Thursday, March 15, 2018

A Post About Gift Cards

It's Thrifty Thursday and I am chatting about gift cards today.  I love gift cards.  They are a fun gift to give and a fun gift to get.
In our house we save the gift cards we get to use for gatherings (if we have a grocery store gift card) or family outings (restaurant and entertainment cards).  This is a great way to keep out of pocket costs low for big gatherings because I can use the grocery store gift cards to buy the food and supplies for parties.   Using the gift cards when we are out and about for family outings is a great way to keep our costs low for food or activities so then we can have more fun.  Many of our gift cards are gifts that we received at Christmas time and we are so thankful to the people who give them to us.  They are a great blessing to our family.  The other way we get gift cards is by using programs like Swagbucks.  Swagbucks is a free program that you can sign up for.  Once you sign up for it they send you emails that you can click through.  They also have a search bar you can install to search for.  Just by clicking on their emails and using their toolbar to search, you earn points. You can also earn points by watching videos, taking surveys, and participating in events on their site.  Once you get enough points, called Swagbucks, you can redeem them for free gift cards.  It is super simple and you can participate as much as or as little as you want.  You can even get points for referring friends like I will get if you click the banner below.  I use my Swagbucks to get gift cards for going out to eat or to Amazon to use to buy gifts for birthdays or Christmas.  The gift cards they give you are totally free to you and a great way to treat yourself, your family or others.

*This post was in no way spoonsored by Swagbucks.  I just wanted to share one way our family earns free gift cards.  The links in this post are "Referral Links" which means if you click on them and sign up and use Swagbucks I get points for referring you which I can then use for gift cards.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Winter Fun

This past winter....okay it is technically still winter according to the calendar, but I am trying to move it out of here even though it keeps spitting snow here.  Anyway, this winter my kids were able to do something new and fun for them.  They were able to learn to ski this year thanks to our homeschool co-op and some awesome deals that the local ski area runs.  Buddy got to try skiing and snowboarding.  He definitely preferred skiing and said that was easier to get the hang of.  I was proud of him for trying out both activities.  Little Miss got to try skiing and thought it was pretty fun.  Today I thought I would share some pictures of their fun with you.

We hope to go skiing again next year as our ski area is already closed for the year.  Unfortunately the weather around here has been pretty up and down and we haven't had any consistent snow or accumulated snow since early February.  If you are wondering if I ski....the answer is NO, I tried once it was not good and a story for a different day.  I just go and walk the slopes with my kids its safer for me.  😀

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

A Review of Taming the Lecture Bug and Getting Your Kids to Think from Parenting Made Practical

As a parent the last thing you want to do is to lecture your kids, but let's be real and honest, it is one way we try to deal with our kids' behavior.  I know I have used it and I feel terrible when I do. So I jumped at the chance to review Taming the Lecture Bug and Getting Your Kids to Think book and DVD from Parenting Made Practical.  I was hoping this book and DVD would give me some answers for how I could be a more effective parent and I was not disappointed.
Taming the Lecture Bug and Getting Your Kids to Think Book, parenting, dating, courting, thinking
Parenting Made Practical was created by Joey and Carla Link.  They are parenting educators who want to help your family.  They have over 20 years of family ministry experience.  Their backgrounds in youth and family ministries and social work along with raising their own family have helped them create many resources for parents and families. Along with all the books and DVDs they have created, they speak at conferences and churches around the country.

