Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Vocabulary Spelling City

Vocabulary Spelling City is a website that provides completely customized spelling and/or vocabulary teaching.

They have been around since 2008 and have been growing rapidly with the times.  In 2011 they added vocabulary and changed their name from Spelling City to Vocabulary Spelling City. In 2012 they added an app, which has since been wildly popular.

There is a free version.  Go ahead and try it out.  

I received a year of the premium version for review purposes.

About The Product:

Vocabulary Spelling City Premium Membership offers so much more than the free version.  pmchecklist

You start out by choosing and importing a word list. Or you can create your own from scratch.

Then you go into create an assignment. assignmentmanagement

First you select an imported wordlist.  select a word list

After that you select activities. You can choose up to 10. As you are choosing an activity you can see which ones are available on the app. select activitiesNext you assign it to a student.  assignto studentsThen you add in the details, such as a name for the list, if you want to change it. You can add a special note to your student.  You click whether the activities need to be done in the order you put them in or not. Then you can also choose a due date here.assignment details Another neat thing about Vocabulary Spelling City it the Teaching Resources section.resources

So you have now created an assignment and your child has been working, but what have they been doing and how did they score?

Vocabulary Spelling City makes that easy too. Just a few quick clicks and you can view progress of an assignment, progress of a particular child.

assignment progressassignments

A day/week in our life:

I scheduled some time on Thursdays for me to update the Spelling City info.  After the initial learning curve that it took to get started.  It only takes 5 minutes per child to verify previous work and import a new wordlist and assign it out.

There is an entire page with FAQ videos.  There you will find videos that walk you through any and all parts of the program. 

The kids would start their new work on the following Monday and I would create a due date for the next Sunday. 

For Katey we stuck with shorter (10 word) lists.  I would have her stick with mostly spelling on the lessons and games.

For Emily I did a mix of spelling and vocabulary – all using the same words.

For Tommy we strictly focused on SAT Vocabulary.

Our thoughts and feelings:

When I mentioned my interest in reviewing this I pictured it being used mostly for my 3rd grader and 7th grader.

However when I saw that there were prewritten vocabulary lists for the SAT Vocabulary words.  I put my 9th grader on it as well.  I still had my 3rd grader and 7th grader us it.

All of the kids loved the iPad app.  Most everything they can do on it.  There are only a few assignments that cannot be done on the iPad, they must be done on the computer.

My Opinion:

The learning how to set it all up can be a bit overwhelming at first, there is so much to choose from in all this massive customization.  The FAQ videos were imperative to me learning how to do it all.  Once I got past that this program really is a breeze as far as teacher prep and student enjoyment.  We have stepped way back this year as far as computer learning.  So having this online and on the iPad are actually a very nice change of pace for all of us.  I appreciate how quick and organized all the information is, from test results to assignment progress, to what lists are available and setting it all up.  One small thing that bothered me is that it didn’t tell me how long a word list was without clicking on it.  One time I chose a word list for Emily and it ended up being 40 words long. 

The Details:

A Family Vocabulary Spelling City Premium Membership is for up to 5 students and is priced at $29.99 per year.

This is really for any age as they have lists from the Pre-K Dolche sight word list to SAT Vocabulary words. 

To see what others think of this check out this post.

To see a wide variety of reviews check out our crew blog.


Audrey Bunny {A Children’s Book- A Review}


I was lucky enough to be able to receive for review a copy of Audrey Bunny which is the #1 book on Amazon right now in Christian children’s books.  

You could be lucky enough to win a copy!

Read on….


About Audrey Bunny

From best-selling women’s author Angie Smith (I Will Carry You, Mended) comes this sweet children’s book about a stuffed animal named Audrey Bunny who fears her imperfections make her unworthy of a little girl’s love. She'll learn the truth soon enough, and young readers will learn that everyone is special and wonderfully made by God.

Let author Angie Smith tell you more about this book

Angie Smith is the wife of Todd Smith (lead singer of Dove Award winning group Selah), best-selling author of Mended, I Will Carry You, and What Women Fear, and one of the most popular speakers and blog writers in the country. She holds a Master’s degree in Developmental Psychology from Vanderbilt University and lives with her husband and daughters in Nashville, TN.

