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

Friday, October 31, 2014

Fall Lip Fix

I received a free product from Smiley360 for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own. 

My Native American and my Indiana Jones are all ready to go.

It's REALLY cold here (for us) so mama is not quite as ready. I would actually prefer to curl up with some hot cocoa and watch some movies tonight but there's no way they are agreeing to that! So instead the 4 of us will walk around the neighborhood and collect some candy.

At least I can keep my lips in good condition with new ChapStick Hydration Lock Moisturize & Renew. This new dual ended ChapStick has twice the lip saving salve. The moisturize end is great for a quick dab of moisture (like when the wind is drying your lips right off of your face). The renew end is for long term renewal of dry lips. Both will increase your lip health.

Now is the time to take care of those lips! The cold weather and wind will just continue to increase in the coming months. Find the newest ChapStick at your local retailer!

Want to try products for free too? Check out Smiley360!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

No Subs

Today I just haven't felt up to par. Nothing major just a headache and lack of sleep. However on days like today even my beloved coffee doesn't cut it. I see lots of *newbie* questions about how homeschool works when one of the kids or worse the teacher is under the weather.  Tis the season for "feel bads" so here are several solutions:

*Take a sick day. Even if you don't have those built into your schedule you can always double up on another day or do school on a weekend or holiday. Some families even tack on a day or two at the end of the year to make up. If this is needed you shouldn't feel pressured by it. We can't control sickness and sometimes our minds and bodies just need a break.

*Call in a sub. This isn't realistic most of the time. Thus the title of my post but occasionally Dad or a grandparent can step in to guide the kids through some lessons. This is especially important if it is the teacher that is sick or if it is a longer illness. Hubby has jumped in for me a time or two even if I just needed a break.

*Just do what you can. This is our usual approach to a sick day. You're already stuck at home. My kids usually get bored just lying around if they don't feel well so we have worked slowly through some of our work in those cases. Today I wasn't horribly ill so we took it slow and got through all of our lessons. I took several breaks while they worked independently. It isn't ideal but it does keep us on track and I didn't feel any guilt about laying around on the couch when they were finished.

Today I'm thankful I was able to stay at home and that my sweet kiddos talked Hubby into getting Chinese take out for dinner. They know a bowl of Hot and Sour soup is my sick day comfort food.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Homeschool Resources as Your Children Get Older

As my kids get a little older and we continue to homeschool, I'm finding that I need different types of resources. In the beginning homeschool classrooms need lots of manipulatives and flash cards. Now that we are doing 2nd and 5th grade we need a different caliber of resources. Don't worry we still have plenty of puzzles, crayons, markers, and such!

Earlier this year I had to invest in a good dictionary. Apple had been using an old dictionary that Hubby & I had along with a cheap small dictionary I picked up somewhere along the way to supplement the other one. We found that many of the words the kids needed to look up were not included in either dictionary. Apple has an extensive dictionary on her Kindle but she prefers a book in her hand. I found a highly recommended dictionary on Amazon and it has made a huge difference in our school time. She also has a decent thesaurus for the all important synonyms and antonyms. Our history curriculum uses a lot of maps and so I purchased the kids a Biblical Map Atlas. These resources are certainly more mature than our happy little flash cards.

I received a free copy of this Bible dictionary from BookLook in exchange for my honest review. 

I've found that we also need a good Bible dictionary. I've never owned a Bible dictionary before but I'm really glad that we have one now. The Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary is HUGE y'all. Like really big and really heavy. I feel like you should know that because I was very surprised by the size and heft. It contains over 1,200 pages of information.

Let me give you an overview of what all is included:

*Definitions of many, many Biblical words along with descriptions of notable people and places

*Full color illustrations on most pages {Want to know what a ziggurat looked like? There's a pic on page 1217.}

*Several maps in the back of the book

*Teaching Outlines for people of the Bible like Amos and Esther

*Teaching Outlines for books of the Bible


*Table of Contents for all the charts, outlines, maps, etc.

*A multitude of charts like "Pagan Gods Mentioned in the Bible"

This is so much more than just a Bible dictionary. I got it for the kids to look up words during Bible study but now I'm excited to have it as a resource in my own study time. This Bible dictionary would be an amazing gift or resource from any minister or Sunday School teacher. It contains so much information that it will be a valuable tool for years to come.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Doggy Treats #Stackerz

I received this product free from Influenster. All opinions are my own.

Our doggy is a big girl. She's an Italian Mastiff and she's HUGE. We've moved to this small town and most people here find out where we live and say, "Oh you're the one with the GIANT dog." Yep that's us.

See how well trained she is though?
She's a good girl and she's not a puppy by any means. We love to give her treats but we try to manage her weight to a degree. So since she's a big 'un we need bigger treats for her. If they are too small then we have to give her TONS of them. That isn't good for her weight or for our wallet. If they are too big she swallows them quickly and that's even harder on our wallet.

Pedigree has a new snack called Stackerz. They are made with real meat and they are a good medium sized snack. The bag we tried was Filet Mignon & Bacon Flavor. As soon as doggy saw the treat she was sitting at attention! 

I really expected there to be a very strong, pungent odor when I opened the bag. They definitely have a pet food smell but it isn't horribly overwhelming.

You can see there are many Stackerz in the bag. That makes us happy because she gets at least a treat a day. We need a bag that will last us more than a couple of days at a time. She actually catches the Stackerz in her mouth, bites it in half, and then eats the two pieces. She's a little particular so this has been her pattern each time we've given her one. 

As you can see our fur baby has a new favorite treat! Look for the soft Stackerz treats at your favorite retailer.

Be sure to check out all our current giveaways.

Hay Hay Harvest Time

While we don't actually participate in harvesting anything this time of year we do love fall. I always hope to take the kids apple picking but it hasn't happened yet. We usually take a field trip to our favorite local farm but we've voted to skip it this year. While we are still looking for a fun, inexpensive field trip to replace that one, we have had some special harvest fun already.

