Sunday, August 17, 2014

Before Five in a Row Planning Resources

Last year I started using Before Five in a Row with Rachel.  It is a wonderful curriculum that brings real books to life through activities involving math, science, crafts, music, and more.  Plus it is just a fun way to spend some special time with your little one while reading some wonderful books!

Essentially, you read the selected book once a day for 5 days in a row.  After each reading, you do a couple of activities that somehow relate to the story.  The Before Five in a Row book lists many great activities for each book but I've also collected many more on my Before Five in a Row Pinterest board.

To plan, I start with locating the books that we will read. Many of them can be found at our local libraries. Others I buy used at library book sales or from friends whose kiddos have outgrown them.  All of the suggested books are really great pieces of children's literature so I do try to buy them when I can so that we can read them over and over at anytime.  

I then look through the books and decide on the best time of the year to read them based on things like if the story takes place during a particular season or if there is a theme to the story that ties in with something else we will be doing later in the year.

Here is a Before Five in a Row Book List (PDF) that I made to help me keep track of all of this:

To help me plan the activities we do each day, I created this weekly planning page that I fill out for each book. It lets me keep track of which activities we will do on which day, the subjects covered, and which supplies I need to have on hand. 

Before Five in a Row Weekly Plan

Here is a PDF version if you'd like to download it:

I hope these forms will help you with planning Before Five in a Row activities for your child.

Although we started this curriculum last year, we still have some books that we didn't get around to reading.  We will continue to work through the books at the beginning of this year and then we will move on the next level which is Five in a Row, Volume 1.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Skrafty Homeschool Minecraft Classes {Review and Giveaway}

Do your kids love playing Minecraft as much as mine do?  Why not integrate a little Minecraft into your homeschool day to help make learning fun?  We had a great opportunity to review the Skrafty Homeschool Minecraft classes and I can't wait to tell you all about it!  And keep reading to find out how to enter some AMAZING giveaways for products to help with your homeschool year.

SKrafty Reviews and Giveaways


It's back to school time, and for homeschool families - that means gathering curriculum, planning and finding new ways to inspire kids in their studies. SKrafty Homeschool Minecraft is the perfect way to add the fun and inspiration you need.

This fall, the class line up is spectacular! If you need homeschool math, science, bible, history, language arts or more . . . you are in for a treat. Using some of your favorite homeschool curriculum companies (including Apologia Science, Mystery of History, and A+ Interactive Math) you'll learn to incorporate Minecraft projects into your family homeschool.
SKrafty Classes

See all the new classes SKrafty has to offer HERE

Find out more about the fully monitored SKrafty Minecraft server where it is safe for your family and children - and get whitelisted for FREE right HERE.

SKrafty is specially designed and the rules are constructed to encourage good sportsmanship - with no griefing allowed, no bad language or ugly talk, and no sharing of outside links to protect your children. See a full list of rules HERE.

What other parents are saying about SKrafty Homeschool Minecraft:
"Since starting Skrafty my son has blossomed. His typing has gotten a lot better. School work is not a chore any more I just give him the list of what needs to be done and he does it. He finds the lessons entertaining and engaging and he loves the activities that go along with them. We are all very grateful for Skrafty." ~ Cheryl J.

"My son enjoys playing on Skrafty with other kids and I love that it is a safe, moderated Minecraft server! While playing on Skrafty he has learned creative building, developed critical thinking skills, made friends, and learned to be a team player. The classes have been fun and the reading program has encouraged him to read more than ever. Skrafty has been such a blessing to our family!" ~Julie B.
Special needs learning:
"Skrafty has been a huge blessing to our family! My son with dyslexia is not only learning but enjoying learning!!!! His reading and writing have developed more with Skrafty than any other program we have used. The classes are engaging because they are so hands on and truly turn learning into an adventure. I so highly recommend Skrafty!" ~ Caroline D.
What we learned:
My 10 year old son Nicholas was delighted to help me review a Skrafty Homeschool Minecraft class.  He chose the class, Machines and Motion.  This class was based on the textbook, "God's Design for the Physical World: Machines and Motion".  
Each week, Nicholas reads the assigned lessons each week in the textbook then goes into the Skrafty class portal to read additional information about the lesson, and watch an online presentation or some supplemental videos.  Then he completes an assignment on the Skrafty Minecraft server that corresponds with the lessons.  Some of his assignments have included building an object that demonstrates centripetal force or creating a class 1, 2, or 3 lever.   
The lessons are easy to understand but let's be honest, it's really all about the Minecraft world.  Nicholas can hardly wait to run to the computer and create his assignment.  He is so proud to show off what he has made and all that he has learned about machines and motion.  He is looking forward to taking another Skrafty Homeschool Minecraft class in the fall. 
Mom's Perspective: I love how Nicholas gets to take the material he has studied and then apply his knowledge and recreate objects that demonstrate the laws and principles that he has studied.  I think it is a great way to review and solidify what he has learned but it also makes learning fun so there is no whining when it is time to work on school work!  I also love the fact that the Skrafty server is a safe place for my kids to learn and play.  There is a monitored chat room and the kids have to follow school-appropriate rules about their behavior and language.  I highly recommend Skrafty Homeschool Minecraft classes.  We plan to integrate at least one class into our curriculum each semester.


Extremely affordable classes (between $6.99 - $32.00) make it easy to add creativity and excitement into your education at home. Sign up HERE for live classes or self-paced classes and begin your journey into the world of homeschool Minecraft with SKrafty.

Giveaway Companies - Multiple Winners!

SKrafty Giveaways

Check out all the wonderful companies and prizes you can win for your family homeschool:

3 SKrafty Fall Classes - Value up to $32 each

Mystery of History Volume 1,2, or 3 & Super Supplemental - Value $150

A+ Interactive Math - Family Package for 3 Students - Value $450

Adventures In ChildRearing - Wildlife Adventures bundle- Value $27.99

We Choose Virtues - Homeschool Kit - Value $98.99

Sidetracked Sarah - Crockpot Freezer Meals 3 pack - Value $8.97

Moore Family Films - ABC Say it With Me - Value $15.99

Not Consumed - Back to School 4 Pack - Value $12.50

Teach Them Diligently - Family Pass to 1 Convention - Value $65

Homeschool Adventure Co. - Philippians in 28 Weeks - Value $18.95

Media Angels - Homeschool Moms Rescue Set - Value $9.99

A Journey Through Learning - Math Lapbook - Value $15.00

Dave Ramsey - Financial Peace Jr. - Value $24.95

Enter with 1 entry or enter with them all:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Mystery of History, Dave Ramsey, and Moore Family Films giveaways are only for the U.S. but all other giveaways are international.  Winners will be announced Tuesday, August 19th!

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this review.  We were given a free Skrafty Homeschool Minecraft class to try out in order to complete this review.  I was not told what to say about the class so my opinions stated here are entirely my own.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Seize the Day: Make a Bucket List

Do you have a Bucket List?  You know, a is a list of things you'd like to do before you "kick the bucket". 

Seize the Day - Make a Bucket List

A Bucket List is more than just some ideas in your head or thoughts like, "Hey that would be cool to do some day".  The idea of a Bucket List is to actually have a written list of things you'd like to do before you die.  You have to write them down so that you constantly see them before you and therefore (hopefully) you are more likely to actually take steps towards accomplishing some of those amazing things you'd like to do with your life.

A Bucket List is a way to help remind you to live life to the fullest or "Seize the Day".  The dearly beloved Robin Williams explains this so well in this video clip from the movie Dead Poet's Society:

So what goes on a Bucket List?  Think of places you'd like to travel, meet a famous person, learn a new language, accomplish a goal in your current sport or hobby, or take on a new activity.  Anything that you've ever thought would be a cool thing to do should go on your Bucket List.

Last week I was inspired by a friend of mine who wrote down her own Bucket List.  I decided to actually write down my list and at first I couldn't come up with anything at all.  I feel very blessed in my life and typically don't want for much.  But once I started brainstorming a few ideas, the list just kept growing.  I imagine a Bucket List is a living list that will grow and change as I move through this life.  For now, here's the list I scribbled down as the ideas came to me.

My Bucket List (2014)
  1. Watch my two children get baptized.
  2. Visit all 50 states.
  3. Learn how to sew.
  4. Homeschool my children through graduation.
  5. Learn how to use power tools.
  6. Pass the ham radio Technician exam.
  7. Get my Concealed Handgun License.
  8. Get down to a size 10.
  9. Go on a second honeymoon.
  10. Raise chickens
  11. Write and publish a book.
  12. Learn how to can food.
  13. Drive Route 66.
  14. Grow a garden that actually feeds my family.
  15. Make a significant impact in the life of a child outside our home.
  16. Own some Sacred Frankincense (Boswellia sacra) essential oil.
  17. Go on a mission trip.
  18. Join the Daughters of the American Revolution.
  19. Complete my genealogy research on all of my ancestral lines back to when their family first arrived in America.
  20. Find the parents of Thomas Owen, born: 19 November 1809 in either Georgia or South Carolina; married Nancy Weldon on 29 November 1840 in Pike County, Georgia; died: 24 September 1876 in Three Creeks, Union County, Arkansas.
  21. Make a bowl on a pottery wheel.
  22. Have a library in my house.
  23. Take the kids on an off road trail in Bluebell (our Jeep).
  24. Learn how to clean my gun.
  25. Go on a mission trip.
  26. Make something cool on a lathe.
  27. Take a cruise.
  28. Hike in the Grand Canyon.
  29. Learn American Sign Language.
  30. Learn how to read Braiile.
  31. Take piano lessons (again).
  32. Visit the Holy Lands.
  33. Take a family trip with my family including my parents and brother.
  34. Invent and patent a great product.
  35. Win more than $100 in a lottery.
  36. Read all the books on my shelves.
  37. Spend a day just sketching with a sketch pad, pencils, and maybe charcoal.
  38. Start up my soap making business again.
  39. Take painting classes.
  40. Be debt free.
  41. Read the entire Bible from cover to cover.
  42. Compete in an archery tournament.
  43. Play with my kids at Disneyworld.
  44. Learn about different kinds of wine.
  45. Visit early American landmarks like Plymouth Rock, Independence Hall, and all the historic sites in Washington D.C.
Life on this Earth is brief and we need to make the most of the time that God has blessed us with.  There is a quote from the movie Braveheart that always speaks to me..."Every man dies...not every man truly lives".

Now grab a pen and some paper and start writing your own Bucket List!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

What to Do When Your Child Swallows a Marble {aka Poop Watch 2014}

We have a simple rule in our house...

If it isn't food then it doesn't go in your mouth.

So why, one might wonder, are we on Poop Watch alert?

What to Do When Your Child Swallows a Marble

I had just tucked Rachel into bed last night and had started walking out of the door when she bolted up and started coughing hard.  When her coughing stopped, she said, "Oh no!  I swallowed a marble!"

Silly girl had popped the marble in her mouth as she was lying down and I hadn't noticed it.  Then as we were saying our goodnights and giggling together, the marble must have slipped down her throat.  Fortunately she was not asleep when it went down her throat!

I have spoken with her pediatrician's office and done some research on the web.  Here is what I've learned this morning:

