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

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Homeschool Science Possibilities

Science is one of the few subjects that I feel a freedom in for the kids and homeschool. I don't feel like I need a specific every other day curriculum for science. In part it is because my husband is a science buff and spends a ton of time talking with my kids about science and showing them off the cuff experiments. For real.

The other reason (hand in hand with the first reason) is that my kids really LOVE science. They get really into it. Because they can become so engrossed in certain science topics, I like to generally choose a topic or two and focus on it as we can throughout our school year. This past year was the solar system area. We've studied it on and off the last several years but this year we really dug in and discussed each planet, stars/ constellations, NASA, etc. The kids were able to ask as many questions as they wanted to and we used a collection of books, a lapbook, workbook, and some projects.

As I look ahead to the fall I've started pulling together resources for studying the human body (something they have been interested in lately) and I've toyed with the idea of exploring some Zoology. We did a Zoology unit with a science co-op a couple of years ago but I know the kids would love to re-visit the animal world and go further in depth with the topics. Lucky for me we already own several great resources on God's animal creation and we have a wonderful zoo less than 2 hours away (and an even better one about 4 hours away- hint hint Hubby!).



Now I can officially doubt no more, it is time to add Zoology to the planner for 2014-2015. I received (free from BookLook for the purpose of review) a copy of Made by God: Curious Creatures 4 Books in 1. This awesome hardback book includes 4 Level 2 I Can Read Books: Rain Forest Friends, Jungle Beasts, Polar Pals, & Curious Creatures Down Under. Speedy was so excited about this book he already took it and read through a good portion of it but studying it in conjunction with some other books will make for a wonderful semester of science.

My favorite features of Curious Creatures are:

*It explores the unique qualities God gave animals

*The pictures are vibrant and adorable

*There are so many facts included- over 200!

*It is easy to read

*It is organized in an easy to follow pattern

*It is inexpensive (a biggie for homeschool budgets) at just $9.99

This wonderful book of animals will be available on May 6, 2014.

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


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Fake Spring Cleaning

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


Do you need a quick easy way to fake that Spring cleaning vibe in your house? Maybe it is still cold where you live and you just need to bring in some Spring scent and freshness but you can't open your windows yet. Or perhaps you are away from home all the time but you have company coming this weekend and no time to spruce up your place. Let me give you a new little secret I have found.

Purex Crystals are now available in a dryer sheet. Maybe you are asking how a dryer sheet relates to Spring cleaning. Let me tell you these dryer sheets have some STRONG SCENT. Like stronger than air freshener, stronger than cleaning spray STRONG. They came in the mail yesterday and my box was slightly damaged from shipping. No joke y'all within an hour my whole house smelled like Lavender Blossom! It still smells that way this morning!


I guarantee that if you hid one sheet in every room of your house, people would think you cleaned for hours or that you were using some sort of expensive oil or fragrance to freshen your house. AND these are made to keep your laundry smelling fresh for 30 days! Long lasting freshness for sure! Not only do they smell great, these Purex fabric softener dryer sheets reduce static cling and repel lint and dog hair! That is a must because our sweet Faith sheds like a Wookie! These Purex Crystals fabric softener sheets also come in Fresh Spring Waters scent. 


Now y'all know that Purex LOVES to give stuff away so I have 3 coupons to giveaway to 3 lucky readers. Enter on the easy Giveaway Tools widget below for your chance to win one. AND Purex has a special giveaway going on right now called Try Your Luck & Win $500 (or some of these awesome Spring cleaning enhancers). Please use my link to enter before May 9, 2014 (when the promo ends). You could win the grand prize of $500 or one of 50 free boxes of Purex Crystals dryer sheets.

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

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

My New Favorite Blogging Tool

Contains affiliate links.

Carter Chaos has been around for a few years now. In the last couple of years, I feel like it has gone to a whole new level with product reviews and promotions. I've tried several different ways to keep track of all the posts I need to do, review products, and tax information.

The first year I just had a document on my laptop with a generic list. It helped me stay on track but was totally inefficient at tax time. Last year I made a document that was a little fancier with columns and categories. Again it was useful but not always efficient. This year I have started out with a spreadsheet. For some that would have been the first step but sometimes I am a slow learner. So while the spreadsheet has been working much better (I am up to over 50 reviews/promotions/ special posts this year!) it still isn't giving me room for all the information I really need.

