What's over on the New Blog.....

It almost sounds too good to be true to have both a Meaningful and Simple Holiday Season.  But, that's exactly what I'm planning on having.  I only have a quick moment, but I wanted to write this out to share with all of you.  For years now I have stuck with a simple organized plan.  The key is organization, I have done things basically the same way for about 10 years now.  Before I made my system that actually worked for me I was always running around like a chicken with my head cut off.  I thought to myself....it's just not fun, I can't enjoy this season of my life and my children's lives if I'm so scattered and last minute.

Read More on My New Simple Lifestyle Blog...... Four Violet

CrossTimber ~ REVIEW

Growing up in foster care after my parents passed away really made me appreciate life, Family and the Lord.  I knew from an early age that I couldn't wait to have a Family of my own....with lots of Kiddos! :)  Well, the Lord gave me three beautiful ones and I have enjoyed every minute of our Family Life.  One thing that has been a bit sour is the fact that they have no living Grandparents.  And we really don't know a lot about our Family and where I come from.  For the past few years though we have researched a little on that and have learned a lot.  This has sparked an interest of our Heritage for My Daughter Mahala.  She has been scouring through photos, my parents old paper work and even made some phone calls to a few living Family members.  I had never heard of CrossTimber before, but I was thrilled to have the opportunity to Review a Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse from them.  


Middlebury Interactive Languages ~ REVIEW


Since being on our 9+ week RV trip I can finally say we are in full school node now.  Most everything is unpacked, washed up and we are rested. :)  And that means now our energy is fully on school and little projects here and there.  This next Review I was so thrilled to be apart of.  Middlebury Interactive Languages has been a company we have Reviewed for before and have not only enjoyed it, but actually learn and retain what we have learned. 
This time we were able to Review High School German 1 from Middlebury Interactive Languages.  I was excited Mahala decided to learn German.  When she was younger and Skylar was taking German she picked up her colors and numbers, but nothing fluent.  So, we still felt like it was starting from scratch.


How Does Your Garden Grow?

I would never say I have a green thumb…not even a light green thumb.  But, my desire to have rows and rows of beautiful fruits, veggies and flowers is almost painful.  This past year was my best year yet.  We successfully grew strawberries, lettuces, onions, herbs and carrots.  We knew we were going on a long RV trip, so we didn’t want to commit to a huge garden that nobody would be around to tend to.
This year is going to be different…..I’m already drawing up plans for some new planters that my Daughter who is extremely handy with tools is going to build for me this Spring!  Oh Happy Day!!!  Now to look into seeds, churn my existing soil and line up some starter plants from my Local Nursery.  I usually get a few plants that are already thriving to add into my rows of seeds.  Unless I plant real early in the year.  How do you start planting and tending to your gardens?  Are you a lone-gardener or do you make it a Family affair?


The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection ~ REVIEW

It's no secret I love Christmas with a passion.  When others start planning Halloween costumes and thinking about trick or treating routes I'm under the stairs polishing my 30 year old Nativity set inspecting this year's cracks and missing paint flecks.  So, I had no hesitation in whipping out and Reviewing the Digital Downloads of  The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection from The Familyman. 
Kaden loves Audio Adventures and during our Rv trips we listen to countless audio Dramas and Books.  Our whole Family was able to start this  Collection towards the end of our last trip.  But. mainly Kaden was the one who spent the most time listening to them over and over.  He listened to them all in just 2 days.  But, would replay them while we drove, while he played or just lounging around.  Here are the titles from the Christmas Treasury....they are all written by Todd Wilson and read by Jim Hodges.


