Monday, April 29, 2013

Gabby Moms Review: Healing Hearts with Helping Hands

I am always at a loss for the "right words" to comfort those I know when they are grieving or going through "rough times". I want to be able to express myself without using the old "cliche" words of comfort. I tend to silence myself rather then reaching out. Well, THANKS to Lorrie Flem of Eternal Encouragement, I think I may now be able to be reach out and be a comforter.

Lorrie Flem recently released a 57 page Ebook(PDF Format) titled "Healing Hearts with Helping Hands". "Healing Hearts with Helping Hands" is packed full of info on helping those near and dear to you during their grieving process. 2 things that Lorrie says that really stood out to me are: "There is no right or wrong way to grieve" and also "There is no set timetable for grieving". I really believe this and that is why I am always at a loss for words or ideas to help along.I was really encouraged by the section in this Ebook that has "What to Say" and "What Not To Say".

"Healing Hearts with Helping Hands" is so much more then the Right or Wrong words to say. The title really says it all, it is about how we can tangibly help them through the grieving process. I really LOVE how Lorrie suggests reaching out by saying "I would really like to help by ___________". Too often many reach out by saying "Call me if you need me" and that really isn't very comforting and during a time of grief one, the grieving person is unlikely to ask for help. Cleaning, Babysitting, running errands, help with paperwork, are just a few ways to tangibly help.

I really LOVE how this Ebook really covers the many facets of Meal Giving Etiquette. Recipe ideas, Allergy considerations, age considerations, what to avoid, packaging and delivery and more are all covered in this ebook. I also really enjoyed the ideas for Gift Baskets and how to be an encouragement during the time before the passing if a prolonged illness. I really LOVE this ebook as a whole! Lots of info that I would have never given much thought to but so important during times of grief.

Do you ever feel like this could be a ministry for you? Are you someone who is always at a loss on how to comfort during times of grief? I know that you will gain much knowledge  and perspective from this Ebook as I did.

GREAT news you can order this ebook for $3.50 from Lorrie's online store. Even better news if you would like the Kindle version there is a sale coming up. May 1st-May 3rd will be available for .99¢!!! Get the Kindle Version HERE! No need to worry if you do not own a Kindle device as there are many ways to read Kindle books with the many different "apps" Kindle offers for FREE. Check out those options HERE! You will be very encouraged by this ebook so please head on over and buy it!

I would also invite you to check out Lorrie's website and the many other products she has available at Eternal Encouragement. Also, check out the Bi-Monthly FREE Eternal Encouragement Digital Magazine.


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Gabby Moms Review: Bulk Cooking Tips 'n Tricks Ebook

Do you ever get overwhelmed with getting dinner or other meals prepared in a timely manner?? Is Menu Planning not something that you feel you can accomplish or have time for?? Have you ever tried Bulk Cooking??

I personally do both Menu Planning and Bulk Cooking. Bulk Cooking is similar to "Freezer Cooking" or "Once a Month Cooking".  Have you ever wanted to try Bulk Cooking, but don't know where or how to start? Well, I have a great ebook for you: Bulk Cooking Tips 'n Tricks Ebook by Lorrie Flem.

Lorrie Flem discusses the different methods of Bulk Cooking in this great Ebook(in PDF format). Some of the different Methods include:

  • Cooking many main meals in one day
  • Making and freezing one or two types of meals
  • Doubling recipes and freezing some for later
  • Supper Swaps (making multiples of the same recipe and having friends do different recipes and same amount.
  • Cooking and Freezing Meat and other food in bulk

Lorrie also shows the "How To's" of Freezing and has some suggestions for some of the best products to use. You will also find a great list of Sanity-Saving Tips and Tips for Bulk Eating(proper way to defrost and eat the frozen meals)

You are probably asking what are the benefits of Bulk Cooking. Lorrie goes over those also:

  • Saving Time
  • Saving Money
  • Saving Sanity
  • Saving Time for Ministry
  • Health
  • Variety
  • Happier Family

I have to agree with Lorrie on all her great info in this ebook! I do bulk cooking by choosing a couple of items each weekend and focusing on those. I LOVE the time saving factor of having meals or other foods ready for the family. I actually received a FoodSaver for Christmas 2011 from my parents and a couple months later purchased a 7cu Ft. Chest Freezer. I have been able to do much more Bulk Cooking since receiving those! Here are a couple of foods that I usually "bulk cook and freeze":

Waffles and French Toast

Homemade Chicken Nuggets
Have I peaked your interest for this ebook?? I have only given a small sampling of what is in the book. You can get your copy here for $5.97. You will want to get it as you won't be disappointed!

