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

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Getting Everything in Order (and a Budget Battle Update)

I have had an abundance of posts today! Especially considering it has been so quiet here on the blog the last couple of weeks. November wore me out a bit. It was very busy on the blog so I've taken it easy most of December. Now that we are at the last day of 2015 (how on earth is that even possible?!?!) I wanted to clear out all my remaining blog responsibilities.

It felt imperative to begin 2016 on a clean slate. If I want to succeed in my goal of hospitality for the year, I will need to have my mess in order! I tend towards the organized side anyhow but I'm reinstating my cleaning schedule, tightening up the homeschool schedule a bit, and pondering over our budget for the year.

Our budget was our main goal in 2015 as we sought to be more intentional. We did make some great strides and mid year we were able to purchase a new home. It feels a little like things went downhill after that. Really they didn't but shortly after we moved several things broke. Isn't that how it always goes? Our financial goals weren't all met but we did get in a better groove, and we can't deny we are in a better place now than we were a year ago. As we move forward in 2016, we are going to tighten up our budget again and see how far we can get by this time next year!

In order to truly enjoy opening our home to others I feel like it needs to be relatively clean (thus the cleaning schedule) at all times and we need to have plenty of meal ingredients on hand. Since we are aiming to eat more natural foods (a goal we've worked towards slowly over the past few years), I hope to keep plenty of meat and fresh veggies and fruits in the kitchen.

How is your 2015 wrapping up? Are you running to complete tasks like I am or are you resting easy? Now that my blog work is complete, I need to make some cookies for a gathering tonight!

Girly Workout Gloves #RIMSports

Sometimes having the right gear is just the boost you need to get your workout finished. RIMSports sent me a pair of Women's Fitness Gloves to review. These half finger gloves come in several color choices. I picked purple because it's my favorite!

I really need to get back into a routine for the New Year. I'm ready to let go of the things I've tried in the past and take a new approach to my health. My main goals are eating better (pray I can let go of soda!) and increasing my physical activity. These gloves will protect my hands while lifting weights or hanging from the chin up bar (cause I've NEVER been able to do a chin up!). Maybe next year I will be able to climb the wall in the obstacle course...

These RIMSports gloves are snug and lightweight. They are tough in all the right places with breathable materials in the other areas. They are cute and fit well. I got a small because I have tiny hands. The package included a size chart that I didn't see when ordering on Amazon. According the the chart I should have ordered a Medium. The smalls fit but are a bit snugger than I'd like.

If you are looking for fitness gloves that will cheer you up with a bright color, check out RIMSports!

I got mine free from Tomoson in exchange for review. 

Blood Pressure Monitor for Home Use

Growing up my grandparents always had a blood pressure monitor at home. Boy have they changed over the years! I received an Ozeri Digital Blood Pressure Monitor for review. I have no medical training so I wondered how easy it would be to use and read.

It takes just a minute or two to set up the date and time on the monitor. After that, pretty much everything is audible! This would be great for someone with limited sight. You put the cuff on your wrist and follow the illustration on it to get your arm in the correct position. If you aren't in the right spot, the monitor instructs you which way to adjust! Then in a minute or so the monitor takes your reading. When it is complete, the machine gives you the reading audibly and then lets you know if it is normal, high, or low. How awesome is that! So much easier than the old at home monitors I remember.

If you are serious about taking control of  your health in the New Year and/ or you suffer with blood pressure issues, I would highly recommend this Ozeri BP5K Digital Blood Pressure Monitor. It even comes with a black plastic case for safe storage.

The End of the Dreamtreaders Trilogy

War for the Waking World is the final book in the Dreamtreaders trilogy by Wayne Thomas Batson. Apple was thrilled when it arrived for us to review. She's been waiting for quite some time for this book as she read the first book, Dreamtreaders, way back in June of 2014. She enjoyed the second book, Search for the Shadow Key, at the beginning of 2015.

She had this to say about this final book in the series:

"I like the idea of being able to control things in a dream. I like this final book because the emotions people felt were real in the Rift. It seems like that is really how the world would be if the Rift really happened. I think other kids would like this book because it was easy to understand."

