Advent is Coming: “Celebrate Jesus” is on Sale!

 Advent is coming! Use this daily schedule of Scripture, songs, activities and more to celebrate Adv

I did a review of this wonderful resource last year.  Read all about it here!

Or just look at a few pictures here:

Snow suit, book reviews 022

Celebrate Jesus 003

Snow suit, book reviews 024

(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.)

Schoolhouse Review Crew Blue Ribbon Awards!


As you may or may not know, I have been a part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew since this time last year.  The purpose of the Crew is to review educational products from different companies who want to target the homeschool audience.  We are a large number of mom bloggers, so there are enough of us that we don’t have to review every single product.  These reviews are usually a bit more intense than the other reviews I do because we are required to use them for 6 weeks with our child (or children).  I noticed that by looking at the awards offered for the number one reviewed products this year that many of the top ones I didn’t even get to review!  So, maybe I’ll have to pick those next year if I get the opportunity!

But today I’d love to award the Blue Ribbon to my favorites that I did review this year.

First, I’ll list the reviews with their links so you can read about them if they interest you:  a website with numerous courses on it

KinderBach- online preschool music (My 4-year-old’s favorite!)

Motivated Moms- ebook and app daily chore planner (actually tells you what to do each day!)

Talking Shapes- preschool app to learn about letters

Amazing Science DVDs- fun science demonstrations (My 8-year-old’s favorite!)

If He Had Not Come- Christmas book about Jesus

Egglo- glow-in-the-dark Easter Eggs, with a book and curriculum for having an outreach at your church

Curiosity Quest- fun DVDs that bring you on a fun and educational field trip

Philosophy Adventure- an interesting approach for studying high school philopsophy (my 13-year-old son’s favorite!)

Kinder Cottage Books- reprints of old books

Happy Kids Songs- song downloads to teach about different character qualities

7-Minute Planner- a comprehensive planner for moms

Under Drake’s Flag- CD story about Sir Francis Drake

Purposeful Design- a “coffee table” book about God’s creation

Snake Oil Party Potion Game- fun word game to encourage creativity

Preschoolers and Peace: Homeschooling Older Kids While Loving the Little Ones at Your Feet by Kendra Fletcher- ebook encouraging moms of preschoolers

Go Science DVDs – A group of kids take part in science experiments in these Christian-based DVDs

And I award the Top Ten Blue Ribbons to. . .

Spelling You See – innovative approach to teaching spelling.  I’m still using this with my 8-year-old.

Spelling You See Review

UberSmart Math Facts- a simple math flash card program.  We’ll get back to using this soon.  It’s so helpful to have daily drill on math facts.

UberSmart Math Facts Review

CTC Math – Online math program that teaches.  Two of my kids are still using this.

CTC Math Review

Brinkman Adventures - a homeschooling family records these adventure story CDs about missionaries around the world.  When they make new CDs, we want to listen to them!

Brinkman Adventures Review

Micro Business for Teens- a course for teaching teens how to start and run their own businesses.  I will have my future teens do this when they get older.

Micro Business for Teens Review

My Student Logbook- a simple, but wonderful way to keep track of schoolwork and assignments throughout the year.  My 11-year-old daughter uses this daily.

My Student Logbook Review

Trident Case – strong cases for iPads (and other devices).  I love this case–it’s still on my iPad.

Trident Case Review

HomeschoolPiano – online piano courses, with a jazz influence.  A wonderful course.  My oldest wants to go through it as soon as he has time.

Homeschool Piano Review

Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms by Mary Jo Tate – a book for homeschool moms. I need to read this again–it was really good!


IXL Math and Language Arts- an online website to practice math and language arts skills.  This was the review that surprised me the most.  I was extremely pleased with IXL! Four of my kids still love using it daily.

IXL Math and Language Arts Review 019



(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.)

Get $10 Just for Signing Up at Educents!



Here’s an easy way to get a Christmas present for someone!  Be sure to sign up to find out about the Educents deals–all kinds of great sales on educational products!  You’ll get a $10 Credit!

(This post contains affiliate links.)

Book Review/ Giveaway: “Rescue- Raising Teens in a Drowning Culture”

I now have a teenager, and next year I will have 2! It won’t be long, in fact, until I’ll have 5 teenagers all at once!
So, when I was offered the opportunity to review Candy Gibb’s book Rescue: Raising Teens in a Drowning Culture, I felt like I could use a refresher course on what to expect from the teen years, as well as what the new issues are that I’ll be facing.