If you a new blogger and you plan to enter the world of reviews or earning money through your blog, you will find yourself in a sea of information, contacts, affiliate links, passwords, and more. It can quickly become overwhelming. Let me save you some time and frustration and introduce you to what I recently discovered: The Well Planned Blog Planner.





My Blog Plan dates from July 2014- June 2015 to match the other Well Planned Day planners. There are so many terrific features including: a Social Media Kit page, contacts page, affiliate program page, monthly blogging tips, social media party planner, and more. Each month includes places to record plans on a month calendar and a weekly planner.

As I really work to grow Carter Chaos, I am most excited about the Monthly Evaluation checker at the end of each month. Not only will I be able to record my most popular posts but I can also keep up with my average numbers and my income/ expenses. This is going to be SO USEFUL come tax time. At only $19.95, the Well Planned Blog Planner is a hugely helpful resource for any blogger.

4th Grade Reading

As we work to wind down our school year, I wanted to fill you in on one thing that worked really well for us. I tend to be one that pieces together our school work. I love buying curriculum and getting all those new shiny books (with that new book smell) but I am cheap and so in reality a lot of what we get is used or something I put together on my own. At the end of last (school) year I really started looking into choices for literature for Apple. I found so many wonderful reading lists and unit studies but the cost of some of them would have blown our entire homeschool budget.

My other issue (especially with Apple) is that she has read SO MANY BOOKS. Like I cannot stress enough HOW MANY BOOKS. While she will re-read a book if I ask her to, I really want school to be as exciting and interesting for her as possible (trust me she needs this). So I spent a little time last spring researching various reading lists (you can find many on the internet divided by grade) and I made our own list. Once I had our list of books, I started searching for unit studies and lapbooks for each book. There are lots of those available online as well.

Then being the cheapie that I am I set out to find the books she would need. Some I had already collected and set back for her. Others I found at Goodwill. I borrowed one from a friend and ordered one used from Amazon. The point is you can get your books for literature at much much less than retail cost if you are willing to spend a little time looking.

Some unit studies and lapbooks I already had on my computer. I had gotten them as free downloads over time from various resources. In addition to those I used many free unit studies and lapbooks that I found with quick internet searches. While I didn't use any this year, there are some amazing ones available to purchase online as well. Some of them only cost $1 or $2! You can also easily invest your time to make your own studies to go along with the books. I made a few question pages on my own for some of the books Apple read this year in other subjects.

This method worked so well for us that I will be using it in the fall with both kids. I've already started making their lists and gathering the books they will need. The great thing is I put back all the ones Apple read this year for Speedy to read in a few years. Double savings! Don't be afraid to put together resources on your own, it will save you money. You can always see our curriculum choices including literature on the Curriculum tab at the top of the page.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Girly and Twirly

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

Sweet Apple (now 9- can you believe it?!?!) has always, always loved to wear dresses and skirts. This was the first winter that she wore jeans (almost) as much as she wore dresses and skirts and long tops with leggings. She is just a girly fashionista at heart. I have spent a LOT of time the last couple of years searching the internet for dresses and skirts in her size that are modest and appropriate and don't look like something straight out of a 25 year old's closet. Trust me there aren't as many choices that meet those criteria as you would imagine. So.....here comes the good news. I've hooked up with an amazing company called TwirlyGirl to tell you about some super unique, modest, twirly skirts. They were kind enough to provide me (for free for review) with a Pinwheel Twirly Skirt in Carnival Twist. Apple was so excited to find out about unique twirly skirts for girls like these.



I was so excited that her twirly skirt came just in time for Easter. Apple squealed over the ribbons and the pretty blue fabric. It had to be tried on immediately of course! Then she wore it to our family Easter meal and egg hunt Saturday. Look how adorable she is:


These skirts are made of soft, stretchy material that is comfy and not scratchy or itchy. The seams are made not to be bothersome so the girls twirly skirt is great for little ladies that complain about other clothing. The fabrics also are made to grow with your girl so they last them a long time. The elastic waist ensures some give in the fit. Also to ensure they last these twirly skirts for girls have a 4 thread overlock stitch. How's that for quality? The biggest draw of the unique twirly skirt?


