icRKphJXQm-ezth8lntKydifkDg The Loose Screw: February 2012

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Freschetta Rally for Real Pizza!!

Freschetta has something fun going on right now-Rally for Real Pizza campaign! When my family first tried Freschetta, we loved it!  It is so fresh, and the crust is our favorite!  Friday or Saturday nights are usually pizza night at our house, and to save money, we buy frozen pizza.  Well, Freschetta is what we get-every week! Our favorites are Naturally Rising crust in 4 cheese and pepperoni. Other brands can't compare to Freschetta.  Freschetta pizzas are made with top-quality ingredients and taste-tested recipes. 

You can join the Freschetta Rally for Read Pizza by submitting a photo to the Rally Mosaic on Facebook.  Each week 100 winners will be selected, to each receive 5 Freschetta pizzas!  Also, each week they will select 10 winners to receive Freschetta pizza for an entire year!!  Wouldn't that be great??

Disclaimer: I occasionally receive compensation in the form of products for posts. However, the opinions I share are solely my own.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Curriculum Review: All About Reading

Thrilled is how I felt when I found out I was going to be reviewing All About Reading level 1 from All About Learning Press.  I already had a wonderful experience with their spelling program, All About Spelling, so I knew this would be another high quality product.
Chad has dyslexia, and I have learned that multisensory approaches work best with him. All About Reading is multisensory, and based on the Orton-Gillingham approach and the latest research. Lessons are mastery-based, so your child can go at their own pace and feel proud of their accomplishments at the end of every lesson.  All about Reading is a scripted program, meaning parents and teachers can just pick it up and teach with no preparation time.  The only items you need to have ready from  your own supplies are crayons, scissors, glue, tape, stapler, and a 2'x3' magnet board. 

Included in the All About Reading Level 1 Kit (pictured above) for $99.95:
*Teacher's manual
*Student Packet (includes activity book)
*Three hardbacked readers (Run, Bug, Run, The Runt Pig, and Cobweb the Cat)

The Deluxe Interactive Reading Kit (pictured above) is $48.95 and includes:
*Letter tiles
*Magnets for letter tiles
*The Basic Phonograms CD-ROM
*Reading Divider Cards
*Reading Review Box
*Reading Tote Bag
*Smiling Star Stickers

I received both the kits above, but there are other options.  You can purchase a Basic Interactive Reading Kit, and/or purchase many of the supplemental items individually to create your own kit. Click here to see the different options.
I wish All About Learning had been around when my teens were first learning to read and spell. It is the most thorough, complete, well-laid out program I have ever used. Chad is already reading, but at a beginning level, so we dove into Level 1 and found he knew a lot of it, but also needed to brush up on some things! After moving quickly through the first 20 lessons, I found the lesson he needed to be at, and he has been making great progress!  He has a hard time with blends, and All About Reading Level 1 has been a great help. Another great resource I found on the website is the Reading Resource Center, full of all sorts of great help for parents. 
All About Learning has a 100% money-back guarantee, and comes with lifetime support.  They truly want you and your child to succeed, and are there to help you. I HIGHLY recommend All About Reading, and all of the products/programs at the All About Learning Press

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

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Product Review~Beeyoutiful

I must admit, I don't go out of my way to purchase all-natural products.  But when I can find products that are all-natural that work well and are affordable, I get excited!  It feels good to provide my family with all-natural products.  Beeyoutiful can help you do just that for your family!   They have a wide range of natural products, including:
*essential and nutritional oils
*Hair and skin products
*Children's and Baby products
*Baking Supplies

Beeyoutiful.com is a very informative website.  You can shop for what you need by health concern, and there are articles, blogs, and a forum. They have a clearance section, value packs to purchase, and they produce a print catalog.  All of these items are available on the website. 