Written by: Angie Smith

Publisher: B&H Publishing

Hardcover with jacket:  32 pages

Release Date: October 1, 2013



My take:

Caroline is a small girl who is shopping with her mom when she sees some stuffed animals.  She leaves the store without purchasing anything. The bunny feels very sad she didn’t get picked and wonders if she never will.  A few days later (on her birthday) they return and she chooses out her gift.  The stuffed bunny. She names her bunny Audrey.  Caroline and Audrey play together.  Audrey keeps trying to cover up a flaw in her.  Caroline takes her to show and tell and is proud of the bunny’s flaw and tells the class that is what made her special and that is why she was chosen.  Audrey Bunny feels so excited and loved that she doesn’t have to try and hide her flaw anymore. 


This book was a fun heartfelt read.  As I read it aloud to my children I could see that the pictures held their attention and they paid attention to the storyline. 

What makes this book extra special is the moral of the story, which is that everyone and everything deserves to be loved. Just because you’re different doesn’t mean you’re not special.  You can be special for the very reason you are different. 

In the back of the book is a parent connection.  This is where suggestions are given to take the moral of the story further.

Stay Connected:

Win a copy for yourself. 

Comment below telling me you want to win. It’s that easy.

Then on Nov. 7th I will choose a winner using and you will get your very own copy.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Bridgeway English {A review}

Bridgeway Academy is a fully accredited customizable home education resource.

About The Company:

Bridgeway Academy’s mission statement is:

We help kids succeed by tailoring learning to their strengths and needs, by offering dedicated support to their family, and by giving them the freedom to pursue their God-given gifts and abilities.

I love their mission statement.  They offer a plethora of resources and you can completely pick and choose what you would like based on your teaching style, your child’s learning style and what you want your child to learn.  As well as what they want to learn. 

About The Product:

From their website:

Starting with the basics of nouns and verbs and moving on to writing sentences, paragraphs, resumes and essays, this course is great for middle school students preparing for high school, for high school students who need to gain essential English skills, and for adults who hope to gain success in language and communication. This remedial English course does not teach literature. It is a skills development course designed for students who need help with grammar, with writing, with usage, and with skills required for the realities of life. Written in a step by step fashion with each new skill building on earlier skills, students gain confidence quickly and are able to experience success.

Bridgeway English is a resource for high school students needing a refresher course on grammar and/or writing.  7th to 12 grade students are considered the target audience for this program which is written to the student.  They complete it on their own with checkpoints along the way for the teacher to grade. 

This program is broken down into 2 workbooks.  Each book is divided into Paks. Each Pak is divided into lessons of several pages with all background material provided as needed.  Tests for the Paks are included at the end of each student book.  Each workbook is priced at $23.33.


The 1st book “Focus on Grammar” has 6 Paks and focuses on the following concepts:

  • Subject and Predicate
  • Four Type Sentences
  • Sentence Fragments
  • Run-on Sentences
  • Compound Sentences
  • Noun Functions
  • Pronouns
  • Adjectives
  • Adverbs
  • Prepositions and Prepositional Phrases
  • Conjunctions
  • Interjections
  • Grammar Review


The 2nd book “Focus on Writing” has Paks 7-12. This book focuses on the following concepts:

  • Clauses
  • Sentence Variety
  • Subject/Verb Agreement
  • Grammar and Mechanics
  • Writing Skills
  • Rules of Capitalization
  • Rules of Punctuation
  • Proofreading
  • Editing
  • Letter Writing
  • Business Writing
  • Study Skills
  • Critical Thinking and Reasoning
  • Fact versus Fiction

There is a single teacher guide that covers both of the books. It is priced at $23.33 also.  The teacher guide has a reduced actual page of every page in the student workbooks with the correct answers.  This makes for very easy correcting. 


