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Saturday, December 30, 2017


Photo by my daughter, Morgan. Follow her on Instagram.

With only one day left in 2017 people will be reflecting on what they have accomplished, what they should have accomplished, and making plans and resolutions for the upcoming year. I'm not one to make resolutions or set a lot of goals for myself. That doesn't mean I don't keep a calendar and schedule things out, or that I don't think about how to improve our household. I just don't bind myself to those ideas and time constraints.

When I first started to homeschool, way back before the internet and homeschool forums, our town had a very active homeschool support group. We all got together once a month for a moms' meeting to find out about curriculum and support each other in the journey we had all chosen for our families. I can remember several moms talking about having Bible verses for their lives and for each of their children, setting high school and life goals for their early elementary school children and they made me feel very inadequate. I can remember thinking to myself that I was lacking and that I needed to spend more time reflecting on what I wanted for my children. Fast forward 22 years and I wonder did those kids grow up to fulfill the plans that were laid out for them. With 2 homeschool graduates and three teenagers my kids have changed so much. Their desires and ambitions when they were younger haven't all stuck with them. They are continuing to grow into their own person by figuring out what is best for them just like I am still figuring out what is best for myself and our household.

As I reflect on the past and look to the future I hope that I don't make people I come in contact with feel inadequate with where they are in their life right now.

I wish you all a very prosperous new year!

Encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 1 Thessalonians 5:14

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas
Happy New Year

Friday, December 22, 2017

The Magic Stix Review #MagcStixCapTest #MagicStix

One of my daughter's favorite art supplies are her Kwik Stix from The Pencil Grip. She loves to be able to take these with her and paint from anywhere. She was very excited to try the new Magic Stix Washable Markers. 

The Magic Stix are the same great product as the Kwik Stix only better. These new stix are magic. They are washable, odorless, non-toxic, and they will not dry out. Even if you leave the cap off for up to 7 days. Alaina loves this. She can create her art without replacing the cap every time she puts a color down for a few minutes. Another reason she loves them is because we baby sit my friends daughter on occasion and she likes to paint with Alaina. This way she doesn't have to keep putting the lids on and off for her over and over.

Of course Alaina wanted to see if the markers would not dry out if she left the lid off. So she left the red one open for 7 days and she was thrilled when it still worked. She said it felt a little scratchy when she used it, but it still worked.

Alaina created Christmas cards and birthday cards with the Magic Six. Her brother's birthday is this month and she wanted to hand make his card.

The new Magic Stix Washable Markers are available at Amazon in a 12 or 24 pack set. We have the pack of 12 markers and they are very bright bold colors. We gave several kids both friends and family sets of the Kwik Stix for Christmas. Now we will add the Magic Stix to our list of go to gift ideas.

Diclaimer: I received a set of 12 Magic Stix Washable Markers from The Pencil Grip, Inc. in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Christmas Traditions #gingerbreadhouses

We have a lot of holiday traditions. Some of the traditions I wanted to create with my own kids has grown to include so many more over the years. I can't remember exactly what year I started making gingerbread houses with my oldest son, but I'm pretty sure we have made them every year. 

At first, it was just my kids and I. Then I had some friends that wanted their kids to make one too. For a long time we made them at my house. My table seats 10 people comfortable, but you can get more when you are standing up working on something. One year we had so many kids and adults, that I had to schedule two different times. The next year I decided to make them at our church building. This year we had 31 people decorating a house. They ranged from toddlers to older adults. 
Every year I bake all the ginerbread and shop for all the candy. The last several years hasn't been that bad, because my kids are old enough to help me with that. Plus they love shopping for all the candy. 

Some people love making gingerbread houses and want to make one with us every year and some people never want to make one again. 
It is fun to watch everyone. Some people have to set their house up several times because they either used too much icing or they didn't let it set for a minute before adding a bunch of candy. 

Some of the houses end up with a lot of candy, and other houses have more icing for a more snowy scene. I actually like to sprinkly my house with a little powdered sugar when I'm finished to give it a fresh fallen snow look but some people don't appreciate taking those home because the powdered sugar tends to blow off. 

