Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Spring Is Coming...Get Ready Now...

Can you believe it? Less than a month away and SPRING will be upon us! Here are some tips of some quick and easy thing you can do NOW to prepare for Spring so it doesn't catch you off guard...

1- Plant Seeds Indoors In Small Pots
- Buy small trays, or take newspapers and fill with dirt to place directly in the ground, you can even use egg cartons for this.
- Planting seeds early allow you to plant the actual plant, rather than seeds in your outdoor gardens once Spring arrives.

2- Collect Compost For Good Soil
- You may need to invest some money in the Spring for decent topsoil, but to get your garden area ready now, simply find an area on your property or a friend's that has old leaves and rake like crazy! Get several loads and dump in your garden for some FREE compost material!
- Call up some friends with horses or cows. They may let you get some manure for free.

3- Make a Garden Chart and Labels
- Study up on which plants grow well together. Make a chart of your garden areas and figure out, now, where you will be planting. Get creative with your labels. Let the kids paint rocks with the names of each vegetable plant or get creative with those popsicle sticks! 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Meals week of 2/18

Our local Aldi had an awesome sale on fruit this week!!!!

Monday 2/18
BreakfastSausage Links and Orange Slices
Lunch: Tuna Sandwiches and Strawberries
Dinner: Fried Chicken Thighs, Salad, Fresh Pineapple

Tuesday 2/19
Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs and Toast
Lunch: Turkey Sandwiches and Melon
Dinner: Shepherd's Pie, Spinach and Salad

Wednesday 2/20
Breakfast: Oatmeal and Blueberries
Lunch: PB & J and Apples
Dinner: Stuffed Potatoes and Fried Eggplant

Thursday 2/21
Breakfast: Waffles
Lunch: Tuna Melts and Honeydew Slices
Dinner: Meatloaf, Kale and Salad

Friday 2/22
Breakfast: Eggs and Toast
Lunch: Turkey and Ham Hoagies
Dinner: Flounder, Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Salad

Friday, February 22, 2013

Handwriting Without Tears Crew Review

When I taught preschool, we were encouraged in our classes to give the children unruled paper to write letters and their names without any boundaries or restrictions. We taught them using a white board, and showed them the correct formation, but then allowed them the opportunity to produce letters on their own through trial and error. I liked this approach because it gave the children freedom to learn and grow without the fear of making mistakes. Needless to say, I took this same approach when teaching my first child to write. You know how it is with the first child, so excited to see them excel. He could write his name and knew all his letters right around his third birthday. He still loves to learn and tends to favor math and science related schoolwork. But when it comes to favorite subjects, handwriting is not on the top of his list!

Handwriting without Tears Logo

When I found out I was chosen to review Handwriting Without Tears I knew immediately I was going to use this program with my First Grader! A friend in my church used it and told me how she liked the way they taught the formation of the letters with memorable little sayings.

When I first showed the workbook to my son he dove right in and I had to slow him down! One of the strengths of this program is teaching children to START AT THE TOP when writing. As I watched my son, I noticed, (which I hadn't before) that he started at the bottom with most letters. At first I went into panic mode, "oh no, I've been teaching him wrong this whole time!" Then I looked at his handwriting I noticed this; when he took his time, no matter where he started, it looked great. But, when he rushed though, it was sloppy. An obvious observation, maybe... but when I read in the Teacher's Manuel as to why they encouraged instructors to teach writing letters from the top, it made sense. They suggest you try writing some sample letters quickly starting from the top and then from the bottom and see which look neater. Interestingly enough, even when "speed writing," the letters that were started from the top, looked better! I was sold.

HWOT 1st grade Teacher's Guide

HWOT 1st grade Workbook
I received the above products to review with my First Grader, products are also available in the K through Fifth Grade Range.

Every morning I put on a play list of related videos that meet the needs of all ages of my children. They are relatively close in age, so it works well and gets some energy out of them, especially on rainy days! Handwriting Without Tears has several videos on YouTube that have some of the songs included on a CD that goes along with the curriculum. You need to buy the CD separately but many lessons encourage the use of these songs. The song that I posted for you below show how this program encourages multi sensory learning. 

