Friday, July 31, 2015

34 Weeks of Clean! Week 31- Address Books & Office Deep Clean

After spending three weeks in the office area, it is almost time to move on.  Today is for those of you that are actually blessed with a physical room for an office and then for those that have friends they need to keep up with.   If you are not one of those people, you can use this time to finish up your paperwork and filing systems!  ;) We have not had many share theirs, so now is your chance!

You know the drill, though this time you do not have to take everything out, so here we go-

First the deep cleaning of the office-
  • Clear off all flat surfaces and dust and wax furniture.  Remember this is not your weekly cleaning- really hit the tough spots.
  • Add back 1/2 of what you cleared off.  Yes, that IS a challenge! ;)
Is it needed, does it bring you joy, would you buy it again?
  • Clean off windows and blinds and ceiling fans,  and wash any curtains.
  • Wipe off baseboards and door frames- don't forget the light switches!
  • Vacuum- moving furniture where needed!
Now on to the address book-

This may seem like a small project to some of you but for us, not so much!
We have moved over 14 times in the last 23 years.  Unfortunately, so have many of our friends.

I learned very quickly to not write in pen in our address book.  Well, after I had to throw several away because they were a mess.  Now, I write in pencil.

Well, when I get around to actually writing in it.  My go to plan of action is just to stuff the address book with return address labels and emails with new addresses on them.  And no, not even under the right tab.

Hence this look-

Yep, I know it is not pretty!

I need help- I hope you do too!

So this week your second assignment is to pull out those address books, clean them up, get rid of all the scraps of paper (oh, please tell me it is not just me!) and then put it neatly away!

This one is a pretty simple no-brainer, friends, so I do not have a step by step guide for you this week. You can do it, I am sure!  I can't wait to see the pictures!

Kemi from Homemaking Organized has some half- sized planner address book pages to help you get started!

We will be back next week in a brand new area, so if you have not finished going through all of your paperwork and files, keep at it!

After that we will have two projects left- where has time gone?

Week 30- The Computer

Week 32- The Garage


Thursday, July 30, 2015

With Lee in Virginia- Schoolhouse Crew Review

It is always a pleasure to team up with Heirloom Audio Productions and review their products!  This amazing company has taken on the monumental task of taking G.A. Henty's books and making them come alive.  We have enjoy Under Drake's Flag and In Freedom's Cause previously, and now have been blessed with their newest release, With Lee in Virginia.

With Lee in Virginia is an exciting tale of a band of friends and their adventures in the Civil War. Complete with plantation owners, slaves, and cannons blasting, this audio drama is sure to keep your whole family on the edge of their seats.  After a gentleman by the name of George takes responsibility for two young men riding a train without tickets, he sits them down and tells them a story of two men he thinks are much like them. The tale begins with Vincent (a young southern man who has lost his father years past) defending his neighbor's slave.  This leads to a tension that ensues for the rest of the story.  His own faithful servant, Dan, follows him through a series of twists and turns that even lands him in the enemy's prison. As usual, Heirloom Productions has hired some of the best actors out there.  Names like Sean Astin (who plays General Jeb Stuart) and Kirk Cameron (who plays General Stonewall Jackson) are sure to draw in listeners of all ages..

This two disk set provide over 2 1/2 hours of adventure.  Be ready- this is no quiet bedtime tale.  The audio includes sounds of guns and cannons, slaves being beaten and troops fighting.  Because of the intense subject matter, I do recommend you preview the drama before allowing younger children to listen to it, though I can tell you that our 8 year old loves it.  The intense scenes are often sandwiched in between humor that allows for comic relief. 

Also included with the purchase of With Lee in Virginia is a study guide that is over 50 pages.  Like the releases before, this study guide allows you to take one step further and use this audio drama as a springboard for learning and digging deeper into history.  After quick bios on author G.A. Henty, General Robert E. Lee, and General Thomas Jackson, there is a great map showing the major cities and battlefields that are talked about in the audio drama.  After that there is a page dedicated to each track on the 2 disks.  The track is broken in three parts- Listening Well, Thinking Further and Defining Words.