I would also like to highly suggest that you check out the Eternal Encouragement website and all the GREAT posts that Lorrie has. Eternal Encouragement has a Bi-Monthly FREE digital Magazine that has great articles and info.


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MyBlogSpark: BIG G Retro Packaging Review and Giveaway

"Everything Old is New Again" seems to be the "it thing" nowadays! To tell you the truth I am LOVING IT because many of the "old things" are things from my childhood. I LOVED having cereal for breakfast before heading off to school and some of my favorites are were BIG G cereals!

Well, Target and BIG G have partnered together and are bringing back Retro packaging for a selected few of the cereals! Here are the participating Cereal Retro Boxes:

I was super excited when I received the package below from MyBlogSpark and General Mills. My boys were equally excited. We LOVE Family Game Night and I had never played Parcheesi but we are slowly learning and loving it. My oldest LOVES Cheerios and my personal favorite is Lucky Charms. The Target Gift Card will be used to add another game to our collection for Family Games night. The Prize Pack was a HUGE hit in our household all around!

Starting mid-March Big G cereals will once again be going “Retro” with special edition classic packaging from the 1950’s, ’60s and ’80s!

For a limited time you can relive your childhood by heading on over to your local Target® store’s cereal aisle, as Big G cereals have brought back their “Retro” themed packaging. To help celebrate the event, Big G has team up with Hasbro®, offering a $5 coupon on Clue® Vintage, Scrabble® Vintage, Parcheesi® Vintage or Risk® Vintage board games at Target!

Join in the fun by purchasing the Retro Big G cereal packages at Target, the Hasbro Vintage game coupon, and your favorite General Mills cereals.  Hurry! Your chance to collect all five limited edition Retro packages and a $5 Hasbro® board game coupon ends soon.        

  • Don’t forget to go online & print a coupon for $1 off 2 General Mills cereals before you head to Target!
  • Collect all 5 different throw-back packages that each include a $5 coupon for these vintage Hasbro® board games; available exclusively at Target® from March 15, 2013 to April 30, 2013 while supplies last. Coupon valid at Target stores from March 15, 2013 to December 31, 2013.
  • Participating Big G cereals include: Cinnamon Toast Crunch® (16.2 oz.), Lucky Charms® (16 oz.), Honey Nut Cheerios® (17 oz.), Cheerios® (18 oz.) and Cocoa Puffs® (16.5 oz.)
  • Participating Hasbro vintage board games: Clue® Vintage, Scrabble® Vintage, Parcheesi® Vintage or Risk® Vintage

One lucky reader of my blog has the chance to win the Same Prize Pack I received. Enter here:

Disclosure: The prize pack, information, and giveaway have been provided by General Mills through MyBlogSpark.

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Mosaic Review: Spanish For You

I believe that learning a Foreign Language is important as it gives children a cultural experience and allows interaction with different cultures of the world. We live in a suburb of Chicago that is Culturally diverse. I also have a BIL who is Mexican and my boys LOVE when he talks to them in Spanish, even if right now they don't understand it. I myself grew up around the Spanish Language. I can comprehend more then I can speak, even after taking 4yrs of Spanish between High School and College. I have been looking for a curriculum to use with my boys that wasn't difficult and also not expensive. The only thing that we have found so far were online programs offered through the Library website. Well, that was until I was offered the opportunity to Use and Review a Curriculum I had never heard of. As a member of Mosaic Reviews I was offered the opportunity to use and review Spanish For You and I jumped at the chance.

Spanish for You was created by Debbie Annett, who is a State Certified Teacher with a BA in Spanish. She created this curriculum 4yrs ago with the Homeschooler in mind. Debbie currently teaches Spanish Classes at a Homeschool Coop in her area.

