Archive for Family


Day 102

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“Unto Thee, O Lord. . .”


I woke up with this song, from Psalm 25on my mind this morning,


 Unto Thee, O Lord, by Maranatha! Singers


Blessed Heavenly Father, I am grateful that You are good and upright.  I am thankful that all Your paths are mercy and truth.  Forgive my sins, Lord, and help me to keep short accounts with You.  Let me never be ashamed of You, or who I am, in You.  I have nothing to fear, because You are with me.  Let not my enemies triumph over me — Whether real or imagined, physical or mental, foreign or domestic. My trust is in You, Almighty God.  Keep my soul, and deliver me.  Deliver our nation, Lord.  Deliver and restore us to righteousness, for Your Namesake. Blessed be Your name!  In Jesus’ name, I pray. . . Amen.




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Art Ditto by Birdcage Press ~ A TOS Review

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It never ceases to amaze me what one creative, motivated momma can accomplish when she has three young children, and wants to teach them that learning is fun!   In this case, the woman is Wenda O’Reilly.  Her first game was published by Birdcage Press in 2000.  There are now more than 30 award-winning games available!



“Classic card games with an educational twist.”

I recently had the opportunity to review Art DittoIt is a memory game, but it is so much more, too!


There are 48, 2 1/2″ x 2 1/2″, high-gloss, heavy-duty tiles of famous museum-quality paintings.  The paintings depict birds, boats, cats, flowers, horses; and music.  They are gorgeous!  There are also 8, 5″ x 10″ cards that can be used for collecting art sets.  Designed for ages 4+, it is a wonderful game for family play with multiple ages.  You’ll find it on the website for $24.95, and possibly in your local art museum’s gift shop.

Because Art Ditto is a memory game, it promotes visual processing, matching, memory, taking turns; and sharing for young children.  The pictures are vibrant, and hold a child’s attention.  This game is not just for wee ones, though.  The cards list the subject of the painting, the artist; and the name of the painting and the date.  The text is written in four languages!  English, French, Spanish; and German.  (I do wish there was a pronunciation guide included, because it took me some time to look up the proper pronunciations so I could read them aloud.)  This game could easily be used, with older students, as a supplement to their art studies, history; and language.

I played it with a 4 year old.  Just me and my granddaughter.  She loved the art!  We spent at least 15 minutes just enjoying the paintings, and discussing what we saw in them.  48 cards seemed a bit overwhelming for a memory game, though, and it took us forever to match them; so after the first game, we chose themes ahead of time.  One time we chose the tiles with flowers and tiles with the color green on them, another time we chose tiles that had something “living” on them, and so on.  Each new game, we mixed up the set of tiles and played with the smaller set, making it quicker and a little more enjoyable for her age.  It’s a game that can easily grow with her, and future grandchildren.

My Crew mates reviewed several of the products that are available at Birdcage Press, and if you click the banner below and follow the link you’ll find them there.






Disclaimer*   I received the game, Art Ditto, in exchange for my honest review as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  I receive no other compensation for my reviews on this blog.  The opinions expressed are my own.




Thank you for your comments.  I enjoy hearing from you!


Contents of this blog are copyrighted;  they are the property of Knee Deep In Grace and may not be used without written permission.




A Top Ten List – What I Like To Do

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Puddle Jumping - KneeDeep

Here’s a little something about me.

A list of ten things I like to do, in no particular order:


  • Write.  That’s why I’m here on this page.  I like to write stories, poems, songs; and random blog posts!  Writing down characters, plots, and lyrics; that often weave their way through my brain, helps me focus my thoughts and make room for other things.
  • Draw.  I have been doing this for as long as I can remember.  Holding a pencil in my hand feels as natural as breathing.  I like drawing from my imagination — abstract ideas and cartoons; and I like drawing things that I see around me — people, landscapes, and still life.
  • Paint.  Watercolor is one of my favorite mediums.  I find it relaxing and challenging at the same time.  I was a color-inside-the-lines kind of kid, and painting with watercolors coaxes me outside of the box; and sort of forces me to go with the flow.