The way these books are set up is that it is completely self taught. There is a quick lesson – P1182219along with a sense of humor – totally our style, P1182213P1182222

then some examples. Next come practice and putting what you just learned to work. P1182212

A day/week in our life:

I began by assigning one Pak per week.  Each Pak is upwards of 30-40 or so pages.  That ended up proving to be too much and it was more stress then it was worth.  I quickly realized that we had to give each Pak 2 weeks.  I realize that the grammar book is supposed to be used 1st and the writing one second.  We chose to use both together.  How we did that is I would have him do 1 Pak in the grammar book and then move to the writing book and do 1 Pak in there.  We just kept switching it up every 2 weeks.  The student is supposed to correct their own work.  There are some things the teacher needs to correct and those are noted in the teacher guide.  This made correcting very easy.  Him seeing the mistakes he made along with the correct answer, I think, really helping with his comprehension of the materials. 

Final Thought:

I know I have said this before, my son has always struggled with grammar.  He gets that from me.  As he gets older I struggle with the “am I teaching him enough” mentality.  I was so glad to receive these books.  He actually likes them.  I actually like them.  He actually does the work in them. He is getting “it” and retaining the information! YAY!   

To see what others think of this check out this post.




To see a wide variety of reviews check out

our crew blog.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Diary of a Real Payne Book 1: True Story {A Review}

The good people at Barbour Publishing have done it again. 

They have came out with a new juvenile fiction book written by Annie Tipton.

The name of this book is Diary of a Real Payne Book 1: True Story.

About The Company:

Barbour Publishing is a publisher with a niche in Christian book publishing.  They proudly publish more than 150 books a year. They were very excited to reach their 14 million publishing mark! 

About The Product:

Diary of a Real Payne Book 1: True Story is a 192 page paperback book that is aimed to children ages 8-12.

The book is about a girl name Emma Jean Payne (known as EJ).  She is a ten year old girl that has a BIG imagination. EJ is spunky and often miss-understood by those around her. She lives in a boring small town and  Her father is a pastor and her mother is a 2nd grade teacher. 

EJ’s imagination was so big it would often times get her into situations, like the time she imagined she was a race car driver while in the grocery store with the shopping cart. (oops.)  Along with many other imaginations and antics happening all throughout the book.

Each chapter begins with a diary entry that gives you the preface as to what will happen in the upcoming chapter. The chapter then tells the story of what becomes of her wild imagination.

This book takes you through the holiday season and has some good lessons, like service, loving thy neighbor and doing things because they are the right thing to do.

This book sales for $5.99 directly from the Barbour Publishing.  At the time of posting it is on sale for $4.49.

Book 2, Church Camp Chaos comes out in March 2014. 

A day/week in our life:

I decided to let my older two read this on their own.  I spent some special time at bedtime with my younger two (ages 8 and 4) reading this book aloud to them.  We each had our laughs and some of us had tears too.

Our thoughts and feelings:

Clean fun engaging books are getting harder and harder to find.  This one hits all the marks. 

It is a good clean read with a good moral to the story about how God has big plans for your life- bigger than you can imagine.  While not being a “perfect model” Christian family (I’m not sure there even is such a thing) Many Christian character traits are shown in EJ’s family throughout this entire book.

It is a fun book.  It will literally make you laugh out loud. It keeps you entertained in a fun way.

It is engaging as it has someone that most people can relate to. From a young girl with big imagination and big dreams.  An annoying little brother.  A dad with a sense of humor and a mom with some well….. hair.

My family is not the only one who got to review this.  See what others think by checking out this post.



To see a wide variety of reviews check out our crew blog.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

God’s World News- God’s Big World- A Magazine for Preschoolers {REVIEW}


God’s World News is a company that provides news publications for Christians of all ages.

About The Company:

God’s World News delivers current news in age appropriate magazines for Pre-Kindergarten through High School. Each issue of God’s World News is packed with age-appropriate stories, activities, puzzles and full color pictures.

From Pre-K through Middle School a MAP- IT! world wall map is included in the September issue.

Every magazine, has a locator map which will correspond with the wall map to teach kids where in the World the news is happening.

A full-year subscription is priced at $28 and includes 10 monthly issues (every month except December and May).

There are other subscription options available. 

Here is a picture of each of the levels of magazines.

