April 29, 2014

Kids Academy App feature


As a homeschooler I am constantly on the lookout for apps that will help with the learning process.  This app was just that!  It is an easy to use app that allows my kids the freedom to engage in the learning that they want through little games.


My 3 year old loved attempting to form his letters and numbers.  And my 5 year old definitely benefited from some extra number practice.  At first I thought I would need to help them with the app, but again, I am blown away by how much technology my children seem to understand without my help.


Having an app that is easy to use and fun for learning is a great opportunity for anyone that has kids.  And as a homeschooler, my kids don't always want me to be the teacher, so this was a perfect reprieve in the day.

I was compensated for this review, however, the opinions are my own.

April 24, 2014

Apparoo App of the Week!


Trying to find great apps for moms or kids can be hard with so many available. That's why I've partnered with Apparoo - the app discovery service for busy moms. Each week I'll be sharing the 'Apparoo App of the Week' with you. Very often they've negotiated to bring you great paid apps at heavily discounted rates and sometimes even free.


This week's app is Manilla, an app to help you clear away all that paper clutter!


Hey, whatever happened to this ‘paperless desk’ we were all supposed to have by now? The endless influx of bills can be overwhelming – and buried bills mean late fees (ahem). Manilla is a simple, secure and free way to de-clutter your desktop. It retrieves and organizes household bills, bank, credit card and healthcare accounts, travel rewards – even offline accounts like rent or babysitters. It reminds you when bills are due and files old statements so you don’t have to. So save a tree, reclaim your desk, and never pay a late fee again!  Download it here for free.

Sponsored content we love!

April 22, 2014

Easter recap


We had a wonderful Easter this year!  Every year is a good year, but this year seemed especially nice.  Both of our kids are old enough now to really understand the Easter egg hunt, as well as just being thoroughly joyful about the holiday itself.  It was a great time for everyone.

It started very early in the morning.  Emma somehow was able to wake herself up at 5:45am and be ready for the day…which in turn woke up Jack.  I may not have been able to open my eyes, but I was very excited for them to see what the Easter Bunny had left them.  At church I commented on how early the kiddos were up, and they were very nice in pointing out that the men who cooked for the sunrise service were at church at 4:30am…hmmm…


The Easter Bunny realized a couple years ago that the best idea was to give each child certain colored eggs to look for.  He realized that being even was not something little kids would understand, so this year was no different.  He left a letter telling the kids which egg colors they should be looking for.  And they went about hunting around the house for eggs.  It was actually really cute to hear them yelling to each other because they found the other’s egg color; although, the Easter Bunny may have gone a bit overboard in the candy department this year.

After the kids snuck a few handfuls of jelly beans we had a pretty hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast with fruit.  Then it was time for cleanup and getting to church, which in a normal week is a feat in and of itself.  But, with pictures to be taken it was a little more hectic!

We topped off our afternoon with an Easter dinner of Chinese food.  OK, so that may not be the most traditional meal, but it is something that my family did while my brother and I were growing up, and it seemed like a good year to do it!  So we all stuffed ourselves with Chinese food that was not very healthy, and had candy for dessert.  Clearly we will need to do a lot of walking this week!


I hope you all had a wonderful Easter!  What special traditions do you have in your family?

April 21, 2014

seed starting


I probably should not have that as the title of this post, seed starting.  Why?  Well, because this year I haven't started any seeds.  Not one.  Typically around this time I have lots of little seedlings sitting in my front entry way just dying (sometimes literally) to get outside.  This year, everything seemed to completely fall off.  I had really good intentions – as a gardener I think that is a necessary trait – but they did not pan out.

Just because I haven’t started seeds does not mean that I will not be planting seeds.  In fact, I am ready to start putting kale and spinach seeds in the ground, and hopefully they will do well.  It does mean that I will rely on the farmers’ market for seedlings and most likely will make several trips to our local greenhouse as well.

What have we been doing since we haven’t been planting?  Well, a whole lot of cleanup.  It is amazing to see the damage that happens to our yard over the winter.  And there are a lot of projects that we have to work on; the main one being the chicken coop.