The kids went to a fun birthday party with a pumpkin scavenger hunt. They got to take their pumpkins home after the party and of course we gutted them, roasted the seeds, and they (daddy & kids) carved them.

We had a special crafty women's ministry night at our church and made some really awesome wreaths for fall!

Our fearless leader and her wreath.

Speedy finished up his fall ball season and Apple is down to one game in her soccer schedule. Apple also tried out for a play with the local children's theater and is excited to have a role in the choir of the play.

We've just finished our "fall break" week. The kids enjoyed some time off of school and I got some items checked off my to-do list. 

All in all it's turning out to be an enjoyable fall. I keep ignoring the "so many days until Christmas" posts on social media. Last year I had my Christmas tree up in October. This year I feel like enjoying the cool weather, falling leaves, and pumpkin everything a little longer. 

We have some special books and movies we enjoy this time of year (Great Pumpkin anyone?). The kids are always thrilled when it is time for our holiday movie stash. They've already started working through the fall themed ones. 

If your family enjoys special books during particular season then you may be interested in the current Harvest Sale. You can find some special children's selections at great prices.

Find books like this one:

And many more.

To celebrate this Harvest Sale, Tommy Nelson has given me a bundle of 3 books to giveaway to one of you! 1 winner will be randomly selected to receive The Pumpkin Patch Parable, A Pumpkin Prayer, and Good Night Little Pumpkin. These books are also part of the sale! Enter today via the Giveaway Tools widget.


I am giving these books away on behalf of Tommy Nelson.

Be sure to enter all of our current giveaways!

Essential Oil Crystals #Giveaway

I received these Purex Crystals free in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

All of the uses and benefits of essential oils are really becoming evident to the general population. Naturalists have long known their positive affects but regular folks like me are just learning about all the things they can do. We use essential oils for disinfectant, headaches, muscle pain, skin issues, and so much more.

Y'all know I love Purex Crystals so I was THRILLED when I found out about the new Purex Crystals Aromatherapy.

I got out my Purex Detergent and my new Purex Crystals Aromatherapy Energy and I was ready to do my laundry.

These Crystals smell AMAZING. All Purex Crystals have a pleasant scent but the orange scent definitely gives a me a small burst of energy.

In went the towels, detergent, and Crystals. I decided my towels were the perfect test subject because who doesn't want a little extra energy after their morning shower? The towels smelled fantastic after they were washed and dried. Now my whole linen closet has a pleasant citrus-y smell! 

Purex Crystals Aromatherapy comes in 3 scents (Energy, Well-Being, and Serenity) and they all help eliminate odors. They are great for other odor elimination as well. Our doggy sleeps in the basement at night. She's a large dog who HATES baths so she can be a little.....odoriferous at times. I poured some of the Purex Crystals Aromatherapy in a small bowl and set it out of reach in the basement. I couldn't believe how fresh it smelled by morning! 

Thank you for another fantastic product Purex! 

Who wants to win their own bottle of Purex Crystals Aromatherapy? I have 3 coupons to giveaway. 3 winners will be randomly selected to receive one coupon each. Enter via the Giveaway Tools widget.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Deep Cleaning the Sofa #leathernova

I received a free product from Tomoson for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own. 

Y'all know I like to clean right? New cleaning tools make me happy. One item that I haven't been able to clean to my satisfaction is our very large, leather sectional sofa. We purchased it used (like bought, put in their house in a spare room, and never sat on) from some friends several years ago. We have 2 kids who were young when we bought it and we moved it earlier this year when we changed residences. The best I've ever done is wipe it down and vacuum out the hide-a-bed. Well and an unfortunate incident with some alcohol that faded out a spot.......

So when I had the opportunity to try Leather Nova Leather Cleaner I was super excited. Now I can finally really deep clean my sofa. Here's a before:

To use the Leather Nova you simply spray it on (be sure to test a spot first- I tested on the back of the couch).

Wipe in a circular motion with the included microfiber cloth.

Then do a final wipe with a dry, clean cloth.

I was amazed at the grime just off of one seat!

I was also so excited at the difference in the seat I cleaned and the dirty one next to it. Ewww. I'm not sure the pictures do it justice. Trust me. Eww.

You can follow up with a leather conditioner if desired.

Hubby wanted in on all the clean so he tackled his duty belt. He was very pleased with the results too.

Leather Nova comes in an easy to use 18 oz spray bottle. It is suitable for leather and vinyl (always test before using). Not for use on suede, nubuck, or microfiber. Try it on your belts, shoes, furniture, purses, wallets, car seats, and more!

Well now I have to go clean the 6 other seats on my couch. Then it will be good as new! Except for that unfortunate faded spot from before......

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Be sure to enter all of our current giveaways.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Unique Gift Ideas

I wrote a little last week about our plans for Christmas gifts this year. I wanted to share some unique gift ideas that might help friends and family get off the toy aisles this holiday season.

In the past my kids have really enjoyed:

*Cash. I know cash and gift cards aren't always a popular choice but my kids are at the age that they really enjoy cash. They don't get money on a regular basis and so a little money they can spend on their own makes them feel very grown up and responsible. Cash also offers some exciting teaching moments. We're able to discuss giving, saving, and deal hunting with them when they have their own money. While we ultimately let them make the decision about what to use their money for it is great to have those teachable moments.

*Gift cards. This deserves a special recognition because there are so many choices. My kids LOVE gift cards to their favorite eateries. They know they will get to go and enjoy their favorite meals as a special treat when they have a gift card. They also enjoy gift cards to favorite stores because it is like having cash. Think outside the box- favorite restaurants, book stores, clothing stores, online retailers, cards to buy digital content like music and apps. The choices are plentiful and many can be ordered online and save you some time standing in line! Also look for special deals this time of year. Many places offer bonuses when you buy gift cards in multiples.