I decided to use this with all 3 of my boys grades 5th, 4th and 2nd. My 4th grader is a struggling learner due to vision issues, but I didn't want to leave him out so we used 3rd grade level with him. My 2nd grader is advanced and I felt he could use the 3rd grade level. We were selected to receive the Estaciones(the Seasons) package.

Our package for review included:

  • A Printed soft cover book
  • A Zip File of PDF Printable Lesson Guides(this also includes Self Checking Worksheets and set of Picture Flashcards) 
  • A Zip File of Audio Files of the entire book for music players or use them from the computer(the audio files also contain a Bonus audio of the entire book recorded by a Native Speaker.) 

The other theme already completed and available for purchase is "Fiestas". The Fiestas theme includes all the same type of materials.

The boys and I began by printing and assembling the Flashcards. The next day we "hit the book" by doing part of Lesson 1. My 4th grader has learning struggles due to Vision Issues, so the Audio files really came in handy for him as well as the Flashcards. He was able to complete the worksheet pretty easily because of the Audio files. My 5th grader usually gets frustrated when new materials are added in, but he really enjoyed the Spanish For You program. My 3rd grader LOVES the program. He is really enjoying it. We have only completed 2 Lessons so far, but we are very much enjoying the program. The Estaciones programs focuses on Calendar and Weather, Spring, Summer, Fall, School, and Winter.

The main features of this program that we really like:
  • Affordability: Most of the programs that I had researched were way out of our budget. The packages which cover a year of Spanish Learning vary from $39.95-$64.95
  • Ease of Use: The program is very easy to use and understand. 
  • Fun Learning: The program is set up in a way that makes learning fun. The boys didn't feel "worn out" and tired after using this program. They were relaxed and excited while doing the Lessons. 
  • Printable Lesson Worksheets: I really like the the Worksheets come in Printable form and you can "print as you go". I think this is one aspect that makes the program more affordable. I know for some the printing would be a deterent, but for me I LOVE IT! 
  • Audio Files: I really like the Audio Files of the entire book. The Audio files help with proper pronuciation. Also, for my 4th grader with Vision issues the Audio Files were a GREAT asset. 
  • Flexibility: The program is set up to be used 4 days a week, but the program is also flexible in that you can stretch the Lesson plans over multiple weeks or days if you like. The program set can be changed up by the user. 
  • Themed Packages: Each Package has a theme. I think this makes it a lot easier to learn when it is planned around a theme rather then "random" learning. The Spanish For You program currently has 2 themes, Estaciones(The Seasons) and Fiestas(Celebrations), more themes are coming soon. 
  • Range of Ages for Learning: The program is designed for Grades 3-8 but is easily adaptable for varying ages. Have a child who is advanced, place them in a higher level. Have a struggling learner, place them a level more suitable for them. 

Our family really didn't have any "CONS" at this point in the program. We really LOVE the program!! We will continue to use this program as Spanish For You is a GREAT fit for our family!

Here is more info about the Spanish for You Curriculum and Ordering Prices and info:

ALL Spanish for You! packages come complete with:
  • soft cover book or e-book (currently only our trial pkgs.)
  • 24-30 week lesson guide for the grades you need (24 weeks for G5-6 & 7-8, 30 weeks for G3-4) (PDF download)
  • self-checking worksheets (PDF download)
  • audio files of entire book (includes bonus audio of native speaker of entire book) (MP3 download)
  • flashcard/activity pictures (PDF download)
  • *Teacher lesson plans are NOT included. These need to be purchased separately. Please visit our CLASS USE page for important information on using Spanish for You! with classes.
Grade Level Packages 3-4, 5-6 7-8 cost $39.95 per package. The entire Package which is all material for Grades 3-8 cost $64.95 for the package. Extra books are available for $12.95 each.

Go here for full details on how to Purchase Curriculum

The Author Debbie Annett has also included some Free Mini Lessons and Free Worksheets. This allows potential customers to "Try it Before You Buy It". Also included on the website are Curriculum Activities and Games that go along with the Lessons.

I give the Spanish For You program 5 out of 5 stars.

