Tuesday, October 1, 2013

I've Moved!

Check me out at my new blog:

Monday, July 29, 2013

Oh My, Planner! (Review + a coupon code!)

Okay, here's a little something that you may not know about me. I LOVE planners. Like, a lot. I love to look through them and see how everything is set up, and how I would set up my days with them.

Last year, I bought my planner at Wal-Mart. It was $10. And pretty much a waste of the money I spent on it. I rarely use it, and it's so plain that I don't even like to look at it.

It's just boring. And ugly.

So when Mom started looking into getting a 2014 calendar from Erin Condren, I decided that I might just have to splurge and buy one, too. Until she showed me the price tag. It was like tag-shock. I couldn't believe how much they were - even though I knew they were good planners. I wasn't about to spend that kind-of money on something to just plan my life out with.

Well, then Mom introduced me to Plum Paper Designs.  Hellooooo, awesome-looking planners. Mom and I both purchased one a few days later, after perusing the different patterns, styles, etc.

I chose the regular planner - in the anchor-style.


This is what mine looks like - with the great personalization and awesome colors! I absolutely love the cover - both front and back.


The inside is very similar to Mom's Erin Condren Planner from last year - but I think it's set up even better!


There are laminated tabs for each month, so they're easy to find. I like all the different colors in the tabs, too. It makes it fun - and not so boring. 


Every month starts out with a "cover photo" like the one above. You could write notes here, but there's also lined pages for each month on the page after this one - picture is below.



Then, there's the monthly spread - with the whole month all together.


Of course, there's the boxes for each day, but along the left-hand side, there are three sections that are for birthdays, events and notes. 

  

Then each week is broken up separately by day. Each column is for a different day of the week. The different boxes are for morning, afternoon, evening, and checklist. I really like that there's a spot for each part of the day (I don't much like the ones that are set up by hours), and a checklist section. I think that it's very efficient. 

Excuse my foot . . .  didn't realize it was in my picture!

Behind all the calendars,  there is a full page called "My Contacts", which holds 14 different people's name, phone number, email and address. 

There is also a page for the Special Dates/Holidays in 2013, 2014, AND 2015. 


In the very back  there is a pocket to hold extra goodies that you want to keep safe in your calendar. I love the wording "for keeps". 

So, now that you've seen all about the planners, let's get down to the nitty gritty. Do I suggest this planner to you? 

And the answer is: HECK YES. The planner that I got was $30 (as opposed to $50), and I believe whole-heartedly that it was worth every penny that I spent on it. The cover is beautiful, the whole thing is spiral bound, it's a great size, and it has everything that I was looking for in a planner, without the hefty price tag. 

I recommend this planner to anyone that is looking for a life planner! Also, be sure to head over to my Mom's blog as well, as she has reviewed the Family Planner for all of you!

One last thing - head over to Plum Paper Designs and pick out your planner. Right now. Dooooo ittttt!  

ESPECIALLY SINCE I HAVE A COUPON CODE FOR YOU!

You can get 10% off your order by using the coupon code HEIDI10 at checkout!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Stealing the Preacher Review


ABOUT THE BOOK:

A cowboy who wants to be a preacher. An outlaw's daughter who wants to change his mind.

On his way to interview for a position at a church in the Piney Woods of Texas, Crockett Archer can't believe it when he's forced off the train by an outlaw and presented to the man's daughter as the preacher she requested for her birthday. He's determined to escape--which would be much easier if he could stop thinking about Joanna Robbins and her unexpected request.

For months, Joanna had prayed for a minister. A man to breathe life back into the abandoned church at the heart of her community. A man to assist her in fulfilling a promise to her dying mother. But just when it seems her prayers have been answered, it turns out the parson is there against his will and has dreams of his own calling him elsewhere. Is there any way she can convince Crockett he ended up right where he was supposed to be?

With her signature blend of humor, history, and lively western romance, two-time RITA Award finalist and bestselling author Karen Witemeyer delivers a Texas love story sure to steal your heart.

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Karen Witemeyer is a bestselling historical romance author who believes the world needs more happily-ever-afters. She holds a master's degree in psychology from Abilene Christian University and is a member of ACFW, RWA, and her local writers' guild. Stealing the Preacher is her fifth novel. Karen lives with her husband and three children in Abilene, Texas. Learn more at www.karenwitemeyer.com.
MY THOUGHTS:
 About a year ago, I read a book called  Short Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer. I loved it. When I ordered this book for review, I had no idea that it was by the same author - or that it was linked to Short Straw Bride. I started it right away and it hooked me from the very beginning! 
I loved how easy Karen's book are to read - she is a great storyteller, and the plot has all sorts of twists and turns that are unexpected. 
Stealing the Preacher is a great Christian romance that gets you hooked from the very first page. The characters are easy to relate to, and the wit that Karen uses in her books is so great. As a wannabe author, I always am impressed by people who can use wit in their stories like it's as easy as pie. 
I suggest this book to anyone who is in the mood for a Christian romance. It is NOT a sequel to Short Straw Bride, so you don't need to read it before you read this one. But I do suggest getting that one, too!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

How Do We Know God is Really There?

