icRKphJXQm-ezth8lntKydifkDg The Loose Screw: May 2013

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Enter to win an Amish Baking Box from Tricia Goyer and RSVP for her 6/12 Facebook Party!

Tricia Goyer is celebrating the release of her lastest novel, The Promise Box (Zondervan), by hosting an Amish Baking Box giveaway and connecting with readers during her June 12th Book Chat Party!

One "promising" winner will receive:
  • Apron, hot mitts, and kitchen towels
  • Amish baking items (rolling pin, pie plate, etc...)
  • Sherry Gore's Simply Delicious Amish Cooking
  • The Memory Jar and The Promise Box by Tricia Goyer 
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on June 11th. Winner will be announced at the "The Promise Box" Facebook Author Chat Party on June 12th. Connect with Tricia for an evening of Amish fun - book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! Tricia will also share an exclusive look at the next book book in the Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series and give away books and other fun prizes throughout the evening.

So grab your copy of The Promise Box and join Tricia on the evening of June 12th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 12th!

Book Review~Ray of Light

Shelley Shepard Gray is one of my favorite Amish fiction authors, and she has once again written a wonderful book.  Ray of Light is book two in The Days of Redemption series.  I did read the first book of the series, but I think this book could be read on its own.

Amanda is a young Amish widow who lives in Florida with her young daughter.  She doesn't intend to find romance or remarry again.  Roman Keim is  a young Amish man from Ohio, who is vacationing in Florida.  They meet, and there is a definite spark between them.  But there are obstacles getting in their way.  Will they let go of what is holding each of them back from love?  Will they trust God to show them the way to  a new life together?

I really enjoyed Ray of Light.  I enjoyed the setting of Florida, it is definitely different from the farms of Ohio and Pennsylvania.  The characters of Roman and Amanda were well-developed and easy to feel like it was someone you knew personally.  I found it interesting that Roman's family had many issues to deal with, secrets that have been kept from family members.  Often the Amish families just seem so perfect, so this was more realistic to me.   At the back of the book is the 'PS' section with questions for discussion, information about the author and a letter from her, and a sneak peak into her next book.  Go to www.shelleyshepardgray.com to learn more about Shelley Shepard Gray. 

To read more reviews of Ray of Light, click here.  Purchase a copy of Ray of Light at Amazon. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from Litfuse Publicity. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 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, May 29, 2013

Wordless Wednesday~My Sweetheart in his Navy days!

Schoolhouse Crew Review~Paperless Home Organization

Some of us at the Schoolhouse Review Crew have been reviewing e-books from The Simplified Pantry.  We received three e-books: Simplified DinnersSimplified Dinners: Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free, and Paperless Home Organization.  I've spent time reading through all three, but for this review I'm going to focus on Paperless Home Organization.

Why am I focusing on Paperless Home Organization, you might ask?  Because I need help. Badly.  I'm a list maker, and I like to have things written down.  So, you will find many scraps of paper throughout my house with lists.  One of the problems with that method is that they get lost, written on, used to make paper airplanes, chewed by the dog, etc.  You get the point.

I'm also not the most technical person, and I recently got my very own shiny laptop! No more excuses!  This review opportunity came along at just the right time!!  In Paperless Home Organization, the author teaches you how to create a Digital Home Management Binder.  She gives advice on the benefits of going paperless and staying organized.  Ms. Winckler likes to keep things simple, and I appreciate that!  Here are the main tools of her system:
*Google Calendar
*Remember the Milk

To be honest, I'd never heard of Evernote or Remember the Milk.  She goes through, step by step, how to set up these accounts and make them work together, for  your benefit.  I must admit, I was very overwhelmed with all the information at first.  After reading through Paperless Home Organization once, it was handy to have the Appendixes, which included a Quick Start Reference.  There are many samples throughout the book, which I found extremely helpful.

So, how did I do?  Well, I've implemented all of the tools, and I'm getting more comfortable with them.  I think it is going to take me a little while to be fully utilizing everything to its/my full potential.  These tools just have so many great features in them, and being not very computer-savvy, I'm on the slow side.  But I  already see how helpful it is/will be having my home organized digitally.  I've definitely embraced digital home organization, and I'm excited for the day (hopefully soon) when this is all easy every day routine for me.

