Cat Crimes: A Timberdoodle Review

One of my favorite hobbies when I was a teen and into my 20s was doing logic puzzles.  I got really good at them, and I scored high on my logic GRE portion, which I attribute directly to all the time doing logic puzzles.

While I wanted my kids to enjoy logic puzzles, they had trouble, in part because when you do logic puzzles, you have to visualize it in your mind or use a chart, which can be tough for younger kids.  However, Cat Crimes is hands-on, so children learn to do logic puzzles in a more natural way, which is perfect for kinesthetic learners like mine.

About Cat Crimes

Cat Crimes, which is featured as part of Timberdoodle’s 5th grade curriculum, features 40 “crimes” and six cats who may be guilty of each crime.

There are four increasingly difficult levels of this game–beginner, intermediate, advanced, and expert; each level has 10 scenarios or different cards with crimes to solve.

Each cat is given a full description in the Cat Crimes Instruction Manual, which includes his or her primary identifying traits, for instance, Mr. Mittens has white paws and a bell on his collar.

This game can be played alone, and my 10 year old daughter often did this by herself.  However, we also had fun playing it together and solving the crimes through teamwork.

What We Thought About Cat Crimes

What can I say?  We loved this game!  I often found my daughter had pulled it out and was quietly working on it.  While this game is fun, I also love that it’s educational and that she’s developing logic skills while having fun.

We liked that it had multiple levels, so you can begin with the easiest level, and as you become more skilled, you can move up to the next level.  My daughter completed most of the beginner cards herself, and we worked on the intermediate cards together.  One intermediate scenario took us about 20 minutes to figure out, but then one advanced scenario only took us 10 minutes, so you just never know how long the game will be.

We also appreciated that the game pieces are thick and sturdy; they won’t break easily like other, more cheaply made games.

The only drawback to this game is that on the back of every game card/scenario is the answer, so children can easily sneak a peek, or, you could accidentally see the answer if the card flips.  I would have loved it if the answers were in a different location, though I can see why it’s convenient to put the answers on the back.  I did appreciate that the answers are represented visually.

If you’re looking for a present for your child or an educational game, I highly recommend Cat Crimes.

Note:  I received this game in exchange for my honest review.  No other compensation was given.  All opinions are my own.

Homeschool Crew Review – Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women

My daughter is getting to the age where she’s starting to feel more peer pressure and starting to discover how she feels about the world.  She’s forming her own opinions, and I love to see glimpses of the strong woman I hope she’ll be.  I was excited recently to receive Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women from Zondervan, because it’s a perfect book to encourage both Biblical reflection and positive self-worth.

Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women

About Beloved

The book has a light pink cover and darker pink decorative spine.  It has a lovely image of flowers on the front, and there is a red ribbon bookmark.  Each page has a short Bible verse, an encouraging passage about that verse, and a few lines if the reader would like to journal or reflect on the passage herself.  In addition, each page is not marked by calendar dates, but in numerical order, so you can start this devotional at any time of the year.

The devotional has a mix between focusing on certain Biblical passages in-depth and looking at short passages.  For example, starting on Day 104 and going through the next five days, the devotional focuses on Numbers 27:1-10 when Zelophehad’s daughters ask Moses if they may inherit their deceased father’s land rather than their male relatives.  In those six days of the devotional, the text after the Bible verses encourages a number of behaviors:

  • Learn to listen to other’s concerns without being judgmental or dismissive,
  • Have courage to speak up for what’s right, even when we’re not the most powerful person in the room,
  • Ask for what is right and fair (such as a raise at work or a new privilege from your parents),
  • Be confident to ask God for what you need,
  • Realize that God takes care of our physical, spiritual, and emotional needs.

The devotional also looks at individual Bible verses day by day that aren’t connected to other Bible verses.  For instance, on Day 252, the passage is Isaiah 42:1-4, and the text that follows encourages girls to never give up, even though Life can take a toil on a person and leave us feeling bruised and battered.  No matter what, Jesus is there, cradling us.  We may be bruised, but we’re not broken.  Considering all of the heartache young people can go through, I think this is great advice.  It’s also a great reminder for adults.