The videos are a great way to get the kids up and moving and if you are in a homeschool setting, sometimes kids enjoy watching other kids on the screen learning the same things they are!

The beginning of the Teacher's Manuel is full of instruction on how to properly teach your student through song, hand movement and letter stories. Letter stories are a unique way to teach your child how to correctly write each letter. Then there is a lesson dedicated to each page in your child's book that take less than fifteen minutes a day. The layout is easy to read, only one page per lesson, and includes a "more to learn" section. There is also a thirty-six week plan in chart form that includes lesson plan ideas to do with your child even when he has finished his workbook. The format is easy to use and concise. 

One of the few things I disliked about the program is the concept of the "magic c." I liked how they teach the students that once you know how to correctly write the letter "c," it is the basic tool for most of the other letters of the alphabet. It's just, our family tends to stay away from the term "magic" the best we can and I try to steer clear of anything with that word in our homeschool. It was easy enough to simply omit that term while teaching Handwriting Without Tears, so it didn't present a huge problem. 

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Tax Time Thoughts

Soooo, it's tax time. A few years ago my husband and I began to use our tax return money to pay off our debt!!! We were over $20,000 in the hole, mostly from my student loans, and now (except for mortgage) we are now saving money! I wrote a post about this over at! I would love for you to check it out!

Firmoo Glasses Giveaway

Firmo is one of the world's most popular online eyeglasses retailer! Firmoo is not limited to the states as many of my giveaways are, but this company is a worldwide distributer. With amazing prices, as low as $9.00 up to only $59.00 why spend the normal $200 - $300 when purchasing frames? Just head over to and check out which frames might be the perfect fit for you! Then come back here and leave a comment telling me which pair of glasses you would love to own! Once you fill out the Rafflecopter form you are entered to win!!! has requested, that there MUST be 30 entrants in this giveaway for the Grand Prize to be awarded- otherwise only the second place prizes will be provided....

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Firmoo will ship to the following countries: USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, France, Finland, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, Greece, Italy, England, UAE, Bengal, Argentina, Pakistan, Brazil, Russia, Peru, Mexico, Ukraine and Israel, Oman, Kuwait, Egypt, Qatar, Bahrain, Latvia, Romania, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Czech, Iceland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Korea, South Korean, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Mongolia, Indonesia, Poland, Hungary, Turkey and India.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Enter to Win Borax Coupons

I had never even heard of Borax until a few years ago. I mean don't get me wrong, I did laundry, but I had just never heard of the stuff. It was when my husband would come home from work with impossible stains that I confided in a friend about my laundry struggles. Her advice? Just throw in a scoop of Borax in with the  stained clothes and you're golden. Tried it. Loved it. Still use it, (over five years later).

Now, not only do I use it for my husband's clothing, but I jumpedon the "homemade laundry detergent" bandwagon and now I make my own detergent, using, yes, Borax! The receipe I have is the Duggar's Family Recipe. This is the first and only one I've tried. I figured with as many clothes as they must wash, and with all the stains they must have to deal with, their recipe would probably work. I tried it and yes and it does work wonders and seems to last forever, (probably since I only have a family of five).

In case you're wondering what in the world Borax is, I'll fill you in. Borax is sodium tetraborate, a 100% natural mineral from the earth produced by the perpetual evaporation of seasonal lakes. Absolutely nothing is added when 20 Mule Team Borax (the specific brand I use),  is boxed for consumers; no phosphates, chlorine or other additive chemicals! Borax naturally softens hard water which actaully maximizes it's cleaning power! This laundry booster can be used in other ways besides laundry such as kitchen cleaning, cleaning tools or I've even seen it used for crafts on Pinterest!

