Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Get Cash for Christmas - Giveaway

Check Out Two Great Resources Below and Potentially Win Christmas Cash!

If you've heard of Dave Ramsey, you're likely to have heard of his opinion about borrowing money. His financial recommendations begin with paying off debt. "The borrower is slave to the lender."
His plan begins but doesn't end there. The choice to follow the principles he teaches have led to many individuals and families gaining control over there financial situation. If you are looking to do the same, his program is worth checking out. Even if you are not trying to eliminate debt - though if you are in debt in any amount you should consider ridding it from your financial picture - there are excellent educational resources concerning money on the Dave Ramsey website. Through the month of December Ramsey is hosting a cash giveaway contest that anyone can enter. The link is below:

Dave Ramsey Christmas Give Away

Enter the cash giveaway! 

Another Great Way to Get (or save) Christmas Cash

Traveling for Christmas? Get $55.00 off your first stay with Airbnb. Another wonderful resource for  yourself this holiday season if you are traveling or if you don't have enough space for visiting relatives is Airbnb. We continue to use it as a way to find great places to stay when we travel. Airbnb offers a wide selection that are typically more interesting and within our price range than a typical hotel.

There are parts of the country that the costs of Airbnbs are going up but it is always worth checking before booking a hotel. If you use the link below for your first booking with Airbnb, you will get $55.00 off of your stay. Happy Trails. Be Safe!

Traveling for Christmas? Get $55.00 off your first stay with Airbnb.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Orange You Glad It's Fall?

Fall is upon us and the fall harvest provides wonderful, rich and flavorful options for our meals. I love the varieties of squash available at this time of year and the cozy warmth provided by baking some up. Squash is filled with beta-carotene. Your body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A which is good for vision, healthy skin and immunity. Easy to prepare and versatile, squash is a welcome addition to many of our family meals.

A long time favorite in our household, this pumpkin chocolate chip muffin recipe has evolved and while still a bit decedent, with the chocolate chips involved, it does have less sugar than the original recipe and the butter has been reduced. I use all whole wheat flour. The muffins freeze well and are still yummy upon reheating. I usually double the recipe so that I have some to freeze - otherwise they disappear way too fast.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

12 standard or 48 mini
1 2/3 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice
a pinch of cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup plain pumpkin (half of a 1 lb. can)
6 Tablespoons butter melted
1 cup chocolate chips (dark chocolate works for me)

Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
Thoroughly mix flour, sugar, spice, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
Break eggs into another bowl add pumpkin and melted butter. Whisk until well blended.
Pour over dry ingredients and fold in just until dry ingredients are moistened.
Fold in chocolate chips.
Scoop batter into lined muffin tins.
Bake 20-25 minutes or until springy to the touch in the center.
Turn onto a rack to cool.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Build a Business & Raise a Family? Can It Be Done? Need A Mentor? Let's Ask Lisa!

Can a stay at home mom committed to the day to day care of young ones and homeschooling really work from home and get anything done? Can or should a homeschooling mom of school age children plus a couple of preschoolers even consider working from home? Or even more challenging can a mom with little charges of any age, stay at home, homeschool her children, run a business from home and better yet make it profitable?

Visit A Baby Moon
Company website
For me, it has been daunting. Being at home, raising children and homeschooling them took a lot of focused energy. Honestly, I wasn't always as focused as I should have been. As all of that was happening, I volunteered as a La Leche League leader for many years, I began lactation consulting, offered doula and postpartum doula support to new mothers as an extension of my work as a volunteer. I wrote and published the content for the website for that work at A Baby Moon Company. I also began writing this blog. As every mom knows, getting it all done for home and children, attempting to accomplish it all can be overwhelming at times.

For myself, as the last big needs of guiding my kids, as they move out into the world are now complete, I am returning to some dreams that were put on hold. I am truly beginning to focus again on my own big ideas and am plotting out plans to achieve a new set of goals, though there are still plenty of days, when I am overwhelmed with the steps I need to take to achieve those goals.

