Tuesday, July 22, 2014

5 Online Back-To-School Resources

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Thanks!

Whether you are looking for a cute backpack for your little girl this school year or a fun lunch bag for your growing boy, consider shopping online before attempting to face the crowds in the stores this August! I was out and about the other day and heard a mom talking to her son while scrolling her smartphone, "well, looks like your backpack will be arriving on Wednesday!" Listening to that conversation made me realize, that wow, I am old! When I was a kid, we would head out to the store at the end of summer, trying to beat the crowds, hoping to find a decent book bag still on the shelves! My, how things have changed! 

So before you head to the stores consider online shopping.

5 Online Back-To-School Resources

5- Dick Blick If you need colored pencils, stamps, or markers, Dick Blick's online clearance section has you covered! 

4- Crayola Store Save 50% off storewide at CrayolaStore.com. Enter code SUMMER50 at checkout. Offer ends 8/31/14. *Excludes sale items. 

3- Alpha and Omega And, For you homeschool shoppers, here's a summer deal for you!
Purchase Alpha and Omega homeschool resources and receive 10% off with coupon code SAVEBIG!

2- Rainbow Resources
If you are looking for NEW homeschool materials for a discounted price, I've been pleased with Rainbow Resources in the past. They have an extremely large selection of materials!

1- Amazon
Need I say more? Books are a no brainer with this one. I recently bought Farmer Boy for only a penny. And of course, Amazon is so much more than books. Whether you are looking for new or used products, I would suggest checking here first, and if you are an Amazon Prime member then you'll receive FREE shipping on all eligible items!

Monday, July 21, 2014


Have you ever tried selling children's clothes online? I have. Yikes. Unless it is an amazingly popular brand name, most of the time there wouldn't be a single bite! Well, how cool would it be to have someone do the work for you and YOU receive 60% of the profits? I'm liking the sound of this. Less work, less clutter in my house, lets get started! Loteda is a brand NEW site dedicated to selling children's clothes by the LOT. 

What if I said you could pocket 90% of the funds? No problem! All you have to do is take the pics yourself, upload them and you'll receive an envelope in the mail to ship it to the buyer! It is simple. Check out the video below to see how it works!

First: Organize your gently worn Newborn- 5T clothes into lots. By gender and season.

Second: Take a pic of each item, fill out a form and upload your lot.

Third: Once your LOT sells, you'll receive a prepaid shipping bag for your items.

Finally: Drop it in the mail and receive a check for 90% of the sale price!!!

Now, the fun part, buying the clothing! I'm excited to know there is another online option for buying children's clothing by the LOT, by the season! 

Coupon Code
20% off your total purchase. 
Use code: SAVE20
Expires 8/31/14

Disclaimer: I will receive a gift card in exchange for this post. All opinions stated are my own.

Coobie Seamless Bra {Review}

I have an issue with bra straps. I don't know about you, but I feel like they are constantly falling down my shoulder. I'm always trying to fix them. Sometimes I'll see photos of myself and say, "Hey! Why didn't someone tell me my crazy strap was showing, geesh!" So, recently, I finally found a bra that doesn't pose this problem! Coobie Seemless Bras stay snug and fit no matter how active I may be! 

The scoop neck pictured above is extremely comfortable! I received two of them and was extremely impressed with both the quality and the comfort. A wide array of colors and designs are available including tie dye, jade, hot pink or deep teal. 

~ What I Loved About This Product ~

The Comfort: This product is extremely comfortable, you can barely tell it is there. It is a one size fits all deal or you can order a full size for only a couple dollars more. 

Washing Machine Friendly: I've had this product for several months now and have had no problem just tossing them in the wash with the rest of my laundry! Easy! No wires, no issues with the shape getting messed, no problems!

Variety of Uses: For one, it can be used as a sports bra. It also can be worn discreetly under a swim suit for added comfort. Also, it can be used as a camisole for those shirts that run, well, a little low. Instead of finding a tank top or cami, a solid color black or ivory Coobie Seamless could be worn under your shirt to provide extra covering in a way that no one could tell it was a bra!

The Price: Easily affordable at only $20. A surprisingly low price for such a durable bra.

I would encourage you to check out the Coobie Store or request a catalog! Both are filled with not only bras but legwear, pants, wraps and more. 

Disclaimer: I received (2) Coobie Seamless Products for the purpose of this review through the US Family Guide Blogger Program. All opinions stated are my own. 

$1.99 Custom Card (FREE Postage)

Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links. Thanks!

Friendship Day is August 3rd!

