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

Monday, June 30, 2014

Versatile Sunscreen for Your Fourth

The Fourth of July is upon us (anyone else feel like summer is just flying by?!?!) and so you and your family need a sunscreen to protect you while you are at the pool and cookout. I was recently given the opportunity to try Coppertone ClearlySheer free from BzzAgent for review. I was sent samples of the spray on and the lotion and I have to tell you that we really love both. As a family we've been using ClearlySheer since Memorial Day and we haven't had a burn yet.

Both versions of the sunscreen go on light without a heavy, oily feel or fragrance. I usually spray on their bodies- arms, legs, etc- and use the lotion on faces and shoulders. It's easy to reapply and for the first time my kids aren't complaining about the sunscreen. I also passed out some samples to family and friends and they've all been so impressed with Coppertone ClearlySheer. It isn't harsh on skin even baby soft skin!

Grab a bottle for your beach bag and put one in the ball bag too! As with all sunscreens make sure to reapply after prolonged swimming or sweating. You know how sometimes reapplying sunscreen to your face can burn? Doesn't happen with this product which made my Apple super happy! Just another plus for Coppertone ClearlySheer. Find it in local stores where sun care products are sold.

I received free samples and coupons for Coppertone ClearlySheer from BzzAgent for the purpose of review.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Adventure on the Sea

We all know that before having children you have high...ideals about the things you will do to raise them. Unfortunately after the children arrive you discover that there is a lack of time, sleep, and brain cells to accomplish all those perfect parenting maneuver.

One thing I thought I'd always do would be to preview all books before my kids read them (and movies and television shows and games- you get the point). I did great at that until around the time Apple turned 6. She was an early reader and by the age of 6 she was devouring huge books very quickly. I soon ran put of age appropriate books for her. I turned to friends and we soon exhausted their "safe" lists as well. Like any parent I tried to find new books and read them before she did......but then I realized that sleep was necessary especially with 2 children (again mega kudos to my friends with 3, 4, or more kids!). So like any sane person I just began to scan them. Imagine me at the library glancing at the back of the book and then flipping through a few pages looking for bad words and taboo topics. That's still me over 3 years later. In fact now it is probably even "worse" because I have 2 children picking a wide range of books and asking if they can read them. Have some things slipped through the cracks? Yes. Have my children been permanently scarred or exposed to something really horrible? No. Do I still worry? OF COURSE.

I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale Publishers for the purpose of review.

One series that I know is safe is Adventures in Odyssey: The Imagination Station series. I can go ahead and tell you I haven't found anything from AiO that I had a problem with. We have listened to the audio series and read many of these books. They are all fantastic! The newest installment is #14 Captured on the High Seas by Marianne Hering and Nancy I. Sanders. Cousins Beth and John Patrick are in the Imagination Station when an accident occurs and suddenly they are in 1781 where they find themselves on an American ship.

They aren't sure if this adventure is a malfunction of the Imagination Station or if Mr. Whittaker (the owner of Whit's End) has sent them to this time and place on purpose. How will they figure it out? Will they ever return to their own time and place? As they settle into the adventure they make a friend on board named James and realize their ship is a part of a sea battle against the British. What will happen to Beth and John Patrick?

As I said these books are full of information and adventure and I have no trouble with the kids reading them before I preview them. Apple has been enjoying this series for a few years and I hope to start Speedy on them soon. Many of these books are also available in digital format for your e-reader.

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

Reviews for other Imagination Station Books:

#8 Battle for Cannibal Island and #9 Escape to the Hiding Place

#13 The Redcoats are Coming

#11 Hunt for the Devil's Dragon

Check out my latest giveaways!

Monday, June 23, 2014

A New Dream

Y'all please forgive my absence. One of the kids had baseball tournament last week and last night we started VBS at our church. Summer at its finest! I hope I can make it up to you with a little giveaway today......

The latest book I have received (for free) to review for you as a Tommy Mommy is Wayne Thomas Batson's newest book Dreamtreaders. I've always found dreams to be intriguing and personal. I'm a "non-dreamer." Well I know everyone dreams but I very rarely remember them. My son is the same. My husband is a vivid dreamer and sometimes talks and physically acts out the dreams while he is sleeping (imagine a police officer fighting in his sleep...). Our daughter also seems to remember a great deal of her dreams.

Batson has a vivid imagination and his books always portray that. In Dreamtreaders, Archer is a normal teenage boy by day but a dream treader at night. He is commissioned by Gabriel (along with 2 others) to stitch up breaches made by the Nightmare Lord. He goes into the dream world and each night has a limited amount of time to repair damages. He faces all sorts of turmoil and trouble and recently his two fellow dreamtreaders have gone missing. He has helpers and meets many characters during his nightly journeys. Of course the Nightmare Lord is not pleased with Archer's work and so he begins to attack those closest to Archer through nightmares.