When we first got chicks a couple years ago, we didn't have anything ready for them.  They stayed in our front entry way for about 8 weeks.  The kids loved it…but once they had shavings in their brooder, well it was a tad dusty.  Now we have a beautiful coop that my husband built, but it still needs siding.  We also need to redo the fencing for the chicken run.  

We are up in the air about when and what kind of chickens we may get this year – if we end up getting more.  Could be new layers, we may just do meat chickens.  We may decide to wait until next spring and really concentrate on getting all the other outside projects completed first.  I know that I am going to try and plant more grass where the chickens totally cleaned us out last summer.  I wish we didn't need to have them in a run at all, but unfortunately we have quite a few animals in our area that enjoy the taste of chicken.  And I would much prefer them to be safe than dinner for another animal.


In the meantime I am enjoying all the flowers coming up.  Granted, the flowers themselves won’t be visible for quite a while, but to see the new growth gives me hope that spring and summer are really coming this year!


What is going on in your garden?  What do you do if you *forget* to start seeds in the winter?

April 20, 2014

Sunday Quotes




'
He isn't here!  He is risen from the dead, just as He said would happen. ~Matthew 28:6 NLT

April 17, 2014

Apparoo App of the Week!


Trying to find great apps for moms or kids can be hard with so many available. That's why I've partnered with Apparoo - the app discovery service for busy moms. Each week I'll be sharing the 'Apparoo App of the Week' with you. Very often they've negotiated to bring you great paid apps at heavily discounted rates and sometimes even free.



This week's app is the very cool Tic Toc Time.  It is an award winning app that teaches kids to tell time, is normally $3.99. Download it here now for just $.99!


From a kid’s perspective, time is a bizarre concept: there are 60 seconds and 60 minutes, but 12 hours... unless there are 24! And phrases like ‘a quarter til’ and ‘half past’ that we take for granted just seem to make their brains melt. Tic Toc Time takes a holistic approach to teaching time; a family of beavers leads a progression of fun games that first explain using a compass and the movement of the sun and shadows before logically arriving at both digital and analog time-telling. A good time is guaranteed for all! You can get it here now!

Sponsored content that we love!

April 16, 2014

spring in my neck of the woods


This is what we woke up to this morning.  Now I am trying to explain to the kiddos why there is snow on the ground when it was close to 80 on Monday and we were in t-shirts and shorts.  It isn't an easy thing to explain...especially when they are 5 & 3.  

I'm thinking a movie/reading day is in order.  Maybe with some cookie making in there as well.

Is winter over where you are?  It has to be close, right?!

April 14, 2014

state of the garden


It is amazing what a few days of sun and warmth will do!  This past weekend we had a beautiful day on Saturday and it allowed us the chance to get outside and start the spring clean up.  It seems like it is so late this year.  I think in the past few years I have raked out my gardens in March, but here we are, mid-April, and we are just getting started.

I noticed that the tops of my garlic were coming out, so Jack and I removed the straw from the garlic bed.  I'm not sure how it will do.  Some of it looks healthy, some of it looks like it is dying.  It has been an odd winter, with a lot of rain recently, so I am hoping that a few warm days help to dry out the soil a bit, and then maybe the garlic will turn green...or maybe this will not be a good garlic year!

All of irises and day lilies are starting to sprout up from the ground as well.  It is amazing to see how much growth happens in such a short time.  And since I really don't need to do anything with these flowers sans rake out the garden beds, they are the best types of flowers for me to have!

I still have plans to plant peas.  I thought maybe this weekend I would get to it, unfortunately our outside list is a lot longer than our days are still.  So today, with highs in the 70's (eek!), I hope to get outside with the kids to do some planting.  But, with such warm weather it might end up being a lot of playing and going to the park.

What is going on in your garden?  Are you behind on outside projects like we are?  Is there ever a time you catch up?!

