Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Review: Brinkman Adventures Season 2

My boys (4.5 and 6 years old) absolutely LOVE listening to audio stories!  We started the boys on audio stories about two years ago as a way to help them settle down at bedtime, and they have since learned to love audio stories on CD.  We’ve tried a wide variety of stories, some wonderful and some ‘flops’.  Our newest try was definitely a success!

I’ve heard such wonderful things about the Brinkman Adventures audio drama series, so I was beyond excited when we were chosen to review the Brinkman Adventures Season 2: Episodes 13 - 24.  Let me tell you, we have NOT been disappointed!
Because these audio dramas are designed for the entire family, I didn’t want to immediately use these CDs at bedtime.  Instead, we chose to listen to the Brinkman Adventures on our way to and from our homeschool co-op each week. 

Each episode is about 25 minutes long, which means we were able to fit in 3 episodes per week during our 90 minute round-trip drive.   The drive usually seems so long, but with the Brinkman Adventures playing, we arrived at co-op feeling disappointed to get out of the car.  We were always anxious to find out what would happen next!

The Brinkman Adventures series is the story of a semi-fictional large family.  The Brinkmans are based on a real-life, large, homeschooling family, yet fictionalized enough to make each episode flow nicely.  Each episode tells a true missionary story, although details are changed a bit in order to work well in a 25 minute dramatization.  (On their website, you can click on the “real stories” tab to read the “story behind the story” to sort the fact from the fiction.)

Brinkman Adventures, audio drama, missionary stories

Each episode takes you on an adventure with the lively Brinkman bunch, keeping you entertained, but also shares the true stories of real missionaries around the world.  We’ve listened in awe as we learn how God is doing such amazing things through His people around the world!

What do my kids think about these stories?

Jensyn, my 3 yr old, is still a little young to comprehend the stories, yet she still listens with the rest of us.   She loves the sweet little voices of the littlest Brinkman family members!

Max, who is 4.5 yrs old, asks often if we can listen to a story again, even if we’re just taking a 10 minute drive to the grocery story.  I am sure he doesn’t fully grasp everything in the Brinkman Adventures, but he LOVES to listen!  He sometimes asks questions about what is happening in the story, and I’ll pause the CD for just a minute to help him understand what is going on.

Alex, my 6 year old, is able to follow along fairly well.  He truly enjoys these stories, and I think he is at an age where he can begin to comprehend not only the stories, but also the way that God is at work through missionaries around the world.   I do occasionally pause the CD to explain things to him, as well, but I know he’s getting the main idea of each story.  

I would say that Alex’s favorite episode is either “Mexico By Bus” or “Blue Hat and T-Shirt Bible”.  Both are really neat episodes with wonderful examples of God’s hand in our lives. 

My kids are definitely at the young end of the listening range, so I know there are some things they cannot fully comprehend at their ages.  The fun thing is that we can listen to these again and again, and the children will understand more as they grow and mature.

A few episodes contained information that you may want to screen before sharing with your young children.  For example, there are a few episodes that deal with slavery.  My children were fine with the content, as it it handled in a fairly gentle manner, but it’s still a difficult subject.    The Brinkman Adventure CDs do note this in the audio, but I still wanted to offer a word of caution since my blog is often read by parents of preschoolers and early elementary children.  You will want to use your own discretion for young listeners.

What did I think about these stories?

Even as an adult, I find myself absolutely captivated by these audio dramas.  The adventures of the Brinkman family are fun and entertaining, and I am absolutely amazed by the ways in which God’s mighty power is revealed in the miracles on the mission field. 

My personal favorite episodes are “How Big Is Your God?” parts 1 and 2.  It is so hard for me to fathom the way that God so amazingly worked out the details, and these episodes have really stuck with me.  Whenever something seems overwhelming, these words pop into my head…”John Benti, how big is your God?”   Yes, our God is big enough to do more than we could ever ask or imagine!

I have also enjoyed reading the “Real Stories” section of the Brinkman Adventures website.  While it’s fun to read the true stories behind each Brinkman Adventure, it is also a wonderful way to learn more about what true missionaries are experiencing.

I love that my children are learning about missionaries around the world!  We’ve looked at the globe, we’ve had conversations about the great commission, and we’ve talked about how kids can make a difference too.  The Brinkman Adventures have sparked some very interesting conversations, especially with my 6 year old!

Because we started with Season 2 of the Brinkman Adventures, we were not yet familiar with the family or the things that they had encountered in Season 1.  By the end of the first episode, though, we felt like we knew the Brinkman family well enough to fully enjoy and understand Season 2.   We’ve so thoroughly enjoyed Season 2, and we aren’t ready to stop listening!  I’ve already purchased Season 1, and we’ve started listening to the first season!