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So, start making your personalized cards today at Cardstore!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

2014-2015 Curriculum Choices

Crazy as it may sound, a majority of the materials for my oldest are Abeka this year! He thrives off of it actually. I know it sounds structured for me, but I just use it as a framework and flow from there!

My first grader is all over the board this year since he does well with plenty of hands-on activities! And, my pre-schooler will have a blast with the letter of the week lessons that her older brothers did when they were her age!

Aaron: Grade 3

Bible: Scripture Memory System/Veritas Press
Science: Abeka 3
History: Abeka/Veritas Press
Language: Abeka 3
Writing: Writeshop
Spelling: Abeka 3/Spelling You See
Reading: Abeka 3
Piano: Hoffman Acadamy Online
Math: Abeka 3

Michael: Grade 1

Bible: Scripture Memory System/Children's Bible Read Aloud w/Notebooking

Science: Bob Jones 1
History: Golden Prairie Press
Phonics/Reading/Spelling: Abeka 1
Writing: Abeka 1/Writeshop
Piano: Hoffman Acadamy Online
Math: Abeka 1

Tirzah: Pre-K 

Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool: Getting Ready 1
Letter of the Week Activities
Abeka K4 ABC/123

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Office Max Perks


It's not as good as it sounds. So, when we first heard about the fact that you can receive $2 for every used ink cartridge you bring in we were thrilled! We have piles of old ink cartridges and basically thought that we could recycle them to receive some store credit.


That's how it is pitched, but you have to read the fine print. First of all, you can only cash in 10 cartridges a month. (yeah, we had a lot more than that.... long story). So, we arrive at the store, were told we could only cash in 10 for that month, which we did. 

Then... once you bring in the 10, you have to wait a whole month for your Max Perks card to be credited. 

THEN.....the only way to redeem the store credit is to print out your rewards from online and bring it into the store with you. Which is fine and dandy, but when we went to print it out (a month later), we noticed that the credit is "locked" until you spend money at the store on an unrelated purchase! Soooo the more you spend, the more your store credit is "released." 

In all my bargain shopping days I have never seen so many hoops to jump through, just for a deal. It's worse than a rebate! So, that's my rant of the day. Stay away from the Max Perks cartridge return, it's not worth it!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

If in Doubt, WAIT!

I know when I see other homeschool families pins on Pinterest and photos on their blog I get excited. "Wow, that looks fun," "I could do that!" " That would fit perfectly in our homeschool!" Then, reality hits. The price tag. It doesn't matter how "cheap" and "frugal" the craft or activity is, most of the time you will need to BUY something to make it work. And the little things add up. A can of spray paint here, some glitter glue there, before you know it you've completely spent what you normally spend in a single grocery trip buying materials for your homeschool!

The way I look at it, is, if I feel like I NEED it NOW, then I probably shouldn't buy it! It's like when I take my kids to the store. They see a shiny new something or other and just HAVE to have it. Of course, I nipped that in the bud immediately and say, we are just looking, if you want something just add it so your wishlist. And believe it or not, it works!!

I've learned to simply take a mental note of what I want and then wait. And wait. And wait. 

When I go "back to school" shopping for our homeschool I have a mental note of what I need. Supplies, storage units, etc. Then, I choose to be creative. For example, today I was looking for a decent white erase board. Rather than going to Office Max and buying the top of the line model, (Even though I wanted to, I mean a white board IS kind of essential!) instead I hit second hand shops. I didn't find a state of the art new board, but I DID find an easel in good condition with a white board on it. And, get this, for only $1.95!!

Perfect! Now, not all my great finds come so quickly. Often times I do have to wait. But it usually is for things that I don't need right away anyways. I would have loved to decorate our space with nice curtains the day we started homeschooling. But curtain rods add up. We have close to 30 windows in our house. Buying rods and curtains adds up and fast! So, the homeschool room windows have kind of been put on hold. Fortunately, today, I found roads at 95 cents a piece. And just enough for the homeschool room and stairway windows leading to the room. A much brighter price tag than $6 a piece for new ones. 

Remember, I am a THRIFT schooling mom here. If I think I can find it at a lower price, I am willing to wait! My advice to help you avoid paying full price is to wait it out. Be patient and keep your eyes open for used or clearance items!!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

WriteShop {Review}

WriteShop Review
I am extremely thankful to have been chosen to review an exciting and effective writing program called WriteShop. I chose to begin my second grader with book B and received two digital products, the
Primary Teacher's Guide: Book B- Digital PDF ($29.50) and the Primary Activity Pack: Book B- Digital PDF ($4.50).