Listening Well asks a handful of questions that help you check for listening comprehension.  These are the who and where and why type questions.
Thinking Further digs a little deeper and gets you and your child to think outside the box a little. There is not a right or wrong answer to these- they are intended to get the creative juices flowing.
Defining Words are to help build and expand your vocabulary and will often have to be looked up.
At the end of the study guide there is an additional reading list  provided as well as two Bible Studies to help you further study some of the Biblical themes that are addressed in With Lee in Virginia.
Our favorite quote from With Lee in Virginia-

The How's and What's!
As soon as our family received With Lee in Virginia my 13 year old took off with the CD!  He is a huge history buff and loves anything war related.  Luckily, I was able to get it back from him for a trip we had and we listened in the car as a family.  (Warning to the driver- loud sounds may cause you to jump! Ask me how I know this?!)  
We are now currently working through the Study Guide for fun to see who can remember the most.  I love that the open ended questions in the Thinking Further sections encourage lots of lively conversations.  If you were doing a unit study of the Civil War, this would be a great addition to your curriculum!
We love listening to all the Heirloom Audio Production releases, but this one may be our favorite so far. I love that my family can listen to something together and all ages can be equally entertained.  I also love that we can listen to true stories that encourage honor and truth and determination and have a focus on God!

Heirloom's mission is "To engage our listeners' imaginations by taking them back in time and immersing them in history."   They do just that and so much more!  
You can find these great products here-
With Lee In Virginia (Facebook):
Heirloom Audio Productions (Facebook):
Heirloom Audio Productions (Twitter):

With Lee in Virginia Audio Drama Review
Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

How About Some Fun?

Welcome back to another month of the Homeschooling Highschool Blog hop!  I pray that last month's post was a blessing to you and you were able to HOP around to many other amazing blogs and find even more to help you get started.  One of the glories of homeschooling is that you are NEVER alone in your adventure and there are many talented and dedicated mommas out there that want to help you.  Take my advice- use what you can! It takes a village, especially when homeschooling the high school level.

So today's subject is all about electives!  Yep, it's a big one!  And quite frankly, one that one person cannot possibly cover completely so I am going to share a little of what we do and a few things I wish we did.  Again, take time to explore other's posts for even more ideas!  The sky is the limit here, and you want to suit electives to not only what a perspective college would like to see, but also to your child's interests and strengths.

Foreign Languages- Let's face it, this is one that is big simply because most colleges require some sort of foreign language knowledge for entry.  In addition, most states require two years of one language to graduate.  Rosetta Stone of course is the biggest name out there and offers quite a lot of choices if your child is looking for a not so common language to pursue.  My second daughter completed three years of Rosetta Stone, but let's just say it is not for the weak of heart.  Because we teach Spanish in our home, our favorite High School level course is Homeschool Spanish Academy.  By skyping with instructors that are native speakers, you can really immerse yourself in the language as well as culture.  We have nothing but good things to say about this program and its teachers, and we highly recommend it!

Arts- Don't just think art here.  Remember things like choir, band, art, and music appreciation, and any media graphics and design programs.  What about dance or fiber arts or drama or speech?  Often times, co-ops and outside locations in your community are good places to start when looking for these opportunities. My daughters were both able to count piano lessons and voice in their arts elective credits.  Keep a log of all of their practice time as well as lessons and performances and you might be surprised at how many hours they are building. Online classes are also good choices and allow your child to experience college at a less threatening level at first.

Passions- Does your child have one?  Participate in something regularly?  We often forget that those passion can be easily turned into homeschool credit.  Again, keep careful records of your hours involved as well as a good description of the activity.  Then, assign it a name and out it on that transcript!  Woodworking = Shop.  Baking = home economics. Being a nanny = Family and Life skills.