Paperless Home Organization is available for only $3.99 for Kindle or PDF.  Simplified Dinners (both original and gluten/dairy free) is just $12.99.  Through June 3rd, if you use the code TOS2013 at checkout for any of the e-books, you will get 30% off!!!!

To learn more about Mystie Winckler, she blogs at http://www.simplyconvivial.com/, and her website is http://www.simplifiedpantry.com/.  If you'd like to read more reviews of these ebooks, click this banner:

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Try a New Recipe Tuesday~Easy Butter Bars

I've always liked butter cookies, so these bars sounded good.  If you like mellow, buttery treats then this is for you. I clipped this recipe from a newspaper, and according to them the source of the recipe is feastingfriends.blogpsot.com.

Easy Butter Bars
Nonstick cooking spray
1 package yellow or white cake mix
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 eggs
1 8 oz. pkg cream cheese, softened
1/2 to 1 teaspoon butter flavoring, optional (I did not use this)
4 cups sifted powdered sugar

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat a 9x13 inch pan with cooking spray and set aside.
*In medium mixing bowl, beat cake mix, butter, and one egg with electric mixer on low speed until mixture is crumbly.  Pat into bottom of prepared pan. Set aside.
*In medium mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, remaining eggs and, if desired, butter flavoring.  Beat until smooth. Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until well combined.  Spread on top of crust in pan.
*Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until filling is set and golden brown.  Cool in pan on wire rack. (The filling will fall when it's cooled) Cut into bars, and store, covered, in refrigerator.  (I refrigerated them before I cut them, this seemed to make it easier to cut).

More recipes to try at :

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Schoolhouse Crew Review~Scaredy Cat Reading System Express

For the past several weeks, Chad and I have been reviewing Joyce Herzog's product Scaredy Cat Reading System Express.  Joyce Herzog offers many educational and Christian products, as well as educational services. Her Scaredy Cat Reading System is a mastery-based Phonics program that can be used for all students, even those with learning difficulties.

Chad is dyslexic and struggles with reading.  This past year he has improved quite a bit, but is still a few years behind.  I am always happy to try new programs with him, so that he can find what makes sense to him.  Joyce's reading program has three different levels you can purchase, and then the SCRS Express, which we tried, has all three levels condensed for the more advanced learner. This Express level would also be great if you feel your child may have some gaps and needs to brush up on the rules in reading.  I thought with Chad's age, the Express system would be the best choice for him.  Included in SCRS Express is:
*Teacher training section
*Two multi-use boardgames
*All the stories, word lists, and sentence lists
* The story of Lettermaster mini
*Using Lettermaster as a teaching tool
*SCRS Rules Songs CD

SCRS Express is available for $30 at Joyce Herzog's store.  Download a sample of the SCRS Express here.

The teacher training section has suggestions of different ways to teach the material, ideas for games and use of the word lists.  The Story of Lettermaster is a fun way to get kids to learn rules of letters and spelling.  Chad thought it was very entertaining.  There is also a DVD version you can purchase.  Chad's favorite part of the SCRS Express was playing the board games.  We would take turns choosing a word from the word list, and if the other person spelled it correctly they would roll the dice and move forward.  Here he is in the middle of a game:  

Overall, we both liked this program.  It was very flexible.  We spent about 30-45 minutes 3-4 times a week using it.The teacher training section took a few times of reading over before I felt ready to start the program-it has a lot of information in it!  The only part of the program Chad did  not like was the song CD-we just have a small handheld CD player, and the songs sounded muffled and hard to hear. I'm not sure if it was the CD or our player. Chad has definitely mastered words he did not have mastered before, and I see an improvement in his reading.  This summer, we are going to continue with the SCRS Express program.

Be sure to check out Joyce Herzog's website to see all it has to offer!  Click to read more reviews on the products from Joyce Herzog that the TOS Crew reviewed.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Kick Back and Play this Summer Sweepstakes!

Purex is teaming up with Little Tikes to make parents' lives this summer just a little bit easier with the Kick Back and Play this Summer Sweepstakes. Enter to win prizes including a playground, a washer & dryer from LG, and a year's supply of Purex!

Enter here!  I would love to win that shiny new washer and dryer!! The years supply of Purex detergent and Crystals would be pretty awesome, too.  Of course my grandson, Daniel, would absolutely go crazy over the playground.  Since he is only 20 months old, he would enjoy playing on it for years to come!