*Household items. My daughter got a sewing machine last year. Both kids have received new bedding, lamps, etc over the years. Kids who enjoy cooking will enjoy kitchen items, aprons, etc. Boys (and girls) may like their own tools.

*Sporting Goods. Even though their sports season may not be happening in December they will still enjoy sports related gear. Last year Speedy received a pitchback net for baseball and he's gotten lots of use out of it.

*Tickets to special events. A concert, play, museum entry, etc go a long way for the older elementary set. It doesn't have to be something huge either. Movie passes are a special treat for kids like ours that don't go to the theater often.

*Paying for a sport, camp, or class. Apple was gifted a semester of choir one holiday. She was thrilled! This year she has a special camp picked out and it's pricey. I know she'd be thrilled to receive that as a gift.

*DVDs. We don't have cable and dvds are exciting business in the Carter house.

*Books. No need to explain this one. Just make sure they are age and reading level appropriate.

*Special interest items. Craft gear, science tools, etc. These are biggies especially for home school families. My kids often ask for high end items like microscopes and telescopes. They haven't received them yet but that hasn't lessened their interest.

*Clothing. While socks and undies may not elicit a smile, older kids often have their eye on a special brand or type of clothing that they'd like to have. Apple still loves extravagant dresses. Speedy enjoys the special brands of sporty clothing. Both kids dig new shoes and boots. Don't forget items like accessories- hats, belts, jewelry, etc.

If you are buying for kids this year, think outside the toy aisle. Consider other possibilities. Not only will you bypass the craziest section of the store, you can find some terrific deals and make a short person super happy!

Be sure to enter all of our current giveaways.

Do You Have a Brave Girl? #TNBraveGirls

Is your daughter brave? Apple truly is brave. She's rarely scared of anything. She can share her opinion with ease, jump up on stage and sing or perform, make a new friend in a moment, and take on any challenge. I'm always in awe of her bold nature. I want to nurture that quality in her but I don't consider myself to be very brave.

I received a free copy of this book for the purpose of review as a Tommy Nelson Mommy. All opinions are my own.

Thankfully there were plenty of brave women in the Bible. These women weren't feminists or bullies. They were just bold, brave women following God's prompting. In this sad time when Christianity is so blatantly under attack it is imperative that we teach our girls to be bold for God and for what they know is right. Now the stories of some of these courageous women are gathered in Brave Girls Bible Stories: Celebrating Great Women of the Bible. Watch this short clip to learn a little more:

So in this hardback book your girl can become acquainted with Hope, Faith, Glory, Gracie, and Honor. These youth group girls will then introduce Bible truths by exploring women of the Bible in the Old Testament and then in the New Testament. So they might flip and find the story of Anna from Luke 2. They will learn believers will be rewarded (Heb 11:6). Through this story Hope realizes there are rewards greater than her sports trophies. She reflects in the end what she's learned from the story of Anna and shares a short prayer. The book is full of those types of short stories and applications to real life. The book includes a ribbon bookmark, a quiz at the end for your daughter to see which brave girl she relates to the most, and some brave verses to remember.

Apple is thrilled to be a Tommy Nelson Brave Girl!

I love that this is just the beginning of Tommy Nelson's Brave Girls. Soon there will be 2 Brave Girl Devotionals: Better Than Perfect & Faithful Friends (coming in Spring 2015) as well as a Brave Girls Bible (coming in Fall 2015). This 207 Brave Girls Bible Stories should keep your daughter engaged until the next Brave Girls releases. See a special preview of this book.

I have one copy to give to a reader! Enter via the Giveaway Tools widget and one winner will be randomly selected.


Here is a special word about the Brave Girls from the Tommy Nelson team.

Dear Parents,
If you have a daughter, you know that the deepest desire of any parent’s heart is to see 
her happy, confident, and most importantly, deeply aware of God’s love for her. For her 
to know how courageous and strong she can be, and that God has a plan to use her life for 
Strong, confident girls and women are making a splash in pop culture. From Disney’s 
Merida in Brave to Veronica Roth’s Katniss in The Hunger Games, girls are taking their 
place as the heroes of the story, and rightfully so! 
Women have been a crucial part of God’s story for generations, and the Bible is full of 
brave girls whom God used to make a difference. Ephesians 3:20 tells us, “With God’s 
power working in us, God can do much, much more than anything we can ask or think of. 
To Him be the glory!” 
We are overjoyed to tell you about a new brand making its debut this September that we 
hope will speak these truths to your daughters’ hearts, Tommy Nelson’s Brave Girls!
Brave Girls Bible Stories, the first book from the new brand, will help girls grow in their 
knowledge of the Bible and in their faith. Your daughters will get to know our Brave 
Girls – Hope, Gracie, Glory, Faith, and Honor – five modern-day friends – as they
journey through the Bible together.
The girls are each very different, but they all love Jesus and love each other. Readers will 
find parts of themselves in each of the five Brave Girls as they share their strengths –from 
sports to fashion – and struggles, including making new friends and working through 
As the Brave Girls narrate, readers will learn such valuable truths from more than thirty 
women in the Bible who dared to follow God.
The Tommy Nelson Team

Be sure to check out all our current giveaways:


I received a free book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Carrie Turansky continues the Edwardian Brides series with the release of book 2 The Daughter of Highland Hall. I enjoyed book 1 The Governess of Highland Hall so much that I couldn't wait to read this one! This book continues the story of Julia and William but now the focus is on William's cousin Kate. Her aunt Lady Gatewood is sponsoring Kate for her season in London.

Although Aunt Louisa can be overwhelming and negative, Kate is so excited about the balls and parties and new dresses of the season. She has a little slip up during her introduction at the palace but Katherine is determined to find a worthy husband this season before returning to Highland Hall.