The HUGE twirl of course! These skirts FLY. My pic is a little blurry because she was moving fast the whole time she had it on! Little mom top- these do need shorts under them. TwirlyGirl also offers leggings and bike shorts. We didn't have any awesome TwirlyGirl shorts so we just used a pair of shorts we keep on hand to wear under dresses. Apple was so pleased with the skirt. She was comfortable bending down to pick up eggs because it is longer and she had one shorts underneath. She also said it was cool which is important with our Tennessee heat. 

Apple, Speedy, and a cousin enjoying the egg hunt



As you can see Apple had a great time Saturday and was LOVING her twirly skirt. She has already asked to check out their website to see the other dresses and skirts they offer. The Pinwheel Twirly Skirts are $52 plus s/h. That is quite a bit more than I would normally pay for a skirt or dress but I have to tell you that the quality and WOW factor of this line is well worth $52. I have a feeling Apple will be putting them on her holiday wish lists for a long time to come. I also have a special offer for you! You can get 10% off your order (through May 15, 2014) by using the code "CarterTG" in the coupon code box at checkout. If you would like to see the full TwirlyGirl collection, shop here



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

Worth the Wait

Yay! Book 4 in the Amish Vines and Orchards series has finally released! I shared my review of Book 3 in the series back last September. Then I went back and read the first two books and then I impatiently waited for early April. I was so excited when I was offered the opportunity to review Seasons of Tomorrow (for free from Blogging for Books).


Cindy Woodsmall certainly has me hooked on these characters. There's Rhoda (the canning expert with a keen intuition) and Samuel (Rhoda's ex-fiance's brother and her business partner) and their very complicated romance. Will Jacob (Samuel's brother, Rhoda's ex-fiance, & the other business partner in the Orchard Bend Farms) ever return to Maine and can they ever get his approval to be married? Then there is Landon (the Englischer who has always been Rhoda's assistant) and Leah (little sister of Samuel and Jacob) and their secret love. How can their relationship ever work? Last but not least are the other founding members of the new Orchard Bend Old Order Amish settlement- Stephen (Rhoda's brother) and his wife Phoebe (and their children of course). Will Stephen be in trouble for all of the chaos brewing in Orchard Bend? 

On reason I enjoy Woodsmall's writing is that she always has unique twists and turns. Some author's use a pattern for every book and so the mysteries become too simple to figure out after you've read a couple of their works. Woodsmall's books always keep me guessing until the very end and I enjoy that. She also portrays Amish life in a unique way. All of her characters are not living "traditional" Amish lives. The smooth blend of her writing along with her very gentle read romances (really not romance novels at all- just stories that include folks that happen to fall in love) make her books a joy to read. If you haven't read the latest installment in the Amish Orchards and Vines series or if you haven't read any of them- get your hands on it now! Perfect vacation reads!



I enjoyed a free copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Homeschool Grammer

Contains affiliate links.

You can look at my curriculum tab at the top of the blog and see that over the last few years we've tried several different approaches to Grammer. It isn't the most exciting subject and so I have swapped things up for the kids a few different times trying to find a program that fits for us. A friend highly recommended Shurley English Homeschooling Curriculum to me last year. I decided to try it with Speedy and I went in a different direction with Apple.



Let me tell you the things I have LOVED about this resource:

1. Lessons are planned for you. No I don't just mean broken down. They. Are. Planned. with a script and everything! I LOVE LOVE LOVE this. It makes it SO easy.

2. It includes songs to help the kids remember. Now granted the songs are a little funny but kids really do learn through songs! We all know this, right?

3. The work for the kids is fairly short. Well at least it was in level 1 but I'm telling you the way this is broken down I don't forsee hours of work in any future lessons.

4. There is some review but I didn't feel like they were beating the kids over the head with the same info. Know what I'm talking about? I have one child that does not do well with being spoon fed the same lesson repeatedly. Shurley English doesn't do that!