Are you looking for a book to read with your kids? I've found a good one! As a part of the Mosaics Review team, I was given the opportunity to review the book How Do We Know God is Really There by Melissa Cain Travis.

This book is about a young boy and his father who enjoy looking at the planets and stars in the solar system.

The little boy asks his dad how we know that God is really out there? Maybe the universe just came into existence without anyone's help.

His father explains to him in a really cool way how God is really out there, and made the universe.

I really enjoyed reading this book, and I think it's a great way to help your kids understand that God really is out there, even if we don't always realize it.

The illustrations aren't my style - they are more cartoon-y than anything else, but that's really the only thing that I didn't really like about the book.

How Do We Know God is Really There is selling for $16 on the Apologia website! I think this would make a great gift for a child in your life! Or even a gift for your family! 

I think that it's kind-of expensive, to be honest. But the book IS hardback, and will hold up nicely. I just don't like to spend that kind-of money on a children's book. But with that said, I DO think that this is a great book, and if you don't mind spending the money, it's worth it!

So go...buy it! Read it for yourself!


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Did you ever wish you could take your Bible underwater?

...or to the beach? Or on a camping trip? But were afraid that it would get wet and then it'd be ruined for good?

Well! Don't worry about that anymore, because I have JUST the thing for you! And it's called The Waterproof Bible!

I got the Waterproof Bible to review thanks to the Mosaics Review Team, and was THRILLED with it when it came in the mail!

I received The New Testament/Psalms and Proverbs Bible in the New Living Translation! It's pink, too, which is a bonus for me! I think it's super duper cute, and it's very light and easy to carry around.



And guess what? It works! I put the WHOLE Bible into some water in my sink, and it's completely fine! It dried off really quickly, and the pages and cover look exactly like they did before I ever got it wet!

Completely under water!

Under water
Right after coming out of the water.

Tiny little drops of water that dried off quickly!

These Bibles rock! I love it! I can't wait to take it with me on my vacations to the beach and know that I can bring it with me to the sand and not worry about it getting wet and ruined! This is definitely a great buy!

The Bible that I received was just the New Testament, as well as Psalms and Proverbs in the New Living Translation. The full Bible in also available (I actually saw one of the FULL Bibles at my local homeschool convention and it looked awesome).
The other translations available are ESV, KJV, NIV, and NKJV.
Find out all the different versions that you can buy here.

The prices for these Bibles vary from $24.95 (New Testament/Psalms and Proverbs) to $44.95 (full Bible).

Now comes the REAL question. Do I think that it's worth the money to buy this Bible?

YES! I think that everyone should have one of these! They are practical and so much fun! Your kids - and maybe even YOU - will love to put them under water and see all the cool stuff that you can do with them!

Now, go to the website and buy this for yourself. And your kids. And your parents. And your aunts and uncles and friends. Everyone needs one of these Bibles.

I think that I may just have to go and buy myself a full Bible so that I have it! :) There are so many to choose from, how can I pick?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Teach Those Kiddos How to Read!


Another great opportunity that I have had with Mosaics Review Team is to review Ooka Island Adventure!

Ooka Island is a computer game for your children ages 3-7 to help them learn how to read while having fun doing it! You can download it right from the internet to your Mac or PC, or you can buy a disk and get it in the mail so that you have the physical copy for whatever computers you need it on!

 (click on image to enlarge).

Quite honestly, I had never heard of Ooka Island before I received my disk in the mail! I was excited to try it out with my three year old cousin, Eliza,  who is very smart and wants to learn how to read and write at such a young age.

Eliza had SO much fun playing Ooka Island. She played a lot of the games on Ooka Island and was sounding out letters and words that she hadn't ever learned before!



There are 3 different editions of Ooka Island - the Home Edition, the School Edition, and the Homeschool Edition. You can read about their differences on the main page of the Ooka Island website. The Home and Homeschool Editions are the same, but the School Edition is different since it's more set up for teachers and their many students! :)


PRICING:

Home & Homeschool Editions of Ooka Island cost $12.95 per month for 1 child; $19.95 per month for up to 4 children. You can also purchase for a year which costs $124.95 for 1 child; or $149.95 for up to 4 children.
For the School Edition, you can go on their website and request a quote here.