The whole concept of this series was very intriguing. I was curious after books 1 & 2 how it would all come to a close and I think Batson did a great job of wrapping up the series. In this book, Archer is no longer trying to stop the Rift between the real world and the dream world because the Rift has already happened. People are unaware of the Rift because it seems like everything is good. The other two Dreamtreaders are called on to try to stop the Rift because Archer is summoned to court. 

Apple was sad this was the end of the Dreamtreaders story. She is looking forward to reading more Batson books in the future. I received this book free for review from BookLook bloggers. 

Adult Coloring Book with Scripture #WhateverIsLovely

I admit I've jumped on the adult coloring book bandwagon. I've always enjoyed coloring and found it a peaceful exercise. Since I don't have the artistic ability of my daughter, coloring has always been one of my few artistic outlets. I was happy to receive an adult coloring book for review because Apple won't share the one she received for Christmas! Whatever Is Lovely is not only an intricate coloring book, it is full of Bible quotes, hymns, and quotes.

The cover describes it as "a coloring book for reflection and worship". That is a very accurate description. Just flipping through the pages and reading the hymns and verses on the backs of each page is a peaceful endeavor. The act of coloring the little intricate designs certainly allows the mind to slow down and reflect on the words on each page.

My Sunday School class finished all of the Old Testament in 2015. We are going to slow it down a bit as we go through the New Testament in 2016. Armed with my journaling Bible and this coloring book, I feel like I will be able to fully rest in God's word as I read it in a new way. Do you have goals for quiet time and/ or your Bible reading in 2016?

Monday, December 28, 2015

I is for I...

I spent way too much time over the holidays trying to make more storage space on my phone. It seems like everytime I took a picture I needed to get rid of 20 pictures! Now I'm sure all my family thinks I'm addicted to my phone (and I might be) but THIS TIME I was just freeing up space!

I love to decorate early but I cannot wait to put away all the Christmas things as soon as it is over. I'm getting hives thinking about all the ornaments and paper and plates and other red and green items that need to hurry their way back to the attic.

I was impressed with my kids and their level of gratefulness this year. They were truly pleased with every gift. Even after we were mean to them and led them to believe they weren't getting the things they asked for.

I am unimpressed with the state of my children's bedrooms. As grateful as they are for those gifts they really don't need to display them all over the floor.

I am still full from all the food I ate 3 days ago. I refused to eat at one family meal because I just couldn't. My body said noooooooooo!

I don't ever remember a Christmas as warm as this one. I mean we're in Tennessee and Mississippi so we aren't usually having a white Christmas but it has been in the 70s. We've worn shorts this week!

I'm praying for those that lost homes in storms and tornadoes this week. We've been affected by tornadoes in the past, and it's so physically and emotionally draining. I hope you'll pray for those families too.

I'm excited about 2016. I love the feeling of renewal during this part of the holiday season. I hope you'll drop by and check out the chaos throughout the year. I'll have reviews and giveaways and humor and hopefully some helpful advice to share with you throughout the year.

I'm sharing this post on the Blogging Through the Alphabet linky hosted by Adventures with Jude and Through the Calm and Through the Storm. I hope you'll hop over and check out the other "I" posts!

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Monday, December 21, 2015

H is for Hospitality

Hospitality. Some call it a gift. Google says it means "the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers." As I've prayed the last few weeks over 2016, hospitality has come to mind again and again. I believe it is my word of the year! Some years I wonder if I will get a word and other years it comes early and often.

We know many people who are gifted at hospitality. Their homes are always open and welcoming. At times over the years, I think I've been close to achieving that level of hospitableness but there have definitely been seasons when I considered my home closed. Since we moved into this new home, we've had several opportunities to have company, and I've loved it!

I think my loose goal for 2016 will be a casual meal or game night once a month. We have plenty of friends we'd love to catch up with in this way. In my mind beautiful handwritten invitations will make the rounds. In reality I'll probably be texting invites by March! More than planned face to face time in real life, I'd like to be more open to last minute, casual gatherings and drop ins. Do you remember the drop in? They can be inconvenient, but now that it NEVER happens anymore I kind of miss it! 

If you know me outside of the internet, hold me to at least one invitation this year! Remind me that you want to come and hang out. You do want to come and hang out don't you? 

Do you have a word of the year? Have you discovered yours for 2016 yet? I say it every year but WOW time is flying by!