Things don't go as Katherine planned. First her cousin David is in an immoral relationship and gossip is spreading. Julia's brother Jon comes to stay with them at Ramsey House. Kate still finds herself beginning a relationship with Edward Wellington, a sought after bachelor, but things feel a bit off. A new tragedy brings the gossip to a frenzy Kate finds herself in a new position. Jon encourages her to volunteer with him in the East End free clinic.

Kate soon finds herself torn between 2 worlds- that of money and leisure and one of helping people and relying on the Lord. Where does Kate belong? Will she find a husband before her return to Highland Hall?

This book was every bit as good as the first one. Upstairs family and downstairs staff join together to help a young woman in need. The descriptions of the clothing, balls, and scenery are given with just the right amount of detail. Again if you enjoy Downton Abbey you will enjoy Carrie Turansky's Edwardian Brides series. The Daughter of Highland Hall is an enjoyable fiction read with a gentle romance, a growth of faith, and a pleasing ending.

I received this book for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Pep Up the Pimento Cheese

I tried the below mentioned product free from BzzAgent in exchange for my honest review.

My meal plans have been MIA because I just haven't had time to get them together. We've been finished up fall ball and soccer and had lots of other extracurricular activities. When we have been able to eat at home I've just thrown together food we already had.

Last week I decided to make some pimento cheese. Half of us like pimento cheese sandwiches and the other half don't so I also made chicken salad that night. I was able to try Arla Dofino Chipotle Gouda free from BzzAgent so I decided to throw some of it in my pimento cheese.

I shredded some cheddar cheese in my food processor and then shredded in some of the Chipotle Gouda in with it. Into a bowl went the cheese and I mixed in a generous amount of mayo, salt, pepper, and some sugar. Next I drained a small jar of pimentos and then gently folded it together until it was all mixed well.

The chipotle gouda added a flavorful complexity to already tasty pimento cheese. My husband normally won't eat pimento cheese but he enjoyed this so much. It added a little spice and flavor without overwhelming the spread.

Arla Dofino Chipotle Gouda is also great as a snack with crackers. I am loving all the things I can do with this cheese! You can find it (and many other Arla Dofino cheeses) in your grocery's deli section.

I hope to get back to my meal planning for you (and US!) soon.

Patting Myself on the Back

So for the last month or so I've told you I was getting ready for the Riot. This was a 4 mile urban challenge. I actually tried to back out. I didn't get to train the way I wanted to and I felt like I was woefully unprepared (and I was). I've been in decent shape in the past (although still overweight) and in recent months I've only been able to do Zumba once a week.

My friends wouldn't let me back out so our little team of 4 showed up this weekend and headed out (early! EEK!) on our "run". I'll be honest mine was a whole lot of walking and a tiny bit of jogging.

So I won't bore you with all the details of the day but I will tell you I finished! I took some penalties (rather than do particular obstacles) but I completed it and got my medal. I was so happy! The run itself wasn't so fun but the feeling I had at the end was well worth it. 

I'm not normally one to pat myself on the back but I am for this! 

Have you done any 5Ks, obstacle courses, or other challenges? What are your favorite training tips?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Women's Devotional Bible with Proverbs 31 Ministries Devotionals

Y'all know I have a Bible habit. Not a bad habit to have actually.....At this point I think my Bible "hoarding" is almost equal to my small kitchen appliance hoarding. Both useful things to hoard, right? Anyhow my main Bible for many years has been brown and pink imitation leather Zondervan Women's Devotional Bible. It is a reasonable size for carrying, it has some great devotionals in it, and lots of references for studying. It has survived my kids as babies and toddlers, many trips to church, lots of time in my car, and even a trip off the roof of the car going down the road (I promise that was Hubby's fault and not mine!). I have notations and highlights and special writing all in it. I won't be getting rid of that Bible ever but I have found a new Bible to be my main traveling to and from church Bible.

I received a free copy of this Bible for the purpose of review from BookLook. All opinions are my own.

As you can tell my "old" Bible is on the left. It has served me well but over time I did find I didn't like the closure flap. It got dirty very quickly (a roll on the road will do that) and it usually just felt like it was in the way. I remember scouring through a Bible book store trying to find just the right Bible. Hubby was selecting a new Bible that day as well and we spent a lot of time looking at each available Bible and trying to pick the one that was right for each of us. Bibles are an investment both into your spiritual life and from your wallet.

The Bible on the right is also from Zondervan and it is the NiV Real Life Devotional Bible for Women. It is just as pretty as my other one, right at the same size, and also has wonderful devotions in it. Many of them come from Lysa TerKeurst but there are also others from other Proverbs 31 Ministries writers. There are 366 devotions in all- 1 for each day of the year. These devotionals are short (1 page) but pack a punch. Each is close to the verse in the Bible that it is based on and then 3-4 other verse references are included for you to study on your own. The devotionals focus on real life topics for women- gossip, burn out, temptation, and more.

I've told you before that I struggle with daily Bible reading but I've kept this on my nightstand and so far I've made it a whole week reading a devo and some extra verses every night. One step at a time folks, one step at a time. 

All together this is a lovely Bible for women. The two tone blue cover is eye pleasing, the pages are delicate, there is a ribbon for marking your place, the devos are insightful, and the NiV is a version I prefer. If you (or a lady you know) are in the market for a new Bible I recommend this one. Try not to leave it on top of your car and drive away though......that could be bad. I will say one thing I miss in this Bible (and my other one) is the red letters for the words of Jesus. I enjoy my other Bibles that too have the red letters. Sometimes when you are just seeking a special word or answer to pray those red letters jumping off the page are all you need. 

So to recap: NiV Real Life Devotional Bible for Women has a beautiful imitation leather cover, includes 366 devotionals from Proverbs 31 Ministries writers including Lysa TerKeurst, and is compact enough for a Bible to carry to and from church (because let's all admit an app on our phone just isn't the same).