Try a New Recipe Tuesday~Silk Berry Smoothie

This is a super simple smoothie I just made the other day.  Have you tried the new Silk Fruit and Protein?   YUMMY!  It comes in Mixed Berry or Strawberry and Banana.

First time, I tried the Silk Mixed Berry with ice cubes.  Kind of like a slushy, OK, but not anything to talk about. Then I tried this:

About 8 oz Silk Fruit and Protein Mixed Berry
a couple ice cubes
about a cup of yogurt*I prefer homemade Greek yogurt, but did not have any made.  All I had was peach lowfat yogurt

Of course, you can also throw in fresh fruits and/or veggies, etc.

Zap in your blender until smoothie consistency-yum, yum!  I think this is going to be my summertime breakfast!!

More recipes over at :

Monday, May 20, 2013

Review and Giveaway~Soft Scrub Mold and Mildew Stain Remover

I've never been disappointed by Soft Scrub products.  Their newest product is Soft Scrub mold and mildew Stain Remover.  This is a gentle solution to those tough mold and mildew stains.  

*No harsh fumes or overspray
*Spray gel that clings to stains
*Cleans tile, grout, tubs and showers

My experience with this product was great!  It worked wonders in the bathroom, and my favorite feature was the spray gel-no spray getting in my face or on me, and it really clings where you spray it! The smell is nice and clean too.

 Besides the bathroom, I've been using new Soft Scrub Mold and Mildew Stain Remover all over the house!  My husband was installing our swamp cooler for the summer.  It had all sorts of stains and build-up from sitting all winter.  He grabbed my new Mold and Mildew Stain Remover and started spraying.  Minutes later, with some elbow grease of course, it was perfectly clean!  Normally, he would have used a harsh spray  (I won't name names) that we happened to not have on hand.  

Next, I happened to look into the sink after he had been doing a bunch of outdoor fix-it projects and was dismayed to find some black goop splattered in my sink.  I sprayed it with my normal all-purpose cleaner, which got some of it off, but not all.  Then I sprayed it with Soft Scrub Mold and Mildew, and it wiped right off.  

New Soft Scrub Mold and Mildew Stain Remover is going to be a keeper in our house-would you like to win your own bottle?? Enter below!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: The Soft Scrub brand provided me with a sample of their new Mold and Mildew Remover in exchange for a product review.  However, all the opinions expressed here are my own.

Review and Giveaway~Grammarics

I'm excited.  I've been reviewing a great product!  All you homeschoolers, parents, grandparents, and teachers are going to love Grammarics!  Grammarics are pictorial representations of rules of English grammar, punctuation, and word usage.  Reading rules of grammar and punctuation has got to be one of the most boring tasks ever!  Learning through pictures sounds much more exciting!  

My son Chad (10), has dyslexia and is very easily distracted.  But he is a visual learner-therefore, Grammarics is perfect for him.  He and I looked through some of them, like the one above, and he was cracking up!  What do you want to bet he is going to remember- those funny cartoons, or a paragraph in a textbook?  

Here's another fun one for you: 
Now, I'm not perfect with my grammar but I do go a little crazy when people make some of the basic grammar mistakes.  This one above (You're vs. Your) is a prime example, along with their vs. there vs they're, etc. So I'm in love with this program!  

Here are some sample pages for you to check out yourself: 

Besides the e-book, Grammarics also has several posters. These would be great for classroom walls in school or at home.  Click here to preview the posters. 
If you are interested in the Grammarics e-book, it is only $9.99.  Posters are just $2.99 each, or a pack of ten posters for $19.99.  Of course, for more information go to www.grammarics.com.


I have FIVE copies of the Grammarics e-book to give away!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received a sample of this product free through Business 2 Blogger in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Book Review~Jennifer: An O'Malley Love Story

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Jennifer: An O’Malley Love Story
Bethany House Publishers (May 1, 2013)
Dee Henderson


Dee Henderson is the bestselling, award-winning author of 15 previous novels, including the acclaimed O'MALLEY series and UNCOMMON HEROES series. These days, most authors are out there energetically promoting their books in print and broadcast and via social media—wherever they can get attention. But Dee Henderson keeps a low profile. She avoids telephone interviews because of hearing problems, declined to provide a current photo, and will say only that she lives in Illinois.


