Sunday, April 19, 2015

Who Has Time for Down Time??

Trying to rest is hard y'all. It seems like there is already so much to do in a week's time. This week I was sick a few days (pollen=allergies=boo!) so my productivity was limited to sitting on the couch attempting to teach school. Glad we can do our day in our pjs when needed. I fell out of my 7 am wake up call but I'm not going to beat myself up about it. We are getting back to it tomorrow!

I have limited my Sunday "work" as much as possible the past few weeks. I think just being aware that I need time to relax with my family is the first step. Making a checklist seems to help. If I can prioritize my activities for each day then I feel productive instead of guilty as I work my way through the list.

It may sound like busy work to some people, but the more I can prepare things beforehand, the better my days go. So if I can lay out clothes the night before or pack bags or pre-make meals then I will be in better shape.

What are your best tips for organizing your time so you have time to relax? Do you schedule in "rest" or relaxation time? We are looking forward to a family trip soon. I am praying and planning now so hopefully I can relax and enjoy myself on our trip.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Bible for Your Early Reader

I received a free copy of this book as a Tommy Mommy in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Apple is finishing up a confirmation class at church that she has enjoyed so much. We've used the excitement of her class to really start encouraging Speedy to spend more time reading the Bible on his own. He goes to Sunday School and church each week, and we do daily devotions and Bible studies as part of our school time. There is always so much more to learn by reading God's word on your own though. Hubby & I are reading through the Bible with our adult Sunday School class right now, and I think we just feel even more convinced that our family needs to spend a good amount of time immersed in the world both with others and individually. So this was the perfect time for us to receive The Early Readers Bible for review.

Speedy says:

*I like the cover because it is really cool.

*I like that it is New King James Version because my other Bibles are different.

*I like the pictures. There are pictures in every random part.

*There is a picture timeline at the end.

*There are really nice maps too.

*I like how big the words are (larger font).

The big font makes it easy for him to read. He actually is finding the NKJV very interesting because he's so accustomed to the NIV and ICB. This Bible is packed full of maps, pictures, and charts to keep young readers engaged. There are places to note special events and reading plans. The most exciting part is a colorful illustration timeline that includes Biblical History and Secular History from the birth of Abram to the exile of John in AD 100. The only thing I see that I would add to this Bible would be tabs. It is so difficult to teach children to navigate the Bible without tabs.

The version of this Bible we received is a hardback and it would be excellent for churches to give as "move up" gifts to children. Our church typically gives each child a Bible as they move into 2nd grade.

Reading and understanding God's word is so important. I think "we" have let this discipline slide in recent times. We have more Bibles available to us than ever before, but I'd dare to guess we read them less. Reading God's word and having it in our memories brings peace and a closer relationship with God.

Because I feel so strongly about us all staying well versed in the Bible, I'm thrilled to give one reader a copy of The Early Readers Bible. Fill out the easy Giveaway Tools widget to enter.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Review: Fun Learning Website for Gamers and Readers

My kids both enjoy reading and are becoming gamers, so I knew they would have fun with The Treasure of HighTower from Star Toaster. This educational gaming site promotes learning through online books and games. This is the first book in the Orphs of the Woodlands series and is an online curriculum we have been reviewing for the Schoolhouse Crew. This educational adventure is recommended for students in grades 4th-7th. This is a completely online resource that worked great for us on Chrome.

Star Toaster Review

First, the student fills out a spy application to begin their adventure. Then, they read a chapter of the book. At the end of each chapter is a list of jobs for them to perform. These jobs earn them goldstars which help them save the orphs (orphan Woodland creatures).

The story itself is intriguing and contains loads of vocabulary words. Select words are typed in color so the reader can hover over them to read the definition. Other color coded words give secret information or quotes. Some even have a sound effect! This spy story has so much packed into the 376 pages that I cannot possibly give you every detail.

