And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. Isaiah 54:13 KJV

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Jesus Has Risen

This morning we awoke to a foggy quiet day. We enjoyed a few moments together as we readied ourselves for church. I thought of the women headed to the tomb that morning (Matthew 28). Was it quiet and peaceful? At dawn I imagine that it was. Their hearts would have still felt heavy with grief, their faces would've been downcast.

How it all changed in moments! They were told He was risen and they went away filled with joy (Matthew 28: 8).

Today was joyful. My beautiful babies put on their lovely new clothes and we went to church as a family. We spent our morning worshiping the one who lives!

Afterwards we came home and lunched with extended family. Our afternoon was leisurely as we ate and played games.

This evening the 4 of us enjoyed the finale of The Bible series. Well the 4 of us enjoyed some of it together but we did send the kids out for the majority of the crucifixion scene. While they have handled the series well we felt that those scenes were too graphic for them.

Again I felt like this episode was wonderful. There were several scenes that sent Hubby to the Word to compare what it actually says vs what was seen. However this is still an amazing evangelism tool. I pray it leads believers and nonbelievers to delve into the world. I pray it changes hearts and minds. 

I can't think of any better way to have celebrated our Lord than we did today. We worshiped Him, we enjoyed the laughter and love of family, and we spent time reflecting on Him and His sacrifice through The Bible series and reading the Word.

You can see my thoughts on The Bible installment 12, 3, and 4.

All opinions are my own. I received no compensation for this post.

Soft, Fantastic Hair

Y'all my hair is looooooong. Like halfway down my back long. It's been 9/10s of forever since it was this long. I have to admit.... I LOVE it! It's looking great and easy to maintain. Want to know my easy hair secret? New Garnier Fructis Hydra Recharge. This new shampoo is keeping my hair soft and looking fabulous. It's so quick an easy to wash and condition and those tiny beads pack big conditioning power ladies!

Not only are the shampoo and conditioner amazing but the 1 minute Moisture-Plenish Treatment does great things for my hair. I use the treatment once a week to keep my hair soft and split-end free. The best part about this Hydra Recharge is that I can skip a day between shampoos. Even with super long hair my roots tend to be oily. Typically I have to wash daily but with Hydra Recharge I have skipped several days and opted for the pony tail without looking like a oil spill happened on my scalp.

Take a look! Super long lovely locks! Thanks Garnier Fructis for another fantastic product! 

Stick around because I will have a Garnier  BB Cream review for you soon!

I received free samples of this product as a BzzAgent for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Cleaning Up #5

Well we've come to the end of the series. I must say I'm sad to be at the end. I love cleaning. Well I love having a really clean house anyway! ;) There's always more to do but let's finish up this week with a plan for the future. While I think spring (and fall) cleaning are necessary and great (because we all need a regular schedule for organizing, purging, and deep cleaning) you can lessen the spring cleaning load by doing a little each day.

My standard recommendation to EVERYONE is to make a daily schedule. Make a short list of chores to do each day. Again enlist your kids! I fully believe children should have a regular list of chores (cleaning their room, sorting the laundry, etc) but you can give them each a "special" job to do each week.When everyone in the house pitches in cleaning isn't overwhelming to one person (ie Mom!).

So make a short list of things that need to be done every day/ week. My standards are:

*Checking the mail (yes this task goes in my cleaning list because if it isn't dealt with everyday then it becomes a big problem)

*Kitchen (some things like dishes should be done daily but the overall kitchen can take one day a week)


*Dusting (rooms besides those listed above) and Floors (so on the days I clean the kitchen and bathrooms I do everything except the floors)

*Linens (I try to do these bi-weekly)

*Laundry (I find it best to do a certain number of loads a day but some families find it works best to do it all on one day)

*Bills and Shopping. I tend to alternate these two based on payday. I like to pay all our bills on payday and schedule 2 large grocery store trips per month. It doesn't always work out that way but it's easier for me when I can try to make it happen.

Now try to plan one or two of these for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and/or Saturday. You will have a cleaner house and more sanity guaranteed!

Don't forget to check out Cleaning Up #1, #2, #3, and #4.

Thursday, March 28, 2013


I opened A Dream So Big: Our Unlikely Journey to End the Tears of Hunger by Steve Peifer with Gregg Lewis and fell right in. I knew from the cover that this book would touch me and would bring back to the surface our sweet connection with Africa.

I couldn't have known that Steve Peifer's life was touched by Trisomy 13. I didn't know that the story of his infant son Stephen would make my heart ache. Steve and Nancy's son had the same disorder that our sweet friend Morgan had lived with. Oh how I miss our little friend with her beautiful smile and loving pats!

I should have known that the time spent reading this book would keep me in constant prayer for our AMAZING missionary friends in Africa the Simpsons. I should have known that I would be moved to tears over the orphan epidemic in Africa. I should have known the the stories of innocent children who have no shoes and nothing to eat would leave me in tears.

Steve and Nancy Peifer took their 2 older sons for a year in Kenya following the death of their infant son. God used that year to change them and to change their lives. Although Steve is more than humble as he recounts their time there, the things they have been able to accomplish are no less than amazing. I love that the writings of Steve and Nancy give all praise to the Lord.

In short, I loved reading the story of the Peifers. I love that the story is ongoing. I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who has been affected by Trisomy 13, lost an infant, loves missionaries, has a connection to Africa, is pro-adoption, or who just has a heart for God's work.

