Blessings this Independence Day

Independence Day

I pray blessings for you and your family this Independence Day.  May the Lord continue to guide our country.

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD. Psalm 33:12

We have been listening to  For God and Country (Adventures in Odyssey) and learning about how God has been our Lord in the past. I highly recommend these to you this 4th of July!


(This post contains affiliate links.) 4th of July Sale!

Have you been waiting for the perfect time to join  It’s now!

The special sale for 72 hours only! Beginning July 3, monthly memberships will be only $5.95/month with the first month only $1. This sale will lock new members in to that low monthly rate.

If you’re wondering what is all about, check out this review post.

(This post contains affiliate links.)

From House to Home {Link Party} #125

It’s time for our Link Party:

From House to Home!

Thanks everyone for joining today and sharing your wonderful posts.

I have something brand new I’m adding this week. I really want to pin your posts to my “Favorites From House to Home Link Party” board on Pinterest. It’s the 3rd board on my Pinterest page!  So, be sure the follow the new rules, so I can easily pin them for you.
Visit Gena Mayo @ I Choose Joy!’s profile on Pinterest.

Only 2 rules:

  • Link up family-friendly posts (up to 3 and exact post, not website) about making your house into a home: homemaking, parenting, homeschooling, marriage, loving God! Giveaways, too!
  • Link up Pins for me to repin in the same categories (up to 3). Precede the description with “Pin” so we’ll all know which are blog posts and which are pins.
  • Link back to my site with the button below or a text link. Thanks! (If you don’t link back somewhere on your blog, your link might be deleted. Find the html code on my Link Party page.)
  • Optional: Comment or pin a post or two that you see here!



I Choose Joy!

Follow on Bloglovin


(Post contains affiliate links.)

How to Teach Spelling to a Child With Dyslexia with All About Spelling

As you may know, one of my children has dyslexia. Reading is a huge struggle for her. But so is spelling. I finally realized that is wasn’t just going to “sink in” and I was going to have to find something to help her in this subject.

Spelling is one of the easiest subjects for me. I even won the Spelling Bee in 6th grade!  So, I really didn’t know how to teach her to spell. I didn’t even realize there were many spelling rules to guide our difficult English language until I found All About Spelling.  We have worked through level 1 and part of level 2 at this point. We will continue through all the levels, so that I will know that she will become the best speller she can!


Why do I love All About Spelling?

  • I don’t need to do any prep work. I just grab the All About Spelling Level 1 Teacher’s Book and my 3-ring binder. (See this post to see how I organize my All About Spelling and All About Reading materials). Some days we’ll need the magnetic white board with spelling tiles and/or the box of cards as well. My daughter grabs her 3-ring binder and a pencil.
  • The lessons tell me exactly what to do and say.
  • The lessons are very sequential and include a lot of review.
  • We can do as much or little as necessary each day. I stop if she starts to get particularly frustrated.
  • There are a variety of ways to actually do the spelling: with letter tiles, out loud, or writing on paper.
  • It works!  She is getting better at spelling!

The following graphic gives you an idea about how it works. We make sure she is learning all the phonograms and spelling rules.

What a blessing to have the All About Learning Press company who has gone through the work to put together spelling and reading curricula that really helps kids with learning disabilities.  I love how easy it is for me as a teacher and how engaging it is for the kids. How is it engaging? Through fun and beautiful illustrations, a variety of activities, and bright colors.

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See my other All About Spelling and All About Reading posts to learn more about the program and how we use it in our homeschool.

Pick up a freebie here:

(This post contains affiliate links. I have received complimentary All About Spelling and All About Reading materials in order to write honest reviews.)

Review/Giveaway: Old Fashioned books and DVD

Old Fashioned DVD & books giveaway

Wow–what a great giveaway today! The winner will receive the Old Fashioned movie on DVD as well as Old Fashioned, the novel by Rene Gutteridge and The Old Fashioned Way: Reclaiming the Lost Art of Romance by Ginger Kolbaba.