The Taming the Lecture Bug book features 12 chapters and 2 appendices along with a bibliography and recommended resources.  In total it has 160 pages.  Each chapter offers practical advise, example situations, scripture references, and solutions to use to stop lecturing your kids and get them to think for themselves.   Included in the appendices are a detailed method of "The Repentance, Forgiveness and Restoration Process" that is mentioned several times through out the book and the "Re-Training a Stubborn Heart" chart that was used in an earlier chapter.  The methods and solutions in this book are designed for children ages 8 and up.  The DVD is 53 minutes long and has a printable study guide that can be used along with it.
I will admit that I am a lecturer when it comes to correcting my kids.  This is why this book and DVD appealed to me so much.  I know my kids tune me out when I start lecturing, but what I didn't know was how to stop.  My kids are good kids and they are obedient in most areas, but like all kids they have their bad days where they push to the limits.  I know that them pushing and pleading and trying to do things their own way is what we refer to as a "heart" issue.  The book takes it a step further and says it is a sin issue and when I really started thinking about that, I realized it is true.  When my kids don't do things the way they are told to after they are told and showed how to do things they are being disobedient which is a form of sin.  The disobedience that starts with chores leads to disobedience in other areas of life if we don't correct it.  This made sense to me.  It is little occasions of disobedience that keep happening and keep building that would lead to my lectures before I read this book.  The main point of the book is that we have to stop the lectures and get our kids to take responsibility for their actions.  They can't do this when we are constantly reminding them, rescuing them when the forget things, or assuming we know their answers already.  This is why the book introduces the technique of asking "Why" questions to help your kids work through what they are doing, what is wrong with it, and how they can change it.  This method is best for when kids disobey and not every single thing they do.  The book also teaches you to use all of the methods it teaches in a calm and rational way as opposed to lectures that usually happen in the heat of the moment.
I have been slowly implementing parts of this book in our household with our 9 and 14 year old children.  I don't want to be overwhelmed trying to implement everything at once and I don't want to overwhelm my children by changing everything at once.  However, I do want to teach them to be responsible for their own actions and prepare them for when they are an adult.  This is another reason this book appealed to me.  I want to make sure they are responsible adults and I won't always be around to remind them to grab everything before heading out the door or to take care of chores.  We actually started focusing on this at the beginning of the year by dividing up chores for our kids to do and they paying them allowance.  This was working well at first, but as they got a couple of months into their chores they were starting to forget and I found myself nagging them to finish everything.  While reading the book I had a thought, I create a to-do list every day of things I need to get done so why don't I have my kids do this?  When they get up every day, they create their own to-do list of everything they need to get done before they go to bed at night.  Now I don't have to nag them and they actually both respond well to having their own list that they created.  I have also been using the technique from the book of having one of my 9 year old sit out when she is being defiant or having a bad attitude.  She is not a fan of this at all, but she is seeing that I am not going to argue back with her because it doesn't help either of us.  I am still working on implementing some of the other parts of this book and adapting some of them to fit better for us.  I think that is the beauty of this book I can make it work for us and our parenting beliefs.
Taming the Lecture Bug and Getting Your Kids to Think DVD
The Taming the Lecture Bug and Getting Your Kids to Think book and DVD can be used independently of each other, but in my opinion it is beneficial to have and use both resources.  Why?  It was beneficial to me to not only read the information for myself, but also to see Joey and Carla explain the information.  It helped cement the ideas of their teaching in my head.  Joey walked through a specific situation by role playing with his daughter on the DVD.  He pointed out where parents typically start acting from emotions rather than facts and how children will respond to that versus the right way to react to what your child has done and get them to take responsibility for their actions.  Seeing this specific visual representation made the concept stick in my mind and I can stop myself from acting from emotions the next time my child misbehaves and react properly to the situation.  Watching the DVD after reading the book like I did was a good way to refresh what I read and make sure that I understood their methods.  The DVD had a fantastic explanation of the temperaments of children and it really helped me to figure out which of these temperaments are strongest in each of my children.  Knowing this helps me handle the situations with each of them in a way best suited to their temperament.  There is even a printable study guide on the website that you can print and fill out while you watch the DVD.  I will definitely watch the DVD again in the future as a way to refresh my mind with how I should be responding to my kids in an effective manner.

If you are a parent that lectures your kids, then I would recommend reading through this book or watching the DVD or both.  I appreciate the wisdom that the Links shared and I definitely want to check out some of their other resources like Dating, Courting & Choosing a Mate...What Works? since we are approaching that age range in our home.  You can learn more about Parenting Made Practical and all they have to offer on their website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  You can learn more about the Taming the Lecture Bug and Getting Your Kids to Think book here and the DVD here.  You will definitely want to click the banner below to read the reviews from my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew because we got the chance to review many products for this review.  I know I definitely want to read the reviews so I know what other resources to add to my reading list.
Parenting Made Practical {Reviews}