Here is a press release on the book:

One Man Turns Personal Tragedy to Inspiration, Feeding and Educating Thousands of Kenyan Schoolchildren Every Day

Steve Peifer’s new Book A Dream So Big: Our Unlikely Journey to End the Tears of Hunger Releases in March 19, 2013
Grand Rapids, Mich., November 12, 2012— Steve Peifer was living the Americandream—good job, nice house, a wife and two kids with one more baby in the way. But when their newborn child tragically diedfrom a chromosomal disorder, Steve and his wife found themselves thrust into a new, horrible “normal.” Desperate for a change to help them escape the heartache of their loss, they agreedto be dorm parents at a school in KenyaBut a one-year experiment prompted a personal and family pilgrimage that transformed a seemingly ordinary middle-aged American man, husband, and father into perhaps the most unlikely internationally influential hero you’ve never heard of. Until now.

Being thrust into a third-world setting where daily life was often defined by tragedy---drought, disease, poverty, hunger, and death—the Peifers did not arrive in the service of any divine calling. But the truth of their surroundings spoke to their troubledhearts. And that’s how a corporate executive who once oversaw 9,000 computer software consultants ended up feeding lunch and teaching computer skills tostarving African schoolchildren every day.

Today, thirteen years after their original short-term assignment, Steve Peifer and his team have built 20 solar computer centers and still provide daily lunches to more than 20,000 Kenyan school children in thirty-five national public schools. Surely he had never dreamed a dream quite so big as that.

Steve Peifer, along with Greg Lewis, has chronicled this amazing, triumphant story in the new book ADream So Big: Our Unlikely Journey to End the Tears of Hunger (Zondervan, March 19, ISBN13: 9780310326090)Readers will treasure the touching story of how a Kenyan boarding school turned an ordinary man into the most unlikely internationally recognized hero and will be inspired to pursue similar lives of service.
Steve Peifer serves as Director of College Guidance for Rift Valley Academy in Kijabe, Kenya. He established a rural food program in 2002 that provides lunches for 20,000 Kenyan schoolchildren a day. He has also built the first solar-powered computer-training center in Kenya, and is now developing twenty computer classroom labs for rural schools. For his work on behalf of Kenyan children, he was awarded the CNN Heroes Award for Championing Children in 2007, the 2007  Yale Counseling Award and the 2010 NACAC Excellence in Education Award. Steve and Nancy have four children.

Steve Peifer will be stateside to promote his book March 21- April 13, 2013. For more information or to schedule an interview, contact Katie Broaddus at or 256-527-6152.

I received a free copy of this book from the publicist. All opinions are my own.

Cleaning Up #4

Catch up on this series with #1, #2, and #3.

Poor Speedy in his sister's hat. I love these older pictures when he was a chubby little fella. However I'm posting this to refer to the carpet. Floors. The bane of my existence. They NEVER NEVER NEVER seem clean enough and they never stay clean. However we can't just give up and let them get nasty. So......

Hopefully you did your room by room cleaning yesterday. It would be hard to do every room top to bottom and get the floors clean too all in one day. For a real spring clean on floors, it will take some time and elbow grease. 

Again I suggest doing one room at a time. For today's order I would do all the floors that need to be swept and mopped in order and then do all the floors that need to be vacuumed. It doesn't matter which group you do first.

Let's begin here with the rooms you sweep and mop. Now this can involve a broom vac, a high tech multi-surface vacuum, or a good ol broom and dustpan. For a deep clean I would reach for the broom and dustpan but that's just me. You can also use a traditional mop in warm soapy water, a new "mop" system that sprays or uses large wipes, or a steam cleaner. I use my mop most of the time.

Remove any furniture you can from the room (ie take the dining room chairs away from the table and set in another room). 

For this type of spring cleaning it would be great to remove any rugs from the room. If the rugs are too large to move then make sure to vacuum and/or clean them) and try to sweep underneath as far  as you can.

Pick up any stray items from the floor.

Now sweep from wall to wall. Make sure you go under any furniture that can't be removed. Try to get behind any areas that you and if Hubby is around have him help you get under the appliances. When my Hubby isn't around to help me with the stove sometimes I remove the bottom drawer. It gives me access to most of the area under the stove.

After making certain you have cleaned up as much dirt and dust from the floor as you can, then sweep following the same patterns and instructions. 

Put up signs, threaten, do whatever you need to do to keep people and animals off the floor until it can dry! Repeat room by room.

For vacuuming those rugs and rooms with carpet, I recommend getting your vacuum tools ready. If you have attachments for the vacuum, today is the day to use them! Move any furniture that you can to vacuum around it. I like to vacuum under my couch cushions too. Go along each wall with a crevice tool to get out all the dust and dirt that accumulates. 

This is the PERFECT time to use a carpet cleaner if you have access to one. You will want to clean the carpet right before bed so the carpet can clean overnight if possible. If you do carpet clean I suggest running the vacuum again the following day to pick up any extra debris that is brought to the surface.

Tune in tomorrow for the conclusion of this 5 part Cleaning Up series!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cleaning Up #3

Have you read Cleaning Up #1 and Cleaning Up #2 yet? They will get you started on this journey to spring cleaning!

So you've organized your drawers and closets. What's next? My next step is deep cleaning each room. Don't get daunted! You can do this! Enlist your kids if they are around. Even a toddler can dust and wipe down walls!

