced game where there is a winner every few seconds, learning to read becomes fun.

After completing stage six of the first game, the student has a reading vocabulary of thirty words.

The first story is told using just those thirty words. It tells of a skunk without a stripe who is rejected for being different but finds acceptance among a group of cats and becomes their defender. Each subsequent game in the series adds a further thirty words for a reading vocabulary of 180 words by the time the complete series is finished. Of the twenty-five most commonly used English words, twenty-two are on that list; of the forty most commonly used English words –thirty. The multi-sensory teaching approach – through the card game play and the storybooks – works well for retention and student enjoyment.

What I liked:

  • The card themselves — the backs are very colorful and the fronts are very easy to read.
  • The books are cute & well illustrated.
  • When Faith would recognize a word she was so excited.
  • By the end of the 6 sets of cards and books children will know 180 words.

What I didn’t like:

  • How easily frustrated Faith got playing the game…even at just 5 words a game, it was stressful to her…she was really good at making matches, just not reading them! (I think in about 6-12 months she will really like this game!)

To sum it up: I think this is a game that some kids will love and thrive with.  Some, like my own, may just get really frustrated.  It seems like a fun, low-key  way to learn sight words.

The important information:


Order from:

Price: $24.95

To read other TOS Crew reviews of this product click here.


Disclosure/Disclaimer:  I received the above product free of charge for review purposes.  I am only expected to give an honest review.

I’m not Shaking today…

I’m not Shaking today…

You might remember a couple weeks ago I had written that I was shaking as I was writing my post.  You will be glad to know that I can make it through my exercise DVD without being totally shaky at the end of it.  I am stronger. I have been exercising each day with the DVD 30 Day Shred by Jillian Michaels beginning November 1.  I missed 2 days this week and broke my streak, but I am back on track now.

I am not telling you this to get a pat on the back.

Do you know why I have kept going and doing it each day?

It is not because I like it, or have tons of time that I am not sure what to do with.  I am doing it because I am accountable to someone–actually a small group of people.  I don’t want to let them down.  If it is 8 pm and we notice someone hasn’t checked in to say they exercised we might post on FB to see how they are doing and to encourage them.  I am so thankful for this group of ladies.  I really wouldn’t have stuck with it this long without them.  Funny thing is…I only know one of them.  But we are all in this together and are there to support each other.

Any places in your life where having a group or person to hold you accountable would spur you on to greatness?  Bible reading, prayer, getting our laundry done, meals cooked, exercising, encouraging our husbands…..the list goes on and on.

I am stronger because of encouragement….not just physically, but also emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”