You can read a detailed review of the movie at this post.  But if you don’t click over there, let me just tell you that my husband and 2 teen sons enjoyed this movie.  It’s not prudish and it’s not a “preachy” movie.  It isn’t what I expected, and I bet it will surprise you, too! It’s rated PG-13.

Today’s review is of the 2 books that are both based on the screenplay written by Rik Swartzwelder.

Old Fashioned is a novelization that Rene Gutteridge wrote.  It was very enjoyable to read!  I haven’t read a “romance” novel in decades, and this one was refreshing. I had already watched the movie, so it was fun to see more details filled in with the book. There were some parts of the plot that the movie even left out. (I wonder if they had been filmed, but then cut during the editing stage?) Just like the movie, the book deals with some adult themes, so it’s not appropriate for kids.  Teens need to start thinking about these issues, however. I think it’s important for them to see the 2 main characters and how the bad choices they made in the past still affect them today. But also how God’s grace can wash over a repentant soul and restore it. It’s a beautiful story of redemption!

Old Fashioned is a paper-back book, 303 pages long. It’s published by Tyndale House.

“Turning his back on his reckless lifestyle, former frat boy Clay Walsh has settled down to turn an antique shop in a small Midwestern college town….and to purse lofty and outdated theories on love and romance.  But when Amber Hewson, a free-spirited woman with a gypsy soul, rents the apartment above his shop, Clay can’t help being attracted to her spontaneous and passionate embrace of life.  Amber also finds herself surprisingly drawn to Clay, but his ideas about relationships are unusual to say the least, and they bring to light her own deep wounds and fears about love.  They say opposites attract, but can Clay and Amber move beyond their differences and their pasts to attempt an “old fashioned” courtship?”

The Old Fashioned Way: Reclaiming the Lost Art of Romance by Ginger Kolbaba is a non-fiction book also inspired by Rik Swartzwelder’s story. The book opens with a “Note” from Rik where he explains why he wrote the Old Fashioned screenplay in the first place and how it all started to come together. The book is written in a devotional format, with 40 days of readings. Each “Day” begins with a quote (sometimes from the movie), about 3 pages explaining an aspect of living the “old fashioned” life of purity and following God’s ways, a Bible verse, some questions to answer in a journal, and a prayer.  It would be a wonderful book for teens or older singles to read through to understand more about what God wants for us, why it’s best, and how to actually do it since it is so against the flow of our society today!

The Old Fashioned Way: Reclaiming the Lost Art of Romance is paper-back, 222 pages. It has several appendices that are quite helpful: discussion starters that could be used in a small group and a list of resources for further study.

“Contrary to popular opinion, being “old fashioned” doesn’t mean you’re dull or unromantic.  In fact, a true old fashioned relationship can be more exciting and romantic than anything you’ve ever experienced!  So what does it mean to do things the old fashioned way?  Sure, it means opening doors, holding out chairs, and taking things slow.  But a true old fashioned romance goes much, much deeper than that.  Inspired by the motion picture Old Fashioned, this book will show you how to reclaim the lost art of romance by introducing you to romantic love as God intended it.  Regardless of your past mistakes, where you’ve been, what you’ve done, or where you are now, you can find and create a love that will last a lifetime!  As you work your way through this forty-day journey of inspiring readings and questions for reflection, you’ll discover all the unique and amazing benefits of doing things the old fashioned way.  And before you know it, you’ll be well on your way to creating a love story for the ages.”
S O C I A L • C O R N E R
Official Website –
Twitter: @OldFashionedVow  #OLDFASHIONEDMOVIE
 Now the giveaway! One blessed person will win the Old Fashioned DVD, novel, and devotional book. Giveaways are only valid in US & Canada. Enter on the Rafflecopter app below. The winner will be chosen on July 8 and will have 24 hours to respond to my email.
Disclosure: (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the products in exchange for this review and post.Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.” This post contains affiliate links.

