icRKphJXQm-ezth8lntKydifkDg The Loose Screw: 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Product Review~Slice Safety Cutter-Great for Couponers!

Over the past few months, I've heard couponers talk about the Slice Safety Cutter and how it is SO much nicer to use than scissors.  I couldn't wait to get mine in the mail, and I put it to use immediately.  I was so impressed!  Here is the product description from the website:

The Slice™ Safety Cutter is the most versatile tool you'll ever own. Features a finger-friendly microscopic ceramic blade that's quick, easy and a safe substitute for scissors or traditional safety knives. Slice Safety Cutters are perfect for scrap-booking, clipping recipes, coupons and news articles, removing shrink-wrap, opening CDs, DVDs, plastic packaging, and more. Includes a built-in magnet and key-ring hole.

- Ceramic blade lasts longer than steel
- Stays sharp and never rusts
- Built-in magnet and key-ring hole
- Rubberized non-slip finish
- Finger-Friendly™ Design
- For left- and right-handers

The Slice Safety Cutter really is perfect for couponers!  I can go through several pages of coupon inserts with one quick swipe of the Slice!  I have to say, I'm amazed that this little tiny ceramic 'bump' is the blade and cuts so well!  The awesome thing about that is that it cannot hurt you or your kids, and if you keep it in your purse you won't cut yourself reaching for it.  This is perfect for scrapbooking too!  Much easier on your hands than scissors for all your cutting needs.  I was really surprised that it can cut through the plastic cases on CDs and such:

The Slice Safety Cutter-great for couponers is available for only $5.99 at www.sliceproducts.com.  Buy several to keep around the house, and one for in your purse or attached to your keychain.  I have mine on the front of my fridge (it has a magnet in it), and that's been working great for me!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using href="http://www.tomoson.com/?code=BOTTOM5118cf43025d0a1446b9171f22bdda0b">Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Great Budgeting and Couponing Tool!

Angela over at The Coupon Project has released the Savings Tracker for 2012.  Click here to learn more about it and download.  This is an awesome budgeting tool that tracks coupons and savings from your receipts.  She put a lot of work into this and it shows!  I played around with it some last year, but didn't use it faithfully.  Now that I've revamped our budget, I'm ready to use it consistently in 2012. 

Also on the Savings Tracker download page you will find a manual you can print out to help you use the tracker, and a webcast from January 2011 where she goes step-by-step and shows you how to use it yourself.

Even if you don't have interest in the Savings Tracker, I highly recommend checking out Angela's website, The Coupon Project.  She has great tips and ideas to help you save money!

Friday, December 23, 2011

A fun, messy Christmas treat!

I saw this idea in a magazine (and of course I can't remember which one it was now to give credit where it is due) and we tried it out yesterday.  Very simple and fun.   All you need are cone-shaped ice cream cones, frosting, and sprinkles or whatever decorations you want that can stick to frosting. 
Add green food coloring to make the frosting nice and green.  Decorate as you wish with sprinkles, etc.
Here is Chad with his finished Christmas tree.  He says it was very yummy!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A debt-free Christmas!

It's the worst feeling to go into credit card debt buying Christmas presents!  I don't know about you, but with the way the economy has been the past few years, our salaries are shrinking more each year with budget cuts and increases in insurance premiums, etc.  We've cut back a lot. The best way to handle Christmas is to put away a little money every month.  We've tried that.  Then guess what happens?  The car breaks down or there is a dental emergency. Gone is the Christmas savings. 

In mid-2010 I started trying something different.  This year (2011) was my first full year of using this method, and I think it was a success!!  Here's what I did:  I am signed up on several survey sites and sites where you collect points in exchange for money or gift cards.  I also scan all my purchases for Nielsen. All year I took every opportunity I could, and as I redeemed points for gift cards I tucked them away for Christmas.  I only got cards to places I knew I would use, like Amazon and Target.  I also used the Target promotion when they would have something on sale that we use, and I had coupons for it as well (often both Target and mfg coupons), and if you bought a certain amount during the sale week you would get a $5 gift card.  I did this all year with toilet paper and paper towels, as well as a few other things. By the end of November, I had just over $300 in money and gift cards!!  I was SO excited!!

My husband and I don't usually do gifts for each other for any occasion, including Christmas (except cheap stocking stuffers). After almost 23 years of marriage we both know we love each other, we both hate wasting money, and would rather put that money away for ours and our kids' futures. It just works for us.  This year we made gifts for our parents, and we are also making our neighbor gifts which will be a minimal cost.  So, getting a handful of neices and nephews a little something, our homemade presents, and then with our three kids, $300 was plenty of money for gifts!  We don't go crazy on big expensive gifts for our kids, and everyone is still just as happy!  Another lesson learned from years of experience.

A word of warning:  You may think all these surveys and clicking on things would be very time consuming.  It isn't. Maybe 3-5 hours a week at the most.  But-I must say at this point I am a bit burned out, and I'm taking a break from surveys.  I will be back at it soon though!