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Spice It Up

Let's spice things up for this week's Thrifty Thursday and talk about buying spices.
I buy many items that our family uses regularly in bulk to save us money.  One of the items that I buy in bulk are spices.  I do this for two reasons.  1.) It saves us money in the long run.  2.) We use a lot of spices at our house.  When I buy spices in bulk, I pay for them by the pound rather than buying a small jar like you do at the normal grocery store.  They come in half pint and pint containers depending on how much of a spice I need and how the store I buy them at divides it up (some of their more popular spices they only sell in pint containers).  Since the spices are priced per pound and I am not buying a pound of spices, the cost is much cheaper.  I usually pay between $0.75-$1.75 for the half-pint containers and between $1.00 and $4.00 for the pint containers.  The spices that are closer to $4.00 are spices that are more expensive in general, but they are still a saving to me because if I bought them in the bottles from the grocery store, I would be paying more up front and using them up faster.  So I bet you are wondering what spices I use that I buy in bulk, right?  Here is a short list of just a few of the spices I buy in bulk:
  • Garlic Powder
  • Garlic Salt
  • Onion Powder
  • Black Pepper
  • Chili Powder
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Basil 
  • Parsley
  • Oregano
  • Lemon Pepper
  • Cinnamon
Every once in awhile I do have to buy spices from the regular grocery store because I didn't get to my bulk food store quick enough.  It pains me to do so because they cost anywhere from $1.00 - $3.00 per bottle and those bottles don't last long around our house.  I do splurge on some of our favorite spices and seasonings that I buy from Tastefully Simple, but I limit how often I do this and I usually end up doing a party so that I can get a discount on the spices and even get some of them for free.

Do you buy a lot of spices?  Do you have a place that you can buy them in bulk?  Is there a topic you would like me to post about for future Thrifty Thursday posts?  I would love to hear from you.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

A Review of CursiveLogic Quick-Start Pack and The Art of Cursive from CursiveLogic