I was provided two products to try.  The first one was B.A.L.M. (Beeyoutiful All-natural Lip Moisturizer) in Peppermint (they also have Orange flavor). The ingredients are organic grapeseed oil, organic shea butter, beeswax, and peppermint essential oil, and the price is $3.00 each or 3/$2.70 each.  The lip balm is very creamy and soothing, but not too overpowering with the peppermint scent. I want to try the orange flavor next.
Next I tried the Winter Breeze Vapor Rub.  Here is the description from the website:
'Breathe freely again -- naturally. A healthy version of the vapor rub mom used to spread on your chest and under your nose, Winter Breeze uses body-friendly coconut and olive oils -- along with beeswax -- as carriers for the camphor, menthol, eucalyptus, wintergreen, and tea tree oils known for their abilities to clear mucus and help heal upper respiratory and bronchial infections.' The price is $18.00 for 4 ounces, and there are price reductions based on the quantity you buy. Fortunately for us, but unfortunate for this review, nobody was sick in our home during this review time frame. But, I did try it on myself.  I immediately noticed that the scent was much milder than the leading commercial vapor rub, and it wasn't at all greasy.  I would definitely choose this product over other vapor rubs.
I enjoyed my Beeyoutiful products, and I am eyeing some other products I'd like to purchase soon.  If you'd like to read reviews on some other Beeyoutiful products (we all got different items), click here

Disclaimer: I was given two products to try in exchange for my honest review. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Book Review~The Captive Heart

When I found out that I was going to be reviewing The Captive Heart by Dale Cramer, I realized it is the second book in The Daughters of Caleb Bender series.  So while I was waiting for my copy to arrive, I went to the library and checked out the first book in the series, Paradise Valley.  I was hooked!!  I flew through that book and couldn't wait for The Captive Heart to arrive!  When it did, I devoured it as well. 

I'll be honest, I had never read anything by Dale Cramer, or read any Amish book by a male author.  I just wasn't sure if I'd enjoy it.  Mr. Cramer is one of my new favorite Amish fiction writers now! His father was old-order Amish. You can read more about him and his books here.

Captive Hearts is based on actual events, about a group of old-order Amish who flee their homes to relocate in the mountains of Mexico, in order to keep their children from being forced to attend public school.  This was a very unsettled time in Mexico, and extremely dangerous for the gentle Amish people. The newcomers have many problems adjusting to their new lives.  The book was very well written, flowed wonderfully, and had just the right mix of danger, mystery, and romance.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I hope Mr. Cramer is planning another book in this series!

*I received Captive Hearts for free from Bethany House Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

Curriculum Review: Apologia's Who Am I?

I have had the pleasure of using Apologia Educational Ministries products in the past, and I have found them to be very high quality.  I have never been disappointed with a purchase from Apologia. Many homeschoolers associate Apologia with science, but there is so much more!  Members of the TOS Crew reviewed the Who Am I? , from the What We Believe series.  It was like Christmas morning at my house when the box arrived! 

The What We Believe series is about teaching your children the essential beliefs of the Christian faith.  The collection is saturated with scripture, and your kids will learn to use scripture as a tool to see the world. 

Who Am I? is the second book in the series.  The entire series is:
Who Is God?
Who Am I?
Who Is My Neighbor?
and What On Earth Can I Do? (to be released soon)

From the Apologia Press website, here is a description of Who Am I?:
"The second book in the What We Believe series, Who Am I? (And What Am I Doing Here?) helps children understand what it means to be fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of the Most High God. This study will enable students to develop a healthy self-image based on these biblical truths: God made me in His image and crowned me with glory; He has given me special gifts and a unique purpose in life; I can creatively express God's love; I am meant to think about beautiful and praiseworthy things, especially God and His Word; I must make decisions based on God's truth; I can always know the wise thing to do; I must cultivate the fruit of the Spirit in my life; I am a beloved child of God whose true identity is found in Christ."

This hardcover textbook is for the entire family, but written to students at a 6-14 year old level.  There are eight lessons total, which can each be covered within two weeks, or at your own pace.  Each lesson has these components:
The Big Idea (introduction/overview), What You Will Do (learning objectives), Short Story, Think About It (questions to answer), Words You Need To Know, Hide It In Your Heart (Bible verses to memorize), What Should I Do, Prayer, Worldviews In Focus, What's the Difference (discussion questions), and House of Truth (hands-on memory aid only in four of the eight lessons).  The price for this text is $39.