Similar to The Door Within (click the link for my review), this book contains a dark, mysterious world with many references to the Bible. These books are definitely for the mature juvenile reader. Because I have let Apple read The Door Within trilogy and she did okay with it I will also let her read Dreamtreaders. Parents I always recommend reading or scanning through books yourself to determine if your child is ready for them.

So if you think they are then enter the giveaway below! One reader will be randomly selected to receive a copy of Dreamtreaders. To receive the entry for comments please follow the Giveaway Tool widget instructions and read the question I'm asking! :)

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Meal Planning- Mexican Pizza

Contains affiliate links. 

If you follow me on Facebook (and I certainly hope you do!) then you know I have been working on meal planning. I have done meal planning in the past and really enjoyed the results. My problem is sticking with it. If you've been here awhile you also know I've played around with freezer cooking and also LOVE the results but again lack in follow through.

So here's the thing, I've been working diligently on my homeschool planning and in the Well Planned Day planner there is a small section each week for planning meals! It is an amazing little box with so many possibilities. I have utilized it minimally in the past. Now I'd really like to use it this year.

Here's my plan:

*If I could come up with 30 (so far more!) meals that my family enjoys and that I know I can cook

*Then I can fill in all my little meal planning boxes (randomly from my long list of choices)

*Make a grocery list for each week (as the week comes just mark off ingredients that I already have and add other items we need for the week)

*I can make ahead and freeze many of the recipes as I have time and ingredients

*Any meals we don't end up eating (if we go out to eat or whatever) can just be pushed ahead to another day

Then I will wake up each morning knowing what my family will have to eat that night and so I can make sure meat is thawed, ingredients are in the house, etc. I will surely save us some $$ and last minute trips through the drive thru this way, right? That's my goal anyway.

So part of what I am doing right now is gathering meal ideas. The other night we had a baseball game and an extra kid here and I couldn't stomach one more burger. I came home and threw together what I had for a "Mexican Pizza." Now granted I wished I had many more ingredients once I got started but I forged ahead.

For 5 of us I used:

6 flour tortillas (the big ones)
1 lb ground beef (cooked and drained)
1 can green chiles
taco seasoning
shredded sharp cheddar
1 can refried beans

I added the taco seasoning to the meat with a little water and cooked down. Then I drained the green chiles and added those to the beef mixture. I cooked the flour tortillas in the over flat for about 5 minutes. When they came out I spread refried beans on 2 tortillas (I was making 2 Mexican pizzas) and placed another tortilla on top of each of those. Then I put the chile/ meat mixture on top of those and covered with the last tortillas. On top of those went the cheese. Then I popped them back into the oven for 10 minutes to melt the cheese.

That's it. Even with tornado warnings and trips to the basement I had this meal finished in no time. I served it with sour cream and Taco Bell Sauces. Y'all the kids tore it up. The pieces were so big (I cut each pizza into 4s) that we couldn't finish it all. Even my kids that DOES NOT EAT BEANS ate it up. He couldn't see the beans so he didn't know they were there.

Now that being said this was a pull together meal. I wish I'd had at minimum some green onion, a tomato, and some olives. I would have cut all that up and put it on top with the cheese. So when I write this in my nifty notebook of recipes and meals I will add those as ingredients to have. Also you can look on Pinterest and find a ton of recipes for Mexican Pizzas.

Now make sure to join the conversation on Facebook. Today we are talking about meatballs. As I get this together I hope to share recipes and meal ideas with you!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Our Homeschool Science Choice This Year

Contains affiliate links. 

I went back and forth and back and forth over our science choices for 2014-2015. This year we studied the solar system using a combination of books, resources, and lapbooks and we even took a couple of trips to a local planetarium. The kids really enjoyed the study and we were able to dust several books off our shelf. Pssst... a little secret for you- since we finished I OFTEN find them re-reading those same books on the solar system. Makes my homeschool mama heart happy.

ANYWAYS this year I wanted to find another science topic that would really pique their interest....and wouldn't make me crazy. To be honest I'm not all that into science. I made good grades in science, I understand science, but I don't have a lot of passion for science. Thankfully Hubby is ALL INTO science related subjects so he often fills in any excitement or gaps I leave. So I actually picked a really nice science curriculum recommended by a friend but I wasn't able to find it at a price that fit within our budget. I felt disappointed until I went back to our giant bookshelf and realized we still have many science resources that we haven't used to their full advantage.