Review/ Giveaway: Jesus Calling for Little Ones

Another wonderful children’s book is here for a review and giveaway today  .  This one is Jesus Calling for Little Ones by Sarah Young, illustrated by Antonia Woodward.

It’s a “Jesus Calling” book, which means that it comes from the adult book Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence
(which I have written about here).  These devotions are so special because they are written as if Jesus were speaking directly to you.

I have also reviewed (and love!) Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions For Kids, which has shortened versions of the devotions that are in the adult book.

What’s special about Jesus Calling for Little Ones is that it’s written for toddlers.  There are 13 “devotions” to read to your child.  Each one is on 2 pages, with beautiful illustrations, a 4-5 line saying of words Jesus could be saying to your child, and a verse of Scripture.

Jesus Calling for Little Ones

One thing I really liked was that there is a specific phrase for each devotion that is in red. If you are reading to a baby or younger toddler who can only handle a few words per page, these are already picked out for you! You’ll read, “I created everything,” “I know everything about you,” and “I am everywhere!”

Jesus Calling for Little Ones

I’m happy to have a copy of this board book to give away. Enter on the Rafflecopter app below. The winner will be chosen on July 8 and will have 24 hours to respond to my email.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in order to write this honest review.

Pampered Chef Show–with a giveaway!

Hi Friends,

I’m having an online Pampered Chef show–which ends at 5 p.m. CST on Tuesday 6/30/15. Everyone who places an order (assuming we get at least 5 orders) will be placed in a drawing for my favorite Pampered Chef product, the Garlic Press!  I love using fresh garlic in my recipes, and the Garlic Press allows me to “minced” it with lightening speed and not get garlicky-smelling fingers. :)

Go here to browse the catalog and place your order.  All products will be sent directly to you, the guest.

And if you have $70 in orders, you can choose a free BBQ tool or Quick-Stir Pitcher for free.


Review/ Giveaway: Noah’s Noisy Zoo: A Fit-Together Shapes Book


Today I’m happy to share a Review and Giveaway of Noah’s Noisy Zoo: A Feel-and-Fit Shapes Book,
illustrated by stuart Lynch and published by Tommy Mommy.

Tommy Mommy book: Noah's Noisy Zoo

As you can see from the pictures this is a very cute and colorful board book for babies and toddlers.  The shapes of some of the animals are cut into the page and others protrude out, which is why they call it a fit-together shapes book.  These are fun for babies and toddlers to touch, giving them a more sensory experience with the book.

Tommy Mommy book: Noah's Noisy Zoo

The “story” is of the animals who are coming to Noah’s ark: monkeys, owls, snakes, bears, birds, dogs, lions, and frogs.

The only thing I don’t like about the book is the last page which shows a teeny-weeny ark, which is quite opposite of the true size and helps promote the belief to people today that Noah’s ark wasn’t real.

Tommy Mommy book: Noah's Noisy Zoo

I did enjoy reading this book to my 3-year-old and am happy to have a copy to give away.

Enter on the Rafflecopter app below.  The winner will be chosen on Wednesday, July 8 and will have 24 hours to respond to my email.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in order to write this honest review. This post also contains affiliate links.)

Giveaway: WildSmiles Braces- Design Your Smile

WildSmiles Braces

If you’re like me, you have a child in braces, or about to get them! I was so happy to find out about WildSmiles Braces, because I know my daughter will love these when she needs braces in the next year or so.

What are WildSmiles Braces?

They are 6 specially designed brackets (click over to see how neat they are!) that you get on your upper teeth (the ones that show the most) and are available in a variety of fun shapes including Stars, Hearts, Sports Balls, Footballs, Flowers and Super-Diamonds®!  