Jobs- Not all of our child's jobs can count as transcript credits, I admit, but do not forget to put them somewhere in your child's transcript.  They do show commitment and interests your child has.

Are there more electives out there?  YOU BET!  I highly suggest you sit down with your highschooler and brain storm together.  Ask a lot of questions, work together and find at least one elective per semester that makes their hearts sing.  Maybe, just maybe, they will whine less about Chemistry! ;)  Here's hoping!

Read More on Homeschooling in the High School Years

Read More on Electives in the High School Years

  • Laura from Day by Day in Our World shares about Selecting the Best Electives in High School

  • Debra over at Footprints in the Butter asks Is your high schooler taking the "right" electives?

  •  Blessings,

    Tuesday, July 28, 2015

    Unlock Math

    Math is not one of my favorite things.  It is also not my favorite subject to teach.  But as a homeschooling mom, it is my duty to teach it.  Unless I can find someone else to. Guess what?  I found someone for this year!  Yay me!  Introducing UnLock Pre- Algebra  grades 7/8th) from UnLock Math.  This complete online homeschool math curriculum taught by Alesia Blackwood is my new favorite!  As former math teacher and fellow homeschooler., Alesia has taken her wealth of knowledge in math and teaching and made my life a lot easier!
    We were blessed by UnLock Math to have a year of access to this amazing product and will continue to use it for my 8th grader for the school year.  A quick log in to their site automatically brings up a personalized dashboard that shows each lesson, how much progress you have made, and a place to view and print a personalized progress report and grade-book.  There is also a downloadable pacing guide you can print out and use for scheduling purposes if you like.  Each lesson takes approximately 30 minutes and the course is set up to be completed in 9 months, give or take depending on your student.
    There are 16 Units in the Pre-Algebra course.  By hitting the launch button next to the unit names on the dashboard page, you are taken to the lesson page.  There you can choose the lesson you are on and begin by doing a short warm-up session that includes 5 problems.  From there you watch the video that teaches that day's lesson.  These quick "bite sized" chunks of teaching videos are all taught by Alesia and about 4-10 minutes apiece.

     Following the lesson video you have practice problems to do followed by a tab (review) and then a challenge yourself problem that stretches your child's thinking and problem solving skills.  This challenge problem does not count against you but basically serves as bonus points.  You can do a lesson twice and keep the higher score.  Another unique feature is the fact that you are able to look at fully explained answers for each problem your child does. There is also online help at any time if you just get stuck and need some help! Just a quick email and Alesia will respond back promptly.  Ask me how I know!

    At the very end of each lesson is a page of reference notes your child can print out to use for any further review they need or to just keep a notebook of what they have learned so far.  Sprinkled throughout the program are quizzes, a mid-semester test and a final.  Automatic grading for each of those and the daily lessons are recorded in the gradebook that can be seen by your child or accessed by you from a teachers page, in which you can keep track of multiple students at one time.   After each lesson is completed it will show it on the dashboard, but you can repeat any lesson at any time.

    Units include-

    Whole Numbers
    Variables and Expressions
    Rational Numbers
    The Coordinate Plane
    Mid Term Review and Test
    2 D geometry
    # D Geometry
    Analyzing Data
    Probability and Stats
    Final Review and Test

    How did we use UnLock Math?
    We have a math program we have used for a while now, but I decided to put it aside and give this a try with my upcoming 8th grader.  He is an auditory learner so I felt like this would be a good fit for him.  We had already previewed a lesson by Alesia and he said he liked her easy going teaching style. Salem did one lesson a day on average.

    What Did We Think?
    We love it!  Well, I love it and Salem likes it.  Trust me, that is saying a lot for a 8th grade boy.  There is just nothing bad to say about this program.  The site is easy to navigate and Alesia makes the lessons student-friendly and even humorous at times.  The lessons are quite complete and yet are short enough to hold a student's attention and not bore them to death.  We like that you can actually see Alesia, not just hear her and that she writes on a white board each step of the way.

    The automatic grading is a huge MUST for me.  At this level of math, it is just so much easier for a computer to take on that work.