Disclaimer: These tips will work for a green clean or a traditional clean! I want to be fair to all my readers. FYI- I do a mixture of both. I love cleaners that are green. I wish I had the money and time to go all green. However I don't. While I know chemicals aren't great for my family I don't worry too much about them. I use chemical based cleaners when needed and go for the green cleaners when I can.

Are you ready for every room in your house to be sparkly, clean, and smell great? Well today I will give you tips on how to BEGIN that process. Again super simple tips. You've probably heard them before. They can be easy to forget.

Today I want to focus on each room from ceiling to....well almost to the floor (we'll cover floors tomorrow).

BEFORE you begin. Decide which room you want to begin in. I always start in the kitchen. We need to use the kitchen several times a day so I want to get it finished quickly. Well the kitchen always takes me the longest but that's a personal preference thing. I like the kitchen and I cook a LOT so there tend to be lots of nooks and crannies to scrub. Anyhow make a list of all the rooms in your house and assign them a number. Begin with your first room.

#1 Most Important Rule- Start from the top. Do you have cobwebs on the ceiling? Use a broom or duster to get them down. Do you have a ceiling fan in that room? Dust the blades and light fixtures. Is there an air return in that room? (Yes halls are rooms too but they take very little time). Change the filter. Dust the top of high cabinets and over the door frames. Wipe down walls. Wipe counters, furniture, appliances, cabinet doors, etc.

Use dusters, dusting polish, appliance cleaners, glass cleaner, etc. Take all the cleaning supplies you need into each room with you.

DO NOT get sidetracked and leave the room until it is finished. Instead make a pile in the doorway of things that need to go to other rooms and a pile of cleaning supplies at the door as you finish with each one.

In NO time flat, you will have knocked out every room in your house. Everything will smell great and you will feel so accomplished when you have finished. Make sure to come back tomorrow so we can talk about those floors.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

One of Those Days

Today my sweet Apple had ONE OF THOSE DAYS. The home school day that seems it will never end. She started out strong and fell apart somewhere around math. I never seem to have the right words in the midst of the meltdown. I want to say the one encouraging thing that will get her on the right track but it seems like my words always fall flat. When we get to this point it feels like I've tried it all- physical activity, a break, a snack, changing subjects, explaining the material again, staying in the room, leaving the room, praising her with positive words, getting frustrated, putting her on a time limit, giving her less work, giving her more work. Really I've tried it all. None of those tactics every seem to work. She digs in her heels and is still working on the same page 4 hours later. Eventually though she always gets it one. Mostly because I refuse to let her give up. She has to finish. It's her responsibility.

I know I hear the collective *GASP* from the unschoolers, hug it out moms, and others. Don't stop here. Keep reading.

The thing is that I know in my heart that my "job" as her mom and her teacher goes beyond the page she's working on. Our choice to home school her isn't really about memorizing multiplication tables or writing the perfect persuasive paper. We home school her to improve her character. We home school them to develop their character. Our "job" as parents (although many across the board have lost sight of this) is simply to PREPARE THEM TO BE PRODUCTIVE adults. Even if you are not a Christian, your job as a parent is to raise your child to be a productive adult. To guide them towards independence. To teach them RESPONSIBILITY. It's important. It is THE most important thing you will do in your own life and in theirs. Even if you don't home school, if you are a parent then your primary goal should be to have an adult child that will be responsible. Unless you're up for little Johnny living in your basement his whole life while occasionally calling you for bail money. For real.

So tonight when my sweet 8 yr old sponge sat down with me and asked,"Mom, why do you think I had a bad home school day today?" My initial thought was "That's what I'd like to know" but I kept that to myself. Instead I talked her through it. As we chatted God gave me just the right words to speak to my beautiful girl who wanted guidance.

We were impacted by a tragic loss last week. It affected all 4 of us and many around us. So I started talking with my sweet child about the difference between a positive attitude (we decided that means thinking "I can" or "I will") and a negative attitude ("I can't" or "I won't"). We discussed which of those attitudes are pleasing to the Lord. Then I reminded Apple of last week and I asked her how she thought I felt about what happened. "Oh mommy I know you were very sad and very tired," she said. I let her know that she was right. Then I asked her how she would have felt if I had come home and laid in the bed instead of taking care of them, doing school, and taking care of my responsibilities. She processed that idea and then began nodding.

My smart girl got it. I felt awful last week. I just wanted to sob into my pillow but I didn't. I couldn't. Now I'm not saying it isn't okay to grieve. I'm not saying we can't be sick or have a day when we just can't function like normal. In fact I reminded her that I wasn't my normal self those days. I was tired. I was heartbroken. I wasn't joyful or talkative. But I was present. I was praying and moving through the motions and taking care of as many of my responsibilities as I could. I let her know that I did that because I think that's pleasing to God.

Our example is Jesus. When Lazarus died did Jesus lay beside him and give up? No. He wept.(John 11:35) Then He went and raised Lazarus from the dead. When the Pharisees were ready to stone the adulterous woman Jesus could have shook his head and walked away because their minds were already made up. Instead he offered them an insight into themselves which saved the woman (John 8). When the time came for Judas to betray Jesus, He did not try to change the course of the events. Although He cried out for God to take away the coming events He reconciled that it was God's will and He took His place on the cross for our sins.

And she went to bed at peace with her day and ready to tackle tomorrow. And someday we will reap the benefits of teaching them the importance of a positive attitude and a drive for responsibility now.

Another Try

I told you here about my less than stellar experience with a Magic Whiteboard product. While I had issues with the product I now want to say that their customer service is terrific! After reading my review, they offered to send me a replacement product since mine had been damaged.

