Thursday, March 31, 2011


I love spring! Although it has been cold and rainy this week, we had an early spring this year, with several weeks of temperatures in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s. I took these pictures a few weeks ago when they first started to bloom.




Monday, March 28, 2011

Super Star Speech Facebook Giveaway

Would you like a chance to win a free Super Star Speech e-book? Just leave a comment on the Super Star Speech Facebook page, telling me which of the four books you would choose. These speech therapy materials are described in detail on my website. Contest ends on April 8.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Winning Him Without Words (Winner)

The winner of the Winning Him Without Words giveaway is Julie Marie. Congratulations!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mine is the Night (Review)

Info PR: n/a Density
I read Liz Curtis Higgs’ Here Burns My Candle several months ago and have been eagerly awaiting the sequel, Mine is the Night. Both books are set in 18th century Scotland and parallel the Biblical book of Ruth.
Mine is the Night begins as Elisabeth Kerr and her mother-in-law, Marjory, arrive in Marjory’s hometown of Selkirk, having recently lost their wealth, home, and husbands. The women have nowhere else to go, but hope to find a new home and a welcome here. Although further hardship and rejection await them, both have come to rely on God for their security rather than earthly treasures, and this helps to sustain them through their struggles.
This book easily met my expectations. In fact, this 450 page book was hard to put down! I kept reading “just one more chapter!” I loved the characters and the multiple twists and turns in the plot that not-so-coincidentally included many elements of the Ruth and Naomi story. I also enjoyed learning about British history against the backdrop of the Jacobite rebellion. The Scottish words scattered throughout the text added to the realism of the setting.
Although Mine is the Night is a sequel, I think it would stand well alone if you haven’t read the first book in the series yet. You can read the first chapter of Mine is the Night here or buy it at or many other distributors.
Don’t miss the Live Video Event with Liz Curtis Higgs on April 5. She’ll tell you about it here…

I received a free review copy of this book from WaterBrook Multnomah as part of their Blogging for Books program.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Kindle and Homeschooling

imageAs of last week, I am now a Kindle owner. For me, this was a bit of an impulse purchase—normally, I research large purchases for months, but I had  over $100 of Staples Rewards that I needed to use, and nothing that I especially needed. I did some quick research on the Kindle and decided that this was something I would make good use of.

So…I’ve spent the past several days learning the features of this cool gadget and finding sources of free books. I’ve found quite a few classic children’s books already in addition to books for myself and now I’m starting to wonder how I can make good use of the Kindle in our home school in addition to using it for my personal reading.

At Amazon free Kindle books, thus far, I’ve found:

ESV Bible: I think it’s a bit slower to find a passage than in a paper Bible, but I did discover that by using “Go to…Index,”  one can type in the reference, such as Jn 3 16, to hop directly to a particular verse. It’s almost as fast to pick the book from the Table of Contents, then navigate to the desired chapter. A feature I love is the “search.” I typed in “waiting,” and was immediately shown all 144 passages pertaining to waiting—much faster than using a concordance! This isn’t my favorite translation, but the price is right!

I also love the ability to highlight passages, which are then saved in the “notes” for that book.

Bobbsey Twins books

Thornton Burgess books: I grew up enjoying this series of animal books and my children have, too. Unfortunately, the pictures aren’t included.

Other classics, such as Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, The Railway Children, The Secret Garden, Wizard of Oz, etc.

Since the Kindle can read PDF files, I’ve experimented with uploading many of the e-books I have on my computer. Many of these are still unread because I just don’t find it relaxing to read on the computer.  I’ve discovered that many of these books are readable on the Kindle, especially if I change my Kindle screen rotation to “landscape.” The print is just too small to read on some PDF e-books, though. Those that are formatted in two columns are not readable due to the tiny font size. (So if you are publishing pdf books, please make them single column with a larger font for Kindle readers!)

