Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Movie Double Feature Giveaway!

A while back, I mentioned a fantastic movie I was blessed to pre-screen at the movie theater, The Mighty Macs. The story of the first women's college basketball championship season in 1971, it is a faith-based movie that is not only family-friendly, but family-fun. With something for everyone, from sports, to friendship, to underdogs to cheer for...all with a good dose of clean humor... The Mighty Macs, starring Carla Gugino (Spy Kids), David Boreanaz (Bones), and Ellen Burstyn, is an exciting movie all members of your family will appreciate.

The Mighty Macs chronicles the struggles of Cathy Rush, a first-time basketball coach (and wife to NBA ref Ed Rush), who attempts to take the almost non-existent and underfunded basketball program at a dying women's Catholic college (Immaculata) from practicing without benefit of a gym or proper equipment, to playing in the finals...with the help of a few unexpected enthusiastic supporters, the nuns. This movie is Dove approved and rated "G" and does not contain anything I considered particularly objectionable (no violence or inappropiate scenes), though it did show a nun having a beer in a bar, and a man making a fairly rude comment, but most kids will either not notice this, or if old enough, you can discuss the implications of the scene. You can download a free discussion guide for use with your family at The Mighty Macs website. This movie was in all ways an uplifting story of never giving up, dreaming big, and having faith. I highly recommend it.

If you never got a chance to see The Mighty Macs on the big screen (it was a limited release film), you can have a second chance to see it by watching it on its newly-released DVD format, available from online vendors such as Christian Book Distributors. Take a few minutes now to watch the trailer, then  enter my giveaway, and win a copy for your family. Just leave a comment saying that you'd like to win a copy of The Mighty Macs and follow Blessings Pour Out (or let me know you are already a follower). The giveaway runs from February 29th until March 15th. My mom's birthday is on March 9th, so if you "Like" Blessings Pour Out on Facebook and leave a comment on the page wishing Nanny a "Happy Birthday," I will give you a second entry for getting into the party spirit! Let me know via a second comment here that you have sent her birthday wishes. Thanks.

I am so grateful to have the opportunity to review some of the new generation of family-friendly films that have been released in the past few years. It seemed for a while there that the only sorts of movies being made were the kind I wouldn't go see...horror films, violent dramas, and edgy movies filled with cursing, rude characters, and/or inappropriate scenes. Thankfully, there are film groups out there now representing the more traditional families and making films that people of all ages can go see together...moms and dads can attend these movies with their kids by their sides, and have no need to cover the little ones' eyes and ears every five minutes, or to blush when they look over at grandma who is sitting a few seats over. How refreshing!

As conservative Christian families, we need to do our best to support these movies by attending them when they are in the theaters, spreading the word about how good they are (how many people have you told to go see Courageous? Every man/family needs to see that one!), and purchasing them when they are released on DVD for ourselves, as gifts, and for our churches.  I hope you will consider entering one of these two movie giveaways and passing on the movie to your church library once you have viewed it, so it will be available for your church family to see and share with others.

On to the second excellent movie that I had the opportunity to view online. Three Hearts is the true story Cissie Graham Lynch (wife of NFL player Corey Lynch of the Buccaneers, and granddaughter of Billy Graham, as she serves as an intern with the Children's Heart Project. This ministry provides vital medical services (operations) for medically at-risk children around the world. The movie follows the stories of three Mongolian children who desperately need heart surgery before it is too late. It chronicles Cissie's efforts to bring the children and their families to the US, their interactions with their host families, and takes you through their surgeries and the aftermath. For mission-minded families, this movie is an excellent example of how important every person is in a chain of events leading from one thing to another. Everyone plays a vital role in God's plans, no matter how small the part or how young the participant. One way the movie does this is to show how a young American heart patient who decides to "give back" is able to rally his community to raise money to bring over just one more needy child.

I liked Three Hearts a lot. My husband enjoyed it, too. Tex and Ladybug found it very interesting. The other little ones did not stay up late enough to see it, but I think they would like many parts of it. However, in the spirit of full disclosure, I will say that younger children might be disturbed by the openness of the situations, the talk of death, and the operating room scenes. I did not notice that they were particularly disturbing, but that sort of thing does not bother me...we just talked about the reality of the situation and had a good discussion about it. My SIL thought those things would bother her children (they bothered her a bit), and she did not have them watch it (they are considerably younger than most of my kids, though). This movie is Dove approved and recommended for ages 12 and up.