When my package arrived, it contained not only a new Magic Whiteboard sheet but also a Magic Blackboard sheet and markers for both! My kids were thrilled! Both products were well packaged so there was no damage this time. It took us a couple of weeks to getting around to using the products but once we did we were pleased.

Speedy got his hands on the Whiteboard sheet and practiced his numbers and number words.

Artistic Apple love the purple marker contrast on the blackboard. She used it for math scrap paper but was making a list of all the cool things she could draw on it. I was concerned that it might now clean off well but it did! It took a little while longer for the marker to dry on than it did on the Whiteboard but it wasn't too bad.

Thank you Magic Whiteboard for the great free products. I appreciate the extra effort to make us happy with your product.

They offer other dry erase products as well that you can view at can connect with Magic Whiteboard on Facebook and Twitter: @MagicBoardUS &

Cleaning Up #2

Back for day 2 of my tips for spring cleaning and organizing! I hope you've had the chance to follow the organization/ purging tips I gave you yesterday. If you haven't, make sure to bookmark these posts so you can come back to them later!

So it's Spring and the weather should be warming up soon. Ahem. It hasn't yet but we can dream right?!?! (As cozy as these socks are I'm ready to stow them away!) Actually we have had a few scattered 70 days already. That means it's time to pull out the summer clothes! WOOHOO! don't separate your clothes? *GASP*

No really I am strict about doing this. I never gave a lot of thought to it until the kids came along. Since they change sizes from one summer to the next (usually....sometimes in the middle of a season) I've learned it's best to sort through them. 

My tips for this are simple and straightforward:

*Do one person's clothing at a time. Even if you have children that share a room I would suggest doing one child at a time. 

*I always pull out last year's clothing to see if anything still fits. You may need your child to participate in a "fashion show" if you aren't sure about some pieces of clothing. 

*Try to take it one step at a time. Start with a drawer and work your way through the dresser and then move to the closet.

*Always leave a few pieces mixed in. IE Keep your child's favorite sweatshirt in a drawer with the spring/ summer clothes. Keep a few pairs of pants mixed in too. In the winter I still leave a few tanks and t shirts in everyone's drawers. There will be times when you will need them. We tend to pull out a few long sleeve shirts when we go camping for the chilly night. Or on a rainy day your child might want a warmer jacket to wear.

*Because you are only leaving out a few items, store last season's clothing in a place that's easy to get to. I wouldn't store all the clothes in the attic. You may need them for something. Instead I invest in a plastic tub with a lid for every member of the family and then I store those bins in the closet of the person they belong to. That way they aren't taking up valuable space in the dresser or on the rod but we can grab out of the bin if we really need to. I toss in shoes too or you can place them in a separate bag or box.

*Make sure every item of clothing is washed and dried before putting it away, storing it, or putting it in one of your piles.

*Whatever doesn't fit from last year needs to go to a sell or giveaway pile. IF you are saving hand me downs for a younger sibling then the items can be placed in a box or plastic bin with a lid that has a label with the size on the outside. You can also put outgrown shoes in these same piles or bins. 

Again this isn't rocket science and it isn't an exhaustive list. It is a manageable task. It will make your life (and you child's life) less hectic. It will free up space so everyone can easily see their clothing choices. And don't be afraid to tell your kids that even though the shorts and flip flops are out they aren't allowed to wear them when there's snow outside!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Cleaning Up #1

So in honor of Spring's arrival (even though it is super chilly, cloudy, and rainy) I'd like to bring you 5 posts this week about cleaning up. These posts will give you some tips for making the most of your spring cleaning. I hope they will give you some insight on not only getting your home clean but keeping it that way. I'll be the first to admit that there are PLENTY of books, magazines, and blogs out there with cleaning ideas but I hope you will find mine helpful!

Today let's talk about organizing. If you are going to take the time to really get your home clean then you will need to start with organizing. Now you can run off to Pinterest for ideas or you can start it the old fashioned way (you will find that I LOVE old fashioned cleaning advice). Pinterest is FANTASTIC for giving you innovative ideas about putting all your items in the right place in a cute way but first you need to get down to just the items you need and use.

The old fashioned way to organize & declutter is really simple- sort and make piles. As you clean out a bathroom drawer (that's how I spent my Friday night), get your trash can close by. Throw away anything that is trash. If it's broken, it's trash. If it's old and unusable, then it's trash. Make a pile for things you may want to giveaway. Don't leave the pile unforgotten somewhere. Place it by the front door so you remember to give the items away. I pulled out some hairbows to give my niece and I put them straight into an envelope with her name on it. Today Hubby took the envelope to the post office to mail it for me. Make a pile of things to sell. I use a local consignment sale that happens twice a year. It's close to time for the Spring sale so my whole dining room table is the spot for any items that I plan to tag and send to the sale. Make a keep pile and then when you have completed the drawer or shelf or closet or room ONLY put back in the items you will keep.

After cleaning out Apple's bathroom drawer I took a few minutes to match up her earrings and put them on the holder, sort pony tail holders into a basket, and clean up any other clutter that had made its way into that drawer. She's 8 and in charge of keeping her own items clean and tidy but once or twice a year I like to organize areas like that for her. She's a bit of a pack rat so we had hairbows that she had been using since her toddler years. Those were sorted between the envelope for her cousin and a bag for the consignment sale.

