Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Last week, we went for a nature walk. 

Even the littlest lady got in on the action.

We saw some beautiful flowers.

 And beautiful butterflies. Most of them were too fast for me, though!

 The kids spotted some interesting plants, including this mushroom

 and these wild blackberries.

 When we crossed over a bridge, I had to snap a pic of the view!

For more ideas to make the most of the rest of your summer, check out my post on Summer Activities.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Embarrassing Parents

Yesterday, while we were at church, my son Alex (8) came up and hugged me. It wasn’t a quick, floppy thing either. And get this:  It was in front of his friends! He hugged me for a good minute, until I finally had to tell him that we had to get going. Looking back though, I got to thinking about how grateful I am that he isn’t embarrassed of me enough to avoid me (yet).

I remember being embarrassed by my parents on occasion, which I am now very ashamed to admit! I loved them, but sometimes they made me want to crawl in a hole and disappear from my peers for a while! For example:  My father told the parent of a guy my sisters and I all liked that he was “reserved” for one of us! Yikes!

I don’t plan on embarrassing my children on purpose (unless they really deserve it!), but it is often unavoidable. Sometimes just having a parent around can be embarrassing to a kid, like it was to me.
My mom used to help out with the youth group in our church, which at the time I thought was really embarrassing. Looking back, I don’t believe that any of my friends thought anything of it. Actually, I think some of them (gasp!) thought that she was kind of cool, and they liked having her there, even if I didn’t.

Of course, at that age just about anything can cause embarrassment. I hope the day never comes that my children will be embarrassed to give me a big hug in front of their friends, but realistically, I know that it most likely will. 

I’m not really sure where the embarrassment comes from, but I think that it stems from children trying to separate themselves from their parents. They feel that everything their parent does is a reflection on them (the same applies to a lot of parents!) and they are eager to be seen in their own light. Anything that a parent does is amplified by their child during this stage, and things that most people wouldn’t notice are made gigantic issues in the child’s mind. This was certainly true of me as a young tween. 

They will probably get me back someday!
The cruel twist is that I am now embarrassed by many of the things that I said and did during that age! It seems that the cycle never ends! Were you ever embarrassed by your parents?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Virtue Training Bible Review and Giveaway!

I was recently provided with the ‘Virtue Training Bible’ for review. I was excited to get these sheets in the mail, as it is something that I feel my 8 year old son, Alex, would really benefit from. 

The Virtue Training Bible (VTB) is a system of marking verses for later use, making them easy to find based on their subjects. I have already had this come in handy when I had to talk to my son the other day about Compassion (he was having a bullying moment). I was easily able to open his Bible, find Compassion on the list, and reference those verses that were helpful.

Using the Virtue Training Bible is extremely easy. It is not as easy putting it together. It takes a long time to find, highlight and tab each and every verse, and it can be tricky getting them all lined up correctly. Once they are all in place, however, it saves time in the long run. Most of my Bibles that I have around the house were too small to be able to use the charts, but this is easily remedied by either buying the Bible from the Virtue Training Bible website, or by trimming the chart a little bit to fit. I don’t recommend trimming it too much, however, or you risk losing valuable information.

You can search for 42 different subjects, anything from compassion, contentment, wisdom, or zeal. The charts list the verses to tab and they are all color coded, making it simple to follow.

To complete your Virtue Training Bible, you will need the charts, highlighters in 7 different colors, and two sets of colored tabs. I recommend buying the tabs on from the website, as they were very difficult for me to find. I finally found them at Staples (Walmart, Kmart, and Walgreens were all a bust) for $1 more than I could have gotten them for on the VTB website.

One lucky winner is going to win a set of these charts, so they can set up their own Virtue Training Bible!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*I received this item at no cost in order to facilitate my review. Regardless, all opinions are 100% my own. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Kindergarten Readiness

It seems like the summer break has just started, and yet schools are already starting to gear up to begin again, soon (public schools in my area will be starting up on August 7th!). My oldest daughter, Shari will be starting Kindergarten this year, and that got me to thinking about Kindergarten readiness.