April 11, 2014

Blinkbuggy feature

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Blinkbuggy. I received a promotional item to thank me for participating.


see more features at blinkbuggy!


I have to say that I love taking pictures of my kids.  What mama doesn't?  Homeschooling requires a lot of documenting of the kids and what they are doing, not to mention entering the interesting world of team sports, so we end up with a lot of pictures.  The problem that I have is organizing them.

It seems like it may have been easier with film than all of these new digital cameras.  Yes, I can take better pictures now, but instead of the one or two to choose from, I easily take 70-80 for each event.  When Emma started soccer in the fall, I was taking pictures non-stop.  In fact I think I have her entire first game on my camera card.  I have tried to organize the pictures, and have used a few of the various digital photo organizers that are available online.  Unfortunately, I haven’t been satisfied with them.  It seems to take forever to upload the pictures and then try to organize them...let’s just say I run out of time quickly.

I was so excited to hear about BlinkbuggyBlinkbuggy makes it easy and fun to collect and connect all of life’s most important moments.  You are able to easily upload photos on the go, right from your phone, using their very cool app.  You can add memories, and quotes to each of the pictures, organize them into different photo albums, and then share them right online, or print out amazing photo books as keepsakes.  I also like that you can make the photos private or public.  You don’t have to put everything out there, but you are able to make some of it available to others. 

I really like that it shows up like a scrapbook.  Adding memories; and then having the ability to add the pictures with additional comments on the individual pictures makes making a scrapbook so much easier.  I am still trying to make a baby book for my oldest…who will be 6…in a month.   You are also able to import pictures from Instagram, Facebook, or Google. 


Blinkbuggy is celebrating spring with a Spring Fling Giveaway!  Anyone who registers for Blinkbuggy during the month of April will be entered to win one of three FREE 20 page Blinkbuggy Memory Books. I have to say that I love taking pictures of my kids.  What mama doesn't?  Homeschooling requires a lot of documenting of the kids and what they are doing, not to mention entering the interesting world of team sports, so we end up with a lot of pictures.  The problem that I have is organizing them.

It seems like it may have been easier with film than all of these new digital cameras.  Yes, I can take better pictures now, but instead of the one or two to choose from, I easily take 70-80 for each event.  When Emma started soccer in the fall, I was taking pictures non-stop.  In fact I think I have her entire first game on my camera card.  I have tried to organize the pictures, and have used a few of the various digital photo organizers that are available online.  Unfortunately, I haven’t been satisfied with them.  It seems to take forever to upload the pictures and then try to organize them...let’s just 

Blinkbuggy was also the Apparoo App of the Week this week, so I hope you head over to download it!

Have you tried Blinkbuggy before?  How do you organize all of your pictures?

Hawthorne by Sarah Ballance and a giveaway!

Hawthorne

Hawthorne by Sarah Ballance After a terrifying encounter with the unexplained, it takes ten years and the news of her grandmother’s passing for Emma Grace Hawthorne to return to her childhood home. She seeks peace in saying a proper goodbye, but what she finds is an old love, a sordid family history, and a wrong only she can right. Living in the shadow of Hawthorne Manor, Noah Garrett has never forgotten about Emma Grace. In a house full of secrets, his search for missing documents reveals a truth that can cost him everything. What he finds gave Emma the freedom to walk away from the mansion, her heart free and clear, but at what price to Noah?  

  Praise for Hawthorne "This is a marvelous ghost story. The mystery, the suspense, the eeriness - all collaborate to weave a spell-binding tale . . . The story seamlessly flows to a shocking ending that is utterly brilliant." -- Coffee Time Romance "When I finished it, honestly, all I could do was sit there - a little awestruck." -- Kick Back & Review