MY THOUGHTS:

Did my three-year old cousin like this? Yes, she did. She seemed to really enjoy playing on the computer and learning at the same time.
Do I think this is a FUN way for children to learn to read and comprehend letters and sound? Yes, I really do. It's a great way for them to think they're having fun, but also learn at the same time! I know that I would've enjoyed this as a child.
Do I think it's worth the money? Well, that's a hard one. Not being a parent myself, my first instinct is No way, Jose. I can't imagine spending that kind-of money to help my child learn to read. But I think that if you have a reluctant reader - a child that doesn't want to sit down and actually read a book with you or learn from you - then YES, this is going to be worth your money and you'll be incredibly surprised with the progress your child makes while using this program.

To read more about Ooka Island, head over to their website and figure out if their program is right for you! Take a video tour, and see what Ooka Island is all about, and how it might work in your homeschool, or your classroom setting!

Also, read the testimonials that other parents and teachers posted about the reasons they love Ooka Island, and how it worked for them! It might just make you realize that it will work for your children, too!


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Family Memories...

One of the opportunities I've gotten with the Mosaics Review Team was to review the app for Saving Memories Forever.

I had never heard of Saving Memories Forever, so I was going into this blindly - without knowing all that much about it.

What I learned from the website and from the app that I downloaded for my iPod touch is that you use the app to record special things; ie - your family members telling you stories about their childhood, etc.

I love to hear my family tell stories about their childhood and what went on in different times in history, and I always think "I should write that down so that I don't forget that", but I never do because...well, writing things down takes a lot of time and energy, and who wants to have to do that anyway?

So I think that the idea of the app/website is really cool. You have to register on the website and get your account set up - it's free! - and then download the app to your Apple Product or your Android. The app is also free - so this is a completely free way to record your family's memories.

Once you're done recording your family's memories, you can click the "Upload" button on the app and then it will upload to your account on the Saving Memories Forever website. That way, you are always sure to have the memories and hopefully will never lose them. :)

There is also a Premium Membership which costs $3.99 a month. This particular account gives you some extra options. Here are some of the differences between the free and premium accounts:




Here's a video of people who LOVE this app:



Now comes the question that I have been trying to answer since I first downloaded the app: Would I use this? 

And to be honest, the answer is no, I probably will never use this app. It's not that I don't like the idea of it, or that I feel there's anything wrong with it. I think that Saving Memories Forever is GREAT for some people. But for me, it just doesn't work. If I'm going to sit with my iPod to record someone telling me something, I'll use the Voice Memo app that came with my iPod - it's easier to find and you can upload those right to your computer too.

But PLEASE check into this a little more yourself! You may find yourself loving the app and website, and think that I'm crazy for not using it! If you DO start using the app, let me know - I want to hear if you liked it or not!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Planning, Planning, Planning!

*Warning - long post, lots of picture!*

Something you may not know about me is the fact that I absolutely LOVE day planners. I love to plan my month out each month. It helps me keep my life in order. If I DIDN'T have a calendar or planner, I'm pretty sure that I would never make it anywhere that I was supposed to go...ever.

In December of 2012, when I knew that I had to start looking for a new planner for 2013, I was really dreading it. I couldn't find the same one that I had for 2012, and I had to get used to something new. I hate that. I guess that's because I don't like change all that much, and I couldn't find anything that looked exactly like what I wanted!

When I found out that the Mosaics Review Team was going to be reviewing the new Apologia Planners designed by Debra Bell, I was thrilled!

Then the planners came in the mail! I received both the Ultimate Homeschool Planner, and The Ultimate Weekly Planner for Teens (since I have a sister, I figured this would be used in my house, too!). 


If you're not a homeschooling parent, don't be turned off by the fact that it says "Homeschool Planner". I believe that this can be used for homeschooling, but it can also be used for anybody! I am not a homeschooling parent, and I am going to be using this planner next year!



There is so much in this planner - lots of different things to work with. The first few pages are the User's Guide - telling you how to use the planner. The next few pages are the one-year planning grid, the student goal setter and pre-planning guides (family priorities and resource lists). 



 Next up in the planner are the Monthly Planner, which pretty much speaks for itself. There are, of course, 12 of these monthly calendars. They are blank, so you can use them any month of any year and not worry about your calendar matching up. :) 


What I like best is that I don't have to use this calendar a particular year. I got it in the middle of 2013, and didn't want to start a new calendar a few months into the year. So I'm planning to start using it in 2014! (I can't wait to start using it!)