Rescue is a very helpful book for learning about parenting teenagers.  The author Candy gives much wisdom herself.  She is the mother of three children, but she is also the founder of a major Crisis Pregnancy Center in Amarillo, TX called CareNet Pregnancy Center. She has an amazing story of redemption that led her to start the center in 1987, the video of which can be found here.  She deals with tough teen issues daily, so it was so good for me to read her advice on how to approach these tough topics.

But the book doesn’t just have words of advice from Candy.  She has assembled a group of recently graduated teens –mostly college students– into a group she calls the Lifeguards.  In each chapter she has each of them share from their own experiences.  Wow- what an eye-opener.  I’ve already been feeling lately that things truly are different for my kids that they were for me, and that there is a generation gap between us that I wish weren’t there.  I know reading Rescue is going to help me with that.

Here are the chapters you’ll find in Rescue:

1- Your Family

2- Faith/Identity

3- Teens, Sex, and Society

4- Technology

5- My Teen is Struggling with Homosexuality

6- Pro-Life & Pro-Choice

7- Communication

8- Mentoring

9- Preparing Teens for College & Beyond

10- Building an Ark


The format of the book includes “Commentaries from Candy,” “Let’s Ask the Lifeguards,” “Treading Tips” (practical nuggets of wisdom that sumarize the lessons), and “Life Preservers” (relevant and encouraging Scripture).

You will find that Rescue is written from a biblical perspective.  She encourages us to have our teens in church. But it is so much more practical and real that that.


Here are some of my favorite quotes:

“Teaching your teen to find value and identity in the Lord is more critical than teaching them to eat healthy and helping them get into the university of their choice.  Remind your teenager of the Lord’s calling on their life.”

“A lack of identity is prevalent due in part to the influence of  social media. . .  Often times, when someone posts a selfie, it’s to get a response. . .  ‘Do you think I’m beaufiful?’ or ‘How would you rate me?’ ”

“Prepare your teens for the ridicule they will likely face from their peers if they choose to remain sexually pure.  Help them develop ways to deal with it.”


Rescue: Raising Teens in a Drowning Culture is completely filled with practical advice such as this.  I’m so happy to have a copy of the book to give away!


Enter by leaving a comment about why you’d like to win or what you hope to learn by reading the book.  The winner will be chosen Monday December 1, 2014 and will have 24 hours to respond to my email.  Winner must live in the Continental U.S.


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

From House to Home {Link Party} #93

It’s time for our Link Party:

From House to Home!

Thanks everyone for joining today and sharing your wonderful posts!
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!

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!


Follow on Bloglovin

10 Gifts to Buy for the Men in Your Life & $500 Christmas Blessings Giveaway

Ten Top Gifts for the Men in Your Life

Men and older boys can be difficult to buy gifts for, huh?  I’ve been brainstorming some ideas for Christmas presents for these guys (and asking some friends for their ideas). Here are a few gifts that you might be able to get for those wonderful men and older boys in your life!

Gifts for Men:

1. Phone and Tablet Cases

2. Season Tickets (or just one ticket!) to a sport or musical activity they enjoy

3. An Experience they can enjoy with a child, like registration to a Father-Son Camp or Father-Daughter Dance.

Father Son Camp 103

4. Clothing Items they don’t like to buy–like socks or thermal underwear!

5.  Tools (even for teens–they can save them to use for the rest of their lives!)

6. Golf Gift Certificates

7.  A Book or gift card for books or ebooks

8.  An Accessory for a Hobby they enjoy, like this smartphone mount for a bicycle or motorcycle

9.  Candy from the year they were born

10.  Grilling Accessories, like these great Grilling Gloves


And now for the awesome giveaway!

Christmas Blessings Giveaway date 300x300

I’m so excited that we will have 2 winners for this giveaway.  The first place winner gets $500 Paypal Cash, and the second place winner gets a $100 Amazon gift card!

a Rafflecopter giveaway




Check out some other great gift guides here:


(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.)

Review/ Giveaway “Buck Denver: Why Do We Call it Christmas?” DVD

Today we have a Review and Giveaway of the DVD “Buck Denver asks Why Do We Call it Christmas?”

If you have kids ages 4-10, they’ll love it!  Mine did.

“Buck Denver asks Why Do We Call it Christmas?” is from the VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer.  He even appears in the video talking to the kids and narrating some about the story.  But most of the movie is done with puppets and animation.

