Sunday, July 31, 2016

Through Raging Waters Review and Giveaway

I was recently given the chance to review an action filled book by Renee Blare, titled "Through Raging Waters."

My thoughts:
The book starts off with a bang of action. There's no lead up to the action at all, it's just BAM! There! Recently, the beautiful state of WV has suffered catastrophic flooding that resulted in the loss of life and property. This book could be a trigger for emotions from that since it starts out with destruction and action from severe storms and flooding that threaten the town. So be warned of that.

The characters of full life and depth, but that doesn't necessarily mean you will grow to like them. I found a few of them to be rather pessimistic and anger filled, or know it all types, that made me want to slap them. For example, the main female character Melissa is quite impulsive and never really thinks before she acts. I can't count the number of times I wanted to pluck her from the pages, give her a good talking to, then stick her back in the book. The fact that I was driven to that emotion speaks to the writing style of the author and her ability to pull you into the story and characters, so that's a good thing.

There are references to God and religion, and I particularly enjoyed the characters desires to lean on God for support during such trying times. The end has a twist, which is always appreciated. I would much rather finish a book and be stunned at the ending, rather than read a few pages in and merely have my suspicions confirmed. "Through Raging Waters" does a very good job at hiding the ending until it's timely reveal.

Purchase your copy here.

About the Book

 If Mother Nature has her way, Timber Springs will never be the same…

A warm spring and early rainstorms melt the snowpack. Spring runoff compounded by the storm of the century sends Timber Springs into a tailspin.
Tossed into the role of rescuer, local pharmacist Paul Fitzgerald must face his past before the whole world falls apart. While he fights to contain the beast around him, he finds his steadfast control slipping through his fingers. And life…everyone’s life…hangs by a thread…once again.
She isn’t a hero. Melissa Hampton has her own demons to battle. After she learns of her mysterious beginnings amidst her mother’s keepsakes, she faces more than just the river rushing outside her door. Now, she must discern friend from foe…but as waters rise and tension climbs within Timber Springs, she needs to rise to the challenge or lose the only man she’s ever loved.
Can two people find each other through raging waters?

About the Author

Renee Blare’s nose has been buried in a book for as long as she can remember. Raised in Louisiana and Wyoming, she started writing poetry in junior high school and that, as they say, was that. After having her son, a desire to attend pharmacy school sent her small family to the University of Wyoming in Laramie. She’s been counting pills ever since. While writing’s her first love, well, after the Lord and her husband, she also likes to fish and hunt as well as pick away on her classical guitar.
Nestled in the foothills of the Wind River Mountains, she lives in Wyoming with her husband, crazy dogs, and ornery cat. She serves her beautiful small town as a pharmacist while penning her stories about struggling Christians as they travel along the journeys of their lives. She loves to interact with readers and invites you check out her website, blog, and social media.

Guest Post from Renee Blare

I Wrote a Book

 Five years ago, I wrote a book…and then I wrote another and another and another. Many said that the words flowed like a river onto the page. Or I painted a picture with letters. As for me? I simply write what I see so you can see it too. What about you? Do you want to write a book?

If so, there’s one thing I’d like you to know. A book’s like a child. It starts out small or simple with garbled language…often repetitive and indistinguishable. Kind of like when a baby babbles “dada” over and over. And then that moment comes when you rejoice because you hear him say “mama.” That’s the growth every book…writer…reader…yearns for.

Different stories float around inside an author’s mind, flowing in a way much like labor. Some authors plot, others don’t. And still others combine the process in a convoluted method. But like birth, no matter how the words eventually find their way to the page, the development of a book doesn’t stop with its first dawn. It takes time, energy, and growth.

Take my first release, To Soar on Eagle’s Wings. Five years ago, I wrote it, my very first book, in three months. And it was awesome! I couldn’t believe it. God brought the plot together in a phenomenal way. But publication wasn’t the next step. I had a lot to learn before that could happen.

My latest release, Through Raging Waters is the example of a writer’s growth, but also her soul. I learned that I had to leave more than my knowledge and my heart on the page. I needed to leave a piece of my soul. When you read Paul’s struggles, you read mine. Melissa’s fear and confusion? Yes, they’re mine. The anger, the pain . . . the trials, the lessons learned are scriptural but also first-hand, taught by my Father.