Hawthorne will be FREE on Amazon from April 10th to 14th

Excerpt from Hawthorne

Noah closed in on the convertible, giving the nearby grounds a cursory look. The lawn was meticulous, the beds overflowing with sprays of purple garden phlox which trailed around the bend in the road and disappeared. A riot of white and rust-red irises backed the smaller purple flowers, their leaves deep green and glossy. Overhead, Spanish moss swayed only occasionally atop a maze of live oak, more likely a result of a passing swarm of insects than an actual air current. The land was still. If there were tourists snapping photos of the historic plantation — or doing anything else — he didn't see them. But someone had been there. The car was certainly real, even if that too-familiar scream had been a figment of his imagination. Wasn’t it always? Resigned to another night alone with his memories, Noah pivoted. And found himself nose to nose with Emma Grace. Astounded, he opened his mouth, then closed it. He wanted to reach for her, but his arms refused the notion; they hung uselessly by his sides, the effort futile. His mouth wasn't much on cooperation, either. Finally, he found his tongue. "Em—" Her expression cut him off. Green eyes wide, skin pale, her small frame shaking, she spoke. "I saw her, Noah. She's back." The words, nearly soundless, seemed to catch in the thick air. Lingering. Threatening. And ripping the heart from his chest.

sarah

Author Sarah Ballance Sarah and her husband of what he calls “many long, long years” live on the mid-Atlantic coast with their six young children, all of whom are perfectly adorable when they’re asleep. She never dreamed of becoming an author, but as a homeschooling mom, she often jokes she writes fiction because if she wants anyone to listen to her, she has to make them up. (As it turns out, her characters aren’t much better than the kids). When not buried under piles of laundry, she may be found adrift in the Atlantic (preferably on a boat) or seeking that ever-elusive perfect writing spot where not even the kids can find her. She loves creating unforgettable stories while putting her characters through an unkind amount of torture—a hobby that has nothing to do with living with six children. (Really.) Though she adores nail-biting mystery and edge-of-your-seat thrillers, Sarah writes in many genres including contemporary and ghostly paranormal romance.


BookBlast Giveaway $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 4/30/14 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

April 10, 2014

Apparoo App of the Week!


Trying to find great apps for moms or kids can be hard with so many available. That's why I've partnered with Apparoo - the app discovery service for busy moms. Each week I'll be sharing the 'Apparoo App of the Week' with you. Very often they've negotiated to bring you great paid apps at heavily discounted rates and sometimes even free.


I am really excited to introduce this week's app - Blinkbuggy


How do we always find time to post super-adorable kid pictures on Facebook, but somehow never get that long-planned baby book done? Well, guilt-trip no more. Blinkbuggy is an online baby book that puts all your photos, milestones and funny stories in one place – and it’s as easy as a status update. You can keep it completely private, link to social media (it can even grab the photos you’ve already posted), or share with whomever you choose – great for grandparents! These precious years will disappear faster than that photo you posted last month, so don’t spend another moment procrastinating. Create an enduring – and endearing – album with Blinkbuggy online and in print!  Download it here.

Stay tuned in the next couple of days where I do a full review of Blinkbuggy!

Sponsored content we love!

April 9, 2014

knitting and reading


OK, so I haven't exactly started my current knitting project, but at least I have it picked out!  With Easter right around the corner, I thought it would be fun to knit up some cute little bunnies for my babes.  I have quite a lot of white yarn in my basket.  I think that not one is a complete skein, but it is something I can work with at least.  Eventually, they are supposed to look like this.  I'm not sure how likely it is that I will finish them before Easter, definitely one, maybe not two though.

I have always wanted to make those cute little knit animals that I see all over the place, unfortunately they are almost always crochet.  I do not crochet.  I can make a chain but can't seem to make it past that step...so I was happy to see that this pattern is knitting.  Makes it easier on me :-)

As far as reading goes, I seem to be in a non-fiction reading slump.  I had been doing so well at the beginning of the year.  I would read a novel and then a non-fiction book.  But, after the very long March we had, I stopped the non-fiction altogether and went straight for fiction.  And now, I am kind of between stages it seems.  I don't really want to read any of the non-fiction on my list right now, and I don't have any other fiction books that I am really interested in (I am on the wait list at the library for a few new books - but it is a long list).  Because of that, I decided to re-read some books I already have read.  