There are many episodes of Buck Denver; most explain about something in the Bible.  This one explains where Christmas and some of its traditions came from.

Here is what your kids will learn from the funny puppets, clever storyline, and catchy songs:

*That the word Christmas is from the Christ’s Mass celebration in the church.

*That we celebrate Christmas on December 25 because it used to be a pagan holiday that was switched to be Christian by the Roman Emperor Julius 1.

*That there are 25 million Christians in India.

*That Emperor Dionysius made a mistake calculating Christ’s birth for the new calendar, and He was actually born in 4 or 5 B.C.

*That the tradition of the Christmas tree came from the missionary Boniface who used the tree as a symbol to teach a pagan group of people about Christ who used to think of the trees as sacred.

*That Santa Claus comes from the story of St. Nicholas who gave money and gifts to the poor. He was a bishop and wore a red coat and hat. He is celebrated on St. Nicholas Day on December 6.  His German and Dutch name sounds more like Santa Claus, so that’s why we call him that.

*That our modern-day Christmas is a mixture of the December 6 and 25 celebrations, which is why we have baby Jesus and Santa Claus on the same day.

*That the holiday of Hanukkah began 300 years before Jesus and He even celebrated it.

The DVD ends with an explanation of the Christmas story–Mary and Jesus going to Bethlehem and what happened at His birth.

The best part of the whole movie was that the Gospel is very clearly explained!  Those watching will learn exactly who Jesus is and what He did for us by coming to the earth, dying on the cross for our sins, and rising to new life!

The “Buck Denver asks Why Do We Call it Christmas?” DVD is about 60 minutes long.  See the trailer here:

There are some fun free activities at the Buck Denver website.

Please enter below on the Rafflecopter app if you would like to win a copy!  The winner will be chosen on November 21 and will have 24 hours to respond to my email.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(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 product in exchange for this review and post.

 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.)

Review: Snake Oil Party Potion Game

Out of the Box Games Review

Out of the Box Games produces a game called Snake Oil – Party Potion (for ages 8 and up) that we are reviewing today.  My kids and I really enjoyed playing it!


Out of the Box Games Review
Here’s how it works:

You need 3-6 players.  The kids can be as young as 6 if they can read.  My kids ages 6, 8, 9, 11, and 13 played the game, and I did, too.  There are 2 types of cards–Customer Cards which have the name of a type of person (such as a parent, toddler, lifeguard, waitress, doctor, or clown) and Word Cards that have a single word on them (such as flame, curtain, massage, diary, bus, trampoline, and passion.)  One person is the customer and the other players choose from their 6 cards two that will work together as a product for the customer to buy.  Then the customer picks the best one.  The winner is the one with the most customer cards at the end of a certain number of rounds.  The game can take as little as 15 minutes to play, and can be quite lengthy if you decide to keep on going!  All my kids caught on really fast and enjoyed playing it.  The box contains a plastic holder and the cards.


Snake Oil Party Potion game 015

My 8-year-old son was really good at Snake Oil Party Potion.  He’s very clever!

Snake Oil Party Potion game 013

Snake Oil Party Potion game 012

Here was a product I tried to sell the Camper.  It’s a Trampoline Trail, so “When you’re out camping and hiking and you get really tired, you can just switch to the Trampoline Trail and bounce your way down the trail!”  I won that round!

Snake Oil Party Potion game 011

Here my daughters are working as a team to help each other read and understand the cards.

Snake Oil Party Potion game 010

In this scenario the customer was a Fire Fighter.  The three salepeople tried to sell him a “Pants Coat,” a “Mist Chair,” and a “Spray Sponge.”  The Mist Chair won that round!

Snake Oil Party Potion game 009

The makers of Snake Oil Party Potion say that there will be smiles and laughs all around, and we found that was true!

Snake Oil Party Potion game 008

Snake Oil Party Potion game 014

How this game can be used in an Educational Setting:

Snake Oil Party Potion reminds me of an educational game we play with our Public Speaking class.  Kids are given an object and have to come up with clever ways to “sell” it to a specific type of customer.  We use this game to help kids to think fast on their feet.  It’s a type of improvisation or limited preparation activity.  So, I’m definitely going to bring this game to use when we meet with our class!

How this game can be used at a Party:

Instructions for this are actually included in the Snake Oil Party Potion box.  The customer card is chosen for the crowd.  Three people are chosen to come up with an object to sell.  The crowd then votes on the best “object.”