Here are some of the companies I've been using.  These are all companies that I have used all year, and have received gift cards/prizes from them all, so I know they are legit. They worked for me, hopefully they will for you too!

Swagbucks  (I have a button on the right sidebar you can click as well)
Valued Opinions
Campus Fundraiser Surveys
Mills Advisory Panel
Nielsen Homescan

I just joined JD Power and Associates, they are taking applications now.  I've heard good things about them.  I've been trying forever to get into Pinecone, but never fit the criteria they need.

*I will not get any compensation for you clicking on the above links, with the exception of Swagbucks.  If you go through my link, I will receive bonus points*

I also want to stress requesting free samples as there are many that could be stocking stuffers, or just use them to save a little more money toward your savings goal!

I have tried many survey/points websites, and some I didn't care for. There are so many out there!  Some are hard to get into (Pinecone!).  Have you had any success with survey/points websites? 

Well, that's how we paid for Christmas this year.  Of course presents are fun, but  I want to make sure my family remembers and focuses on the real reason for this Christmas season: our saviour, Jesus Christ.

Monday, December 19, 2011

~Review-The World's Greatest Stories~

I am very excited about this product! It's one of those great finds that you want to tell everyone about!  The World's Greatest Stories are a collection of award-winning CDs (cassettes are available as well) for children and adults that tell Bible stories word-for-word from the King James Version or NIV.  They are not re-written bible stories. 

George W. Sarris is a master storyteller, who uses dramatic voices, music and sound effects to capture your attention as you listen to scripture.  Click here to learn more about Mr. Sarris, who has quite an impressive background. 

Each CD is approximately one hour long.  Currently there are six CDs available, with a total of 23 individual stories on them.  Here are the titles of the CDs:
1.  The Prophets
2. The Life of Christ
3.  Beginnings
4. Joshua and Esther
5. Joseph and his Brothers
6. Defeating Giants

I was given volume 1, The Prophets in NIV version, as well as a sample CD, to review. Included in volume 1 are the stories The Blazing Furnace (Daniel 3), The Handwriting on the Wall (Daniel 5), Daniel in the Lion's Den (Daniel 6), Elijah and the Prophets of Baal (1 Kings 17-18), and The Prophecy of Jonah (The Complete Book of Jonah).  I honestly didn't think my son Chad, 9, would sit and pay attention to it.  We put it in the CD player, and wow!!  The hour went quickly, with Chad asking questions and commenting throughout.  Afterward, he said it reminded him of listening to Chronicles of Narnia (which he loves) with all the action! 
I have to tell you, immediately my husband Jeff looked at me and said, "We need to order the rest of the set and tell everyone about this!"  Here is the exciting part-the price.  Each CD is only $7.95!!  If you order the entire set, shipping is free! Click here to listen to audio clips and order CDs. I encourage you to go to The World's Greatest Stories website and learn more about it!  Click here to read more reviews of this product by fellow TOS crewmates.

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of The World's Greatest Stories in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Winner!! Cooper and Me and The Winter Adventure!

Congratulations to #9, Shawna (pridelandmama)!!  I have emailed you with instructions.  I hope you enjoy your book!!

Friday, December 9, 2011

~The Christmas Signing by Cindy Woodsmall~

A few months ago I reviewed The Christmas Signing by Cindy Woodsmall, who is one of my favorite Amish fiction authors.  You can read my review here.  With Christmas quickly approaching, I want to suggest this book would make the perfect gift for the readers in your life!

Click here to watch a video about The Christmas Singing 
Here is a peak at the first chapter of The Christmas Signing

Right now you can  get 30% off and free shipping on The Christmas Singing (and any other title) when you use promo code CHRISTMAS11 at checkout on http://www.waterbrookmultnomah.com/.  The coupon code expires on December 20th, 2011.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Book Review and GIVEAWAY!!! Cooper and Me and the Winter Adventure!

We love reading fun winter stories during this time of year, and if the books have animals they are usually a favorite!  Chad and I received Cooper and Me and the Winter Adventure, written by Monique and Alexa Peters.  I had heard of the Cooper and Me series, but this is the first time we have read one of the books.  From the Cooper and Me website: "Explore life along with Cooper, a fun-loving black Labrador Retriever, whose entertaining adventures help kids navigate the emotions and challenges of everyday living. Created by mother-daughter team Monique and Alexa Peters and inspired by their real-life family dog, Cooper and Me provides adults and children with opportunities for meaningful conversation and tools for constructive problem-solving. Kids will laugh at Cooper’s antics, and adults will appreciate the resilience nurtured in their children."

I love it when a story can be fun and entertaining, and have a good message come through as well.  The illustrations are very charming, the characters are fun, and we have enjoyed this book several times since we received it.  I encourage you to go to the website,  http://www.cooperandme.com/ where you can find their mission statement, activities, buy books, and more!