Let's move on to the jobs. This is where even more learning happens! At the end of each of the 15 chapters, the reader is given a list of jobs to do. They can do as many or as few as they'd like before they continue reading. Each job gives them the opportunity to earn goldstars. The jobs are in the categories: the arts, math, thinking skills, vocabulary, life skills, character, language, and science. Each job has a short lesson (by video, reading, examples, and/ or a recipe) and then some questions. If your child answers all of the questions correctly, they will receive goldstars. Jobs that are not completed will stay available.

Then your child has a chance to save some orphs. They use the goldstars to purchase plots of land and then water, energy, medicine, etc. The more land and supplies they purchase, the more orphs they save. There is a topbar that shows the number of orphs saved, available goldstars, and the number of jobs available. This helps the student keep track of their progress through the game.

Apple has played this game for a few weeks and has completed it. She loves to read and enjoys online games so this was a win-win for her. She is a quick reader so it didn't take her long to complete. She enjoyed the "spy" theme of the game and the jobs that were available. She commented on many of them that corresponded with her current school lessons and those that included fun things like recipes.

I have an account set up for Speedy, but he has not really gotten started yet. He has read a few pages of it so far but he reads at a slower pace than his sister and so I need to break the chapters down a bit for him. This is recommended above his grade level but his reading level is on par to enjoy the story. He has been interested in the game and has watched Apple play a few times. I didn't want to stress him out with a time constraint so it will be easier for him to enjoy the game now that she has finished.

There are so many things we like about Orphs of the Woodland. It is learning by reading. It contains many topics and subjects for a well rounded educational experience. The 60 day subscription is perfect for a summer program that is fun. The game aspect is a terrific motivator. It is useful no matter what type of school your child is in. I can also see this online book working during times it is hard to homeschool or times when your child is bucking the idea of school. Online curriculum can be a wonderful tool during busy/ crazy times. I love that it is extra schoolwork without my kids complaining about it.

We noticed a few things that would enhance the experience with this game. The first thing is if a student misses a question or more on a job, they don't receive any stars for that job and they are unable to retake it. This was frustrating for Apple. She wanted to finish buying all the plots of land at the end but was unable to do so because of a lack of goldstars. Also the chapters are very long. For a more cautious reader like Speedy 20-30 page chapters (even short pages) can be intimidating. I plan to giving him a daily goal as he reads through the book. I think the games will keep him excited. Plus he loves spy stories! Navigating the site does take some patience in the very beginning. There is a drop down menu, buttons in various places, etc. It isn't terribly hard to figure out, but I would recommend parents take some time to familiarize themselves and then show students where they need to go for the important things. Also students and parents log in using the same email address but different passwords. That actually makes logging in easier, but it is important to make sure students are logged in correctly so that their work is saved under their account.

Apple's Orph plots of land.

So to recap....Star Toaster's Orphs of the Woodlands series begins with the first book The Treasure of HighTower. This program comes in a 60 day subscription (1 month extensions are available) and is recommended for 4th- 7th graders. The program includes a 15 chapter book and educational jobs where students earn goldstars to save the Orphs. Exciting. Fun. Educational.

For a limited time you can sign up for a free trial:

Star Toaster Review

Find out more by reading what other members of the Crew thought of this program.

Star Toaster Review
Connect with Star Toaster on Social Media:

Crew Disclaimer

Sunday, April 12, 2015


Jesus wasn't in the business of making people comfortable. Quite the opposite. He made Joseph & Mary uncomfortable when he disappeared to teach in the temple. He made the apostles uncomfortable by calling them away from their jobs, families, and homes to follow Him. He made the Pharisees uncomfortable by telling them their cleanliness didn't come from the outside. He made the people uncomfortable by eating with Zacchaeus the tax collector.

Maybe you are uncomfortable in life right now. Maybe waking up early each day is uncomfortable (raising my hand here). Maybe homeschooling your children or working or your marriage or your church has you feeling ill at ease. Maybe you've got medical issues or family concerns and you feel out of place.