5. It is broken down into chapters with 5 lessons each. Don't worry this will work for you if you do 4 days of seat work per week because it is a short number of chapters. In the first level there are only 28.

6. One thing I didn't like was that some of the extra activities were redundant or required extra work on my part but guess what? You DON'T have to do them!

I like this curriculum so much for Speedy that Apple will be doing it in the fall as well. She will jump in at level 5. I think she's going to do just fine with it. She enjoyed the other Grammer program we used this year but it was......a little....less than thrilling.

Now here's the exciting news for you- Educents is offering Shurley English at 20% off! Woohoo for savings!

Educents.com

Passion and Road Maps for the Young People

When I was in high school, I was a regular church member at a local church. I left my town to go back closer to my original home town and to a university that was associated with the church I was leaving. Even though the people who lived with me while I was in school were not regular church members, I had found a wonderful support system in my church. Starting all over in a different place, living with different family members, and not having that church support system sent me into a spiral. It wasn't enough to be at a Christian university. I took a waitress job at a very secular restaurant and though I had visited several local churches, I never found one that I felt comfortable enough in to return to it even a second time.

It's easy enough to look back now and see so many of my mistakes. I should have lived on campus, I should have found a different job, I should have.....However everything from my early twenties wasn't a total loss. I did meet Hubby and eventually we found our way back to a real relationship with God. By the time I was 25 we had settled down into passionate relationships with Him, church involvement, and welcoming our first beautiful child into the world.

I heard of the Passion conference several years ago and I see things on Facebook every now and again from a young friend attending. I've never been to a Passion event myself so when the book Passion became available for me to review (for free!) from BookLook I wanted to see what it was all about. I was immediately impressed with the names associated with the book: Louie Giglio, Frances Chan, Beth Moore, John Piper, Judah Smith, and Christine Caine. I'll bet you've heard of some of them before! This book is a compilation of some of the messages that these folks have given at Passion events over the years.



Let me tell you that no matter how old you are (because I'm certainly over the target age of 18-25), there is at least one little something in each chapter that will get you fired up! I now see why my young friends feel so energized after a Passion event. This is what we need y'all. Young leaders rising up from outstanding messages like these from the leaders that have been around awhile. We've seen that people just shuffling in and out of church on Sunday morning isn't spreading the gospel. A church building full of hypocrites (because we all are) isn't enough to bring people to God.

I am seeing more and more that we must let go of our passive natures. We must show the world our passionate relationships with Jesus and what He can do for us! Do you know a young person that needs a road map as they set off to college or to their first job? Do you know someone middle aged that has lost that passion or is just going through the Christian routine? Pick up a copy of Passion for them. Don't forget to get one for yourself!

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


My Bible Challenge

My family is quite accustomed to all of the packages I receive filled with books and other products to review. The kids usually ask if there is anything for them and in general Hubby isn't interested. When I opened a box and pulled out a Bible (free from BookLook for the purpose of review), he gave me a bit of a surprised look and asked, "Do we really need another Bible?" I had to laugh. I know I've reviewed MANY Bibles in the past couple of years. Y'all know I love them! This Bible really is different than the others I reviewed!


A few years Hubby and I were going through a chronological study of the Bible but we changed churches and never got to finish it. I tried to do it on my own with little success (it was a LOT of page flipping). Since then I have pined for a chronological Bible. Surely I could walk through it alone without all the page turning. So when this Chronological Study Bible in NIV (my fave) became available for review, I jumped on it! And how timely that I receive it during Holy Week!

Lent is almost over and I have been wanting some way to challenge myself with Bible reading. It's hard for me to sit down and read the Bible without a plan. You may remember that I did several Bible challenges in years past and have always had success with them. So now I will do a personal challenge to begin reading through this Chronological Bible and go until I make it all the way through. I know it won't be easy but I'm up for the task!

I couldn't be happier with this particular chronological resource. It is hardback, includes some beautiful illustrations, is broken into 9 Epochs, and has maps and timelines. Almost every page includes some extra history or a map or timeline. This is truly a study Bible. I'm excited to have my own Bible class! I think I may try to get Hubby in on it too!