You can also find them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cooper-and-Me-Inc/214695101924101
and Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/cooper_and_me

If you are interested in purchasing from the Cooper and Me website, there is a special going on right now-Make any purchase of $25 or more at CooperandMe.com and get FREE SHIPPING now through December 15. MUST USE THIS CODE at Check Out: COOPERBLOG

Here is something else very special: Please note that $1 of every Winter Adventure book sold will go to advance research & treatment of pancreatic cancer, via the Lustgarten Foundation (http://www.lustgarten.org/)

***Now, for the giveaway: I have one copy of Cooper and Me and the Winter Adventure to give away to a Loose Screw reader!!  You have 5 chances to enter:

1.  Leave a comment letting me know you are a GFC follower (on right sidebar).
2.  Follow me on twitter and leave a comment letting me know you did.  @athenalang
3.  Tweet about this giveaway and leave a comment with a link to your tweet.
4.  Facebook about this giveaway, leave a comment with a link to your post.
5.  Blog about this giveaway, and leave me a link to your blog post. 

This giveaway will end on December 15, 2011 at midnight MST. I will notify the winner the next day.  Good luck!!

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Curriculum Review~ ARTistic Pursuits

Art is not a strong subject for me-I have never really enjoyed art. So teaching it can be really intimidating.  I was looking for an art program that would help me teach Chad art, without needing creative talent myself.  I am so glad we got to review ARTistic Pursuits, created by Brenda Ellis, because it is the perfect fit for us! 

We received Grades K-3 Book One, which is an introduction to the visual arts. The book is written to the student, with no teacher preparation required.  There is a list of materials needed in the book, and then it is broken down into three sections: What Artists Do, What Artists See, and Where We Find Art.  The pictures and examples in the book are fabulous, and I like that the words are written to the child, and are simple and easy to understand.  The exercises in the lessons are a perfect fit for this age group. 

ARTistic Pursuits is an art history program as well as instructional, examining works of Great Masters.  There are 32 projects in each book-the range of projects includes painting, drawing, sculpture and more! Chad has gone through many of the lessons with great enthusiasm, and that makes me very pleased, as that is not the experience with art that I had as a child in school.  Here is Chad's oil pastel drawing from Lesson 6:
The ARTistic Pursuit book that I received is $42.95, and is non-consumable, which means you can use it over and over with many students. There are many books available to choose from, ranging from preschool to High School ages.  Click here to learn more about what products are available, including materials packs already put together so you have everything you need to get started!  To learn more about ARTistic Pursuits you can go to their website at www.artisticpursuits.com.  I look forward to trying more of the books in the future!

To read more reviews of this product, click here.  Disclaimer: I received this product in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Product Review-BrytonPick

Did you know that ADA statistics show only 12% of the population flosses regularly?  I was really surprised to hear this-I am a flosser, mainly because I have noticed a definite drop in cavities if I floss regularly.  People think floss isn't convenient or easy to use.  If you don't like using floss, you may want to try this product out!

BrytonPick is an alternative to regular floss. It is made in the US from completely recyclable materials.  The really cool thing is that is is reusable for up to a month, due to its germ-resistant stainless steel cleaning strips.  It's very flexible and thin, perfect to keep in your wallet or purse.  It also comes in a variety of fun colors!

I have been using BrytonPick for the past two weeks, and I am impressed!  I must admit at first, putting something metal-looking in between your teeth is a little scary-I was afraid my gums would get cut.  But the blade is thin and flexible, and I quickly got used to the feeling.  Click here to learn more about how to use BrytonPick. 

I like that it is portable in its own little pouch to slip in your purse or wallet if you're going out to eat.  There's nothing worse than getting food stuck in between your teeth and not being able to do anything about it!  Am I going to replace my regular floss with BrytonPick?  Yes and no!  For my regular flossing at home, I still prefer the old-fashioned stuff.  But-I will definitely keep BrytonPick in my purse for eating out! BrytonPick is available at stores across the country and online.  Click here to go to the BrytonPick website, where you can purchase your own BrytonPick!
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

~Tulip's Wordless Wednesday!~

There seems to be a pattern to the majority of my Wordless Wednesday pictures....Tulip the puppy!  Probably because she's so darn cute!  Here she is-again!

Monday, November 28, 2011

~Winner-FFH album download~

The winner of the One Silent Night album download is.......BELINDA!  Congratulations and enjoy your new Christmas music!!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Review~The Reading Game

As I've mentioned in past blog posts, learning to read has been a struggle for Chad.  He is definitely improving as a reader, and  I'm always on the lookout for fun ways to help him with reading.  Chad loves games, so when I heard about The Reading Game, by Kenneth Hodkinson, the author of Wordly Wise, I was excited to give it a try!

What is it?  The Reading Game is a learn-to-read program for two players (student and tutor) ages 4 and up,  centered around six beautifully-illustrated storybooks about animals.  The books feature a skunk, a snake, a bear, penguins, a unicorn, and a zebra as main characters, with other animals also in the stories. Each book comes with a simple word matching card game. Most kids love matching games, and they are so easy and quick to play. Each game is played in six stages, each of which teaches five words. After you and your child play each matching game, they have learned 30 new words! They should then be ready to read the corresponding book, which contains only those 30 words. Each subsequent sets of cards and book adds another 30 new words, for a total of 180 words 'hard-wired' into memory. 