20 Mule Team Borax has provided me with 3 Coupons for a FREE Box of their BORAX, Enter the Rafflecopter below to be entered to win all three coupons!!!!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

February Read Aloud

Last month we finished our first successful read-aloud in our homeschool, The Cricket in Times Square. Cute. My six and four year old were engaged and had a blast. We read a chapter a day and each would dictate what they could at the end of each chapter. Then, at dinnertime each night, they would enthusiastically share with dad what they remembered from the day's chapter! We had such a blast that when the book was finished I was itching to get the library and find a new story! I have the Burgess Bird Book for Children waiting on my bookshelf to be explored but the attention span of my four year old is not at that level yet. Soooo, I finally picked up Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne. Two chapters in and the boys are enthralled! Interestingly enough, they have never seen the cartoon so this is their first exposure to these characters!

Of course I've seen many episodes in my lifetime and a question that has always lingered is what in the world is up with his name? What is a Pooh, why is he called that? Well. Now I know! Glad that mystery is solved! And no, I'm not going to tell you! You'll have to read the book to find out, hehe!

So the first chapter is when Pooh Bear is trying to get honey in a tree and tries to disguise himself as a cloud in the sky to hide from the bees. Using Christopher Robin's balloon from a party the day before, he hovers in the air next to the hive. We just happened to have a helium balloon in the house the day we read this chapter so we had fun with this! The boys tried tying a stuffed animal to the balloon to see if it would float, to no avail. They kept weighing different objects to see if they were lighter or heavier than this toy until they found what worked. After many tries with different objects around the house,  they discovered that three Lego bricks made the balloon hover halfway to the ceiling in our living room!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Anger Workbook by Les Carter and Frank Minirth Review

I've reviewed many books over the past two years on this blog and this book, by far, is the most well written and needed book in our society of all the books that I've reviewed. I received The Anger Workbook: an interactive guide to anger management, by Les Carter and Frank Minirth in e-book from and was able to enjoy it on my Nook Color.

I have to admit, I was hesitant at first in reviewing this, I mean, is this going to be some hedonistic, worldly approach in dealing with anger? Chock full of philosophical solutions leaving God in the sidelines? Well, this book certainly did not leave God out of the picture, in fact, there was a point where the author clearly stated that  having a regular devotional time with the Lord helps to reduce agitation during the day that can lead to anger. Also, before delving deep into the areas that might cause or harbour anger, the author makes sure that the reader understands God's love for them and that their worth and security found in God can too, reduce your need for excessive dependencies which can lead you towards an angry lifestyle. 

You may be reading this post and wonder if some of your ongoing struggles may be anger related. The authors remind us that there are several ways that people deal with anger, not just with open aggression like slamming doors, yelling and screaming.  Giving people the silent treatment or suppressing your feelings is just as dangerous as being vocal and violent with your anger. I recommend this book to anyone who may feel lost in their attempts to overcome anger. This books addresses issues that I would never imagine would be associated with anger such as fear, pride and indulging in unhealthy addictive behaviors. This workbook shares many stories of people who have struggled with anger management and allows for the reader to evaluate where they are and how they can change. The book is full of Scripture, sound advice and encouragement! I highly recommend this book to Christian councilors pastors and parents alike. There is even a chapter on managing a child anger with some excellent, practical advice!

I received a copy of this e-book from for the purpose of this review, all opinions stated are my own, I did not receive monetary compensation.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Discovery At-Home Reading Review and Giveaway

Today is the day! Reading Horizons has now released their long-awaited, revised version of their Discovery At-Home Reading program! This YEAR ROUND program can EASILY be used in a home or classroom setting to help beginning readers excel in their reading skills! Whether your child simply needs a push start in understanding phonics, or has been diagnosed with a common learning disability such as dyslexia, this program provides simple, step-by-step instruction for children ages 4-9.