What I didn’t like:

There were 2 cards included that I decided to remove, just because they’re in bad taste (snot and butt).  Also, the card for “satellite” was misspelled “satelite.”


Snake Oil Party Potion sells for $14.99.

There is another version called Snake Oil for ages 10 and up.

Check out Out of the Box Games on Social Media:

Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube!

Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer

From House to Home {Link Party} #92

It’s time for our Link Party:

From House to Home!

Thanks everyone for joining today and sharing your wonderful posts!
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!

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!


Follow on Bloglovin

Review of “Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation”

Purposeful Design Review


Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation by author Jay Schabacker is a new book we have been reading in our home lately, and I’m happy to review it for you today.  You can see more about it at the Purposeful Design website.

There are several ways to describe this beautiful book:

  • It’s a great Coffee Table book, for guests to pick up and leaf through.
  • It’s an informative and enjoyable book for reading aloud to your kids about our God’s awesome creation.  (My 9-year-old daughter especially enjoyed me reading it to her.)
  • It’s a book that can be used by junior high or high school students who are studying science.

Purposeful Design Review

The book is usable with all ages, is a sturdy hardback book of 91 pages, and costs $18.95.  You can purchase it here.


Purposeful Design 001

One of the best parts of the book is that it’s full of beautiful pictures!  There is lots of Scripture sprinkled through as well.

Purposeful Design 002

The format of the book is that there are 7 chapters–one for each day of creation.  Then the author goes into detail about some of the things that were created on that day.

For each chapter here is what you’ll read about:

Day 1:  God created the heavens and the earth, the planets continuing their orbit defies the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

Day 2: God created the atmosphere and water, how the rain cycle works.

Day 3: God created the dry land and vegetation, why apples are so healthy for us, ways in which plants are useful.

Day 4: God created the sun, moon, and stars; how the suns rays and earth’s tilt give us our seasons, why sunrise and sunsets change from day to day; using this information to build Stonehenge and the Ground Zero Memorial; the benefits of our moon; ocean tides; how leatherback turtles take advantage of the tides; stars and celestial navigation.

Day 5:  God created the birds and fish, how birds and fish benefit us, birds’ instincts, salmon, how fish swim, why ice floats, funny-looking animals in the ocean.

Purposeful Design 003

Day 6: God created land animals and people, domestic animals such as camels and cows, amazing uniqueness of humans, our amazing bodies (including the appendix), cells, brain.

Day 7: God rested and taught us to rest, too.

The only thing negative I have to say about the book is that some of the photographs are not high quality (are somewhat blurry), as you might see in the photo below.

Purposeful Design 004

Overall, I am very happy with Purposeful Design and am glad to have it in our home now.  Some parts are very detailed, which can be great for older kids and adults to learn some amazing things you never knew before!

Purposeful Design 005

Also included to use with the book is the Young Explorer’s Club curriculum, and it’s free!  You get student pages that are fill-in-the-blank, and a teacher’s guide with all the answers.  Here are a couple of pages from the Young Explorer’s Club:

Purposeful Design Understanding the Creation 005

Purposeful Design Understanding the Creation 006

Purposeful Design Understanding the Creation 007

Purposeful Design Understanding the Creation 008

Another child just wanted to draw the days of creation as I was reading about them:

Purposeful Design Understanding the Creation 001 Purposeful Design Understanding the Creation 002 Purposeful Design Understanding the Creation 003 Purposeful Design Understanding the Creation 004

Visit Jay Schabacker, the author, on social media!




LinkedIn: Jayschab


Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer

Review: Our Presidents Rock! by Juliette Turner

Wow–another wonderful book to review for you today!  I recently received Our Presidents Rock! by Juliette Turner. She is the National Youth Director of Consituting America.  Her mother Janine Turner is the Founder and Co-Chair of Constituting America (and an actress).

Our Presidents Rock! is for kids and is all about the U.S. Presidents.  It’s a paperback book 316 pages long and jammed packed full of important and fun information about each of our American Presidents.


Our Presidents Rock! by Juliette Turner 002

The book begins with an Introduction page which gives an inspiring explanation of how anyone can become President. Next it explains how to read the book (like I explain below), and a couple of pages explaining the role of President as given by the U.S. Constitution.  (They also have a book called Our Constitution Rocks! that I’ll have to check out.)