This is just one of our many Christmas traditions. What are some of your favorites traditions?

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Christmas Gift #giftgiving

Every year we have a ladies Christmas party at our church. We get together and eat, play games, and exchange gifts from a $5-$10 value. I like to come up with fun ideas that are different from the things I have taken in years past. 

This year as I was shopping I came across this little glass dish with a dome. I thought it was so cute, so I asked my kids what we could put in it. Of course my chocolate loving daughter, Amber suggested a chocolate cupcake with ganache in the center, chocolate icing and a chocolate covered coffee bean on the top. I took her suggestion and made up a batch the day of the party and I think it turned out wonderful. It is so cute!! 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Family Honor Plate Review #HonorPlate #FlyBy

Alaina is always looking for new crafts or craft ideas. She was so excited when we received the Family Honor Plate. Not only did we receive this plate, but we also received the Table Thyme Discussion Cards to go with it.

The Family Honor Plate is a fun craft that will bring your family together. The plate is full sized and says Family Honor Plate in the center with virtues written going around the inside edge. The craft part of the plate comes in by painting the raised edge of the plate. It comes with the ceramic plate, 8 different colored paint pots, 3 paint brushes, painter's palette, plate stand, and 7 discussion starter questions. The plate painting is recommended for anyone ages 2 or over.

The plate is easy to paint. The plate should be cleaned with alcohol prior to painting to ensure the plate is clean of all dust and particles. Next, you paint the plate and then bake it to set the colors. Once your plate has cooled it is ready to use. Now how to choose who gets to use the special plate.

This could be a special plate to honor someone at meal time. Has one of your children made good choices, been especially kind, good, or loving? Now is the time to notice those qualities in our children no matter how small they may seem.  It will open up conversations with our kids about their behavior and let them know that we are paying attention to them throughout the day. I think it is very contagious when we start noticing good qualities in people our children will do the same thing.
Alaina wanted to paint our plate. She chose the colors purple, black, and white. I have a very deep purple in our dining room and she thought it would be even more special if it matched our purple dishes and our room. She decided on her pattern and at first, she was worried she wouldn't have enough of those colors to make it all the way around, but she did. I think it turned out fabulous.
The Table Thyme Discussion Cards are a set of questions spiral bound with its own stand. The questions help you share and learn new things about each other. They give everyone a chance to be heard, create memories, and connect and bond with your family.

Some of the questions are more serious and others are more fun. They ask things about what everyone wants to do in life, where you see yourself later, what are you good at, what makes you laugh, what are your favorites. Each question ends with "Why?" to get everyone included in the discussion.

The Family Honor Plate and the Table Thyme Discussion Cards are great to bring the family together and honor one individual each mealtime. Right now you can receive up to 20% discount on multiple orders.

Communication with our kids is very important. If that line of communication isn't open with them on little things then how can we expect them to come to us when they have important questions or matters to discuss.

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Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  I received the Family Honor Plate and the Table Thyme Discussion Cards free in exchange for this review and post. All opinions are my own and no other compensation was received. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

She Reads Truth Bible Review #SheReadsTruth #ReadYourBible

I love waking up before everyone else in my family, it is always so quiet and peaceful. This time of year is even better, it is still dark out and my Christmas lights just add to the peaceful mood. One thing I enjoy in those quiet moments is reading my Bible. Sometimes I will read straight through, sometimes I will study a topic or person. Lately, I have been reading from the She Reads Truth Bible which is the Christian Standard Bible version.

This Bible is very pretty!! It is hardback bound and comes in a slipcover. Each book has an introduction that includes a verse of scripture artfully written, a reading plan, and an introduction to the book. Some books include a devotional, colorful timelines, full-color maps or charts, and the margins are large for journaling or note-taking. This Bible also includes two colored ribbons and the edge of the first page in each book is colored according to its genre. There is also a section on how to read the Bible, a list of key verses, a genre guide, and a plan to read the bible in one year.

The key verses included at the beginning of each book are not only pleasing to look at they make an outline of the Bible when they are put together. I think memorizing these 66 verses are easier when they are beautifully written because it creates a picture in your mind of the words. The introduction of each book is brief but contains quite a bit. The charts are also very helpful. The chart that is at the beginning of Psalms contains verses that show verses in that book about Christ.