Watercolor by S.E.Koshiol

  • Read.  I can’t think of a genre I don’t like.  I like both fiction and non-fiction — historical, fantasy, Christian romance, mystery and thriller, short stories; and poetry.  I also like reading The Bible.  I read nearly anytime and anywhere I can!  I’m afraid I may never be able to express the endless happiness that reading gives me.
  • Spend time with my family.  I couldn’t ask for better people in my life.  My family is so much fun!  Whether we are on a Sunday drive, hiking, looking for adventure; or just hanging out, talking, laughing, and playing games — we enjoy each others company.
  • Camp.  This is another great family activity!  We generally pitch tents and sleep on the ground in sleeping bags.  We’ve camped in the summer heat and the frozen cold of a spring day that was still too close to winter’s breath.  I like the great outdoors, camp fires and s’mores, lying under the stars at night; and soaking up every wonder of God’s creation.
  • Sing.  I like to sing, but I don’t like to perform.  I like to sing spontaneously, around the house and in the car.  I like the sound of blending my voice with my mom’s and dad’s, and/or sibling’s voices, whether we’re praising God; or goofing off with our favorite tunes. 


As I read over this list, seeing my favorite likes in one place, I realize how thankful I am that God has allowed me to do so many things.  My family has never had a lot of money, but clearly The Lord has blessed me abundantly.

I’d love to hear what you like to do.  If you share your list in the comments below,  I’ll be sure to read them!  Thanks.



Sarah E.


*Contents of this blog are copyrighted; they are the property of Knee Deep In Grace, and may not be used without permission.



How Does Your Garden Grow?

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It’s Spring! 

What are you planting this year? 

What are you cultivating in your heart and mind;

and in the hearts and minds of your children?


Great minds - Eleanor Roosevelt




“Keep clear of personalities in conversation.

Talk of things, objects, thoughts.

The smallest minds occupy themselves with persons.

Do not needlessly report ill of others.

As far as possible, dwell on the good side of human beings.

There are family boards where a constant process of depreciating,

assigning motives, and cutting up character, goes forward.

They are not pleasant places.

One who is healthy does not wish to dine at a dissecting table.

There is evil enough in man, God knows.

But it is not the mission of every young man and woman to detail and report it all.

Keep the atmosphere as pure as possible,

and fragrant with gentleness and charity.”

– John Hall, Pastor (1829-1898)




“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ,

set your hearts on things above,

where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

Colossians 3:1-2




“A house is no home unless it contain food and fire

for the mind as well as for the body.”

– Margaret Fulle




May we sow seeds of heirloom quality.

[An heirloom seed is seed from a plant

that has been passed from one generation to another,

carefully grown and saved

because it is considered valuable.]

May we grow strong and sure,

seeing a heritage of fine harvests.





*Contents of this blog are copyrighted; they are the property of Knee Deep In Grace, and may not be used without permission.



Categories : Family, Home, Random
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40 Days Without TV

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Today is the first of 40 days without TV in my house.  It’s been years since we’ve not had TV.  I used to be able to say that  it had been years since we watched TV.  At one point, we had been without TV, by choice, for more years than we had had one.  We decided to get Basic Cable connected to keep up with the Presidential election, for Government & Economics class, at the beginning of 2008; and we’ve had it since then.  Ugh!  It’s not that our program choices are bad, poor, or even questionable, usually.  It just seems to be a robber of time, imagination, and interaction.

Presently, this is an experiment.  We are observing each other and asking the questions of ourselves, “How is my life affected, negatively or positively, without TV?” and “What changes do I see, in myself or others?”  I’ve noticed a few bad habits that have taken up residence over the years, but I have every expectation that they’ll be so malnourished during this time that they’ll slip away into non-existence.  “May I finish this show while I’m eating? It’s educational.”  “Instead of a story tonight, maybe we could watch a short movie?”  “I started watching this with everyone and it’ll be over in half an hour, do I have to go to bed on time?”  “It’s too cold, too wet or too hot; and it takes too much energy to be outside.  I’d rather watch TV for a few minutes.”  I want to re-establish good habits, and the desire for them.

Not nearly enough reading, drawing, and creativity has been going on around here lately.  My aim is to bring attention, once again, to what we’re missing when we spend more time watching how something is made, instead of making something ourselves; or watching someone else sing, praise, pray, or dig into The Word, instead of purposefully hiding God’s Word in our own heart.  We watch someone prepare a gourmet meal on The Cooking Channel, but end up with take-out pizza because we were sitting, watching TV instead of grocery shopping.  Ugh!  It’s my intention to see this thief eradicated, and balance restored.  I want my family engaged in living their own life, instead of watching others live theirs.  I want to re-establish good habits, and the desire for them.



How do you maintain balance in your home?  I’ll let you know how this works for us.



*Contents of this blog are copyrighted; they are the property of Knee Deep In Grace, and may not be used without permission.


Categories : Changes, Family, Home
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A Vocal Coach

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I’m not a great singer, but I’ve always liked singing.  Several of my children sing in church and with a small chorus, but they’ve never really had any vocal teaching.  I sang in the choir and a girl’s ensemble when I was in school and there are things I learned that I still use today.  I’ve taught the little I know to my children but I’ve always wanted them to have more instruction.