Last week it was the Hunger Games trilogy.  Which I have to say was 100 times better for me the second time through.  After the Hunger Games I had nothing, so I decided to go back to the Twilight series.  I know, it isn't the best writing, but I just love that story :-)  I am almost finished with the fourth book now...then I will have to decide on something else to read.  Maybe it is time to read through Harry Potter again.  And even though I am reading books I have previously read, I am still counting them towards my 100 books for the year goal...a book is a book, right?

What are you working on this week?

Linking up with Tami, Ginny, and Nicole

April 7, 2014

amazing what a week will do!


This was my yard last week.  It might look like a lot of snow - well it seemed like a lot of snow.  But, when I took this picture I knew that the snow was melting, and that made me happy.  Fast forward to this week and this is what my garden looks like now:


I'm not sure I can convey how happy I am to see the chicken bedding on the tops of those garden boxes!  Ecstatic is more like it.  Like I keep saying, this has been an incredibly long winter, but I am finally seeing some spring.

Yesterday Emma and I watched a dozen robins (that we could see anyways) guarding around our house.  I'm assuming that they must be building a nest nearby, and it was a lot of fun to watch them.  I never realized they worked in such large numbers before...

This week looks to be another lovely week, with temps in the 50's.  That may seem quite cold to some of my readers, but I can't even remember what 50's feels like!

Oh, and if you are curious about the pile of bricks, those will eventually be lining the paths between the garden beds, hopefully deterring some of the weed growth.  My husband has been taking down our old chimney, and it seemed like a good use of materials we already had.  

What has been going on in your neck of the woods?

April 6, 2014

Sunday Quotes


The sun'll come out tomorrow.  Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, there'll be sun!  
~Annie

I was singing this all day yesterday!

April 3, 2014

Apparoo App of the Week!


Trying to find great apps for moms or kids can be hard with so many available. That's why I've partnered with Apparoo - the app discovery service for busy moms. Each week I'll be sharing the 'Apparoo App of the Week' with you. Very often they've negotiated to bring you great paid apps at heavily discounted rates and sometimes even free. I'm very excited about this and welcome your feedback!


This week's app is Rio Read & Play - the official app of the movie!


Shake your tail feathers and join blue macaws Blu and Jewel for a colorful read-along adventure set in Rio de Janeiro. This delightful app, featuring characters from the popular animated film Rio, will appeal to fans of the film and newcomers alike. The narrated storybook will encourage your child’s reading skills, the coloring tools will foster their artistic talent – and the bonus activities will grant you peace and quiet over at least two extra states on your next cross-country flight. A feast for the senses, this bright, fun-filled app is like a tiny little Brazilian vacation on your iPad! Download it here.

Sponsored content we love!

April 2, 2014

not so much knitting


Over the past month I have definitely had a lot of time to knit, but I haven't been doing it.  March was such a depressing month this year, too much snow and cold, no warm days to break it up.  I have all of these plans for my knitting this year, but I definitely haven't gotten as far as I would like!  In fact, I haven't knit a stitch since I finished my cowl (which I decided to keep for myself).  I'm ok with that for now!

I think that over the next week or so I am going to have to make a trip to my local yarn shop so that I can get some new inspiration.  I found a great pattern for a sweater for Jack, but I don't have any yarn for it, so that is always exciting, a reason to buy more yarn!

One thing that I have done over the past month is to read a lot.  Reading is typically my go to activity if I have down time.  I love to get lost in a story or to learn something new.  This past week I read the Hunger Games Trilogy again.  I read it a couple years ago, but honestly could not remember what had happened in the third book.  I remembered the ending, but none of the details.

Also, when I read the Hunger Games the first time around, I did not like the ending.  I didn't understand where the author was going, and I had hopes for Katniss and her family that just didn't materialize in the way I wanted.  However, after watching Catching Fire, I was able to go into reading the books with a new perspective, and I enjoyed the series so much more.  Now I am at a loss again as to what to read, so suggestions are welcome!

What are you working on this week?