If you are uncomfortable and you are praying and reading the Word, I'd venture to say you are exactly where God wants you to be right now. The Bible doesn't say He promises us happiness here on earth. Jesus certainly wasn't comfortable up on that cross. Maybe your prayers aren't being answered or the "prosperity" just isn't happening. Don't fear. Don't worry. Embrace the discomfort and keep your faith.

Our real comfort, our real happiness, our real blessings won't be here on earth.

John 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Review: Dial Miracle Oil Hand Soap #Giveaway

I received a (free in exchange for review) bottle of new Dial Miracle Oil Hand Soap. Dial hand soap is very common in our home because it is so affordable and there's always a new one to try. This new Miracle Oil Hand Soap is infused with Marula Oil just like the new Dial Miracle Oil body wash.

The cheerful orange soap reminds me of the original liquid Dial hand soap that my grandparents always had on their sink. The easy pump bottle is designed to cleanly and efficently deliver hand soap with ease. That's important when kids are using the soap too! This conditioning soap smells great and works like a charm. I am constantly washing my hands so it is important to have a gentle but effective soap.

Designer soaps are really just soaps that cost more money. Dial soap is available in many stores for an affordable price. It works great and won't dry out your hands. This Dial Miracle Oil soap has such a pleasant scent and the inclusion of Marula Oil that it's hard to resist! How would you like to try your own bottle? I have a variety of 3 Dial Soap coupons good for various free bottles of hand soap to giveaway to one of you. Enter via the Giveaway Tools widget.

I received a free bottle of hand soap in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Midnight is Not Part of the Routine

I have done so well with my routine last week and this week. Now it's midnight though, and I'm still awake. I'm thinking this doesn't bode well for my 7 am alarm. I cringe just thinking of it.

Things that are working well:

*2 lunch dates with friends this week! Always wonderful. A great stress reliever for the kids and especially for me.

*Purging items for the upcoming consignment sale. Yay for getting rid of things we no longer need! Of course I will be buying things at the sale so.....

*It's baseball season. :) I know this doesn't mean much to some of you but I have a fella who LOVES to play so this is his very favorite time of year.

*Accomplishing so many things before lunch by getting up at 7. Seriously. It's a whole thing.

*Seeing the end of the school year approaching on the calendar. All the home school mamas say "Amen!"

*Almost being finished selecting curriculum for 2015-2016 so I can start planning. That makes me very happy. I love to plan. Plan all the things!

*Warmer days so children can play outside. That's working swimmingly.

What's working well for you?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Introducing the NEW Educents Marketplace

{This is a sponsored post.}

Introducing the NEW Educents Marketplace

 I just received an email from the founders of Educents, Kate and Kaitlyn, with some really exciting news. Until today, Educents was a website for parents and educators to take advantage of daily deals. But those deals expired... And there were only 50 deals available at once... I wanted saving money to be even EASIER. Kate and Kaitlyn agreed. So they created the new Educents Marketplace. It’s even easier to discover affordable educational resources that make learning FUN!


Thousands of new products - Educents Sellers can now offer ALL of their bestsellers on the new Educents Marketplace. There's a wide variety of worksheets, lesson plans, educational apps and toys. Shop The Young Scientists Club, Scholastic, Workman Publishing, Alpha Omega Publishing, Life of Fred books, hundreds of printable units created by educators, and more!

Offers that NEVER expire - Sellers can offer our favorite educational products year-round. Once a deeply discounted Daily Deal expires, you can still find that product available on Educents at the lowest price.

Discovery - It's easier to search on Educents. Search for your kiddos' interests like Minecraft or Frozen-inspired resources, and then sort by grade level, subject, brand, and more! Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 9.36.15 AM

Follow your favorite brands and Sellers - The “Follow Me” feature lets me add my favorite Sellers to a list. Click the heart on the Seller Storefront. You can also see which Sellers are the most popular with other shoppers!

  Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 5.59.18 PM

The Educents Marketplace is exactly what I want it to be -- the best place for parents and educators to find the resources I NEED at an affordable price.