Writing is more than a job. It’s more than a hobby. It’s sharing your knowledge, your hope with the world. So if you want to write a book. Do it. Then take that next step, and the next. You’ll get there. Oh, and I can’t wait to read it!

Blog Stops

July 19: Pause for Tales

July 24: A Greater Yes

July 25: bigreadersite

July 26: Splashes of Joy

July 29: Quiet Quilter

July 31: Bukwurmzzz

August 1: Carpe Diem


 To celebrate her tour, Renee is giving away a wonderful package that includes a $20 Cabelas gift card, a set of her series paperbacks (books 1 and 2), and fleece blanket. Click here to enter:

**I received a copy of this free through CelebrateLit in exchange for my honest opinion. I wasn't required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed are my own, or those of my family.**

Friday, July 29, 2016

Full on truth.

How do you handle stress? I'm finding I don't handle it as well as I should. Mr. B is being transferred to one of the best hospitals in the country. Actually, one of the best in the WORLD. I'm so very grateful for this. God has put into motion for him to be seen by one of the best doctors in the world for mtDNA issues, autism, and cyclic vomiting-which is his newest diagnosis. So why am I still stressing? It's called Chronic Stress Disorder. My body has the stress hormones constantly flowing, 24/7 anymore. I need stress relief. I need to find a hobby, other than medical research. I need to find time for myself to just exist without needing to make potentially life or death decisions for my child, or deal with all that comes with special needs parenting. I need to relax, have fun. I cream. And Chocolate. But no calories, because that's not fun. I need a vacation. A REAL vacation. you know, where you plan an out of town trip for the sole purpose to relax and have fun! This is what I need. This is what my son needs. He needs a special trip that doesn't involve a doctor's appointment, or needles, or tests, or evaluations. He needs me to not be stressing. I was up until 3am over a panic attack because he got up out of bed at 10:30pm because he said he was hot. Yes, a panic attack because he said he was hot. Why? Because him saying he's hot usually results in a trashcan full of vomit and him passed out for 10-12 hours afterwards. This is the dirty truth of special needs parenting. IT'S HARD!

I was at the deli 2 days ago, asking how fresh the "off the bone ham," Mr. B's personal favorite, was. It was opened 2 days prior. Now, for most that'd be fine. Shave it up! But not for us. And of course, I get the odd "she's just being overly picky" looks from the deli workers and other patrons. I nervously explained that my son had some health issues and I couldn't risk less than fully fresh deli meats right now. One of the other ladies who was waiting paused a bit, and then she asked me if she had heard me correctly. Long story short, but she said she would keep us in her prayers and add our names to a prayer meeting she was on her way to attending. I can't tell you how much I appreciated this kind gesture from a complete stranger. She listened to our story, told me God was always with us, and asked if she could pray for us. OF COURSE! Prayer is always, ALWAYS welcome. And....prayer is always, ALWAYS needed.

Today's the LAST day!

Today is the LAST day for the back to school sale! Back-to-School Membership Sale

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

BIG news!

...LIFETIME Memberships on sale for just $72!!!

WHEN: Wednesday, July 27 - Friday, July 29
SAVE $25 on Notebooking Pages LIFETIME Memberships
...LIFETIME Memberships on sale for just $72!!!

(3-month installment plan will be available ... $10, $31, $31)
LIFETIME Members receive all current & future notebooking products
PLUS our 2 bonuses:
Bonus 1: 12 months free subscription to The Notebooking Publisher web-app
Bonus 2: $100+ Homeschool e-book package

This is a HUGE sale!  Don't pass this one up!!!!

Wedding Wednesday

Ring photos are one of my favorites to do. I get to set up creative settings, and use the details from each wedding to create truly unique and personal photos for the couples who book with me. In this case, the bride and groom will get to have a good chuckle each time they see this photo because it is lacking the groom's ring. I had warned them prior to their ceremony that rings have a tendency to get stuck during the reception. His was so tight, he couldn't remove it at all! Everyone had a good laugh! 

Please check out Missica Photography on Facebook for more wedding photos! And don't forget, WE TRAVEL! 