The Mystery at Science Camp

I received a free copy of this book from BookLook in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Andora (Andi) Boggs is back. This time she & her buddy Colin are going to Discovery Camp at the local university. Discovery Camp is limited to the brightest science students that apply. As Andi and Colin navigate science courses, the university campus, and college professors, strange things start to happen. First all of a professor's dry erase markers disappear (as a home school teacher that would be a real nightmare) and another professor's crickets are all set loose. Is someone trying to sabotage Discovery Camp? Maybe it is the odd campus maintenance man. Surely someone who trims the lawn with scissors is suspicious. 

Andi Under Pressure by Amanda Flower follows Andi Unexpected. Apple enjoyed this second mystery just as much as she enjoyed the first. Andi and her sister are now living with their aunt in Killdeer, Ohio following the death of their parents. Although Apple can't relate to Andi's situation she can certainly relate to a girl who loves science and a good mystery. 

I enjoy these books for her because they are good, clean books. There are no romantic overtures (I love that a boy and girl character are really just friends!), no foul language, and no foul intent from the main characters. I can give her these books and know she won't be reading about any mature subjects. 

If you have a child that loves a good mystery then introduce them to the Andi Boggs series from Amanda Flower. Also make sure to enter the special children's books giveaways I have happening right now! 

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

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Time Machine and a Giveaway

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

Are there any Duck Dynasty fans in your house? We have watched the show from the beginning. My husband has gotten to hear Phil speak twice and was even able to get a photo with Phil and Miss Kay at one event. Over the summer Apple & Speedy were able to get their picture taken with Martin from the show!

Aside from the excitement of meeting these very down-to-earth tv celebrities, as a family we enjoy the message of the show. Hubby & the kids enjoy hunting so the Robertson business is interesting to them. As Christians we appreciate a show with strong family values, bold Christianity, and prayers.

When I found out a line of books for kids was coming from John Luke Robertson, I knew the kids would be thrilled! We received Willie's Redneck Time Machine to read. Do you remember the pick your own adventure books? Well that's what this is! How fun! You read through the story and every few pages you have to make a decision about what the characters will do. Your choice takes you to a different place in the book. One of the best things about picking your own adventure is that you can read the book several times and get a different story line. That was very exciting for Apple since she usually reads a book so quickly!

Willie's Redneck Time Machine is a fun story about an outhouse that mysteriously appears in the Duck Commander warehouse. Soon Willie and John Luke discover it is really a time machine! In the adventure I picked they find themselves back in the '80s. Hey who didn't love the '80s? Big hair, Aqua Net, you remember! The fun story is exciting no matter which adventure line you select. Will Willie and John Luke find their way back to the present in time to celebrate Korie's birthday?

This is just one in a series of 4 books by John Luke Robertson (with Travis Thrasher). The other books are Phil & the Ghost of Camp Ch-Yo-Ca, Sin in Space, and Jase & the Deadliest Hunt. These books are sure to be big sellers for Christmas this year. Apple is already enjoying the series and Speedy should be ready to try it very soon. Do you have a child that would love to be a duck commander on an adventure? I have 1 copy of Willie's Redneck Time Machine to giveaway! I will randomly select a winner using the Giveaway Tools Widget.

TTD Announcement

Contains affiliate links.

I told you a little about Teach Them Diligently the other day. Today I have an exciting announcement about the Nashville convention.

Dr. James Dobson to speak in Nashville, TN March 19-21, 2015.

Dr. James Dobson will be speaking! His session will be limited to the first 1,000 families registering for the event. Sign up today to ensure you are able to hear Dr. Dobson. He is the author of many highly regarded books on parenting including Bringing Up Boys and The New Strong Willed Child.

Want a little extra incentive? Use the code "DOBSONLEGACY" for $5 off your family registration!

A Southern Tale

The very first items I ever started reviewing were books. I love to read and getting my hands on free books is a huge plus to blogging! Sometimes I even receive free books aside from my regular book review programs or in addition to them. Sweet Olive was sent to me for free and I enjoyed it so I wanted to share a little about it with you.


Before receiving this book I had not read anything by Judy Christie. Sweet Olive is part of the Trumpet and Vine series. It was published in 2013 and recently Christie released a second book in the series named Magnolia Market. Set in Samford, Sweet Olive is the story of Camille Gardner. Camille lived in Samford for a short period when she was younger and she really has no desire to return to the small town. Her job in her uncle's gas and oil company requires her to spend some time in Samford and specifically in the nearby small artist community of Sweet Olive. While Camille isn't happy to be in the area the townsfolk aren't too pleased with her arrival either.

Her uncle Scott owns J & S (the gas and oil company) and has sent her to finalize some land deals. The land owners are less than willing to sell their mineral rights. The Sweet Olive artists live a different type of life. While the money is huge, the artists would rather retain the simplicity of their community. While Camille is looking to sign the agreements and move on to a desk job in Houston, the artists don't get in a hurry to do anything. Their attorney Marsh is not willing to let Camille rush in and lure the land owners with big money and false promises. If only Marsh wasn't so handsome.....

While Camille finds herself drawn to the local artists (and she must admit drawn to Marsh) she is struggling with her "assistant" and some pushy big wigs in the town. As if all of this weren't enough, Camille must also confront her past and the memories she has of Samford. Can she make the deals? Will Uncle Scott yank away her future desk job?