It's a summer of change for Jennifer O'Malley. The busy physician has a pediatrics practice in Dallas, and meeting Tom Peterson, and falling in love, is adding a rich layer to her life. She's sorting out how to introduce him to her family--she's the youngest of seven--and thinking about marriage.

She's falling in love with Jesus too, and knows God is good. But that faith is about to be tested in a way she didn't expect, and the results will soon transform her entire family.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Jennifer: An O’Malley Love Story, go to HERE.

What I Thought: Jennifer is a 'story behind the story' to Dee Henderson's O'Malley series, which I have not read.  It is a quick read, and very easy to get into the story immediately.  Jennifer is a successful doctor, who is falling in love with another doctor, Tom Peterson. Tom is a Christian, and through falling in love with him she is also learning to love Jesus.  She receives some devastating news that will turn her life upside down and test her new found love and faith.  I enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading the O'Malley series now!

Dislosure: I received this book free in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Children's Book Review~Learn to Tie a Tie with the Rabbit & the Fox

Learn to Tie a Tie with The Rabbit and The Fox is an adorable story that helps teach an important skill.  This book is written by Sybrina Durant and illustrated by Donna Marie Naval.  It is a colorful, short story that is very entertaining.

My boys never wear ties-we go to a casual church, and for weddings and such I've always had them wear button-up shirts with no ties or polo shirts.  So, when it was time for my oldest son's first formal dance, he didn't know how to tie his tie!  Guess what? Neither did I!  Thankfully, my husband was there to save the day.  He taught my oldest son, but ever since then it has been on my mind that I need to teach my youngest son (age 10), plus it would be good to learn myself.

I was delighted to find out there was a cute book available to teach us!  Both Chad and I followed the prompts in the story, and we tied our ties!  It took Chad a few tries, but he did it!

Learn to Tie a Tie With The Rabbit and The Fox is available in English, Spanish, and Tagalog, and as an Android phone App.  It is available for purchase through several online retailers, including Amazon.  Click here to learn more about the book and to listen to the accompanying song!  There is also a Rabbit and the Fox Blog and a Rabbit and the Fox Pinterest Board.

Thanks to the author for teaching us how to tie a tie!

*Disclosure: I received this book free in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed here are my own.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A.C.T.S (A Call to Serve) Summer Challenge and Contest

For the next few months, I'm participating in a three-part blog tour from Adventures in Odyssey about their  A.C.T.S. challenge and contest this summer!  This looks really exciting, and I love that kids are being encouraged to serve!  I know that every time my kids have served others, they walk away gaining more from the experience than those they served! This first blog post is devoted to helping kids discover how much fun service can be with AIO's new ACTS challenge and contest! Below is all the information you will need to get started!

Join Adventures in Odyssey this summer to discover how fun it can be to serve others!
Adventures in Odyssey, the beloved audio series from Focus on the Family, has encouraged kids toward a stronger faith for 25 years. Whit, Connie, Eugene, and the other loveable characters from Odyssey have shared countless adventures with kids across the world in the classic audio dramas, books, videos, and devotionals, fulfilling the AIO promise to help kids discover, imagine, and grow.
This summer, Adventures in Odyssey is joining with Christian bookstores across the country, inviting kids to participate in a Summer of Service. They’re promoting the biblical message, “When you serve, everybody wins,” encouraging kids to serve their families, their communities, and their world. Whether it’s baking cookies for an elderly neighbor or putting together a care package for missionaries overseas, kids will discover that serving can be a blast! 
How the A.C.T.S. (A Call to Service) challenge and contest works:
Kids who join A.C.T.S. can pick up a service log and collect fun character stickers for hours served at participating bookstores throughout the summer, or download a serving log online at whitsend.org.  At the end of the summer, kids can record and upload a short video telling how they serve and why they’d like to become an Adventures in Odyssey Ambassador.
A hundred winners will get the brand new AIO Album, and after online voting, two grand prize winners (one boy and one girl) will get to travel on an exciting Good-Goers Mission Based Adventure trip to another country with a parent!  The out-of-country destination will be announced on a live podcast May 22—hosted by AIO actors Katie Leigh (Connie) and Chris Anthony (Chris)—which you can watch at whitsend.org/acts. You don’t want to miss it!