Educeri Lesson Subscription Service ~ REVIEW

http://i1202.photobucket.com/albums/bb374/TOSCrew2011/2016%20TOS%20Crew/10%20-%20October/17%20Educeri/More%20than%201000%20Handouts_zpsgzuu8ysr.jpgI can not tell you how many times Kaden has asked me about a topic that I just look blankly back at him and wonder to myself just where did he come from.  And then I think back to how many times a day do I Google a subject I'm interested in or thumb through old books and magazines to find that article that I have the time to research more about.  He gets it from me and that's why we spend countless hours poured over books at the Library and hunched over the computer piecing together information and answers to his most important questions.  I have a few favorite places I hit up regularly because it gets him the answers he wants.  But, I'm noticing as he gets older his questions have grown from looking for simple answers.  But, he's wanting to understand the why and learn to replicate the how.  While we were on our RV trip for 9 weeks it was a Gold Mine out there in the real world.  Information at every turn and while we were nearing the end of our trip we were given an opportunity to Review  what I think may be an answer to my prayers.  Educeri .....  Educeri a division of DataWORKS has over 1000 Ready to Teach Lessons with their Educeri Lesson Subscription Service.  Yes, you read right.....Ready to Teach, nothing else needed. 


A Little Bit of Me Time.....

Have you heard of Self Care?  I had never heard of it before until a few years ago when our Family went through a crisis and my world came to a crashing halt.  That's when I first heard about Self Care.  I learned that it's true what the flight attendant always tells you at the beginning of your flight.  If you don't put the oxygen max on yourself first you wont be able to help your traveling partner beside you that's gasping for breath. 

Every single day I make a point to practice Self Care.  I have this bag I put together filled with lotions, a candle, nail polishes, books, journals, pens, candies, cards with affirmations on them, pictures of Family and I have a list of things to do for myself.  On that list I have meditation, walking, art, writing, facials, hair masks, soak my feet, read, watch a movie alone with Pop Corn, 5-10 minutes of intentional deep breathing, take a bath with essential oils, make up a scrub or oil combination, make a cup of tea or coffee and drink it outside.  There are so many things that you can add to your special list.  I usually take one to two times out of my day to do one of the things mentioned above.  Some days it may be just lighting a candle, clicking on Pandora and enjoying my morning shower.  Or drinking my tea outside while deep breathing....the point is to take time for yourself and stop putting everyone's needs before your own. 
As Parents that can be hard, my youngest has Autism.  But, I know if I'm not right with myself, I'm not going to be able to be there mentally and emotionally.  Take some time for yourself this next week and watch the difference it makes.


Online Christian Filmmakers Academy ~ REVIEW


My Mahala is a natural photographer.  I know without a doubt that God gave her a talent.  Even though there is talent and passion when she's behind a lens.... she can use all the learning experiences she can.  Which is why I was thrilled to hear she would be able to Review the Online Christian Filmmakers Academy from Family Gravity Media, a division of Families For Christ Ministries, Inc.   Honestly I wasn't even sure what this course included...I just knew any new info I could get in front of her would be beneficial.  And I'm so thankful I was right....it was like Christmas had come early for her!

I had plans to do this along with Mahala because when she needs help photographing and asks for something I would like her to eventually one day be able to call things by their proper name and not round thingy with the squiggly lines.  But, since we were heading home from our 2 month long Rv trip I was overwhelmed and once we made it home I was exhausted.  Needless to say she couldn't wait for me to catch my breath....she had to get started right away.  So, I will probably crack open the videos after the Holidays. :)

  • Module 1 ~ Camera
  • Module 2 ~ Cinematography 
  • Module 3 ~ Sound
  • Module 4 ~ Pre-Production
  • Module 5 ~ Production
Basically Mahala has worked through 3 of the 5 modules so far.  And we are amazed at all that she has learned when even she thought she knew all of the basics.  Each Module contains quizzes that to my surprise she listed as one of her positives.  She said it was nice to be tested on this new knowledge to make sure she actually retained it! :)  Mahala said she learned that you have a lot of options when film making and just one little change can make the viewer's perspective change.  She also commented on how nice it was to see them handling the equipment.  She is always so careful when handling her equipment....almost insainly careful. I think she might loosen up a bit now since she feels a little more confidence in caring for her camera.  Mahala's favorite part of Cinematography is editing, she even edits her older Brother's videos.  
Since I have not taken the course I was asking her what her over all thoughts were and they were all positive.  She said that anyone wanting to get into Cinematography or just learn more about the Camera could benefit from taking this course.  She said it was nice to see that at the bottom of the lessons you could post ideas or questions and they would get back to them.  Another bonus was the quality of the course, very professional, super user friendly and legit and not boring.  (Her words, not mine....) 