I have been enjoying using the She Reads Truth Bible. It is very pretty and my youngest daughter turns into a teenager next week and she has also been reading this Bible. She let me know that she would like to have it because it is prettier than the one she reads normally. She loves the color and we both think it is very pretty. I really like the timeline to put the pieces together in the order they should be.

The Christian Standard Bible is a modern English Bible translation of the Christian Bible. It captures the original meaning without compromising clarity. It blends accuracy and readability. She Reads Truth Bible is from Holman Bible Publishers. Their goal is to have women to read God's word every day.

This is a great Bible to use for your daily devotions or Bible study. There is a giveaway going on for seven She Reads Truth Bibles if you would like to try and win your own.

Disclaimer: I received the She Reads Bible free of charge to review for B&H Publishing by FrontGate Media.  No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

HORMEL GATHERINGS® Party Trays Review #ad @HormelFoods #hormelgatherings, #partytrays, #alreadyready, #hormel, #gameday, #gamedaygathering, #party, #appetizer, #stressfreeparty, #partytips, #friends, #football, #tailgate

Disclaimer: I received free product in exchange for my honest review.
Thanksgiving this year was a little bit different for us. We met some of our family in Colorado for the weekend. Our two adult children were there, my sister and her husband, a couple of nephews, one niece, my dad and my step mom for a total of 18 people. We stayed in a hotel and my husband and I along with our kids had a two bedroom two bath suite. We were so thankful that we could all hang out together in our room or the lobby. We didn't have any big plans, but we did a little running around and a few touristy things, but mostly we hung out at the hotel. Nothing about our weekend was like the way we usually celebrate Thanksgiving. We didn't have any of our regular holiday foods.

There are always a few things that happen when my family gets together. We always play a lot of Euchre, talk, giggle, and of course, eat!! This year we did this in our room or down in the breakfast area of the hotel. 

No matter what kind of party you are hosting HORMEL GATHERINGS® Party Trays can make party planning easy. If you are having a dinner and need an easy appetizer, if you are having a game day party, or even if you are just sitting around playing games with your family these ready-made party trays are just what you need. 

HORMEL GATHERINGS® Party Trays come in three varieties. 

The store we purchased our party trays from had the HORMEL GATHERINGS® Supreme Party Tray, and the HORMEL GATHERINGS® Honey Ham & Turkey Party Tray, so we purchased them both. My 12-year-old daughter helped me open them up and display them in the divided tray. The outside plastic tray was taped shut and each of the different items was sealed in their own pouch. Once we had the meat, cheese, and crackers arranged we could snap the lid back in place to refrigerate until it was time to eat. This was also a huge plus for the leftovers. The only thing we needed was something to pick the olives up out of the liquid. Once we were finished eating clean up was a breeze. 

All of our meat and cheese was very flavorful & I loved that the tray was divided to keep each item separated. I tried everything that was included except for the olives. That is one thing that I cannot stand to eat, but my husband loves them. He was very pleased with the taste and quality of the Peloponnese olives. Everyone raved about how easy the tray was to arrange and how great everything tasted. These party trays will be a must-have for our future party gatherings. 

To make your party planning stress-free you can check to see if your local stores carry the HORMEL GATHERINGS® Party Trays.

Disclaimer: I received coupons to purchase three HORMEL GATHERINGS® Party Trays and a Walmart gift card for additional party supplies as a part of the Social Insiders Hormel campaign. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Cake Pops

Morgan recently had a party and she wanted to serve cake pops. Delaney took it upon herself to plan it out. Her cake stand was styrofoam covered with ribbon and silver jewels. She also covered some of her sticks in the same ribbon and the same silver jewels.
Morgan wanted a variety of flavors, so we chose to make lemon cake pops with lemon flavored white chocolate, white cake balls covered in white chocolate, strawberry cake pops covered in white chocolate, and chocolate cake pops covered in chocolate.

