Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Who killed the Professor?

Was it Colonel Mustard, in the kitchen with the candlestick?

I have always loved the game Cluedo. As a child, the only time I got to play it was at my cousin's house, which meant once a year over the Christmas holidays. Alas, not everyone shared my great enthusiasm for the game either. Sigh.

If you like Cluedo, or the Murder Mystery dinners... or a good detective story, then you really need to consider heading over the Auckland Museum very soon.

Auckland Museum (a favourite hang-out spot) is currently running a FANTASTIC Exhibition called:
THE POISONERS. It is an interactive Murder Mystery and YOU have to solve it! You are the detective who needs to figure out who killed the amazing Professor Felix Splicer. There are four suspects. Professor Splicer's twin brother, Dr. Helix Splicer; Toxica Fay Tully, who was in love with the professor; Alain Sharky Cousteau, a marine biologist and Anastasia Nastie Van Abs who is a suspecter poacher.

The staff at the Museum did a FANTASTIC job at putting the Exhibition together.

You enter the exhibition at the crime scene and then visit each suspect room. Each room has clues which need to be found to finally figure out who killed the Professor and how.

Our family went to the Scene of the Crime yesterday and after two hours of searching through a myriad of clues, we finally discovered how the Professor was killed and by whom! SHOCKING to say the least!

It was an education and very enjoyable visit indeed.

I do encourage you to go and visit the exhibition if it is possible to do so.

Have fun.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday - the first day of Lent. If you are interested, you can sign up to receive Reflections on Lent for each of the 40 days. Just visit the link provided and sign up.

May this journey during Lent give us all a fresh perspective on our walk with God.



Friday, February 17, 2012

Psalms ~ Songs for the Seasons ~ Reflection 1

(If you know this picture is subject to copyright, please let me know so I can remove it)

Our church has several small groups who meet on a weekly basis during term time. Some of the groups spend each week discussing the previous Sunday's sermon. Every so often I have the privilege of writing these reflections for the group discussion.

We are starting a study on the Psalms on Sunday and I thought I'd share my thought here:

Psalms ~ Songs for the Seasons
“Thanksgiving and Praise”

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?” Ps 8:3 (NKJV)


The psalms conjure up powerful images of beauty, strong and deeply felt emotions, fortresses, grace and many other themes.

One-hundred-and-fifty Psalms made there way into the pages of the Bible. Real life struggles and fears are spelled out. Raw honesty laid bare. Your heart and spirit swell when you read these praises to God. They are there to encourage, uplift, and guide us and to testify to God’s goodness and His grace. It encourages us to praise Him because of who He is and what He’s done. These poetic songs beckon us to fall to our knees and confess our sins and rejoice in that we are forgiven.

The Psalms are divided into different types of Psalms, but today we focus on the Praise & Thanksgiving Psalms.

These Psalms focus on praising and thanking God for specific things done, or they focus on the confidence in Him that it will be done. It glorifies the Name of God, boasts of His greatness and praises His character and His mighty acts.

The Praise & Thanksgiving Psalms are the ‘mourning turned into dancing’; The ‘rain after the dry desert’ experiences. These Psalms praise God for the ‘Wow’ moments, which take our breath away. They express what we feel when we stand in awe of a God who created the universe; or the intense emotion when we come face to face with our sin and know we are forgiven.


1. What is your favourite Psalm? Why is this your favourite?
2. If you are comfortable with it, share a short story of something God did for which you are thankful and for which you can praise Him.


Ephesians 5:19-20 “19When you meet together, sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, as you praise the Lord with all your heart. 20Always use the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to thank God the Father for everything. (CEV)

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “16 Rejoice always, 17pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”. (NIV)

Psalm 34: 1-3 “1I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2My soul shall make its boast I the Lord; The humble shall hear of it and be glad. 3Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.” (NKJV)

The Bible continually calls us to thank God and praise Him. We allow ourselves to get side-tracked with being busy, self-focussed, stuck in our circumstances or chasing after our own desires and we don’t make time for praising and thanking Him, or sometimes we allow ourselves to ‘enjoy’ wallowing in self-pity.

Did you complain today? Or gossip? How about yesterday or the day before?

Take the next minute or so and think back over the last week.
Now make a mental list - Two columns
Column one: Times I thanked or praised God privately or publicly (even when I did not FEEL like it);
Column two: Times I was ungrateful, complained or overlooked (took for granted) a God given blessing.

How do these columns compare?

Share with the group what you potentially gain by NOT giving thanks.
What happens during those times when you feel down or otherwise negative and still CHOOSE to praise God?

Psalm 34:17-19 “17 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. 18 The LORD is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. 19 The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all;”


This week, focus on choosing to thank and praise God every time you feel down, upset, worried, scared, annoyed, angry etc. and make a mental note (or even write it down for the next time we meet) of how you feel after.
Write your own Psalm of thanksgiving and praise to God – maybe share it with the group next time we meet.