 The Reading Game complements most standard curriculums, and meets the criteria of the Common Core State Standards for Language Arts and Reading and Foundational Skills for both kindergarten and first grade.

What is included? Included in the sturdy box are matching cards for each book, each with the corresponding animal picture and game level number, the six animal storybooks, and a teacher's guide, which has lists of all the words used and sample sentences. The cards and covers of the books are very colorful, but the stories themselves are black-and-white, with beautiful illustrations.  The price for The Reading Game is $24.95, with a 15% discount off of orders of 8 or more.

What did we think? Chad loves animals and matching games, so I figured this would be a hit with him.  I wasn't sure if the stories being all black-and-white and not having punctuation would be hard for him, but these things didn't phase him at all.  He enjoys the games and the stories.  I like that everything is fairly quick, so if he is getting tired of reading, it won't be long before we are back to the matching game. The stories are very cute, too! Chad flew through the first 3 books, and we have been working on book 4, Penguins, for the last week or so.  I would definitely suggest The Reading Game as a supplement to whatever you are already using to teach reading!

Click  here for more information on how the program works, including helpful videos, and to purchase your own copy.  Also at the website, http://www.thereadinggame.com/  you will have access to free assessment worksheets and recording sheets. To read more reviews of this product, click here.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of The Reading Game at no charge in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Book Review~An Amish Wedding

An Amish Wedding is comprised of three novellas written by Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller, and Kelly Long about the busy Amish wedding season.  I've read two other collections like this one written by these talented  authors, so I knew I was in for some good reading!!  You might think that with three separate stories the characters couldn't be very developed, but that's what is great about this book-each of the individual stories are intertwined. 

In The Perfect Secret by Kelly Long, Rose is preparing for her upcoming wedding to Luke, her best friend since childhood.  She has some doubts and longs for mystery and excitement.  Mystery finds her, and it threatens her engagement. 

In The Perfect Match by Kathleen Fuller, Naomi is an independent single Amish woman helping her sister Priscilla prepare for her wedding.  Having had her heart broken a few years back, she is not looking for love herself.  She has to learn to accept God's will in her life and open her heart to love again. 

In A Perfect Plan by Beth Wiseman, Priscilla (Naomi's sister and Rose's close friend) is in the final weeks before her wedding.  Things are going wrong every time she turns around, and she and her fiance Chester question if they should be getting married. 

I love Amish fiction, and An Amish Wedding lived up to my expectations.  It is an easy read, hard to put down, and interesting to see how each of the authors intertwines the characters. There is a glossary at the front of the book to help you with some of the Amish dialect, and the back of the book has a Reading Group Guide and some yummy-sounding Amish recipes that were mentioned in the stories.

Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange from Booksneeze for my honest review.

Winner-The Grace Effect Giveaway!!

The winner of The Grace Effect by Larry Taunton is............#17, Susan!!  Congratulations Susan-I hope you enjoy reading it!!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Review and Giveaway!!!!~FFH Album 'One Silent Night'

I have a new favorite Christmas album!!  It's FFH's One Silent Night and it is fantastic!  I love Christmas music, and can't wait to unpack our Christmas CDs when we get out our decorations from storage.  We usually don't decorate until Thanksgiving weekend, so I was thrilled to get some new holiday music early! I love all the songs on this album too!

Press Release for FFH:
(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) Sept. 30, 2011– Best-selling pop group FFH will usher in the holiday season with its first Christmas album. One Silent Night, available Oct. 18, is a mix of original songs and Christmas classics.
Produced by FFH founding member Jeromy Deibler, One Silent Night has been four years in the making. Giving in to the persistent appeals of loyal fans, FFH has crafted a project worthy of your holiday music collection.

Listeners will recognize favorites like “Winter Wonderland,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” and “Jingle Bell Rock,” among others, while being introduced to new tracks including “The Birthday of a King,” “Glorious Impossible,” and “One Silent Night.”

Deibler comments, “We just feel blessed to be able to make this record and wanted to do the kind of Christmas music we like to listen to, something that’s not trendy but more of a classic style. For us Christmas is about remembering… slowing down to see what is important. And being reminded of the glorious impossible that was the birth of Christ. We hope this album reflects that desire and inspires others to do the same.”

FFH plans to support the album with singles “One Silent Night” and “Baby It’s Cold Outside” to radio Oct. 1 as well as select tour dates in November and December.

About FFH:

Pop vocal group FFH has released thirteen projects, sold more than two million albums, and garnered 24 radio hits, including seven No. 1 singles and ten Top 5 radio singles. In addition to multiple Dove Award nominations, FFH has been recognized at the Inspirational Life Awards as well as the Billboard Music Video Awards. The group has performed more than 1000 dates since 2000 and continues to be a favorite on the tour circuit. FFH is also known for its work with the “Make-A-Wish Foundation,” Kurt Warner’s “First Things First Foundation,” and for its contributions to national ad campaigns for Coca Cola and IBM.