    Let me say a quick thing about the customer service.  As I mentioned before, I emailed UnLock Math about a concept that we could just not get in our heads.  It was a matter of wording, but it kept tripping us up.  Immediately Matthew emailed us back with a complete explanation.  When we still did not get it (I told you I am not a math person) Alesia joined the email chain and got us straightened out.  The company also had a few glitches in the system that they had to work through during our review times and throughout that time Matthew was in contact with us to make sure we were up to date with what was happening and what we needed to do to our end to clear things us.  It is customer service like that that I believe is worth its weight in gold when it come to a homeschooling curriculum!

    Because of our success with this program, Salem is dropping his old math by choice and continuing on with UnLock Math Pre-Algebra.  It is a change in our curriculum for this year that we are BOTH very excited about!

    Also available Algebra (grades 8/9), and coming soon Algebra 2 (10/11th)

    UnLock Math Review

    Crew Disclaimer

    Parent Training Center Giveaway for Churches

    You may have already seen that I have partnered up with The National Center for Biblical Parenting again and am currently reading and reviewing their book, Parenting is Heart Work.  Like the other other resources I have reviewed for them, The Family Toolbox and  Motivate Your Child, and Motivate Your Child Action Plan,  Parenting is Heart Work is filled with biblical references and examples to help you parent based on God's standard rather than the worlds.  Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN  have worked hard to help you reach the heart of your child rather than base all of your discipline off behavior modification.  In doing so we are training our children to use their conscious to guide their lives, rather than external stimuli.  It is an amazing concept, and one that is slowly changing the way we parent in our home.  Now the National Center for Biblical Parenting is working on partnering up with churches to help get this invaluable information into the hands of even more parents through local churches.

    A Parent Training Center is a church that intentionally trains parents, providing resources and tools both for discipleship of believers and for evangelism to families in the community.
    The National Center for Biblical Parenting offers resources, and practical support to help you become the Parent Training Center God designed. The Equipping Program contains a number of mobilization tools to help you advance to the next level in your parent discipleship ministry.
    With this program you'll interact with experts as well as other pastors and church leaders. Receive personalized guidance for your unique church situations. Use resources that will equip your parents to reach their children's hearts.

    Parent Training Center Giveaway for Churches

     To introduce your church to the Parent Training Center concept, we are hosting an awesome giveaway that includes some of our best church and parent training resources, along with a $100 gift certificate to the National Center for Biblical Parenting store. Here's what your church could win: 

    Parenting Is Heart Work DVD Church Kit ($199.95 value)

    Equip parents to touch the hearts of their kids with this biblically-based, practical training program. Parents and teachers of children 2-18 years will benefit from this life-changing curriculum. The Parenting is Heart Work Church Kit includes: • Eight 35-minute video sessions • A Leader's Guide with reproducible pages for attendees • A copy of the 256 page book Parenting is Heart Work
    The videos were filmed before a live audience of parents and children. Using drama, Bible stories, and lots of illustrations, Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN will energize you and provide you with tools you need to strengthen your family. Use this eight-part video series in your church, small group, or even in your own family. Many times parents have to change the way they parent in order for children to change the way they live.

    The Family Toolbox DVD Church Kit ($179.95 value)

    he Family Toolbox has 8 lessons for parents, teens, or both in a small group setting. Each one has a 1-2 minute scene of a family living life and experiencing common challenges in their relationships. A discussion guide prompts dialogue among parents and a 10-minute teaching session featuring Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN gives practical tools to use right away.
    As the group works through the lessons parents learn:
    • How to focus on the heart instead of just behavior • The cues you give that tell your children when you mean business • Practical ways to remove conflict from the problems of family life • How to end correction times with impact • A tool for maximizing heart change in the correction process • The value of teaching kids to accept no as an answer • Ways to reduce anger episodes in children
    The Family Toolbox is designed for families with children ten years old and up and is an excellent resource for small groups. Each lesson can be done in 20-30 minutes, but could also lead to discussion and dialogue lasting an hour or more.