Who Am I? is colorful, engaging, and full of wonderful lessons.  For our family, Chad enjoyed it (especially the short stories),  but we found his attention span didn't last long. Also as he is not a strong reader yet,so he had to have it all read aloud to him.  I think in another year or two this will be a perfect bible study for our family to do together!
To go along with the main text, there is also a Who Am I? Notebooking Journal, which retails for $24.  It is again very high quality, color pictures, and full of engaging activities for children.  The Who Am I? Audio CD, which presents the text in audio form, is available for $19.  This is a nice option, although it is not a standard CD, it is MP3-compatible.  If it does not play on your CD player, it will play on your computer.
We also received the Who Am I? Coloring Book, which at $8 is a great addition to round out the collection. 

Now you can see why it was Christmas at our house when our Who Am I? set arrived!!  The quality of these books makes them a great deal for the prices, and I recommend them to any family looking for a thorough, strong bible curriculum or family study.  I am planning on purchasing the first set in the series, Who Is God?, next!  Make sure to check out the Apologia website for tons of information and resources, as well as sample pages for the products I described above.  If you want to read more reviews of Who Am I?, click here.

Disclaimer: I received these products in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

~Wordless Wednesday~

This is an old one from 2007, featuring our (now deceased) dog Raley, who thought he was petite enough to relax in the cat's bed:)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Winner~Cooper and Me and the Military!

The winner of Cooper and Me and the Military is....
Judy!!  I have emailed Judy with further instructions.  Congratulations and thanks for entering!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Free Purex Sample available!

It's back!  Click here to get your free sample of Purex!  I don't know how many samples are available, so hurry over to get yours before they are gone!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Curriculum Review: ALEKS

What is ALEKS?  The following is from the ALEKS website:

Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces is an online mathematics program that provides personalized learning and assessment tailored to a student's individual needs. Using artificial intelligence and adaptive, open-response questioning, ALEKS quickly and accurately determines what a student knows and is most ready to learn within a course. Learn more by watching a quick 2 minute video.

With a comprehensive course library ranging from elementary school math to complex subjects such as PreCalculus, ALEKS acts much like a human tutor to help take the stress off of homeschooling parents.

ALEKS offers highly-targeted, individualized instruction from virtually any computer with Internet access, making it a comprehensive and mobile education solution for students in grades 3-12. A subscription to ALEKS offers access to all courses and students may take as many courses as needed during their subscription period.

When I found out I was going to review ALEKS, I was a bit concerned.  ALEKS is for grades 3 and up, and Chad is doing 2nd grade math this year due to his delays.  When we took the assessment though, the program kept adjusting until it found what he could do, and then found plenty of areas for him to work on.  The picture directly above is what the parent's master account looks like.  Each child also has their own account.

After the initial assessment, the child has their own pie chart, which shows what they have mastered and what they need to work on.  They can then choose which items they want to work on that day.  Chad liked having the choice to pick what he wanted to do, instead of Mom telling him.  Here is the pie chart:

While working on problems, the ALEKS program is constantly adjusting to meet the needs of the student.  I really think that is amazing!  I'm not the best at understanding technology, but I'm really impressed with that.  The child gets immediate feedback, and the parents get a report by email on what the child has learned/accomplished that week.  When the child takes a quiz, parents get the results right away. 

How much does ALEKS cost?  A subscription to ALEKS costs:

$19.95 per student, per month, or

only $99.95 every 6 months, or

only $179.95 every 12 months.

Learn about their family discount program.
You can also request a free 2-month trial by clicking here.  Two months is a long time for a free trial, and would really give you a chance to decide if ALEKS is for your family. 

Overall, I thought the ALEKS math program would be a great math curriculum or extra resource.  To read more TOS crew reviews of this program, click here.