This book definitely belongs in the Gentle Read category. The story is intriguing and I found myself alternately pulling for Camille and for the artists. I really couldn't figure out how it would all end until...well... the end. The characters were interesting and played well off of one another. If you enjoy an easy fiction then I think you will like Sweet Olive as well. Plus there was mention of an "Edie" in the book! That doesn't happen very often. :)

Christmas Gifts for Kids

Christmas was always a HUGE deal for me growing up. I was an only child and I was spoiled. I got loads of gifts from my parents and grandparents. Way more than I needed for sure but it did make Christmas such a special time. I'll admit that for most of my children's Christmases I have gone overboard on the gifts. In my defense I tend to get their gifts at really great deals! However the excess usually ends up in a yard sale in a year or two. Hubby grew up with 2 brothers and never got the bounty that I did.

In the past few years I've heard of parents sticking to 3 or 4 gifts for each child (some do even less and I have to say there have been a couple of times when 1 child got an expensive gift and that was pretty much it). I like the idea of 3 gifts like the 3 wise men and so that's what our plan is this year. I've heard of several different categories but ours will be something they want (or play with), something to wear, and something to read. Those seem reasonable and in a smaller house we need to limit the excess (hey grandparents/ aunts/ uncles/ friends I'm talking to you!).

I'm just starting to get ideas and we've already taken time to explain this to our kids. Apple has asked for new perfume (hey friends more stinky tween perfume, sigh). Speedy hasn't asked for anything yet (hello they have everything). I love a good plan and I feel like this will work well for our family. Apple loves to read and Speedy is slowly getting into reading so I think the something to read category will be a popular one.

How does your family do Christmas gifts? Do you make a plan or just buy? I've heard arguments for and against Christmas lists. We do short lists so that I have ideas to give family and friends but we don't make a big deal out of it and my kids know they likely won't get everything on the list. If you want to give your kids something nice to read for Christmas make sure to enter the two giveaways happening now:

Sunday, October 5, 2014

My Child is Still Not My Best Friend

Can't believe it's been 2 years since I posted this. Have to say I'm glad it is all still true today. 

I have 2 AMAZING children. They are more precious to me each and every single day. They are as different as night and day. They have characteristics of hubby and I along with thrown in traits from grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. They are a joy to be around (most of the time) and they are gorgeous! I love them both with all of my heart and I can see God and His special design in each of them. But....ya know what? They are NOT my best friends.

My daughter is 7 and I love watching her grow and mature. We have great conversations and I hope she is comfortable enough to talk to me about anything but she is NOT my best friend. And I am not hers. We homeschool and we are together at least 90% of the time that we are awake. We talk and laugh and joke throughout the day every single day but she is not my best friend.

My son is 5 and he cracks me up. He has a terrific personality and gets along with just about everyone. He talks to me all the time and he shares his hopes and dreams with me. He prays consistently and he asks me BIG questions that I don't always have an answer to. We are together all the time but he is not my best friend and I am not his.

I see an alarming trend. Parents all over Facebook professing that their children are their best friends. I know if you are posting it all over Facebook then you are also saying it out loud to your children. Your children don't NEED you to be their best friend. Your children NEED you to be their parent. They need the safety and security that you can provide by being the parent in the house. Your children need and want structure. They need and want rules. They need and want you to be in charge. They need and want you to lead and guide them. They need and want you to be an adult, not their equal.

Best friends should be peers of a similar age with similar interests and emotions and feelings. That usually (although not always) means a person of the same gender. You are not your child's peer. Your interests should not all be the same. Your maturity level should not be the same. While most of us respect our friends it is a mutual respect due to life experience, position, etc. Your child should hold you in a much higher regard than that. They should respect you as their provider and their protector, not their friend.

God has given you the responsibility of raising your children to become productive adults. That does not involve you being their friend. It also does not involve bowing down to their every demand. Children don't really know what they want. They don't have the capacity to make big decisions. They shouldn't be in charge. If your child is in fact your best friend and you are giving them the run of the house and of their own lives then you are doing them a huge disadvantage. You are not helping them, in fact you are hindering them. You are also taking the lazy way out if you allow your child to be in charge. It is hard work to be a parent. It will never be easy. Being someone's friend is easy, being someone's parent is a responsibility.

If your child is your best friend, you are doing yourself a disservice as well. God created us to thrive in community with others with similar personalities and beliefs. If your child is your best friend, you need to work harder to find a peer for yourself. You need to be involved in an adult friendship with someone who lives outside of your home. My husband is AMAZING. He is my guy. We talk about everything. We share everything. He knows more about me than anyone else on earth. He is my husband. That means even more than someone being my best friend. Best friends are important to have but best friends may come and go through seasons of life. Your husband should ALWAYS be your husband and your child should ALWAYS be your child. Be careful not to confuse those relationships in your life. It is important that they are in order.

Repeat it with me "My child is not my best friend."

Saturday, October 4, 2014

How Our Reluctant Reader Came Around

Our older child has been an avid reader for what seems like her whole life. She started reading at 4 years old. We pulled her out of a Pre-K class, brought her home, started Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read, and in the blink of an eye she was reading. By age 6 she had read the entire Little House on the Prairie series and many other books. (Yes I'm bragging! She's smart y'all!) She loves to read. It is one of her favorite pastimes. We have never struggled with getting her to read. She reads everything! (In fact that's the struggle, keeping inappropriate books away from her. Not that she's looking for them just that she's read almost everything else!)

I had all these hopes and dreams that our younger child would fly through reading with the same ease. Wrong. He never showed the same level of interest that she did so we took it slower with him. At 4 he was learning letters and letter sounds instead of reading. At 5 he was doing the Hooked on Phonics level she had done at 4. He took his time. He struggled. We went back and repeated portions of the various Hooked on Phonics levels. Last year (at age 6) he had completed Hooked on Phonics PreK-2nd grade. That's still a feat! He was still a year ahead by completing the second grade level in first grade but he didn't run off and start reading a novel on his own. He told us repeatedly that he couldn't read even when we knew he could. He spent all last year declaring his disdain for reading. What's a home school mom to do? Persevere.