    Coupon to purchase resources in the NCBP Store ($100 value)

    Visit the NCBP store to discover a plethora of church and parent training resources. 


    To enter, please use the Rafflecopter below.
      a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Terms and Conditions: This giveaway is open to residents of the U. S. only.  Void where prohibited by law. Must be at least 18 years of age. This giveaway is in no away associated with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest.. No purchase necessary for entry. Odds are determined by the number of entries. Selected winner will have 48 hours to respond to email notification to claim their prize or another winner will be drawn.  Entrants to this giveaway will be added to the email list for the National Center of Biblical Parenting.


    Monday, July 27, 2015

    Spanish Anyone?

    It is no secret that we love the Spanish language in this house.  It should also come as no surprise that I love Spanish curriculum, hence my continual reviews of different ones.  Yes, I have reviewed a lot!  Yes, I love many of them!  But a few stand out to me more than others, as is the case for Spanish For You! I had the opportunity to review Spanish For You! about two years ago through the Schoolhouse Review Crew, so I was thrilled when creator Debbie Annett asked me to look over one of her newest themes - Mi Vida! (My Life)

     Also available are Estaciones (Seasons), Fiestas (Celebrations), and Viejes (Travels).  Each unit stands alone and be used in any order.

    Spanish For You! was written by Debbie, a veteran Spanish teacher of many years, and is intended to teach Spanish in a simple and affordable manner to children grades 3-8.  With additional themes added since I last reviewed this program, you can gear your child's learning to a subject you think they will enjoy!  The fun themes help catch the child's attention, teach everyday vocabulary, and provide some fun along the way.

    Spanish For You! is intended to be taught four days a week and will typically cover a year, depending on the grade you are teaching and the rate you go. Each themed unit provides downloadable lesson plans and worksheets for grades 3rd and 4th, 5th and 6th and then 7th through 8th.  All levels are provided to you so you can choose which one(s) you need to use.  If you are teaching multiple age levels, I would recommend you use the 3rd-4th grade lesson plans and then add extra activities to challenge your older children.  Downloads also include flashcards for you to cut out and use for each of the 5 lessons.  

    Mi Vida lessons include-
    • Mi Casa (My house)
    • Mi Cuarto (My room)
    • Mi Familia y mis amigos (My family and friends)
    • Mi Actividades (My activities)
    • Mis Clases (My classes)

    Once you have printed out the lesson plans you are ready to learn!  Debbie has specific instructions for each day, including reading lessons, learning new vocabulary, reviewing vocabulary, and even playing games.  She also often directs you to listen to audio files that you will receive the downloadable files for when you buy the program.  These audios (a complete audio of the textbook recorded by Debbie herself) provide your child with clear examples of pronunciation and help encourage them to practice actually speaking the language.  A bonus downlaod that has a native speaker reading is also included.

    One of the things I love about this program is the wealth of basic information that Debbie provides for you at the beginning for each of her workbooks.  There is an alphabet pronunciation guide, a list of basic commands, great ideas for games to use for additional practice, and basic vocabulary to get you started.  Debbie recommends that you go at your own pace and repeat any days that you feel like your child needs to review.  

    The other element that stands out in this program is that it is a great mixture of fun and hard work. Oftentimes, Spanish programs at the younger age levels teach a lot of vocabulary, but fail to teach basic grammar.  Debbie provides both!  Grammar rules are provided in each lesson as well as verb conjugation.  I know, it may take you back to your 5th grade grammar class, but I can assure you, it is invaluable information to know.  Our trips to Guatemala when adopting our son showed us quickly that vocabulary alone will not get you far.  Plus, using the wrong tense of a verb can get you some funny looks!

    Will I ever teach my kids to be bi-lingual?  Hmmm, the jury is still out there on that one.  But I do know with Debbie's Spanish For You program we are at least on the right path!