Each subscription includes access to their newly launched website, where you can find activities, stories and other articles to help your fuel your child’s curiosity.

Be sure and check out World Magazine, which is a magazine for adults from a Christian perspective.


About The Product:

God’s Big World Magazine is a child size peek into our big world.


A Biblical worldview is taken on age appropriate current events and fun attention grabbing stories. 

These small (24 page) magazines are full of big color pictures and short read-to-me stories as well as fun engaging activities.

There are also general skill building activities such as alphabet, number and sequencing skills.

Some examples of the stories that were in our October issue are:

Monarch Butterflies and their migration.  This 2 page spread includes a map of their migration paths and fun migration facts.  You also get to meet Mr. and Mrs. Hess and learn what they are doing to help increase Monarch Butterflies around the world.  On the next page there is a butterfly puzzle where you draw what you need to make the butterflies match.  - Is it a line, a shape or a color?

Another activity is learning about baby birds and grown up birds.  You match the baby bird to the parent by matching the lowercase letters to the uppercase letters. 

Tyler loved the story about the giant pumpkin as well.  It showed how a man tried his best to grow the largest pumpkin and how he wasn’t able to win the contest, but he still tried his hardest.

 A day/week in our life:

We did not read the magazine from front to back all in a row.  That just wouldn’t work for my 4 year old.  What we did instead is take 2 days per week and choose a story each time to read about.  This ended up being perfect for us, because it gave us the opportunity to create and then follow rabbit trails. – You know those times when you follow a child’s interest and research together and learn more. 

Our thoughts and feelings: 

I felt like this magazine is just the right size for young children and the articles are all age/ level appropriate. We both enjoyed that this was something special for my preschooler and I to do together.  I loved that the stories were not all negative. 

I’m not the only one who reviewed these, check out what other’s think here:



To see a wide variety of reviews check out our crew blog.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Day I Had A Nervous Breakdown


Our school year began a mere 25 school days ago & boy is it off to a rocky start.

We have really had a hard time getting into the swing of things.  I thought that I had it all planned out to start off slow and give us time to figure it all out. 

We began with two of the basics, reading and math. 

Reading was simple – so I thought- just read 20 minutes minimum daily in a book of your choice.

Math – Do 1 math lesson each day.

Simple right.  We went on like that for 1 week.

Katey was getting her work done – most of it requires me for at least a part of it.

But for the older kids there were struggles every day as far as me asking and checking if each child was doing their work before free time activities.  Everyday I would find that wasn’t happening until I really lay in on the supervision.  I had to make them do their work at the table or on the couch.  Basically, they had to stay in the room I was in until their work was done. 

My thoughts were that they would realize how much better it would be once I could trust them again and they could work where they wanted and when they wanted.

The next week we added in science -  This was continued on from our last years book (since we didn’t finish before our summer break), so this was nothing new. 

This was met again with much resistance.  They were simple not doing their work. 

I would talk to them about the importance of them doing their work and trust.  I would make them work around me.  It was still not completely getting done. 

Some examples of what I would find happening:

  • Tommy was supposed to be doing math on the computer.  I would catch him on Mountain Biking websites.
  • Emily was supposed to be reading a book.  She would be texting.
  • Tommy was supposed to be doing science.  He would have to go to the bathroom and just wouldn’t come back.  This happens with all of them. 

Still by Week 3 we added in History – This year we are doing it much different then I have in years past for the older kids.  Katey has been doing history/ geography all summer. The older kids are just supposed to read out of Joy Hakim’s The Story of US series. I assign them daily reading.  Then we do discussions and activities around what they are learning.  At first in the discussions they were fooling me.  I then found out I had every kind of trickery going on, from skimming the chapter to not reading it at all.  I will give them some credit.  They did each read a small amount some days. 

By Week 4 – Emily had to work on her 4H portfolio which was due the following week.  This required a lot of help from me, and I required a lot of help from the 4H office as none of my kids have ever done a 4H Portfolio.

