Posts Tagged ‘review’

Civitas Government Game

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017


This post contains affiliate links. I was compensated for my work in writing this post.

While studying high school government, my family won a copy of the Civitas government game by Bright Ideas Press. It was so much fun to play that we decided to write about our epic adventure with this game!

Civitas is a government card game (Ages 10+), and it is especially good for high school students studying government. The players become familiar with many different types of government. We decided to add hats to our game; we used a dictator hat, a crown, a pope hat, a military hat, and a top hat. You do not need the hats to enjoy the game.

Civitas is a game about ruling all the players at the table with many forms of government. The goal is to have the fewest points at the end, and points are gotten by how many cards are in your hand and what type they are. The game ends when one player loses all of his/her cards.


There are 8 decks for you to choose from, excluding the gray deck. Select whichever decks you want to play with (the game gets more challenging with 7 or more) and shuffle them together into one huge deck. You have to include the gray deck.

Then 1 player (the dealer) deals 7 cards to each player, sets the huge deck in the middle, and flips the top card over onto a new pile (discard pile). This card determines the first form of government. The dealer gets the corresponding leadership card (one of the oversized cards that corresponds to the color of the face-up card) and places it beside them.


The player to the left of the dealer goes first. They can do one of 3 things: play any card of the same government type (color) as the face-up card, play a number card that is the same number or color as the one in play, or play a wild or law card (anarchy cards count as wild). A player can choose to not play any card if they don’t want to, but they have to draw a card if they don’t play anything.

When the government type changes, whether by a wild government change card, normal government change card, or number card, the leader of the existing government type has to flip their leadership card face down and the government type is changed according to the new government’s leadership card.

Civitas Government Game (video demonstration)

Take a look at a game we played, and how we re-enacted the takeovers in the backyard:

The game started with Bryan (the dealer) getting communism, and ruling with an iron fist by changing the order of play, forcing everyone to draw cards, and other such nefarious actions. Then Stephen decided to make it interesting by playing Wealth Redistribution, which makes the player with the most cards have to give one card to the player with the least cards. It so happened that Nathaniel had the most cards and Bryan had the least cards, so Nathaniel was forced to give Bryan one card.

Bryan stayed in power while changing the government type from communism to military (in order to exert more power over the people, no doubt). Soon afterwards Nathaniel rallied the people behind him and changed the government type to democracy, taking Bryan out of power. Bryan was not through, though, and brought the corruption even to democracy by playing Gerrymandering, and switching a full hand of cards with Rachel.


The democracy could not stand under corruption, and it fell apart and gave way to Bryan taking power again, this time in the form of a monarchy. Bryan got his revenge on the usurper, forcing Nathaniel to draw two cards and exchange one card with Stephen. He even got sneaky and caused the order of play to be reversed so that he could skip Nathaniel’s turn with a coincidental Red Tape law played by Stephen.

But Nathaniel would not take all this lying down, and forced Bryan to abdicate to change the government type to democracy again. Not much happened before Stephen, tired with the seat of power dancing between Bryan and Nathaniel, started a civil war and took control of a military government. However, forcing Rachel to draw two cards was his mistake, as she took over the reins of government with a democracy of her own later on.

Bryan, not one for sitting idly by, decided to ally himself with his old adversary and crown Nathaniel king of a new monarchy. Stephen, wanting another taste of power, almost immediately started a revolution, changing the government type to military again. All was quiet for many years until Nathaniel, who ever since the revolution had been planning a revolution of his own, put his plan into action. It worked flawlessly, planting him as the leader of a democracy once again.

After a lawsuit or two, Bryan, unimpressed with Nathaniel’s governing job, crowned Stephen king of a monarchy. But Stephen didn’t impress Bryan with his leadership skills either, so Bryan decided to revisit the start and make Rachel the leader of a new communism. But the move was too late, as Nathaniel won the game with a well placed change to democracy.

If this Civitas government game sounds intriguing to you, go buy it from Bright Ideas Press!

Sexual Purity for Teen Boys

Monday, February 20th, 2017


If you are concerned about sexual purity for teen boys as a parent in our day and age, you are not alone. Sexual sin is rampant in our culture, and things are getting worse as internet porn shows more and more violent sexual actions against women to be desirable. How is a young man to keep his way pure? By keeping it according to God’s Word. Hal and Melanie Young have just made this task easier for Christian parents by writing their new book Love, Honor, and Virtue: Gaining or Regaining a Biblical Attitude Toward Sexuality.

