Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My Favorite Posts From 2014 {and some reflection}

Are You Ready For Some Football (on a budget)?

Love Is In The Air (Valentine's Day Ideas)

Though Weeping May Last For The Night

The Baggage Of Life (How To Cope)

The Comparison Trap (Mothers at War)

The Spirit-Filled Home (The Wife's Role)

Homemaking With Boys

Dating My Sons (Teaching Them To Be Gentlemen)

Books We've Been Reading

My Life With Chronic Pain

10 Things I Have Learned In 10 Years Of Marriage

Beauty In The Dark Places

A Day In The Life Of A Homeschool Family

The Only Way To Have A Friend Is To Be One

Unwrapping The Greatest Gift (A Christmas Post)

With Love-Maddie's Magic (Calming Salve)

This year has been such a great year. My family has gone through many challenges and changes. We have had happy times as well as a few trials. God has been ever-present in our lives. He has blessed us beyond anything we could have imagined. The biggest blessing has to be my husband's new job. He has never been happier and he just started a few weeks ago. 

We are so grateful for every day that we have been given. Thank you for reading my blog and being a HUGE part of my life this year. In 2014, I went from blogging for fun (it will always be fun to me) to writing articles for Inspired Moms Club and joining The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Review Crew. 

I am so excited to see what God has in store for my family, my husband's new job, and my blog this coming year. God bless you all!!

Monday, December 29, 2014

With Love- Maddie's Magic Calming Salve {Review}

I know this sweet couple. They own a business called With Love {handmade products for handmade people}. I absolutely adore this family. Their story is so incredible and inspiring. I first met Katie (the owner) a few years ago at church. From there we have kept in touch and I have watched as God blessed her and her husband with three beautiful children. Here is a little about the company:

"With Love first started as a solution to our own family's aches and pains.

We were tired of our dependence on chemicals and wanted to find natural solutions to our sore muscles, bug bites and sleepless nights. After months of giving away Katie's creations a friend suggested we begin to sell them.

And thus, With Love was born.

We first opened our doors in September of 2012, and since then we've only continued to grow. What hasn't changed is our commitment to all natural and chemical free products. Everything we make, we use ourselves. We often tell our customers, if it doesn't work for our family, then we won't sell it to you."

-Katie Day

They recently developed a new product called Maddie's Magic Calming Salve. It came about because a friend of the With Love family wanted something to help with stress, ptsd, and trauma. After researching various ingredients, Maddie's Magic Calming Salve was produced. I have suffered from intense stress and anxiety my whole life. I have only recently been introduced to natural remedies. So, when I was asked to try out this new product I was very excited. My oldest son, who is six, also suffers from stress and anxiety as well as nightmares.

We were asked to use this product every day for two weeks on our chest and neck areas. We used it religiously and I am so pleased with the results. I have only positive things to say about Maddie's Magic Calming Salve. My son loved the smell of it (kind of lemon-y and fresh). He reminded me each morning and evening to apply some to his neck and chest. He even did it himself if needed. I also used it throughout the day and at night. 

After the first use, my son slept through the night. He usually gets up at least once a night with a bad dream or bad thoughts. Maddie's Magic is really magical. I also felt myself not as stressed and fell asleep faster than normal. The product came at the perfect time too...Christmas week. You know how stressful it can be to get the wrapping done, go to tons of gatherings, church events, baking and cooking, etc. I never felt overwhelmed. I was able to enjoy Christmas and focus on what the season is really about...Jesus and His love for us. 

My son also had a significant change in his attitude. He gets weepy very easily and angry when something doesn't go his way. He has a little bit of OCD. I actually saw him come out of his shell and be able to enjoy life a little more. I am so thrilled that this product has helped us so much. 

Right now is cold season where we live in Virginia. Over the past few weeks we have all had the sniffles and sneezes. Maddie's Magic has helped calm those symptoms in the evenings as well. It does not get rid of the symptoms but makes them tolerable for my little ones. They are able to rest more peacefully. 

After using it on myself and my oldest son for a few days I decided to let my baby try it out also. He is 21 months old and has been teething like crazy. He fights sleep every night and I hate giving him medicine every day for his pain and discomfort. Well, I am happy to say that Maddie's Magic worked it's magic again. He goes right to sleep now and only wakes if he is extremely wet (in his diaper). It is really a dream come true!

I highly recommend Maddie's Magic Calming Salve to anyone who may suffer from stress, anxiety, nightmares, or restlessness at night. It has changed our sleeping habits at my house tremendously. And, it's only $3.00 for 1/4oz. It will last you a very long time. 

With Love has many products available. They are all locally sourced, organic ingredients that are made With Love. I have tried other products of theirs before. The Dirty Secret Mud Mask is awesome. My skin never felt better after using it. I bought some Spoof Hair Pomade for my husband and he really liked it. He said it was just as good as anything store-bought but smelled better.  One of my favorite With Love products is the lip balm. There are a variety of different flavors but my favorite is the Peppermint. It also comes in chocolate, cinnamon, citrus, coconut, and vanilla. 