As I plan and process, I've re-discovered the great benefit of uninterrupted time to actually concentrate on and complete tasks. Moving forward is exhilarating. As one completed project leads to the next, I have also re-discovered the great value of having a few cheerleaders. It is in conversation, discussion and sharing that my enthusiasm is built up. Sharing is motivating. It is in connection that the fire is flamed. I've realized that I need to intentionally set up more of that for myself on an ongoing basis.

For all of the important projects and vocations in life having someone to look to for inspiration,  encouragement and motivation is important. For the achievements listed above and others I didn't include, having a mentor, has been valuable. Whether officially enlisted or otherwise, having a friend, acquaintance or even someone admired from a distance may become the key to taking the next step to keep going.

Learn more about Lisa at
Lisa Tanner Writing
So I began getting coaching for myself to stay inspired and move further along in achieving the goals I'm pursuing. One of the most encouraging voices I have enlisted as support is that of  busy homeschooling mom, Lisa Tanner. She is a friendly bundle of helpful resource; a cheerleader and a to the point source of information and encouragement.

I first found Lisa by reviewing a product she created that addresses the topic of balancing it all as a homeschooling mom. It is hard to believe what Lisa has accomplished while also raising a large family. She is contributing significantly to her family finances while she and her husband are also committed to following God's calling on their lives to do missionary work.

Her course Diapers and Deadlines covers the basics of juggling all the things. It is an encouraging guide with needed reminders and practical step by step suggestions. I enjoyed Lisa's written course (you can read my review on this blog). It was useful and inspiring and I have referred back to it since writing the review, but now I am ready for more.

Well, if she can do all of that it, I thought, I'd better listen to what she has to say and read, consider and follow her plan. Since Lisa also offers individual coaching and mentoring, I decided, I'm in. I have enlisted her as a mentor and coach. Did I mention it has been a wise choice?

Lisa and her family.
Big kids can sometimes take up as much or more time than the little ones and Lisa has reminded me to focus on my family when needed, especially during the big transition times. For example, during this past summer as all three of our young adult children were getting set up in the world to pursue higher education and big dreams.

Now with the big move out of our young adult children accomplished and with Lisa's insights and help creating follow up action plans, I'm finally putting in the consistent daily work of re-evaluating and building on what I've started.

Lisa's respectful listening presence and reassuring voice via a phone call has been one of the best investments into myself during this new season. She has offered a place for me to engage as I sort out my own goals and next steps. Phone calls with Lisa are where I have found encouragement, as well as practical advice for the next tasks and actions I need to take. Please, follow along to see where it will lead.

You can also check out what Lisa has to offer: Guide to Successful Family Writing Time, Teaching Reading Through Play Homeschool Curriclum and her coaching services on her website at Lisa Tanner Writing.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

New Reality

When in the thick of early parenting, or the midst of elementary education - homeschooling or otherwise - or during the busy, busy, run here and there of active teen years, it is hard to imagine that the day, whether sometimes longed for, or sometimes dreaded, will ever actually arrive. And even though it has clearly, been approaching steadily, looming over the horizon, day by day - it lands with the sudden surprise of a lightening strike in an approaching storm, not yet immediately overhead, and the day is here. They move out and into the world on their own.

So with pride and tears and joy for all that has been shared and all that is in front of them and me, too - I watch and guide as best one can, as they fly, or lurch, or stumble, away into the big wide world and the best thing left to do is to sing praise for the love and wonder of it all!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

A Review of a Writing Course by BetterRhetor

This summer, we were given access to the course College-Ready Writing Essentials™ by BetterRhetor for review. This course covers the topic of essay writing for students as they prepare to enter college level courses. It is a complete and practical writing course with step by step instructions. It also gives valuable background information that will raise the awareness of any student embarking on the challenge of college level academics.

My interest in have my daughter use this course despite her recent graduation was to give her one more writing experience to boost her confidence in her knowledge and ability to communicate effectively with the written word. She has written throughout her homeschooling experience but an essay format was not the norm. I want her to have an understanding of for what will be expected of her and to approach it with more confidence. The college essay assignments seem to produce anxiety for many students regardless of the approach to their high school education.