It helps make braces a little more fun for your kids!  You can mix and match the shapes. WildSmiles are low profile stainless steel braces. They offer a more comfortable feel than other aesthetic braces like clear ceramic brackets.  WildSmiles braces work the same as traditional braces. The only thing that makes them different is that the part that attaches to your tooth is in a cool shape. WildSmiles are made to the highest government regulations and standards in strength, quality, and aesthetics.

If you need braces then you can have WildSmiles. Since WildSmiles work the same as conventional treatment, there is no need to worry. Simply tell your orthodontist that you want WildSmiles. You can also order WildSmiles on their web site and they will ship them to your doctors office!

WildSmiles Braces® were developed and patented by Dr. Clarke Stevens who has always had a keen desire to make orthodontics a positive experience for patients and their families. He leads his office team to provide excellent orthodontics in a fresh and fun environment where everyone, be it patient or staff, is number one!

Have some fun designing your smile here!

You can win a set–worth $150!  Enter on the rafflecopter below. Winner will be chosen on July 12, 2015 and will have 24 hours to respond to my email.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(This is a sponsored post. The prize of a set of WildSmiles Braces will be sent by the company.)

Road Trip to Canada & Maine: Quebec City

Visiting Quebec City

We have recently returned from our annual road trip, 8 kids, 2 parents in a 12-passenger van!  This year we traveled from Illinois through Michigan to Niagara Falls across Canada through Toronto and Montreal to Quebec City.  (We then traveled through Maine to Boston and back across to Illinois.) I will return in a couple of weeks with a special post on our Niagara Falls adventure. Today I’ll share about our time in Quebec City.

We arrived in Quebec City, quite late in the evening. Once we got into the province of Quebec, we noticed that the signs were no longer bilingual, just in French.  We got some carry-out pizza at a local pizza parlor in the downtown area where we were staying.  My husband brought the pizza back to his hungering brood at the hotel, and we all piled in the boys’ room to watch the Blackhawks win game 5!  Later, he asked the hotel manager when Quebec will split off from Canada and form their own country.  He said, “Soon, I hope.”

We checked out of the hotel the next morning and packed the van before heading out on our Quebec City tour.  We had a walking map of the city and also received some help from a very nice local man who seemed to walk the streets looking for tourists to assist!  We walked to a wonderful restaurant called Benedictine and had a delicious breakfast: crepes, eggs benedict, and fancy fruit.  The kids especially liked the goose made of apples.

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We then continued our walk to the old city, which was packed with people.

What a neat place! I really felt like I was in an old town in Europe.  First, we walked through part of the old city wall. We went into a couple of cathedrals (it was Sunday morning and they were holding services).  There were shops galore.  Over by the waterfront was a boardwalk.  If we had had more time, we would have studied more about what we were seeing and spent more time exploring certain sites and buildings. I highly recommend a visit to old Quebec City if you ever get the chance.


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The city wall:

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La Boutique de Noel

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St. Lawrence River

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When we returned to our van at about 1 p.m. It was time to drive to Maine.  Join us next time for: Maine!

(Post contains affiliate links.)

Review: Delightful Planning: A Unit Study Planner for Every Homeschool

One of my favorite bloggers, Marcy Crabtree of has put together a new ebook called Delightful Planning: A Unit Study Planner for Every HomeschoolIf this book interests you at all, you’ll want to pick it up before the end of day on June 30, 2015.  It’s only $5.95 right now and will go up to full price on July 1.

Delightful Planning is 49 pages long.  I had expected it to only be a planner, full of different worksheets (which is has), but didn’t realize that it’s also an ebook explaining all about Delight-Directed Homeschooling, using unit studies, field trips suggestions, and many other techniques for following the delight-directed style of homeschooling. This first section is 22 pages long!  I have followed many delight-directed ideas in my homeschool, as well as used unit studies quite often–and I still learned a lot!  I gained several new ideas I plan to implement.

The last part of the book contains 20 gorgeous worksheets for helping to plan your next unit study.  Some of these are for mom and some are for the kids.  Click over and download some samples.  And remember, the sale ends on Tuesday.