Hebrews 13:2 (NKJV)

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.

Hospitality happens to be the perfect H word for Blogging Through the Alphabet. I'm linking up with Through the Calm and Through the Storm and Adventures with Jude. Make sure you hop around to the other "H" posts this week.

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Friday, December 18, 2015

Edible Crafts with Airheads Candy #AirheadsCrafts

Smiley360 sent us a generous Airheads candy review box with the mission to make an edible craft using the candy. I am not such a crafty person, and I felt a bit intimidated by some of the other crafts I saw online! While our Airheads edible craft may not be a work of art, our end result tasted great and we had a lot of fun!

We decided to make a Christmas tree cake. We used a chocolate cake base with mint chocolate frosting (soooo good!). Once the cake had baked and cooled, we put on the frosting and got to work. Apple and Speedy did the majority of the work decorating this cake.

Step 1: We got together all of our decorating tools and all the Airheads candies. I drew the outline of a Christmas tree with green frosting.

Step 2: Apple & Speedy took turns filling in the tree outline with green frosting. As they worked they also began cutting shapes out of the traditional Airheads and discussing the colors and shapes they wanted to make.

Step 3: We used Airheads Extremes to make garland around our tree. We cut an orange Airhead to make the stump.

Step 4: Both kids really enjoyed making little presents to go under the tree. They also used Airheads Bites as ornamental balls on the tree.

Step 5: They finished the decorating and placing all their presents on the cake. We attempted several times to make a star for the top but were unsuccessful so we used an Airheads Extreme to make a bow.

The kids had such a good time with this mission, and it ended with eating a big piece of cake! Which was delicious. I probably wouldn't have thought of using Airheads to make edible crafts but now I know they work great! The original Airheads are big and pliable so they can be used to make shapes and presents. The Airheads Extremes worked great as lines. Apple said they'd make a great rainbow craft. The bites were just the right size for ornaments, and I know several others on the mission used the circles for eyes and other round objects. We've enjoyed eating Airheads for a long time and now we will be thinking up other edible crafts to make with them!

Monday, December 14, 2015

G is for the Grinch

In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, we love to sit down as a family and watch Christmas movies. We try to add to our collection every year or two. Hubby & I came into our marriage with our own favorite Christmas films. My family has always watched National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, and so it is my personal favorite. I usually watch it several times a year and it makes me laugh every single time. We let the kids watch it but we keep a finger on the mute button and fast forward through a couple of scenes. Hubby's all time favorite is A Christmas Story. I had heard of it but never watched it until I met him. Now I look forward to seeing it each year.

The kids have a list that they enjoy. They both love How the Grinch Stole Christmas (both versions). Apple loves The Polar Express (but Speedy greatly dislikes it). Elf is a family favorite too. Home Alone and Home Alone 2 are classics! We even throw in Ernest Saves Christmas. Of course Christmas isn't complete until we've watched A Charlie Brown Christmas. This year my Christmas movie purchase was The Santa Clause trilogy.

I guess this is our Top 13ish picks in no certain order! While watching movies certainly isn't our focus of the season, the tradition of watching these movies together ensures we have plenty of laid back family time. It gives us all something to look forward to doing. We don't usually plan it out or put it on the calendar, when we are home for the afternoon or evening we pick one and pop it in. There are always lots of snuggles on the couch with blankets and usually a snack. It's a peaceful time that gives all of us a little extra Christmas joy.

Do you have a favorite Christmas movie?

I am linking up this post to Blogging through the Alphabet with Adventures with Jude and Through the Calm and Through the Storm. Check out the other G posts:

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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Great Devotionals for the New Year with a Giveaway

My kids have really been enjoying some of the Bible studies we've worked on in 2015. Both miss doing regular daily devotions. They were in such a routine of doing them as a part of their school work. I wanted to get them something to start in January so this was the perfect time to do a Tommy Mommy review!

Max Lucado originally wrote Grace for the Moment for adults. Later Grace for the Moment : 365 Devotions for Kids was developed. With these devotions together, there is a devotion for every day of the year with an adult version and a children's version. The devotions are each so well written and then so well pared down to the child's version.