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Mosaic Reviews: The Ultimate Homeschool Planner

Do you ever wish you could have "All things Homeschool and Family" in one place for yourself and for your children?? Are you a fan of "old fashioned printed" planners and resources? Well I have a great tool to introduce you to: The Ulitmate Homeschool Planner . The Ultimate Daily Planner for Students is a companion for your child(ren). I was given the opportunity to use and review both of these planners recently as part of my involvement with Mosaic Reviews.

I have been using many different methods to stay organized and on top of all areas of my life, many of them being online and computer methods. The thing is I haven't found an "all in one" site, method, plan so I have to use many. I am always completely mind boggled trying to remember if I updated everything so that I am on top of things for my family and myself. I received the planners from Apologia and immediately started glancing through the planner and really LOVE what The Ultimate Homeschool Planner has for BUSY homeschoolers! I haven't started to use this planner as of yet as I am such a perfectionist and don't want to start using a different method so close to the end of the school year. I did read through the planner and I know this will be a GREAT fit for me.

The main things that I really like about the Ultimate Homeschool Planner are:

  • Planning System Monthly and Weekly Calendar pages are NOT dated. The undated calendar pages give the flexibility of buying and using this calendar at any point of the year, a very unique aspect that sets this planner apart. 
  • Planner is spiral bound and the covers are made of a hard, rigid material that won't tear or wear down easily. 
  • "How to Use" Guide in the front is extremely helpful. This is much more then a "planner" it is more of a SYSTEM, so the users guide scores points!
  • "Yearly Planning Retreat" pages are really nice. Every August I sit down and do some planning for the year ahead and I usually lose those pages as it is written on regular notebook paper. 
  • "Family Priorties" pages is SPECTACULAR. Family should always come first as that is one of the main reasons for homeschooling. I have never thought to list Family Priorities down. 
  • Scripture and Quotes are printed on almost all the pages and this is a wonderful encouragement for busy homeschoolers. 
  • Weekly Assignment Grids have a wonderful layout and are designed to be used in 2 different ways. I also like that the right side of page has places for Note, Supplies needed and Appointments. 
  • Weekly "Lords Day" Pages are a SUPERB part of this SYSTEM. The pages have places to record the weekly Bible Plan, Battle Plan, Prayers, and Hospitality and Outreach. The pages also include a place to record Memorable moments from this week and Evidences of Grace. These pages remind me of my prayer journal! 
  • The Checklists in the back of the Planner which include a place to record grades, field trips, reading lists are very handy! I also like the teaching tips pages! 

The only downside to this planner is that everything monthly is together then the all the weekly are together. I think it would make it easier on BUSY homeschoolers if the pages were together for a month at a time format.

I am super excited to put this Planner to work for myself and my family!! GREAT layout and great functionality!

My 5th Grade son is also a "planner and tracker" like myself. He likes to keep things organized and be "in the know" of upcoming things. I gave him Ultimate Daily Planner for Students that I received and had him read through and tell me what he thought of it. His response:
"WOW, this is cool. I won't have to have the calendar on the wall anymore for Nathan and Danny to be seeing my stuff. I can keep track of things and hide the planner from them. I really like the stickers. Mom check out these really cool charts for me to use when doing assignments." My son is excited to use this although we haven't started yet. He is also a perfectionist, like myself, and we like a clean start each year. We are almost finished with our current year and current method of tracking so we are going to begin using these when we begin our next school year.

The main things I really like about Ultimate Daily Planner for Students are:

  • The Ultimate Daily Planner for Students has many of the same features as the Ultimate Homeschooler Planner and they are companions when it comes to Monthly and Weekly planning. 
  • Very durable and constructed well. Boys are rough on anything, but I think this planner will endure that roughness. 
  • Weekly Assignment pages are well laid out and easy for young students to read and understand. 
  • The Charts in the back of the planner are a GREAT addition. The students won't have to online to get the info and therefore not wasting time. 
  • The stickers for the calendar pages or assignment pages are very cute. 

I, Kendra Neal, a person who is very much into "all things digital" really LOVES the Printed planners that Debra Bell has designed and published via Apologia. We like to do school "on the go" a lot and having printed materials is much easier then digital when "on the go". My son and I are SUPER excited about putting these planners to use in the very near future!