(This post contains affiliate links.)

From House to Home {Link Party} #124

It’s time for our Link Party:

From House to Home!

Thanks everyone for joining today and sharing your wonderful posts.

I have something brand new I’m adding this week. I really want to pin your posts to my “Favorites From House to Home Link Party” board on Pinterest. It’s the 3rd board on my Pinterest page!  So, be sure the follow the new rules, so I can easily pin them for you.
Visit Gena Mayo @ I Choose Joy!’s profile on Pinterest.

Only 2 rules:

  1. Link up family-friendly posts (up to 3 and exact post, not website) about making your house into a home: homemaking, parenting, homeschooling, marriage, loving God! Giveaways, too!


  • Link up Pins for me to repin in the same categories (up to 3). Precede the description with “Pin” so we’ll all know which are blog posts and which are pins.



  • Link back to my site with the button below or a text link. Thanks! (If you don’t link back somewhere on your blog, your link might be deleted. Find the html code on my Link Party page.)



  • Optional: Comment or pin a post or two that you see here!




I Choose Joy!

Follow on Bloglovin

Online Sewing Class


(Post contains affiliate links.)

The Top Tip for Planning Homeschool High School

Top Tip for Homeschooling High School

I did one thing before I started planning homeschool high school for my oldest son that helped me more than anything else.  It watched Lee Binz The HomeScholar‘s free webinar “A Homeschool Parent’s Guide to High School Grades, Credits, and Transcripts!” I learned everything I needed to know in order to help my son through his high school years!  I gained confidence and learned some important things I needed to know.  Below are a few of the topics addressed in the webinar, as well as my answers to those questions.

Homeschool Transcripts

  • What’s the Big Deal about Grades and Credits?  If you don’t give tests, how do you grade their work? How do you determine grades? Why do you need to give grades?

I loved her explanation about how to assign grades.  One idea was “Does their end product frustrate you? Do you feel he could have done better?” I was even able to apply it this year for one of the classes my son took that didn’t include tests.  Grades are important because they are necessary for a high school transcript.  It’s one of the ways that a college can learn about your student and determine whether to accept him into their college (other ways may include an essay or interview, etc.)  The transcript with grades will also be looked at by those determining whether to give your child a scholarship.

  • How to organize and well-document your high school work.

I learned that I not only need to keep track of hours (for classes that aren’t going through a textbook) and grades, but also his community service work, awards, competitions, etc.  Here is a post where I explain how we are going to use a 4-year planner to keep track of everything.  Also, here is a simple transcript program you can use to type everything into and print out to send with college applications.

  • How to make everything “official” so it can be sent to a college.

This was a refreshing.  It’s not as hard as it seems!  You can just type it all out, or use a template like Lee Binz sells or Fast Transcripts.

  • What kinds of credits does my high schooler need? What’s the difference between 1/2 credit and 1 (or full) credit.

I also learned about how to determine whether a class should be considered 1/2 credit or full credit.  Basically, it depends on how many hours the student is working on it.  For example, my son practices violin about 30 minutes a day, plus a 45-minute lesson once a week.  Doing that all school year provides him with 1/2 credit in violin.  For band, however, he has longer rehearsals at school 4 days a week, practices at home 30 minutes a day, and has a 40-minute lesson once a week.  That earned him a full credit in band.  The webinar gives specific numbers of hours to help you determine between 1/2 credit and full credit.

  • You can give high school credit if they are doing high school work– at any age!

I’m glad I learned about this before my son was in 8th grade, because he earned 5 credits during his 8th grade year!

Go here to see the webinar yourself–for FREE and learn about the above plus lots more–just about everything you need in order for planning homeschool high school.

Here are other posts in my Homeschool High School Series to help you in your high school planning:

Post #1: The How-To Book 

Post #2: Choosing the Coursework–What classes should my student take in order to graduate?