Star Toaster REVIEW

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review
We love games that are fun and educational. To me, that's the best way to learn! Your child will retain more knowledge when it is presented in a way that is interesting and entertaining to them. That's one reason why I really like Star Toaster. Last year, we were given the chance to review for Star Toaster when we reviewed their Orphs of the Woodlands online subscription based program. This time around, we are reviewing their app based game called Orphs of the Woodlands at Tangletree.

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review
Orphs of the Woodlands at Tangletree is an app based educational game and interactive chapter book. Your child reads a few pages, then they do "jobs" to earn stars. The jobs are educational games in a variety of subjects. They then use these stars to care for their orph village. It is very similar to the online subscription program, but not as intense. The app covers the same subjects as the online program: Reading, Science, Language Arts, Arts, Life Skills, Thinking Skills, and Vocabulary.  For this review, we received full access to the app and all available for purchase content. 

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review
How we used this:

We are in a mess of out of state doctor visits right now. This means long hours in the car, waiting in waiting rooms, and time spent in hotels. This app came at the perfect time. Mr. B used this a lot in the car, and quite a bit in the hotel and waiting rooms. It was nice for him to have a fun game for him to play, yet something that doubled as an educational supplement to help meet those homeschooling goals I have set. Plus it helped to ease his nerves, keep him occupied, and patient while waiting. 

Mr. B has been working his way through the app in similar fashion to the online computer based program. He reads the chapter pages, which are low in number, and then he does the jobs. I've noticed the reading level seems to be lower on the app than the computer based program. Before, I thought it was a bit much for him at that time, but this seems to be on par with a fun educational game level. His reading level is above what is featured, but he doesn't mind since the app makes him feel as if it is more game and less school.

Like the computer based program, the app also has highlighted words that your child can click on for more learning. Some may be just simple definitions, such as the hedgehog sample shown below. Others can be more interactive video clip lessons. This feature adds so much depth to the app!

Our Thoughts: 

I will fully admit to being as excited as Mr. B was to get my hands on this app! I had so much fun with Orphs of the Woodlands that I couldn't wait to try this out. I wasn't disappointed. It is just as much fun, and the company really worked hard to make a great game experience in an app form. Mr. B was very happy. If you will remember from my last review, Mr. B was frustrated with the amount of reading needed to complete the chapters, and the fact that he had to work through these chapters to get to the jobs in order to earn stars, or finish jobs to move on to the next chapter. That's a great incentive for most typical students, but for special needs learners that could be a hindrance. This is not an issue as all with the app. With in just a few minutes of using this new app he exclaimed, "WOW! I LOVE this! It's just the right amount of reading and I can get right to the work!" I don't think I could give it a better review than that one right there! 


We have really enjoyed this app. It is a great, educational way to pass the time. It's fun, entertaining, and a nice multi-sensory supplemental program that provides hours of entertainment. It works on all iOS devices, and each is independent of the other-meaning the work that is done on an iPod for example, is saved only to that iPod. This is great for families with multiple children, or for moms who like to play, too HAHA! 

Does Star Toaster Orphs of the Woodlands at Tangletree Pass My 4 Ingredient Test?

1.) Customization: Is it easily adaptable? Can we customize it to fit “us?” Can we modify or set our own schedule? Can we take breaks, jump ahead, or flat out skip?
You can set your own schedule and take breaks as needed. This is an app, so as long as you have the app you have access. We have no ran into the inflexibility issues with the app that we had with the original online subscription. This is fantastic! Before, Mr. B would have to finish chapters to get to the jobs, then finish all of those jobs to get to the next chapter. The app is not like this at all. Also, the reading has been reduced a LOT in the app. This makes it much easier to modify and adapt for special needs users. 

2.) Value: Is it long lasting? Will it cover multiple grade ranges? Are you locked in to one specific grade level? Are there hidden fees? 

It is appropriate for a wide range of grades. Mr. B is moving into 6th grade, and this is still appropriate for him. There really aren't "grade levels." It's more based on the reading level of your child. As far as hidden fees, there are in game purchases if you wish to utilize them.

3.) Attention span: Is it boring? Is it engaging? Is it varied enough for ADHD? Does it last too long?

It is NOT boring at all. Mr. B would spend a great deal of time at one sitting if I allowed it. Each of the jobs are really educational games that your child wants to do in order to earn the stars to take care of their orphs. The stars are a great incentive. This covers so much more than reading, and it does a great job of showing how all of the subjects work together.

4.) Does it tie into other things we already have.