Are you interested in the planners by Debra Bell for your family? Here is a bit more info about them:

The Ultimate Homeschool Planner: $28.00 (download a sample of the planner on this page also)
The Ultimate Daily Planner for Students: $19.00  (download a sample of the planner on this page also)


You can also visit Debra Bell's site to learn more about her.

I give both Planners a 4.5 out of 5 stars. I would have given a 5 to each but the Calendar pages format is the only con for me!

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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Mosaic Review: We Choose Virtues

(A Mosaic Reviews Product Review)

"Patience is a Virtue" is one of my favorite sayings to my boys, especially my middle son. YES Patience is a Virtue, but it is not the only virtue. I believe Character Training and instilling Virtues in children is very important. I have tried a few programs to help me with this, but we get side tracked or the programs are not a good fit for our family. Well I think we finally found a program that is a GREAT fit. I am a member of the Mosaic Reviews team and I had the chance to use and review We Choose Virtues and it has been awesome!

We Choose Virtues is an easy to use and "Colorful" program created by Heather McMillian 3 years ago. Heather saw that many children lack character traits and skills, so she created the program. Many of her teacher friends noted to her that their students lack of good character obstructed the students ability to learn. Heather's program has 12 Virtues with easy to remember phrases about that Virtue. The program also includes tools and resources to guide Children, Parents and Teachers in using the program easily and effectively.

I was extremely excited about being able to use and review this product as I have been "eyeing" it for about a year. I received several products for my participation in this review. The products included:
Virtue Flash Cards (NIV Version), $14.99
Teachers Handbook(PDF Download), $5.00
The Kids of VirtueVille Coloring Book(PDF Download), $3.00
Family Character Assessment(FREE Download) and a 
sample Parenting Card.
I received the NIV version, there is also a KJV and a Secular Version.

My boys and I first worked through the Family Character Assessment and discovered which Virtue each of them needed most. The 3 virtues needed most were: I am Gentle for my oldest, I am Patient for my middle son, and I am Forgiving for my youngest.I had each of my boys work through their individual Virtues for the first 2 weeks. Normally it would only be 1 week at a time, but I felt my boys needed 2 weeks with their "most needed" Virtues. All of my boys did wonderfully, although they are still working on those Virtues, they are all doing much better in those areas. The 3rd week we "Choose" to work with "I am Helpful". I choose this one as my boys all tended to lack in this area, but have much improved since working on this Virtue. We have continued to work through the Virtue Flash Cards and my boys are very much enjoying them and I am seeing improvements in them.

           Virtue Flash Cards for Families

Our family really enjoyed this program and will continue to use it for a long time to come. Some of the features that we really liked include:

  • The Virtue Flash Cards are Colorful and designed with high quality material. 
  • The ease of use of the cards. My middle son, who is a struggling learner, even comprehended the cards and "got it". The catchphrases and other wording on the cards is so easy to understand. 
  • The Bible Verses(included on ours because we got the NIV version) were helpful to my boys and myself to understanding the Virtue and what the bible says about it. 
  • The Teacher Handbook was an excellent tool for myself and gave me some great resources to assist me in teaching the boys about the Virtues. 

The only downside for this program for some families might be the cost. We Choose Virtues has a variety of Kits available, but if cost is an issue you can buy materials indivdually also. Heather noted in a conference call that I was able to listen to that the 3 most important components of the program are: Virtue Flash Cards, Virtue Clues and Poster.

Heather is also offering a couple of discount codes to save money on purchasing her products. You can use Code= HOME20 to receive a 20% discount through the month of April on  the Homeschool Kit. The Homeschool Kit is priced at $98.99, so with using the discount it becomes really affordable for most!

                        Homeschool Kit

Also Code= Virtue15 that gives you 15% off any purchase you make and this code never expires.

Places to find We Choose Virtues on the web:

My family and I give this program 4.5 stars out of 5 stars! We really love the program and I hope if you purchase any parts or kits you will enjoy it as much as our family does!

Check out what other Mosaic Review Team Members are saying about We Choose Virtues HERE.

(Please forgive the lack the personal photos. My 2 youngest sons somehow deleted the photos I took of the boys using this product when they borrowed my camera for making videos.)

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