Each president has several pages devoted to him.  You’ll find the same subheadings for each one:

The Bottom Line — A couple of sentences about his presidency

What Were They Thinking? — Some of his views about major issues

Why Should I Care? — Why you should learn about and understand this particular president’s policies

Breakin’ it Down — His life prior to becoming president

Presidency — His most important events and accomplishments

What Has He Done for Me Lately? — What this president did that still affects or influences us today

Presidential Times — Some of the major events in America and the world during his presidency, written like a newspaper with articles

Our Presidents Rock! by Juliette Turner 004

Quick Facts — Several different boxed fun tidbits such as Fast Stats (about the man), Liberty Language (definitions), Election Results!, Fun Facts!, Thoughts on the Constitution (things he said or thought about the Constitution), Congressional Corner (important legislation passed during his time in office), Platform Speech (important lines from speeches he made), and Presidential Personality (how he carried himself as president and in his personal life), a Timeline, and Pictures of the president and his wife.

Our Presidents Rock! by Juliette Turner 006


Our Presidents Rock! by Juliette Turner 003  Our Presidents Rock! by Juliette Turner 005  Our Presidents Rock! by Juliette Turner 007 Our Presidents Rock! by Juliette Turner 009 Our Presidents Rock! by Juliette Turner 010 Our Presidents Rock! by Juliette Turner 011

The book ends with a comparison of Washington’s and Obama’s cabinets and a fun comparison of the Presidents’ heights!

Our Presidents Rock! by Juliette Turner 012 Our Presidents Rock! by Juliette Turner 013


My take:

I feel this in now a valuable resource in our home.  I love how it’s easy to read and contains so much information. As we know, all history and political books have a bias, and I’m glad that Our Presidents Rock! leans to the conservative side.  Here is a quote from the chapter on Calvin Coolidge “Had any other individual served as president during this time and not allowed the country to ‘run itself’ as Coolidge did, the United States likely would not have reached the level of accomplishment she did during this time.”

I’ll use this great resource book for my elementary through high school students.

Our Presidents Rock! by Juliette Turner 001

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

IXL Math and Language Arts Review

Christmas Book Review
I have a really exciting program to review for you today!  For the past 6 weeks several of my kids have been working with the online program called IXL.  If you have read my blog for a while, you will know that I have not given favorable reviews of a couple of other online programs we’ve tried.  But IXL–well, we loved it!  My kids worked on both IXL Math and IXL Language Arts.

IXL Math and Language Arts Review 009

What is IXL?

There is so much there–you’ll really have to head over to the website to see for yourself.  It is an online PRACTICE website for grades PreK-12th (up to precalculus) in math and grades 2-8 in language arts.  We used it mostly on our computers (both Mac and PC). They also have some apps which work with various tablets.  We were able to use it with our iPad 2.  (But even if your tablet doesn’t support the app, you might be able to still use IXL with the tablet’s browser–I know a lot of people use it that way.)

IXL is not meant to be used as a class or textbook which teaches the material.  The material (math or grammar) should be taught with another curriculum or teacher.  Then, you can use IXL to practice those skills!

How we used it.

My 7th grade son usually uses a grammar workbook to practice grammar skills, but used IXL instead.  He mostly focused on vocabulary such as analogies and suffixes.

My 6th grade daughter used IXL almost every school day.  She used just the language arts section as well and worked on apostrophes and commas.  She found it quite challenging.  Here how it works:  Each topic starts out pretty easy.  Then the level of difficulty increases.  The score goes up with each right answer and goes down with a wrong answer. The goal is to get to 100–that will mean that they “mastered” the skill.  In math the younger kids get a “prize” for mastering the skill.  See below where I explain more about that.  If they miss a question, there is an explanation about the correct answer and how to do the problem.  Some people might use this teaching section as a way to let IXL “teach.”  Kids are not only rewarded for how high their score gets or how many topics they master, but also how many minutes they spend practicing a skill.  This is encouraging for those who are really struggling with a topic–at least they can get a prize for spending more time trying, even if they are having trouble mastering it!

My 2nd grade son used the 2nd grade math section, and my 1st grade daughter used the 1st grade math section.  For both of them, they had to skip around a bit (which is no big deal at all) because they kept getting to a level where it was too difficult because they hadn’t learned it yet.  We actually suspended their regular math curriculum for the past 6 weeks so that they could just use IXL.  In the future, I will have them use their math curriculum, and then come to IXL to do the extra practice to master each skill.

These same two kids also did some of the lessons using the app on our iPad.  They both felt it was easy enough to do it.