The jobs cover a wide range of subjects. There's math, reading (of course,) grammar, science, vocabulary, life skills, character building, etc. If the topic isn't exactly covered, this would be a great way to show concepts across a variety of topics. 

Please click the banner below to see more Star Toaster reviews by The Schoolhouse Review Crew! 
Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review
Crew Disclaimer

Monday, July 25, 2016

All Things Bright and Beautiful REVIEW

I have had the delightful pleasure of reviewing "All Things Bright and Beautiful," a book illustrated by Katy Hudson that features the hymn of Cecil Frances Alexander of the same title. This is a lovely hardback children's book. I was wow'ed by the colors. Mr. B is quiet "old" for a book of this sort, but I knew he'd enjoy the artwork, and he really does! I love the pace of the book, and the flow of all of the images. It's not overwhelming, but a work of art. Very well done!

About the book:
First published by Cecil Frances Alexander in 1848, this favorite hymn has become a mainstay of churches and Sunday school classes everywhere. Here artist Katy Hudson brings new joy to the words with her fresh and bright watercolor style. Readers can join in the fun as they follow two little girls and their brother on a day filled with the discovery of “all things bright and beautiful.”

About the artist:
Katy Hudson was raised in Middlesbrough, England, and started her career as a small child drawing on freshly painted walls. Her parents quickly encouraged drawing with pencil and paper instead. The idea stuck, and after earning a degree in illustration, Katy is now a freelance illustrator. Katy works at a desk in a studio within Old London Library and likes to tap dance in her spare time.

Would you like a chance to win your own copy? Well, if so just enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

"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 reviewand 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.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Negative Behaviors and Sensory Needs

Sensory issues are bad enough, but often times they cause poor behavior. Some people may look at your child and think they are just being an unruly child, or even a *GASP* Brat! The truth is, these kids can't really help it! Each child as a sensory threshold. Some are really high, and some have really low thresholds. Those with really low thresholds can't tolerate a lot of sensory input. You can barely touch these kids and they will wail in pain or withdraw to avoid it. Others have a high threshold and they love to be squeezed tightly. The one commonality with all of them is once they reach their threshold, that's it. They can't handle any more, and meltdowns may ensue. Even kids who crave and desire extra sensory input can become extremely sensory sensitive once their sensory meters are maxed out. The key to helping is moderation. Help them to even out their sensory meters, and control the behavior at the same time.

You can determine what your child's needs are based off their behavior. If they are running, bouncing, etc. Then they need MORE input. They need movement, joint compressions, and the like. Mini trampolines are GREAT for this. This provides an outlet for that need to move to help your child calm down and focus. Running place, jumping jacks, and movement chairs are good too. If you homeschool, you can look into purchasing your own wobble chair, bubble chair, t-chair, even a yoga ball will work. This allows your child to bounce sway, etc. while doing school work. If your child is in a traditional school, you should discuss adaptive seating at their next IEP meeting, or ask to schedule a meeting to go over adaptations that can be made to help.

Sensory Diets are great, too. This is where you have a scheduled time each day for sensory input. Here's an example schedule:

8am Wake up
8:30 Sensory movement time (jumping up and down)
8:40: quiet time
9:00 school time starts
10:00 Sensory time
10:15 School time
11:30 Lunch
12:30 finish school

This allows for breaks for schedule, routine sensory time so your child can get the sensory input they need to function at their full capacity.

For those who need LESS sensory, then sensory time could be a Snozelen type room, calming or quiet time, or even sensory integration where you work on brushing or other techniques to increase their sensory threshold.

Frequent breaks and making adaptations has worked the best for us, so far.  I hope it helps you, too!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Behavior issues

Please stay tuned for a detailed post on sensory diets and how you can determine what your child needs based off their behavior! I've been super busy this week, so I haven't had a chance to post it yet.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions REVIEW

Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions  Review
Everyone knows by now that we LOVE Heirloom Audio Productions! I've had the great fortune to review In Freedom's Cause, With Lee in Virginia, The Dragon and The Raven, and now Beric the Briton! This is not an audio book, but rather an audio drama. By that, I mean it is like listening to a movie, not having a book read to you. There's an abundance of ambient sounds, different actors, and entertaining action and humor. The drama is based off books by G. A. Henty. At 2 1/2 hours, this is great for those summer (or anytime) car rides.