Handwriting, especially cursive handwriting, has always had a place in our school.  I think it is an important skill to learn, work on, and reinforce repeatedly throughout the years.  I've used lots of different workbooks and methods over the years for handwriting so I was very interested to see what CursiveLogic was all about.  We were recently sent a CursiveLogic Quick-Start Pack and The Art of Cursive from CursiveLogic to review.  I wanted Little Miss to use this Quick-Start Pack to help polish her cursive handwriting.
Cursive Logic New Edition, cursive, handwriting, teaching cursive letters
CursiveLogic got started in 2010 when Linda Shrewsbury saw a need for shortened cursive instruction time.  She started thinking about an effective way to teach cursive quickly.  The more she studied cursive the more she saw a pattern develop.  From the patterns she saw, she developed CursiveLogic and the methods taught in this program.  I personally had never heard of CursiveLogic before so I was very interested to find out what the patterns were and how knowing them made learning cursive easier.
The Art of Cursive Logic
The CursiveLogic Quick-Start Pack that we received includes a CursiveLogic workbook and access to an online instructional webinar.  This 45 minute webinar explains step-by-step how to use CursiveLogic with your students.  It is very informative and it helped me to understand the why behind this specific method of teaching cursive.  The workbook has 112 pages including 3 dry erase pages that can be used over and over again after the rest of the workbook is used up.  This program is designed to take 10 weeks, but that time frame can be changed depending on your student's needs.  The Art of Cursive book that we received is a unique adult coloring book.  This book is not a part of the student curriculum because it is designed to be used by adults who quickly want to learn cursive or refresh their skills.  It can also be used by students who complete the CursiveLogic workbook.  The Art of Cursive book has 4 lessons that quickly teach the CursiveLogic method of learning cursive.  It also contains 27 pictures to color and quotes to practice your cursive skills on.
Little Miss's handwriting/cursive before CursiveLogic
I wanted Little Miss to use the CursiveLogic Quick-Start Pack because she needed to polish up her cursive skills.  She learned to write cursive back in 3rd grade, but recently her handwriting has become a mix of cursive and print which makes it hard to read sometimes.  The workbook started teaching her one of the methods of this curriculum right away.  It focuses on shape based learning.  The curriculum divides the lowercase alphabet letters into 4 letter strings that feature a common shape.  Each of the 4 shapes is represented by a color so that students can quickly identify which shape string they are working on.  This curriculum also focuses on teaching students to connect lowercase letter right away and it teaches catch phrases for each shape group.  The catch phrases are simply the formation of the letter shape, but saying them while writing the letter helped Little Miss focus on getting nice, even letters.  It helped her slow down and do her best work rather than rushing.  At first Little Miss wasn't excited that I wanted her to work on her handwriting, but once she got going on this program she was doing 3-4 pages a day because she liked it.  She liked learning the letter strings and said the color groupings made it easier for her to remember which letters belonged to which string.  Her handwriting got much better the more she worked with this curriculum.  Even though this workbook focuses on cursive handwriting, I have notice an improvement in her printing too.  Her biggest struggle with this was remembering the correct position for her letters.  She had gotten use to writing letters straight up and down instead of slanting them.  Once she got her "running hand" down again, she was good to go.
Little Miss's cursive after CursiveLogic.  She made her own sentence here.
I have been using The Art of Cursive book.  I love handwriting and I think it is an important part of our family heritage.  I have always loved seeing how other people in my family wrote, especially the generations before me.  So I thought the 4 quick lessons of cursive writing were fun.  I also liked that I got the opportunity to learn the same method Little Miss was using so I knew how she should be working.  Through using this book I have been able to polish up my handwriting and make it much nicer again.  I had gotten really lazy with my cursive writing and it was refreshing to focus on making the letters correctly.  I also enjoy coloring the gorgeous pictures in this book.  I like the hidden shapes in the pictures that you get to practice while coloring all the detail.  I love the quotes in the book that you can trace and then practice writing for yourself.  This book is a nice way to unwind for this busy mom and refresh my handwriting at the same time.
My cursive practice in The Art of Cursive book.
This close up shows the "hidden shapes" that have you working on cursive while coloring.
This is my work in progress piece.
Cursive Logic New Edition March 2018 Discount
I really like and recommend the CursiveLogic Quick-Start Pack and The Art of Cursive book for teaching cursive and then reinforcing it.  The method which this company uses to teach cursive just makes sense and I honestly wish this was the way Little Miss had originally learned to write cursive because of how easy CursiveLogic makes it to learn.  I like that not only did the workbook have instructions, but they sent us the online webinar to watch which explains the directions step-by-step so you can see how to teach from the workbook.  Seeing the visual of the webinar made the program click in my mind so that I knew how to guide Little Miss through the program.  She still has a couple of weeks to finish, but at her current rate she will be finished by the middle of the month.  You can learn more about CursiveLogic and all they have to offer on their website and Facebook.  You can check out the CursiveLogic Quick-Start Pack we received here and The Art of Cursive we received here.  Right now until March 31, 2018, CursiveLogic has been very generous ans is offering my readers 20% discount on the Quick-Start Pack when you use the code CREW2018.  You can read about how my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew used this product by clicking the banner below.
The Art of Cursive & Quick Start Cursive {Cursive Logic Reviews}