Another nice feature on the website is the option to have the questions read aloud for the younger kids.  The kids I had use IXL were good readers, but they occasionally clicked on it just for fun.  The only negative I have is that sometimes it was difficult to understand what they were saying.

Now I’ll show you some screenshots so you can get a better idea of how it works.

Here is a grammar question for 6th grade:

IXL Math and Language Arts Review 019

These next 3 are parent report pages so you can see how your kids are doing:

IXL Math and Language Arts Review 017 IXL Math and Language Arts Review 016 IXL Math and Language Arts Review 015

The kids each have their own individual account because it keeps track of what they have accomplished and reports it to the parent.  You’ll also receive emails telling you when your child has accomplished something special like mastering a skill, practicing for an hour, or answering a certain number of questions.

IXL Math and Language Arts Review 014

A first grade math page:

IXL Math and Language Arts Review 013

And what happens when they get it correct!

IXL Math and Language Arts Review 011

This is a list of the Math page and some of the skills available for practice at each grade level:

IXL Math and Language Arts Review 007

This was my daughter’s reward page.  On the side it says that she had earned 29 medals, answered 1,112 questions, practiced for 5 hours 53 minutes, and mastered 28 skills!

IXL Math and Language Arts Review 006 IXL Math and Language Arts Review 005

I didn’t have to beg any of my 4 kids to do their IXL work each day.  The happily did it!  I think it will be hard for my 1st and 2nd graders to go back to their regularly scheduled math next week!  I think I’ll keep my 2 older kids grammar here at IXL, though!


Pricing for family memberships starts at just $9.95/month or $79/year for one subject. Each additional child costs $2/month or $20/year. For more information or to purchase a family membership, go to, and select your preferred membership option to view pricing details.

 This is a good page to look at as well:

So, an annual subscription for one child for math is $79; for math AND Language Arts, it would be $129.  For two children for math, it is $99 for the year; for math and language arts, it would be $149.

Visit IXL on social media:

Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer

How to Set Up an All About Reading/Spelling Notebook

Set up Notebook All About Reading and Spelling

We have been using All About Reading in our homeschool since last year and just started All About Spelling in September.  I’d love to share with you today how I have set up my notebook to keep everything handy for the lessons.  One of the best features of All About Reading and All about Spelling is that there is no teacher preparation time required, but it sure helps to keep it all organized!


I use a simple 3-ring binder and slipped my All About Reading packet page in the front pocket.

Set up Notebook for All About Reading and Spelling 001

In the front pocket I put things that I’ll need later on, such as more letter tiles and magnets.

The first thing in the binder is a resealable plastic back that contains the reward stickers used for both All About Reading and All About Spelling and the “pull-down” tokens I use for Spelling.

Set up Notebook for All About Reading and Spelling 002

A Close-up of the front pocket:

Set up Notebook for All About Reading and Spelling 003

A close-up of the bag containing stickers and tokens:

Set up Notebook for All About Reading and Spelling 004

The next items in the notebook are plastic sleeves that open in the top.  In these I place the activity pages in order.  I keep them together with paper clips and label them with the lesson number if it gets cut off.

Set up Notebook for All About Reading and Spelling 005

More activity pages:

Set up Notebook for All About Reading and Spelling 006

After the activity pages is another resealable bag where I keep paper clips and a pen.

Set up Notebook for All About Reading and Spelling 007

Set up Notebook for All About Reading and Spelling 008

In the back pocket I keep a sharp pair of scissors so I can quickly cut out the activity pages right before we use them, and a few more extra items.

Set up Notebook for All About Reading and Spelling 009

I have found this system to be extremely handy in helping us with our lessons each day.  I just grab this notebook, the teacher and student books, card boxes, and dry-erase board with letter tiles to sit on the couch and do our lessons.  I’m so happy that my daughter who has dyslexia is improving in her reading and spelling abilities, as well as her confidence!

Do you use All About Reading or All About Spelling?  Do you have an organizational technique to share?  Please leave a comment!

And, if you don’t already use this great curriculum, you can try it out with these sample pages!

All About Reading Activity Bundle

(I received All About Reading 3 and All About Spelling 1 in exchange for writing some honest reviews.  This post also contains affiliate links.)