As you organize keep in mind that you will "clean" later. Don't get sidetracked by the counter that needs to be wiped down or a floor that needs to be swept. You won't be able to tackle everything in one day. For Spring cleaning I recommend that you take a few hours a day (easier if you stay at home or if you are on vacation to coincide with spring break for your children) or commit a few hours for several consecutive Saturdays (or whatever day you are off of work). Make a list of areas that need to be organized. You will feel motivated as you check each one off of your list. Some ideas:

Bathroom drawers, linen closets, cleaning supplies area, toy boxes, bookshelves, kitchen cabinets, pantry, laundry room, homeschool area

Tomorrow we will talk about all those clothes.......

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Super Palm Sunday

Again we spent our Sunday night watching the latest episode (#4) of The Bible series on the History Channel. This has just been an awesome way to end the weekend as a family and wake up on Monday mornings with our mind filled with the stories from the Bible. It has been even more special as a Lent activity for our family. Our children waved their palm branches in church this morning for Palm Sunday and then watched Jesus ride into Jerusalem on a donkey tonight.

They enjoyed that portion but the part of the episode that got the biggest *GASP* from them both was the basket of fish that Jesus used to feed the crowd of over 5,000. As they watched him raise it up with 2 small fish in it and then bring it back down full they were both moved by His miracle. They also enjoyed repeating The Lord's Prayer along with "Jesus." They saw the compassion of Jesus as He healed a person suffering from leprosy, the man dropped through the ceiling, and as He awoke Lazarus from the dead.

They are still asking questions through each episode and then as their little minds process the episode each week they ask questions almost daily. Apple has no qualms about digging out her Deep Blue Kids Bible to understand a story better and to see how the scripture relates the story compared to the show. This has been such an amazing tool for our family to open up dialogue about God's Word. We can barely wait for the final installment next week! It will be the perfect end to Easter.

You can see my thoughts on The Bible installment 12, and 3.

All opinions are my own. I received no compensation for this post.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Back to the Tropics

Purex is taking me to the tropics again! Well not physically but the scent of summer is in full effect in my laundry room. Introducing Purex Natural Elements Tropical Splash detergent- the newest Purex liquid laundry detergent that will give you green cleaning power with a lovely tropical scent.

Not only does it smell terrific it is hypoallergenic and it removes stains!

This is the place that you wish you could sniff picture!

I love this detergent. I first used it on my bed linens. Now I can dream I'm lying in a hammock on a warm, sandy beach. I've also used it on the kids clothes and they all came out clean! That's amazing since we are in the midst of t-ball and softball practices. Apple deals with some skin issues so this gentle, natural formula is great for her.

Now you know I'm not keeping this new natural cleaning product to myself. I have 3 coupons for a  FREE bottle of Purex Natural Elements to give away to 3 lucky winners! Each winner will receive 1 coupon for a full size Tropical Splash detergent. Use the nifty Rafflecopter form below to enter.

As an added bonus, Purex is still running their Tropical Trio Sweepstakes (through April 19). The grand prize is a 4 night stay at Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach for 2 people! Now that's the real tropical dream. 1st place will award 5 winners with a year's supply of Purex Natural Elements Tropical Splash detergent and Honey Bunches of Oats Tropical Blends. That's not all! 100 2nd place winners will receive coupons for a 1 FREE bottle of Purex Natural Elements and 1 FREE box of Honey Bunches of Oats Tropical Blends. Follow the special link in the Rafflecopter to enter to win!

Purex brand provided me with a sample of Purex Natural Elements Tropical Splash detergent in exchange for a product review. However all opinions expressed here are my own.

Enthralling Criminal Fiction

So if the name Stress Test isn't enough to pique your interest, let me fill you in on Richard Mabry's latest book. Stress Test is the story of Dr. Matt Newman. Dr. Newman just about has his life on track with a quieter professional position and a love interest that is headed in the direction of marriage. That is until he is kidnapped in a parking garage in the middle of the night. Suddenly he finds himself in ICU with a looming charge for murder.

Can his beautiful red-headed attorney prove his innocence? Will they figure out who is trying to frame Matt? Will he ever get his life back? 

This is the kind of fiction that I love. Some law elements, medical elements, and a shroud of mystery. The hint of romance didn't hurt either. The story moves quickly and there is that sense of loss when it ends. I wanted to hear more about the future of the characters. This is the first novel I've read like this in the Christian genre. I've always been curious about novels that blend Christian ideals with a criminal storyline. Stress Test did a wonderful job of melding those worlds. Matt must turn to God to find his way out of an overwhelming situation.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wicked Cool!

Apple is now 8. And she isn't letting us forget. Evidently 8 is very worldly and mature. She wants her own toothpaste now. Little brother's little kid toothpaste isn't cool enough for her anymore. I'm not willing to swap her to adult toothpaste just yet. Thankfully Tom's of Maine has a great compromise for us. Introducing Tom's of Maine Wicked Cool toothpaste! Natural toothpaste designed for the 8 and up crowd.

Apple loves her new toothpaste. She said it tastes great (but does have a slight aftertaste) and she loves how clean her teeth feel after brushing with it. She's also thrilled that little brother isn't allowed to touch her Wicked Cool tube.

Do you have a child that needs a big kid toothpaste? Click here to get more information.

I received a free sample from Smiley360. All opinions are my own.

Cleaning the Kitchen

So you see my kitchen is shiny. As I was collecting all these super shiny appliances I didn't realize that they needed special cleaners. The stove was especially a surprise since it requires a separate cleaner for the glasstop and the silver portions. Well it did.