The first section of College-Ready Writing Essentials™ includes lessons and worksheets that prep a student for the process of writing an essay.  The information also includes a discussion of what to expect and what will be expected from students in a college academic setting. This information is presented in a straight forward way and presents useful considerations for a student about to enter a college environment. As a homeschooling parent, I appreciate this aspect of  the course. Having another voice contributing to the importance of taking what will be expected of a college student is helpful. The material covered in the preparation section is a solid reminder of what "the college experience" is really about. Learning, incorporating, presenting and communicating are all necessary skills for successful careers no matter what field of work someone plans to enter.

That this course emphasizes that college is a place to learn and to take that learning and "transform it through your own creative intelligence", from Lesson 9 College-Ready Writing Essentials TM. 

Beyond the background and preparation lessons College-Ready Writing Essentials™ covers all of the essentials of writing a college level essay. It walks the student through the entire writing process step by step. it covers the importance of how to evaluate source materials for credibility and provides ways to discern what is high quality and trustworthy as sources for a student's investigations. The course requires a fairly high level of reading comprehension skill. It gives a range of  topic exposure in general terms including some current events and societal issues.

The full package course includes 25 lessons. Each lesson contains thorough teaching material, examples and some include downloadable pdf worksheets for student use.

Given our very busy summer and the big changes in our family this summer, it was difficult for my daughter to get through the entire course. Even in a normal summer, I think it would be hard to complete the full course. It would be a great course to use over an academic year. It could be worked through at a student's own pace finishing quickly or over a school year's time frame.

The course is easy to access online. However, since we spent much of the summer in a variety of locations and not all together as a family, we struggled with what has typically been an easy, just jump on the computer, to read and do lessons from our home desktop. For most of the summer, my daughter has only had internet access via her phone and that has been spotty at times. It was this experience that gave me the idea and the wish for College-Ready Writing Essentials™  to be available in a text book/workbook format. An old school idea perhaps, but having the course in a book to take along would have made it possible for my daughter to use our travel time as an opportunity to continue to work through the course.

Technically, this year is somewhat of an academic gap year for my daughter while she is pursuing her dream of ballet training. However, we will soon be solving the current online access issue for her so that she can complete the course this year for added preparation for college classes. College-Ready Writing Essentials™ is an extensive and valuable course for any student wanting to improve their writing skills in preparation for college.

Read more reviews from the Homeschool Review Crew, click the banner below:

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Fresh Indigo Leaf Dye Workshop

With our family in the midst of big changes, it has been a full season for us this summer. There has been significant purposeful travel as we began the process of setting up our young adults in their own places for their next adventures in life. And with my mixed feelings of excited anticipation and dread of depositing my youngest into her new life and study, I was thrilled to discover that a new instagram friend was hosting a natural fiber dye workshop in Kentucky. Conveniently placed in time and location to near where we would be traveling in August. 

Robin of Hill and Hollow Farm https://hillandhollow.wordpress.com/about/ was hosting a natural dye workshop that coincided with my trip taking our daughter to Tennessee.

So the excitement was heightened and the dread eliminated (almost) by looking forward to joining in a workshop of artistic exploration and interest long put on hold. The added bonus was the opportunity to participate with my daughter who was equally as interested and excited.

I hope that by focusing on shared interests and activities we both enjoy, we can keep our connection strong through the upcoming stages of growth. This workshop made it easy this time.

Robin and her lovely teen daughter worked together throughout the workshop, sharing their knowledge about the plants and the process used to dye fabrics. Seeing their easy interaction was one more example to reinforce my confidence that all the investment in family and homeschooling is worth every moment.

A long ago begun work in progress. I pulled this piece of fabric out of a closet to take to the workshop. I had stitched it up years ago to dye with a resist pattern and never finished the project. After tightening up the string to pleat the fabric, it was basically ready to go. It has since been transformed for my daughter into decorative throw pillows for apartment living.