Do you use a Kindle in your schooling? Do you have any great resources to suggest? Any great sources for books? I’d love to hear any tricks and tips that have worked for you!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011 Membership Giveaway/Contest

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of BigIQkids for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Are you looking for a fun way for your child to practice for his or her weekly spelling test? is an online educational game site for grades K-8 that allows children to practice academic skills in four areas. The basic site is free and includes math, vocabulary, US state, and spelling games.  The vocabulary program and spelling program provide lessons for first grade through adult, while the math program focuses on basic math facts.  The site even allows you to input your own words for your child to prepare for a spelling test  for any curriculum.

I've browsed through BigIQKids and it looks like a fun and educational site. I plan to have Emily try out some of the games next week.

Although all the games at are free to play, a Premium Membership includes automatic advancement around student’s proficiency, advanced student tracking, automatic progress emails, customized BigIQ Buddy, Full Game Page access, and more… A Premium Membership usually costs $99.99 (Individual) to $299.99 (classroom) per year, but you can enter to win a FREE one year membership!

How to Enter?

Join one or all of our BigIQkids Newsletter, Facebook, Twitter or BigIQkids Blog. Four names will be selected each week. One member will be randomly selected from EACH of our BigIQkids’ Facebook, Twitter, BigIQkids Newsletter and BigIQKids Blog accounts! Join once and you’ll have a chance of winning each week. Join ALL four and quadruple your chances of winning. GOOD LUCK!

Visit Sponsor's Site

Monday, March 14, 2011

Winning Him Without Words (Giveaway and Review)

I’ve been reading a wonderful book, Winning Him Without Words by Lynn Donovan and Dineen Miller. If you are in a spiritually unmatched marriage, you will find this book to be packed with comfort, encouragement and purpose. Actually, I think it’s worthwhile reading for anyone—the authors’ admonition that living one’s faith is more important than speaking it, speaking words that bring about healing, and expecting God to act (while waiting patiently) are valuable lessons in many situations.

I have an extra copy of this book to give away. If you are in a “spiritually mismatched” marriage or know someone who is, please enter the giveaway and/or visit the author’s site to learn more! You will be blessed by this book!


Winning Him Without Words
10 Keys to Thriving in Your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage

Week after week, they sit in church . . . alone. They are the spiritually mismatched, those who are committed to a spouse who does not share their faith. Feeling abandoned by their spouse and forgotten by their church, they live out their faith in survival mode, guarding the spiritual flame yet never feeling free to share it. But God wants them to thrive—not just survive.

Winning Him Without Words by Lynn Donovan and Dineen Miller presents 10 Christ-centered keys to thriving in a spiritual mismatch. Readers are encouraged to commit to Christian community, to release their spouse to God’s capable hands, to believe their marriage is blessed, to pick and choose their battles, and to continue their pursuit of a growing faith and to love their spouse with fresh enthusiasm.

“It matters not how we came to be in our crazy, mixed-up and unexpected marriage situations. What matters is that God desires that we honor our marriage commitment and fulfill our marriage vows through His power and His strength,” says Miller. “There were many years of confusion, sadness and unfulfilled expectations, but I discovered it’s possible to love, live and thrive in an unequally yoked marriage.”

Both Lynn and Dineen are Christian women in spiritually unequally yoked marriages, but believe that God wants every marriage to exude peace and love. Chapters include:

Know You’re Not Alone: (Lynn) Recognizing that we aren’t the only person living in an unequally yoked marriage is a key aspect to restoring hope. Having Christ in our lives enables us to view our husbands as the wonderful man God created, regardless of your different beliefs.
Don’t Save Your Husband – Save Yourself: (Lynn) The best thing I ever did was to get out of the way so that Jesus could be Jesus. I relinquished control and turned my man completely over to Christ and an unexpected, peaceful freedom emerged in our marriage.
Trade Perfection for Authenticity: (Dineen) I came to understand that many of my disappointments had come from expectations I’d placed upon him to fulfill needs he wasn’t even aware of. In the end, all I really accomplished was a heart full of resentment.
Keep Your Armor On-You’re at War! (Dineen) Instead of putting on the label of martyr in a spiritually mismatched marriage, we need to put on the label of missionaries. We need to think of ourselves as soldiers on the front lines of our marriages.