Even though he didn't like to read, I didn't let him stop. I didn't push him too hard but I did push a little. When he completed Hooked on Phonics, we just kept reading. First I had him read some smaller books to me like Dr. Seuss. Once he had done well with those (even though he still protested) we moved on to some very short chapter books. Boy he didn't like that- no pictures on every page! The first one I had him read was a baseball book. He didn't want to like it. He said he didn't like it but it sparked his interest at least a little. Then we moved on to Magic Tree House books. With story lines about dragons and ninjas he couldn't resist being at least a little interested. When our school year was over I relaxed a little. I didn't make him read to me every day but I did make him read Frindle to me over the summer. It was very slow. That's a long book (compared to the others he had read) so most of the time he only did a couple of pages at a time. He already knew the story (we had listened to it on audio book) so he was familiar with it. I never thought we'd finish Frindle. He never thought we'd finish it either but we did. We persevered.

Getting Speedy from a kid who liked to look at pictures in books to one who didn't like to/ didn't think he could read to one that read reluctantly to today was not an easy process. It was another one of those times when it was as hard for me as it was for him (like potty training, always more work for the parent). Around the time he was reading Frindle, he got interested in graphic novels at the library. I never discouraged it. He'd pick 4 or 5 graphic novels and I'd make him pick 2 or 3 "regular" books. Lots of weeks those regular books would sit in the library bag and never get cracked open. Or he'd look through them enough to figure out the story by the pictures. I just kept pushing through. When we moved to our small town we learned the library here doesn't have graphic novels. He was so disappointed. He still misses the graphic novels. At first he would pick some books but wouldn't read them. Then he went a few times and didn't even want to check out anything but an audio book and a movie. I was never negative to him about it. I just kept gently encouraging him to find some books. I'd point out books I knew he would like. 

Another big step in the right direction happened at the beginning of our school year. I told him I'd no longer read his Life of Fred or devotional to him. He had to read them quietly to himself. And he had to read his books for school to himself. He protested at first. A lot. Now he's good though. He knows he has to do it so he does. He's already read The Bears on Hemlock Mountain and 100 Penny Box for school. He actually finished both of those ahead of schedule so now he's reading a fun book called Slime Time during school. He's persevered. 

He pretty much sticks to the nonfiction section at the library for now. He's read up on motorcycles, snakes, whales, weapons, Abraham Lincoln, and more. At least he's reading! He's also voluntarily reading books we own now. Yesterday he started his first Time Warp book all on his own. He's a lucky boy because we have an extensive collection of Wishbone, Magic Tree House, Imagination Station, and other books from his sister's shelves. 

I see the inklings of a joy to read beginning to build. He read It Will Be Okay all on his own when it came and then he told summarized it for me. It isn't likely that he'll ever be as avid of a reader as his sister is but that's okay. Reading is important for life and I'm glad he persevered. And I'm glad I didn't give up. If you have a reluctant reader I hope you feel encouraged by this. Don't give up!

Friday, October 3, 2014


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

Changes are so scary. They're scary for kids too! Even the kids from the best families with the biggest faith in God can feel frightened and anxious over new things: moving, a new baby, a trip, etc. The sad things and the exciting things and the bad things can all cause anxiety for your little people. As parents we sometimes want to shelter them from fear but a better response is to help them learn how to deal with fear because even as adults we have to face our fears at times.

The unlikely duo of a Little Fox and a Little Seed can help your children feel reassured in tough times. Little Seed doesn't want to leave his seed packet and Little Fox is afraid of the shadows. Together they form a safe friendship and find peace until Little Seed has to go to a dark, messy place. Little Fox can't see or help his friend and Little Seed can't change his circumstances. They soon learn the Farmer was watching after them all along and knew what was best for them. Now they are happier than ever before and they've learned to trust.

It Will be Okay : Trusting God Through Fear and Change, Lysa TerKeurst
See a special sneak peek:

Lysa TerKeurst has written this distinct story in It Will Be Okay to help reassure kids that changes are sometimes necessary but even the scariest changes can turn out okay. Her sweet story lets children know that even the most frightening things in life can lead to sunny skies and better days.

Speedy loved this book. He read it before bed and told me all about it the next morning. He shares my anxiety-proned-ness (that's a word right?) and so he could totally commiserate with Little Fox and Little Seed. I'm so glad he has this story to refer to when he's feeling unsettled. In the beginning of the book is a list of 10 Bible verses to learn with your child. I'm so glad to have this reference in one place.  The illustrations by Natalia Moore just totally enhance the story. They are so adorable and detailed and calm. All together this is a wonderful bedtime story.

Would your child enjoy this story of reassurance? One winner will be randomly selected to win a copy. Enter via the Giveaway Tools widget.

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

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Teach Them Diligently Savings Code

Contains affiliate links.

I've always wanted to attend the Teach Them Diligently Convention. It's in Nashville in March 2015 (so close to me!!!) and I'm working hard to make plans to attend. If you are in the Nashville, TN area (or in Atlanta, GA, Sandusky, OH, or Dallas, TX) you can make plans to attend TTD as well! Now until Monday Oct 8, 2014 you can get $5 off registration with the code "GETSTARTED". Register at Teach Them Diligently.

If you aren't familiar with Teach Them Diligently it is a weekend long convention for Christian home school families featuring some amazing speakers to encourage you on your home school journey. There are also special things for your kids and husbands to do as well. This is a learning weekend for the whole family. This year the theme is Getting Started so it's perfect for home school newbies or those that are ready to take their home school to a fresh start.

I hope you'll check out the dates of Teach Them Diligently and if you are planning to attend don't forget to use the special code for $5 off before Monday Oct 8, 2014.