Vocal Coach Singer is the most complete instructional singing system available with the equivalent of over $2,000 worth of personal coaching time. Whether you are a beginner or a professional, Vocal Coach Singer teaches and builds upon the fundamentals essential to an accomplished singing voice. From posture to performance our tested and proven techniques will help you deliver your songs with consistency and confidence!”  Browsing The Vocal Coach website, I don’t have to be a mathematician to know that “$2,000 worth of personal coaching time,” for every Junior High, High School student; and adult in my house, for $99.99 – MP3 format or $119.99 for 12 CD’s and Instructional Guidebook  could be an outstanding value if it is what it says it is and does what it says it does.

Vocal Coach Singer includes Training CD’s, Workout CD’s and a CD of printable lead sheets for all of the vocal exercises and printable individual singer’s journal pages; plus an Instructional Guidebook.




My girls have been using this interactive program for several weeks.  We set aside an hour or two, two to three times a week, for music class.  Using the Training CD’s, they have learned to breathe, how the voice works, proper posture, tone; and pronunciation.  They’ve discussed song choice, facial expression, hand gestures and more in the deliverance of an excellent performance.   “Learning to sing well is a process,” says Chris & Carole Beatty, the founders of The Vocal Coach.  They have taught and coached thousands of singers over the past 40 years.

Whether you are singing or speaking to an audience you’ll find that a good warm-up and cool down of your voice is essential to your delivery.  Music Class begins with the daily Work-out CD’s, teaching and practicing the essentials.  They also use the printable Work-out Journal pages to record their vocal journey.  The Beatty’s believe this makes practice “more systematic and productive.”

The Instructional Guidebook is a full-size, 9 page booklet with clear information and important principles designed to remind and reinforce the material presented in Vocal Coach Singer.

Chris & Carole Beatty make themselves available for questions and assistance with any of their coaching products, through their website.  You can contact customer or call 615-280-0554.

I have been amazed to see my girls implement what they’re learning by their own initiative.  Their posture has improved overall, not just while singing.  They enjoy the program and the scientific facts they learn throughout the lessons.  They’ve found the format easy to follow and interesting.  They’ve said, “The Beatty’s are creative in their approach, and that encourages me to want to do my next lesson.”

So, I can say The Vocal Coach, Vocal Coach Singer is what it says it is and it does what it says it does.  It is well worth the investment toward creating better singers and more confident speakers.  As always, you can read other reviews by my Crew mates when you click on the banner below.






Disclaimer*   I received a physical copy of Vocal Coach Singer in exchange for my honest review as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  I receive no other compensation for my reviews on this blog.  The opinions expressed are my own.


Thank you for your comments.


Contents of this blog are copyrighted;  they are the property of Knee Deep In Grace and may not be used without written permission.


Categories : Family
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What Is Virtue?

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Virtue is behavior showing high moral standards.  It is more than chastity or the abstention of a pre-marital sexual relationship.  It is choosing to be set apart, as Scripture calls it, from the things of this world.  Choosing to be unaquainted with evil, not just in our choices of friends or relationships; but in our choices of movies, books, music etc.  Virtue is having purity in conduct and intention.

As a mother to many children of both genders I can tell you that it is still desirable and possible to raise virtuous children.  The keyword in the sentence is raise, because I can just as assuredly tell you that we are not born to virtue.

Stacy McDonald has written a book, Raising Maidens of Virtue, to aide mothers and daughters on their journey to womanhood.  It is published by Grace & Truth Books in a lovely hardcover binding, for ages 8-15.  It is more of an intimate conversation than a Bible Study, but the results of guidance are the same.  Stacy shares the truth of God’s intention toward modesty, real beauty, guarding the tongue, homemaking, contentment and more, through stories, illustrations, and memory-making projects; with a sensitive heart-to-heart tone.  She leads us through the hard questions and the uncomfortable places never straying from Scripture.



I wish I had had this book years ago and I have no doubt I will use it as my younger girls continue to grow.  It’s my opinion that every Christian household with daughters would benefit from reading this book.  It is a treasure and worth more than the $18.50 that it costs to purchase it.

My Crew mates recently had the opportunity to review several books published by Grace & Truth Books and you can read their opinions when you click the banner below and follow the link.





Disclaimer*   I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  I receive no other compensation for my reviews on this blog.  The opinions expressed are my own.


Thank you for your comments.


Contents of this blog are copyrighted;  they are the property of Knee Deep In Grace and may not be used without written permission.


Categories : Family
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Day 5 ~ Rejoice with Me!