Why serve?
Our culture puts an extravagant amount of energy into raising kids who will grow up to feel good about themselves. In schools, clubs, homes, and even at church, adults have made a decided effort to bolster children’s “self-esteem” –not by actually encouraging kids do something that’s worthwhile, but by simply telling them they are important and valuable.
At the turn of the century, researchers predicted that the next generation would respond to these efforts of raising self-esteem by being filled with optimism and civic duty. Unfortunately, recent research shows the opposite. Kids coming of age today are more self-centered, disrespectful of authority, and depressed than ever before.
In a very real way, then, the best path toward building selfless, confident children is to help and encourage them toward a growing and thriving faith in God. And that includes obedience to what God teaches—not because it makes kids feel good, although it often does—but because they’re following God’s instructions to love Him and serve others. That builds a faith they can count on and carry with them into adulthood—which is the greatest gift any parent can bestow on their child.

Click here to listen to the free downloadable MP3 file of The Busy of Busyness, AIOs service episode AND for a free PDF file of service ideas for kids! 

I hope you'll join us for the Launch Party on May 22nd-looks like fun!  Be on the lookout for future posts, including giveaways!  Let's have a fun summer of service together!

Wordless Wednesday~Crazy hair!

Children's Book Review~Tom T's Hat Rack

I recently had the pleasure to read and review Tom T's Hat Rack, A Story About Paying it Forward (ISBN: 978-0-9887782-2-1)by Michele Spry. It was written for ages 7-12, with 104 pages and almost 30 full-color illustrations, illustrated by Peggy A. Guest.  There are 17 short chapters, making it a great beginning chapter book.  I think ages younger than seven and older than twelve would also enjoy this heartwarming story.

I read Tom T's Hat Rack aloud to my son over several days.  He was excited to learn that the girl in the book is his same age-ten!  The story is about Shelby, a ten-year-old girl who is cared for after school and on summer vacation by retired neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. T, who love her dearly.  Shelby's parents are busy doctors.  Mr. T had cancer, but is cancer-free now.  Shelby used to go with him to all of his treatments.  When Shelby's summer vacation begins, Mr. T has a special project for he and Shelby to work on.  They work hard all summer, and Shelby doesn't know exactly what they are making until the project is just about finished.  Shelby learns about helping others and giving to her community.

Chad and I both enjoyed Tom T's Hat Rack.  It was a sweet story with good morals.  The day after we finished it, we went to the local children's hospital for my daughters yearly checkup for her bleeding disorder.  The oncology department uses the same waiting room, and we were surprised and delighted to see a hat rack just like in the story!  The hat rack was full of hats for children to take if they needed them.  We were both very excited-the timing was great!  The book got my son thinking about what he could do to help others.

To learn more, go to Michele Spry's Facebook Page or visit her webpage.  Purchase Tom T's Hat Rack in paperback or Kindle at Amazon.

Disclosure: I received this book free in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed here are my own.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Try a New Recipe Tuesday~Scalloped Chicken and Pasta

This recipe is quick and easy, from a book called 'Quick Fixes from Brand Name Mixes.'    In the recipe it calls for Pasta Roni brand shells and white cheddar but I think you could use any brand or make yourself.

Scalloped Chicken and Pasta
1/4 cup margarine or butter, divided
1 package (6.2 ounces) Pasta Roni Shells & White Cheddar
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
2/3 cup milk
2 cups chopped cooked chicken or ham
1/4 c dry bread crumbs

1.  Preheat oven to 450.
2. In a 3 qt saucepan, combine 2 1/4 cups water and 2 Tablespoons margarine. Bring just to a boil.  Stir in pasta and frozen vegetables.  Reduce heat to medium.
3. Boil, uncovered, stirring frequently, 12 to 14 minutes or until most of water is absorbed.  Add special seasonings packet, milk, and chicken. Continue cooking 3 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, melt remaining 2 Tablespoons margarine in small saucepan; stir in the bread crumbs.
5. Transfer pasta mixture to 8 or 9 inch glass baking dish. Sprinkle with bread crumbs.  Bake 10 minutes or until bread crumbs are browned and edges are bubbly.

Check out all this week's new recipes:

Monday, May 13, 2013

Review and Giveaway~Soft Scrub 4-in-1 Toilet Care

New Soft Scrub 4-in-1 Toilet Care is the latest product from Soft Scrub to help make your life easier!  This new rim hanger stays in place and lasts for up to four weeks!  With each flush, 4-in-1 Toilet Care cleans, prevents buildup, fights toilet ring, and freshens.  It is available in Alpine Fresh with bleach, and Sapphire Waters without bleach.  I tried the Sapphire Waters.