Delaney not only designed the set up, she also made most of the cake pops herself. Her sisters and I helped a little, but she did the majority of it herself. I think she did a fabulous job!!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Cousins #cousinsfun

One thing I hate about living so far away from family is that my kids don't get to see their cousins that often. But one thing I have noticed over the years is it doesn't matter if it has only been a few weeks since they were together or if it has been a year they always have a good time.

Of course in this generation, there are so many selfies going on and other cousins trying to jump in making for some great memorable moments. 

Orlando, Pensacola, Indiana, Montana, and Nebraska are all represented here. I think it is so much fun to see them all together and to notice the similar traits that they have even though they aren't around each other that much.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Sharon Watson Characters in Crisis Review #hsreviews #highschoolwriting #writingcurriculum

Writing with Sharon Watson
Last year we were introduced to Writing with Sharon Watson when we reviewed Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide. My girls loved it, so when Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis came up for review this time we knew we wanted to be on it.

Characters in Crisis is written from a Christian worldview should last one year for students in the 9th-12th grade. When Worlds Collide and Characters in Crisis do not have to be used in order, either one can be used for any high school grade.

The selections for Crisis are A Journey of Her Peers, Frankenstein, Silas Marner, Much Ado About Nothing, Sense and Sensibility, The Hobbit, other short stories, and an autobiography of the students choice. It includes a physical book for the student text, the Teacher's Guide, Quiz and Answer Manual, there is also a Novel Notebook available as a pdf, and online quizzes.
Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis

The text is a 293-page softcover book and it contains an introduction and a chapter for each reading selection. A Journey of Her Peers, and the short stories are included in the text and it recommends purchasing a specific version of each book. It has been very beneficial having the correct version because the textbook uses specific page numbers and it saves a lot of time and frustration of trying to hunt for what you are looking for. Each chapter contains a section for before reading the book that includes a suggested reading and homework plan, information on the author, fun facts, and other literary information about the book and each chapter. After you read the book there are questions and activities to choose from. The passwords for the online quizzes are also included here.

The 174-page Teacher's Guide is also softcover. It starts with a section written to the teacher about the course, how to grade the students work, and the course objectives. There is also information on how to use Characters in Crisis alone or in a group whether it is a facebook group or a book of the month club. The remaining part is the answer key.

The Quiz and Answer Manuel is just what it sounds like. It is a 53-page softcover book with the quizzes and answers. This book gives you the option of completing the quizzes on paper or if you use the online quizzes you will not need to use these quizzes.

The Novel Notebook is a free 86-page pdf download. The colorful pages include questions about the books, journaling questions, and character maps. Some of these questions have correct answers and others are opinions.

Delaney was so excited when I told her we were getting Characters in Crisis. The books used in this curriculum are not something she would have chosen to read on her own so I wasn't sure if she would want it but she said she liked When Worlds Collide so much that she wanted to use this course as well. Plus she is my writer and she has been forcing herself to write out of her comfort zone so she thought this might help her. Delaney really likes the section in the text that you read before reading the book. There is so much information about the story and the author that makes her want to read the book. She started with A Jury of Her Peers and then moved to Frankenstein. There are a lot of activity choices for A Jury of Her Peers including further research, create artwork, music, rewriting the story, and more. Of course, Delaney chose a writing activity for this one and she probably will for the rest of the books.

The text is written directly to the student and Sharon also includes step-by-step directions on how to grade their work. Delaney does feel that she not only this is not only a great literature course, but she also feels it helps her in her writing and developing her characters.

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Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis {Writing with Sharon Watson Reviews}
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Kutless Review & Giveaway #KutlessAO #FlyBy

We have been a fan of Kutless for a long time. I love What Faith Can Do, Better Is One Day, and Shut Me Out. I was so excited to hear they have a new album! Kutless wanted to create an album that would engage the Christian community so they used a collection of rock and worship songs of both original and cover tracks that are true to who the band has been for 17 years. Alpha/Omega has ten tracks including a new version of Strong Tower and the radio single King of My Heart

Your Great Name
Your Strong Tower
King Of My Heart
You Are Love
Great Are You Lord
Your Love Awakens Me
Shepherd Of My Soul
Gave It All
No Wonder

We have been enjoying not only the beat and music on this album but also the lyrics. Kutless uses words that we can all relate to and gives me encouragement throughout the day. I love this quote from Jon Micah Sumrall and I am so glad he still has this vision. 