Nashville, TN *March 19-21

Atlanta, GA *April 9-11

Sandusky, OH *May 28-30

Dallas, TX *July 16-18

Getting Started Homeschooling

Tips for Shopping at a Consignment Sale

I told you a couple of weeks ago how to prepare for a consignment sale. Today I want to share some tips with you on shopping at a consignment sale. Whether you are looking to find whole seasonal wardrobes or just a casual shopper you want to keep some things in mind.

1. Carry a list. Make a list before you go of sizes and things you are specifically looking to find. If you are wanting to buy a lot of items then put your list in order of importance. I usually take my mom with me and we divide and conquer. She hits the girls section while I hit the boys section then we go to shoes and then onto ourselves, household items, etc. At a big sale, it is easy to loose focus in the hustle and bustle so a list is a must for me.

2. Carry a basket or wagon or bag. Many sales have a limited number of laundry baskets for customers to use but they are generally very small and there's no guarantee one will be available to you. So carry your own laundry basket (make sure your name is on it) or a big bag. I find my Thirty One Large Utility tote is perfect. I can carry it on my shoulder and it holds lots of stuff.

3. Don't stand in the aisle and examine every item. As you look through the clothes, if the size and price is in your range and you like the item then toss it in your bag or basket. Before checkout find a corner or unused area and then examine each item. At the sale we attend most often you will find lots of ladies along each side of the gym sorting through their finds. It is very important to check the items over for stains, holes, etc.

4. While we are talking about checking items sure you smell them. This is a new tip for me starting after the most recent sale. I smell things by nature and I have a very acute sense of smell. Normally I don't have to pick up an item and put my nose near it to detect a foul odor. However I was foiled this time! I got home with my purchases and discovered a very nice, name brand purse that I purchased smells of cat. Sigh. I'm still disappointed. I put laundry sheets in it and zipped it up for a couple of days. Didn't help. Now it's hanging on my line outside. Has been there for days. Still hasn't helped. I'm thinking it is going to the trash. Not only does it smell but I'm grossed out by it now. (Side note: Don't sell items that smell of cat. Or smoke. Or dog. Or anything else icky.)

5. Have fun! Shopping as a mom can be tedious. Try to enjoy yourself. Go with a friend or your mom or a shopping buddy. I always see several friends at the sale and it's fun to chat for a moment and compare good deals. Find yourself something. The prices at consignment sales are generally very reasonable and I always find a few items for myself. After you've gone through your list take some time to browse. The best deals I find are usually something I wasn't even looking for. This year I found a really nice green metal towel rack with a shelf underneath. It was exactly what I needed for our bathroom and for only $10 it was a great bargain! That wasn't on my list but I'm so glad I found it!

6. Check for bargain shopping times. I always recommend you sale items or volunteer so you can early shop at regular prices. It's also a good idea to shop the discount times. Your selection won't be as good but you can get even better deals! My favorite local consignment sale does a 50% off sale on the last day. I don't always go but I like to go when I can.

Do you shop consignment sales? If you do what are your favorite tips?

Check out our latest giveaways!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Does Your Little Princess Need Her Own Bible?

I received this Bible free from Tommy Nelson for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.

One of the disciplines I struggle with the most is reading my Bible every day. I encounter Bible verses throughout the day on social media, around our home, during our home school time, and even in many books that I read but I don't do a good job of sitting down with my Bible every day and spending time in the word. I even made a public challenge to myself back in April here on the blog. I never did a follow up post because after 3 weeks I had stopped. There have been times in my life when I've been able to challenge myself and follow through but eventually my habit dwindles.

Since I am not good at this neither are my kids. Y'all know we have several Bibles each and the kids do a great job of always keeping one by their beds, one in their school desks, and they *usually* take one to church (or ya least to the car on the way to church). A few weeks ago Speedy received a new hardback Bible at church. Every rising 2nd grader in our congregation receives one and the kids are always so excited. He's been enjoying his new Bible.

Apple has been a Sheila Walsh fan for forever (well a long time anyway). She will still occasionally pull out her copy of Gigi, God's Little Princess to watch on DVD. Sheila Walsh has a gift for helping girls understand their worth to God and I love for Apple to be encouraged in that way. Although Apple has mostly grown out of the "I'm going to dress like a princess every day and sing and twirl and be shiny and ecstatic" phase, deep down every girl big and small wants to be a lovely princess with a beautiful crown. That's why she was so excited to see Sheila Walsh's God's Little Princess Holy Bible.

This NKJV Bible is hardback and pink and shiny (i.e. light glitter) and has a pretty crown with a jewel on the cover. Even the edges are princessified in pink with crowns. In the front is a letter from Sheila detailing the features of this Bible.

They include:

Bible Jewels- special Bible truths

Regal Relationships- tips for growing your relationships with God and others

Kingdom Living- using Bible truth in every day life

Kingdom Highlights and Wise Words- tidbits of history and wisdom

Royal Heroes- heroes of the Bible and what you can learn from them

Noble Characters- a special feature of 13 inspiring people from the Bible

As if all those features weren't enough, they don't even include Apple's very favorite feature about this Bible. At the back is a "Personal Princess Journal." It is a place for your princess to note their favorite Bible verses, favorite songs, people to pray for, answered prayers, and more. What a lovely idea!

While Apple loves this Bible she is contemplating gifting it to a friend. She's aware that she's very blessed with her large stack of Bibles. I think it is wonderful that she's willing to pass on the blessing to someone else. This Bible is recommended for ages 4-7 but it is a "big girl" Bible with thin pages and full NKJV scripture.

Do you have a little princess that would love her very own copy of God's Little Princess Holy Bible? You can enter to win a copy on the easy Giveaway Tools Widget. One winner will be randomly selected to receive a Bible.

Other resources I recommend from Sheila Walsh:

For girls:

How to be God's Little Princess

Gabby, God's Little Angel

For women:

The Storm Inside

Sweet Sanctuary

I received this Bible free for review from Tommy Nelson. All opinions are my own.