Come see my new children's book on Kindle!

See my brand new children's book on Kindle!

Friday, September 30, 2011

October "Stuff to Scrap" Blog Train (er. . . Road Trip)!

It's October!  The temperatures are finally cooling down, and Autumn, my favorite time of the year, is underway!  And you know the first of the month means a new Stuff to Scrap Blog Train (I mean, Road Trip)!  This month the theme is "Mystery Machine"!  I just have a paper pack for you this time.  Click image to download from 4shared.  PU/S4H/S4O.



Don't miss any of the stops on our Road Trip!  You should have come here from Adriana's Cafe, and next you will go to You've Got Your Hands Full.  Have a great trip!


Scraps by Andrea
Queen Bee Scraps
Amy's Designs
Growing Pains Scrapped
Ladybug Photography & Scrappbooking
AmyDane Designs
Sweet Creations
DoubleTrouble Scraps
Scraps N Pieces
scraphannah
The Scrappy Kat
Queen Wild Scraps
Adriana's Cafe
Note-able Scraps
You've Got Your Hands Full
scrapN2Nspire
Scrappin Serenity
Saphira's Scraps
Shel Belle Scraps
Pizazz Pixels
Junfunkie Designs
Let Me Scrapbook!
Designs by Snowlady
Jensen Motley Crew Designs
CutieFruity
Leaving a Legacy
Digital Scrap Fun

My Memories, RAK Scraps October Sponsor

My Memories is also sponsoring RAK Scraps for the month of October.  They carry kits and elements by so many designers, you can find just about anything you are looking for. I recently decided to try to download all of their Disney-themed kits, as I've been working on a rather extensive Disney album for my family. Today I used Simply Magical. This is a huge kit with papers, elements, stars, ribbons, brads, wordart, etc., all in the bright red, black, blue, white, and yellow that make us all think of our favorite Mouse. Without actual character drawings in the kit, however, these elements in basic colors can be used for layouts about children, celebrations, magic shows, fireworks, or even patriotic pages, just to name a few ideas.


Just So Scrappy is one of my favorite designers at My Memories. Her themes and color palettes so often exactly match the photos I want to scrap, and she develops her themes well with a plethora of papers, buttons, stickers, alphas, etc. I enjoy having these large kits from which I can make a whole album on one theme, all the pages perfectly complimented to each other. Yo Ho Yo Ho is one of my favorites, since I have a number of pirate photos I need to scrap. Not just the boys, either; Elizabeth Swann lives here, too!


Visit RAK Scraps here, and keep a watch out for the October Newsletter with goodies from the designers!  Visit My Memories here.

Happy Scrapping!  :)

Meredith Cardall, October RAK Scraps Sponsor

I really love the color combinations in Meredith Cardall's kits. I love to just put the keyword "Meredith Cardall" in my elements database and browse over the bright color combinations in the kits that pop up! Rainbow Wishes is a bright birthday kit with perfect colors for a girl's birthday or just about any other occasion. It's "Lisa Frank"-type style is perfect for my preteen girls, but this generous kit is not limited to any age group or occasion. It will be one of the great staples in your scrapbooking library for making fun pages, cards, or hybrid projects.



Farewell to Summer, also by Meredith Cardall, is aptly named, as its rich and vibrant colors are perfect for scrapping late summer flowers or autumn leaves.  Each of Meredith's kits contains a generous number of papers, elements, and an alpha or two. I love the versatility of these fabulous elements: I can make a fun page for my 10-year-old's birthday, or a more classic-looking page for my grandmother's 90th birthday, both of which happened to be this past month.


Visit RAK Scraps and read more reviews here, and purchase Meredith Cardall's kits from 9th & Bloom here.

Happy Scrapping!

Disclaimer:  I received free copies of Meredith Cardall's kits in exchange for the LOs and review.  No other compensation was given, and all opinions are my own.

Salmon on the Grill

So often, I look at my children and wish they could be little again.  They are growing up so fast!  Twelve-years-old is such an interesting age.  Sometimes I look at my son and swell with pride.  He's becoming such a fine young man.  So mature.  So tall.  So like his Daddy.  And then. . .

WHAP!  He just whacked his brother with a light saber.  And the moment is gone!  Not really, though.  I am very proud of all my children's accomplishments, even though some days I miss the smaller versions of them.  I asked my youngest if he would please stay little, just for me, and without hesitating, he answered, "No way!  I'm going to be 6!"  Then he grew more thoughtful and said, "Well, Mommy, that means I'd have to stop having birthdays.  I think only God can do that, and I'm pretty sure He won't!"