How We Used Beloved

I read a lot of this myself.  This devotional is intended for girls ages 13 to 18, so at just turned 10, PB & J Girl is a little young for this.  However, we did read some passages together and discussed the meaning.

I found that this fit quite nicely into my morning worship routine.  I said my prayers, read a bit from the Bible, and then read my daily passage from Beloved.  Even though this book is clearly targeting young women, I, a middle-aged woman, still got quite a bit from it.

I think Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women would make a lovely birthday or Christmas gift for a teenager such as a niece, daughter, babysitter, etc.

Keep up with Zondervan via social media:


Keep up with Zondervan via social media:


I was one of 60 people to review this book.  To read more reviews, click on the link below:

Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women {Zondervan Review}
Crew Disclaimer

NIV Adventure Bible Polar Expedition: A Review and Giveaway

The Adventure Bible is a popular one with over 9 million sold.  Now, just in time for Christmas giving, there is a new Adventure Bible theme, The NIV Adventure Bible: Polar Exploration Edition.

About The NIV Adventure Bible: Polar Exploration Edition

Can I just say, although it sounds weird to me to say, this Bible is sooooo cute!  Almost each page has at least one color insert, usually in a frosty blue with an Arctic landscape or polar bears or penguins.  The Bible has many different features:

Life in Bible Times

Articles and illustrations that describe what life was like in ancient days.  For instance, in Zechariah, there is a Life in Bible Times section that states that there are many springs in Northern Israel, and when the Bible uses the word “fountain” it’s usually means a spring.

Words to Treasure

Highlights great verses to memorize.

Did You Know?

Interesting facts that help you understand God’s Word and the life of faith.

People in Bible Times

Articles offer close-up looks at amazing people of the Bible

Live It!

Hands-on activities to help you apply biblical truths in your life

One of my favorite features is the twenty thicker page inserts that include things such as “The Life of Jesus Christ” along with the Bible passage where you can find every life event, Bible verses to read when you feel sad, worried, guilty, etc., and famous old Testament profits, to name a few.

If you’re looking to get your child a more engaging Bible, this may be the one.

The Giveaway

One lucky winner will receive one NIV Adventure Bible: Polar Exploration Edition!  Even better, ZonderKidz plans to send these out early enough to reach the winner before Christmas!!

To enter the giveaway, simply state who you would like to win this for.

For an additional entry, please follow Mom’s Plans on Instagram and then leave a comment here that you did so.

This giveaway, which is open to U.S. residents 18 and older, will end on November 27th at 11:59 p.m. MST.  The winner will be chosen via

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Homeschool Crew Review: Kidzaw Master Kitz The Starry Night

PB & J Girl loves artistic endeavors, so when I learned of Master Kitz The Starry Night, I knew she’d love it.  This project is just one of many designed by; we liked this one so much, we hope to try more Master Kitz in the future!

About Kidzaw

Kidzaw was created five years ago by Jane Chadesh as a grassroots effort in Oak Park, Illinois.  It has since grown to a business that is now selling products on Amazon across the country.

Currently there are eight kits in their Master Kitz line:

  • Flower Myth,
  • Black Lines,
  • The Starry Night,
  • The Tree of Life,
  • Water Lilies,
  • Sunflowers,
  • The Great Wave, and
  • The Red Studio

In addition, Kidzaw also has a sculpture line, MasterSculpz, which currently has two products:

  • Let’s Explore Cubism!
  • Let’s Explore Surrealism!

About Master Kitz The Starry Night

We ordered our kit from Amazon for $22.49.  I have a Prime subscription, so the kit came in two days.  It came in a sturdy, decorative box with a handle, so there was no need for additional packaging material.

Inside were two pieces of art paper, a template, paint, two rollers, and directions.

Also included in the booklet that included the directions was a brief biography of Van Gogh, which I appreciated.

Our Thoughts on Master Kitz The Starry Night

PB & J Girl (10 y.o.) loved this kit!  We followed the steps, and her project took two days to complete because we stopped in between steps for the paint to dry.


Overall, the kit gave her everything she needed to make a cute project, but she wasn’t satisfied, so she added in her own embellishments by using some of our art supplies.

I have to say, when she added her own touches, she really brought the project to another level.  I loved her finished work and would love to get her another kit.