God provided us with His word to strengthen our relationship with Him. Satan wants nothing more than for us to be "too busy" to spend time soaking in the Bible. We must be intentional about our time and setting apart a piece of our day for God. For fun let's calculate what 10% of our day would be. We have 24 hours in day, if we assume we sleep 8 of those (ha yea right!) then that leaves us 16 hours. 16 hours X 60 minutes= 960 minutes/ day. One tenth would be 96 minutes. Are you giving God 96 minutes a day in prayer and Bible reading? I don't think I'm anywhere close! But lest you become discouraged, we have to remember that we should be using our days serving God all day and cooking, cleaning, raising children, homeschooling, working outside the home, encouraging a friend- all of those are to God's glory if you are doing it for Him! So my point was that we should give God an amount of time each day for reading His word and speaking with him. Don't look for 96 minutes. Look for 30, or 9, or 6 even! Just a portion of the day when you are all His!

Now keep me accountable as I read through this Chronological Study Bible NIV. Ask me how it is going! You can find out more information on this Bible here: http://www.thomasnelson.com/the-chronological-study-bible-niv-2.html.

I received a free copy of this Bible from BookLook bloggers for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own! It released on April 22, 2014.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Home Stretch

We are in the home stretch now. I can look at my homeschool planner and not feel overwhelmed. We only have a few weeks left of our "book work." Once I had a doctor tell me that a certain situation was a marathon, not a sprint. That's so true in so many areas of life. I'm one to want to rush to complete things. I like checking them off of my to do list.

I can't rush through schooling my kids though. I have the same "want to" in this area but it just doesn't work. This time teaching my kids is special, it's important, and I want to be intentional about enjoying as much of it as I can. That being said I know realistically that we will have hard years, bad years, years of tears, and they will be set off by laughter, joy, excitement, and fun.




So I am looking at my planner with a smile. We can't rush through these next few weeks (although it might feel that way with a flurry of baseball, softball, choir, special church programs, and school year end), and they might not be super fun, but we will make it. I'm looking ahead to a summer of some fun. I'm looking ahead to vacation. I'm looking ahead to VBS, the pool, time with friends, and some quiet mornings of coffee and my Bible to reinvigorate myself before the fall semester begins.

So I encourage you to look ahead with a smile too. Don't get too overwhelmed with buying curriculum and planning for 2014-2015. Find some time to enjoy the sunshine (we're finally getting some in TN, I have a wicked ball field "tan" already), enjoy the moments of laughter, and "plan" for some fun this summer!


Friday, April 11, 2014

Lit Guide Discount

Contains affiliate links. 

                                                



 Right now you can score 20% off Literature Guides from Bright Ideas Press. Use the code "SAILBOAT" for 20% off guides in any of their 4 categories: Family Study, Summer Study, High School, or Bible study guides.

They offer a wide range of titles to choose from including The Hobbit, Esther, Beowulf, and more!

Check them all out under the Illuminations Literature section.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Big Books at a Big Discount

Contains affiliate links.




TODAY you can get the Big Book of History or the Big Book of Earth & Sky for $13.99 on Educents! I have reviewed both of these books and we use them regularly in our homeschool time. This special deals includes a free teacher's guide!




Enjoy this special 30% off deal at Educents!



Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Incentive

I think I need to adjust my standards and make incentive (to use a phrase uttered by a friend this morning) a big part of our home school outline. See incentive is different than bribery or rewards. I've tried both with my kids and they don't work. They see right through any bribes and opt not to do the lesson, chore, favor, whatever. They don't want to stoop to the level of bribes. (Who made these kids so smart?) They also don't fall to rewards. I've tried it. For.ev.er. My kids could care less about a sticker or a piece of candy or a toy. They don't care. They haven't cared since the potty training days (both were around 2 yrs old).


Speedy at 2 when rewards worked
So as I've struggled to find the magic key to prompting them to happily and efficiently do their school work, I've tightened down the ship to the point of almost no lunch dates, field trips, mid-day Nonna breaks, etc. I think this is where I went wrong. I got up this morning and told the kids to get moving that we were meeting a friend for lunch today. And there it was- INCENTIVE. They were dressed, fed, and at their desks before I had my third sip of coffee.