This is something that most parents stress over, but actually very little is absolutely required of this age. Some of the basic include:

-Ability to listen for short periods without interrupting
-Ability to recognize authority
-Basic knowledge of shapes (at least circle, square, triangle)
-Potty trained (it is generally recognized that some kids this age have a tough time holding it for longer periods, many Kindergarten classrooms these days have a bathroom in the classroom)
-Speak understandably and in complete sentences (at least 5-6 words)
-Identify some alphabet letters
-Identify basic colors
-Count to 10
-Ability to sort small groups of objects based on size, shape, and color

This is a very basic list, because the skills required are very basic. Most children who are of an age for Kindergarten are going to meet most of these with no problem, and many surpass these. When my son started Kindergarten for instance, I was amazed by one child in his class who could already read big words like, ‘automobile.’ For those of you stressing, he was by far not the ‘norm’ and extremely advanced, so don’t feel  like your child is behind if they are not there yet!

By the end of Kindergarten, when you look back, you will be amazed at all the things your little one has learned in just the one year. Here is a short list of all the things they should be able to do by the end of the year:

-Recognize all letters of the alphabet (upper and lowercase) and know the sounds they make
-Recognize sight words and be able to read short sentences.
-Spell and write their first and last name
-Recognize (at least) 8 colors
-Be able to count to 20 (although many children will far surpass this)
-Do basic addition and subtraction problems with numbers 1-10
-Know their address and phone number
-Have the ability to pay attention for 15-20 minute stretches
-Cut along a line with scissors

Again, these are the very basic skills that Kindergarteners should know before they leave Kindergarten. Most children will know all this plus much more, and will be more than willing to share with everyone around them what they are learning! (If you aren’t already, you are going to be SO sick of hearing the ABC song!)

In Kindergarten, my son was pretty average academically, and he was able to read short sentences (I was constantly amazed at all the new words he was learning), he learned to count to 100, and he was doing basic math up to 10. He also learned his phone number, address, birthdate, write short sentences, and he was beginning to understand money concepts.

Part of my son’s success in Kindergarten was his wonderful teacher. I would highly suggest volunteering in your child’s classroom once a week for a couple of hours if at all possible. While I recognize the difficulty of this as younger children, work, or other business can get in the way, I found it to be a great way to stay in touch with my sons teachers and to be involved in what he was learning, and just to know what was going on in school generally. By volunteering, I knew who the other kids in his class were, and I was able to see for myself that my son was progressing as he should. I also had the satisfaction of knowing that I was being a help to my son and his teachers. Those teachers work hard, and they can use all the help they can get, with so many energetic little ones!

While I will be homeschooling my little Kindergartener this year, I know how stressful it can be to enter the unknown! If you are still wondering if your little one is ready, you can take this Readiness Test (It is on a homeschooling website, but it applies to all). You can also check out all of the Playing to Learn activities I have compiled here on the website!

Do you have a Kindergartener getting ready to start school soon?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

N4You Soaps Review and Giveaway!

Lately, I have had the good fortune of trying out several items from a company called ‘N4You Soaps.’ As the name suggests, they sell all kinds of soaps, but they also have natural bug sprays, lotions, lip balm, candles, and more!

N4You Soaps sent me several of their products to review, and I had such a great time trying them out!
I absolutely loved the strawberry lip balm! It glided on so smoothly, and smells great, and it is made with only 6 ingredients (all of which I can pronounce!) It left my lips soft, and the strawberry smell lingered. It doesn’t really have a taste either, which is something I look for in a good lip balm. (Have you ever eaten or drank something while you have normal lip balm on? Usually it totally ruins it!)

I got to try out 5 different kinds of soap:  English Rose, Super Shampoo, Peppermint Lavender, Oats and Honey, and some Natural Foaming Soap. Of them all, my favorite was kind of a surprise. I really loved the Peppermint Lavender. Usually I’m not such a fan of Lavender, but this one was awesome (and really pretty, it was my daughter’s favorite, just for the color!). If you are like me and usually don’t care for lavender, please give this a try, it is well worth it! 

None of these soaps had more than 10 ingredients, and none of them made my skin feel dried out. This is because they are all made with various oils, and most of them also have cocoa or Shea butter. One of the things I love about these soaps is that when it has a name like ‘Oats and Honey’, you can look at the packaging and see that it is actually made with oats and honey! They are completely natural.