Soft Scrub to the rescue! Again! New Advanced Surface polish and cleaner is PERFECT for kitchens. It's designed for use on granite, marble, stainless steel, and glass cooktops. It's easy to use too! Simply squirt some on your surface and wipe away with a paper towel, rag, or sponge.

Ahem. Obviously I used WAY too much here. I expected it to be creamy and it isn't. So this much was more than enough to do my stove and the front of dishwasher. I used a cloth to wipe it and a paper towel to "buff" the cooktop. I was so pleased with the results!

Everything was super sparkly! And it smelled great too! The only thing this all purpose cleaner didn't do for me was cut the grease. The control panel on my stove had some dried grease splatters on it and I did have to swipe those with another cleaner. Other than that everything turned out great. 

Hey hey hey! Guess what I've got? 3 coupons for a FREE full sized Soft Scrub Advanced Surface cleaner! I will be picked 3 lucky readers to receive one each. Enter via the easy Rafflecopter form below. One of the entries for my giveaway is a request for you to use my link to enter a special Soft Scrub sweepstakes. Don't miss out on your chance to be chosen as the winner of the $1000 grand prize or one of the 250 second place winners!

Monday, March 18, 2013

This Is Why

Today was the Monday after Spring Break. (Cue the creepy music) On top of that we had just had a really long emotionally charged weekend. (The music gets louder) How would school go? Would I have the phone in hand to register them in public school? Would the day be marked by tears and temper tantrums? Honestly I expected those things.

However, the kids got started with their drawers in cheerful moods. They weren't grumbling and complaining. Apple hit a small bump with math but once she calmed down and took some deep breaths she realized that she knew how to do the work. Her last assignment was a short reading selection about a third grader beginning a business. It was only a couple of pages with three questions at the end. She was finished in minutes. I thought our "learning" portion of the day was complete.

Apple had something else in mind. (Doesn't she always?) She began talking through a list of ideas for businesses she could start. Some came from the story, others were her original thoughts. I listened to her chatter on while washing dishes and prepping lunch. Hubby came in for lunch and as we sat down to eat Apple really began pursuing one idea in particular. She gave us all her ideas and began to ask us questions. This was all without any prompting from us.

By the end of lunch she had written up a business plan for the summer. She had learned new vocabulary words like overhead, cost effective, labor, profit, and many more. She's excited about the prospect of growing some simple produce this summer and selling it. My girl is realistic. She isn't expecting any huge amount of profit. Apple used math to set prices and estimate the amount of plants she would need. She honed her writing skills while drawing up her business plan. Imagination played a huge factor in her ideas. 

The thing is even if this is the last we ever hear of this plan she got engaged in learning. She got excited about an idea and pursued it. She used skills she's learned during her lessons to apply them to a real life situation. And she did it all unprompted. 

This is why we homeschool. These are the days I savor. The days and times I relish when we are having a terrible, bad, no good day. These are the moments that give me a glimpse into her very promising future.

Super Sunday Night

The Bible series presented another great installment last night! We sat down as a family for the beginning of it but our kids missed the last 30 minutes or so this time. They HAD to go to bed. I'm sure your family has nights like that too. :)

We had a little trouble following the very beginning of the episode last night. I'm glad that each installment replays throughout the week because there is usually at least one section that I feel I need to rewatch. The beginning is the part I will be looking for this week.

After that initial confusion, I LOVED the visual portrayal of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Seeing the fourth figure appear in the fire was amazing. When it came time for the birth of Jesus, I was glad the kids had gone to bed. They know babies come from mommy bellies but I didn't want to explain the scene beyond that. Ya know. I enjoyed watching the baptism also. However I felt like that scene was cute too short. I was waiting on more to happen and then it just swapped straight to something else. In particular I was expecting:

Matthew 3:16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

I was sad that there was no representation of the dove and that we didn't hear God's words. 

I thought the scenes with Peter and Jesus were so important. It really shows how Jesus came to people where they were and how He was able to relate to them based on the lives they were already living. He went to the fisherman and related most of what he taught them to their profession. That's very important for us to remember now. We can't expect the unsaved to come to us, we must go to them where they are. We must relate to them in their lives and their experiences. It isn't enough to stand up and proclaim all of our experiences.

You can see my thoughts on The Bible installment 1 and 2.

All opinions are my own. I received no compensation for this post.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Sit Down Together

So I've introduced you to some FANTASTIC devotionals over the last couple of years. It's probably obvious that we love Bibles and Devos and have an extensive collection of both. Each family member owns several and the kids have special ones that they read during school time. One thing we've lacked is a really good devotional that we can read together as a family. It's been awhile since we had a dedicated family devo. 

That's why I was so excited to hear about the Whit's End Mealtime Devotionals by Adventures in Odyssey. We are quite familiar with the characters from the Adventures in Odyssey stories so my children were instantly intrigued with this book.

Apple had this to say:

"I like this book because it has prayers and because we can all read it together as a family at the table. I like the prayers because we will have new things to pray about before our meal."

Speedy said:

"I like the Bible stories in it like the story of Goliath."

Mealtimes are a big deal in the chaos. We try to all sit down together for at least one meal a day. I know it's so important to enjoy this while the kids are young. Not only that but sharing a meal with extended family is a tradition we enjoy as well. This short 90 day devotional can only enhance those times. With a prayer, "appetizer", "main course", and "vitamins and minerals" it is still less than a page for each devo. These won't take you long. Just a few minutes before your meal (or anytime really). There are also "table talk" questions to continue the discussion. I think they are my favorite part. Since the kids and I are together all day long sometimes we have long lulls in the conversation around the table. I love questions to keep our discussions Biblical and lively!