As I'm feeling nostalgic for their younger years, though, I can also be quite thankful that I no longer have to bathe 4 people besides myself every day.  That I don't have to clip a grand total of 100 fingernails and toenails every Saturday night.  They are able to do so many things by themselves now, and in fact, they are quite helpful.  My older children are becoming quite proficient at cooking, and I've got to say, it's nice to not have to cook every night by myself!  (They still need supervision, of course.)

A few weeks ago, I was sick one day, and my oldest son offered to cook dinner.  In another evidence of his Daddy-likeness, he decided to grill salmon.  He can't just borrow Dad's recipes, though.  No, this is a competition of Manly-Men.  He pulled up the Weber App on his iPod Touch to find his own new recipe, mixed up the glaze, and really grilled the salmon nearly to perfection.  This is not your grandmother's recipe book!  Dad, watch out, the competition is fierce!  Luckily, I did have leftover veggies in the fridge, so he just heated those up in the microwave.




The recipes my husband and son use are not exactly the same, but they both involve cooking the salmon over the grill on soaked cedar planks, which gives the salmon a nice, smoky flavor.  They both mix a few tablespoons each of lime juice, some kind of vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey, and chives; a dash each of sea salt, garlic powder, and black pepper; and olive oil.  Brush the salmon with the dressing and grill on the cedar planks.

Now, my 10-year-old daughter, who has taken on the job of cooking dinner once a week, also made salmon the other night.  She broiled hers, and being much more attentive to artistic detail, she wrapped each fillet in foil with a perfectly-placed lemon slice on top.  She also made garlic-sauteed broccoli, and wonder of wonders, all the children seemed to like it!  To get her recipe, though, you will have to come back in about 2 weeks or so and check out my review of E-mealz!

Happy Grilling!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Free Birthday Quickpage

Our family has a lot of birthdays in the month of September, and I loved the colors in Sprouting Seeds Studio's "Celebration 500" Kit so much, I decided I needed to make a birthday LO and quickpage.


If you missed it before, you can download the whole kit for free from Sprouting Seeds Studio.  Make sure you "Like" their Facebook Page!


And here's what you came for, your QP!  Click image below to download from 4shared.  PU only.


Happy Scrapping!

"Fall'ish" by Sprouting Seeds Studio

It's probably obvious by now that I love seasonal kits, and Autumn is my favorite season!  Sprouting Seeds Studio just released the next kit in the Season Series, "Fall'ish."  Don't you love those colors and that cute pumpkin?!


This kit is available exclusively at ScrapDelicious.


Sprouting Seeds Studio has the matching papers on their website, absolutely free.  Try them out; we know you'll want to buy the whole kit!


And here is your free quickpage!  Click image to download from 4shared.  PU only.



If you haven't seen the other "season'ish" kits from Sprouting Seeds Studio yet, check out these posts.  The freebies are still available!

Spring'ish


Summer'ish


Happy Fall, Y'all!  :)

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of the "Fall'ish" Kit for the purpose of making a LO and review.  No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Another Freebie from Sprouting Seeds Studio!

Sprouting Seeds Studio is giving away another full-size kit to celebrate reaching 500 fans on Facebook!  Click image below to go download the kit from Sprouting Seeds Studio!


Happy Scrapping!

"My Girl" by Sprouting Seeds Studio

Well, around here, the girls love, pink, pink, and more pink.  What's even better than pink is HOT pink!  So we are loving these girly kits from Sprouting Seeds Studio!  Here's "My Girl":


You can purchase the kit over at ScrapDelicious, but don't forget to come back for your freebies!


Sprouting Seeds Studio has a freebie over on their blog.


Click the preview below to pick up your free QP from 4shared!


Happy Scrapping!

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of the "My Girl" Kit for the purpose of making a LO and review.  No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.




Tuesday, September 20, 2011

FREE Curiosity Files Unit Studies!

If you love The Curiosity Files with Professor Ana Lyze, from The Old Schoolhouse Store, as much as I do, you will be THRILLED with this special offer.  Today ONLY, you can get a coupon to download NINE of these fantastic unit studies for FREE!!!  Click here for more information from Homeschooling With Heart.


This deal is too good to pass up!  If you are not familiar with these fantastic studies, you can flashback to the review I wrote here.