Post #3: Using a 4-Year High School Planner

Post #4: Our Curriculum Choices

And now you can learn more about Planning Homeschool High School by blog hopping to these other great blogs!

Meg from Adventures with Jude on Planning Your Homeschool High School

Chareen at Every Bed of Roses with thoughts on Planning to Homeschool through the High School Years

April from ElCloud Homeschool shares Homeschooling High School: Planning For High School

Debra over at Footprints in the Butter asks: You mean I have to PLAN our Homeschool High School?!?

Michele at Family, Faith and Fridays shares Here’s the Plan

Lisa at Golden Grasses says Don’t Panic! Homeshcooling High School Blog Hop

Debbie at Debbie’s Homeschool Corner Planning Out a High School Program

Gena over at I Choose Joy! shares her The Top Tip for Planning Homeschool High School

Kym at Homeschool Coffee Break shares on Planning and Preparing for Success

Tess from Circling Through This Life shares on Planning the High School Years

Erica over at Be The One shares Planning and Record Keeping for High School

Jennifer from A Glimpse of Our Life on Planning For Homeschooling Highschool

Carol over at Home Sweet Life on Making A Plan

Wendy at Life at Rossmont shares thoughts on Planning for High School

Cristi from Through the Calm and Through the Storm shares on Making High School Plans

Dawn Oaks at Double O Farms shares Planning for the High School Years

Leah from As We Walk Along the Road shares her thoughts on Making Plans for Homeschooling Through High School

(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.)

Review: SmartKidz Media

Today’s review is of SmartKidz Media, specifically: SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers.
Some of the subjects on this site are:

Animals & Wildlife Collections
Documentaries & Culture Collections
Health & Fitness
History Titles
Lifestyles & Cuisine
Travel & Adventure: World Wide Discovery Collections
Cooking Instruction
Classical Music Collections
Cultural Music Collections
Cultural Music: Vol 2
Jazz and Blues Classics Collections
Relaxation Music Collections
Mighty E-Book Collection
Sign Language Collection
Special Needs Learning
Living Skills
Fun Zone

SmartKidz Media Review

This is an online streaming program; you go to the website and watch and listen to their many videos and ebooks or play their games.

The first thing you’ll see when looking at the website is that there is a colorful menu bar across the top.  When hovering with the mouse over some, you’ll see a drop-down menu with choices underneath.  These are the Categories: World of Discovery, Music & Fine Arts, Mighty Ebook Collection, Baby Signs Program, My Animal Family, Quick Find Study Guides, Learning Special Needs, Living Skills Program, Ready Set Sing, and Fun Zone.


Here are some of the videos I watched/ e-books I read:

  • World War II The Complete Story– Part 1 Very interesting documentary, easy-to-understand narrator, maps and old footage. I learned things I had never learned before!
  • Classical Music– These were nice to listen to through my phone while driving in the car.  I really enjoyed Brahms and Grieg.
  • Animal Journeys part 3– About the Arctic Tern and Swallow, 10 minutes long, narrated by a lady with British accent. Fascinating stories and video footage about these 2 bird species who have incredibly long migrations.)
  • Bodyforming– An exercise video, which was a little hard to follow because the narrator wasn’t the exercise leader.  It was a bit old-fashioned, think eighties aerobics.
  • Relaxation Music– A wide variety . I listened to some Celtic music and nature’s music (bird chirps and crickets).
  • Flash-Animated Ebooks– There are tons of these! I loved The Real Mother Goose, which was a book I had as a child.  The rhymes were set to music, with a singer singing them and the pictures had some animation to them.  There are also Aesop’s Fables and many other stories.
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  • Baby Signs– Are you teaching your baby sign language? There are lots of videos to help you.
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  • My Animal Family: Fun Facts About Spotted Dolphins The videos in this category were good for my preschoolers.
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  • Bravo Chef: Italian– These were some Italian cooking shows. The narrator wasn’t the chef, so they were a little frustrating to watch.
  • Quick Find Study Guide on the 50 States– (Think “flash cards” for this section. They have some for language arts, math, science, and geography. Those for foreign language and accounting are coming soon.)
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We were out of town for a while during the middle of this review period. I thought it would be perfect for the kids to watch some of the videos when in our hotel room. Unfortunately, I couldn’t ever get the videos to load. I suspected it was the wi-fi that the hotels provided and emailed the SmartKidz company to get help. They emailed back the next day and said that the internet connection shouldn’t matter.  But I was never ever to get anything to load outside our house. So, we only watched them here at home on my desktop computer, which worked just fine.