If you want to learn more about FFH or this album, click the links below:
Website: http://ffh.net/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/FFHmusic
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/FFHMusic
iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/one-silent-night/id474548207

Now, for the best part....the GIVEAWAY!!!!! *Please note that this giveaway is not for a physical CD, but for a download of the album.*  You have 6 chances to enter:
1.  Leave a comment below-do you have a favorite Christmas song? Or just say hi!
2.  Follow me via Google Friend Connect on the right sidebar, then leave me a comment letting me know you did.
3.  Follow me on Twitter @athenalang .  Make sure you leave me a comment letting me know you did.
4.  Tweet about this giveaway, and send me a link to your tweet.
5.  Blog about this giveaway, and leave a comment with the link to your blog post.
6.  Facebook about this giveaway, and leave a comment with a link to your post. 

This giveaway will end November 27th at midnight MST.  The winner will be contacted and announced the next day! Good luck!!!

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, November 18, 2011

Review-Time Timer

Here at our house, we've been working hard with Chad on telling time with a traditional clock.  In today's world, so much is digital!  He can tell time for the most part on the traditional clock, but he really struggles with understanding the passage of time and how long something will take.  When we use a timer, we usually use the digital one on our stove.  Then we received the 3" Time Timer in the mail. It is small, easy to take with you, and has a protective cover that doubles as a stand.  I couldn't imagine this timer would be much different than others, or that it could impact Chad any differently than other timers.  I was wrong!

Time Timer was invented by Jan Rogers-click here to read how she came up with this great idea. From the Time Timer website:
'Use the Time Timer to:

*Help children focus on their homework.
*Balance TV (or computer) time with playtime.
*Stick to practice and workout schedules.
*Assist with "start/end-of-day" routines.

Throughout your hectic day, the Time Timer is there to remind you when it’s quiet time... or yoga time... or dinner time. Today, more than ever, we are challenged to do more with less, and wherever time needs to be managed or measured, you can count on the Time Timer to make every moment count. '

The above suggestions are what was listed just for home use. Time Timer is perfect for any situation you would use a timer-at home, school, or work, to name just a few. Time Timer is also perfect for special needs use-such as for individuals with ADD, ADHD, Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome and Dyslexia.

Time Timer has been a great addition to our household routine!  Chad loves using it.  One of the things I like about it is how quiet it is-no distracting ticking, and just one soft beep-beep when time is up. You can also choose to turn the audible beeping off. If you are someone who likes a loud alarm that you could hear from another room, then this might not be for you. The red disc slowly disappearing as time goes away has really helped Chad with the passage of time concept too.  I highly recommend this product!!

Time Timer comes in three sizes-3", 8", and 12".  Prices range from $30-$40.  Also available are a watch, software and apps, and other accessories.  Click here to see and order the various products.  Click here to go to the Time Timer webpage where you will find all sorts of information about these great products!

To read what other TOS crew members have to say about this product, click here
*Disclaimer: I received this Time Timer free in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

~Wordless Wednesday~

Tulip's first Halloween~our little diapered Butterfly!  The diaper wasn't supposed to be part of the costume, but she surprised us and went into her first heat.  So, she couldn't go trick-or-treating as planned.  Poor butterfly-maybe next year!

OK, this was really Wordy Wednesday I guess :)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Curriculum Review: College Prep Genius

Last month, Alyssa took the PSAT.  The day after she took the test, I received College Prep Genius to review!  Talk about great timing! As a college-bound Junior, it is (past) time to get really serious about the SATs. 

College Prep Genius, created by author Jean Burk, consists of a textbook, a workbook, and 12 lessons on four DVDs.  This program is PACKED full of information!!  Along with thorough explanations of how the PSAT and SAT work including all three test sections, this set has hundreds of tips and shortcuts.  You'll learn about college interview and scholarship information too! 

Included in the text are these sections:
1.  Introduction to the SAT
2.  The Critical Reading Section
3. The Math Section
4. The Writing Section
5.  Scholarship Search
6.  Journal for Test Success
and three Appenices: Prefixes, Math Terms, and My Motivation Test. 

I wish I had this resource when I was ready to take the SATs!  I learned a lot just in the first section, Introduction to the SAT.  Watch this video:

Alyssa has been soaking up the information in College Prep Genius like a sponge, and she likes the way the lessons are taught.  We don't have her PSAT score back yet, but my guess is that she will do much better on the SATs after using this program.  She plans to spend several months going over the information repeatedly to get the best score possible.  As a Mom, I am thrilled with College Prep Genius!

You might expect this course to cost hundreds of dollars, and honestly after what I've seen I think is worth several hundred dollars.  Incredibly, the cost of the complete College Prep Genuis program is only $99!!  You can buy the books and DVDs separately for a total cost of $129.85, but it is a 25% savings to purchase it as a set. You can also buy additional workbooks for more students. They have a 100% money back guarantee!!  Click here to see all the products available.  If you have middle or high school students who are considering college, I highly recommend College Prep Genius! To read other reviews of this product, click here.