Have a Happy Day!  :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

TOS Review: Discovering Our Amazing God

PhotobucketI was given the opportunity to review Discovering Our Amazing God by Deeper Roots Publications.  I received the Homeschool Edition of the Student Workbook and of the Teacher's Guide in the mail.  This Bible curriculum is for 7th-9th Grade.   The content is divided into nine lessons on topics such as "Discovering God's Wisdom" and "Discovering God's Faithfulness."  Each lesson includes a Scripture passage and questions that can be answered in the workbook and/or used for discussion.  There are also guidelines for journaling, and each student is encouraged to keep a journal.  Besides studying the various passages about the characteristics of God, there is a strong emphasis on missions.  The students learn about Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and other unreached people groups, and what missionaries are doing to reach them.

This curriculum is well-laid out and organized.  I love the fact that every section is completely rooted in Scripture.  (Perhaps that goes without saying, since it is a Bible curriculum, but I do find the complete use of Scripture with very little author opinion refreshing.)  I also love the emphasis on missions.  I think it is important for today's children to learn about people who follow other religions, to learn what they believe, and if we as Christians disagree with them, to learn why.  We live in a smaller world than the one in which I grew up, and even at their young ages, my children have already known friends from Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist backgrounds.  It is important for my children to understand what their friends believe, and how to talk to them about Christ when the opportunity arises.  (This curriculum does not cover Judaism, as that is not an "unreached" people, but we've studied that in other places.)

Jan Harris and Howard & Bonnie Lisech, of Deeper Roots Publications, did a good job in leading students to study the characteristics of God for themselves, and also in applying that study to the field of missions.  If your middle schooler (or even high schooler) has studied the stories of the Bible in children's books for years and is ready for a meatier study with applications to the present day, this curriculum may be for you.  It is one that we will continue even when the review is over.

There are four books in this Deeper Roots series, of which I reviewed the first.  Also available are:
Discovering Who I Am In Christ - Book 2, 7-9th Grade Bible Curriculum
Discovering Christlike Habits - Book 3, 7-9th Grade Bible Curriculum
Discovering Christlike Character - Book 4, 7-9th Grade Bible Curriculum AND
Rooted & Grounded - 10-12th Grade & Adult Bible Curriculum.

These books, and other resources, are available at http://www.DeeperRoots.com.  You may also contact the company via email, at DeeperRoots@aol.com, or at Deeper Roots Publications, 2100 Red Gate Rd., Orlando, FL 32818, 407-293-8666.

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The Discovering Our Amazing God Teacher's Guide is $28.95, and each student workbook is $19.95.

To see what other TOS Crew Members thought about Discovering Our Amazing God and other books from the series, go to the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog.

DISCLAIMER:  I received a free copy of the Discovering Our Amazing God Teacher's Guide and Student Workbook for the purpose of review.  No other compensation was given, and all opinions expressed are my own.

Friday, September 16, 2011

"Fire & Ice" by Sprouting Seeds Studio

Just a quick note to let you know that Sprouting Seeds Studio has released another fabulous kit:  "Fire & Ice"!


You can get the kit at ScrapDelicious.com.


Sprouting Seeds Studio has a great freebie add-on on their website!


And last but not least, click image below to download your free quickpage from 4shared!  PU only.


Happy Scrapping!  :)

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of the "Fire & Ice" Kit for the purpose of making a LO and review.  No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.

TOS Review: Big IQ Kids

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We were recently given the opportunity to review a Premium subscription with the Big IQ Kids website at http://www.bigiqkids.com/.  Big IQ Kids provides drills and practice in spelling, math, vocabulary, and the states of the U.S.  Some content is free, while the premium subscription offers a more complete program in which you can monitor your children's progress.  Here is what the website says about the premium program:

The primary differences between the BigIQkids FREE and PREMIUM programs are the ability of the PREMIUM program to monitor the progress of the student and advance that student only when mastery of the subject matter has been achieved. Additionally, PREMIUM members have their progress tracked, saved, problem areas identified and these findings are reported via email to parents and/or teachers. The PREMIUM program offers students customized buddies, full game page access and the ability to save game coins and gaming high scores. These functions help double the fun while mastering core academic subject matter. The PREMIUM program has very LIMITED advertisement and no ads are displayed during lesson interaction. 


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Big IQ Kids offers plans from Spelling Junior, for beginning readers, all the way up to SAT vocabulary lists for high schoolers.  Pricing varies according to which subscription you choose.  You can see the pricing list here.  I used the program for my 8th-grader and my 6th-grader.  They enjoyed the program, and I like the emails that I receive letting me know each time one of them masters a level and moves up.  It made it very easy to monitor their progress. I have looked in the past for a program that lists spelling words for different grade level spelling bees, so I have really enjoyed that feature.  I look forward to starting my son on the SAT word lists when he begins high school.  I think they will be very beneficial in preparing for the tests.  The only disadvantage was that I found the site a bit difficult to navigate, but there are training videos to help with that.