Week 5 begins.  I have to work about 10 hours this week.  I work Monday morning, we have art class in the afternoon.  Tuesday I have off – we get some schoolwork done in between me bitching at the kids to get it done.  Wednesdays are co-op days.  We have various classes all throughout the day and not all at the same place.  Our co-op doesn’t have a building, we use the library, the 4H classroom, the rec center and peoples homes.  Thursday we finish up Emily’s 4H portfolio and application for Teen Council – which she has been talking about doing since Tommy joined it last year.  (You have to be 7th grade).  For her portfolio she has to write her “4H Story”.  I read her story and she has written about how I missed the deadline for camp signups this summer and how she didn’t get to go.  Nice! Mom of the year, here.  The kids only get done whatever schoolwork I hound them to do.   Also during this week, I went to the grocery store twice with kids and both times I was overcharged, I always try to watch prices at the register, and I was distracted then by children so I didn’t notice.  My grocery budget was tight this week and I was maxing it out.

Friday- We head over to 4H to turn in all of Emily’s stuff.  We are told we missed the deadline to apply for teen council.  Oh nice!  She turned in her portfolio and we left.  I went out to the car and just cried.  I mean bawled vey eyes out.  Right there in front of my children.  I couldn’t take it anymore.  I officially sucked as a mom and I had no control over my kids. 

A few weeks later:

I am able to write about this.  - I still don’t have complete control over the kids and they are still fighting me on schoolwork.  I am pretty lax with them and I do not have them over booked as far as doing things.  I did implement some new rules that have been helping, such as I change the internet password at night and they can only earn the password when schoolwork is done.  I made a no eating between 10 and noon rule. Also no eating after 5 until dinner is ready and no eating after 8pm.  I know that sounds like a weird rule, but they were using always being hungry as an excuse.  They were not eating full meals and just snacking a lot throughout the day. 

I am still having a hard time and I am bordering on whether I can really do this or not.  I have cut back even more on my work hours. 

Today I checked out a book from the library on Love and Logic for Teens.  I have taken a Love and Logic course before and it was life changing for us.   So here is hoping for the book to give me ideas. 

I also had a good long talk with my mom about how I am not cut out to raise teenagers.  She made me feel better about it all.  She shared with me how hard it was for her.  She helped me to see the good and bad in it all.

I am still working on it.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Homemakers Mentor


headerWhat is it?

The Homemakers Mentor is just that- a collaborative collection of over 110 PDF files on a single CD that will inspire and encourage homemakers of all ages and types. 

How did this all start?

Back in 2008, two women, Martha Greene and Rebekah Wilson, both of whom have been longtime homemakers, wives, mothers, small business owners and more, began encouraging other homemakers. Together they began a subscription only website to help and encourage other homemakers out there.  Many of the files shared on that website are now available all in one great limited edition collection, The Homemakers Mentor, at a price less then that of subscribing to the website. HomeMaker_sMentor

Let’s talk more about it.

The plethora of items on this cd can be overwhelming.  Don’t worry though, it is very well organized into folders and subfolders, you can just click into what you are looking for- this is also proven handy for me as I was just surfing the collection.  I wasn’t sure where to start and by browsing through I was able to come across plans that struck my fancy.

The wide range of topics include, cleaning, cooking, baking, party planning, organizing, sewing, emergency preparedness, crafts and so much more.

See the complete list of what is included here.

I often want to go back to the “olden days” when the pace of life was just slower and people just enjoyed things.  My mom was a single working mom when I was growing up.  Much of her time was spent making money just to support our family.  She did her best to teach us kids how to cook and clean and organize, there just wasn’t always time for that.  So I am grateful for the opportunity to have a mentor right here in The Homemakers Mentor. mini-lessoncovers-4rows

Some things that caught my eye:

The recipe for homemade oatmeal crème pies!  My son and I decided to make these together. We doubled the recipe batch because man- I love those things and so do my kids.  This made the mixer overflow and I had to run to the store halfway through for more ingredients. That was a lesson about planning ahead all in itself. 

photo (1)

The cookies ended up perfect.  They were amazing.  Once I asked my husband what kind of cookie he was eating and he said, “The good ones.” 

Such a fun way to spend some quality time one on one with my son and the whole family benefited by getting an awesome treat.  Plus we had plenty to share!