Disclaimer:  I received this product free of charge in exchange for my honest review.

WINNER~Revolution Worship Live CD!

Congratulations to #15, Robin, on winning the Revolution Worship CD!! 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Book Review and Giveaway~The Grace Effect by Larry Taunton!

I just finished reading a great book-The Grace Effect. I was expecting an educational book about atheism and Socialism from a Christian standpoint. I got that, and much more!  There was a very personal story here involving the author's adoption of a young girl in the Ukraine. Being adopted myself and having adopted Chad, I am always interested in books that have an adoption story in them.  The Grace Effect is educational, heartwarming, and heartbreaking.  It was hard to put down!

About The Grace Effect:

"Simply defined, the ‘grace effect’ is an observable phenomenon—that life is demonstrably better where authentic Christianity flourishes.” What does Christianity give us beyond televangelists, potlucks, and bad basketball leagues? Not much, according to the secular Left. The world, they say, would be a better place without it.

Historian and Christian apologist Larry Taunton has spent much of his career refuting just this sort of thinking, but when he encounters Sasha, a golden-haired orphan girl whose life has been shaped by atheistic theorists, he discovers an unlikely champion for the transforming power of grace. Through the narrative of Sasha’s redemption, we see the false promises of socialism; the soul-destroying influence of unbelief; and how a society cultivates its own demise when it rejects the ultimate source of grace. We see, in short, the kind of world the atheists would give us: a world without Christianity—cold, pitiless, and graceless.

And yet, as Sasha shows us, it is a world that is not beyond the healing power of “the grace effect.” Occasionally infuriating, often amusing, but always inspiring, The Grace Effect will have you cheering for the courageous little girl who shamed the academic elitists of our day."

For more information, check out these links on The Grace Effect:

Website: http://www.fixed-point.org/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/fixedpoint?ref=nf
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/fixedpoint
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Grace-Effect-Reverse-Corruption-Unbelief/dp/1595554408

The Giveaway: I have a brand new copy of The Grace Effect by Larry Taunton to give away to one of my readers-yay!!  You have a chance to get four entries:
1.  Leave a comment below.
2.  Be a GFC follower. Leave a comment letting me know you are!
3.  Blog about this giveaway, and leave me a comment with a link to your post.
4.  Facebook about this giveaway, and leave me a comment with a link to your FB entry. 

This contest will end on November 20, 2011 at midnight MST.   Good luck!!

“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Curriculum Review: Keyboard Town Pals

In today's world, it is essential that our children know how to use a computer, and proper keyboarding skills are important to be successful. As Chad is in 3rd grade now and we had not begun any formal keyboarding instruction, I was interested in trying Keyboard Town PALS. Keyboard Town PALS™ is a computer keyboard program that teaches elementary school children the letters and symbols on a Qwerty keyboard in an hour using proper technique. The lessons can be broken down into one hour, two 30 minute sessions, or eight stand-alone sessions.  Each lesson will take about 6-7 minutes. The suggested age range is 6-12. The lessons use puppets, music, and humor to catch the children's attention and teach them.  The price is $30 for either CD-Rom or Web-based.

Keyboard Town PALS™ uses the PALS system. PALS stands for PURPOSEFUL ASSOCIATIVE LEARNING SYSTEM. 'The PALS system works on the classic principle that two objects seen or heard together will often become linked in our minds. In addition to utilizing association and numerous memory techniques to improve retention, we incorporate different cues throughout the video to stimulate the visual, auditory, and kinesthetic senses.'

What did Chad and I think? Chad thought it was too babyish, but he did learn where all his fingers go, and so I think the program is great in that aspect.  He was very proud of himself each time he typed a word.  I think the concept is great as a tool to learn proper finger placement, but it is not a full typing program.  It was a great start for Chad to learn, however.  The price ($30) is too much for us with only one child that will use it, but if a family had several little ones I could see that it would be cost-effective.

I must admit I was bothered by something in Lesson 3.  One of the puppets (a wizard) says to the kids he is feeling sick, and turns around into his 'house' and starts making vomiting sounds and motions.  Now, some parents and kids may not think a thing of that, and may even think it is funny.  I was bothered by it, and didn't see the point in exposing my child to it.

In summary, the concept of this program (sans vomiting) is good for learning finger placement on the keyboard. It may be the perfect fit for some families.  It just wasn't for ours.  Click here for more information on how the Keyboard Town PALS program works.  Visit their website at http://www.keyboardtownpals.com/ for more information, testimonials, and other products available.

To read more reviews of this product, click here.

Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge in exchange for my honest review.

Winners~ Renuzit Air Freshener!!

The winners of the coupons for a free Renuzit Holiday Air Freshener are......
#17 Jena
#49 Sherry S.
#60 Tori

Congratulations!! I have emailed the winners with instructions on how to get their coupons.

Tomorrow(Sunday) is the last day to enter the Revolution Worship Live CD

Check back this week for another new giveaway!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Christmas Lodge DVD Winner!!