    Free mini units and worksheets are available on Debbie's site to give you a preview of her teaching style!


    Friday, July 24, 2015

    34 Weeks of Clean! Week 30- The Computer

    Technology- ugh!  I am just going to go on and admit to you that I am not a techie queen.  Cleaning queen, maybe, but NOT a techie queen.  That is one of the reasons I pay my 17 year old to maintain my blog.  When she leaves, I am in BIG trouble.

    And computers?  Well, they fall under the techie thing and therefore are not my friends.  In addition, with my hero husband away for the moment, I am at an even bigger disadvantage. I tease him that if ever something happens to him I am going to throw away all things techie, with the computers going first.  I. Am. Serious!

    This week though, despite my hang ups, we are continuing with the Office theme and hitting the computer, or computers in some cases!  Don't worry, this involves a lot of deleting (which I am good at) and some file rearranging, which my daughter is good at! Plus some general cleaning that I am sure we can all manage.

    If this is an easy week for you, I do NOT want to know.  I prefer to think that everyone else is suffering right along side of me, thank you very much!

    So here is the plan for Cleaning up your computer!

    • First of all, wipe it down. This includes the screen, tower, mouse, and keyboard.  Dust settles in cracks and crevices quickly and can really mess things out.  I know some people that use the cans of pressurized air or a vacuum cleaner with brush attachments.  I also use a Norwex cloth meant for mirrors that I love!  No need for harsh chemicals. 

    Once again my friend Kemi, from Homemaking Organized, has created a printable checklist to keep you focused!
    • Next, on to the techie stuff.  Ugh!  Your goal is to go through and cleanup or delete old, unused files, pictures, and downloads.  I was AMAZED at how much was stored on my computer that had been there for years and that we did not need.  Apparently I download a lot of files I forget about and never use.  Who knew?  And pictures- well, let's just say I am not as organized in that area as I wish I was.  Luckily my 17 year old IT girl is better at it and is on a mission to rescue me.  Remember, folders are your friends.  Even if you have a ton of them, at least if they are clearly labeled you can retrieve things you need quickly.  Follow the same rule that we talked about from last week- EVERYTHING HAS A HOME!  

    • Finally, look at your computer desktop and see what you can do to clean it up.  Sometimes just a simple rearrangement will do wonders!
    • For those of you with iPads, iTouches, and such, I suggest you do the same thing there as well.  You will be amazed at how much storage space you can free up by just a quick overhaul of what you have!
    As for last week, I know many of you are still knee deep in paper work.  That is okay!  Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!  Rome was not built in a day, nor were our messes made in a day. Keep setting that timer for 15 minutes a day and see what you can get done!

    It is week 30 ya'll!!  Can you even believe it???  Four more weeks to go on this amazing journey.  Before you know it you will not recognize your home.  One of friends participating just recently moved and said their moving weight was noticeably less!  Yay Cristi!!!  You are proof that it CAN be done!  Make sure you all link up and show us your successes!

    And just for fun, a Norwex cleaning cloth has been added to the prize basket!  

    Week 29- The Office (Paperwork and Bills)

    Week 31- Address Books & Office


    Wednesday, July 22, 2015

    Riley's Wordless Wednesday!

    After our internet being down for two days, we are finally back up and running.  Well, as much as one can be after being away from home for a week at Drama camp, where one child performed and another helped with the costuming!  This was their second year there- another wonderful week full of learning, fun and friends!

    Making memories-


    Friday, July 17, 2015

    34 Weeks of Clean! Week 29 - The Office (Paperwork and Bills)

    Welcome back to 34 Weeks of Clean!  We are nearing the end of our series and by now you should be feeling really good about your homes.  One week at a time, we have been on a mission to take back our homes!  If you are just finding us, it is still not to late to get started.  Just pick a room, set a timer for 15 minutes if that is all you have and go!  If you do that each day, you WILL see results. 

    Slow and steady wins the race, promise!