I decided that for the fall semester we will study the human body. I actually have gathered up several resources for this over time and I've also started finding hands on (see my previous posts about my kids' requests) activities like a body puzzle, crafts and experiments on Pinterest, and even a few videos to go along with the study. In the spring we are going to focus on Zoology. We did a beginning study of animals a couple of years ago with a homeschool science group but both kids love animals and I know they will enjoy a more in-depth study. Plus what a great excuse for a zoo trip!

2 of the best resources I found on our shelves (that we've referenced several times since I first reviewed them free from the publisher) are the books World of Science and World of Animals. You can see my original review here and here. These books have so much information and the best part is I don't have to pay for our science curriculum this year. That leaves more money in the budget for field trips and project materials! Now while I can't get them for you free I have found a wonderful deal on these 2 books for you! Get 20% the World of Science and World of Animals bundles at Educents TODAY!  I can tell you that you won't be disappointed to use these as a basis for a science curriculum or to keep on your shelves as reference books (that your children will often read for "fun"!).

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Break the Planning Intimidation

Contains affiliate links. 

If you've always used a boxed curriculum or pre-planned resources, putting together your own homeschool plan can be intimidating. Every aspect of homeschool feels intimidating if you are a newbie! Over the last 5 (about to start 6!) years of our homeschool journey, I feel like I have improved my planning process every year.

A few years ago I started using the Well Planned Day homeschool planner and it has made all the difference. It not only gives me space to plan out our school day, semester, and year but it gives me room to plan extracurricular activites, bills, field trips, and even meals! So for my planning process I always start with my trusty planner. Before planning I've also found it a good idea to take care of early enrollment discounts with our "school" and to order and receive our curriculum. *Side note here: I've mentioned it before but you can save loads of money finding used curriculum. Look for local sales and look online. I only buy new when absolutely necessary.*

Tip: I always buy Post It tabs to make my planner even easier to use!

Sometimes I plan a subject at a time as resources come in. Other times I wait until I have them all and plan all at once. Either way doesn't really make a difference as long as you aren't overloading your student by not looking over everything at once.

These semester pages make it SO easy to plot out our 90 days and holidays. We are trying something a little different this year.

So pick a subject/ book and dig in. For some it is much easier than others. We are using Shurley English and it's pretty well laid out by unit and lesson. Math U See is also an easy one as we do one Unit a week and I just spread out the worksheets and test across the week. We are using Mystery of History this year and it was fairly easy to plan it out as well. For those books that aren't as neatly organized, take the number of lessons (or pages) and divide it out by weeks or days. We are required 90 days a semester which equals about 36 weeks a year so I usually base my lessons on one of those numbers. For example one of our new books had 54 lessons. Not quite even with my numbers but I decided to do it twice a week. That made for 27 weeks of 2 lessons each and I divided that into 13 weeks for the first semester and 14 weeks for the second semester meaning at the end of each semester we wouldn't be doing that particular subject. That works well in case we get behind we have plenty of time to catch up.

Once I've figured out how many times per week we need to work on a subject I assign it an abbreviation and start jotting it (in pencil, it's important that you can erase people!) into the planner. My abbreviations are simple (Math U See= MUS) and saves me some space and writing. Then I just go through and write it in for each day they need to work on it. If it is for just one student I put an initial next to the assignment.

I usually wouldn't get all my planning completed this early in the summer (so don't panic if you haven't started yet!) but this year the kids have requested more projects/ art/ hands on work this year and that stresses me out a little (to put it mildly). So I feel like I should get this routine planning out of the way so I can spend some time really digging into the curriculum and planning out projects. If I don't projects just won't happen and the kids will be sad and school will be no fun and we want to have more fun this year!

There is a nifty section with teacher and individual student schedules. Mine is still a work in progress. I accidentally used ink. Sigh.

So don't be afraid to step outside the (curriculum) box! If an all in one package isn't working for your child (or children) then take a look at some of the wonderful individual programs available. One thing I love the most about picking and choosing our own is that when something doesn't work or gets tedious, we can just try something new the next semester or school year! I have one child that needs to be challenged with new things so this method works the best for us.

Have any planning tips or suggestions? Do you have questions about my process? Let me know in the comments. 

Get Ready to Go #GoVoxBox

I received these products free for review.

Are you ready to hear about my latest Vox Box from Influenster? This time I received the Go Vox Box and it was packed full of goodies! This is a timely box for me too as I have signed up for a crazy challenge with my crazy friends in the fall and I really need to get to training! Now I have to disclose that I had a mommy moment. When I got this box I lined all the products up so cute and really thought I had taken a picture. Then after I started using all of them I realized I never took the picture! Kids= loss of memory. So here are most of the products I received. I'll tell you throughout about those that I didn't get a picture of.