This movie showed many incredible things, from the simple and heartfelt prayers of the families, to the complexities of arranging such missions efforts, and also it makes clear that there is a lasting effect knowing these brave children had on the lives of those they who worked with them. I was particularly moved by this film, and am all ready to start saving for the surgery of a child. You will be, too.

If you'd like to win a copy of this film for your family or your church, instead of purchasing at Christian Book Distributors, watch the trailer first, then simply comment on this post saying you'd like the Three Hearts DVD and either follow me and tell me you did so, or tell me you are already a follower. The giveaway runs from February 29th until March 15th. If you "Like" Blessings Pour Out on Facebook and leave a comment on the page wishing Poppy (my dad) a "Happy Birthday," since his birthday is on the 22nd of March and I don't want him to feel left out, I will give you a second entry for getting into the party spirit! Let me know via a second comment here that you have sent him birthday wishes. Thanks.

Please make sure to only enter for the two movies separately. If the same person wins twice, I will give them their movie of preference and draw a second winner for the other movie. Please make sure you leave me with an easy way to contact you. Thank you!


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of The Mighty Macs DVD so I could review it on my blog. I was given access to the movie Three Hearts online for the purposes of completing this review. I am sharing our experiences and my opinions about these movies honestly. If you have questions regarding anything said here, please feel free to contact me or comment.

All About Reading Successfully!

If you have read my blog very often, you probably already know that I am a huge advocate of homeschooling on the cheap, or even better, for free. After all, I have a website I maintain called Homeschool-for-Free, which lists many useful free sites for homeschoolers. But I am also quick to admit that there are times when FREE! isn't necessarily the most appealing, or effective, choice.

One thing you will find about FREE! resources is that they usually involve a lot of planning and prep time. Not only do you have to decide what it is you want to do for your unit of study,  but you have to determine what you are going to use to teach that topic, you have to find those FREE! resources to support your choices (or make them yourself), and you have to prepare your lesson presentation. If you have a lot of kids, a job, other family or ministry obligations, you just don't feel well, just had a baby, or maybe just don't feel as if you are really comfortable with the topic you need to teach, well, then maybe FREE! isn't always your best choice.

I think most people who are likely to read this blog will agree that other than Bible/Character training, the most important thing you will teach to your child in your homeschool is how to read. Now for some kids, reading is sort of like breathing. They figure it out by osmosis, or some other mysterious method, and the teaching parent really doesn't have to do much but keep up with library and/or bookstore visits so budding bookaholic doesn't run out of appropriate reading material.

Other kids, however, need to be deliberately and diligently taught how to read. Many of those students will do well with almost any program you decide to use, from a twenty dollar book to a two hundred dollar program, as long as you learn how to use it correctly and use it consistently. Every child is different. Some will love one program, and others (even in the same family) will prefer something else. In my opinion, as long as the program is phonics based, with sight words thrown in as you progress, you will manage to get most kids reading most of the time. 

BUT (and this is a big BUT), some kids will need extra help along the way. If they were in public school, they might be labeled as remedial students and have to leave their favorite art class to get extra help in a tiny room at the end of a long hallway every day or every week. They might get a great teacher (like my mom, a veteran Reading Specialist), or they might just get a complex, thinking they just aren't smart enough to read as well as the other kids.

There is research that shows that the majority of students average out with their reading skills by grade three. That means that many of those who read at age four are reading at about the same level as those who learned to read in first grade by the time they all get to third grade. If your child isn't reading on level by grade three, that is generally an indicator that you need to get some help. 

Well, Marie Rippel, author and developer of the All About Reading and All About Spelling curricula, has designed a curriculum guaranteed to take the worry, the guess-work, the searching, and the planning out of teaching your child to read, whether they are learning to read at age four, or working on recovering reading skills in grade three. She wants all children to be successful at learning to read right from the beginning, with no concern over whether they will "get it" or whether the curriculum you just bought is the "right" one for your child.

In fact, she is so confident that the curriculum she has put hundreds of hours into refining will help almost any child to read, that she offers a full refund on any of her packages if returned within a year. Now that's confidence you can take to the library (because you will be driving your new reader back and forth to pick out bag after bag of books!), don't you agree??

The Basic Set costs $99.95 and includes:
the comprehensive Teacher's Manual, a Student Workbook, 
three hardcover readers, a set of phonogram cards, a set of word cards,
a viewfinder bookmark, and a reading success chart (in manual).