    It is not by coincidence that I saved the "Office" for next to last.  Or that I will be breaking it down for you in three week assignments. This is a hard place for me.   Obviously!

    The sad thing is that this is not even in a room by itself where I can shut the doors and pretend it doesn't exist.  Our current home does not have a separate office room and so this desk sits right in the middle of our downstairs family room.  Nice, huh?  In my defense it starts out relatively clean on Monday, but by the end of the week, between two boys using it for school, everyone using the printer and all of us being lazy, it usually looks pretty rough by Friday.

    It has been brought to my attention that we are fighting three problems really-




    Here is how we are currently dealing with those issues.

    Laziness.  We have, all of us,  got to commit to finishing what we start.  That includes if you take something out, you put it up.  Sadly, the kids are not the only ones guilty of this.  This summer we are working on character training and yes, diligence is up at the top of our list!

    Too much stuff.  Well, by now you know that I like to throw things away!  I went through this desk and the shoe holder I use as an organizer and got rid of extras.  Notice I said extras, not just what we did not need I think- there is a difference.  Yes, we need pens,  No we do not need 200 of them.  I seriously went through this whole house on a war path against pens and threw every last one of them away that did not fit my fancy.  The reality is I have never had to throw a pen away because it actually ran out of ink.  Do they even do that?  The other reality is that when I go to use a pen I seek out one of two kinds, ignoring the rest.  So those two kind stayed and the rest went out, with the exception of highlighters and pencils that we use for homeschooling.  Bye bye motel and business pens!  If I need your number I will look you up in the phone book.

    Not having homes for everything.  I read in my Kathi Lipp book that one of the problems with organizing is that if something does not have a home, it just gets rearranged daily.  Yep!  Guilty! And paperwork seems to be one of those areas for me.  I am working to change that.  My new war cry is EVERYTHING. HAS. A HOME!  The kids are loving it.  NOT!  If something does not have a home, a place that it goes every single time, then we either find it a home or it goes out the door.  It is amazing what that simple little task will do for you.  Try it- go around your house one room at a time and anything that is sitting out, ask yourself, where does this belong?  If you do not have a home for it- find one.  Now! Or move it out.

    We are going to divide the "office" into several weeks for sanity sake.  

    This week then is all of that paperwork and the bills/filing system since for me, is where my clutter typically comes from.

    For this job, go on and get a large trash bag out.  I am guessing you will probably need it. 

    I will also introduce you to one of my favorite office supplies-

    Yes, the paper shredder.  A wonderful invention!

    Here we go!
    • Go through the stacks of papers you have sitting out!  This is everything from bills to receipts to flyers.  Whatever paper you have just sitting around.  Make three piles-
              Throw away
              Move somewhere else (the paper, not you!)

    Your goal is to organize now, we will put it where it belongs later.

    Don't judge
    • Now do the same thing with any paperwork or files you may have hidden in the recesses of your desk.  Or sitting anywhere else they do not belong. (Kitchen counter, anyone?)
    • Once you have left only what you need to keep- establish a system for filing and stick to it!  Here is where I made some changes, since my current system was obviously not working for me.  

    Again using Kathi Lipp's idea from her amazing book Clutter Free, I established a daily file box to keep things in.  You can read all about it in her book, but the premise is that you have a specific place to house paperwork and such until you can address it.  You see, our office is downstairs.  Our kitchen counter is upstairs.  Hence the problem.  When the mail comes in, (bills, coupons, flyers, magazines, correspondence) it all gets stuck on my kitchen counter top, which drives me crazy.  Now, I sort it into my filing system, which also holds my calendar, so daily I can take a quick glance at the days file and handle any pressing needs, and then weekly, I can do any paperwork I need to.  There is a tab for each day of the month, as well as a file for each month of the year.  There are also extra tabs for coupons, recipes and more. You personalize it to make it work for you!  Love it!