The winner of the Christmas Lodge DVD is........Modest Mama!!  Congratulations Modest Mama-I have sent you an email.  I need your mailing address!

Come back tomorrow for another winner announcement for Renuzit Holiday Air Freshener-ends at midnight tonight!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

~A Special Day~

Six years ago today was a very wonderful day in our family!  Chad officially became part of our family.  He had been a member of our family in our hearts and home for 7 months already, but this was adoption day!
I can't believe how little the kids were! Nick was 14, Alyssa 10, and Chad had just turned 3 a few weeks before.  We were all very happy to make it official!  This little boy has brought so much joy and laughter into our lives, I can't imagine life without him. It is truly an honor and pleasure to be Chad's Mom. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Beauty Bag!

It's always an exciting mail day when you get something fun that you didn't even have to pay for!! Today I got this beauty bag full of samples and over $20 worth of coupons from Target!
I've mentioned Target's awesome coupons before.  The reason they are so great is that on just one item, you can use both a Target store coupon and a manufacturer coupon.  Target's coupons are usually pretty good value, and often there is a sale on the item as well.  Click here to see the current coupons being offered. 

Target doesn't offer samples too often, but when they do, it is usually worth it (see photo)!  The samples do go quickly so you have to act fast. 

Have you received any good samples in your mailbox lately??

Friday, November 4, 2011

~Review and Giveaway: Revolution Worship Live CD~

It's time for Giveaway #3 for this week-an awesome Christian praise and worship CD!! 

About Revolution Worship LIVE:

“Revolution Worship…Live At Joy Church International”, is a tremendous Praise & Worship album with a powerfully inspiring collection of songs that is unparalleled to any other Praise & Worship series in it’s category. Filled with meaningful lyrics and sincere, personal worship, “Revolution Worship…Live At Joy Church International” masterfully demonstrates authenticity at it’s best. From fiery, electrifying tracks with edgy, rock-driven guitar to peaceful, intimate tracks, this album focuses on pointing attention to God.
And because it’s recorded live, you get to experience the congregational feel of being in a vibrant church service. Infusing musical quality with a spiritual impact that raises the bar on what to expect in new Praise & Worship music, “Revolution Worship…Live At Joy Church International” brings you a brand new worship experience. From start to finish, this release is about the act of ministering uncompromisingly God-centered music through pure, heart-felt praise!

I enjoy contemporary Christian music, as well as some of the old hymns.  To be honest, when I first started listening to Revolution Worship, I didn't think I was going to like the music.  It just wasn't what I was used to.  But after listening to a few songs, I was really enjoying it!  My two favorite songs are Yes and Jesus in Me-all the songs are so uplifting!  While listening to many of them, you feel like you are part of a big, high-energy church service!  Check out  the Revolution Worship links below:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MyWorldRevolution
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/MWRevolution
iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/revolution-worship-live/id467741849
Video: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=2371896618238

Time for the GIVEAWAY!!!!! I have one CD of Revolution Worship to give away to a Loose Screw reader!  You have an opportunity to get 4 entries:

1.  Just leave me a comment!!  You can tell me your favorite band/artist, or just say hi!
2.  Follow The Loose Screw via Google Friend Connect on the right sidebar.  Then leave me a comment to tell me you are a follower.
3.  Facebook about this giveaway, then leave me a comment with a link to your post.
4.  Blog about this giveaway, then leave me a comment with a link to your blog. 

This giveaway will end on November 13 at midnight MST.  The winner will be notified on November 14th.  Good luck and happy listening!!

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Curriculum Review:Ooka Island!!

Chad's schoolwork has kept him busy lately-he's been climbing mountains, skateboarding, and jet skiing to name just a few activities that are helping him learn to read!  I know what you're wondering: How and where is he doing all this?  The answer is simple: He's been on an Ooka Island Adventure!!

What is the Ooka Island Adventure?

'The Ooka Island Adventure is a downloadable hero-mission in 3D designed to teach young children how to read fluently and well. The Ooka Island Adventure combines the highly engaging components of a state-of-the-art virtual world with the scientifically proven OokaMethod that builds literacy skills. Carefully embedded within the Ooka Island Adventure are dozens of interactive instructional activities that captivate the child and motivate them as they learn essential pre-reading, reading, spelling, and writing skills. After completing the Ooka Island Adventure, children will be on their way to reading fluently and well for life.'

Watch the official trailer for the program:

Ooka Island is for Prek-Grade 2.  Chad is in 3rd grade, but as he is not a strong reader yet, this program was perfect for him!  Here's how a typical session at Ooka Island works: The child starts with 20 minutes of guided play where the player is guided through a customized learning path through the 7 activities on Ooka Island. This guided play time is learning time, but it is fun too! After 20 minutes of guided play the child unlocks the next book on the Book Path, reads the book in the Popcorn Library and completes the comprehension and vocabulary activities. There are 85 leveled books to read on Ooka Island!! The player is then rewarded with 8 minutes of Free Play where the player can play in any unlocked activity on the Island, purchase items in the Mist Mart, or play with their Ooka Elf friends in the Pencil Playground. When Free Play ends, the player starts the cycle again, beginning with 20 minutes of Guided Play.