See the thing is maybe my expectations have been too high. Maybe I was praying and hoping and holding my breath that they would just wake up one day and declare their love for school and then birds would sing and light would shine down on us from heaven above. Maybe that wasn't realistic. Ahem. My husband told me recently that I shouldn't expect this, that kids weren't always going to love school, and that I should just make each day the best I can. Bless him, I never listen when he says it. Well....obviously I listened because I remember him saying it but I didn't heed his advice. But when a friend typed "incentive" this morning, it all clicked.

So while I'm already writing out our calendar for 2014-2015 in more of a 5 weeks on, 1 week off (roughly) way, I'm also going to have to add in some incentive days. Because on incentive days, I get to have fun catching up with a friend/ my mom/ the sunshine and my kids are excited to finish school. Yep these are important. And I have to remember that my legalistic tendencies to cut out all fun when things get tough ISN'T EVER GOING TO WORK. I'm shouting that to myself y'all.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Moms' Night Out

There is nothing quite like a good GNO- girls' night out. Sometimes us moms just need to break away from the routine and get out and laugh with our friends. At our previous church, I was so blessed with a large group of amazing ladies to cherish as friends. We went out fairly regularly for GNO. Of course I still share friendships with those fantastic women but as often happens several have moved and our time together is more limited now.



When I was a partier, I never could have imagined what "church ladies" did on a night out. Bingo anyone? I was so pleasantly surprised to find out it can be fun doing anything as long as you are with friends. Our standard GNO involved hitting up a local 24 hour restaurant and staying for HOURS. Seriously. We usually started around 7:30 or 8 and I think the latest I ever got home was 4 am. We would eat and have dessert and talk and laugh and talk and laugh. It was always a great time.

I also enjoy getting together with my besties but we usually do a lunch or day date. We go eat, go shopping, or whatever we can think to do. I heard as a young mother that breaks and relaxing time would make me a better mom. I wholly believe that is the truth! Sometimes we just need a little time away to recenter and refocus and that's exactly what happens on a wholesome moms' night out with good, Christian friends.

I've heard so many wonderful things about the new movie Moms' Night Out. I have a special preview to share with you!




Now the reason I'm able to offer you this exclusive clip is because Purex has a sweepstakes happening RIGHT NOW to celebrate Mother's Day and the release of Moms' Night Out! Exciting right? You can enter to win a night out for you and five friends! I think the hardest thing would be picking the five friends! All of your girls are going to want to go with you if you are the:

Grand Prize Winner
  • Limo service for the evening
  • Dinner at a nice restaurant
  • 6 free movie tickets/passes
  • $100 bucks for movie snacks

or one of the 10 runners up

  • 4 free movie tickets/passes

Please enter here using my special link: http://insiders.purex.com/MomsNightOutGiveaway?id=46.

I will be eligible to win movie passes and a gift card for my post on behalf of Purex Insiders.


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Monday, April 7, 2014

The Legend of Three Trees and How to Help Kids Deal with Change



My latest Tommy Mommy selection is The Legend of Three Trees. I love getting these Tommy Nelson resources free to review for you each month! April is no exception. This delightful 40 minute cartoon features Hal Holbrook as the narrator. I saw him as a teen in a production of Death of a Salesman and I always enjoy his calm southern voice. 

The Legend of Three Trees retells the classic story of 3 trees with 3 different dreams. As often happens with our own dreams, their lives take twists and turns they don't expect and they don't see their dreams fulfilled. However God's plan was so much greater than their own and each tree holds a special place in the life of Jesus. 

What a great lesson for our kids! How easy it is for us to make dreams and goals without ever praying through them or leaving room for God's plans for us. Sometimes it can feel SO disappointing when things don't go our way but it is usually because God has something bigger and better for us.

My kids are so over changes right now. We've had change after change lately (that's life right?). When we found out our beloved preacher was heading to a different congregation soon, my sweet Apple was crushed. She asked,"Why do we have to have another change? Why can't things stay the same?" I talked with her about the importance of change and progress and God's plan. Even at 9 she still feels all torn up about change, hey even at 30- something I still get all torn up over change! When your kids are facing tough changes or they can't reach their plans or goals try-

*Praying with them and going over scripture. It's hard to ignore all the times that God changed the plans of folks in the Bible. Moses, Noah, Jonah- they were all headed in one direction when God turned their worlds upside down. Talking through those lessons and praying for God's peace and direction can make a huge difference in a tough time.