Writing. Yikes. The second most difficult subject to teach my seven year old. Next to spelling, but I guess the two go hand in hand. Copy work is no problem, writing words to practice his handwriting whether print or cursive is not the challenge. The struggle is CREATIVE writing. To be honest, this was quite a shock to me. My son has quite the imagination and uses it vividly. He is always creating or engineering something. It's just getting that creativity to flow onto paper that the battle would begin. And I mean battle. 
I would ask him to write just a few sentences on a topic, and not have to worry about spelling, and he would just freeze up. And, not just for a minute, but for fifteen to twenty minutes we would be sitting there as I waited for him to finally come up with something. 

The problem?

I realized at that point, he needs to be TAUGHT creative thinking skills to develop into a creative writer! It does not just come naturally. Personally, I have a passion for writing, but someone nurtured and developed that in me.  Sure, I have a long ways to go, but when I look back at my education, I was blessed with several quality experiences that challenged me to develop strong writing skills. 

One memory in particular comes from my elementary school experiences. In fourth and fifth grade I remember what was called, "Writing Workshop." The primary focus of this time was to put aside everything else and simply focus on writing. I recall working on rough drafts, final copies and even sending our work home with the teacher for her to "publish." At that time, all that meant was she would type our story up on a typewriter and bind it with a cover made from wallpaper, (yes, I said typewriter, I'm really showing my age now!) We were so proud of our work and to this day I can remember what I wrote about for that project!

There was something powerful about "publishing" our work that drove us to complete our assignments with fervor and determination. I have now found a program that reminds me of my positive childhood encounters with writing in WriteShop! Depending on the age and ability of your child, you can begin your child in different levels. I began my seven year old in Book B. Book B is geared towards children ages 6 and 7. It is ideal for students in first or second grade or can be successful used with a reluctant third grader. Now that I am aware of this program, I plan to begin my younger kids with Book A as soon as they are ready. Even though it is completely doable to begin in Book B, I think my kids will have a richer experience starting for the beginning.
WriteShop Review
WriteShop Review
I received the PDF downloads of the books. Recently, with PDF's I have been saving the teacher guide's on an e-reader and printing out the student sheets. But with this program, next time I think I will buy the teacher's guide. There is SO much to this guide, that I was constantly scrolling through to read or re-read something that having a hardcopy on hand would be extremely helpful!
WriteShop Review

At first when I looked at the worksheets, I thought to myself, "wow, there really isn't much to this!" I liked what I saw but there weren't many pages. Then, I realized, after reading the teacher's guide, that the meat of this program is not the "worksheets" but the activities involved. This program is very hands-on and involved and requires prep work on the part of the parent. Normally, programs that require a lot of prep work on my part stress me out, but since I am determined to see my children succeed in writing, I figured I might try it out! There are three different tracks you can use for this program and I chose the slower track that has you use WriteShop three times a week. 

First, I went to the store and bought a shoe organizer (as suggested in the teacher's manual) to use in our writing center. I then stocked it, as was suggested with stamps, letters, paper, colored pencils and such. As you can see, there is much room to spare to add more in the future!

 I then created a word wall next to the organizer with just a few words.

The power of the word wall. It is amazing what this wall can do. When my son is presented with a topic to write about, the word wall helps him come up with ideas and it helps him to feel confident that some of his words are spelled correctly. This confidence helps him to more along with his work. He is able to be creative with minimal guidance! 

He also created a binder with flowers that consist of different word families. He really enjoyed making these and it is suggested that he makes more as time goes on. He loved the hands-on aspect of the cutting, gluing and creating the flowers. Then I would write the word family sound in the center of the flower and he had a blast coming up with words to place on the petals and leaves! This is a great tool for him to come back to when he needs help finding words to use, especially rhyming words for a poem.

One of his projects included learning about space. Below is his version of a space ship with a story inside about going to Jupiter! One of my favorite aspects of this lesson was how he was encouraged to diagram his writing. First, you provide the student with stars. Then, you have them write a main idea in the center with supporting ideas within the five points. These ideas are then used to write a story. This helped guide him along with his writing, again, giving him the confidence that he needs!

There are so many aspects to this program that have been very beneficial to my son. One, is the use of picture books. In one lesson he was encouraged to learn about how to write a story simply by looking at a story that he is already familiar with. Another, was when he learned about writing a letter. It was practical and engaging. We posted butcher paper on the wall and reviewed the parts of a letter. By the end of the lesson, my four year old was even able to recite the parts of the letter from the cute poem used in this book!
I look forward to continue using this program with my son and can't wait to start it with my younger ones! My son's confidence in writing has certainly been strengthened thanks to WriteShop!

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