I must admit, I have not had success with this type of product in the past. When I saw Soft Scrub 4-in-1, I did not think the hanger would stay put on the toilet bowl.  Guess what?  It has been there for over three weeks, and has not budged at all!  Also, I wasn't sure if it was really working at first-it didn't turn the water blue or anything obvious like that.  I did notice a hint of scent with each flush.  After the first week, when I went to clean my two bathrooms upstairs (one with 4-in-1 and one without), there was a big difference!  The toilet bowl with Soft Scrub 4-in-1 looked like it had already been cleaned!

I am sold on this product and will definitely be buying it regularly.  Here's the best news-it costs less than $2 for four week of freshness!  Available at Walmart.

Announcing The Brighter Bowl Sweepstakes!  One lucky winner will receive $1,000, while 250 second place winners get to try NEW Soft Scrub® 4-in-1 Toilet care for FREE!  Click here to enter!

As you can see by the photo above, I have 2 coupons for a free soft scrub product to give away!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Schoolhouse Crew Review~Spanish for You-Fiestas!

Over the past month, Chad (10) and I have been reviewing Spanish for You!, a unique Spanish program for kids in grades 3-8.  What is unique about this program is that instead of teaching Spanish in levels, it is taught in themes.  I chose the Fiestas (celebrations) theme, which includes lessons on:

*The Birthday Party
*Day of the Dead
*Holy Week
*April Fair

Currently available are the Fiestas (Celebrations) theme and the Estaciones (Seasons) theme, with a third theme coming soon!

Spanish for You! was created by Debbie Annett, who has been a Spanish teacher for many years.  She created this curriculum to teach students to speak, read, and write Spanish with a knowledge of how the language works for better fluency.
The themed packages can be used over an entire school year, but are very flexible. You can make the curriculum last at whatever pace is best for your children. Included in the Fiestas package, for $64.95 is a soft cover book or e-book, downloadable lesson plans for all grades, downloadable worksheets, audio files of the entire book, and flashcard/activity downloads.  You can also purchase specific grade packages ( grades 3/4, 5/6, or 7/8) for just $39.95.  Click here for a product sample.

We used our Fiestas materials 3-4 times per week, for about 20-30 minutes each time.  This was just about right for Chad, who can get distracted easily.  As far as the book and worksheets, he did need a lot of help with those as he is at about a 2nd grade reading level due to his dyslexia.

What did we think?  Overall, I really like Spanish for You!  It is a great idea to have themes that span over multiple grades, so you can use it easily for homeschooling different ages together.  I had a hard time at first getting  all the materials figured out-there is a lot to this program, which makes it a good deal for the price!   Once I sorted through everything and got going, things went smoothly.  I like the flexibility of this program.  Chad's favorite part was the audio files.  We've used a few other Spanish programs and this one is the best audio by far.  The speaker's voice was clear and paced well.  Chad knows many words and phrases now, and he was more motivated to learn just because of the Fiestas theme! We will continue on with our Fiestas curriculum!

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Book Review~Reflections of Rosalyn, A Life of Victory

Summary: "Rosalyn is a recent widow facing life alone for the first time in over forty years. She spends time looking back at her life as a young girl, Rosie, and how each episode in her life was a stepping stone to get her where she is today. 

Rosie has a tumultuous childhood and a terrible relationship with her self-centered mother. As a teenager she faces an unplanned pregnancy. Her decision about that pregnancy will shape the decisions she must make for the rest of her life. The first decision she makes is to leave home. She finds work in an assisted living facility, which is the root of many comical interactions. 

The book is a series of flashbacks with events of today reminding Rosalyn of a time in her earlier life as Rosie. This is a book of laughter and tears. There were many times when I, as the author, had to stop writing and compose myself before I could continue. There were just as many when I actually laughed aloud as my characters interacted. 

This is a story that grew from my heart. It is a story of victory. Rosie, the teenager, must overcome many obstacles in her life to become Rosalyn, the woman."

What I Thought: I enjoyed reading Reflections of Rosalyn by Theresa Franklin.  It was a very emotional story, and I quickly became engaged in the story and characters.  Ms. Franklin wrote it with the main character, Rosalyn, having flashbacks of events of her life, which I could see possibly getting confusing for the reader, but I thought she did a good job of making those transitions clear.  It was heartbreaking to read of someone having such a rough, love-less childhood, but it did make Rosie in to the person she became.  

