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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Happy Birthday Delaney

I can't believe Delaney is 11. Her birthday was last week and she had her friends spend the night and then we left town the next day, so I haven't had time to blog about her birthday until now. 

Her birthday was on a Wednesday, so we decided to take her cake to the church to share with everyone. She wanted a triangle cake and decided to have cappuccino flavor. She wanted tie die icing with a music theme. 

She had her friends stay the night and we went to the park for a photo scavenger hunt. We divided up in teams and had a list of things we needed to take a photo of. They were all things you normally see at a park with water and wildlife: dog, bicycle, fish, feather on the ground, tire swing, etc. It was kinda funny because after being at the park for a couple of hours we didn't see a dog or a bicycle until we were leaving.

Out of all 4 of my girls, Delaney is the most girly. She makes sure her clothes match and her hair is fixed everyday. She loves to shop and is a people watcher. Laughter comes easy to her and her laugh is very contagious. One way she is just like her sister Morgan is they both take their time in everything they do.
 Happy Birthday Delaney

Simplified Pantry A Molly Crew Review

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Simplifying your life when you have multiple kids with so many things going on can be achieved one thing at a time. Paperless Home Organization and Simplified Pantry is a great place to start. 
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I have never kept a paper organizer. I have always used a calendar to keep track of things and multiple lists on index cards so I wouldn't forget things for each day. Then I upgraded to a smart phone and started adding all our activities and lists to it. By using Paperless Home Organization I have learned to make things work together.

Paperless Home Organization (free sample) is an 75 page e-book available in PDF or Kindle formats for only $3.99. Mystie Winckler shares how easy it is to get you life organized by using your smart phone, tablet, and computer. Mystie tells us about FREE apps that offer the biggest benefit and how we can use them together. Even though I already had most of the apps on my iPhone there were several of them that I wasn't using because I just hadn't taken the time to figure them out. I was putting info into my calendar and making lists in my Notes app, now I know how to use the apps I have to my advantage.

Mystie has also written a couple of cookbooks, Simplified Dinners: easy, flexible, frugal whole foods cooking and Simplified Dinners: easy, flexible, frugal allergy-free cooking. We do not have any food allergies in our house, but we tried some recipes from the allergy-free cookbook and my family liked them just as well as the regular cookbook. The best thing about these cookbooks are how they are set up. If you are new to cooking or aren't very good at improvising in the kitchen these cookbooks could help you tremendously. 

The primary purpose of the recipes is not necessarily to give you a recipe to follow exactly, but to remind you how things can be prepared step-by-step. Measurements are not always given in exact amounts, so that you can learn by tasting how much of each ingredient to add to suit your family. Both cookbooks start out with a Master Pantry List. This list a good variety of products that will help in making so many wonderful dishes and can make shopping quick and easy. Plus it is easier to prepare meals when you have everything on hand.

Each recipe is set up the same way. At the top of the page is the item (Marinades, Slow-Cooker Roasts, Slow-Cooker Chicken, Bean Pots, etc.) with the cooking process/processes listed step-by-step. Then underneath that are the variations of the recipe. Every other variation is yellow to make it very easy to glance at the page and know which one you are making. 
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Simplified Dinners: easy, flexible, frugal whole foods cooking is a 30 page e-book (free sample) for $12.99. It contains recipes for variety of dishes with several variations for each one. My families favorite recipe from this book so far is the Fast Artisan Bread. This bread says it will take 1 1/2 from start to finish. I doubled the recipe and made a long loaf and a flat bread with it. On the flat bread we spread olive oil on it and added Italian seasoning before baking and then parmesan cheese when it was done. My family loved it both ways, the loaf was nice and soft on the inside and perfectly crispy on the outside. We will be using this recipe for years to come.  
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Simplified Dinners: easy, flexible, frugal allergy-free cooking is a 33 page e-book available for $12.95. This book contains the same introduction as the original Simplified Dinners plus an introduction to the gluten & dairy free edition. There is also a list of ingredients that could possibly contain gluten or dairy that you wouldn't recognize just from their name. My families favorite from this cookbook so far is Easy Black Beans from the Bean Pots. I actually put in everything that is listed and we all enjoyed it. 

If you have trouble coming up with easy dinners for your family or need to get yourself organized Simplified Pantry could benefit you. Sail over to the Crew Blog to read what other crew members thought of these books. 