Other chapters include parenting children in an unequally yoked marriage, praying into the life of your spouse and scriptures to encourage and strengthen you. Winning Him Without Words empowers readers to create that environment in their homes and thrive as God works. The official website is

About Winning Him Without Words:
Winning Him Without Words: 10 Keys to Thriving in Your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage by Lynn Donovan and Dineen Miller. Published by Regal Books. February 2011. Trade Paper, 224 pages. $14.99. ISBN: 978-08307-5605

LYNN DONOVAN writes for the online ministry she founded in 2006, Spiritually Unequal Marriage. Lynn is a popular Bible study leader and national speaker who dispels the myths women believe about love and marriage and points them to the freedom that is theirs through a living relationship with Christ. She lives in Temecula, California, with her husband, Mike.

DINEEN MILLER has won several prestigious awards for her fiction, and her devotional writing has been featured in Our Journey and Christian Women Online Magazine. In addition to writing for Spiritually Unequal Marriage, Dineen writes for Laced with Grace and various other fiction online magazines and newsletters. Married for more than 23 years, she shares her life with a great guy who adores disc golf and their two daughters, who never stops surprising her with their own creativity.

To read more or to purchase Winning Him Without Words, visit the author’s site.


The authors have given me an extra copy of this book to give away. To enter, just leave a comment. I’ll pick a winner using on March 26.

For extra entries:

1. Follow the Spiritually Unequal Marriages blog.

2. Follow me on Google Friend Connect.

3. Leave a comment on my Super Star Speech blog.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Epcot Flower and Garden Festival


This is a Destination Disney post. Visit Reviews and Reflections to read more tips about visiting Disney during the Flower and Garden Festival!

Disney World is always a beautiful place, but never more so than at Epcot during the annual Flower and Garden Festival, which is going on right now. We especially love all the extra topiaries. Here are a few pictures from our May, 2005 trip.





Every night, they have Flower Power concerts near the American Adventure attraction. I dragged the whole family with me to hear B.J. Thomas. I enjoyed the concert, but I don’t think my teens could get over his “socks and sandals” attire and “how old he was!”

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Spell Quizzer (Review)


We’ve set aside our usual spelling curriculum over the past few weeks to try out the Spell Quizzer software. Spell Quizzer provides a way for drill and practice for most existing spelling programs. We’ve been using All About Spelling this year, which is set up a bit differently and doesn’t use weekly spelling lists, so it doesn’t coordinate well with Spell Quizzer, although most traditional spelling programs would.

To use Spell Quizzer, you (or your child) record the weeks’ spelling words, with a sentence if desired. The child can then open up the program, which reads the word and sentence aloud. The child types in the spelling word and receives immediate assessment as to whether the word is correct or not. The child is then given the opportunity to practice the missed words until they are all spelling correctly. I can see that this would be great for a child to master his or her spelling lists each week. It’s not much different from the parent quizzing the words, but it’s more fun for the child on the computer. Because the parent (or child) can record the lists, Spell Quizzer will work with almost any spelling program.

Multiple lists are also available for download at the Spell Quizzer site as well, including the entire Houghton Mifflin Spelling curriculum through fifth grade. Lists for Sequential Spelling (first and second grades) are also available, and I assume more lists will be added from that curriculum.

Word lists are also available for the National Spelling Bee. This would have been great for my oldest daughter when she was competing in our county bee several years ago.

Since I don’t have a spelling program to coordinate with, I started Emily out with the “frequently misspelled words” for fifth through eighth grades and US states. She zipped through those lists in a few days and begged for more! So I downloaded the Houghton Mifflin words and set her loose with those. She’s been quite enthusiastic about mastering the lists—and I’m enjoying the fact that she’s totally independent. No help from Mom needed!

As you can see from this screen shot, Spell Quizzer is simple to understand and use.


This is what the child sees as the computer reads the spelling word and sentence aloud:


SpellQuizzer has been a big hit at our house. Simple as it is, Emily loves it and has enjoyed the feeling of mastery as she is able to complete each spelling list perfectly. If the SpellQuizzer folk continue to add ready-to-use spelling lists, the program will be even better.