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I am thankful that no matter how things appear – God is still on The Throne!  


A couple of weeks ago our refrigerator stopped working properly.  Then, less than a week after that, our car started making a troubling sound – it needs a new transmission.  Oh, my!  Today, my husband’s old truck left him stranded on the road.  Presently it is dead!  Oh, oh, my!  Inevitably, there always seems to be some sort of shakin’-up going on around here; but not one of these incidents alone or even combined is bigger than our God.


Rejoice with Me, because He is faithful and I can toss the entire complicated, financially impossible burden on Him.

[1 Peter 5:6-7] Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time,casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you.”

Rejoice with Me, not in the hardships but in the knowledge that God will bring us through the hard areas and the difficult times.

[James 1:2-4] “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Rejoice with Me!  God IS sovereign!

He is The Almighty, The Possessor of all power in Heaven and earth.  His counsels cannot be defeated nor His purposes thwarted.  Nothing happens without His permission!  

“…He is the blessed and only Sovereign, The King of kings, and The Lord of lords,” [1 Timothy 6:15]





#Thanksgiving  #Blessings  #SovereignGod


*Contents and photographs of this blog are copyrighted, they are the property of Knee Deep In Grace and may not be used without written permission.


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Life Is A Battle

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“Finally, be strong in The Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the Belt of Truth buckled around your waist, with the Breastplate of Righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of Peace. In addition to all this, take up the Shield of Faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the Helmet of Salvation and the Sword of the Spirit, which is The Word of God.”

~Ephesians 6:10-17

There is wisdom in being prepared for battle – having the proper protection and weapons in good working order, having no doubt who you’re fighting for and why you’re fighting; being familiar with the lay of the land and the tactics of your enemy.  Reconnaissance is defined as an exploratory military survey of enemy territory.  It has its origins in the Old French word, reconoistre – meaning to recognize.  This is where we get the shortened word recon.

A successful recon mission gives us strategic intelligence that can be compiled and used against the enemy.  As Christians, our enemy is the devil; and God’s Word enlightens us to his ways and deeds.  The Bible is our own Strategic Intelligence Manual from The Creator of the Universe.  It is God’s revealing of The Truth to us.

Recon is a high school Bible Curriculum, developed by Bill Perry.  It is specifically designed for grades 11 – 12 as they prep for college, but can be adapted to include 10th graders; those already attending college and adults.  Its purpose is to help us, as parents and teachers, to spiritually equip our children/students to be victorious in battle – “the internal battle for integrity, Godliness, humility and obedience [Micah 6:8, Romans 7:15]; and the external struggle for The Gospel to be heard and believed among the nations [Ephesians 4:15, John 14:6];” to help them bridge the gap between and transition from high school to college and beyond without wavering in their faith.  Military images, graphics and terminology are used to help maintain the seriousness, focus and discipline necessary to successfully complete the mandate of Jesus Christ.



This Bible Curriculum “is different because (1) college preparation is the whole framework for this curriculum and (2) it is reinforced with a national web-based network.”  It is “college ministry before college.”  I think the potential is extreme!  My husband has led me and our children, ages 22, 20, 18, 16, and 14, through this course for the past several weeks.  Using the oversize, coil-bound 300-plus page Recon Teacher’s Manual and the Recon Spiritual Training Manual for Students Workbook, we are working our way through 72 intense spiritual lessons of Recon Boot Camp.  The military lingo has bogged us down on occasion, but the more we’re trained to recognize the real warfare as described in Ephesians 6 the more we desire to be like-minded and fully prepared.  To maintain optimum focus it is recommended that four lessons, and no less than two lessons, be covered weekly.  We’ve been able to maintain three days a week even around full and varied schedules.

Generally, in our homeschool I’m the teacher.  As I browsed the Recon website though, I hoped my husband would consider teaching the curriculum and let me view it from the student’s perspective.  He chose to, but it is stretching him out of his area of comfort; because he doesn’t feel he’s a natural teacher.  He’s not used to following a Teacher’s Manual, but it and the general set-up has been easy enough for him to follow.  He’s growing and so are we as we sit under his leadership.  Recon is written for the Christian school venue, a church-based youth group, or homeschool use and it offers the flexibility that is needed for any of these.

The idea is not only to train this generation for the future, but to give them a way to connect and support one another through the battle.  Mentors and students form small cell groups that continue teaching, training, growth, encouragement; and outreach.  Connections can be made through the website.

The Recon Teacher’s Manual is $21.95, the Recon Student Workbook is $12.99, but the benefits of this curriculum may be priceless.  Bill Perry says, “It is our prayer that Recon will be a powerful tool in the hands of God to multiply the number of those that will appear around His throne at the end of time as described in Revelation 5:9-10.”