Anything that With Love makes is going to be a great product. They put a lot of work, research, and love into everything they produce. Please visit their website to see the products for yourself. Everything is very affordable. It is worth every penny when you know the ingredients are good for your and your family. They are safe and healthy and have wonderful results. 

Isn't this family adorable?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Happy Homemaker Monday- 12/22/2014

For more Happy Homemaker Monday please visit Sandra at Diary of a SAHM!

Merry Christmas dear readers! I pray that you each have a blessed week and keep Jesus at the center of your thoughts. We went to my in-laws house today and made cookies. Our extended family couldn't make it because they are sick. We are praying that they get well soon. We missed them! 

We are staying home for Christmas Day but Christmas Eve we will be going to my in-laws house for dinner. It is always a fun time. I am looking forward to it. Friday is my Hubby's 40th birthday. We are going to spend the day celebrating his day. 

The Weather Outside:::
It is very cold and rainy today. Actually, it's perfect napping weather. If only I had time to nap...

Right Now I Am:::
Writing this blog post and thinking about all of the presents I have to wrap. I have vowed to myself to get it done before Christmas Eve this year. I think I can...I think I can...

As I Look Around The House:::
There are presents here and there tucked away in closets and corners. There are boxes of Christmas bags, bows, and wrapping paper. There are piles of laundry waiting to be folded. They will still be there tomorrow. Haha.

On This Week's To-Do List:::
Monday- make cookies with family (done)
Tuesday- visit some family and friends for a small Christmas get-together
Wednesday- Christmas Even~ take cookies and cards to our neighbors, dinner with family
Thursday- Christmas~ take it easy and stay home all day with my children and husband
Friday- Hubby's birthday~ lunch, a movie (the latest Hobbit movie), and dinner with family
Saturday- NOTHING!

Currently Reading:::
Actually, not much at the moment. We are still doing our daily Advent book called Unwrapping The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp. It is such a treasure! 

On The Menu This Week:::
Monday- pizza that hubby is bringing home
Tuesday- chicken alfredo
Wednesday- ham, potatoes, mac and cheese, etc. 
Thursday- turkey, stuffing, mac and cheese, rolls, steamed broccoli, Jesus' birthday cake
Friday- eating out for hubby's birthday
Saturday- leftovers from Christmas

Favorite Photo Of The Week:::

Prayers, Inspirational Quote, Devotionals:::

Have a very Merry Christmas!!!

Friday, December 19, 2014

My Favorite Christmas Books {For the Young and More Mature}

We are a homeschooling family so one of the best resources we have is books. We all have library cards. I also have a home library. It isn't very big but it suits our family. My boys love going into the classroom and grabbing a basket of books to read. Bear likes to read to the other two boys. He is just learning to read so this is such a huge step for him. It builds his confidence as his little brothers wait for him to tell them a story. 

Here is a list of some favorite Christmas/Winter themed books in our home:

We love Ann Voskamp's Unwrapping The Greatest Gift. We have been using it for our Advent book this year. The boys love it. I highly recommend it for anyone looking for something to do as a family to celebrate the Christmas season and keep the focus on Christ. 

What is your favorite Christmas book??

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Best Way To Spread Christmas Cheer {My Favorite Christmas Movies}

I thought I would share some of my favorite Christmas movies with my readers today. I absolutely love this time of year. Everyone is in the Christmas spirit. Houses are decked out with lights and decorations. The music....yes, the music is just the best. But, the one thing that puts me in the Christmas spirit is watching Christmas movies.

Here is a list of my most favorite Christmas movies:

All of the classics plus some funny ones in between. My hubby's favorite is A Christmas Story. I mean, what guy doesn't love a movie about a BB gun? Haha! My children's favorite is The Grinch. My personal favorite is White Christmas. I love the songs and dancing. Although, Elf is a very close second. That movie just makes me laugh every single time.

One movie that we do not watch in my house is Polar Express. I find it very creepy and so does my husband. It is so strange and has some semi-scary scenes that are not very kid-friendly. Just my opinion though. I know it is a popular movie. Just not in my house. LOL!

What is your favorite Christmas movie??

Tuesday, December 16, 2014 {Review} Review

Where has been all my life? As a second year homeschooling mom I need all of the help I can get. When I was asked to review this website I was a little apprehensive. My children are younger and we don't do a lot of online schooling because they don't know how to use the computer. But, after exploring the website for the past few weeks and letting my oldest two sons use it, I really like it a lot. I received the Yearly Membership for this review.

Here is an introduction so you can see for yourself what this is all about is an online learning program for all ages. From Pre-K to high school, there is something for everyone. Here are the categories you can choose from with a paid subscription:
  • Teachers
  • Pre-K/Elementary
  • Middle/High school
  • Dailies
  • Course Offerings
Since I am a homeschooling mom I started with the teachers section. This was such a wonderful resource for me. It is filled with archived lessons from different courses. There are lists of books to read aloud to your students, video math lessons for all ages, lapbooking how-to's, and so much more. I am enjoying this section very much. It has helped me with ideas for my students as well as helped me to learn a few things myself. 