This would be a great addition to your dinner table and it's a great gift for families! It can be used for breakfast, lunch, dinner, school time, or before bed. There are also some special devotionals included for specific holidays! I can't wait to use the Good Friday devotional soon.

I received a free copy from Tyndale Blogging Network for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.

Beautiful Break

                                          Happy 8th birthday to my sweet Apple!

As per our normal routine, we enjoyed "Spring Break" this week. I have to laugh at the idea of it being a break at all. While we didn't venture into the school room to sit at desks anytime this week, it has been a working break. I had craft centers set up 2 of the mornings.

Apple LOVES LOVES LOVES crafts. Speedy will do a little crafting but it isn't his thing. Mama dislikes crafting. Really dislikes. It's messy. It doesn't interest me. It's messy. You get the idea. However it was Apple's birthday week and I knew she would LOVE craft areas so two different days I put out different crafty supplies and let her enjoy herself. She and Speedy made "horns" and paintings and pictures. Crafty center was a big hit and something I will have to do again in the future. It was messy and I didn't like it but it was worth it for Apple's smile.

Another day I had the kids help me in the kitchen all day. Apple is becoming quite the little cook and in that day she made oatmeal, hot dogs and sauerkraut, brownies, and sweet tea with very little assistance. Speedy helped with measuring and getting dishes. They both enjoy helping in the kitchen and I enjoy having them in there as long as my patience can hold out! I don't want Apple to lose her interest in cooking so I am determined to keep involving her in making our meals. I'd like to come up with 3 or 4 meals that she could make from start to finish to rotate into our dinners.

I cleaned like a crazy person all week. That's my typical spring break activity. The kids always have chores but they really pitched in with all the cleaning this week. Home ec at its finest! They also helped us with a morning of yard work. We picked up sticks and trash and moved around some things on our patio. Then we took care of a small portion of the TONS of leaves we have in our yard. Now the yard is ready for Hubby to mow for the first time this year. Hopefully he can get to it this weekend because the weather is GORGEOUS here right now.

On top of all that, Apple began softball this week and had a draft and her first practice. So that's what our at-home spring "break" has looked like. The life of a homeschooler involves learning in everything we do. That means breaks and vacations and daily life provide opportunities to learn. From checking out worms while doing yard work to learning how the stove works to the social and physical benefits of softball, our kids received just as much of an education this week as they do any week they are sitting at their desks with a worksheet.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

With Crystals!

Do you love Purex Crystals? I do. LOVE THEM. They add such a lovely fragrance to our laundry. I don't always buy them though. For one thing they tend to fly off the shelves. For another, the Purex Crystals just aren't always in the budget. Well leave it to Purex to solve my problem. They now make Purex with Crystals! YAY!

Doesn't it look great in my laundry room? Not only does it smell FANTASTIC, it also has dirt lift action and it has the same fabric softener qualities of the actual Purex Crystals. I think this is a great improvement for Purex. Now I can get all the benefits of Purex Crystals without buying a second product. 

My clothes are clean, they smell great, and they're soft! What more could I ask for? So if you are looking for an affordable laundry detergent with fabric softener that will remove stains and smell great then look no more. Purex has generously offered 3 Carter Chaos readers one coupon each to try a full size FREE bottle of Purex with Crystals. Simply follow the Rafflecopter form below to enter the giveaway.

Purex is also hosting a sweepstakes where one grand prize winner will receive a $1000 and a year of free Purex detergent! That's not all 500 entrants will get a free bottle of Purex. So now you have 2 chances to win!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Another Great Sunday Night

We enjoyed another installment of The Bible on The History Channel last night. I thought it was almost as good as the first installment. Again the show just brought to life so many moments from the Old Testament. It was anguishing to see Samson's pain from his wife's death on the cross. It was exhilarating to see the walls of Jericho fall.

I felt like the very best story told on last night's episode was the friendship of David and Jonathan. The show did a great job of showing their friendship throughout several different events. One of those events was when David defeated Goliath. My kids waited impatiently for that scene. They enjoyed it but were a tad unimpressed with Goliath. They both felt like a giant should have been much larger. I'll attribute that to all the cartoon versions of Goliath that they've seen over the years.

My husband did have a Bible on hand to read during any parts that seemed questionable. He is very diligent in making sure the kids understand where the show is taking some theatrical leeway. However all in all we are still thankful for this series. I covered some of these points last week but I want to make them again:

~It is 95% better than the other shows on television. By this I mean it is one of the few shows on television that does NOT make fun of Christians and does NOT promote immorality.

~It is a GREAT resource for the non-Christian and new Christians of the world. How better to peak the interest of a non-Christian than with a movie based directly on the word of God? Even though they have taken some liberties in telling the story the message stays true.

~It does open up some amazing discussion with my kids about these stories that they have been hearing their whole lives.

So we will continue watching The Bible on Sunday nights on The History Channel. There are 3 more installments and I'm looking forward to all of them!

I did not receive any compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.

The Trickster and the Twister

Wanna know why the faces above are soooo happy? Well it's because they (we) were off to see the Wizard!

During the Super Bowl, Apple saw the first ad for Oz the Great and Powerful. She immediately announced that she would like to go and see it for her birthday. So for the first year ever we didn't have a party (thank goodness). Instead we had a special meal one night and then yesterday afternoon we went to the movies with her bestie and bestie's little sis. 