For this review, we received a 2 disk set that also includes:

  • An mp3 digital download 
  • Access to the Beric the Briton  Newsletter
  • A printable poster with a quote from Julius; "I will gladly die for him who died for me."
  • G.A. Henty's book that this audio drama is based off in eBook format.
  • Promotional poster download
  • mp3 soundtrack
  • 48-page study guide
  • Behind the scenes video of the production of  Beric The Briton
All of these extras are included in The Family-Four Pack.

About Beric the Briton

Beric the Briton, taking place in the early days of Christianity around 60 AD when the Romans were invading Britain and fighting Christianity, details the story of Beric who fought under the lead of Queen Boadicea. After being captured along side his friend Bodouc, he is trained as a gladiator and rises to fame when he defeats a lion. After serving int he palace of Nero, he returns back to Britain. He expects to be received as a hero, but his expectations are not met by the reality he is dealt. 

Why we LOVE Heirloom Audio and Beric the Briton

Like I said above, these are not audio books. These are action packed dramas that do such a fantastic job of pulling you into the time and setting that you can forget, if only for a moment, you aren't really there. The background sounds, characters, etc are so lifelike and so real that you feel as if you are transported through space and time to the actual battles that are being fought. 

There's something special about these that have such a calming effect on Mr. B. He can be in a huge autism spell and I can pop in the first disc and he instantly calms. It's amazing! Beric the Briton came at the perfect time, too. We have had to make so many trips for out of state doctor's visits, we've certainly appreciated having some fun and entertaining to listen to on the long drives. Like the other audio dramas by Heirloom Audio Productions, Beric the Briton features a fantastic cast that do a great job of bringing the story to life-Including TOM BAKER!  Hello?! The DOCTOR?!!!! YES PLEASE!!! 

Another thing is the study guide. These are great for writing prompts and discussions. With autism, this is great because it gives us a speaking and conversation prompt. One of Mr. B's issues he can narrate to me elaborate stories, but he can't really put them on paper. The study guide discussion questions give him a topic so that he can take his time, and write about the questions. We like to use the poster as a lapbook cover, and the study guide as our starting point for the lapbook. As I went to post this poster, I realized I'm out of color toner! So as soon as I get the toner in, I will print off this cover and add it to our folder so it will be complete! 

I'll admit, I knew nothing of Beric the Briton before listening to this. I would have found it more beneficial if I had read through the study guide first because Mr. B asked me a ton of questions I didn't have answers for, but those answers were in the study guide. So we went back and listened a second time so he could answer his own questions. . 

I also love the understory of forgiveness that is presented with Beric the Briton. It shows the importance of forgiving others, and yourself. 

Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions  Review


Heirloom Audio does it again! They have another home run with Beric the Briton! This never gets boring, and it never gets old. Mr. B asks to listen to this at least once a week, and by now I can quote a lot of it haha! If you've never tried out an audio drama, I HIGHLY recommend you visit Heirloom Audio Productions and give Beric the Briton a try. This has been one of our favorites so far! I can't wait to see what they come out with next!!!! 

Does Heirloom Audio Productions Beric the Briton Pass My 4 Ingredient Test?

1.) Customization: Is it easily adaptable? Can we customize it to fit “us?” Can we modify or set our own schedule? Can we take breaks, jump ahead, or flat out skip?

Yes, you can use the study guide in the manner you see fit. You could use it as an essay style assignment for older students, narration for younger, writing prompts, or just general conversation. This is not a membership based product, so you can use it at your leisure. 

2.) Value: Is it long lasting? Will it cover multiple grade ranges? Are you locked in to one specific grade level? Are there hidden fees? 

This is for the whole family! No hidden fees.  

3.) Attention span: Is it boring? Is it engaging? Is it varied enough for ADHD? Does it last too long?

NOT boring at all! It is more than 2 hours, but you can start and stop as you need/want. It is perfect for autism and ADHD in my opinion. VERY engaging, entertaining, and awesome. 

4.) Does it tie into other things we already have.

Yes, this is great to supplement a history study of the same time period, British invasions, Roman empire, the Early Church, etc. 

Please check out the crew for even more reviews!

Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions  Review
Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Don't Forget!