SpellQuizzer sells for $29.95. If you think this is something that would be helpful in your home, try it out free for 30 days first.

I received a free copy of the SpellQuizzer software in exchange for my honest review.

This is a MamaBzz review.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Spring Scale

Emily made this homemade spring scale using a cereal box. She marked the scale on an index card using the 1 gram blue chips for calibration. Then she found objects around the house to weigh. It was quite crude, but she enjoyed the project and learned how a spring scale works.



Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Organized Home Schooler (Review)

Do you ever wish your home school was more organized? I think we all do! I am actually a pretty organized person and enjoy cleaning closets, organizing school supplies, and making plans. (I know that sounds crazy to some people!) However, we all have room for improvement. Personally, I tend to start the year out with a bang, and by mid-year, we’re getting more distracted, I’m getting behind on lesson plans, and our school supplies are getting scattered.


Enter The Organized Home Schooler, by Vicki Caruana…  This book provides both inspiration and practical ideas for organizing your home school. The author doesn’t focus solely on lesson plans and supplies, either. The chapters include:

1. The Heart of the Matter

2. Why Organize?

3. Organize Your Thoughts

4. Organize Your Time

5. Organize your Space

6. Organize Your Supplies and Materials

7. Organize Your Paperwork

8. Organize Your Family

9. The Task of Reorganizing

10. Habit Forming

11. The Nuts and Bolts of an Organized Homeschool

12. A Homeschool File System

13. The List of Lists for Homeschooling

You can see from this list, that the scope of  The Organized Home Schooler is quite wide. I enjoyed reading it, and picked up some good ideas for storing finished schoolwork, organizing my family, and storing (or eliminating) “stuff.”  The book is effective at motivating the reader to organize in addition to providing practical ideas.

  The topic that was most convicting to me was the one on time management, so that is what I am focusing on first.   As the author says, “I have yet to meet a person who was content with how he or she spent his or her time.”  I have gone back to my off and on practice of list making, which eliminates the need for me to carry around mental lists all the time, allows me to better prioritize my responsibilities, and gives me a feeling of accomplishing something when I am able to cross tasks off my list.

My only concern with the book is that, although the author acknowledges that her methods may not be the right ones for everyone, I thought she came a across as a bit judgmental at times of those who may not hold the same priorities about schooling styles or use of time or as she does. I don’t think this detracted from the overall value of the book, though.

I think that The Organized Home Schooler would be useful to both new and veteran homeschoolers.

Thank you to Crossway  for providing me with a free review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Planning Our Disney Trips


This post is part of the Destination Disney Blog Hop. This week’s theme is “Anticipating Disney.”

To me, half the fun of a vacation is the planning. I’ll spend hours poring through books and the internet researching the best places to stay and things to see.

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While many people show up at Disney World and fly by the seat of their pants, I think that Disney World is a destination that needs  to be planned. A bit of research can save you hours in line as well as enlightening you about Disney activities that you might not stumble on yourself.

We used to arrive at a WDW park at least 15 minutes before opening time, schedule in hand. My husband was always a good sport about sticking to the schedule and moving quickly about the parks in those first few hours after opening with his “Disney Commando wife.”  Later in the day, after we had hit the busier attractions, we would slow down, relax, and enjoy the surroundings while we visited the less busy attractions.

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We’ve been to WDW so many times now that  we’re not as rigid. We still try to arrive early and visit the most popular attractions first, but we don’t mind if we don’t see everything in a day either.

I still do some planning and research before trips, though. We like to stay at the Fort Wilderness campground, so I check out the movie schedule and any changes there, find out which attractions are new or closed for refurbishment, and make note of early entrance days for on-site visitors and park hours to help decide which parks we’ll visit on which days. I also just love to read Disney message boards to put myself in the Disney mood!

Some of my favorite resources are:

The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World (This was my “Bible” in our early days!) (This site is a must-visit for saving money at WDW. Sign up for the newsletter, too!)