As this process of letting go of children into young adult lives continues, I am actively looking to reconnect with long neglected interests and discover new ones. I am confident that it will lead to new levels of understanding with my grown children and to deeper connections with others. Art making, sewing, more writing, travel and how to use technology to enhance it all. Social media has helped me re-discover and find new connections.
So many wonderful results! So much fun learning and creating together for the day!
For more info on upcoming indigo learning events, follow Robin on her Hill and Hollow Farm on instagram https://www.instagram.com/hillandhollowfamily/
Thank you, Robin! Looking forward to more!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Britfield & The Lost Crown - A Book Review

This book review was originally written and posted over the summer. This fall, the author, C.R. Stewart has been on book tour sharing his book with student audiences. Britfield & The Lost Crown has been receiving awards along the way. From what I can tell from the social media posts, it is a grand adventure of reading encouragement just like the book itself. Promoting reading is always a good thing. Join in, check out the adventure story Britfield & The Lost Crown by C.R. Stewart.

A new book delivered to my mailbox always equals happy mail for me. Over the summer, I was delighted to receive a soft cover copy of the newly published Britfield & The Lost Crown by C.R. Stewart for review with homeschoolreviewcrew. This newly published adventure novel is available as a physical hard or soft cover book or as an e-book. Despite, or perhaps, because of years of homeschooling our children which involved reading with and/or to them regularly, my own reading for pleasure was often put on the back burner and has become less and less of an activity for me over the years. Due to the many changes in our lives this summer, Britfield & The Lost Crown was in my hands and there were no homeschool students nearby to read it with or to. This review became an opportunity to begin a return to my own personal reading for pleasure. It created the need to schedule it in.

Honestly, for me, it was a slow start. The early pages of the adventure novel had me a bit confused as to the setting in time of the story. Initially, I couldn't quite let go of trying to figure that out. Set in England, the place was clear, but perhaps, it was my lack of familiarity of England's history that added to my own confusion. Once I put that aside to just read and enjoy the story the pace picked up. As the two main characters, two precocious orphans, embarked on their adventure I was swept away into the excitement and mystery. Then with the author's vivid descriptions, the book began to read like a movie. I wasn't surprised at all to learn in my follow up research that the author, C.R. Stewart, is also a screen writer.

Run by unsavory characters, the orphanage is an oppressive place for children to live. The children manage to provide themselves with some education by secretly borrowing from a well stocked library in the mansion of the orphanage's overseers. The reading and sharing of the volumes taken from the book collection is a highlight for the orphans.They maintain some reasonable expectations about what they deserve through memories and the sharing of the volumes taken from the library. An attempt to escape is eminent. To not spoil the story, you'll have to read it to discover the outcome.

C.R. Stewart presents plenty of references for any reader to grab a bit of understanding of English history and geography. By including detailed descriptions of the places the young adventurers experience, he introduces landmarks of significance and interest. He also manages to include some art history references as the orphans encounter the work of famous European artists.

This story provides excellent opportunities to jump into further study of history, geography or art history. Finding images of  paintings by any of the seven masters mentioned in the story would further add to the visual richness of this adventure. Studying maps of locations described would develop geography literacy. The extensive eight week study guide at britfieldinstitute.org available for free encourages further learning. The guide includes a range of follow up activities from simple word game activities and reading comprehension questions to prompts for more in depth study. The vocabulary questions included encourage students to determine and understand word definitions based on context. A shared reading of Britfield & The Lost Crown with the use of the free study guide could easily turn the adventure story into a complete unit study covering several subjects.

This review not only introduced me to the writing of C.R. Stewart but also the the online resource of The Britfield Institute. There are resources for homeschool families and for classroom teachers available through the site. From downloadable illustrations with quotes encouraging learning and creativity to complete programs for teaching, this is a valuable source of potential teaching support to be aware of.
Downloadable images available from Britfield.org

I'm looking forward to reading the reviews of Britfield & The Lost Crown by other Review Crew reviewers. You can find them with me by clicking the image below.