The Small Steps to Machine Sewing was a great file as well.  I do already know how to sew- my mom taught me that, but this had some tips in it that even I didn’t know.

The Mom and Me Aprons made out of towels are definitely a future project for my 8 year old daughter and I.

With the Master Bedroom Detailing File, I was able to get the encouragement and motivation to clean up my dump all bedroom and make it a more relaxing place for my husband and I.

Don’t just take my opinion on this, check out what others had to say here.

How to get all this for yourself:

You can purchase it now for $37 until Oct 18, 2013 with free shipping – after that it will be $47. 

You can also win a copy for yourself. I have two to giveaway. Just enter using the Rafflecopter below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

mega-giveawayHMMThere is also a grand giveaway for all that is pictured above.

Enter to win that here!


“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Rufus and Ryan Go To Church {Review and Giveaway}



Let me introduce you to Ryan. 

He is a cute 4 year old boy who goes to church and he takes his best friend a stuffed animal monkey named Rufus with him.


Together these two are the stars of the book Rufus and Ryan Go to Church.  Written by Kathleen Long Bostrom and Illustrated by Rebecca Thornburgh.

The 20 page board book is full of beautiful watercolor pictures. 

The short story taking you throughout a typical Sunday in Ryan’s family, including getting ready for church, going to church and after church. 

During Church services they read the Bible, pray together, sing and have snacks.  Ryan is so excited to show Rufus all around church. 

The book itself is sturdy and the pictures with the story keep my son’s interest. 

This is the type of book I let my child take to church to keep him busy and quite while we listen.  It is also the type of book for a child who maybe hasn’t been to church and doesn’t know what to expect, or one who needs a soft reminder of how to behave at church.

Rufus and Ryan have another book out too!

Rufus and Ryan Say Their Prayers.

Would you like to win your own copy of Rufus and Ryan Go to Church?

It would make a perfect gift for:

    • - Children ages 2 to 5 and their parents, grandparents
    • - These faith-based board books make great gifts during any season: Christmas, Easter, baby
    • - Toddler birthday
    • - Gift from grandparents
    • - Gift for your child's Sunday School teacher of children's minister
    • - Perfect for church nurseries, Sunday school classes, preschools, and church worship settings
    • Or even keep it for yourself!

Enter using the Rafflecopter below! 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

Kathleen Long Bostrom is a published children’s author in both the Christian and trade markets. She has a Master’s in Christian Education and a Doctorate of Ministry in Preaching, and she has worked in children’s ministry for many years. Kathy and her husband, Greg, have three grown children and live in Illinois. 

About the Illustrator

Rebecca Thornburgh began illustrating children’s books full-time in 1996 and today has almost 100 books to her name. Rebecca’s vibrant watercolors have been showcased in previous Ideals titles, including the new edition of The Story of Christmas. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and two daughters.

Rufus and Ryan Go to Church!

Written by: Kathleen Long Bostrom

Illustrated by: Rebecca Thornburgh

Publisher: Ideals Books

Board book


Available at



“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Day Trip Scavenger Hunt


One of the fun things we did over the Summer was a special day trip with Katey.  It was a trip she really wanted to take. 

The Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum set up a scavenger hunt of all the DUP Historical Markers around our county.  It was a contest.  Once you got pictures of yourself at each of the 12 markers you could turn it in to win a gift basket.  Everyone entered and a name was drawn at the end of summer.  We didn’t win.  The girl that did looked so excited!  And we made some really great memories doing this.  All is well!

Now I will tell you something about me:  I love to stop and read historical markers.  In fact, I love it so much that I drive my husband crazy!  He always finds them interesting, however he is a deadline oriented guy.  I keep trying to tell him, it’s about the journey.  I still notice him trying to drive by them, hoping I won’t notice.

This was as much an opportunity for me as it was for Katey!


Her grandparents came to town to do this with us. 



We couldn’t find one of them.  We decided to ask when we went to turn her pictures in.  It was right out front of the museum. 


We learned so much about the history of our town.  I suggest one day you take the time to stop at historical markers!


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