There's only 1 more day until the 2016 Digital Homeschool Convention! You won't want to miss this! There's more than 30 speakers (including ME!) and great vendor discounts! Get all of the benefits of a convention from the comforts of your own home!

I'll also be hosting some posts relative to my talk! So go check it out!

**post contains affiliate codes.**

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wordless Wednesday

Wedding Wednesday

You want to remember the details of your wedding forever. Of course I capture table settings, etc. But I try to get those little details you may overlook in the hustle and bustle of the day. Each fluke had a perfectly sliced strawberry. The color contrast was simple beautiful, and I wanted to make sure my bride and groom had this detail captured forever. 

Donn Taylor's Murder Mezzo Forte REVIEW

Murder Mezzo Forte
About the Book:

Murder Mezzo Forte (Lamplighter Mysteries, June 2016)
He is a reclusive history professor with musical hallucinations. . . .
She a headstrong professor of religion, a converted Wiccan. Earlier, they solved a campus murder, but now police say they formed two-thirds of an illicit love triangle with a newly-murdered female colleague and they’re probably guilty of her murder. A leak of the alleged scandal to the college administration threatens their jobs.
Their desperate attempt to prove themselves innocent of the triangle and the murder plunges them into a tangle of unsavory corporate relationships among college trustees. And it puts their lives in danger from a mysterious criminal organization that seems to have tentacles everywhere.
Can this ill-matched pair’s stumbling efforts succeed against the entrenched forces of the police, the college’s incompetent administration, and that powerful but unseen criminal organization? If not, they may end up unemployed, in prison, or suffering a fate much worse.

My thoughts: 
I'm a sucker for a good romantic murder  mystery and Donn Taylor gave me just that in Murder Mezzo Forte. The writing style is smooth and easy to follow, but not dull at all. It is entertaining and engaging. The characters are fleshed out and well defined. I liked the personality dynamics between the characters and the sarcastic humor. The mystery is not an easy one to figure out. I love that. I hate to read a book and know "who done it" with in the first couple of pages. This book keeps the twists and turns coming, making it hard to guess the ending. As a recent college grad, I found this to be particularly interesting from that regard, as well. Preston reminded me of a few different professors I had HAHA!  This book was delayed getting to me, but as with all things-"the best things come to those who wait!" Overall, I loved it! 

**I received this free through Litfuse in exchange for my honest opinion. I wasn't required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed are my own.**

Monday, July 18, 2016

Love this song

The original is fantastic, but this cover is AMAZING! WOW! 

Don't Go to Bed Angry REVIEW

Don’t Go to Bed Angry
About the Book:

Don’t Go to Bed Angry: Stay Up and Fight (Abingdon Press, June 2016)
A practical handbook on how to fight better—together—for your marriage.
In every marriage, there is conflict. And with every conflict, there is a choice for resolution. Will you ignore the issue until it seemingly goes away? Or will you work together to find peace?
In Don’t Go to Bed Angry, Deb and Ron DeArmond give you permission to fight. Conflict isn’t the problem, after all; the real issue is how we deal with the conflict. Deb and Ron demonstrate how communication through conflict can safeguard—and even strengthen—your relationship. Immensely practical features including worksheets and discussion questions make this a definitive go-to resource to help you start fighting—together—for your marriage.

My thoughts: 
Don't Go to Bed Angry: Stay Up and Fight is a really nice book to help you work out conflicts and reach resolutions in your marriage. It really helps you to learn how to fight fair. All to often we get caught up in a vicious cycle of being hurt, and lashing out at the one who hurt us. Those we love have the power to hurt us much worse than anyone else, so it doesn't take much at times. Over time, we learn what buttons to push to gouge that pain deeper, and the cycle goes on.This is a nice book to help you break that cycle and fight fair, and resolve issues to make your marriage stronger with less conflicts overall. Every marriage is going to have conflict, but you can ease those with a little insight from this book. I didn't find myself reading through this book cover to cover, but it is a good one to keeo referring to, or to pick up here and there when I found time. 

**I received this book free through Litfuse in exchange for my honest review. I wasn't required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed are my own or those of my family.**

Thursday, July 14, 2016

This is going TOO FAR!

Does this child's life not matter?!