From The Vitamin Shoppe- I've been able to try a terrific Next Step shaker cup. I've actually been pricing these for awhile so I was so excited to try one! I also got 3 Fit N' Full Shakes to try.

I tried the Swiss Chocolate first and was really impressed. Protein shakes have never really been a thing for me but this one mixed well and tasted great even mixed only with water! It made for a tasty breakfast. On another day I tried the French Vanilla Fit N Full shake. Unfortunately it wasn't as good. I never could get it to completely mix so there were powdered clumps throughout and the flavor was not appealing to me at all. I still have the Fresh Berries flavor to try!

I wasn't too sure how I would like the Blueberry Blue Diamond Almonds. To be honest I wasn't thrilled with the powdery texture but these almonds were so flavorful! They really did taste good and I couldn't finish the whole bag by myself. Speedy loved them even more than I did! He was more than happy to polish off the bag.

Next came the ProFoot Triad Orthotic. I have not gotten to try this yet but I'm excited to see it helps with knee, leg, and back pain. I get issues with my knees frequently so I'm sure these will come in handy.

Playtex has been my go-to tampon brand for forever. They work great and aren't uncomfortable. I don't typically buy scented but these Sport Fresh Balance worked great. 

This Aqua Spa Relax Body Creme is ah-mazing. It smells SO AWESOME! I love it. The blend of Lavender and Chamomile is so relaxing and I use it often. The lotion is thick too so it doesn't take a lot to moisturize.

Okay so for my very favorite product in this box- the ProFoot Pedi-Rock. Y'all for real. This is such a terrific product. For the last few years I've used that popular oval grater on my feet. I've still had "mama feet." No matter how much grating I've done my heels have remained dry and cracked. Enter this Pedi- Rock. It has a rough texture for exfoliating but is soft so it conforms to your foot. Are you hearing me? It glides over all your foots curves and bumps. It can be used on wet or dry skin. I used it straight after a shower and I could not believe the results. Now with one use it didn't totally cure my mama feet but they are SO MUCH BETTER and the results have lasted. I truly can't believe how well this works. I will say the only drawback is you need to do it in a place where it will be easy to clean up all that sloughed off skin. It's worth it though. So worth it.

The last product in the box was a coupon for Muller yogurt that I have not had the chance to redeem yet. I've had Muller yogurt in the past and I have to say I get more than a little grossed out that it contains tilapia. Eww. My mom loves Muller yogurt though. It is the only yogurt she eats. Maybe I will pass it on to her.....

I received these products free from Influenster for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own. If you are interested in joining Influenster, send an email to carterchaosblog AT gmail DOT com and I will be happy to forward you an invitation.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Planning Projects

Contains information about a book I received free for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.

So homeschool moms I am in full force planning mode. I've mentioned to you a couple of times that last school year was rough. It was hard. I wanted to quit. The kids wanted to quit. So I am devoting a lot of time to making sure this school year is different, better, and fun! One thing I did a week or so ago was to ask the kids what they wanted to be different.

Now normally this isn't how I roll. I like to be in control. I'm the mom that insists the kids do what I tell them and they better like it (not really...okay sometimes). However I do find value in my children's opinions and I ask especially when I'm struggling to find a solution. So my kids said they wanted "more art and more discovery". Discovery was Speedy's word which seems to mean more hands on. So we will be doing a project hour 2 days a week. This is really great because we are doing to be trying some new curriculum that offers GREAT projects. I am quickly learning that projects= more planning time for mom but that's okay. If my kids are excited about school again then I'm excited.

Now let me switch gears for a minute. Last Christmas Apple received a sewing machine as a wonderful Christmas present. We've barely knocked the dust off of it. This is totally my fault. It makes my muscles seize up to think about dragging it all out and then having to clean it all up. I must overcome this feeling because she really wants to learn how to sew. Now how are these two things related?

I selected this book to review because it looked like it would be fun. Maybe the projects in this book would help me sit down and do some sewing with my kids. I've got to tell you that I am so excited about some of the projects in Let's Sew Together by Rubyellen Bratcher. First I noticed the Let's Eat section with soft fruit and veggie patterns. These will be so much fun as we study nutrition as part of our Human Body science this fall. Then I saw the Travel the World Quilt. How fun is that?!?! My hubby's wonderful grandmother quilts and my daughter has wanted to try a quilt for forever. Quilts seem overwhelming to me but this book includes the templates in that back (that can be copied at a much higher scale) and I really think this is a project we could do together.

Some of these project require very little- needle, thread, and a little fabric- and others use a sewing machine and extra supplies. Either way you are sure to find some fun things to try with your own crafty kid! I also think you will enjoy the large section at the beginning of the book with tips, supplies, and age by age guidelines.

I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.