Friday, April 29, 2011

Disclosure Policy

So someone said I have to get all official with this so here it goes :)

When I started my blog I had no idea it would lead to being able to do great giveaways and reviews. What I want most is just to bless you with our experiences and with helpful information. Therefore, I will never put up any information that is not relevant at least in some way to the main purpose of the blog, homeschooling or one of my side topics, such as healthy living, religion, and occasionally a great bargain. However, my blog does take alot of time and research and so I have decided that it is ok to accept the occasional paid post or paid review.

Please be aware that my posts may contain affiliate links, links to sites that print coupons for which I am compensated for and/or links to products for which I have been compensated to review. Compensation may either come in the form of a free product, blog exposure or cash compensation. But not to worry, I will always posts honest reviews and you can trust that my opinion is, indeed, my opinion. I will always post a short disclosure at the end of any post for which I am compensated for.

As with any product, you should thoroughly research each product before you purchase.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

$25 JC Penny Gift Card Giveaway!!!

This is a just for fun because someone gave it to me giveaway! I have ONE $25 gift card to any JC Penny Retailer for one lucky winner! Be sure to follow the directions below to get the maximum number of entries! Also, I have ALOT of entrants who forget to leave me a contact email. If I don't have an email to contact you, I redraw. You don't want to miss out because of something like that so be sure to leave it! If you win, be sure to sign up through Ebates for coupons and 6% cash back online!

This will not count as an entry into the giveaway but if you are so inclined I would love it and appriciate it if you would help me win something! My daughters photo is entered in a contest for a free session. To win we have to have the most votes. If you would do BOTH of these things for me: Visit Holly Reyna Photography and like her page, then visit the photo of my daughter (Photo #2 blonde eating icecream) and click like I would appriciate it!

Now for the fun part! I am giving away ONE $25 gift card to JC Penny!! For one(1) entry you can Follow My Blog. For one(1) entry you can "Like" Molding Minds Homeschool on Facebook. . For one(1) entry you can Share On Facebook or on on your favorite social media site (to share just cut and paste this blog into your status and let me know where you shared). For one(1) entry you can follow Molding Minds on Twitter. And for one (1) entry you can like Like The Homeschool Exchange! .This is a total of Five(5) chances to win! Please post a SEPARATE COMMENT for each entry and be sure to leave an email address for me to contact you at if you win!

Winner will be chose May 20th and will be notified via email. Winner will have 72 hours to respond.

The Curiosity Files Explorations: The Platypus Review

We have alot of fun with most of the products I am asked to review. In fact I can't think of any that we haven't been able to enjoy or make enjoyable. However, I don't often find one that I want to rave about. This one is it! The Curiosity Files- Platypus, a downloadable unit study (the bundle can be purchased on CD), by The Old Schoolhouse, has been a truly enjoyable unit study! Professor Ana Lyze (bu dum ching!), does an excellent job of making the oddities of the platypus and interesting and fun experience. Plus, it is very reasonably priced at just $6.95! Even better is that there are 9 in the series, and they can be purchased as a bundle for a nearly $2 savings per study!

The study is very comprehensive and while we did squeeze it into a few days (we were having so much fun we couldn't stop!), it could easily be spread out over a week or maybe even two if you followed the "rabbit" trails that pop up, and trust me, even with my younger girls we had plenty of them.Because it included Bible, math, language arts, poetry, copy work, science and even some history, you could easily put all other work on hold to do this study. And, anytime I don't have to search down extra links and resources for a study I am excited. Dozens of links and website suggestions are included in the study. It saved me alot of time not having to search for graph paper, pictures of platypus burrows, and so on. As with most studies you can always add library books, but I didn't find them necessary at all. The reading portion is well laid out, though for my children's ages (6 and 7) I did have to use some different wording and I skipped portions of it that were more geared towards older children. However, considering the study is rated for ages 8-13, I found it very easy to adapt to my own children's ages. After we got past the reading is where the real fun began for us. The platypus unit study has numerous hands on skills in all areas. We glued beans into drawn illustrations of burrows, graphed beads, made tent "burrows", solved word searches and there were so many things I either didn't list or we didn't have the time to do! I am telling you, this study was just packed with these activities!

I think what I loved most as teacher, is the adaptability of the study. A few ways we adapted included counting out our beads by 's and 10's instead of using the worksheet and as I men

(I should say that since my kids are younger we leaned towards and enjoyed the hands on activities in the study, but there were plenty of more in-depth lessons and worksheets for older students as well. Though, the activities are enjoyable for the older ones as well! )

I only have one complaint about the study and it is just a matter of personal preference. I like to print out hard copies of my unit studies that I keep in binders. I just find it easier for me to read that way. This particular study has alot of graphics and background images that make it impossible to print without using an enormous amount of ink. This is minor though and is not going to keep me from purchasing the other studies available in this series.

You can purchase this unit study as well as many other great products from The Old Schoolhouse website or you can call at 1-888-718-HOME. Be sure to check out the sales. Some of this series is on sale for just $1.00! And if you buy and don't love it, The Old Schoolhouse has a 7 day money back guarantee on all e-books published by TOS.

PS: As soon as my husband reveals the top secret location of the cord I need to download photos from my camera, I will add a few pictures of some of our favorite things we did!

I was given this unit study free from TOS to review. Everything written here is 100% honest and 100% mine.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Zaycon Foods is Back in Town with Ground Beef!

Zaycon is back in town with 93/7 hormone free ground beef for just $2.89/lb!!

There are pick-up locations all over the Dallas/Ft.Worth area so be sure to check the list and I bet you there is one near you!

Picture Credit

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Easy Grammar and Daily Grams Grade 3 Giveaway

I know that grammar has been one of the most challenging things for me to teach. My children are just getting into it and I am already struggling to find the righ curriculum. Easy Grammar and Daily Grams looks like it might be it!

Easy Grammar: In this text, capitalization, punctuation, and parts of speech are presented in units.

480 pages; reproducible
only 28 prepositions introduced
materials presented in an easy, step-by-step
manner; easy reading
pre/post assessment

age-appropriate, interesting worksheets
Writing section includes how to write items in a
series and appositives
contains unit reviews, tests, cumulative reviews,
and cumulative tests
reproducible worksheets (answer key on left side and reproducible page on right)
Tests are also in the teacher edition.
This student test booklet saves you from having to make copies of the tests.
Not reproducible for student use.

Now for the fun part! I am giving away ONE copy of Easy Grammar Grade 3 and Daily Grams Grade 3!! For one(1) entry you can Follow My Blog. For one(1) entry you can "Like" Molding Minds Homeschool on Facebook. . For one(1) entry you can Share On Facebook or on on your favorite social media site (to share just cut and paste this blog into your status and let me know where you shared). For one(1) entry you can follow Molding Minds on Twitter. And for one (1) entry you can like Like The Homeschool Exchange! .This is a total of Five(5) chances to win! Please post a SEPARATE COMMENT for each entry and be sure to leave an email address for me to contact you at if you win!

Winner will be chose April 22nd and will be notified via email. Winner will have 72 hours to respond.
I was not compensated for this review. The giveaway was provided to my by the publisher. Any opinion is 100% mine and 100% true.

Butterfly Lesson Plans, Crafts and Resources

I bought the girls a few insect habitats around Christmas, including the Insect Lore Butterfly Kit.

This was one of the best things we have done. Our caterpillars arrived within a few days of ordering and we watched them double in size nearly every day! After they were done growing we watched them go from hanging upside down to transforming into chrysalis' and then into butterflies. Today we released them out at my parents and watched them flit from flower to flower. Everyone from my husband to my 2 year old enjoyed this project and we will definitely be re-ordering!

Spring is the perfect time to study about insects that help pollination. Here are a few resources to help with your butterfly lesson plans, crafts and lapbooking:

Butterfly Lapbook by Hands of a Child

Butterfly Crafts

Painted Lady Life Cycle Video

Free Butterfly Lapbook Resources

Butterfly Lesson Plans

Butterfly Pollination

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

When I Survey The Wonderous Cross, Especially While Feeling Sorry For Myself

I'm sick. I'm tired of being sick. It has thrown my entire week off. It isn't fun. I wish I never got sick.

I am having one of those nights tonight where I am profoundly aware(though still not even close to really understanding) how truly amazing my God is. It is so easy to dwell on and place blame when things go wrong, but I think that when we sit down and truly, truly think of how wretched we are, we come a realization; we deserve nothing good. But that despite the unholy and unrighteous nature of ourselves, we have a God, a perfect God, who willingly sent his son, Jesus Christ to bear what we truly deserve. To take the place, to pay the debt and to cover our sins (Romans 5:8 but(A) God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us), so that when we repent and trust in Christ as Lord and Savior, we may be looked apon as holy and righteous through the veil of Christ's blood.

It is easy to wallow in self-pity at our circumstances when we lose sight of the cross. However, when I finally allow myself to be pulled out of my temper-tantrums and look up, what I see brings me to tears. A perfect God made man, living a perfect life, deserving nothing but our adoration and worship, coming to earth, living a sinless life only to be beaten beyond recognition, humiliated and hung on a cross to die and he did that for me and for you friend (1 John 4:9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that(A) God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.)! We are wretches! We deserve every bit of suffering and shame that comes on us! We deserve to die and we deserve a sinners punishment in hell! Being a just God means having to serve this sentence. We can not escape it! But, Praise God, my God is also merciful and full of grace! And he has offered us a way out (Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.)

So the next time, child of the king, you (or I) sit down to pout over our circumstances, let us remember that every good thing we have, from the breath that keeps us alive to the heart beating in our chests, is only through the grace of God. And one day, when he choses to take that from us and no matter how he choses to take it, we will still glory in His perfect mercy as we worship at His feet in heaven!

Ephesians 2:4-5
But[a] God, being(A) rich in mercy,(B) because of the great love with which he loved us, 5even(C) when we were dead in our trespasses,(D) made us alive together with Christ—(E) by grace you have been saved—

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o’er His body on the tree;
Then I am dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

[Added by the compilers of Hymns An­cient and Mo­dern]

To Christ, who won for sinners grace
By bitter grief and anguish sore,
Be praise from all the ransomed race
Forever and forevermore.


Picture CreditI have not read this site and therefore can not endorse it.

11 Day Real Food Challenge Days 4&5 and the Thermomix TM31

It really was the most unfortunate week to try this. I started feeling sick on Monday and besides not being hungry, I have had little energy to cook. I will say that what I have cooked has been great though. Wild Caught Salmon with an organic salad was on the menu for lunch.

So I have been eyeing this fancy looking kitchen gadget, the Thermomix TM31. It claims to do everything but wash the dishes after you eat (though it does claim to wash itself!). Chopping, grinding, milling, pureeing, mixing, kneading, and several other functions are performed in a fraction of the time it would normally take. The catch? This thing is expensive. Not just a little expensive, alot expensive. Think right around the $1500 mark. The counter to this would be that it potentially replaces some other appliances and since a good Kitchen Aid can cost $300-$400 depending on the model, that plus a juicer, blender, and so on, you could possibly be coming out on top. The other catch? The new model is not sold in the US, but it can be imported from Canada. There are also several cookbooks that have recipes specifically created for the Thermomix, and of course blogs such as my friend's over at Quirky Cooking.

I showed Karl the demo thinking he was going to tell me I was out of my mind after he heard the price, but surprisingly he wasn't too critical of it. Obviously, it is still alot of money and I have alot of thinking to do before I invest in it, but I am open to the idea and if it delivers all it promises, it certainly sounds like a dream come true.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Day 3 of Our 11 Day Real Food Challenge

I have a cold courtesy of my son I am sure. Not feeling great so even though I was junk free I was also mostly Real Food free too. I did make sure the family ate good though.

Breakfast was oatmeal and eggs

Lunch was a cold tray with meat, fruits and veggies

Dinner was hand breaded wild caught cod.

Keeping it short tonight since I am not feeling well.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

11 Day Real Food Challenge Day 2

It doesn't seem to be getting easier. Another $80 put down at Walmart, and good luck finding ANYTHING that meets the diet requirements there. I also did my once a month orders on Amazon. I ended up having to just go for the least of the evils. I truly don't know how anyone on a budget can afford to eat like this all the time. Thankfully, we got our tax return this week so it isn't hurting too bad. Next shopping trip though I am going to have to work out how to stay under $150, which is still high for us.

We are just about sure we are going to raise our own beef this spring and summer. The grass fed organic stuff is just out of our reach budget wise. If we don't raise it ourselves we will definitely be investing in a share.

I had a Dr Pepper. I am completely ashamed. Actually, I was having a minor altercation with my DH and let's just say Dr. Pepper is my stress reliever. Only one in the past two days though is actually quite good for me, so I am still going to say I have been at least partially successful.

DH is struggling, but he is at least trying. I figure any change is better than no change.

Breakfast was the coffee cake that I was planning to make into cereal and fruit.
Lunch was an organic garden salad with left over chicken from last nights dinner on a "lesser of two evils" whole wheat wrap.
Dinner was grass fed London broil with shallots and celery.
Snacks have been LOTS of fruit and veggies. In this area we are doing quite well.

I started another batch of dough for the cereal. Maybe this will actually make it to cereal stage. The kids love the cakes so the cereal ought to be a hit.

So, I have to say at this point, eating completely REAL food sounds a bit like a pipe dream. Finances combined with a sheer lack of availability is hindering us. We are still going to keep trucking with the changes that have been made though and hopefully it will lead to some long term changes. Even if we can't afford the perfect diet.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Real Food Challenge Day 1

Do you want me to be honest? Sure you do. I am already struggling. I knew that cutting out the Dr. Pepper was going to be rough for me. I readily admit I am thoroughly addicted to it. I had the worst headache ALL DAY LONG.

I had planned on starting Sunday, but without thinking decided last night to start today. What I forgot was that I was planning to head to Canton, Tx for the 1st Monday Trades Day event they hold and it is like going to the fair; fried fake foods everywhere! What do you know, not being used to carrying water with me, I did not bring any. I did find some fresh squeezed lemonade, which I am sure did not entirely fit the diet, but was better than soda, and of course over priced water bottles were everywhere. Food was an entirely different issue. There was literally nothing so I got Texas Twisters, haha.

My husband did so well at home though! Despite complaining about losing his favorite foods for a few days, he cooked the girls eggs, and made himself some bacon and toast with the bread I bought from Whole Foods (local bakery bread!). He did find a box of Mac and Cheese for lunch though. Now that's gone and no longer a temptation though, so moving on.

When I got home we headed out to a friends house for a house warming party. We don't expect everyone to cater to our diet change, so what was provided was a yummy array of things that we weren't supposed to be eating. We still ate.

Dinner was great. I oven roasted our local organic whole chicken and we had organic corn and raw carrots. The cakes I cooked with the intention of dehydrating into cereal became desert. Not entirely sure how that happened. They will also take the place of our regular Sunday trip to the donut place for breakfast.

I learned alot of lessons today and I still consider it a moderate success. The biggest being that while I prepared hard for eating at home, I did nothing for those times when we would be out. I have now ordered through Amazon a few Organic Snacks. I realize it isn't the perfect solution but it is better than pigging out on food that is 100% refined.

Because today did not quite go as planned, we are now doing an 11 day food challenge.

Friday, April 1, 2011

10 Day Real Food Challenge Pre-Challenge Shopping Trip

I headed out to Whole Foods today to stock up for our 10 Day Real Food Challenge. Can I be honest and say that I had a bit of wallet shock? I spent about $75 just on meat. Our regular budget is right around $130 so I can already tell you that is blown. So here is what I have done so far. The most expensive item was the whole organic chicken which was $12.xx! I can admit though that organic grass fed beef has this beautiful natural color and marbling that can not be matched.

Whole Foods-$81
Raw Milk-$23

I already know I need to get more produce so I will be adding to this. Sigh.

I so wanted to go to Brookshires and find tons of lovely organics. I was so sad when I did not. They have a sign prominently displayed but you have to pay attention because only 4-5 items are actually organic. I might see about hitting the farmers market in the next few days, but it's not exactly local so might have to just bite it and make do with a combination of Brookshires and Walmart organics.

I am going to spend this evening making cereal (thanks to The Healthy Home Ecconomist)and some healthy orange creamsicles with pastured raw eggs and raw cream from pastured grass fed dairy cows.

My biggest concern is going to be my husband lunches. I got a full grain bread for him and will probably go ahead and get his regular lunch meat. It isn't organic but it is 100% natural and he eats it so chosing not to fight that battle. I am going to hide the Country Crock (YUCK!) and he is going to have to use the ghee as his butter spread, I swapped the Lays chips for Annie's organic pretzels, Yoplait for StonyField Farms, and I bought some raw organic peanuts for a bit of extra protien in his snacks. He will also take some organic fruit salad which I will cut up and put into bowls for him. I think I am going to have to make sure I cook a pleasing dinner so that he will deal with the changes to his lunch.

To keep myself going I am going to post our progress daily along with the menu plans for each day.

Pray fervently for me as I am going to be going through a soda withdrawl for at least a few days. I am looking forward to being rid of it, because it has had some obvious effects on my health (think sugar crashes, caffine headaches, stomach aches).

I'm letting the kids indulge a bit today. They have no idea that I am hoping the 10 days to turn into a lifetime of changes.