Would we recommend Online Christian Filmmakers Academy?  For sure if you own a Camera, take videos and or need credits for your High-school student in the Arts department.  I think it's a very great elective that really hits on a major part of today's culture for teens and young adults.  When I was in High-school I didn't think about taking videos, but in today's world.....my 9 year old takes better videos then I do.  Like I said....I'll be taking this course after the Holidays! :)  Make sure you head over and see their NEW Online Christian Filmmakers Academy Facebook Page
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Online Christian Filmmakers Academy {Family Gravity Media}


MyFreezEasy ~ REVIEW


I Love Cooking and for years I have been a throw what I have in the pantry and fridge kind of person.  Crazy thing is those Goulashes as my Husband calls them have become some of my Family's Favorite meals.  But, the last few years we have changed a lot as far as our eating habits, what type of food we eat and how we eat it.  With that comes a little planning, but it's been worth it for the benefit of my Family.  Many years ago I used to take two Saturdays a month and by all the food I needed to make dinners for the following 2 weeks.  And the very next day I would cook it all.....talk about a jam packed freezer.  And the amount of planning and preparation it took to pull this off month after month was intense, so intense I only did this for about a year.  Did it help me during the time I worked outside the home and still homeschooled my Kiddos?  Yes, it sure did and that is why during this busy season of my life I was intrigued when I heard about this next Review.  MyFreezEasy generously gave me me an Annual Subscription to their MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership.  

I was so Excited for this Membership because previously when I would plan out meals for the freezer for later meals they were mainly casseroles or highly Carb filled...not to mentioned everything was mixed with the dreaded can of mushroom soup.  Why is that not a good thing for our Family?  Gluten, which we have tried to eliminate as much of it as possible for Kaden.  When I took a look at MyFreezEasy I was pleasantly surprised to see the variety of Healthy, Yummy food options.  Food that would not only be fast and easy to prepare on weeknights, but food that would meet all of our Family's dietary needs.
Here is a quick overview...there is 2 different Membership Plans to choose from.  The Basic and the Premium Membership.  What you get is the ability to have 5 customized recipes sent directly to your inbox that will take you an hour of prepare 10 meals from to freeze for later!  Each recipe gives you two delicious meals and every month you can look forward to new ones so you can kiss eating the same old thing over and over goodbye! :)  I was given the Premium Membership and the main thing I Love about it is it allows me to swap meals from any of the meal plans or even make up my own meal plan.  This works the Best for our Family because even though I tend to eat more clean high protein foods other Family members enjoy a little something different here and there as a surprise treat.  
I haven't even got to the Best Best Part...not only do both Memberships give you the recipes, but also a well detailed shopping list,  Assembly instructions for both the Prep Portion before you freeze and the the actual prep to thaw and cook.  Hands down this brings a tear to my eye...1st of all I hated writing out the shopping list when I did a big cook...no matter how hard I tried I always forgot at least one thing each Big Cook Day. :(  And please tell me I am not the only one to pull out a frozen bag of "something" and wonder what the heck is it and how do I reheat it and fix it properly to feed my starving Family. :)  With the Assembly instructions and printable labels for your freezer bags this wont be a problem ever again.  That alone is worth the membership here in this house. :) 

It was simple and easy to get started.  I logged on and did a happy dance when I saw all of my amazing choices.  Setting up my menu was easy, I printed my labels and lists and headed to the store.  I felt confident that everything I needed was right in my little hand, I shopped, laid everything out and got to work.  The instructions were clear, accurate and easy to execute.  I even got the kiddos involved in the cooking.....and the clean up too!