Next up is the weekly planners -52 of them to be exact! 


Some of the things spaces they have for these weekly planners are: Bible Plan, Battle Plan, Prayers, Hospitality/Outreach. There are some places for this week's memorable moments and achievements, and evidences of grace. (left picture).
Then of course, the spaces that you can write in your children's different subjects and what they have to do each day. On the side of that page, there are places for Notes, Supplies, and Appointments. (middle & right picture). 

Next up comes the fun part - the extra goodies in the back! This part is definitely more designed for the homeschool parent. 

There are 2 full pages for records and grades (enough for 6 students), 3 full pages (but 6 columns) for reading lists, and 3 full pages for field trips (6 columns again). 


There is also a High School Planning Guide, which lets you write out what your high schooler does from 8th-12th grade.


And also a Year in Review sheet (2 full pages).


Now. Onto the Teen Planner. Are you even still here? Still reading? I hope so! This one's cool too!

In the beginning of the plan there's an All About Me section. This asks some cool questions - my best friends, favorite bands, favorite books, favorite movies, favorite places, favorite sayings, colors, animals, the future "me" I want to be, books I want to read, places I want to go, topics I want to study, things I want to do, talents I want to development, etc.

 
Then there are of course the monthly and weekly planners.

As you can tell, the weekly planners are set up to be used with hours, as well. This is required in some states, but in some it isn't. It'd still be nice to know how long your teens were working on their schoolwork each day!

Next up is the two full pages of grading sheets. 


Then is two full pages for your teen's reading list, and two full pages for their activities log.


Last but not least I'll share the Credit Tracker that is in the back of this planner.


 There are always MANY resources at the back of this planner! I mean, so much stuff! Some include: Guide to Punctuation, Italics, and Capitalization, Fractions, Decimals, Percent Equivalency Chart, Periodic Table of Elements, Measurements Equivalency Chart, Common Units of Measure, Conversions, Algebra Review, Physics Review, Map of the World, US Map with State Capitals, Timeline of US and World History, High School Checklist, Recommended Reading List for the College Bound, and a Notes section.

These planners are spiral bound so they're easy to use, they look great, and they are easy to use!

There is just so much in these planners that I cannot possibly try to explain it all to you. I'm sorry for the long post with so many pictures, but I knew it would help me to show you the planners a little better!

Will I use these planner?  Heck yes!
Do I recommend them for you? YES!

The Ultimate Homeschool Planner is priced at $28. I think this is completely worth the money.
The Ultimate Weekly Planner for Teens is priced at $19.
The Ultimate Daily Planner for Students is also $19. (I didn't receive this one but if it's anywhere as awesome as the ones I did receive, I'm sure it's worth the money!).

Go click on those links and think about purchasing these great planners for your next school year, for keeping your life in order, and just for the fun of it!



Tuesday, March 26, 2013

We Choose Virtues Review + Coupon Codes!

When I first heard that we were going to be receiving the We Choose Virtues Flash Cards, I didn't really know what I was getting! I hadn't even  heard of We Choose Virtues, but I am always up for a new challenge - and to learn something new with new products that I've never seen before.

I currently "nanny" for my cousin's 4 kids. 3 of which these flash cards work for! I was excited to sit down and work with them to learn the different virtues that are given.


The virtues include: Obedient, Kind, Patient, Helpful, Gentle, Diligent, Self-Controlled, Forgiving, Attentive, Perseverant and Content.

To be completely honest, a lot of these words and concepts were just too big for the girls I watch to understand. They are 5, 5, and 3.

So I stuck to the 3 that I thought were the best for them. Those were Obedient, Kind, and Helpful. I worked with them on those for quite some time, and they seemed to really begin to understand - and love - the concepts of some of these virtues! You can buy these flash cards in KJV, NIV or any secular version. I have NIV, which I also think helped them understand a little better since they are so young.



(They messed up a little bit...but it's still pretty darn cute!)
They seemed to really love Obedient. I think that it helped that this one's "catchphrase" rhymed and was easy for them to remember. (I took them upstairs for their naps this afternoon after we had just finished working on this one, and they were still saying it over and over. I'd say that's a good review if I've ever heard one!)




Once they have finished learning these 3 better, we'll move onto some of the harder concepts to grasp. But they really seemed to enjoy working on these cards and learning new things. 

I also incorporated a "game". I held up a card and they told me what the word was, then the "catchphrase" on the back. They REALLY liked that, as I gave them points for every one that they got right! 