*Spend a little extra time cuddling and listening. Lots of times my kids just need an extra hug or snuggle for security during a change. Listening to their worries instead of talking or trying to fix it is also a big deal. (I struggle in this area! What mama doesn't want to jump in and help? However listening is usually the best help of all.)

*Enjoy some downtime. If you are moving or there is a job change in your house, regular activities can get your kids over the hump. Watch a family movie (like The Legend of the Three Trees!) or TV Show. Eat your favorite snack (we love popcorn with M&Ms mixed in) and just relax together. You could also play a game or read a book together. Anything to help them see the glue of your family is still intact.

*Answer their questions. My kids have an amazing ability to pepper me with 9 million questions about anything and everything. Most of the time I abruptly put a stop to it when it starts to put me over the edge or becomes out of control. When there is a big change coming though I give them more grace in this area. They are scared and it helps to answer those questions they have. And it is is perfectly okay for you answer to be "I don't know!"

Now whether you are going through a big change or not, you can enter to win a copy of The Legend of the Three Trees DVD. Use the easy Giveaway widget to enter today.


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

Saturday, April 5, 2014

How About a Trip to the Beach?

I was just telling my kids the other day that we never really took family vacations when I was a kid. We went camping a lot and we did take a trip to Chicago once but we never went to the big theme parks or any other typical family vacations. I did take a few trips with my best friend's family when I was a teen though. Once we got to go on a big trip to Myrtle Beach with her extended family. They rented a house right on the beach and I just thought it was the most awesome trip ever. We played in the ocean and sat on the sand for about a week. I think we only went out to eat once because her dad and uncle grilled up fresh seafood (even shark!) every night. It was such a fun vacation and the only time I've ever visited South Carolina. I often tell my husband that I'd love to go back there some day. The kids and I love the beach and I know they'd enjoy seeing the Atlantic Ocean for the first time!

A throwback photo from a previous trip to Gulf Shores


Now that Spring has sprung (more or less) are you thinking ahead to your family's summer vacation? How'd you like to go for FREE? That'd be awesome, right? Well Purex wants to send one family of 4 on a paid vacation to Myrtle Beach! Woot woot! You can enter now through April 30, 2014 for your chance to win. The trip includes a stay at the newly renovated Crown Reef Resort. This place looks SO VERY FABULOUS for a family trip. They have a water park at the resort on the beach! My kids would LOVE LOVE LOVE it! Please use my unique url to enter:  Start Summer Early and Win!. This package is valued at $4,999. You can read the terms & conditions here.



What are your favorite beach activities? Personally I love just sitting on the beach watching the water and enjoying the kids enjoying it. They love to play in the sand, dig, build castles, etc. and to use little nets to catch sea life with Hubby. Hubby is not a huge beach person but he does like to fish and he tolerates it because we love it so much. Speedy loved the ocean the last time we went and Apple enjoyed playing in the surf. They are both water babies like I was as a child and seem to get the same peaceful feeling around water that I've always had. 

If you are interested in becoming a Purex Insider you can apply here: www.purexinsiders.com.


I did not receive any free productions or compensation for this post but I will be entered into a drawing for prizes.


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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Break Up With Your Paper Towel #TeamVivaVantage

The kids had a sleepover. I spilled the grape juice I was pouring everyone for dinner. Good thing I had a free sample of new Viva Vantage! 
Could one paper towel fight this purple mess? Notice there's some tea on the counter too! 
I was willing to try it. I must admit the thick, stretchy texture of this paper towel is a big improvement over my regular brand.

Wow look at that Viva Vantage clean! It wasn't even sticky afterwards because the paper towel really picked up all the liquid. I'm convinced this is the better paper towel. It's almost a paper cloth!


Luckily Crowdtap sent me 3 extra rolls to share with my friends (and my mama!)






So are you ready to break up with your old paper towel for a better one? Print a coupon for a discount here: http://www.vivatowels.com/.

I received a free roll of Viva Vantage from Crowdtap along with 3 rolls to share. All opinions are my own.