This post is linked to:

Inspire Me Mondays, Mom 2 Mom Monday, A Mama’s Story, Monday’s Musings, The Modest Mom Good Tips Tuesday, Tuesdays With a TwistLiving and Learning at Home Trivium Tuesdays, Hip Homeschool Hop,  Whole Hearted Home, Wake Up Wednesday

Review: “The Legend of St. Nicholas”

Today’s review is of a Christmas book you might want to get this Christmas: The Legend of St. Nicholas: A Story of Christmas Giving by Dandi Daley Mackall, illustrated by Richard Cowdrey.

In this modern-day story, Nick is a young boy who is going Christmas shopping with his dad.  He’s not real excited about getting something for others; in fact he’s hoping there is money left over so he can get something for himself.  As he is wandering around the store, he hears someone say his name.  It’s a mall Santa who is telling the story of a boy named Nick.  This is the same Nick who would grow up to be St. Nicholas.

The Legend of St. Nicholas 001 (3)

Nick’s parents loved God and taught him to do so as well.  They were also wealthy.  When they died, Nick was still young.  He realized that God had a plan for him–to give his money away to those in need.  He did that secretly, including to some girls who needed the money for their dowries, and he threw the money in through their chimney!

The Legend of St. Nicholas 001 (2)

I enjoyed reading The Legend of St. Nicholas.  The story was cute–how the modern day Nick learns about the 4th Century Nick and decides that he wants to be like him and be generous as well!  I also loved the illustrations.  The book is filled with beautiful paintings by Richard Cowdrey, and it was fun to see the snowy owl which appeared on many of the pages!


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




Get the Ultimate Christian Living Bundle!

Here is what you will find in your bundle:



Get it before it’s gone!

(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.)

From House to Home {Link Party} #91

It’s time for our Link Party:

From House to Home!

Thanks everyone for joining today and sharing your wonderful posts!
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!

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!


Follow on Bloglovin

Review: If He Had Not Come by David Nicholson

Christmas Book Review
Are you looking for a new Christmas book to read to your kids this year?  I’ve found one for you!  Today I am reviewing If He Had Not Come by David Nicholson.

This story is best for ages 6 and up and is a beautiful physical hardback book in full color.

David Nicholson has reintroduced the story which is a classic Christmas story by Nan F. Weeks.  It is illustrated by Charles Jaskiewicz.

I really enjoyed reading If He Had Not Come.  My first thought was that it reminded me of the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life!” Remember what happens there?  George is faced with a new reality of what life would be like if he hadn’t lived.  Well, in this story we see some evidence of how our world would be different if Jesus hadn’t lived.  It’s powerful to read about the differences!

If He Had Not Come 002

A young boy is the main character and is excited about Christmas the next day.  Before bed he reads the Bible with his dad and they read John 15:22 where Jesus says, “If I had not come. . . ”  He goes to bed thinking about that.  When he wakes up he goes downstairs and doesn’t see his parents anywhere.  But there are other things missing as well: the Chrismas tree and presents and decorations!  He goes outside and finds that the factory down the street is running that day. When he asks the foreman why they are open on Christmas day, he says he’s never heard of Christmas and doesn’t know what the boy is talking about.  He goes from place to place trying to figure out what is going on, and no one seems to know anything about Christmas.  He runs to his church, but it’s not there.  He runs to the Children’s Home to watch the kids open Christmas presents, but it’s not there either!  There is just a sign in each place that says, “If I Had Not Come.”

If He Had Not Come 004

He then sees a sick old man and tells him he’ll run to the hospital to get him some help, but the hospital isn’t there.  And the homeless shelter doesn’t exist either.  Signs that say “If I Had Not Come” are everywhere.  Finally, the boy runs home and goes up to bed.  Soon he wakes up and realizes it had all been a dream, but a very powerful one!  Christianity  has made an enormous impact in our world and in our society.  Christians who care about others have built hospitals and homeless shelters and children’s homes.  They have spread the love of Christ all around, and if He had not come, our world would be vastly different today.

If He Had Not Come 005

After the lovely story with fine illustrations, there are several pages that a parent or teacher can go over with their children.  The discussion questions were quite interesting and I enjoyed doing these with my kids.  There is also a page that explains how to share the gospel and how to accept Jesus as one’s Savior.

David Nicholson took a wonderful old story and put it in a great package to share with kids.  I’m sure you’ll like this book just like I did!

The price is Casebound Hardcover for $18.95 and E-Book for $3.99.

Visit the If He Had Not Come Facebook page!


Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer

Promo Video for “Oklahoma”

I’m really proud of my oldest who is a part of this promo video for Oklahoma the musical by Spotlight Youth Theater–which opens tomorrow!