The last product that I was sent to try was ‘No More Bug Bites’ an organic bug repelling spray. I was so excited to get this, because, with it being summer, of course there are tons of mosquitos around! I don’t feel comfortable using other things with my 6 month old, but this works great, and I can feel good about using it with her. It comes in a spray bottle, so it is ready to go. I just sprayed some on the front and back of her clothes (I did it before I put them on her, to make sure she wouldn’t ingest any from the spray), and she didn’t get any bites when we were outside!)

Here is how Nyota from N4You Soaps describes her process:
I make soap the old fashioned way which is the cold process method. This involves mixing various types of oils (ex. Coconut & Olive) and sodium hydroxide to kick off the magic process of making soap (aka Saponification). Almost all of the soaps include additional moisturizing agents such as Cocoa or Avocado butter. I do not use animal fats in my soap as I am vegan friendly. Each batch of soap is hand crafted and scented by me using essential oils or premium fragrance oils. Then, each batch of soap is put on a curing rack for 6 weeks! That's right, 6 full weeks. This allows the soap to become super mild which is fantastic for your skin. It also allows all the water from the soap to evaporate so that everything left behind is literally a true and complete long lasting bar of soap. Each bar of soap is individually labeled and packaged right from my home.

One of my lucky readers is going to get the chance to win a gift basket full of great items from N4You Soaps! The basket includes:  4 bars of soap, one 8 oz. bottle of handmade lotion, one 4 oz. bottle of organic bug spray, and one 16 oz. scented soy candle! They are all packaged up in a nice basket with a loofah and a handmade wooden soap dish and will be shipped to your door! Does it get any better than that?

I'll tell  you what is better than that! From now until August 31, you can use the coupon code MTMJuly2013 to get 20% off of your ENTIRE order! How exciting!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

   *I received a product in return for my honest opinion. All opinions are my own, and yours may differ. More Than Mommy is not responsible for prize shipment. This promotion is not affiliated with Facebook in any way. The winner will be given 48 hours to claim their prize, or another winner will be chosen. Entries will be verified.

Books of Summer iPad Mini

When it comes to summer reading indie authors offer a refreshing alternative to predictable plots from big name writers. Here’s a list of ten titles from emerging indie authors, pick your favorite and vote on Facebook for a chance to win an iPad Mini!

If you enjoy the office intrigues of The Mad Men and the love story in The Notebook you’ll like this book.

More About The Book 
“Set in New York City in the late 1950's, this love story takes you into the heart of the advertising world. The office politics and drama are equal to that of the series Mad Men.  I could not help but fall in love with the main characters, Jay and Joanna. Their story is a lifelong love affair of twists and turns with a dramatic ending that I did not see coming. A book to enjoy." Published by Deerfield Park Books
Special Must-Read Price Cut! Paperback: $11.66 Kindle: $7.99 

If you don't like just plain old vanilla and want something different, Reluctant Gods is a series that transcends fiction fantasy by crossing genres into romance, humor, science fiction, and mystery and is sure to entertain while you enjoy the best of summer.

More About The Book 
“A.J. Aaron is a genius. I loved this book! It had fantastic images but the real story was about Sevilen accepting his power. I understood that everything is as it should be but the author's depiction of this concept is exceptional. The laid-back dialogue and cool characters mixed fantasy with what is usually considered a serious, esoteric subject. Leyna's mindset and sexual exploits are tastefully done. Quotes from Einstein, Toffler and Drucker reinforced the message. This book is highly recommended for teenagers and adults.”
You can find more about A.J.  Aaron on his website and on Amazon, and his publisher.
Special Must-Read Price Cut! A special promotional price of $.99 on Kindle and $8.99 in paperback for this 62,000 word 250 page novel.

A mechanics life is turned upside down when he learns of his fathers top secret past, causing him to team up with a beautiful CIA agent and two beyond gifted teenagers, to try to stop the Russian mob from deploying a futuristic weapon of mass destruction and a pending alien invasion of Earth. You can purchase the e-book here and learn more about the author on his website.