*Disclaimer: I was given a free trial of ALEKS in exchange for my honest review. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

AWESOME 99% savings at Walgreens today!!!

I am SOOOO excited, and set for hair styling products for a long time!  Walgreens is currently offering a buy 1/get 1 free on all got2be styling products, which are $5.99.  I scored a bunch of $3 off coupons, so here's what happened.....

12 assorted got2be styling products @ 5.99 each=$71.88-(6) free=$35.94-(12) $3 off mfg coupons= -$.06 (but Walgreens won't do overages, so $0.00
Gillete Fusion Proglide razor bonus pack $9.99-$5 mfg coupon-$4 register reward=$0.99
St. Joseph aspirin $2.00-$2.00 register reward=$0.00

Total regular price=$83.87, total paid* =$0.99=99% savings!!! 

This deal is going on at Walgreens with the got2be products through 2/25, and you should have received a $3/1 coupon in the Redplum ad that we in Utah get delivered in Tuesday's mail, but others I know get with their Sunday paper.

I usually don't include taxes in these, so just so you know they made me pay tax ($1.64) on the products I got free, which brought the percentage down to 98%. Still great! I'm going to be doing a happy dance for days over this one!! 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Book Review and Giveaway: Cooper and Me and the Military!

A few months ago, I reviewed 'Cooper and Me and the Winter Adventure'.  Chad and I really enjoyed the fun characters in it.  Now, another Cooper and Me book is here!!  It is called 'Cooper and Me and the Military'.  

In this story, you will learn about Cooper's best friend, Trooper, and how he was adopted by a military family.  Also discussed in 'Cooper and Me and the Military' is how the kids in the family feel when their parents are gone serving our country, and the things they can do to stay close.

At the end of the book are a Life Lesson to go over with your child, Connections,  and Learning Together (questions about the book and the feelings your child might have).  Special in this book is 'My Letter', a fill-in-the-blank letter for your child to write, with an email address to send to the troops overseas!  Chad is really excited about sending his letter!!

Reading 'Cooper and Me and the Military' began a great discussion at our house.  My husband Jeff was in the Navy in the early years of our marriage, during the Persian Gulf War, until our oldest child was 1 1/2 years old.  We don't really talk about his time in the military very much, except the occasional mention of a country he has been to.  I realized our youngest, Chad, had no idea what his Dad did to serve our country.  We had a great conversation, and Chad enjoyed learning about his Dad's service.

To learn more about 'Cooper and Me and the Military', visit these sites:

*Website: http://www.cooperandme.com/

*Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cooper-and-Me-Inc/214695101924101

*Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/cooper_and_me

Now, for the giveaway!!!!

One Loose Screw reader will win a copy of 'Cooper and Me and the Military'! It's simple to enter:
1.  Just leave a comment below!
For one additional entry each, you can do the following (must leave a comment for each entry letting me know what you did:
* Follow me on GFC (right sidebar)
* Follow me on Twitter (right sidebar)@athenalang
* Tweet about this giveaway
* Blog about this giveaway
* Post on Facebook about this giveaway

The winner will be drawn at random on February 17, 2012 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.”

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Product Review~MathRider

I'm very excited about this math game for kids! There are many ways out there you can practice your children's math facts with them, such as flash cards.  Do your kids like flash cards?  Mine do not!  Anytime we can play a fun game though, they are all for it, especially computer games!  MathRider is a latest generation math game for ages 6-12.  Direct from their website:
"Ride your horse on noble quests through the magical MathLands. MathRider combines fun math game play with a highly sophisticated question engine that adapts to your child. The game propels your child to mastery of all four math operations using numbers 0 to 12 in record time."

This game was created by parents who wanted to improve their children's memorization of math facts in a fun way.  You can choose from addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.  Your child begins a 'quest', complete with storyline, and then rides their horse toward obstacles. A math problem will appear on the screen and they must solve it correctly to jump over the obstacle.  I was very impressed with how the program adjusted to how well Chad was doing.  It sped up as he was doing well, and it also repeated problems more frequently that he got wrong.  Parents can check their child's mastery level and know exactly which problems need more practice. Click here to learn more about how MathRider is played.