The Deluxe Kit costs and additional $48.95 and includes:
An All About Reading storage bag, 
a set of letter tiles with magnets, dividers and storage box
for flashcards, phonogram cd-rom, and star stickers 
for the progress chart.

All About Reading is a logical, multi-sensory, step-by-step, program with no gaps, and is based on sound research using the respected Orton-Gillingham Method. Okay, I am lost right about there, too, even though I was an English Teacher in "my other life" (I taught Eighth-Grade English, not Primary reading). I decided to ask an expert what she thought about this curriculum so I could give you the best possible evaluation of it, and I just happen to be related to mom. Nanny is a Certified Reading Specialist with a Masters Degree in Primary Reading Education. She was a Title One Reading Specialist for 35 years for students grades 1-5. You can depend upon her to give you the real low down.

Nanny's retirement ceremony.

Here is what she had to say about this program:
  • This program is laid out exceptionally well. I believe any parent, irregardless of their training or knowledge level, could teach their child to read using this program.
  • The scripted nature of this program makes it very simple to follow. Everything the author is instructing the parent/teacher to say is what I would have said when working with one of my students. If more parents knew how to teach this way when working with their children, fewer children would have trouble learning to read (in public school). The techniques she is suggesting you teach to your students will help them develop solid reading strategies.
  • The use of the tiles on the magnetic board and rearranging them to form new words by switching out one letter at a time is just what a child needs to learn about how words are built.
  • The stories are written using simple words that are taught in each lesson. The stories get progressively more difficult building only upon the sounds and words your student is taught in the each new lesson. 
  • Sight words are added in slowly. This is excellent.
  • The daily review of the previous taught material (sound and word cards) is ideal.
  • The pronunciation cd is a nice addition for auditory learners and ESL students/parents.
  • The activity book exercises are simple and coordinate well with each lesson's material.
  • The readers are sturdy, and the inclusion of the bookmark with the viewfinder widow is a great idea. Some readers need to isolate the print on the page to be able to focus more effectively.
  • I believe that the orderly, progressive, clear structure of this program will allow most students to be successful. 
  • It is worth the monetary investment and would be a good choice for a parent who wants solid support from their program, and reliability. 
My kids in her awesome room on her last day before packing it up (and in!).

Our Experiences With This Product:

My Opinion: 
  • This is what was in our kit (except for the foldable magnetic board, which I had already, but Nanny says a cookie sheet would work, too). At first I felt it was an awfully high price for the deluxe kit (since I had to punch out everything, put on the magnets which wasn't fun, and sort and put it all in order), but my mom said it is definitely worth the work and the money for the ease of teaching and peace of mind. 
  • FYI: It does take longer than the estimate prep times listed to prepare the materials, though. 
  • I also thought it was easier to teach for the week if I prepared all the papers for the one week ahead of time and put the materials I would need for teaching in a large zipper plastic bag.
  • The girls had no trouble using the materials. Firefly was excited. Ladybug was an enthusiastic helper. The format made it easy for me to lead the lessons, and for Ladybug to finish them off with her (they are ages 4 and 8). 
  • The girls (and Cowboy) liked the stories and enjoyed looking at the very sweet (and detailed) drawings on every page. No simple stick drawings or clip art for these stories. Bravo!
  • Most importantly: I highly appreciate the author's insistence that read aloud time with the parents (20 minutes a day) is of the utmost importance. Too many parents feel that if students are doing independent or group reading work, that is enough reading, but it is hearing quality language read aloud to them that will truly accelerate the student's achievement as both a reader and a writer.
  • Even though I am less likely to spend a lot on a reading program (since I have been trained as a teacher), I do think this program is excellent and we feel quite blessed to have it to use with both Firefly and Boo. I would enthusiastically recommend it to my family and friends (and I may even lend it...when we are done with it!)

Here are some pictures of Firefly using the program with Ladybug as her tutor (helping her sister learn helped Ladybug hone up basic skills...she really liked reading all of the stories in the readers):

Reviewing the sounds from the previous lessons.

Reading words using the sounds Firefly has learned.
Also, making new words by changing one letter at a time.

Working on an activity sheet with Ladybug as the tutor...

She says, "I am a very good colorer. It is one of my gifts." 

Ladybug helping Firefly use the viewfinder bookmark
to sound out/identify words she learned.

The drawings are adorable, very visually interesting, and the stories are cute and fun for the kids.
None of the words are too difficult or frustrating.