Thursday, March 1, 2018

March 2018 Menu Plan

I am so happy that March 1 falls on a Thursday.  It allows me to write my Thrifty Thursday post and menu plan for the month post on the same day while I tell you how having a menu plan is thrifty.  Having a menu plan has saved me a lot of money over the past couple of years.  It has saved me money because I plan our meals around what we have in the pantry and what we have in the freezer.  Yes, I still have to grocery shop, but when I do shop, I can focus on refilling the pantry or freezer and pick up items that are on sale.  It also saves me money because I can buy fruits and veggies for the week I plan to use them which means less produce goes bad in my fridge and there I don't throw away money by throwing away bad food.  Also I save money when I do grocery shop because I have a list to stick to so I am not buying a lot of extras.  Now on to the important part, what is for dinner this month:
  1. Stuffed Pepper Soup
  2. Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza
  3. 30 Minute One Pan Beef Penne
  4. Farmer's Skillet Hash
  5. Blackened Salmon with Avocado Salsa
  6. Easy Sheet Pan Philly Cheesesteak
  7. Quesaritos
  8. Slow Cooker Potato Soup
  9. Pizza Buns
  10. Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
  11. Ham & Manchego Waffles
  12. Grilled Chicken Zoodle Bowls
  13. Chicken and Noodles
  14. One Pot Ground Beef Stroganoff
  15. Instant Pot French Dips
  16. Stuffed Pizza Bread
  17. Chicken Gyros
  18. Low Carb Pepperoni Pizza Chicken Bake
  19. Sausage & Veggie Foil Packs
  20. Spicy Italian Drunken Noodles with Spicy Italian Sausage
  21. One Pan Jambalaya
  22. Smothered Baked Chicken Burritos
  23. Easy Stromboli
  24. Steak & Potato Soup
  25. Copycat Taco Bell Mexican Pizzas
  26. One Pan Skillet Lasagna
  27. Pollo Loco
  28. Hearty Amish Friendship Soup
  29. Healthy Black Bean Tostadas
  30. Pack It In Pizza Pockets
  31. Dinner for 8
This is what is for dinner at our house this month.  You can find recipes for many of these dishes on my March Menu Plan board on Pinterest.  What is on your menu plan? 

I am linking up here this week.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