Please, take a few minutes to follow the links I’ve provided throughout this post and browse the website.  My Crew mates have written reviews of this curriculum as well and you can read them when you click the banner below.



Do not be discouraged!  The Battle Belongs to The Lord and He will be victorious!




Disclaimer*   I received a copy of this curriculum in exchange for my honest review as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  I receive no other compensation for my reviews on this blog.  The opinions expressed are my own.


Thank you for your comments.


Contents of this blog are copyrighted;  they are the property of Knee Deep In Grace and may not be used without written permission.



Categories : Family
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Cultivate a Love of Reading

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No doubt my often-mentioned-love-of-reading came from my mother.  It is one of the most important things I’ve wanted to pass on to my own children.  I have been mostly successful, but not wholly.  I am still searching for that elusive author or subject that finally holds the attention of a couple of my older readers.  I believe the earlier you’re able to immerse your child in the world of reading the more likely it is that they’ll embrace it for a lifetime.  No guarantees though, because I do have a reluctant reader and he was raised with read-alouds and access to books just like his siblings.  It really is true that every child is different.  Comparatively, my youngest daughter is one of the easy ones.  She learns quickly, her retention is good and she has a desire to read.  It will be interesting to see what genre she enjoys most as she gets older.

One of my mother’s favorite authors, and therefore one of mine, was Ray Bradbury.  He was a leading science fiction writer and author of more than 500 works.  I distinctly remember reading The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, and Fahrenheit 451.  Mr. Bradbury is quoted as saying, “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture.  Just get people to stop reading them.”  Books can connect us to the history of our past and the possibilities of our future.



I was really excited when I saw this, because my mother used to tell me basically the same thing and I’ve said it to my children hundreds of times over the years!  I copied this from Samson’s Classroomfacebook page.   They get it, and they want their young readers to get it, too!  Reading opens doors and windows, hearts and minds; and worlds of wonder.  Samson’s Classroom wants to give your child the key to unlock it all.



Samson’s Classroom is a web-based educational software program, focusing on Spelling, Sight Words and Reading Comprehension. It is out of the ordinary though, because “it is an umbrella product that is really many products rolled into one. The purchase of any product under that umbrella automatically gives you access to every other product. Even better, new product releases and upgrades are added to your package at no additional cost.”  Presently, you’ll find:  Spelling with Samson, Read with Samson, and Sight Words with Samson, designed for grades K – 5.

Sight Words with Samson starts at the beginning of reading and teaches spelling as the child advances through the grade levels, mastering 224 words along the way.  So often in the past, my children learned to read but were poor spellers; so I especially appreciate this aspect of the program.  Spelling with Samson draws from a vault of over 5,000 words for student games and drills.  The parent/teacher can also organize/create personal spelling lists.  Read with Samson concentrates on reading comprehension.  Students are tested on the passages of text they read.  Thanks to a new instant feedback system the child has a second chance to get a correct answer, if they were incorrect the first time.  The correct answer is highlighted in the text, too.  I noticed that this encouraged my daughter that it was okay to refer back to what she had just read for better understanding.

Samson’s Classroom has great graphics!  It is interesting, motivating and engaging!  One of their motivational tools is the belts a student acquires as they build their Sight Word knowledge.  My daughter says, “My favorite thing about Samson’s Classroom is getting belts like the real-life TaeKwonDo belts.”  It’s motivation that works!  The student moves up the belt ladder and can eventually become a Sight Words with Samson Black Belt Master.  She also said, “I like the spelling.  They start me with easy words and sentences, review with me until I’m sure I really know the words.  It makes me feel smart and like I can read anything! After I spend time with Samson, I want to try to read bigger and harder books to see what I learned.”  Because of the Student Tracking feature, I can see the progress she’s making without having to stand over her every minute.

Samson’s Classroom is an affordable asset to our reading curriculum.  $30 for 1 student – home use, $50 for a family of 4 or $80 for a classroom subscription with up to 30 users.  Find out what my Crew mates think of this program when you click the banner below.



I hope you’ll take a few minutes to follow the links I’ve provided throughout this post and browse the website.  They have more information, a short video and free demo available, too.

Comments or Questions?

Contact –

call 518.356.0039



242 Union Street

Suite 2A

Schenectady, NY  12305


Disclaimer*   I received access to this program in exchange for my honest review as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  I receive no other compensation for my reviews on this blog.  The opinions expressed are my own.


Thank you for your comments.


Contents of this blog are copyrighted;  they are the property of Knee Deep In Grace and may not be used without written permission.



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