Although I ONLY used the flashcards, Heather from We Choose Virtues also included the following for me to use (I plan to use them with the girls as we get more in depth into what we're learning...they're still trying to grasp some of it): Kids of Virtue Coloring pages, Family Character Assesment, Memory Verses, Bible Heroes and Truths, Teacher's Handbook, a product comparison chart, and a Butterfly Award that you can give to your student when they've "mastered" the virtues.

I have enjoyed working with these virtues, and so have the three kids that I watch!

I also wanted to include Heather's Top 3:
We Choose Virtues Flash Cards: $14.99
Virtue Clues: $5.50
3 Rules Poster: $6.00

I think that this product is something that ANY homeschool family could use. You can add it into your school day in a snap, and it's easy to learn and remember!

Oh, and not to mention! I have coupon codes for you, my readers! These are for YOU to use for your set of Virtue Flash Cards, or anything else that you may want to purchase at the We Choose Virtues Store.

HOME20 is good for the months of March and April and can be used toward the purchase of a HomeschoolKit only. This, of course, gives you 20% off your purchase.
VIRTUE15 is good anytime for the purchase of anything in the We Choose Virtues store! There's some sales in their store right now, too, so now is a good time to go over and use the coupon code to get even more of a deal!

I thank Heather, and We Choose Virtues, for sending me all these great products that I'm sure that I will use in the future!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Beauty - It's Only Skin Deep

In the past, I had a blog with a friend of mine called Beautiful in Christ. That blog has long since been put on hold since neither Kylie or I have time to sit down and write regular posts for it. We had good intentions of turning it into a small magazine with articles and posts from many great teenage and young adult writers, but it just never came to be.

But I still have a heart for teenage girls and the hardships that they have to face in this day and age. I was in pubic school for only a few years, and I wasn't necessarily "bullied", but the girls were very petty - even in 2nd, 3rd and 4th grades.

I hated almost every minute of my public school years, and I can't imagine what high school would've been like had my mother not pulled me out of public school and back into our home.

But, even though I was homeschooled, there were still pressures to be "beautiful". And beautiful, by definition of Hollywood is: perfect skin, perfect body, perfect clothes.

But like the title says, beauty is only skin deep. Real beauty radiates from the inside out, not the other way around. Someone can have a beautiful face, but their heart and soul could be as cold as stone and as black as ashes.

Whereas, real beauty - beauty through Christ - comes from the inside and shines through to the outside.

1 Peter 3:3-4 says: Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God sight. 

Wow, that's powerful, isn't it?

Sure, we love nice clothes and beautiful jewelry and cool hairstyles. But it's not only about that, and that doesn't make us beautiful. Sure, it makes us feel that way, maybe.  

But here's the reality: It doesn't last. Fashion changes, hairstyles change. Nothing is constant - except beauty that comes from Christ and trusting in Him always and forever.

Proverbs 31:30: Charm is deceitful, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. 

So, hold your head high today. Don't listen to what the mirror is trying to tell you - it's all lies. You are beautiful in Christ, and no one can ever change that as long as you hold onto Him, and keep your eyes set on Him.

Oh, and I want to share what I have on my mirror to remind myself of this daily, since I tend to look down on myself for one reason or another:


The world may say that you're not pretty enough, you're not skinny enough, you don't wear the right clothes.

But God says: You're beautiful.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Blog Planner Review: The Flourishing Abode

A few months ago, I got the opportunity to become a part of the Homeschool Mosaic Review Team! I have never been a part of a review team before, but I have always liked giving my honest opinions on things, so I thought this would be a great way to do it!

My first review was to be of a blog planner. Now, I'm going to be honest with you all. I am not much of a blog planner. I'm more of fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants blogger. I like to blog about what I want, when I want.

So I knew that I needed to pick something simple that didn't have a lot of details.

That's why I picked The Flourishing Abode Planner.


What I liked about this specific planner is it's set up for a week at a time.


I wrote down the posts I wanted to do each day so that I could look at it for further reference. This was a simple set-up for me, and easy to follow. 


 There are also places to write in future post ideas, where you want to promote your blog posts, pictures to be made, and a place for extra little notes that you may need to remember throughout the week. I thought it was set up very nicely and had plenty of room for everything that you need to do!

I really enjoyed working with this planner, and tried to plan a week of blogging by using it. But to be honest, I probably won't use it again. If I have a blog post coming up that I have to post, I'll probably put it right on my regular calendar to remind me since I look at that more than I would ever look at a piece of paper.

But this WAS a nice 1-page, easy to follow planner that I would suggest if you wanted something simple!

Oh! And the best part? This is free! :D

Find out more about this planner here: The Flourishing Abode Planner.