Everything is covered in this book, from pornography to masturbation to sexual perversion to how to find a good wife. How to regain purity is also discussed. Everything is spoken of in a clean, frank way that is necessary for addressing these topics. The book is also thin enough to be read in one sitting. One of my teen sons finished it in two hours one morning. Another son spent two days reading it. Nothing came as a surprise to my sons because I’ve addressed sexual issues head-on every time they have been mentioned in Scripture or in literature over the years.


Dr. Tedd Tripp, author of Shepherding a Child’s Heart (my favorite parenting book that addresses heart issues instead of outer behavior) has read the book and recommends it, if you need the endorsement of a well-known Christian speaker.

For every Christian mother who has wrung her hands, wondering if her son may be viewing pornography behind her back or with friends, this book will address this awkward conversation so that your son doesn’t have to feel weird talking about this to his mother.


I praise God for a husband who was able to have the “birds and bees” conversation with our sons when they were twelve. Each of our sons heard about sex first from his own father instead of his peers, and it was mentioned as something you were only supposed to do with your spouse. This is one reason many people homeschool their kids, to control the amount of sexual smut that comes in from public schooled peers. But you can’t shelter your teens forever, no matter how much you try, especially when they leave home for college. Our sons must make up their minds to be sexually pure before marriage BEFORE they leave home.

Our teen boys must learn self-control before they face the world on their own. They MUST. We cannot leave this to chance and hope for the best.

I met Hal and Melanie a few years ago when they spoke at a homeschool conference here in Spokane. They are the real deal, people who love and honor God wholeheartedly. If you are going to buy the book, please buy it from their website to bless them : Love, Honor, and Virtue: Gaining or Regaining a Biblical Attitude Toward Sexuality.

Rosetta Stone: Homeschool Spanish

Friday, August 12th, 2016

Rosetta-Stone-Spanish-for-homeschoolI received a year of Rosetta Stone and was compensated for an honest review.

I was looking for a Spanish program because my high school students need two years of high school credit to graduate from our homeschool. And of course, I always wanted my kids to learn Spanish because I grew up speaking Spanish, and it’s a useful language to know.

You’re probably thinking, why haven’t I taught them Spanish yet? Well… our lives have been full. I was actually looking for a Spanish program that would do all the work for me so that I can get everything else done. I’m a speaker, an author, a conference coordinator, a blogger–oh, yes, and I also film my homeschooling.

As you can see, I have no time for teaching Spanish, and why should I when Rosetta Stone Language Learning for Homeschool exists?! They are the most effective foreign language program I’ve ever seen. You can speak into a microphone, and the computer will tell you if your Spanish accent is good enough, or if you need to repeat the word.

YES–it teaches you to SPEAK Spanish, not just to read it, write it, and listen to it. So you don’t need to know the language as a homeschool mom. The program is thorough, builds on previous vocabulary, and immerses you in the language right away.

Rosetta Stone: Homeschool Spanish


Each screen has colorful pictures to build vocabulary. You are required to match the picture with the word. After that, you match the spoken word with the picture (without seeing the word). This is helpful because when you are chatting with a Hispanic woman at Walmart, you will not see words above her head, telling you what her words are.

You can opt out of the written portion if your children are young, but since all my kids are older, they can type out the vocabulary words under the pictures. Spanish is the simplest language to write anyway–everything is exactly the way it sounds, since vowels can only have one sound.

Rosetta Stone Review


Just so you can see what I’m talking about, here is my demonstration with Rosetta Stone Language Learning for Homeschool, and why I loved it so much:

Homeschool Spanish for High School

My 16-year-old son did not want a baby-ish Spanish program, so I was overjoyed when I saw that any human–any age, including adults–can use this program without feeling like they are being treated like a baby. Instead of cartoons, you have real-life pictures.

The program is not boring. Yay! Not boring is good. It moves at a wonderful pace, and if you need more practice on one section, you can do that section over and over however many times you want. Mastery is the whole point.


There is a workbook that you can print out, if you want to use paper and pencil. I don’t believe the workbook is necessary for learning the language, but if you are trying to get extra writing practice for your kids (or if you think you need it for high school credit), it’s a good re-enforcement of what the students have learned in each lesson.