I also wanted to add that not only do you get suggested side options, but you are able to select serving sizes for your recipes.  That's awesome, because most recipes I find in magazines or online are for only 4 servings, sometimes 6.  But, we are a Hungry Family of 6.  I find a lot of the times recipes are small and when I try to bulk it up the flavor may be off.  So, being able to customize the serving amount for our Family was awesome.  And I just have to say I have used the meals I froze and they tasted fantastic and my Family was excited to have something other then a fast salad or snacky meal on those nights that I ran out of time before the dinner pains became apparent! :)

So, what did I think?  I loved this service.  It was helpful and to be honest I didn't even know that I needed something like this....but I do.  And I will more than likely continue with this service even after my Membership expires.  It gives me peace of mind knowing delicious healthy meals are already prepped and ready for my Family when I need them.  I encourage all my Momma Friends to take a look at this service.  Get a little help in areas of your life that get a bit hectic...it's okay! :)
Head over and see what's Cookin' with MyFreezeEasy today on Social Media!!!

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MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}


New Way to Stay Organized......


Oh my goodness I can’t believe it is just the beginning of the weekend.  YAY!!  That means I have so much time to get through the things I have marked down on my list.  How do you stay organized?  I use a Bullet Journal to keep track of everything from Favorite movies and Bible verses all the way to Future plans and this weeks schedule.

The Bullet Journal was created by Ryder Carroll, check out his Website, because he has an Amazing Video that will explain this life changing system way better then I could do.  Let me know what you think and if you are a BuJo enthusiast too!


Handbook For Writers ~ REVIEW

http://i1202.photobucket.com/albums/bb374/TOSCrew2011/2016%20TOS%20Crew/10%20-%20October/5%20-%20Everyday%20Education%20LLC/eil-writers-handbook_zpsjbixeufz.jpgThis next Review couldn't have come at a better time then right now.  We were given Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers from Everyday Education, LLC.  Mahala is nearing the end of High School and she would honestly rather eat dirt then to write a paper.  And you know what....I totally understand her.  When I was her age I just wrote my feelings out on paper, argued and compared ideas with my written words when asked to.  Writing was EASY for me, the problem was all that technical stuff like comas, grammar and all the other not so fun stuff in writing that I would probably eat a spoonful of dirt to not have to teach it.  Needless to say we haven't done a lot of formal teaching as far as writing goes and I was a little scared to even take on this Review.  Funny thing is that even though I was nervous to actually use this Handbook I couldn't wait to dive right in.  Mahala and I both laughed out-loud when we read that the first section was  Introduction to Arguments and Essays.....were they looking into my house?  Because we've had a lot of "arguments" about Essays around here.  Ok, maybe not a lot but there is definitely some miscommunication going on when it comes to writing an Essay around here. 

This Handbook came to us as a PDF, which was perfect because we were on our RV trip.  We weren't planning any essays or papers while on the trip, but I did have Mahala and Kaden keep a daily journal.  While Dad was driving Mahala and I would get out the laptop and read a little a few times a week and I would have her take notes while we read.  This Handbook is HUGE, I'm talking over 400 pages!  As soon as I scanned the enormous table of contents I knew this was going to be our Best Friend.  Mahala wants to go to College, this means she needs to be able to write different types of papers.  And guess who she's going to ask for help.....Me....so, I better learn some of this too! :)  I'll be honest Mahala took one look at this and instantly felt overwhelmed.  But, when I explained to her that this was a resource not a begin at the beginning and read straight though kind of text book she was relieved.

We quickly noticed certain topics that we knew we needed help on...here are a few of our Favorites and most helpful so far.
*The Visual Guide to Organizing Your Papers
*The Rubric for Writing Evaluations
*Paragraph Structure and Function
*Honestly All of Part 2 in this Book, which cover Usage and Style.  It covers everything from early grammar information that Mahala needs to brush up on to frequently misspelled words and "wishy-washy words".
*Basic Punctuation that my eyes have been opened to the many things I need to tweak.
*And last but not least we are going through the References and Bibliographies section right now.  Amazing!!!  I have forgotten so much since I was in School and I realize now that Skylar wasn't as prepared as he could have been when he started College.  He's in his 3rd year of College now....hopefully thanks to this Handbook, Mahala will be more prepared and confident with whatever kind of paper is thrown her way.