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Joyce Herzog SchoolHouse Crew Review

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Joyce Herzog is an educational support company that helps people learn. They offer educational materials for various ages, learning styles, and needs. Crew members received several different products to use and we received 6 Weeks to Understanding Grammar and the Budding Author Series.

6 Weeks to Understanding Grammar is a 40 page softcover book for $12.00. It is recommended for teens or students who are at least 11 years old, a sample and the complete table of contents can be seen for free. It is divided into 6 lessons with 6 appendixes covering:
  • Parts of Sentences
  • Kinds of Words
  • Kinds of Sentences
  • Sentence Completers
  • Capitalization Rules
  • Punctuation Rules
  • Spelling Rules
  • Verbs and Verbals

The Budding Author Series includes 5 softcover books:
  • Step Into Writing ~This 41 page book is $10.00 and is recommended for beginning readers using sight words and words with short vowels. It starts with 3 styles of writing: Dictation of simple story, Copy work, and "Experience Story" where the child dictates a story for someone else to write down. There are columns to remind the student to check their capitals, punctuation, and spelling. A free sample is available.
  • Step On Into Writing ~ This is the second book containing 57 pages (sample) and is $10.00.  It carries on after the first one, but uses more vocabulary, and Write Your Own Stories have been added.
  • Adventures in Writing ~ In this 38 page book (sample) the student is given a picture, a few questions to answer, and a list of vocabulary words to use in their story. This book helps the student learn to think and write down their thoughts and is $10.00.
  • Then and Now ~ This 42 page book (sample) moves the student into writing a paragraph (the first line even has an indent). The student is shown an picture from the past and are asked to compare it with how the same task is done today.  $12.00
  • Writing U.S. History ~ This 77 page book (sample) takes the child into their first steps of research and learning U.S. History. Each page gives the student a picture with some vocabulary words. After the student researches the topic they can use the vocabulary words in their writing. $15.00

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Joyce Herzog collects old grammar text books and she has learned that English Grammar is to assist a person in speaking and writing correctly and is divided into 4 parts:

  • Orthography ~ letters, syllables, separate words, and spelling.
  • Etymology ~ different parts of speech, and their classes and modifications.
  • Syntax ~ relation, agreement, government, and arrangement of words in a sentence.
  • Prosody ~ punctuation, utterance, figures, and versification. 
6 Weeks to Understanding Grammar has 6 chapters, but it may actually take some students more than a week to learn each lesson or older students may not need an entire week. This booklet is not a text book or a workbook, it is more of an overview of the topic. Joyce Herzog also has Simplified Grammar for further study methods. I have been reading through this booklet with my 10 & 12 year old daughters. It is very simple to use & understand and will make a great reference book for years to come. 

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In the Budding Author Series I had Alaina (age 8) use the Step On Into Writing. I had her start in this book because she still needs to be reminded to watch her capital letters, punctuation, and spelling and I like that it has the little check boxes to remind her. I really like that there are a variety of writing activities. She likes the Write Your Own Story pages the best. There are only 5 lines on the page & she doesn't feel overwhelmed like she has to fill an enitre blank page.

I had Delaney (age 10) use the Then and Now. Each page has a picture from the past and then a few questions about how things are done today. Delaney loves to write stories and often writes for fun and she ususally doesn't have trouble coming up with something to write about. This book has made her write about one topic and it makes it very easy to stay focused.

Amber (age 12) has been using the Writing U.S. History. This book is perfect for her, she loves history and loves to do research on presidents and other famous people. Each page in this book has a picture at the top along with a few vocabulary words. The student is suppose to research who or what the picture is and then write about it. There is one page per picture, but there are additional lined sheets in the back that the student can use if they need more room.

I really like the way the Budding Authors books are set up. I think the hardest part of writing is coming up with  a topic to write about. These workbooks take out the hard part by giving you a topic and vocabulary words to use. They are very easy to use & once the student is finished they have a nice little book with all their writing in one place. The History book starts with the Indians and takes you into the 21st century, so this could be used along with U.S. History curriculum.