Now I read several reviews that said if your child could handle the original then they could handle the new one. All of these kiddies have been watching the original for years. I asked the littles if they would be scared and they said no. So off we went!

I must admit I was hooked in the first 10 minutes. The story is exciting and moves along quickly (I thought it might drag along since it's just over 2 hours long). The scenes are so EXCITING! From the inside look of the twister (okay there were several times that I was SO glad we were watching 2D and not 3D) to the first brilliant scenes in color, the whole movies just draws you right into the world of Oz. Finley the monkey is funny and endearing and the mystery of the witches will keep you guessing through the first half.

One of the munchkins started feeling bad during the movie so I missed 2 huge chunks while we were in the restroom. I can't wait for DVD so I can see those scenes myself. Thankfully Hubby was able to fill me in both times when I came back so I wasn't totally lost. 2 of the 4 kids LOVED the movie. Their eyes barely left the screen as they munched popcorn and watched in amazement. 1 kid was sick but I think she enjoyed the movie overall. 

Then there was Speedy. He isn't typically frightened of movie theatrics. He's fairly grounded and understands the difference in fantasy and reality. However he does suffer with sensory overload occasionally. It's rare but super loud noises or really bright lights bother him. If there is a loud crowd he gets out of sorts. Well Oz was very LOUD at times and there were lots of bright flashes of light and sudden changes in scenery. So he wasn't a fan. He was able to sit through the whole thing but he hid his eyes several times and told us he didn't like it. I appreciate that he made a good effort to sit there with the other kids. I truly believe he will do much better with the movie when it's on DVD or BluRay and we are watching at home. Then it won't be SO loud and the flashes and bright lights will be on a much smaller scale. Just a warning for you in case you have a child that gets overwhelmed by those things too.

So all in all Oz was a great success and so was the birthday celebration. I didn't have to clean my whole house twice (before and after a party) and that's a blessing! And Hubby doesn't mind celebrating his birthday the way an 8 year old girl wants too! 

I didn't receive any compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Smells of Summer

I'm ready for mowing my yard and planting a garden and camping and wearing flip flops and drinking lemonade! We've had a few really nice weather days this week and they just make me long for more. I've been dreaming of the beach and the sand too. While I can't head down to the Gulf right now, I can enjoy the fragrance from my new Dial Coconut Water body wash for my skin care!

This new Dial body wash has a wonderful scent and it's very light and moisturizing. I'm so thankful for the moisturizing qualities. My skin is so DRY from the winter months and running the heat. It's nourishing enough that I've let Apple and Speedy use it also. They too raved about the yummy coconut smell that reminded them of warmer weather! This is the first body wash that I've felt was hydrating enough to use as a family soap. Usually they have their products and Hubby and I have ours. I love only have 1 bottle on the side of the tub instead of 3 or 4! This replenishing body wash has a great suds and that makes me feel like I'm getting clean and fresh.

I'm always excited to see new Dial products. My first memory of Dial is the original orange hand soap that my great grandparents kept by their bathroom sink. We still keep original orange Dial hand soap around our house because we trust the Dial brand and we know it works well. So for the next few weeks we will enjoy this newest Dial product and dream of more 70 degree days with sunshine!

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Dial Soap provided me with a sample of NEW Dial Coconut Water Body Wash in exchange for a product review. However, all opinions expressed here are my own.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Putting Out Fires

So I'm going to let you in on a little days aren't spent with birds chirping at my window, fresh bread baking in the oven, and completely obedient children happily toiling away at their desks. I know you're shocked but I thought it was time to be honest.

Most days I feel like I'm running around "putting out fires." I deal with whatever is happening in the moment and just try to plow through our to-do list for the day. It seems like there is some type of episode every day. Either one child is emotional or the other child didn't get enough sleep. Sometimes I didn't get enough coffee or I feel overwhelmed by the amount of tasks before me. Occasionally Hubby is home and throws off our jive. So whatever the problem is I just try to get us through it and make it until bedtime. The problem with "putting out fires" is that they never seem to end. I'm always thinking the next season or milestone will be calmer but it isn't.

Enter Intentional Parenting by Sissy Goff, David Thomas, and Melissa Trevathan. The tag line for the book is "Autopilot is for planes." Ha. Chapter 1 addresses reactive parenting vs. proactive parenting. Sound familiar? Flames. Now to be fair to Hubby and I, we do assert the values emphasized in the book. We are proactive in showing our kids that faith, family time, and honesty are important to us. However we could use some work on being proactive in the areas of encouragement and consistency. Some of the other chapters are also ones that we both need to study or one of us could use a refresher course on.

In particular I fail at this:

"We can do what our children long for us to do: grow up in a way that makes being a grown-up look like a glorious adventure." (pg 58)

I stink at making things look like an adventure. I'm too busy being serious and getting through my to-do list. I am reactive rather than proactive most of the time. I'm so glad to have Intentional Parenting for a resource. I love that each chapter is broken down to stages: toddler, children, and teens. While we are past the toddler stage we are in the midst of the child years heading quickly towards the teen years (*GASP*). So this is one of those books that will be read, read again, tucked on the bookshelf and pulled out frequently.

I appreciate the laid back approach of the three authors. They are all counselors and come with a really gentle attitude and style. There are no harsh words and criticisms in this book. Instead you will find comfort, courage, and Bible verses to lead you in this parental journey.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”