WSMV Channel 4

How blessed

I look out my windows and realized how blessed I am. We have a yard, my son had toys. We have a roof over our heads and food on the table. Not many people can sit back and see their blessings. They are too busy wishing for better, more, bigger, etc. I'm guilty of that, too. I keep saying I want a farm so I can garden, have horses, etc. But ya know what? I have a super awesome home just the way it is!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Wordless Wednesday

Making Home Affordable Program Details

It's easy to make a mistake or not be as careful as we should be when faced with stress and adversity in our lives. If you are facing possible foreclosure, or even just stress over bills piling up, then you could be more apt to call for a "Too good to be true" scam. Scam artists are capitalizing on the misfortunes of othersat alarming rates, and there are a lot of so called foreclosure programs that promise safety, security, and much needed assistance; yet they fall dangerously short of fulfilling their promises and some are just outright scams. Please read the information from Making Home Affordable (MHA) below for more information on where you can turn to for help.

Some people may go their entire lives without ever having to face the struggle of foreclosure. If you are reading this, I hope that you are one of those people. But if you are or maybe it isn’t you, it is someone you know and love, I hope you are not going through it alone. It is a sad but true fact that most people who have foreclosure knocking at their door have no idea where to turn and they have no idea that there is actually help available to them.
Unfortunately, so many Americans are still struggling to make their mortgage payments. About 1 in 17 homeowners nationwide have fallen behind on their mortgage payments, putting them at a higher risk of foreclosure.
That is why the Making Home Affordable (MHA) program provides free resources and assistance for distressed homeowners who are working hard at juggling expenses to makes ends meet. There are more options available for struggling homeowners today than ever before, and MHA works to provide them with the mortgage solution that is right for them.

Unfortunately, foreclosure rescue and mortgage modification scams are a growing problem. Scammers will make promises that they can't keep, such as guaranteeing to "save" your home or lower your mortgage payments, usually for a fee, and sometimes even claiming that they have direct contact with your mortgage company.
These scams could cost homeowners thousands of dollars – or even their homes. If you or someone you know needs help with their mortgage, please keep these things in mind:
  • Through the federal Making Home Affordable program, many homeowners have received much-needed help to reduce their monthly payments, get mortgage relief, and avoid foreclosure.

  • Telephone scammers often request payment by wire transfer services similar to MoneyGram, or completion of paperwork containing your Social Security Number. Do not make any mortgage payments by wire transfer, or provide any personal information, in response to these calls. If you receive unsolicited calls, always check with your mortgage company using the phone number on your mortgage statement, or call 888-995-HOPE (4673) to check its legitimacy.

  • Beware of telephone calls urging you to take advantage of the Making Home Affordable Program. Beware of anyone seeking to charge you in advance for mortgage modification services. In most cases, charging fees in advance of a mortgage modification is illegal.

  • Paying a third party to assist with your application may not improve your likelihood of receiving a mortgage modification. Beware of individuals or companies that ask you for payment, tout their success rate, or claim to be Making Home Affordable (MHA) or Home Affordable Modification (HAMP) experts.

  • The Making Home Affordable (MHA) housing counseling experts at 888-995-HOPE™ (4673) are available around-the-clock (24 hours a day, 7 days a week), in over 170 languages, and at no cost. They will help homeowners understand their options and design a plan to suit their individual situation.

Going through the stress of potentially losing your home is hard enough as it is. No one should EVER be faced with going through that alone, but many do feel alone in what they are experiencing. That is why the Making Home Affordable (MHA) program provides free resources and assistance for distressed homeowners who are working hard at juggling expenses to makes ends meet. There are more options available for struggling homeowners today than ever before, and MHA works to provide them with the mortgage solution that is right for them.

Visit to read about available programs to help with mortgage payments. If you or someone you know is struggling, there is help.

Wedding Wednesday

When I show up at a wedding, the first thing I do is introduce myself to the family, then take the Bride's shoes, flowers and a piece of jewelry around the wedding venue grounds for specific still shots. This gives them time to process me being there, and it allows me time to get acquainted with the lay of the grounds in the given light and weather. For destination weddings or out of town to me weddings, a prior site check isn't always possible. These shots are perfect for me to get ideas of shot locations for the couple following their ceremony. This particular shot was taken on the deck just outside the conference room where the bride and her bride's maids were getting dressed. 

Couple: Steve and Barbie Duke
Location: Lakeview Golf Resort and Spa

For more information, please visit my FACEBOOK page! 