Click here to explore the island! 

When we received our download for Ooka Island, I must admit I was worried-it is a BIG file.  It took our computer about an hour to download it, but after that we've had no problems with the size of the file.  I do think it would be nice to have the program on a CD to insert into the computer instead of the download.  Next, Mom (yes, that's me!), not reading the instructions first, attempted to start the program and messed up the customizable avatar.  Chad definitely didn't want the blonde, long-haired female avatar I created.  One quick email to customer service and they fixed us up immediately!  (They also have live chat customer service!)  I was impressed with the speed and efficiency of the customer service. Here is the pricing:

The Bottom Line: What do Chad and I think of the program?  LOVE IT!! From the first time playing, Chad had so much fun he just assumed this is not 'schoolwork' and so he asks to play Ooka Island after he's all done with his school day.  I haven't said anything to the contrary!!  I love when learning is that much fun for kids!! This is a high quality program, and I was impressed with the many features available. I highly suggest you get a FREE 14 day trial to try it out for yourself.  Then if you're interested in buying a membership, I have some good news:

Click here to go to the Ooka Island website.  It is packed full of information on the program, and several videos to watch as well!  Click here to read more reviews of Ooka Island.

Disclaimer: I received this product free in exchange for my honest review.

~Giveaway-Renuzit Holiday Air Freshener~

A little over a month ago, I received two Renuzit Fresh Accents Holiday Air Fresheners to try out in my home. These are an attractive new air freshener that offer the following:
*Stylish versatile two-sided holiday design
*Two holiday fragrances-Winter Berry and Festive Snow
*30 days of continuous fragrance odor elimination
*No plugs, batteries, or flames needed.
The great thing is that you can get all of this for a third less than competitor's similar products, at around $2.00 suggested retail price!  For more information, go to http://www.renuzit.com/.

The holidays are a great time to have a festive-smelling home-it just seems to put me in the holiday mood! I put my Winter Berry air freshener on top of the entertainment center in the living room, and the Festive Snow in the bathroom. My favorite scent is the Winter Berry-mmmmm.  In fact, it was everyone in the family's favorite.  Festive Snow smells good too, but is more of an earthy, piney scent. The containers are really pretty on both sides, so you can set it anywhere!  It has been more than a month since I set my Renuzit Fresh Accents Holiday Air Fresheners out, and they still have scent!

Now, for the giveaway!!  I have 3 coupons to give away for free air fresheners for my readers!!  You have 4 chances to win.
1. Mandatory: Leave me a comment, letting me know which scent you think you would like.
2.  Become a Google Friend Connect follower (over on the right sidebar), and leave me a comment letting me know you did.
3.  Post this giveaway on Facebook, and leave me a comment with a link to the post.
4.  Blog about this giveaway, and leave me a comment with a link to your blog post. 

This giveaway will end November 11th at midnight MST.  I will announce the winners on November 12th!  Good Luck!!

Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

~Movie Review & GIVEAWAY-The Christmas Lodge~

I love having giveaways, and I happen to have THREE this week for you guys!!  The first one is a sweet movie that really captures the true meaning of the holiday spirit.

Description: Thomas Kinkade presents Christmas Lodge, a place where a heart-warming past and loving future meet for one remarkable group of people. During a weekend trip to the mountains, Mary (Erin Karpluk) finds herself at the now-dilapidated lodge where she spent the holidays with her family growing up. She becomes determined to restore the building to its former glory. Inspired by her grandfather and guided by her grandmother in heaven, Mary throws herself into the project, and during the process finds herself draw to Jack (Michael Shanks), a handsome man who loves the lodge as much as she does. Historically unlucky in love, this chance encounter allows Mary to renew her faith in life and discover her one true love. For an uplifting story about the importance of faith, family and the true holiday spirit, go to the Christmas Lodge.

My family really enjoyed this movie.  It was G-rated, and there is absolutely nothing in it that children could not watch or hear.  It's getting harder and harder these days to find good, quality movies for the entire family to enjoy!  The strength of the family bond and faith in God was the center of this story.  I truly think it is a movie we will watch every year during this season.  If you'd like to take a peek at Christmas Lodge, here is a trailer: http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi1554553881/

And now for the GIVEAWAY!!  I am able to offer one of my readers their own copy of Christmas Lodge DVD!!  You have a chance to have 4 entries!!

1. MANDATORY: Leave me a comment, telling me if you have a favorite movie you like to watch during the holidays and what it is.
2.  Become a follower with Google Friend Connect on the right sidebar.  Leave me a comment letting me know you did.
3.  Facebook about this giveaway, with a link back here.  Leave a comment with a link to your FB post.
4.  Blog about this giveaway. Leave a comment with a link to your blog.

This giveaway will close on November 10, 2011 at midnight MST.  I will announce the winner on November 11th.  Good luck!!

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."