A Review of Drive Thru History Adventures

When I was in school I thought history was boring and dry, but now as an adult I like learning about it.  I have always wanted my kids to like learning history in school so that is why I am always on the look out for curriculum that teaches history in unique and fun ways.  I was very excited for my kids to receive access to educational and entertaining homeschool videos from Drive Thru History Adventures to review.  These videos currently cover three different history courses and since we gained access to them, my kids have not complained about having to learn history at all.
Drive Thru History Adventures, Drive Thru History, Homeschool Bible Curriculum, Homeschool History Curriculum, Homeschool Video Curriculum, Homeschool videos
We were first introduced to Drive Thru History last year when we reviewed "The Gospels" and it quickly became a family favorite.  I was very curious to see what the Drive Thru History Adventures was all about and how or if it would be different from their video series.  Drive Thru History Adventures is a combination of the Drive Thru History videos with curriculum to support the videos.  It currently offers three courses for study -  Bible History, American History, and Ancient History.  Bible History is an 18 week study on the life of Jesus as covered in the Gospels.  American History is a 12 week study of early American History featuring the time period from Christopher Columbus to the Constitution.  Ancient History is a 12 week study through the empires of Rome, Greece, and Asia Minor.  These courses are designed specifically for students age 12 and up, but they can be adapted and used by younger students.  You can use this program on a desktop computer or you can download the Adventures TV app.
Drive Thru History Adventures
Each course is broken down into weekly adventures.  Each adventure features a video that teaches not only history, but also some geography, archaeology, and classic art.  Each video is presented with a Christian worldview.  There is also weekly reading that accompanies the video and helps students dig a little deeper.  To wrap up the weekly adventure, there are study questions.  These questions check the student's understanding of the material covered for the week.  Along with access to each of the three courses and the curriculum that goes along with them, Drive Thru History Adventures includes "Adventures TV" where you can get access to more curriculum, extra videos, bloopers, and weekly chats with Dave Stotts.  You can get access to all of this by purchasing a monthly subscription for $12.99 a month or an annual subscription for $124.99 per year.
Little Miss watching a video for Ancient Rome
Buddy, who is in 9th grade, worked on the American History Course.  I figured this course is a good start to his American History credit for high school.  On Mondays he would watch the video for the week which are between 30 and 45 minutes long.  After watching the video we would chat about the video content.  I wanted to make sure that he was listening and taking in the information being taught.  The following day I would have him complete the reading for the adventure he was on.  This reading was something that was connected to the video like a letter from Christopher Columbus to the King and Queen of Spain.  On Wednesday I would have him work on the questions for the adventure.  Since he is in high school, I expected his answers to more essay style and detailed.  Buddy did a good job of this.  Some weeks I had him do an extra assignment that I would create that would go along with the adventure.  In Adventure 3 the Boston Massacre is discussed.  I had Buddy do more research on this topic and write a newspaper article summarizing the events.  This was a good way to reinforce what the curriculum taught.  Buddy is really enjoying the Drive Thru History Adventures and can't wait to finish out the American History so he can work on the other two courses as well.  When I asked him what he liked about it,  he said that the videos are very entertaining and seeing Dave Stotts in the places where the events happened help him to remember what the history lessons is.  Buddy said he was glad it wasn't just a boring text book and he appreciated the humor in the videos.
Buddy's work on the questions.  He was just getting started on this one.
Little Miss is not anywhere near 12 yet, but she wanted to work through some of the videos too even though she is only in 4th grade.  So I thought I was started her in Ancient History.  It matches with some of her other school work we are doing right now.  I had her work on this program only a few days a week since she is younger.  She would watch the adventure video on one day.  Then the next day I would have her work on the questions.  I didn't expert her to give me super detailed answers since she is younger, but she was able to go into detail for some of the questions.  Sometimes Little Miss would re watch parts of the videos to find  out the answers to the questions.  This wasn't because the answers were hard to find, but more because she got distracted during the video.  I also had her read some of the suggested reading some weeks, but I didn't require her to read everything.  Little Miss enjoys the Drive Thru History Adventures as well.  When I asked her why she liked it, she said it was because it was a different way to learn history and she liked seeing the history instead of just reading about it.  She also likes it because Dave Stotts reminds her of her uncle right down to the mannerisms (I think Dave Stotts and my brother-in-law could be each other's doppelgänger).
I couldn't agree with this answer by Buddy more!
I really like using these new adventures (desktop version) and the Adventures TV (app version) for my kids. Even though it doesn't completely fit right now for Little Miss since she is younger, she has already asked if she can use this curriculum when she is older so she can do more with it.  I like that it captures their attention and they are both learning about history in a unique way that helps it stick for them.  They have both told several people facts about history that I know they learned from watching the videos because I have been watching along with them.  I appreciate the easy to use dashboard that is set up for you when you  create your account.  It is easy to find each course, each weekly adventure, and all the extras.  There are lots of extras in the adventure courses.  Adventures TV is set up so that you can see all the available videos in their perspective category.  Then it has the curriculum and resources at the top of the screen for easy access to every thing.  Both the desktop version and the Adventures TV version are super user-friendly which makes it easy for my kids to find exactly where they need to go for each activity in this program.
Buddy watching an American History episode.
I already mentioned the discussion questions, but they have answers to them too so that you can assess your student's answer.  They also have expert  papers, suggested readings, and articles to use.  There is an area that walks you through how everything works and how to use the community features of the adventures.  Then there are our favorite areas of the resources - Behind the Scenes, Dig Deeper, and Side Roads.  We have checked out each of these areas and have learned some pretty neat facts from them.  There are all kinds of extra history videos telling about things like Groundhogs Day and Valentine's Day to name a few.  They are really informative and fun.  We also like the Facebook Community for the Drive Thru History Adventures.  This is where I can ask questions that we have whether it be about the courses or just general questions about Drive Thru History.  This is how we found out that in the videos filmed in Dave's office the background props are real and some are from his travels.  Thanks Dave for answering us!
Drive Thru History sent us some pretty cool extras!!!
I could go on telling you great things about this new Drive Thru History Adventures program all day.  It is our favorite review product that we have received so far.  I like that our whole family learns something every time we watch one of the videos.  It captures our attention and teaches us things that we might not learn elsewhere.  I also appreciate that I can add extra assignments so my kids can do extra research on a topic.  I am also very excited that there will be more courses coming to this program in the future.  We have already decided this will be a program that we will renew our access to so that we have it.  We definitely recommend this program if you need to learn history.

You can learn all about the Drive Thru History Adventures that we received by clicking here.  You can also find them on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.  They have several purchase options and they even have a 7 day free trial right now so you can see what it is all about before you buy it.  Right now they also have a couple of specials going on.  If you click here to purchase the annual membership and use the code "Gospels", you can get a free copy of the DVD set of "The Gospels" which we loved.  You can also read more about what my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew thought of this program  by clicking the banner below.
Drive Thru History Adventures - Subscription {Drive Thru History Adventures Reviews}
*This post contains affiliate links which means that I earn a small commission when you purchase this course using my links.