For example, June 11 is titled "Who's in Charge?" in each book. The adult devo focuses on our personal agenda and jealousy. The child's version addresses the same topics but is focuses on real life issues that kids face. Both version begin with the same Bible verse. Each day the kid's devo includes a "Growing in Grace" section to help the reader take the thoughts of the devotion a little further.

Both kids (8 and 10) have spent some time looking at their version. Both are excited to start this in January, and they don't even mind sharing one book! I'm excited because I know God can really speak to my family when we are all on the same page starting first thing each morning. My version is going right on my desk so I can't miss it each day.

You can see a preview of the adult and kid versions. You can also enter here to win a free copy of each! One winner will be randomly selected after the giveaway ends on 12.19.2015. That winner will receive a copy of Grace for the Moment and Grace for the Moment: 365 Devotions for Kids. Enter now via the Giveaway Tools widget.

Monday, December 7, 2015

F is for Follow

I started this blog way back in 2009. At the time I began it to chronicle our homeschool journey and to connect with friends and family in other places. It has morphed a few times before settling in where we are now. I'd call this my eclectic mix of homeschooling, family, faith, some deals, and product reviews. Some months I feel like I have nothing to say and other months I just can't seem to shut up (sort of like real life!). My little blog is still little by most blogging standards but the growth has been slow and steady all along. I haven't been involved in many of the activities that produce large numbers of followers because I want readers who enjoy reading my posts. Because of that my social media numbers have held steady for quite awhile.

This past week I've worked on following all the new and returning TOS Crew members. You can get a list of some of them on this Meet the Crew post. They'd all appreciate you stopping by their blogs to check them out!

I'd appreciate if you'd check out all the ways you can follow me. Consider it your little Christmas gift to yours truly. {Smiles sweetly.} I try to stay reasonably active on each one.







If you check the sidebar, you'll also see a Google Friend Connect option!

I've spent some time working to make my accounts "match" a little better. I like matching.

I've added this self-promoting F is for Follow post to the Blogging Through the Alphabet linky with Through the Calm and Through the Storm and Adventures with Jude! {I bet they'd like it if you followed them too!}

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Saturday, December 5, 2015

Review: Measure Your Success #ozeri

If you expect to accomplish any goal, you have to go into it with confidence that you will succeed. I always need some sort of measure to determine success so I was happy to receive an Ozeri Touch II Total Body Scale for review. This scale will help you track weight loss (or gain) in the easiest way possible.

Weight Scale

You can measure your weight at any time by simply stepping onto the scale. Maybe you want a bit more? The scale holds up to 8 memory profiles. These profiles use your weight, gender, height, and age to give you a ratio of your body fat, water, bone, and muscle percentages. The instruction booklet includes target ranges for each of those measurements. This really is a total body scale!

The scale also has a tare feature to allow you to zero it out to weight a baby or pet. The scale is flat and easy to store. This is just what I needed to tackle my goals and resolutions next month!


I reviewed this item in exchange for my honest opinion through 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

When You Sit Most of the Day #liveinfinitely

I sit at my desk for many hours a day. Between homeschooling the kids and working on the blog, I'm at this same spot most of the time. I wanted to try an exercise ball for sitting to change things up a bit. Live Infinitely sent me one to review.

Based on my height, I selected the 55 cm ball Forever Flex Exercise Ball. This ball comes with a pump and is easy to inflate. You inflate it most of the way and allow it to stretch for 24 hours and then you finish filling it. Once your done it is ready to go. I've used it for a few weeks now sitting at my desk. I can't use it all day but I certainly feel the pull on my muscles after sitting on it for any length of time. The kids keep stealing it away to use it at their own desks!

It is recommended that if your height is close to the range to go up a size. I'm planning to get another one (or two) of these so the kids can use one. When I order again I will probably go up to the next size for myself. I think it would be a bit more comfortable at my desk if it was just a bit bigger.

This ball isn't just for sitting! I've also been using it for sit-ups! I have all hard floor surfaces in my house so it's nice to be off the floor. When you order a Live Infinitely Exercise Ball, they send you a nice Exercise and Yoga Guide via email. I can't wait to try more of the suggested uses for the ball! The new year is coming soon and it will be time to up my exercise game! I'm glad I have this great new addition to my work out gear.

I got this product free in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.