* Revised Version Release Date February 4, 2013!!*

This program can be taught through two methods
~ Self-Directed Software in a CD -Rom format
~ Easy to Use Instructor Guided Materials

I had access to both and prefered the easy-to-use instuctor guided materials. They were detailed and self explanitory and you could use as little or as much of the material that you felt your child needed. I used parts of the program with both my four and five year old. The first few lessons seemed very easy for my five year old. I wasn't sure how to assess this and where to start him in the program. Then I started printing out the assessment tests that I was able to access on the Reading Horizons website. I allowed my child to go through them and quickly found out where to start him out in the program! The four year old still needs to work on some basic sight words and I plan on bringing him back into the groove when he is a little older. He loved the interactive aspects of the program where you engage the child by motioning to them and have them motion to you as they speak the words/letters/sounds before writing them. I know he is looking forward to getting back into this once he is at the right level to begin!

Reading Assessments

When you have active children as I do, it seems as though you are trying to find ways to engage them whenever you can! This program not only has a great outline for each lesson with tips and suggestions in the margins but several reading based activities and game ideas are provided in a separate manual. Many of the games can easily be used by homeschoolers even though this program was designed for large group use. Instead of using a blackboard or interactive whiteboard (obviously I don't have these in my homeschool), I would either use a white erase board or simply a scrap piece of paper. 

What's Included in the Discovery At-Home Package

  • 60-day money back guarantee
  • Free customer support
  • Detailed student evaluations and reporting
  • Scripted teacher instruction for parents and tutors
  • Engaging games and activities that support the skills that are learned
  • Free parent phonics training that gives you the confidence to instruct your child

Instructor Material comes in the form of neatly organized manuals to last you an entire school year. A separate manual is provide for the games and a CD Rom is included with plenty of worksheets to go along with each lesson! 

Extra Resources include access to Reading Horizons Accelerate where you can also download and print reading assessment pages and other materials. 


This program uses a multi sensory method called the Orton-Gillingham approachIt is a scientifically based reading program that incorporates tried and true teaching methods. 

by teaching phonics in a way that enables students to improve reading skills and even increase reading grade levels quickly. 

In a nutshell, it teaches the 42 sounds of the alphabet, five phonetic skills and two decoding skills.

The student learns quickly how to mark and sound out words quickly and correctly in an effective manner.


  • Discovery Online Software (1 year) $199
  • Discovery Instructor Materials $299
  • Software and Material Bundle $439
  • Discovery Online Renewal $50


Grand Prize
 Discovery Software and Instructor Materials Bundle 
(the materials I reviewed)

10 Winners Receive
 Discovery At-Home Online Subscription
(shown in video below)

Enter Rafflecopter below to be entered to win!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Purex Baby Review and Giveaway


Ok- seriously. One of the many perks of having a newborn, is dressing them in cute clothes. Sure, when I had newborns I went through my share of simple onesies and sleepers. But sometimes, it's usually church days for us, it's super fun to break out the dress pants and ties for the boys and sweet dresses for the girls! I love dressing them up all cute, even if they probably will spill on their tops or mess their pants, oh well, they looked cute! Then comes the laundry. With a newborn, the term "doing laundry" holds a whole new meaning. You certainly are not going to have just one outfit a day for the child, no matter how hard you try. And, unless you're living in an extremely warm climate, like South India or something, you aren't going to keep your baby naked all of the time. You have a baby? Laundry is never "done."

 I remember learning early on that choosing the right detergent when washing clothes for a newborn is key. I also remember that it was important to wash the baby's clothes in a different load than daddy's work clothes just to be safe.

One of the biggest concerns with moms of newborns is the issue of skin sensitivity. I know one of my kids would break out in rashes like crazy and it's hard to know if it's diet, detergent or something else! Using a detergent that is formulated for baby helps to ease that worry for most new moms. Purex now has a dermatologist tested formula detergent to fit this need! I don't currently have a newborn in the house anymore, but.... I let my friend with a new baby test out Purex Baby on the cutie pictured above and she said it works great!

 Purex Baby is hypoallergenic, clear in color and has a gentle baby-inspired fragrance. Not only is it gentle on baby's skin, but tough on messes!

Now for the FUN!! Enter to WIN 3 COUPONS for Purex Baby. One winner will receive THREE coupons for a FREE bottle of Purex Baby. Simply enter the Rafflecopter below....

Purex provided me with a sample for the purpose of this review. All opinions expressed are my own....