When a Review is not a Review

Whenever I’m going to buy something, I like to look at the reviews of the product online first to see what people are saying about it. In general, I think word of mouth is pretty valuable because it’s usually someone’s actual opinion based on their experience, as opposed to hype or advertising from the company that made the item.

Traditionally, a product review is something the product’s creator never pays for (other than the cost of the review copy and shipping); in addition, it’s bad form to ask for a good review. The whole point is for the reviewer to give an unbiased opinion. Obviously, if the review copy were to arrive with a check payable to the reviewer, the review would be biased.

We started Cardamom Publishers, our homeschool publishing business, in 2003, and we’ve never paid for a review or asked for a good review. We just send out review copies and wait. We’ve been gratified to receive good reviews, and we want homeschooling parents to know that those reviews are unbiased.

There are many good homeschool websites and magazines that offer unbiased reviews. But apparently there are others who require creators to pay for something they call a product review, but which is actually an advertisement. I recently received an email from one such site, howtohomeschool.net. They’ve offered to review our products. Here are the details:

Removed at the request of the writer 7/11/17

There’s nothing wrong with advertising, but to claim that a paid ad is a product review is dishonest. Homeschooling parents love hearing the opinions of other parents about homeschool products; I valued that input when I homeschooled my four kids. But there’s a huge difference between an unbiased opinion and a paid ad, and I don’t think it’s fair to imply that there isn’t one, especially when your intended audience is made up of very busy homeschooling parents who have enough to do without trying to figure out when they’re being misled.


Timeless Encouragement for Moms

When I look back on the many years of raising and homeschooling my kids, I’m grateful for those who encouraged me.

I didn’t get much encouragement at first, but I prayed for mentors, and before long God placed some amazing women in my life. (I highly recommend praying for mentors, by the way.) Most of them were women from my church, and a few were older homeschooling moms. Then there was one woman who I never met, but who was truly a blessing in my life, and that was Elisabeth Elliot.

You may have heard of her as the wife of Jim Elliot, one of the martyred missionaries made famous in Through Gates of Splendor
, or as the author of such books as Passion and Purity: Learning to Bring Your Love Life Under Christ’s Control
or The Shaping of a Christian Family: How My Parents Nurtured My Faith
(one of my all-time favorites).

But she also had a daily radio show that I used to listen to. It was such a big help to me during those busy years. Her calm and Biblical assurances were also a great comfort to me.

So naturally I’m excited to announce that the vehicle through which she encouraged me, her daily radio show, is now being replayed for a new generation of women, and you can access it free on the Internet!

Just click HERE and prepare to be encouraged.

(By the way, Elisabeth Elliot is now well up in years and has age-related health issues that have limited her mobility. But she is lovingly cared for by her third husband Lars Gren. You can learn more about her current life here.)

My Son’s Impossible Dreams

My son and I have a daily routine of eating breakfast together while I also try to read my Bible and a chapter of a Christian book.

I use the word try because while I’m trying to read, Josh is trying not to interrupt me. He has access to me all day long, so it’s good for him to learn not to interrupt. He just hasn’t learned it yet.

This morning he was discussing his desire to buy a black car, in which he will drive to the next state to see our old neighbors, his best friends from childhood. After a little while, he segued into his plans to get married and have a baby boy and baby girl. (We’ve heard this lecture more frequently since his first nephew was born last fall.)

We listen to him talk about his plans all the time. Without the right mindset it can be quite depressing, because he’s not ever going to be able to buy a car (most people with Down syndrome can’t drive, and he’s not able to hold down the kind of job, i.e. most jobs, that would allow him to save up for a car anyway). As for becoming a parent, even if he had the maturity to be a parent, which he doesn’t, he’ll never have the ability because men with Ds are sterile.

And yes, these facts have depressed me in the past and occasionally still do. The irony of this morning is that the book I’ve been reading after my daily devotions is Heaven by Randy Alcorn, and check out what was in today’s chapter:

Joni Eareckson Tada writes from her wheelchair, “I haven’t been cheated out of being a complete person—I’m just going through a forty-year delay, and God is with me even through that. Being ‘glorified’—I know the meaning of that now. It’s the time, after my death here, when I’ll be on my feet dancing.”….God is big enough not only to fulfill your dreams but also to expand them as you anticipate Heaven. When you experience disappointment and loss as you faithfully serve God here, remember: the loss is temporary. The gains will be eternal. Every day on the new Earth will be a new opportunity to live out the dreams that matter most.

I believe in God, not coincidences, so I know this specific passage turning up in my reading while my son was expounding on his future (impossible) plans is God reminding me that while there are many things my son will not be able to do on this earth, he will not be hampered by his disability in the next life.

I find this very comforting, and I hope other parents of kids with developmental disabilities find it comforting, too. But it also applies to parents of kids who don’t achieve their dreams: parents of the lovely young woman who dreams of the satisfaction of marriage and children but never finds a good man to share that dream with, or parents of bright young people with promising futures who suffer brain injuries in accidents and are left seemingly a shadow of their former selves.

It’s so easy to get caught up in an earthly perspective that makes you view everything in terms of now, but the book Heaven is reminding me that my perspective’s timeline is much longer than merely “now.” Great book, by the way; many thanks to my husband for recommending it to me.

Free History/Economics Lesson for Your Teens

There’s a wealth of information in this 15-minute interview with Professor Walter E. Williams. If I were still homeschooling, I’d have my kids watch this interview and then let the discussion go from there; it’s that good.

Note that he mentions Dr. Thomas Sowell, another economic expert who has written many, many books full of common sense. I used his Basic Economics with my younger daughter when she was a homeschooling teen. We both learned a lot from that book.

(Interesting sidenote: the interviewer, Ginni Thomas, is married to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.)