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The content of the drills can be used as a stand-alone supplement, or it can be customized to work with specific lessons.

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This was a great way to quiz my daughter and make sure she remembered all the states she learned last year, while she thought she was having fun and playing games!

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You can see what other crew members thought of the website at The TOS Homeschool Crew website.

Disclaimer:  I received a free premium subscription to BigIQKids.com for the purpose of review.  No other compensation was given, and all opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Revisiting My Very First Freebie!

I can't believe it's been almost a year since I started this blog!  Actually, I started quite a while before that, but my posts were few and far between, and in October of 2010, I moved them all to a new domain name and started checking out Creative Teams and offering digital scrapbooking freebies.  There are few things I love more than sitting down with a warm cup of coffee or hot chocolate and scrapping pictures using those beautiful fall kits!  If you are as ready for Autumn and cooler weather as I am, and you did not get a chance to download these papers last year, here they are again!  PU/S4H/S4O.


Happy Scrapping!

TOS Crew Review: Time 4 Learning

Photobucket  We were given the opportunity to start this school year with a one-month membership to Time 4 Learning, for the purpose of review.  I have to say the program exceeded my expectations, and we may be subscribing to it in the future.  My kids really enjoyed the program, and they looked forward to doing it as a treat either after or in place of their regular subjects.

The Time 4 Learning program is a Pre-K through 8th-grade online curriculum that can be used as a stand-alone homeschool program, a supplement, or even an after-school program for students in public or private school.  While it seems to be sufficient as an independent curriculum, I would also recommend it as extra practice or even as a supplement in place of hiring a tutor for a struggling learner.  I used the program for my 8th-grader, my 6th-grader, and my 3rd-grader.  They all said that it was entertaining, easy to use, and that all lessons were explained well.  My 8th-grader, who hates math, said that this program explained the mathematical concepts more clearly than other methods that we have used, and that he felt like he understood more.

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Here are some of the things I especially like about the program:
1)  It is, overall, visually pleasing - bright colors, fun cartoons, easy-to-follow layout.  The older kids can change their background color, and of course my daughter's is hot pink!
2)  User-friendliness - My children and I are all able to navigate the screens easily and find what we are looking for.
3)  Clarity - Instructions as well as lessons are clear and easy to understand.  Concepts are explained well.
4)  Interactivity - The kids are able to indicate whether they understand a lesson or need more explanation.  Frequent questions and short quizzes keep them focused and assure that they are comprehending the lesson.
5)  Effectiveness at reaching kids - The lessons are presented using cartoon representations, illustrations, sounds, game shows, etc., that attract and hold the attention of kids and preteens.
6)  Parental reports - I can print out reports showing what my kids have done and how they scored.

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7)  Other parental resources - I can log into the parental account and quickly print off reading lists for Language Arts or supplies needed for science experiments.  All required reading is included online, and other suggested reading is listed in case you want to pursue a topic at the library.
8)  Ability of the kids to do the program themselves - I have the option of choosing whether to assign specific topics, or to let them work through it in order at their own pace.  They would, of course, still need supervision on things like science experiments, and I would need to grade things like writing assignments and science labs that they keep in a separate notebook.
9)  The lessons are correlated to state standards and have samples of practice standardized tests.

The curriculum covers Math, Language Arts, Language Arts Extensions (these are more in-depth literature and writing assignments), and Science and Social Studies (most grades).  There is also a separate section for Art which was not available for review, and a "Playground" section that is even fun for the parents.  The Playground section includes educational fun as well as just-for-fun activities, such as a 1980s-style game of Asteroids that could have occupied me for days!  It also includes links to sites like "NASA For Kids," and as far as I could tell, the linked sites were still accessed from inside the program so that children could not view inappropriate ads or surf to other places on the Internet from inside those pages.

If you are looking for a program, either as a complete curriculum or as a supplement, that children will enjoy, that will enhance their learning, and that they can do largely on their own, this may be a good program for you.  The only drawback for me personally, which is the case with any computer-based curriculum, is that I find my kids do get tired of sitting behind the computer for all of their subjects after a while, and we miss the interaction we get from doing units all together.  For that reason, I would probably use this program either as a supplement, or for just some of my subjects.  There are printable worksheets in some areas that could also be utilized.