Next, I went on to the Pre-k/elementary section since those are the ages of my students. My oldest son, "Bear", is six and in between Kindergarten and 1st grade (you know us homeschoolers don't really have "grades"). My middle son, "Ducky", is four and in Pre-k. The classes offered here are way more than I could ever have imagined. My oldest son loved the art classes. He would draw all day if I let him. Ducky loved the Bug Science class. He loves bugs (his fourth birthday party was a bug party). I did have to help them both with the computer but once I got them on the page they were off on their own. 

There are SO many topics covered on to even list here. Some of my family's favorites were:

  • Art Techniques
  • Bug Science
  • Sewing (okay, this was just me)
  • Schoolhouse Preschool (for Ducky)
  • Geology
  • Charlotte Mason Preschool (we use a CM approach to homeschooling)
  • Lapbooking
  • American History: Colonization (we live in a very historic town) Review

Okay, I will admit I only looked at the Middle/High School section. But, it was well worth it. I plan to use some of the courses myself. Haha. The courses that got my attention were ASL Adventure, Sewing, Classical History, Creative Writing, and Home Economics. I spent a bit of time exploring each of these courses and they are very well put together. I can't wait to start some of them soon (while on Christmas break!). Review

The has a category called "Dailies". It contains that days courses and classes. It has everything from ABC with ME to copywork, to math. I checked this section each day to see new things that were posted. I enjoyed discovering what new things the writers posted. 

For the grown-ups there are several great resources:

  • Homesteading
  • Whole Foods Cooking
  • Monthly Reading Lists
  • Monthly Menu
  • Charlotte Mason Homeschooling
  • Back issues of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine (digital edition)
  • Schoolhouse Planners
Speaking of planners, there are a few to choose from. I have purchased these in the past and they are so wonderful. These are the downloadable versions but they are worth it. The different planners are: the Schoolhouse Planner, the Special Learners Planner, Primary Planner, Intermediate Planner, and the High School Planner. If you become a member you can get the planners with your paid subscription. 

I am so excited to continue using with my children. They love to learn and using the computer is a good leaning experience as well. You can also use on the go. As long as you have internet access or WiFi you can use it on any device. 

You can visit them on other social media websites as well: Review is having a huge sale right now and through Christmas Day at 11:59pm ET. 

40% off the monthly membership ($7.77/month) or 50% off the Yearly Membership ($64.26/year). Homeschool families who join at this rate will keep it forever as long as they maintain a continuous membership. 

This is an amazing deal. The printables alone are worth every penny. If you have the money in your budget, I highly recommend getting your membership now. I already have a yearly membership and plan on keeping it up every year. Review
Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Unwrapping The Greatest Gift {Christmas Post}

Ann Voskamp is a Christian author that I have loved for years. This year she wrote a new book for the Advent season. It's called Unwrapping The Greatest Gift. It's a family devotion-style book that also goes along with the Jesse Tree concept. I was looking for something new and different to do with the boys this year to incorporate more of Jesus into Christmas. I wanted more of His presence and less focus on actual presents. 

Unwrapping The Greatest Gift has been such a blessing and we are only on day 9. The pictures are so beautiful. The writing is so poetic and comes from the heart. I can actually feel what Ann Voskamp was feeling as she wrote it. There is an adult version of this book called The Greatest Gift. I also have this book and have really enjoyed following along with my children's book. The Greatest Gift is a much more in-depth study of the Advent. 

The two books go hand in hand and compliment one another very well. Ann Voscamp has a website called A Holy Experience. You can go there are download and print all of the Jesse Tree ornaments as well as read about her other books. She is an incredible woman that I would LOVE to meet one day. Her family looks so sweet. 

She also has a facebook page located HERE. Each day she writes a little about the Advent from her book and it is so encouraging to my soul. 

Check it out for yourself and let me know what you think. 

We have also used Truth In The Tinsel in the past. We liked it a lot but I needed something different this year. TITT is a wonderful program. It is downloadable and printable. It's also very affordable. 

You can purchase Truth In The Tinsel HERE for only $7.99. 

You can purchase Unwrapping The Greatest Gift HERE for $14.99.

You can purchase The Greatest Gift HERE for $12.64.

Another thing my family does is the "Advent Angel". She is named Mary (by Bear) and is the angel from the top of our Christmas tree. She brings us a new bible verse each day of the Advent. You can get printable bible verses for Advent on pinterest or simply by googling. She is so cute and has a quilted gown and her arms are made from small tree branches. 

We don't do "Santa and Elves". My kids are not being left out by not believing in Santa. We just believe in not lying to our children. Plus, the "Elf On The Shelf" is just creepy and annoying. Frankly, I don't have time to move him around every night and clean up his "messes". No thanks. My kids would be totally freaked out at the notion that an elf was wondering around the house at night while they slept. Yeah...that wouldn't go over very well. 

One more thing about the "Elf On The Shelf". I have no problem (because it's none of my business) with people who do this. My husband and I have made the decision not to bribe our kids into good behavior. That is basically what that Elf does. "Be good or you won't get any presents". That is not what I want to teach my children. I want them to know about Jesus. They know who Santa is and think of him as any Disney character...fake. 

May you have a blessed Christmas this year. Focus more on Jesus and lavishing in His wonderful love for you and your family. 

Merry Christmas!