Working on a later activity (she wanted to power ahead).
I think that judging from the look on Ladybug's face that
the word Firefly picked to rhyme was incorrect. LOL.

 I guess they figured it out.

Firefly's Progress Chart (I used a self-laminating pouch and put the Certificate of Completion that was included on the back. I will fill it out with a Sharpie when she is done and this will go into her reading keepsake notebook).

Great job, girls!!! 
Keep up the good teamwork!


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The ABCs of Character

Marcy at Ben and Me is hosting a "Blog Through the Alphabet" link up, so I thought I'd join in.

Since I just did a post on Our Favorite Character Resources last week, I thought I'd carry that theme over into this post and list all the character qualities I can think of for each letter of the alphabet. Teaching (and learning) character is so important for families...especially for us home educators since we are our children's teachers and most influential examples. It's not just the kids who need to build up their character, it is the parents, too...ouch! That can hurt, can't it?

I hate to admit it, but there are quite a few qualities on this list that I could use a bit of remediation on. How about you? This week I am focusing on P is for patience and peacefulness. Hubby is on a business trip and it seems that when he is gone, just knowing there is no tag-team relief at the end of the day makes it harder for me to practice my patience as well as I should. Thankfully, I do have Tex, my right-hand man, who helps share the load, and he also offers a bit of comic relief and encouragement from time to time, which is just when it is needed. What a blessing!

The ABCs of Character

A is for Apologetic, because being able to admit you did wrong and to want to make restitution for your wrong doing takes a lot of courage. It is also for Attentive, Alert, and Availability. If we are alert to the events that unfold around us, attentive to what is needed, astutely discerning what is important, available to offer our assistance when needed, and adaptable to many types of situations, accepting of differences and difficulties that may arise, and ardent about helping meet other's needs, then we will fill an important role in the Lord's Army. And don't forget to appreciate all you have. We are so blessed.

B is for Brave and Bold, because the world right now needs more Christians who are willing to stand up for truth and to not be afraid to tell it like it is (in love). It is also for benevolent and blessing, because being a blessing to others is what we are called to do.

C is for Christ-like because we should all try to be more like our Savior, Jesus Christ. Children need heroes, and I just wish when you asked kids who their hero is these days, more of them would say, "Jesus!" C is also for contentment, creativity, cautiousness, consistency, commitment, charity, chastity, caring, compassion, confidence, consideration, calm, convicted, cooperative, courageous, and cheerful...not to mention plain old character...Christ-like character, not be a character! (That's a lot of C words!!)

D is for Diligence and Dependable. We need to teach our kids to be hard workers, and to do every job as if it is for the Lord. They need to do their best work every time, until it is completed, without needing reminders. It is also for determined, discerning, decisive, discretion, and deference to others, with a little dreaming big for God thrown in.

E is for Endurance because times can be tough and we must be examples of how we will stick it out to the end, not just with our heads down and plowing forward, but with a positive and persevering attitude. It's not just whether you finish the race, it is how you run it. E is also for eternity in our hearts, excellence, enthusiasm, encouraging, efficient, equitable, equipped, and evangelistic.

F is for Forgiving. God forgave all of our sins, no matter how can we do less than forgive our brothers and sisters for what they do to us? F is also for friendship, one of the Lord's precious gifts to us, flexibility, fairness, fearless, fortitude, and faith.

G is for Grace. Without grace, where would we be? We need to be sure we extend it to others, too. G is also for the gratitude we should approach each day with, as well as for generosity, gentleness, gallant, gregariousness, and the gifts we are uniquely blessed with by God.

H is for the hospitality we should extend to others. One thing we should strive to do as Christians, and as homeschoolers, is to make our home a place where we can openly invite others so that our testimonies can influence their lives, and their testimonies can influence ours (and our children's). H is also for humility, which is so important. If we all saw others as being more important than ourselves, as the Bible instructs us to do, our world would be so much more hospitable. H stands for helpful, honest, honoring, happiness, harmonious, and hope, as well.

I is for initiative because we want our children to not only do what we ask of them, but to do what they see needs to be done on their own. If they can't unload the dishwasher that needs unloading or get their math assignment done without our asking them to do it, how will they go forth and do the Lord's work? I is also for being interested in others, and for being inquisitive and intelligent.

J is for being joyful in all situations, even the ones that are difficult. This does not mean that we should laugh during times of sorrow, but that we have that deep feeling of abiding joy we get when we recognize that our heavenly Father is in control of our every circumstance. J is also for the justice we should try to uphold, while leaving vengeance to the Lord.