You can see lesson demos and check out Time 4 Learning for yourself at http://www.time4learning.com/.  The price is $19.95/mo for the first child and $14.95/mo for each additional child, and since that includes all the subjects, it is a good value for a complete curriculum.  There is no contract, you may cancel at any time, and there is a two-week money-back guarantee.

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To see what other members of the Crew have to say about Time 4 Learning, click HERE.

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DISCLAIMER:  I received a free month-long subscription to the Time 4 Learning website for the purposes of review.  Nothing else was required, and all opinions are my own.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Monday, September 5, 2011

"Autumn Memories" by Sprouting Seeds Studio

I am so excited!  Fall is coming!  Not because we've actually passed the autumnal equinox, and not because the leaves are turning (they all blew down during Hurricane Irene), or because it's getting all that much cooler (it is raining today but temps are still close to 90 F and the rain will just add to the humidity).  But because I know Autumn will come soon, and we have the HOPE of cooler temperatures and wonderful holidays in the near future!

The first sign of Autumn approaching is the delightful autumn scrapbooking kits that are starting to make their appearance.  Sprouting Seeds Studio just released "Autumn Memories" over at ScrapDelicious.  You will love this fantastic fall kit for scrapping all your little pumpkins this year!


So head over and pick up this fall-icious kit for just $1.50 at ScrapDelicious, and then come back for your freebies!




You can get a freebie add-on kit over at Sprouting Seeds Studio.


And pick up your free Quickpage at 4shared.  PU only.


Now heat up some hot cocoa and have fun scrapping!

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this kit for the purpose of making a LO and review.  No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Game Review: "Pig Pile" by R&R Games

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and I think this one just sums up my review:



Of course, you probably want a little more information.  "Pig Pile:  The Hog Wild Card Game" by R&R Games is a lot of fun for the whole family.  My kids barely missed their electronic games as Hurricane Irene raged around us last weekend and robbed us of electricity for two days, and we played "Pig Pile" and other games by candlelight.  The object is to get rid of your cards and collect as many pigs as possible.  If you have enough cards, you can "Hogwash" the pile.  You can also "Hogtie" another player (make him lose his turn) or make a "Ewe-turn" (OK, there are a few farm animals involved), but don't get stuck and have to pick up the whole Pig Pile of cards!  If you can play all the cards in your Slop Pile first, you win the round!  After each round, players get different numbers of pink plastic pigs according to how well they did that round, and whoever has the most pigs at the end of the game wins.  I think this is the thing that distinguishes this game from some other games, especially card games, for kids.  Children like a tangible representation of their progress, and what could be better than a bunch of little pigs sitting in front of you?  My kids name them and start playing with them, and we are lucky if we can actually finish the game!

"Pig Pile" is for 3-6 players and is recommended for ages 7 and up.  My 5-year-old had no problem with it, and in fact, it is hands-down, no-holds-barred, his favorite game.  This month anyway.  Until something newer and better comes in the mail.  You know how 5-year-olds are!  He has worn his brother and sisters out playing it and is now seeking other companions in the neighborhood so that he can play non-stop.  The game contains 80 cards, 40 pink pigs, and EZ-Play instructions.

You can purchase "Pig Pile" here or by clicking the below icon.  The game retails for $15.95, but R&R Games has made a coupon available for our loyal blog readers to receive 20% off.  The coupon can be used for ANY purchase from the R&R Games Website (http://www.rnrgames.com) and is good until the end of the year.  That is a great deal!  Use this coupon code at checkout:  CREW20.


You can read what the Homeschool Crew thought of "Pig Pile," and also of the game "Flea Circus," from R & R, Inc. on the Homeschool Crew Blog.

*Disclaimer: I received a free Pig Pile card game from R & R Games, Inc. in exchange for this review. No additional compensation was provided and the thoughts expressed are my own.*

School Planner Dividers Freebie

We generally do not start homeschool until after Labor Day, so we are gearing up to begin on Tuesday.  I have been getting all the lesson plans and the kids' notebooks ready (in addition to trying to get the hole in my roof left by Irene fixed before it rains again!)  I made some fun subject dividers for the kids' notebooks, so I thought I'd share them with you.  They are made predominantly with Just So Scrappy's "Back to School" and "School Days" kits, which I also used for my "Back To School" blog background and header.  I took all "Personal-Use Only" items out of the pages I am sharing here.  Click image to download from 4shared.  PU only.


Happy Back-to-School!  :)