I was so impressed by Rosetta Stone that I decided to buy the entire set of Spanish, Levels 1 through 5. If you would like to follow Rosetta Stone on social media, here they are:

Watch a free demo: Rosetta Stone Language Learning for Homeschool

Sign up for their newsletter: Rosetta Stone Newsletter

Drawing with a 3D Pen

Sunday, February 28th, 2016


I received an AtmosFlare 3D pen for free and was compensated for an honest review.

When I found out this AtmosFlare 3D pen existed, my kids wanted me to get it so that we could make 3D sculptures. It comes with red and blue ink cartridges, so we ordered a few more colors before we got started. They have 12 colors to choose from: red, light pink, pink, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown, black, gray, and white.

Putting the ink cartridge into the pen was pretty self-explanatory, as I show you in the video demonstration below. You take the cap off the ink cartridge and screw on the nozzle. Then place the cartridge into the pen. The colorful instruction pamphlet is simple and easy to understand. A battery is included, which I thought was nice.

I used black card stock paper as the base for each of the 3D sculptures. Black makes a good contrast for taking photos of your sculptures and ensures that your table doesn’t get junk stuck to it.


Drawing with a 3D Pen (Video Demonstration)

Here is our first attempt using the AtmosFlare 3D pen for creating sculptures. We figured out at the very beginning that you don’t want to sculpt too fast. But no worries if you make mistakes: just pinch it off like I show you in this video:

Tips for Using the AtmosFlare 3D Pen

If you watched the demonstration video above, you will get a feel for the pen before it arrives in the mail. These are a few tips we would give someone who is trying it for the first time:

  • For your first sculpture, try making a straight line starting from the bottom and working your way up. When you do this, you will see how fast you can go to make a solid straight line. The slower you go, the thicker the line.
  • You can pinch off all your mistakes, so don’t be scared.
  • All designs need to begin at the bottom and move upward, obviously. It might be easier to grab a real item and place it in front of you. We had a real lantern to look at when attempting to sculpt a lantern.
  • When turning a corner, don’t turn too fast or it will be too thin and start sagging. Don’t turn too slow or the sculpture will stick to the nozzle. I used an empty nozzle on the table to cut the nozzle away from the sculpture. Then wipe the nozzle off with a baby wipe or wet paper towel to make sure it is not sticky so that you can continue.
  • I noticed my kids occasionally wiped off the pen on the card stock paper instead of using a wipe. I think the wipe is more effective because all of the stickiness is removed.


Make a Tree with an AtmosFlare 3D Pen

To make a tree, begin with a brown tree trunk. Starting at the bottom, make lines upward until you have the desired thickness for your tree trunk. Branch off around the middle of the tree to add interest. Then make smaller and smaller branches until it looks like a spectacular winter tree.

Switch to a green cartridge. Now make green leaf blobs on the branches. As soon as it’s filled out, you are finished with your tree. (Watch how my son sculpts a tree in the video above.)


Make a Crown with an AtmosFlare 3D Pen

To make a crown, start with a simple head band. Make your first small arch in the center of the headband. The easiest way to make an arch is to do a vertical line, another vertical line, and then join the two together at the top. Whenever I made an arch in one swoop, it didn’t look as good as the ones I made with two vertical lines first before the horizontal line.

Make these loops all the way along the front of the head band. Make three taller loops on the front at the top. Grab some purple ink and make a rose in the front center. Grab the yellow ink and make dots along the bottom to look like jewels. Now your crown is finished.

Here is a crown my 10-year-old daughter made. It has an insect theme:

Rachels-3D-crownShe wanted me to make her a beautiful princess crown, so I made her the loopy one to make her happy. The 3D pen box says Ages 14+, but my 10-year-old daughter got better at it when she made this flower:


One of my sons created this spaceship. I thought it looked cool.


Our experience with the 3D pen was super fun. If you have extra ink cartridges from the very beginning, you can play with it for a while before making an actual sculpture.

AtmosFlare 3D Pen Giveaway

Enter below to win a free 3D pen from AtmosFlare. If you would like to see other sculptures to get inspiration, follow AtmosFlare on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. And if you don’t win the contest, you can always buy the reasonably-priced pen here. You can also get the pen at Toys “R” Us and Best Buy.