    Yes, I realize there is still much work to be done in the office, trust me we will get there!  But for this week your goal is to move through all the paperwork, get rid of the old you no longer need to keep, and organize what you need to.  I KNOW it is a monumental task for some, it was for me, but we can do this.  Once again, if you need to- set a timer for 15 or 20 minutes a day, work until the buzzer rings and then repeat the next day.  You might be surprised at how far you get in 7 days!

    This week Kemi, from Homemaking Organized has a great printable to help you get organized.  Go check it out- it's FREE!

    Week 28- The School Room

    Week 30- The Computer

    Speaking of how far you got- how did you do last week?  Let's see those school rooms!


    Wednesday, July 15, 2015

    Pizza Ranch Living Hope CD Review and Giveaway

    I do not know about you, but my family LOVES pizza!  Through the years many pizza places lost their thrill and we started making our own, but since moving to the mid west, we have found a new favorite place to eat out- Pizza Ranch! 

    We love that they have a buffet and great salad bar.  We love that they take pizza requests, Salem's favorite is Barbecue Chicken.  We love that they have gluten free pizza!  And we love that they are a Christian organization. In fact, one of the first things my youngest son noticed the first time we ate there was the fact that they were playing Christian music!

    About Pizza RanchAdrie Groeneweg had a dream that started in Hull, IA, in 1981, when he was just 19 years old.  It was simple.  Why does everyone have to drive out of town to get a pizza?  With just six specialty and single topping pizza recipes developed by Adrie's mother, Lorraine, Pizza Ranch was born.  Pizza Ranch's vision and mission is to glorify God by positively impacting the world and to give every guest a legendary experience.  They have 190+ locations across 13 states including Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nebraska, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado. 

    Last month, Pizza Ranch released a new CD, Living Hope, featuring 12 songs by popular artists. Most of the songs were written just for  this CD around the theme of hope.  You will recognize artists like  Colton Dixon, Francesca Batistelli, Ellie Holcomb, Sidewalk Prophets, Kevin Max, Bart Millard, Passion Band featuring Kristian Stanfill, Michael W. Smith, and Mark Schultz.  

    Right after the album was released Pizza Ranch donated $120,000 on behalf of participating “Living Hope” artists and record labels to Porter’s Call, a non-profit working to be a service of counsel, support and encouragement to recording artists and their families.

    I have to tell you, as soon as this CD hit our mailbox, it was commandeered by my 13 year old and has been in his room since.  He loves it- especially the song Savior's Arms by Passion Band.   I did manage to put in the car on a recent trip and also really enjoyed it.  I have several favorite songs, but if I had to pick just one I would have to say Hope of Heaven by Michael W. Smith.  I may be showing my age here, but Michael W, Smith has been a favorite of min since I was a teen!

    You can purchase Living Hope for $5 from any Pizza Ranch restaurant or download it here through August 31st.

    Thanks to FlyBy Productions and Pizza Ranch, you can also win a copy of the Living Hope CD here on Family, Faith and Fridays.  Just leave me a comment telling me your favorite Christian artist or song to enter.  A random winner will be drawn next Wednesday!

    "Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
     Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”


    Monday, July 13, 2015

    Everyone Needs A Florida Vacation

    A week ago our daughter, age 17, flew for the first time alone,  To Florida.  To spend a week with a friend she had only met in person once before.  Because, yes, we are crazy like that!

    She had the time of her life!

    Everyone should do the beach in the rain, right?

    A little background.  She met this dear girl on a homeschool online forum YEARS ago.  They have communicated every since and realized they are two peas in a pod.  They have chatted, written letters, Skyped and sent gifts.  They have talked and laughed and talked some more.  (Don't you just love to hear laughter between girlfriends!?) They have built a beautiful friendship over the years.

    It is such a good reminder to me that distance cannot separate the love of friends.  Because of our frequent moving, we have left behind a piece of our hearts in many states,  Even though we are apart, those sweet friends still mean the world to us.  I am thankful for each one that God has put in our path.  We may not see them often, but they are such an important part of our lives and our stories!

    Watch out Disney- I am betting these two are going to have amazing stories as well!