Joyce Herzog is a teacher and author of many educational products that simplify teaching & learning. Joyce taught learning disabled students for many years, and has been working with home school families for two decades. Crew members received several different products from Joyce Herzon, sail over to the Crew Blog to read those reviews.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Schoolhouse Library

Have you heard? The Old Schoolhouse Magazine now has a Schoolhouse Library

For a $25 one-time purchase you will have access to more than 175 E-Books or audio books covering more than 25 topics for students of all ages from popular publishers and TOS including:

  • 2 Study Guides from YWAM
  • Draw Write Now Sampler E-Book by Barker Creek
  • Heroines of the Past-Victorian unit study from Amy Puetz
  • Map Trek: Atlas and Outline Maps of World History from Knowledge Quest
  • Teaching Writing E-Book from WriteShop
  • 15 audio E-Books from My Audio School in history and literature
  • A Glimpse at Carnivorous Plants Lapbook from In the Hands of a Child
  • Video from Jessica Hulcy on "Learning as a Family"
  • From Frazzled to Focused: 7 Planning Tools for Busy Moms from Mary Jo Tate

For a One-Time purchase of $25 you can access your Schoolhouse Library download items now. 

Disclaimer: As a member of the Old Schoolhouse Review Crew I will receive access to the Schoolhouse Library free of charge in exchange for my announcement of the sale. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

One MInute Science Mysteries SchoolHouse Crew Review

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Every night before bed I read aloud to my family. Sometimes I pick our read aloud and other times the girls will pick. Recently we added One Minute Mysteries: 65 More Short Mysteries You Solve With Science! My original plan was to read a couple mysteries a night, but we have had so much fun with this book everyone would beg for just one more and one more and one more.

One Minute Mysteries: 65 More Short Mysteries You Solve With Science! is from Science Naturally! It is the third book of One Minute Mysteries and is recommended for ages 8-12. This 180 page softcover book can be purchased for $9.95. It was written by father and daughter Eric Yoder and Natalie Yoder

science naturallyThere are 65 one minute science mysteries written on one page with the solution to the mystery on the back. These mysteries are more than just science & mystery they also take some critical thinking to figure out the answers. I read the mysteries to my girls (age 8, 10, & 12) and my husband when he was home, but my girls didn't think I was reading them fast enough and they would read some on their own. It took us a couple of mysteries to get into the flow of how they worked. We thought some of the mysteries were easier than others, but we learned more from the mysteries we couldn't solve. My girls even made their dad try and answer the ones they didn't know. The mysteries are divided into Life Science, Earth and Space Science, Physical and Chemical Science, General Science, and a bonus section containing Math Mysteries. My girls thought the Life Science Mysteries were the easiest.  

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Science Naturally is an independent press committed to science and math literacy. Their materials are designed to help readers gain a better understanding of how science and math effect every day life. All of their titles have earned the NSTA Recommends from the National Science Teachers' Association and their math books have all been endorsed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics .

I have a coupon code to purchase any 3 books for just $19.95 plus $2.95 shipping. Just use 3SPEC when you check out.

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Sunday, May 19, 2013

High School Prep Genius SchoolHouse Crew Review

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I can't believe I am already thinking about high school for my younger girls. Even after graduating two of our children from our school I still get anxious about making the right choices for each one of them. I have been reading High School Prep Genius and it really helps to see the big picture, and I wish I would have read this with my first two.

High School Prep Genius is a 440 page softcover book that is divided into 3 sections with 5 appendixes that expand on information from the chapters. It is available for $29.95 from College Press Genius. It is written to the student, with a section to the parent in each chapter. I feel you will get the most benefit if the parent goes through the book with the student.

  • Chapters 1-6  Foundation for Personal Success ~ Personal growth, developing interests, establishing belief systems, promoting mental and physical health, creating financial independence, and building a strong support system.
  • Chapter 7-12 Foundation for Academic Success ~ Academic essentials, effective study skills, organization techniques, basics of high school, and tips for high school experience.
  • Chapters 13-18 Foundation for Future Success ~ Planning for the future, applying to college, paying for higher education, and understanding college essentials.   
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This book encourages making a College and Career Notebook where you can keep track of your success and goals to eliminate stress as high school graduation approaches. To help with the notebook there are student timelines for each grade, seventh & eighth grade are together then ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth. Each grade level gives the student things to think about, a month to month timeline of things that need to be done, plus a guide for parents. Going through the chapters help the students recognize their interests, and build a strong support system that can help them deal with academic and social pressures.