If you’re in the area, come see it!

Here are some live-action shots I took during dress rehearsal last night:

Oklahoma 001

Oklahoma 002

Oklahoma 014 crop

Oklahoma 029 crop

Oklahoma 033 copy

Oklahoma 054 crop

Oklahoma 079 copy


Oklahoma 082 copy

Oklahoma 097 copy


New Product Giveaway: SQUILT Christmas Carols (and a Sale!)

Christmas background with sheet music

I’m so happy to introduce the newest SQUILT volume today!  SQUILT Christmas Carols by Mary Prather is being released today!  (And there’s a giveaway of it–read to the end of the post!)

SQUILT stands for Super Quiet Uninterrupted Listening Time and is a method for EASY teaching of music appreciation for your kids!  It’s perfect for homeschoolers or any kids and for all ages!


All SQUILT volumes (including the new Christmas Carol volume) will be discounted 25% using the code BIRTHDAY at checkout. This sale will run 11/3-11/10.

Here’s how it works.  SQUILT is a downloadable file, so it’s available as soon as purchased.  Christmas Carols is 24 pages long and teaches about 5 Christmas carols: Carol of the Bells, Away in a Manger, The Little Drummer Boy, Angels We Have Heard on High, and O Come, O Come Emmanuel.  You’ll find everything you need included–what to teach, links for more info (including special sites like how to draw something), and links to the music to listen to (on YouTube)!  It’s so easy.

SQUILT Christmas Carols 022

SQUILT Christmas Carols 021

Mary suggests using SQUILT twice a week and doing the same song for each day.  There are notebooking sheets for the kids to fill out. The one for the older kids is more detailed and asks them to white about the dynamics, rhythm/tempo, instrumentation, and mood.  For the younger kids, they simply “draw what they hear!”

I use my computer to look at the curriculum and click through to listen to the music:


SQUILT Christmas Carols 018

Or you can watch/listen/read about it on your tablet!

SQUILT Christmas Carols iPad

Here is my daughter working on SQUILT Christmas Carols:

SQUILT Christmas Carols 019

For “The Little Drummer Boy:”

SQUILT Christmas Carols 023

You might want to check out my other reviews to read about Volume 1 Baroque, Volume 2 Classical, and Volume 3 Romantic.  These are great for introducting your children to composers and music of those musical time periods!

Remember the sale with coupon code BIRTHDAY to get 25% off any of the volumes!

And enter the giveaway of SQUILT Volume 1, 2, or 3  (your choice) here.  Enter on the Rafflecopter app below.  Winner will be chosen on November 9, 2014 and will have 24 hours to respond to my email.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Linked to Trivium Tuesdays

(Disclosure: I received a copy of SQUILT Christmas Carols and Volumes 1,2, and 3 for help in writing honest reviews. I am also an affiliate of SQUILT and this post contains affiliate links.)

Giveaway: Natracare Goodie Bag & More



Welcome to our 72-hour Natracare giveaway, which is being hosted by 16 awesome Mommy Bloggers across the United States.  I’m one of the 16!
We are very excited to be giving away green-inspired hygiene products to one lucky lady out there!

Natracare is forward-thinking mompreneur company, offering women organic & natural solutions for personal health.

We Live in a Toxic World

One’s health can be affected by a variety of factors that we are unable to control, like genetics, income, where we live, relationships, mental well being etc. However, there are some things that we can control, like the products we use, which are in direct contact with our bodies.

You can find a stockist near you by using the Natracare store locator HERE.

Giveaway Time:

Want to win a $60 goody bag from Natracare including the following;

  • 1 Natracare Sisters t-shirt
  • 1 Makeup Removal Wipes
  • 1 Intimate Wipes
  • 1 Ultra Extra-Normal Pads
  • 1 Wrapped Panty Liners-Normal
  • 1 Regular Applicator Tampons
  • 1 by 10 count Super Non-Applicator Tampons

Or, as added incentive, what about a second prize, worth $40 from start-up Wythe and Berry Apothecary, including 1 organic facial steam mixture and a decadent handcrafted body cream?

If you are the winner, Natracare will send out the prize to you direct from their warehouse. Respectively, Wythe and Berry Apothecary will send out their prize to the 2nd place winner.

This giveaway starts at midnight on Saturday November the 1st, ending on Tuesday November the 4th at midnight EST. It is open to the USA only.


a Rafflecopter giveaway