These CDs are perfect for any drive of 30 minutes or longer.  You’re almost guaranteed to have silent children in your car, which is a nice treat!  The drive will pass quickly for every listener in the car!  Even more importantly, though, you’ll be filling your children’s minds with the Great Commission!

The Brinkman Adventures Season 2 is available on CD or as an MP3 download.  The Season 2 set of four CDS is available for a suggested donation of $25, or you can download Season 2 for a suggested donation of $17.

Hopefully by now, you’re sold on how wonderful these CDs are for Christian families.  If you’re still unsure, though, you can listen to a sample episode from Season 1 on the Brinkman Adventures website by clicking HERE.

You can also click on the image below to read reviews from other homeschool families:

Click to read Crew Reviews

Crew Disclaimer

Friday, April 25, 2014

Jensyn’s 3rd Birthday Party

I’m really not sure how, but somehow our sweet baby girl has gone from THIS…
April2011 053_thumb

…to THIS!  How did she get so big?!  She is supposed to be my baby!


So, the big girl is THREE now.  She had a hard time deciding between a Cinderella party and a Princess Sofia party.  Her final decision was to have a Sofia party for her 3rd birthday and save Cinderella for her 4th birthday.  We’ll see if she still sticks with that plan next year; I was surprised she was thinking so far ahead as a 3 year old!

We had our typical family party, with around 30 guests – aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents – filling our home.  It’s crazy and busy and fun!

My mom and sisters each helped with the food – homemade Skyline chili, homemade spaghetti sauce, garlic bread, fruit tray, veggie tray, pigs in a blanket, and chips.  My sister Deb gets extra credit because she did ALL the grocery shopping for the party.  (The party took place just days after Nana’s funeral, and we were a bit overwhelmed that week!)  

Keith’s mom and cousin made a beautiful Sofia cake.  I only have a cell phone pic of Jensyn close-up with her cake, but it was so cute!  Grandma & Jessica did an amazing job, as usual!

2014-04-13 12.49.56 (2)

Jensyn & CailinDSCN1383

sweet baby Lance


Jensyn understood what to do with presents.  As a matter of fact, she started opening them before we were even ready!  I was scrambling to grab the camera as she was already opening gifts! She opened everything so quickly that I still haven’t figured out who gave her which gifts! 

Sofia playset ~ wind-up Easter Bunny
from Annie’s family and from Grandma S


Minnie Mouse Nightgown ~ Cinderella Shoes
from Grandma & Grandpa S


new dresses from Grandma & Papa P ~ princess DVD (?)

lots of art kits, drawing pads, craft sets, Bubble Guppies figurines, Perler Biggie Beads set

Sofia magic pen book

Frozen DVD and a fluffy purple tutu from Cailin


Belle doll from Aunt Donna’s family

sweet little Lance again with his Grandma (my sister Deb)


my mom brought bags with Easter goodies for our kids & Cailin

cake time!


Yes, she’s wearing her Cinderella dress now. 
She was trying on her new Cinderella shoes, so she switched to the matching dress!


Enjoying everyone singing “Happy Birthday”


blowing out her candles

DSCN1428 DSCN1429



We are blessed to have such an amazing family!  Our kiddos are spoiled rotten with love and gifts at their birthday parties!

The party night ended with me coming down with the fever-achy-miserable-sick for a week flu, which has now been passed to other family members and two of our children.  But the party itself was a great time!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

March Photo Dump

The kids LOVE these blocks from Roy Toy!  I highly recommend them!


We used cake mix playdough to make ‘leprechaun gold’ for St. Patrick’s Day fun.

leprechaun cheese quesadillas with raisin eyes and spinach tortilla hats


Alex drew this picture of his friends Ansley & Cailin, and we mailed it to them.
He was very proud of his hard work!


Max is working on putting his ABCs in order, then dancing when he completes the task!
He is definitely my energetic learner!


Winking smileThis had something to do with Max’s school time…wish I could remember WHAT!

sweet Jensyn working on ‘school’


Yes.  Yes, that is underwear on their heads. 
Brand new, never worn underwear.  Jensyn’s VERY FIRST underwear, too!
For some reason, removing it from the package turned into THIS:


playing with some hair pretties that she borrowed from Grandma



Dr. Seuss’ birthday – hats made from marshmallows and red frosting.


painting hats


dot marker fun


my little Cats


Alex’s 100 Chart project