Chad loves MathRider!  He enjoys the challenge of completing the quest, and has even played the game during 'non-school' time!  I have noticed a big improvement in his memorization of math facts, especially subtraction, which he wasn't too strong with.
I love that Chad can do this on his own, has fun, gains confidence, and is learning!  It is much more pleasant to have him play MathRider than make him do flash cards!!

MathRider is very affordable.  It is available for Windows and Mac OSX as an instant download for only $37!  That is a great price, considering it is yours forever to use with as many children as you want.  This price is only good until February 25th, when the price will increase to $47.  You also have a 30 day risk-free guarantee when you purchase MathRider.  Want to try it out first?  Go to the MathRider website and click on 'Try MathRider now!' for a free 7-day trial.  Click here to read more crew member's reviews of this product.

*Disclaimer: I received a trial of MathRider in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, February 6, 2012

So very sad.......

A few years ago, I wrote this post about the disappearance and search for wife and mother Susan Cox Powell, who still remains missing.  I didn't know Susan personally, but was connected by a few people. One of my first friends when we moved here to Utah, who is a fellow homeschooling Mom and did co-op with me, is Susan's sister-in-law.  She was estranged from her brother Josh, believing he was involved in Susan's disappearance. Susan's best friend, Kiirsi, is a fellow mom at the dance studio we have been part of for years. The family's most important goal was to make sure the boys, Charlie and Braden, now 7 and 5 years old, were safe.

Yesterday, we got some horrible news.  Josh Powell killed himself and his sons in a double murder/suicide.  The boys were living with their grandparents in Washington state, where Josh had relocated, but had lost custody of the boys.  Yesterday was his supervised visitation, and he shoved the caseworker out of the house, locked the door and blew everything up. 

Everyone is shocked and horrified, of course.  My heart goes out to the families and friends who are grieving this horrible loss. I cannot imagine what they are going through.  Please everyone, hug and love on your kids extra and pray for comfort and peace for this family and friends of Susan and the boys.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Awesome Target trip #2!

So yesterday I showed you my first Target trip, when I saved 71%.  This second trip was a great savings too!  I hope this isn't horribly boring to you-personally, I love seeing what deals people score!  My big dream is that they would double coupons where I live, so I could have 90%+ savings trips to the grocery store!  Oh well, maybe some day.

The Breakdown:

Kids winter knit hat $12.99 reg, clearance $3.88
Ladies Merona top $16.99 reg, clearance $8.48-$3 Target coupon=$5.48
Hanes Boys Sweatshirt(stocking up on bigger sizes)  $6.99 reg, clearance $2.08
(2)2pk. ceramic bowls, that match my nice dishes that I love!!! Soooo excited, they didn't have them when I got the dishes a few years ago!! $6.99/set reg x 2=$13.98, clearance $3.98/set x 2=$7.96
(3)Purina One dog food 6lb. reg $6.49 x 3=$19.47-(3)$5 mfg coupons=$1.49/bag x 3=$4.47

Total regular price=$70.42
Total price paid=$23.24
% savings=67%!!
I paid with my Target red card (debit comes directly from your bank, not a credit card) so I got another 5% off=$22.68, a 68% savings!!

Tulip the puppy is set for food for quite a while (very inexpensively!), and Chad will have a bunch of bigger sized sweatshirts for the next few years!

My suggestions: Study your ads, clip coupons, go online to get manufacturer and Target coupons, stack store and mfg coupons together on sale/clearance items, check out the clearance areas of the store, and use your Target red card!  Fyi, Target does have a system to how/when they mark down their clearance items.  Of course I can't find that info right now, but I will post it as soon as I track it down!  Happy Saving!