This book is primarily for 9-12 grade but even though my girls aren't in high school this book can help me plan for their high school studies to help them with their future. I read this book myself and will have all of my girls go through it when they are ready. I will have Amber & Delaney go through this next year to have their notebook ready for high school, and Alaina has a few years before she will be ready. The parental guide for seventh and eighth graders introduce us to personal & academic struggles of high school students and lists some things to work on before they get there. By using the charts for high school credits, student profiles for each grade, and the volunteer/community service log I can begin thinking about what direction my girls want to go with their education to plan the best high school for each one of them. Even after graduating two students this book still answered a lot of my questions and introduced me to things that I didn't encounter with them.

To receive $5.00 off High School Prep Genius, just use promotional code: TOSCrew.
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Friday, May 17, 2013

Adventures in Odyssey A.C.T.S.

Disclaimer: I received a free Adventures In Odyssey Album in exchange for promoting their Act of Service Challenge & Contest. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.  

You are invited to join kids across the country to serve your family, your community, or even the world. Adventures in Odyssey presents A.C.T.S.~ A Call To Service!

There are 3 ways to participate: Serve, Share, & Win!

Adventures in Odyssey has encouraged kids for 25 years, and my family has enjoyed it for 18 of those 25. Our favorite is the audio drama and the AIO books. We love to listen in the car or when we are cleaning the house. If you love AIO like we do or if you have never listened to any of them I have a FREE AIO MP3 episode Business of Busyness for you to download.

This summer, Adventures in Odyssey is joining Christian bookstores across the country, inviting kids to participate in a Summer of Service. There are service opportunities every where, no matter how big or small. We serve our own family every day, we can bake cookies for a neighbor, send care packages overseas to missionaries or the military. If you need service ideas for your family I have a free Service Idea PDF to help you out.

How the A.C.T.S. (A Call to Service) challenge and contest works:
Kids who join A.C.T.S. can pick up a service log and collect fun character stickers for hours served at participating bookstores throughout the summer, or download a serving log online at At the end of the summer, kids can record and upload a short video telling how they serve and why they’d like to become an Adventures in Odyssey Ambassador.

  • 100 Winners will get the new Adventures in Odyssey Album.
  • 2 Grand Prize Winners (one boy & one girl) will travel on an exciting Good-Goers Mission Adventure to another country with a parent. The destination will be announced on May 22.You don’t want to miss it!

Why serve?
Our culture puts an extravagant amount of energy into raising kids who will grow up to feel good about themselves. In schools, clubs, homes, and even at church, adults have made a decided effort to bolster children’s “self-esteem” –not by actually encouraging kids do something that’s worthwhile, but by simply telling them they are important and valuable.

At the turn of the century, researchers predicted that the next generation would respond to these efforts of raising self-esteem by being filled with optimism and civic duty. Unfortunately, recent research shows the opposite. Kids coming of age today are more self-centered, disrespectful of authority, and depressed than ever before.

In a very real way, then, the best path toward building selfless, confident children is to help and encourage them toward a growing and thriving faith in God. And that includes obedience to what God teaches—not because it makes kids feel good, although it often does—but because they’re following God’s instructions to love Him and serve others. That builds a faith they can count on and carry with them into adulthood—which is the greatest gift any parent can bestow on their child.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Graduation Cakes

Last weekend was graduation for some of our area schools. I had a few of the typical graduation cake & a few different ones.

This graduation cake was fun, Maria didn't want to go with the school colors she wanted blue & orange. I used buttercream icing with fondant swirls, bow, diploma, and mortar board.

Jacob must really like his John Deere tractor, he had an edible image & one of his favorite tractors.

Dakota had two cakes. His main cake was cappuccino flavor with an extra white sheet cake.

Seth had his graduation sheet cake and a surprise cake too. He is going into the Air Force and is going into EOD.

Zachary is a swimmer & his aunt wanted him to have a fun cake. This is a 6", 8", & 14" cake with swimmers.

I made my swimmers out of fondant and here a few closeups.

This one is a 8" & 10" square. The top tier is turned a little and there are diamonds on the sides and back.

Caleb will be attending Creighton University and wanted the mascot on his cake.

This one was for a ultrasound graduate and high school graduate that volunteers in the radiology department at the hospital.

I had a few birthday cakes over the weekend too. 2 year old Makenna likes Doc McStuffins & her mom wanted it on her cake.

How about a fishing cake? John must like to fish, because that's what he had for his birthday.

I is for Icing, so I will be linking up to Marcy's Blogging Through the Alphabet.
Blogging Through the Alphabet
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