Instead of praying, let each member read a psalm of praise or thanksgiving as a prayer.

What are your thoughts?


Saturday, February 11, 2012

TOS Review - Math Rider, the Intelligent Math Facts Game!

Math Facts

The mention of these two words can cause fits of laughter, screaming, uncontrollable sobbing, a rolling of the eyes or deep and anxious sighs amongst many other responses in any given home....

Math - Like it or loath it, we all have to at least know the basics of it. Without a solid grasp of the four math operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) there is no way that you are going to get very far. 

As part of the TOS Review Crew I received a free trial of an 'Intelligent Math Facts Game' called MathRider in exchange for my honest opinion about this product. I did not receive any other compensation.

Photobucket  is an 'Intelligent Math Facts Game' for 6-12 year olds, that might be the answer if you experience any of the above responses to the words: Math Facts

The program was created by a dad who's kids struggled with Math! How completely amazing is it to be able to use a product, created by someone who really understands. And it works.

But what is an 'Intelligent' game? Well, I can't say it better than the creator of MATH RIDER, so here it is 'from the horse's mouth':  

"Ride your horse on noble quests through the magical MathLands. MathRider combines fun math game play with a highly sophisticated question engine that adapts to your child. The game propels your child to mastery of all four math operations using numbers 0 to 12 in record time."

Step 1 is to set up your player. The game supports multiple players, each with their own login. 

This is your opening screen.

On this screen you can choose to view your statistics, practice math facts or do a quest. During the practice runs you can choose multiple operations and how many questions the child will get. So you can choose to practice addition and subtraction (or multiplication and division or all four) in the same run, choosing any number between 5 and 30 questions to answer. The practice runs do not affect the statistics of the actual Quests.

Choosing your practice runs
After your child has practiced it is time for the Quest! Your mission should you choose to accept it is to ....

... find a flower (easy) to eventually rescuing the princess (master level). 

All four operations have four quests moving from easy to master level. During the quests the child will ride on 'Shadow' through different lands with great backdrops. As they ride the math fact will appear under each pole. The child types in the answer and hit the enter key. If the answer is correct the horse will jump over the pole (made of flowers in the first quest). If the answer is incorrect or not entered at all, 'Shadow' will stop and the equation will be spoken out and appear on the screen. This way your child will hear and see the math equation. The facts the child struggles with will be repeated throughout the quest. The program tracks your child's progress in different ways. The statistics screen will point out which facts are mastered and which needs more practice. During game play the child's typing speed is taken into account. If the child answers slowly, 'Shadow' will slow down. If your child answers quickly and accurately, 'Shadow' speeds up. 

'Shadow' by the firs pole.

At the end of the race a bar graph appears which indicates how well the child (or parent) did. The graph is colour coded.

Graphs at end of run.

Clicking on a bar shows you the math fact.

At the end of each quest the child is given a reward. The rewards are different for all the quests and is animated. 
My first reward: The addition flag is raised!
What did we think of the program?

I was very excited about this as my daughter loves horses and we are focussing on getting math facts mastered. 

The kids enjoyed the program. My daughter responds less well to timed math quizes so it took a bit of encouraging to keep her going at first, but the rewards at the end of the quests definitely helped with that. Having the visual cues as to how they progress also made a big difference in building up their confidence and encouraging them to continue. 

In hindsight, I would probably start with fewer than the 30 math facts to answer. 

The only negative criticism I received about the program is that my daughter found the voice annoying. She is a more visual learner and gets frustrated by certain sounds at times. She found she played better with the sound turned off. My son on the other hand was not bothered by it.

I am pleased that even after my trial expires we still have access to the practice runs which the kids will continue to use. This is a program that is worth looking into if you have children who need to brush up on their math facts.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE those who are so confident in their program that they offer a 'Try before you buy' option. You can sign up for a FREE 7-day trial by visiting http://mathrider.com/trial.php  

MATH RIDER normally retails for US$47, but currently (until February 15) the creators of MATH RIDER is running a special offer for only US$37. BUT if you are not happy with it, they even offer a 30-day money back guarantee! 

Not only do you get a great program, but when you visit the MathRider website you can visit the BLOG where you can read interesting articles on yes, math, but also on parenting in general and why you just cannot divide by zero!  

The wonderful people of MathRider can be contacted at:
Office Address
Sharper Edge Pty Ltd
31 Hannah Street
Beecroft NSW 2119
Phone: +61 2 8005 8531
Office hours: 9am to 5pm (East Australian Time – GMT+10), Mon-Fri

Math Rider is available for Mac, Linux and Windows operating systems. It is easy to install and we have experience no technical problems with the program. Free updates are also available after you purchase the program. 

As always, this is my own opinion and one of many. Please visit the Crew's blog HERE to read what my fellow reviewers thought of this product.