This kit does an excellent job giving children the chance to recreate a famous work.  The kit provides enough guidance that success is assured, but there is still room for a child to be creative and make the painting their own.

There were only two things we’d like to see improved.

The paper and template come rolled up, and it can be hard to get the paper and template to lay flat.  The directions suggested that we roll our roller over the paper and template to get them to flatten, and we did that, but we didn’t see much improvement.  We could have left it for a few days with books piled on top to flatten them, but PB & J Girl was too excited to get started with her project!

Second, PB & J Girl was able to embellish her picture with art supplies that we have around the house, but if someone didn’t have a lot of art supplies at home, that might be difficult.  I’d like to see a few more different paint colors included.

Final Thoughts

This kit is an excellent way to get kids excited about art, to help them learn more about famous artists, and to make famous works more accessible.  These kits would make excellent birthday or holiday presents.

Keep up with Kidzaw via social media:


I was one of 50 people to review Master Kitz The Starry Night.  To read more reviews, click on the link below:

Master Kitz The Starry Night { Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Homeschool Crew Review: Balancing Diapers and Deadlines

I have been working from home since my youngest was just a baby–eight years now.  I’ve always had trouble achieving balance; in the early years, I feel like I devoted too much time to my work, and in these latter years, I’ve had to reduce my workload as my kids needed me more.  Some days I think it would be easier to just give up my freelance work, but I enjoy it, so I want to find a way to do both jobs well–freelance writer and virtual assistant and homeschool mom to three kids with unique needs.

This post contains affiliate links.

I was eager to read Balancing Diapers and Deadlines, a product from Lisa Tanner Writing, to see if it could help me create more balance in my life and give me work at home mom productivity tips.

Balancing Diapers and Deadlines

About Lisa Tanner Writing

The Lisa Tanner Writing website offers a variety of items–a blog designed just for busy moms juggling kids and work, her products that are available, and her freelance service packages.  I found her blog quite useful and have added it to my regular list of blogs that I read.

About Balancing Diapers and Deadlines

Balancing Diapers and Deadlines, despite the name, is not just for moms of small children.  This course applies to work at home moms with kids of any age.  In addition, it can apply whether you have one kid or eight, like Lisa Tanner.

The course has eight units:

Each lesson within a unit is fairly short and should take you no more than five minutes to read through, so you can read through this course fairly quickly.  However, the point isn’t to just read through it, but to take actionable steps.

Implementing Lisa’s suggestions might take several months.  After all, Lisa has been perfecting these techniques since 2013!

In this course, you’ll learn how to motivate and teach the kids to help out more around the house so you can get your freelance work done, how to implement a year long menu plan(!), how to involve the whole family in your growing business, how to set boundaries, and so many more things.

My Thoughts about Balancing Diapers and Deadlines

This course is an excellent primer for anyone who is just starting her freelance journey.  However, it’s also a practical guide for those who have big families or just feel like they want more order in their lives, whether or not they work from home.

As you know, I’m big on meal planning, but Lisa’s strategy of menu planning for a year kind of blows my mind!  In the course, she went into detail through several lessons about how to do this, but my mind is still trying to imagine this.  I can see where rotating the same meals over the course of a year can help reduce the grocery bill, time spent shopping, and time spent cooking, but I wonder if it would get boring to eat the same 30 meals all year long?  Still, she’s inspired me to see if I can menu plan for a month.  That would be a good baby step, and this program is all about changing and improving your and your family’s lives small step by small step.

I loved her advice throughout on how to help involve your family in your business so that they don’t see your work as something taking you away from them, but as something you’re doing for the family and that they’re helping you do successfully.  I have started implementing those strategies, and while it’s challenging, I think the payoff will be worthwhile in the end.

While I loved the course, I would have liked to have seen more embellishment in the design.  I’m a huge video fan, so I would have loved to have seen Lisa on video sharing a lesson or two.  I’d also like to see some graphics or pictures throughout.  However, this is a minor suggestion; overall, I loved the content and found it valuable.

Lisa Tanner Writing
Keep up with Lisa Tanner Writing via social media:


I was one of 75 people to read Balancing Diapers and Deadlines. To read more reviews, click on the link below:

Balancing Diapers and Deadlines {Lisa Tanner Writing Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer