5-Minute DIY: "Friday Jar" For Homeschoolers

I came up with this concept a few years back. I was trying to get my school week wrapped up, paperwork done, and prepared for the next week so that we could enjoy the weekend as a family. It was only going to take me about an hour to do everything, but the kids were just not having it. Every couple minutes they were yelling for me, bored, or needing something. I found myself wishing I had more work prepared for them, but also not wanting more work for myself each week.

I found the solution- our "Friday Jar"

This may be one of the simplest things I have ever done and it lasts all year. I just refresh it at the beginning of the year and then again at Christmas time.

All you need is popsicle sticks- I just had colored ones on hand- and a plastic jar, I used a small Duke's jar.

Start with about 20 sticks and write different activities that your children can do on their own and even get the materials needed on their own, if possible. When it is time to wrap up your school week, get them to choose one or more sticks and do the activities- bonus points if they are fun and the kids do not think of it as school work. This would also be a great way to do assessments and spelling tests.

Fighting to NOT Lose My SPARKLE! With Help From Thirty One #ThirtyOneGifts #Giveaway

Disclaimer: I received an item to review. All opinions are my own.

A while back, I posted this photo on Instagram. I've only realized recently how true this is and that I have to keep this as a reminder, or I will lose myself to circumstances.

Since December, I had been planning a wonderful workshop "Find Your Sparkle 2018," to encourage all of you to take care of yourselves, so that you can be the best you possible for your family and those that need you. Well, part of me taking care of myself was putting the workshop on the backburner. With our recent deaths in the family, my health problems, Snapper's testing, losing our 18-year-old Jack Russell Terrier, and my Mother-In-Law's recent breast cancer diagnosis, I just cannot spread myself any further. But, I am still bringing you the wonderful giveaway and some tips to help you keep/ find your sparkle.

Find/ Keep Your Sparkle: 10 Tips

  1. Find something sparkly that is a fun accessory- something that makes you smile at it. Even when I'm wearing a t-shirt and jeans, my silver sandals make me feel good. 
  2. Be OK with saying NO. I know it is not easy, but sometimes you have to say that there is enough on your plate and just tell those asking more no. Remember: "Those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind"
  3. Take a bubble bath and lock the kids out- the Mr can handle it, I promise. 
  4. Find what you love to do and make time for it. For me, it is organizing my planner. 
  5. Make a vision board- you can focus on your career, future, goals, or just things that make you happy.
  6. Remember, it is OK to buy yourself gifts. This is one I struggle with. Even if the Mr tells me to get me something, it is always for the kids, well- I've stopped doing that so much and order myself a nice surprise every once in a while- last it was a pretty gold pen with crystals inside. 
  7. Give yourself a day off- no work, no cooking, no cleaning. Give the cleaning to someone else and either have them cook, or let them pick dinner up. 
  8. Breathe- seriously. Do not plan yourself into a frenzy, do not think you have to be going all the time, do not think you have to get it all done- you don't. Have some coffee on the porch and watch the kids play- work will be there tomorrow.
  9. Have a date with your husband/ boyfriend- even an at home date. Dress up and make it special. Do your nails, hair, and makeup. You will be surprised at how wonderful you will feel.
  10. Buy yourself something sparkly.
  11. Enter the giveaway below!

City Lights Clutch by Thirty-One Gifts

Seriously, I LOVE this clutch! It is the answer to my searching for years! I wanted something I could grab and go in the store with, that would hold everything I need to have on hand, and something that would shine!

The gold planner cover and pen were a gift to myself, the coffee cup was a Christmas gift from my brother and sister-in-law (I think she knows me pretty good!) and the clutch is just a beautiful reminder to be sparkly from Thirty-One Gifts.

The City Lights Clutch from Thirty-One has been an amazing addition to my purse (aka mom bag). It is navy and white canvas. It is actually a diaper bag but is exactly what I needed. It isn't sparkly or shiny, but when I pull this clutch out, I smile. It has room for everything! The glitter does come off a little, but really you are just leaving glitter where ever you go. It isn't annoying, but you will find glitter around- just smile!

It has plenty of room for debit cards, license, a photo, and so much more. There is a pocket for paper money, a change section, and a larger pocket. 

This is the larger pocket and it is my favorite feature. I carry my phone on a wristlet, for easy access, so it is beside this clutch all the time. This big pocket fits the cardholder that I keep all of our insurance cards, school proof, library cards, and other family information in that I need to keep with me, but do not need easy access to. Plus, a sparkly pen fits perfectly with it. This pocket has a zipper closure and the whole thing folds up with a snap! There is a small D-ring for a wristlet strap as well. 

Isn't this the perfect clutch?! Would you like to win one? Well, you are in luck. Comment on this post before Thursday, March 22 and you might just win one. Just tell me what you like about this clutch!

Be sure to include your email address in the comment so I can get your information!

5-Minute DIY: Easy Blessing Jar

As I wrote about before, my family is going through a lot. My MIL was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, I'm having lots of tests done on my Thyroid and heart, and we are lining up for the next stage of tests for snapper. This is all on top of the everyday chaos we have. I'm sure you can imagine the level of stress we have right now. 

It is easy to count our blessings when life is calm, happy, and assured. What about when life gets scary and crazy? There are still blessings and I have a simple way to remind our families to count them. Its so easy that I'm not sure it really warrants a blog post, but here goes anyway. 

1. Get a pretty jar- one you have around the house is fine- you could even use a vase, glass, tea cup- anything. 

2. Put a pen and some blank paper squares in it. 

3. Put it somewhere that is seen- even if you use it as a centerpiece. We need to be reminded to put our blessings in it and to look for blessings at all stages of life. 

4. Decorate, if you wish.

5. When you are feeling down, feeling like nothing is going right, or need some special family time, count your blessings- you actually don't have to read them. Literally, count them. When you need to be reminded of the wonderful things in life- then, read them. 

I hope your family chooses to do this, mine does. 

Book Review: Bigfoot Goes On Vacation & More

Disclaimer: I received a book to review. All opinions are my own.

BigFoot Goes On Vacation

Shy and reclusive, BigFoot spends most of his time in the deep dark woods, rarely spotted by humankind. But every now and then he leaves his remote retreat, and travels the world for vacation fun! Sharpen your search & find skills by locating him at his favorite vacation retreat. It won't be easy. BigFoot is enjoying his holiday in ten different ways, from deep sea diving and joining a balloon festival to taking a cruise, going to the beach, visiting Yellowstone National Park, and more. This handsome hardcover book presents each getaway as an immense two-page visual puzzle, full of teeming people and creatures. Your task is not only to find BigFoot and his legendary footprint, but also more than 500 other unusual and sometimes unexpected personalities and objects. Fun facts and pictures accompany each scene to help you learn more about vacation activities.

BigFoot Visits the Big Cities of the World

Shy and reclusive, BigFoot spends most of his time in the deep dark woods, rarely spotted by humankind. But the bright lights of the big city beckon to everyone, even our mysterious furry friend! Sharpen your search and find skills by locating him at his favorite metropolis. It won't be easy. BigFoot is visiting ten major cosmopolitan destinations, from the Big Apple and London to Paris, Athens, Tokyo, Toronto, and more. This handsome hardcover book presents each urban oasis as an immense two-page visual puzzle, full of teeming people and creatures. Your task is not only to find BigFoot and his legendary footprint, but also more than 500 other unusual and sometimes unexpected personalities and objects. Fun facts and pictures accompany each scene to help you learn more about the world's most popular cities.

My kids absolutely love these books. They each have one and they go everywhere with us, even in restaurants. I love books like this for Koda because she is really good at them, so it is encouraging. Finding 10 tourists, and such is helping encourage counting for her, as well. Tbomb just loves bigfoot, so he is all about finding him. I think he likes being like his mom and dad since we are Bigfoot researchers. One thing that I really like about is that they are not just hidden picture books (think Where's Waldo), but they have pages full of facts about each type of scene. Definitely a winner! 

Book Review: NIV Journal the Word Bible for Teens

Disclaimer: I received this book to review. All opinions are my own.

I am generally a NKJV Bible gal, but this has changed my mind. This Bible has become my go-to!

Book Description:

Reflect, respond, and grow closer to your heavenly Father. With hundreds of journaling prompts and plenty of space for notes, art, and doodles, the NIV Journal the Word™ Bible for Teen Girls provides a place to capture your thoughts while reading Scripture. Journal your feelings, dreams, and hopes. Create art, color, and doodle. However you wish to creatively express yourself, engage with God’s heart and get to know the One who knows and loves you.

I quickly fell in love with this bible. I love the cover design, and the hardback binding. I've never cared for soft back bibles- it is hard to write in them during a sermon. I love the journaling columns, as well as the journaling prompts. I enjoy drawing and doing special lettering for favorite verses, so this is perfect. Also, the NIV translation is great for everyday relaxed reading! Not just for teen girls, for all women.

Should I Quit Smoking?

People have their own motivations to quit smoking, but there are also many public initiatives encouraging people to quit. Smoking is probably one of the worst activities to regularly engage with, so it’s important to assess how much you value your life.

You only get one shot at living, so you should treat your body with the respect it deserves. Leading a healthy lifestyle will improve your physiological state.  Ultimately, when you quit smoking you’ll gain a new purpose in life and reach a level of fulfillment and accomplishment.

No one says it will be easy--it might initially feel like an impossible task--but there are various supportive forces to help you, from vaping to support networks. Vaping has risen to prominence since it doesn’t use the same harmful chemicals as regular smoking. Vaping is a great way to ease off smoking, and what’s useful is you can adjust the nicotine levels of your E Juice. There are various flavors to explore, and the advantages of vaping are real. Whether you replace smoking with vaping or slowly transition to a non-smoker using vaping as a tool, there are various ways to go about achieving a positive outcome.

If you’re ready to quit smoking but need additional motivation, here are some top arguments:

Your Health
Quitting smoking is widely considered the most important step to improving your length and quality of life. When you stop smoking your body slowly starts to repair itself, and regardless of age, your body can recover accordingly. As you stop causing harm to your body you’re more likely to make other positive lifestyle decisions. When you quit you’ll feel healthier than ever, receiving an energy boost that will make you question why you ever smoked in the first place.

Your Wallet
Smoking is an expensive habit, and costs continually rise as companies look to make a profit from death. Even if a pack is relatively cheap where you live, the cost mounts up. Often, smokers aren’t deterred by price because their addiction dictates what they buy; a physiological dependence is more potent than currency. So make the effort to step back and take a look at how much smoking costs you per week, per month, and per year. Think of how much you could be saving!

Your Convenience
Smoking is a hassle, especially considering the clean air laws that have banished smoking to the outdoors. You’ll usually have to go out of your way to smoke, which isolates you further from society. You won’t be able to smoke in places like bars and restaurants, and the inconvenience of constantly taking trips outside might be a nuisance that’s enough to put you off. Is standing in the cold rain and wind really worth it?

Your Friends and Family
Cigarette smoke is dangerous when inhaled by nonsmokers, so if you smoke around family members you’ll be inflicting considerable harm. Smoking around children causes harm to the development of their lungs and can impede their breathing as much as direct smoke. When you quit, you and your family will breathe easier, and you won’t be setting a bad example for your kids to follow in later life.