K is for kindness to others, even our enemies. Every time we are kind to someone, we are showing our love for our Lord and Savior. K is also for growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 2:18

Dowload a copy from thegirlcreative

L is for LOVE. "And now these three remain: Faith, Hope, and Love. But the greatest of these is love..." 1 Corinthians 13:13 L is also for learning, which is a lifelong process, level-headed, and loyalty to others.

M is for mercy, which we should offer to others abundantly for immeasurable mercy has been offered to us through Christ. M is also for meekness, for we should consider others as being better than ourselves, and for modesty, which is its companion.

N is for nurturing, a way to care for and encourage others. It is also for Near to God, for if you draw near to Him, He will draw near to you. James 4:8

O is for obedience. First, obedience to our parents, then obedience to our Lord. After that, O is for orderliness, which is helped by being organized. By being observant you will be able to see what the Lord needs you to do, and if you are optimistic, you will show others how to base their feelings on the hope that is within, Jesus Christ.

P is for patience, which I always need more of, since patience leads to better character, and better character leads to hope (Romans 5:4).  P is also for punctual (just in case others aren't so patient), and for prayerful, persistent, persuasive, practical, prudent, pleasing to God, peaceful, and pure.

Q is for quiet of spirit, so that you can hear that still small voice within. It is also for being quick to respond to God's call.

R is for respectful of others and reverent towards the things of the Lord. It is also for being responsible, for those who can be counted on to be responsible for the small things will be entrusted with responsibility over greater things. It is also for the righteous defense of the Word of God, and for being resourceful by making the most of what you are given.

S is for the self-control by which so many other seeds of virtue are developed. It is also for our submission to higher authorities, starting with God. Then it is for sincerity and sensitivity, security and sacrifice, and lastly servant-leadership, if we want to be more like Christ.

T is for all of our God-given talents, which we should develop and not hide. It is also for being thoughtful and thorough in all that we do. T stands for being thrifty to better use the resources God has given us, as well as tolerant of other's imperfections, and truthful about all we say (without forgetting to be tactful, when necessary).

U is for understanding of others and their God-given uniqueness, and for seeking unity of Spirit within the body of Christ.

V is for living victoriously in Christ. It is also for having Godly values, maintaining Christian virtues, and for valor in battle (spiritual ones included).

W is for wisdom, which begins with the fear of the Lord. (Proverbs 9:10). It is also for being willing to go where the Lord calls you to go, and to do what the Lord calls you to do. W is for having a welcoming spirit to those you encounter, and for maintaining that sense of wonderment when you consider the awesomeness of all of God's creation. Don't ever lose that...

X is for the eXcitement you feel as you eXplore God's marvelous universe on your way to becoming and eXpert in whatever field He calls you to, always maintaining a standard of eXcellence in all you do and say.

Y is for those times you say Yes, Lord, I WILL! It's also for the yearning in your Spirit for the things of God, and a desire to maintain yesterday's values in today's confused and despairing world.

Z is for that "Zippity Doo Dah, Zippity Yay! My, oh my, what a wonderful day...Plenty of SONshine  Heading my way. Zippity Doo Dah, Zippity Yay!" feeling I get whenever I think about heaven, our REAL home, where we will be in the presence of the Lord for eternity. What a wonderful day that will be! (Sorry, I couldn't think of a single character quality that started or included the letter "Z").

That said, I have some fantastically incredible news to share with you. Last night, after we went outside to gaze at the stars and the aligning of Venus and Jupiter with the moon, Firefly was in the mood for a very serious discussion about eternity and God, and she decided she wanted to ask Jesus to live in her heart and be her Savior and helper forever. What more wonderful news could a parent share than that? I hope you will rejoice with us and say a prayer for her future with Jesus as her companion and guide.

Last Easter

I hope you enjoyed my ABCs of Character Qualities. I'd love to hear what you are working on this week in regards to character. Also, please feel free to give me a heads-up if you think of anything I missed. I will be glad to add it to this list!


Monday, February 27, 2012

Happy Homemaking---Menu Plan, To Do's, and a Good Read Aloud

Read more menu plans and weekly plans at

Our Weather for the Week is looking a bit glum with cloudy skies, a chance of rain Wednesday and over the weekend, with temperatures in the low to mid-60s. BUT most of the trees have buds on them and many of the daffodils are blooming. Nature seems to think it is definitely spring, and flocks of Canadian Geese have been flying overhead (going north) for the last several weeks. I am wondering if our winter will really be so won't find me complaining if spring has sprung!

What's New? We finished our Foster/Adopt Classes and are in the process of finalizing our paperwork. It's very exciting!!

Also, Hubby is out of town for some job related training, so Tex will be the man of the house for a while. It's only the first day since Daddy left and the kids have already said that they miss him. Awwww.


Our Menu and Mommy Plans for the Week:

Monday--Staying home to get a good helping of school work completed today. Working on reading with the Amigos. I plan to start wrapping up our Project of the Month, which was to organize our library (look for a blog post on March 1st). I have heaps of laundry to fold that I did not get to over the weekend. The kids are going to help me while we watch a documentary on Egypt.

        Chicken Alfredo with garlic bread sticks

Tuesday--Nanny and Poppy have promised to visit. They've been gone quite a while visiting their moms in the Midwest and the kids have missed them a LOT. I am hoping to keep working on my library improvements. Perhaps Mom will have some good ideas...Look for a review of The Mighty Macs with a giveaway.

         Chili in the crockpot served with cornbread

Wednesday--The Bookmobile comes at noon and our friends will be joining us for lunch. The kids will also want to practice their Awana verses as much as possible. Look for my reviews of the All About Reading program and an excellent movie/documentary called Three Hearts about the work Samaritan's Purse does to help children with heart defects in other countries.

        Church at 5 pm and it is PIZZA night! Yum. 
        Their slices of pizza are HUGE.
        It is "wear your Pjs Night" at Awana and 
        the kids are so excited.

Thursday--We need to focus on school again today. I get to start my new "Just (Learn to) Do It" Challenge today. I am working on finishing up a yo-yo quilt top I bought at the antique mall that is the size of a small square table. I need to make it large enough to cover a large rectangular table with a leaf added. I bought a clear plastic cover to protect it when I am finished. I am hoping to be done by the end of the month. Look for a review of Reading Eggs. My kids LOVE it.

       Tuna Casserole served with applesauce and homemade biscuits
       This is one of Tex's favorites.

Friday--I am thinking some lapbooking will be a fun way to spend our Friday. I have plenty of pages printed up that only need assembling and coloring! The kids like lapbooking, but we don't do enough of it. I am exploring doing more notebooking with Tex, since he thinks he's a bit old for lapbooks.

       Nachos and a movie night! Movie TBA.

Saturday--I am thinking we will be at home working on our front porch. Now that the back room is nice an organized, the covered porch is next.

       Corn dogs and french fries.
       Nothing fancy for a not-so-fancy workday.

Sunday--Church. Naps. Read books all day. Rest. 

       A big pot of Seven Bean Soup served with lots of cheese on top, 
       and extra rolls and apple butter on the side. 


Something to Read: The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordian (Tex wants is RIGHT NOW!!)

Something to Learn: I am exploring the idea of notebooking with Tex. We've made notebooks before using composition books, but never using binders. I am loving reading all the information on The Notebooking Fairy's site, as well as on Notebooking Pages. More great stuff from Jimmie on Squidoo.

Something to Do: Finish my second project of the month and start my third. That's not too bad!

Something to Be: Patient. Calm. Peaceful. We have been working on orderly this month, and one study I read pointed out that orderly is not just things being perfect, it is things working together in a good way even when they are not. That's something to think about.


Our Read Aloud: We are still working on the same book from last week. With Daddy leaving, we didn't spend as much time reading as we did playing and getting small chores completed.

A New Site to Explore: I found this cool site about herbs and using wild plants called Eat the Weeds. There are a bunch of videos you can watch. If you are at all into herbal remedies and survival skills, you will love this one.

Something Fun to Share: I figured out what we will be doing for the rehearsal dinner for Bubba and Miss As wedding in June. Hubby and I ate at this wonderful popular Italian restaurant on Saturday (for lunch during our adoption class), and fell in LOVE with their stuffed pizza, garlic knots, zeppolles, wings, and cheesecake desserts. We got a catering menu and I plan to set up the party room at Miss As barn like a romantic Italian restaurant with classy music playing (Crooners anyone??), and of course, the infamous Rehearsal Dinner Slideshow (Bubba knows what I mean...I hope I can get some goodies of Miss A. to toss in the mix so he's not the only one with funny pictures for everyone to enjoy!). I am so glad to have that decision made.

Something/Someone to Pray For: We will be praying for someone we don't know. We actually got a call on Friday about a little girl, but because of our four younger children, we were not a good match for her. I feel terrible about it, but we will continue to pray that there is a wonderful family out there that is perfect for her. Please pray with us. God knows who she is when you pray. 

You can also pray for my brother and sister-in-law who have announced that they are expecting baby number three. Congratulations!! We are so excited for them. They already have two boys, so I am sure they'd love to have a girl, but a baby who is healthy is the most important thing. My Ladybug and Firefly will be praying for a girl, though. ;-)

Isn't this a cute way to make the announcement? 
She is so creative.

A Bible Verse to Think About: "As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. " Ephesians 4:1-3


Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Good Night's Sleep Can Make You Feel Beeyoutiful!

I am sure you have heard little maxim about the importance of getting your "beauty sleep." Doctors and dertmatologists will tell you that one of the best ways to feel and look better is to get a full eight hours of sleep (though some folks thrive on a bit more or a bit less), along with eating right and exercise.

Well, to someone who doesn't sleep well, trying to get a good night's sleep can be a frustrating thing. If you resort to medicines, like Generic Sleep Aid PM, you might sleep soundly, but have a tough time waking up alert and ready to take on your day. Some folks with trouble sleeping go for melatonin, a natural herbal hormone-based product that helps some people sleep more soundly and get tired a bit more quickly, but it doesn't seem to work for others.

For someone who has tried all of that and STILL can't get a good night's rest, things begin to look a bit glum and hopeless. Especially if you are working hard, traveling, caring for someone else, sleeping on a less than ideal bed, and/or undergoing mental and emotional stress. You start to feel a whole barrage of symptoms like achy shoulders and back, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, headache, lack of energy, cold symptoms, and maybe even a bit of "glass half empty" thinking...All from lack of sleep.

Sleep is important. We all know that. Healthy amounts of sleep enable us to function at our optimum, see things clearly and optimistically, and physically endure hardships. Our body needs that sleep time to rejuvenate. Have you ever considered that by sleeping well, you are also giving your immune system a chance to recharge so it can do its job efficiently and effectively? You need to sleep to stay healthy.

Why do I keep going on and on about sleep? Here's why. 

I was asked to review two products from the company Beeyoutiful. I enthusiastically agreed, since I had a previous positive experience with this company's SuperMom Vitamins. After Ladybug was born, I was very, very tired. I now know that was probably because I seem to be prone to pregnancy induced thyroiditis, and I was probably in a hypothyroid phase. I didn't know that then, though. I just knew I was exhausted beyond belief, I was concerned my milk production would suffer, and I had to be able to care for my sweet baby girl.

Because I receive the free magazine No Greater Joy, I was aware of the Beeyoutiful products, and had read multiple testimonials as to its efficacy. I ordered a bottle and started taking them at the recommended dosage (twice a day, once at breakfast, once at lunch) right away. I noticed a difference immediately. I felt less "draggy" during the day, my hair and skin started to look better, and my overall outlook improved, although I actually discovered I was having trouble sleeping instead of wanting to take several naps during the day.

Since not sleeping is a problem with a new baby (for one, you can't take anything to help you sleep when you are breastfeeding) I was got frustrated enough to call the company's customer support (they were very helpful) and immediately discovered that some people are super-sensitive to the "green foods" they put in the vitamin (thus giving them super-energy and difficulty sleeping). The gentleman suggested I go to one vitamin a day with breakfast, and that did the trick right away. I continued to take the vitamins for the rest of the time I was breastfeeding, and they worked wonderfully. Since I only had to take one, instead of two a day, they turned out to be a real bargain! I have purchased them again, and never regretted my purchases.

Back to the products I was asked to review recently and the healing properties of sleep...As part of the TOS Review Crew I was sent two Beeyoutiful products (products varied for each Crew member). I received a tube of Lip Balm (I will tell you about it later)and a bottle of Berry Well. Berry Well is a syrup whose main ingredient is elderberries ("Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!" Monty Python and The Holy Grail...aww, come on, you know you were thinking about line that, too!!), which has long been used to treat the symptoms of colds and the flu. It has been documented to reduce inflammation, fever, muscle aches, and breathing difficulties, among other things. Berry Well also has apple cider vinegar in it, which is known to reduce the alkalinity of the blood, can help reduce high cholesterol, and improve the condition of the skin. The liquid contains honey to sweeten the taste and to help with allergies and in fighting infections. Bee propolis and echinacia are known to be natural antibiotics, and round out the ingredient list.