So, what did I think?  Well, Mahala and I both learned so much and have only scratched the surface of what this resource has in-store for us.  I would HIGHLY recommend you run right this minute and order one of these for your Family....even if you are not a Homeschool Family.  If your Kids are going to College or just in High school...this Handbook is worth it's weight in Gold.  I plan to get it printed so that we can make side notes and highlight in it....we roll like that.  We need to be able to held it in our laps to really soak it all in, so I look forward to doing that hopefully this next week.

Make sure you go see what Everyday Education, LLC has going on with Social Media!!!
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Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}


Living History Books For Your Kiddos ~ REVIEW

I remember a time when I was a child and I thought History was just about Facts, Dates and People no longer on this Earth...Physically.  I was not Homeschooled and honestly History bored me to death.  Fast forward to the start of our Homeschool I was worried that they would ask me a question I knew nothing about when it came to teaching History.  Luckily there are many amazing materials and books out there to help a Momma out!  Like this next Review of mine of the If You Were Me And Lived In... Series that was brought to you by Carole P. Roman and Awaywegomedia.com, thank you so very much!! 


A Break in My Morning.....

So, we have been traveling cross country for 9 weeks and have been home only 2 days.  We have mounds of clothes, food and cleaning to do….but, there is still a flow that needs to remain fluid in order to keep my “inner Peace”.  So, after breakfast my Daughter and I took a quick coffee break and headed to a local Craft Store.  Mind you in the past probably 5 months I have done no personal shopping or “Fun” shopping at all.  Most of my extra energy was used up for our Fantabulous RV Trip that we just took.  And that’s ok, now we are back Home and a new Normal is falling into place one moment at a time.
Tomorrow starts our Full Day of Homeschooling Again.  We school year round so that we are able to take breaks here and there.  We love long weekends, unexpected trips to the beach or mountains and that takes the Kiddos away from their books throughout the year.  For us, year long school works Best!  So, what about you….how do you treat yourself and regroup after a long Family Trip?  DO You school year round or stick to a more Traditional schedule?  I would Love to hear from You!


Homeschooling the Older Years

I remember when my Kiddos were little it was so easy to school them.  I organized our day by chunks of time.  We had Reading Time, Creating and Cooking Time.  We always worked on Puzzles and played Games.  Even today with my youngest being almost 10 we move through our day in a similar way.  I’ve tried so many different kinds of schedules and charts to keep us accountable through the years.  Since we tend to lean on the Unschooling/Montessori end of the schooling spectrum chunks of time still works.
I have learned after all these years of feeling guilty and inadequate that less truly is more most of the time.  My oldest is 22 now and doing very well for himself in College and Work. So, it’s safe to say that my last 2 Kiddos have a more relaxed Momma.  Take a look at a day here for my High School Student…..
Here we go:
Our Mornings here are relaxed…we are all trying to be morning people, but yeah….we aren’t.  We are total night owls!  So, the mornings here start with cups of coffee, hot cocoa and talks of last night’s dreams and plans for the day.  We eat every morning a full breakfast unless we are scheduled outside the house….then we will grab a bar, or smoothie.  After the morning meal and chores are finished we slip off into Reading time.  Personal reading, School Reading and Bible Time.  Mid Morning to us looks like History Videos, Reading and Writing.  Math comes in right before Lunch Time.
After Lunch we tend to clean up our Lunch Mess and head straight into Experiments and Projects for Science.  Each year we go through Several books, videos and countless projects and journaling.  After Science we move into Arts, Foreign Language and Music.  Depending on the time of the year this could be Holiday themed or strictly educational based.  This year we are taking German once again for foreign language.  YAY!
We end the day kind of how we started it with English.  This looks like Composition, Literature, Poetry and of course Reading.  We also work on Special Skills for the Home and in our Community.  Right now we are working on Cooking, Budgeting, Shopping and Menu Planning.  Next we are looking at Car Purchasing, Maintenance, Insurance and Preparedness.
That’s what Our High School Day looks like right now…..how about yours?