This summer, see Australia... on the run from a sociopath! Take a heart-thumping tour with Jo as she searches for her father's murderer while fleeing from a killer sent by a future society to bag her.

More About The Book 
Play or Die is amazing. Be prepared for tension that you have never experienced before as Jo tries to evade the psychotic Hunter determined to kill her. The book alternates between nail-biting suspense, action, and stuff that really gets you thinking. Visit the Jen Cole's website for more information.

This novel is a mock epic, a satirical, and an allegorical view of a dictator and his evil influences. Two friends share their manuscripts describing one of the first European settlements in the Americas; the finding of the original Journal of Christopher Columbus; the development of a cruel dictator; his extravagant wedding; the struggle of a hero against the dictatorship; and the end of it caused by the destruction of a great tsunami. It is a description of the struggle between good versus evil. This book will be perfect for anybody interested in reading literature: historical fiction, magic realism, religion, mythology, folklore, etc. because of all the entertainment and humor involved in it.

True story novel - building a new life from scattered and dangerous pieces.

More About The Book 
"Mr. Anka has truly penned a wonderful novel. I have always been a fan of real life stories, and this one is exceptional. The author has been through so much, and to share his experiences with pen and paper is a remarkable feat. This book is definitely worth a read." Be sure to like Mike Anca on Facebook.

'Taking into account terrorist activities of the United States and overseas, Foley explains how the pentagons and rectangles became a part of our past by premeditated terrorist acts. His writing style is intricate and requires the reader to delve deep into each word for clear understanding. His detailed account of how each 
formation appears structurally and by date is commended. It is an eye-opening view of a different perspective on world and terrorist events with both religious and nonreligious undertones". Read more about Mike Foley on Create Space

Master of Plagues is a must-read since it captures and holds the reader's attention from beginning to end.

More About The Book 
Master of Plagues is a dazzling journey of magic, redemption, and forgiveness through super powers. Learn more about the book on D.B. Reynolds' website and watch a video about it on YouTube. Also, be sure to check out a great review of Master of Plagues.
Special Must-Read Price Cut! Originally pried at $8.00, Master of Plagues is now available on Amazon Kindle, Nook, and Kobo for a special low discount price of 0.99 cents.

“Lunch with Lucille” whips up a delightful dish of entertainment and inspiration, served by a fun-loving, sassy, female character who has a message of hope and optimism – a message all women need to hear. 

More About The Book 
"Lunch with Lucille" by Annarose Ingarra-Milch is overflowing with humor and entertaining throughout. Lucille is quite the character and her sage advice will whet your appetite for more encounters with this unusually colorful lady. She has lived a rich, full life, and gracefully shares her adventures in an inspiring way. 
The reader is treated to simple, practical solutions to some prickly issues such as aging, confidence, self image, and achievement. This fast-paced novella is thought provoking and leaves you eager for the next installment.
Keep up with the latest book news by Liking Lunch With Lucille on Facebook and watching the Novel Trailer on YouTube

This saga promises action, adventure, history, politics, magic,mythology and twists while transferring the reader into a fantastic realm where anything is possible.

More About The Book 
One great aspect of D.K. Cherian's novel is the excellent integration of background information about the Egyptian Gods without overpowering and deterring from the wonder of the novel. All of the characters are well-rounded, likable, and entertaining. The author does a wonderful job of drawing the reader into the world of Ancient Egypt with his mix of seriousness, humor, action, magic, and adventure. A truly engrossing fantasy adventure, this book is a must-have for any readers who enjoy mythology, magic, time travel, and page-turning plots. Be sure to like Godwar Hell Rising on Facebook!

Ready For Your Chance To Win?
Children Teaching Mama is excited to offer your chance to win this amazing prize sponsored by Reader Spoils
Enter To Win an iPad Mini 
One winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries to receive a 16GB black iPad Mini valued at $339.99! To enter, complete the tasks on the Rafflecopter form below. All entrants must complete the mandatory entry (voting for your favorite book above) to be eligible to win. Good Luck!

Open to U.S. Residents Only
Ends on August 14th at 11:59pm. 

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