SmartKidz Media announced they are planning to expand their digital media catalog by adding over 100 hours of video content in the area of History, Science and Documentaries. This content will be available to their membership by July 1st.
They will also be adding several challenging educational online games in the Fun Zone in August and September.
They will continue to add digital media content to the catalog on a regular basis, and when they add content, they will inform their membership of the additions by sending out a monthly newsletter.

You can get a free trial membership so you can check out for yourself to see if the full membership will be good for your family!

Social Media:


SmartKidz Media Review

Crew Disclaimer

How to take better photos of your family


On our recent vacation my husband and I took LOTS of pictures!  I noticed, however, when comparing mine with his, that his were almost always better. Why? Because he has studied photography before. And even when taking a picture very quickly, he was able to make it look great.

Here’s an example of one of my husband’s photos–he took it with his iPhone. Isn’t it gorgeous!

Maine Harbor

It’s so easy for our photos to come out badly! You think you’ve taken a wonderful picture of your beautiful boy standing by himself for the first time, but actually you’ve managed to capture the moment when he falls down and starts wailing! You think you’ve snapped a stunning image of a horse galloping along the beach, but actually it’s just a dark blob against an overexposed background. You think you’ve achieved the perfect shot of your wonderful parents laughing together on their anniversary, but you take a look and you’ve managed to capture… a blur.

If you can relate, I have good news for you! My friends Ryan and Steph at Ultimate Bundles have put together an incredible product to help with your photography woes. It’s called The Ultimate Digital Photography Bundle (Beginner’s Edition), and it contains a curated collection of ebooks and video training guides to help you become a better photographer.

All the resources have been provided by professional, world-renowned photographers who are experts in teaching others – even complete beginners. You won’t need to switch up to a more expensive camera to make full use of the bundle (even if you just use your iPhone for photographs), and you don’t need to neglect your family for weeks upon weeks of training! You can learn everything in little chunks – whenever you have a spare moment.

Click here to see the full range of ebooks and training courses included in The Ultimate Photography Bundle (Beginner’s Edition).

There’s even better news! Everything in the bundle has a combined total value of $555, but for this week only, The Ultimate Bundles Team is selling the entire bundle for just $37 – a discount of more than 90%! What’s more, they’re also throwing in a FREE copy of FX Photo Studio Pro software from MacPhun (which provides stunning filters and photography effects) worth $29.99!

Click here to buy The Ultimate Digital Photography Bundle (Beginner’s Edition) for just $37.  Sale ends 6/29/15.

No blurriness, no exposure nightmares, no bad angles. Just better photos and perfect, happy memories!

(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.)

Summer Blessing Giveaway: 31 Gifts, Essential Oils, Bible Study!

Summer is in full swing! For some of us, it may mean park days and lazy days at the pool. For some of us it may be work as normal. Whatever your situation is, we want to bless you this summer!
Woman to Woman Ministries has teamed up with some fabulous bloggers to bring you the Summer Blessing Giveaway!