Click here to purchase Reflections of Rosalyn, A Life of Victory

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this Ebook to review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations. I am part of The CWA Review Crew.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Schoolhouse Crew Review~Papa's Pearls

I recently had the pleasure to review Papa's Pearls by Diane Flynn Keith.  I was already familiar with Ms. Keith through her popular websites www.carschooling.comwww.clickschooling.comwww.universalpreschool.com, and www.homefires.com.  She is a specialist in alternative education-if you homeschool, you've heard of Diane Flynn Keith!

Papa's Pearls: A Father's Gift of Love and Wisdom to His Children and Grandchildren is the story of Ms. Keith's own father,  whom she lovingly called 'Papa'.  It tells the story of how he lived as a depression-era street kid, not always making the right decisions, and became a self-made success in business and family life. Papa was a nurturing and loving Father and Grandfather, who always shared his practical advice with his family.  Some of these 'pearls' of wisdom were as simple as 'Get it in writing!'.  Others were deeper advice on how to treat others, such as 'You don't kick someone when they're down, you give 'em a hand up.' Some of Papa's gems of wisdom were downright funny-one of my favorites was 'Keep a Foxy Pocket'. A Foxy Pocket was extra money stashed away, like a fox in the wild will take an egg it has stolen from a duck's nest and bury it to enjoy later.

You can purchase your own autographed copy of Papa's Pearls directly from the author for only $14.97 plus shipping.  Click here to purchase.

Reading Papa's Pearls brought back wonderful memories of my Grandfather, who passed away over ten years ago.  He loved his children and grandchildren so much, and we felt that love.  Ms. Keith's father was the same way.  This book was a reminder to me to appreciate my family and show them love.  I am a new grandma, and I want my grandson to look back and know his YiaYia (grandma in Greek) loved him more than anything.  I also hope he learns some life lessons from me that will help him someday.

Click to read more reviews of Papa's Pearls from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

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Mother of Pearl Day 9 & Pearl Necklace Giveaway!

Pearl Girls McSweeneyWelcome to Pearl Girls™ Mother of Pearl Mother’s Day blog series—a nine-day celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today’s best writers (Tricia Goyer, Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, Beth Vogt, Lesli Westfall, and more). I hope you’ll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother’s Day.

AND . . . do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful handcrafted pearl necklace and a JOYN India bag. Enter at the bottom of this post. The contest runs 5/4-5/13, and the winner will be announced on 5/14. Contest is only open to U.S. residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info, subscribe to our blog, and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl: Luminous Lessons and Iridescent Faith to help support Pearl Girls™.

And to all you MOMS out there, Happy Mother’s Day!

Mother Ship by Melody Murray

Mother Ship (N.) - a ship that serves or carries one or more smaller ships.

Raising two boys in India is quite nice, really. We have monkeys, scooters, plenty of dirt, and mountains. The challenges are comical. I found very quickly on that if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry. It’s been an excellent motto for our three years thus far, one I learned shortly after our arrival here in June of 2010.

We’d been in India for just three days when I had my first major meltdown. Our two boys, ages three and four, were sitting in big plastic buckets in our smelly bathroom, covered with mosquito bites, jetlagged as can be. I was frantically pouring cold water over them, trying to scrub off the India grime that had caked on their scrawny little bodies. I was having to hold them like puppy dogs so they wouldn’t scurry out from underneath the cold water. It was a far cry from the sweet, warm, bubbly, happy bath time we’d experienced together for the past four years in the States! Talk about culture shock. They were in shock. I was in shock. I’m sure the neighbors were in shock, too. I’m not sure my boys have ever seen me scream, cry, and stomp that much. Thank God it is just a memory now.

Somehow, by God’s grace, we’ve figured out life here. It looks much different than I had ever thought it would look, especially as a mother. We don’t go to the library, make elaborate crafts, play T-ball, shop at Target, sing in church choir, or take family bike rides. I have had to redefine my ideal upbringing for my children and have had to let go of many expectations. But I’ve managed to grasp hold of a new set of dreams.