 “We really believe that music can make a difference in people’s lives,” shares Jon Micah Sumrall. “Music is an incredibly powerful tool that can break down walls and allow us to communicate a message of hope to people who may not listen otherwise. We are still recording and performing because we really do believe it makes a difference. We hear stories all the time from people who share with us how a concert or a song has radically impacted their life, and it’s these types of testimonies that keep us going year after year.” 

 We aren't the only ones that enjoy Kutless. The band has 12 No. 1 radio singles including Strong Tower, What Faith Can Do, and Carry Me To The Cross. The band has had 12 No. 1 radio singles across all formats including their major hits "Strong Tower,” "What Faith Can Do" and "Carry Me To The Cross.”

I have some great news. If you live in the continental U.S. You can win a copy of Alpha/Omega from Kutless. Just enter the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Sushi California Rolls #kidscancook #recipefun

 Alaina is entering the recipe contest our local paper hosts every year. She has been trying to decide what she wants to enter. She loves California Rolls, so she is thinking about entering those. She does a good job rolling them and they are yummy!

 She has some leftover crab and avocado, so she decided to make up her own little appetizer. I'll share her little secrets latter after she decides what to enter.

Forbrain Review #hsreviews, #forbrain #ADD #ADHD #sensoryintegration

Forbrain Sound for Life LTD
When my kids were little I would sometimes have them record themselves while they were reading so they could play it back and listen to themselves. I wanted them to hear how they pronounced their words, their inflection, and so they could learn to read out loud properly. There are so many times we need to read aloud in front of other people and this should be a pleasant experience for the listeners. I know I have listened to adults read out loud that could benefit from hearing themselves. We recently received Forbrain from Sound From Life LTD that can make hearing yourself easier than using a recording and replaying it.  
Forbrain Sound for Life LTD
Forbrain is a headset that uses your voice to boost your brain. It actually gives your nervous system a sensory workout. Your voice is transmitted through bone conduction by using the audio-vocal loop. The Bone Conduction Transducers sits on the temporal bone right in front of your ears. The high-quality microphone picks up your voice and it travels through the Dynamic Filter before reaching the transducers. The Forbrain comes with the headset, charging cable, exercise booklet, extra microphone covers, and a nice sturdy case.  

This headset can be used for anyone ages 4 and up. It can help with pronunciation and speech difficulties, lack of confidence, voice quality, rhythm difficulties, or singing out of tune. By using this product for just a few minutes each day it can help with concentration and memory. 
We have been using our Forbrain headset a couple of different ways. Alaina (age 12) has been using it while working on her memory verses for Sunday school. I think it helps her remember them a little better and it has really improved the way she recites them. She has been paying attention to how she says them and making sure she pronounces every word correctly. The other girls (age 15 & 16) have been using them while they practice the piano. Not the whole time, but they have a few songs they like to sing while they practice them and it has really helped them to hear how they sound while they are singing. Of course, I also had to try them out. My kids think spelling words are fun and we continue to work on spelling words until they graduate high school. I have been using the headset when I give them their spelling words. 
The Homeschool Review Crew has reviewed this product before and I thought it was something we didn't really need, but I was wrong. I am glad that I opted to review them this time around. Although we don't have any major speech or attention difficulties it is the little things we pay attention to in life that can go a long way and could make the biggest differences in some areas of our lives. I think being able to speak and read out loud correctly is one of those things we need to be able to do well in life. I think my adult son could benefit from these also. He is a great speaker and loves to speak in front of people, but he tends to get excited and talks faster and then he begins to mumble. The next time he comes home for a visit I will have him try them. 

This product is also recommended for people with ADD, ADHD, or other sensory issues. Crew members tried Forbrain with their children of different ages and learning abilities so make sure you read their reviews also. 
Forbrain Sound for Life LTD
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Forbrain {Sound For Life Ltd Review}
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