Wedding Wednesday

I've chosen to change up my Wordless Wednesday for a while. Instead of random motivational posts, I'm going to share wedding photos I've taken over the years. I hope you all enjoy!

Getting artistic with ArtAchieve {REVIEW}

Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review
Art is often overlooked in both traditional school and homeschools. But art can be used to teach so many critical topics, that I feel it is as important as math or reading. But what if you could find an art program that not only taught art, but also included suggested learning activities for other subjects such as reading and science? Well, to me that would be a gold mine, and that gold mine is found with ArtAchieve. We have really been enjoying our review of ArtAchieve and the Entire Level III
Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review
ArtAchieve isn't your average art program. Each art lesson can be used like a unit study. There's a section for each lesson that details what supplies you'll need, which are all easy to find, inexpensive supplies you may already have on had, and suggestions for more learning. For this review, I focused on the Hawaiian Frog drawing. I wish I had the ability to screen snip all of the additional material that is included with this lesson. There's activities for history, science,  and even reading! 

I very much appreciate all of the additional learning opportunities, and the easy to find supplies. My only wish would be for a little more user friendly set up. Currently, this page is located on a separate page from the lessons. I wish it was all combined together. It's definitely not something that would prevent me from purchasing this art program. 

How we used this:

First, I want to say that I have enjoyed this as much as Mr. B! The levels are not based on age, but based on your experience with art. Level I would be for any age with little to no art experience, level III more experience, etc. I took a great deal of art classes in school, and we both have a natural talent for drawing. So I chose to go with Level III. There are additional levels beyond Level III. 

Once you choose your lesson, you have a few different options to choose from. 

The warm up is a printed sheet to help get you in the drawing mood, and lesson any stress you may have. It's the picture you are to draw, broken up and scrambled so you are only drawing portions of it. 

The PowerPoint is exactly what it sounds like, it's a powerpoint version of the overall lesson. I prefer to watch the video version, then move the PowerPoint as needed while I'm drawing since I can control the pace of the PowerPoint myself. 

The video portion is very nice. His voice is calming and gently, and he doesn't through things. He thoroughly explains, and reinforces that it doesn't have to be perfect. 

Each lesson starts out with a history lesson on the inspiration to the art piece you are about to draw. This is a frog statue from a fountain in Hawaii. 

The print out is just a lined drawing of the picture you are to draw to use as your reference. I like that it is just a simple line, without any other frills. 

Our Results:

Mr. B really enjoyed watching the videos and learning about the inspirations. Each lesson teaches more than just art, and I truly loved the added learning suggestions and ideas. It's really easy to use this as a unit study if you want. I liked the concepts that are introduced, and I found I learned quite a bit myself. I like that it is easily adaptable, and the supplies are things I keep on hand. We did do "our own thing" with our frog since I did not want Mr. B to use my oil pastels (stingy mom!) so we used crayons instead, but I think it worked out nicely anyway.

Does ArtAchieve Entire Level III Pass My 4 Ingredient Test?

1.) Customization: Is it easily adaptable? Can we customize it to fit “us?” Can we modify or set our own schedule? Can we take breaks, jump ahead, or flat out skip?
You do not have to do the lessons in order, but we have been. You can customize in terms of materials used, but your artwork will differ from the instructors. You can set your own schedule.     

2.) Value: Is it long lasting? Will it cover multiple grade ranges? Are you locked in to one specific grade level? Are there hidden fees?
Subscriptions last for 1 calendar year, and you can use this with multiple children. Your purchase only covers the lesson level you choose though, but there is an option to get all of them for 1 year. You are locked into the level you choose. There are no hidden fees.  
3.) Attention span: Is it boring? Is it engaging? Is it varied enough for ADHD? Does it last too long?
Definitely not boring, though some with ADHD may find the need to take more breaks since each lesson can last up to an hour or even more if you choose to do the additional activities that are suggested for more learning. We did not find it boring in the least. 

4.) Does it tie into other things we already have.

It most certainly can! There are a lot of extended learning suggestions that allow you to really turn this into a great unit studies project! 

We have truly loved working on this review! I highly recommend it! But please, don't take my word for it! Check out the crew to read more reviews on the Entire Level III and the other levels offered to us for review!

Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review
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