UPDATE!!!! Christy at Thrifty and Thriving has graciously shared her Target markdown and clearance items schedule with us.  Might I suggest you also check out her 20 Days of Target Training, which is jam-packed with all the info you need to get the best deals at Target!!  Check out the rest of her site while you are there-I get a lot of my information on deals from her site, emailed right to my mailbox daily!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Awesome Target trip #1

I've gone to two of our local Targets to score some clearance deals and stack manufacturer and Target coupons.  You can really get great deals that way!  Here is my haul from the first trip:
The Breakdown:

Woman's Merona shirt $14.99 reg, $7.48 clearance-$3.00 Target coupon=$4.48
(3) Hanes Boys Sweatshirts $6.99 reg x 3=$20.97, on clearance $2.08 each=$6.24
Toddler girls sleepwear $5.00 reg, on clearance $1.26
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs  $14.99 reg, on sale $7-$3mfg coupon=$4.00
(2)Krave cereal $4.25 reg each=$8.50, sale $2.50 x 2=$5, stacked $1/2 Target and $1/2mfg coupons, $1.50 each=$3.00
(3) MP tomato soup $0.64 reg x 3=$1.92-$1 Target coupon, $0.31 each=$0.92
Up&Up liners, 64 count * $1.97 reg-$1 Target coupon=$0.97*
*I can usually get a box of 20ish liners for less than .50 with sales and coupons, so although this is more than I'd usually spend, it is a large quantity so an awesome deal!

Total regular price of products: $68.34
Total price I paid: $20.87
% Savings: approx. 70%  Woohoo!!
Then I pay with my Target redcard debit card (goes straight from your bank, not a credit card) and got another 5% off, bringing my total to $19.83, a 71% savings!

I can't stress enough going to Target's website and print out their coupons, stack them with manufacturer coupons and sales!!

Another Target haul coming tomorrow.........

HOT Michael's coupon!!

If you love the craft store Michaels, then you are going to want to print this coupon for $5 off of a $5 purchase!!  It is good today and tomorrow only, Feb.3-4.  The interesting thing is that I was able to print multiples of it-that way the kids can get something, and Mom can get something too!  Have fun crafting!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

TOS Review~KinderBach

KinderBach provides you with a way to teach your children aged 3-7 how to play the piano, as well as music basics such as note reading, rhythm, singing, and composition.
There are currently six levels available of entertaining music education, which is equal to about 22 hours of video and interactive coloring pages!

Research has shown that music helps with the development of math and language skills.  It has also been discovered that children who study piano specifically have more success in their later education!  These children outperformed non-musical children with up to 80% higher scores in other areas. 

I was very impressed by this program!  There is so much available, basically a program can be created to please everyone!!  You can choose the online lessons (over 240 sessions!) using your computer, iPad, Android Tablet, Kindle Fire, or Nook.  You can also choose to use the DVD packages, as well as CDs, songbooks, coloring books, games, and more!  There is a lot to choose from!

Personally, KinderBach is a bit babyish for my 9 year old son (the program is recommended for 3-7 year olds), but he still learned a lot!  If you have preschoolers, they will LOVE the fun songs and cute characters!
Online lessons start as low as $7.99 for a one-year membership (you can buy a one-month membership as well), DVD with CD packages start at $40.45 plus shipping, CD packages are $23.95 plus shipping, and there are several low-priced (some even free!) games, crafts, and coloring books. There is also a classroom KinderBach program available that would be perfect for piano teachers and preschools!

I love this-KinderBach has a No-Hassle Return Policy for DVDs & CDs as well as a satisfaction goal for web members.  All Products carry a 30 day Money Back Guarantee, and all of their disks have a lifetime replacement if they are broken or damaged for any reason!!  You don't find that very often!  KinderBach obviously wants you to be 100% pleased with your purchase!

Kinderbach also has a free online trial if you want to try it out before purchasing.  When you are ready to purchase, here is a coupon code that is good for one year, giving you 30% off any order: TOScrew2012

Check out Kinderbach on Facebook for more information on this great program!  Click here to read more reviews of Kinderbach by my fellow TOS crew members.
*Disclaimer: I was provided with a free trial of KinderBach in exchange for my honest review.