My children are global kids. They have an incredible adventure every day. They see the “majority world” firsthand. I think they are some of the most privileged kids I know. I’ve stopped feeling sorry for myself that my kids don’t get to go to ballgames or have a huge tree house or wear cute clothes. Why focus on what I think they’ve lost, only to lose sight of what they’re gaining?
My attitude shift didn’t come easily. I can be quite stubborn. I clung to what I knew and what I thought was “normal” and “right,” as all of us moms do. I’d cry after phone conversations with friends back home who had their children signed up for karate, soccer, and swim lessons, with loads of choices for good schools, churches, and neighborhoods. I had nothing of the sort available for my kids, and I felt bitter and resentful.

But then I slowly began to change. Slowly, after months of getting over culture shock and cold baths, we began to love this place and the people we were with. We began to know them, understand them, become like them. Our community here became our family. Just this week, I’ve been sick with an awful kidney infection, and my living room has been full of my Tibetan, Nepali, and Indian friends, bringing me food, rubbing my feet, playing with my children, washing my dishes. I’ve never experienced community in this way before. My boys are loved so well by so many. And they are learning how to love back, even when it’s not easy.

My attitude shift didn’t come quickly, but when it happened, it took a 180°. I realized how wrong I’d been. These people I live with—their kids don’t have organized sports, church choirs, or fancy vacations either. Their kids aren’t signed up for after-school activities and aren’t becoming multi-skilled elementary school prodigies. Yet, in spite of this, they are content. Like none I’ve ever seen. They love each other. Like none I’ve ever seen. They have very little, yet they have so very much.

In the western world of comparisons and endless striving, I believe we sometimes lose touch of the things we actually care most about. I know most of us moms actually don’t care whether our children are the best at T-ball or whether their crafts look better than the next kid’s. But I think we all care deeply that our kids are loved, and that they know how to love. We all have a common dream that our kids will grow up to be world-changers, to strive for what is right, to love the unloved, to see the world in a different way. These are the deepest dreams of moms. So let’s not forget that the most important things we can give our kids are not the things we can buy them or sign them up for. One of the greatest gifts we can give to our children is to give them sails, let them explore new things, meet new people, and learn to make lasting change in this world.

So join me this Mother’s Day. Let’s all be “mother ships,” leading our kids to new adventures, new beginnings, new relationships. Let’s serve and carry our little ones to places they can only dream of, whether it be making dinner for a neighbor, smiling at the homeless man in front of the grocery store, volunteering at a soup kitchen, or moving to India. Let’s take them with us and teach them how to sail.

“A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.” —Grace Murray Hopper


068In June 2010, an opportunity arose to work with a small needy community in the Himalayas, so David and Melody Murray and their two young boys packed their bags and moved to Rajpur, North India. Mel has grown JOYN, fulfilling her passion to connect artisans with western markets. They now have a diverse and growing team of Americans, Australians, Indians, Tibetans and Nepalis working together to create a community that strives to take care of each other and bring opportunity to as many as they can. Visit her website for more information.

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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Review and Giveaway~MAS Detergent & Mother's Day Sweepstakes!

Have you ever heard of MAS laundry detergent?  I had not heard of it before, and recently had a chance to try it out.  MAS is the leading liquid detergent in Mexico, and is available for the first time in the US at Walmart!  MAS is made by the Henkel brand, which produces Purex products as well.  There are two different MAS detergents, click on each to learn more:
MAS Color
MAS Oscura (Darks)

I tried MAS Color, which has the Renew Effect to protect and renew your clothes wash after wash.  I've been very happy with it, it has a nice fresh smell and my clothes are clean and bright.

Mother's Day is tomorrow!  My Mom is my best friend-she's been there for me through thick and thin.  I strive to be just like her-caring, loving unconditionally, and kind.  I know she will be there for me if I'm having a rough time, or will be excited along with me when something good happens. Although we live far away from each other, we talk on the phone every day, and she is always in my heart.  Happy Mother's Day, Mom!!

MAS is having a Mother's Day Appreciation Sweepstakes for all the hard-working, laundry-washing Moms out there.  It runs through May 31, and you have a chance to win $1000!!  Click here to enter. Good luck!

MAS detergent provided me with three $1 off coupons for their detergent.  I need to warn you-they are written in Spanish, but I had no problem using them here in Utah at Walmart.  If you would like one, just comment below with your email and I will contact you to get your mailing address.  The first 3 people who ask will get a coupon!