Since I rarely get sick (I do take an allergy medication daily, which helps...if I go off of it, I do get sick), and my kids are pretty healthy, too, I wondered how I was going to give this product a fair try. Then I realized the answer: Mom. Otherwise known as Nanny. She works so hard to take care of others and rarely spends time taking care of herself. She is often battling something or another, from the sniffles to tummy troubles (Beeyoutiful sells a product for that, too...I am willing to have her give it a try if they want to send me some!!), she gets it all because she runs and runs until she runs out of energy (and health). I ran over to the post office right away and re-posted the Berry Well box (minus the lip balm, which I kept for myself) to Iowa, US Priority Mail.

Here is what Mom told me about her experiences with Berry Well:
  • "I took it before bed after several days of sleeping very poorly (on an air mattress), and feeling washed out all day, achy all over, and just plain run down. I woke up the next morning after having fallen asleep easily for the first time in a long while and I felt AMAZING. I didn't ache, I didn't have a headache, and the kink I'd had in my shoulder was GONE. I felt well-rested and I actually had energy to go out with my sister-in-law and have fun shopping all day at the antique stores. I don't know for 100% sure that it was the Berry Well that caused this amazing rejuvenation of my health, but I didn't do anything else different, and I had been feeling poorly for weeks."
  • A few days later she said, "I've been taking it every day, twice a day, for the rest of our trip and I feel marvelous. I am happier, and less tired. I have not ached like I did before since I started taking the Berry Well, and while I have no idea what it is doing to help me feel and sleep better, I am fairly convinced that the Berry Well is why my overall feelings of health have improved. I plan to buy some more and keep it for whenever I start to feel poorly again."
  • She also told me that noticing such a drastic change from using the Berry Well has convinced her that there is something going on on a deeper physical level. She now realizes the need to figure out what it is so that she can get well and stay well. Phew!! (that's me breathing a sigh of relief!)
  • "I am glad I tried this product and grateful that Heather shared it with me." You're very welcome, Mom!! Thanks for helping me do this review. ;-)

I can't add much to that to make it sound better, can I? Berry Well is only $19 a bottle and the price goes down if you buy in bulk, which could be good for those with large families. You know I can't guarantee that Berry Well will do the same for you as it has done for my mom, but if you are prone to illness, or have a child who is prone to getting the sniffles, it definitely is worth a try. I am so glad and grateful that we were able to have her try out the Berry Well, and that it helped her so much. If you'd like to hear more customer testimonials, you can check this video testimonial from a customer on the Beeyoutiful site and check out the customer reviews on the Berry Well product page.

I kept the lip balm for myself. I am a self-admitted "lip stuff" junkie. My kids know that my little blue pots of lip balm are off limits to the general population and take care to bring them to me when they find them laying around the house. I must have a half dozen of them here and there at any given time. I know. That's a bit ridiculous. I will be honest and tell you that I am not likely to give up my particular favorite brand any time soon...I've been using it for twenty years or so and am rather attached to it (I should buy stock in the company), but were they to go out of business, I think I'd be quite happy with the Beeyoutiful Lip balm as a substitute. 

I really don't like those brands of lip balm that are greasy, or too thick and waxy. The Beeyoutiful lip balm was smooth, slick, and seemed to soak in right away, without leaving my lips dry afterwards, like some seem to do. The flavor was light and pleasant (we recieved the peppermint is also available in orange), and the cost of $3 a tube (or $2.70 each if you buy 3 or more), is not too steep for an all-natural product (it uses grapeseed oil, shea butter, beeswax, and essential oils). I keep it in my purse for when the kids need a bit of lip therapy. They like it a lot.

If you are into natural products (or even if you aren''s never too late to start!), and want to know you are buying quality you can count on, I feel that Beeyoutiful is a reliable company with a wide selection of very healthful and useful products for you to try. I highly recommend them, based upon my family's personal experiences with what we've tried so far.

I wish you and yours happiness and good health.


You can check out what others from the TOS Homeschool Crew had to say about a variety of products from Beeyoutiful at the Crew Blog. Enjoy!!

Disclaimer: I received a bottle of Berry Well and a tube of Lip Balm from Beeyoutiful for the purposes of trying out the products with my family and giving an honest opinion about them here on my blog. What you see related here are reflections of our own experiences and not guarantees of their performance for you or your family. No other compensation was offered for sharing my opinions with you.

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