Spring Organizing With The Ultimate Seat Sack

So y'all know we moved to a different house recently. While the room we use for school is much bigger than our old schoolroom, the house as a whole is smaller and the schoolroom now doubles as my office. We are also lacking in storage/ organizational space due to the lack of square footage overall. This has resulted in some disorganization in our school area and y'all I just can't do clutter and craziness (cause we have enough of that!). Enter the opportunity to review some AWESOME school organization tools (I received these items for free from Educents and Seat Sack for the purpose of review). I am so excited to tell you all about the Seat Sack Ultimate Organizer Set.


This is what comes in the 4 in 1 set. You receive the Seat Sack Plus, Pencil+ Pouch, Hand-e-Sack, and Read-n-Go. All of these items include name tags to fill in and they are offered in red and blue. You can also get these personalized with a school name or logo as well. I would imagine classroom teachers would DROOL over these! 


I asked for the small Seat Sack and it fits perfectly on Speedy's 10" chair. The Seat Sack comes in 4 sizes- small 10", standard 14", medium 15", and large 17"- so you can really fit any chair size! I can even picture these on the back of kitchen or dining room chairs for those of you that school in those rooms. 


The Seat Sack just slips right over the top of the chair and it is ready to fill! Ready to use classroom organizing. 


Crayons, folders, Bible, lots of things will fit into the Seat Sack! Now we can get some of these items off the floor and they will be easy to find when Speedy needs them.


The Pencil+Pouch can be purchased individually or with the Seat Sack Plus. It is huge! It has a loop on the side for carrying or hanging it and it will hold pens, pencils, glue, scissors, and more! 


The best part is it slides right into the Seat Sack Plus for easy storage! The Seat Sack is made of flame-retardant laminated poly fabric that can be machine washed on gentle and tumble dried. They thought of everything when they made this product!

I decided to give Apple the Hand-e-Sack since Speedy got the Seat Sack. I wasn't sure how the Hand-e-Sack attached and she doesn't have a traditional desk anymore. We've repurposed a sewing table and a spare kitchen chair into her desk area. That means she doesn't have a drawer or anything. She's been keeping items in a plastic basket by her feet. I was so excited to see the Hand-e-Sack attaches with super strong, durable 3M Dual Lock system velcro.


Mounting it is so easy! You clean the area, peel away the liner, and firmly press the adhesive backing to your desk (or table). Allow one hour to twenty four hours before use to let it bond properly. Then you simply press the Hand-e-Sack onto the strip. Press hard! This isn't your normal velcro strip.


Once you do you have a simple, useful pocket right on your child's desk! It can hold small books, rulers, scissors, crayons, pencils, etc. Apple is so glad to have her items at her side and not at her feet! I feel like we did a mini Spring clean in our homeschool room in just a few minutes!


The last of the 4 items is the Read-n-Go bag. This is just right for library trips or keeping special projects in one place. I wanted you to see the stock photo from Seat Sack for this product because they are so SMART! They use a Command Hook and hang it from a desk. Brilliant!


The Read-n-Go has a plastic hook on the carrying handle at the top for hanging and it is the right size for transporting books or papers.

So you can get this fantastic set at www.seatsack.com.The regular price for this is $24.95 but I have some GREAT news for you! The price is reduced 40% right now making this 4 in 1 set $14.95. This is a limited time special offer and I'm not sure exactly when it ends so act quickly. Want even better news? Use the code "20BXNEW" for an extra 20% off new orders. Copuon code cannot be combined with any other offer (but it did work with the special price when I tried it!) and is only valid on future orders. I will say the shipping and handling on this product is not cheap but you are getting an excellent deal and it is an oversized item (it ships flat). At this price I believe I will be working in another set for the fall. Now is the time to add this to your 2014-2015 school list.

Not only does The Original Seat Sack Company offer these great products, they also have lots of other classroom and teacher products. I encourage you to go and check out their website to see what you can find. 

And don't forget to check out Educents.com. It is the ultimate place to find homeschool and learning deals. Educents just turned 1 and they are offering some amazing prices on popular products.


I received these free products from Educents and Seat Sack for the purpose of review. I was compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.