Are you excited for this great giveaway?  I am!  One blessed lady will receive:

Jewell by Thirty One Paris Purse in color of your choice $78 value

Jewell by Thirty One All About the Benjamins wallet in color of your choice $48 value

The Quiet Fight Among Women online course donated by Angie Tolpin $36 value

Essential Oil gift certificate donated by A Mama’s Story $15 value

Lilla Rose Freestyle Tiara Flexiclip donated by A Delightful Glow $13 value



Please stop by and support all of our participating bloggers:

Giveaway Rules: No purchase necessary. Must be 18 to enter. Void where prohibited by law. Open to US residents only. This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed, or associated by Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. By entering this giveaway, you agree to release Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Jenifer Metzger and all participating bloggers of all liability. Winning entry will be verified. Contest ends at 12:01am EST on June 28, 2015. Winner is randomly chosen by Rafflecopter and will be emailed.

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Five Easy Ways to Do Outdoor Sensory Play

5 Easy Ways for Outdoor Sensory Play

I have shared “Five Easy Ways to Do Outdoor Sensory Play” over at the Educents blog.  Head over there to find out 5 easy ways to get your kids outside to learn about the world by experiencing it with their senses. It also includes a free printable for an outdoor scavenger hunt!

(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.)

From House to Home {Link Party} #123

It’s time for our Link Party:

From House to Home!

Thanks everyone for joining today and sharing your wonderful posts.  I’ll pin my favorites!
Visit Gena Mayo @ I Choose Joy!’s profile on Pinterest.

Only 2 rules:
1. Link up family-friendly posts (up to 5 and exact post, not website) about making your house into a home: homemaking, parenting, homeschooling, marriage, loving God! Giveaways, too!
2. Link back to my site with the button below or a text link. Thanks! (If you don’t link back somewhere on your blog, your link might be deleted. Find the html code on my Link Party page.)
3. Optional: Comment or pin a post or two that you see here!

I Choose Joy!

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Free Photography Tutorials!

Here are 2 very special free photography tutorial downloads just for those of you who love taking pictures!

For the Beginner – Free Guide to Photo Composition by Katie Evans:


And for the Intermediate/Pro – Free Mastering Lightroom (Develop Module) by Andrew Gibson:


(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links)

CTC Math review

CTC Math Review

CTC Math provided me with the 12 Month Family Plan (U.S. Curriculum).  I was able to set up accounts for all 8 of my children.

We reviewed CTC Math last year, so you can read some other details at this CTC Math review post.  Today I’ll share some of our other experiences with this wonderful math curriculum.

The first thing is that our last membership ended in March.  We didn’t get renewed until May, and I was worried that all of the kids’ work would disappear.  But it didn’t!  It was all still there, so I was able to see which lessons they had completed (and which of those should be repeated because they didn’t score very highly) and which ones still needed to be done.  The dashboard that shows all the math topics and a colored bar to show their “score.”


Almost all of my 8 kids have tried CTC (well, not my 2-year-old!) and have thought it was great!  For this review, it was my 8-year-old son who used it most consistently.  He is definitely the one who enjoys doing schoolwork on the computer the most.  He was doing lessons from both 2nd and 3rd grade.

Here are the lessons available for 2nd grade (those in bold are what he did in the past 6 weeks):

  • Number Patterns & Algebra (whole numbers, addition, subtraction, mental strategies, multiplication, division, fractions, patterns, money)
  • Measurement (length, area, mass, volume & capacity, time)
  • Space and Geometry (angles, plane shapes, position, solids)
  • Statistics and Probability (chance, graphs)

It’s very easy to skip ahead or behind a grade level or more if it’s discovered that a certain concept is too easy or too difficult. He did some lessons in whole numbers and multiplication in 3rd grade. There are also diagnostic tests so you can determine where the student should be.

CTC Math review

I really love that you hear the teacher’s voice explaining the lesson. There are graphics to demonstrate what the concept is.  And then, the kids do the questions.  If they don’t do too well, they can repeat it.  Also, if they get interrupted and have to stop in the middle of the lesson, they can save it.

One thing that was really helpful for me was receiving the weekly email update.  Below is an example of what is included in it:

Social Media:  Facebook:

CTCMath Review


CTCmath Review

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