  • When a child swallows a marble, coin, Lego, or other items that is not food, the item is referred to as a "foreign object".
  • The most popular foreign object for children to swallow are coins.  We can check that off our "Been There, Done That" list. Rachel did that one a couple of years ago.
  • Little kids learn about their environment by using their sense of touch with their fingers but also by putting things in their mouths.  Usually babies and toddlers are at the highest risk for swallowing foreign objects because they are so curious and they don't understand the dangers of swallowing these things.  This is also a concern if they get into medicines and cleaning products.  Everything goes in their mouths so parents of little ones have to be sure to Baby Proof their homes!  However, "almost 6 year old" kindergarteners are old enough to understand that a marble is not food and doesn't belong in her mouth.  But Rachel has always been very "oral".  She still sucks her thumb and rubs the edge of her soft "pink baby" on her lip for comfort.  She puts her mouth on playground equipment and has even licked the floor of a public bathroom before I realized what she was doing and freaked out.  We often catch her with things in her mouth even at 5 1/2 years old.  She just likes to see how they feel in her mouth.
  • Most small objects will pass on through their esophagus, stomach and intestine and come out in their poop.  They may experience tummy aches and it may take several days for the object to come out.  Hence, Poop Watch 2014.  We can probably expect no problems with Rachel's marble but I want to know for sure that it has come out so we'll check her poop for the next few days.  Just one of the many disgusting things that only a mom would ever do.
  • Some items that a child might swallow may need medical attention based on the nature of the object.  For example, small batteries are a danger because the battery acid can leak into their bodies.  Sharp objects are obviously a danger for poking or getting stuck in their stomach or intestine.  Also there have been incidents where children have swallowed more than one small magnet and a magnet in the stomach attracted the magnet in the intestine and everything got bound up then.  The marble Rachel swallowed was smooth glass so there aren't any sharp edges and the glass will not be hazardous to her body.
  • What about the foreign object getting stuck in there somewhere?  The marble Rachel swallowed was actually a florist glass bead that they use to fill the bottom of a vase to make it look prettier.  These beads are slightly larger than a regular marble and not completely round but kind of flattened.  I'm a little concerned about it getting stuck in her body.  The most narrow part of the path for a foreign object to travel is through the esophagus.  Once it makes it past there, it is probably smooth sailing on down without complications.  So what should a parent look for to determine if an object is lodged in their child's esophagus?  The child may have chest or tummy pain, difficultly swallowing or just being unwilling to eat or drink, drooling, pain in throat, vomiting, blood in stool, or a fever.
  • What else can be done?  If you have any concerns that your child swallowed a dangerous object or that the foreign object is not going to just pass on through, then get them to a doctor right away.  The doctor will first need to locate where the object is.  They may take xrays, CT scan, or use a metal detector, laryngoscopy, or endoscopy to help them locate the foreign object.  Treatment options will then be discussed.
Girl with tummy ache from swallowing marble

Unfortunately, Rachel is a worrier, like her mama.  She has been talking about the marble all morning and is now saying she has a tummy ache.  Her pediatrician's office has again reassured me that a tummy ache for a few days can be completely normal.  She was just laying on the kitchen floor until I suggested she come lie on the couch with her pillow and blanket to watch some cartoons.  I'm giving her easy to digest food and monitoring her for signs of distress.  So far she's just happily watching "My Little Pony". 

Please keep her in your prayers that this crazy marble passes soon and she gets back to her happy bouncy self again.  And I guess you can say a little prayer for the mama that the Poop Watch isn't too distressing either.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Johnson's Baby Says, "Your Promise is Our Promise" #PromiseToBaby #partner

As a mom, I promise to love my children.  I promise to nurture them, help them grow, and inspire in them a love for life and a joy in learning about the world around them.  I also promise to keep them safe - from the monsters in the closet to the cars as they cross the street. 

cute baby girl under pink blanket

Just as I promise these things to my children, Johnson's Baby has also made a promise to moms.  They listened to moms who shared their concerns about some of the ingredients in their products and they acted.  Johnson's Baby took a stand and changed their formulas to give moms peace of mind.  They have removed formaldehyde-releasing preservatives and reduced traces of 1,4 dioxane from all of their baby products around the world.

The Johnson's Baby Family is excited to introduce seven newly reformulated products:

  • Johnson's Baby Head-to-Toe Wash
  • Johnson's Baby Lotion
  • Johnson's Baby Shampoo
  • Johnson's Baby Shampoo and Conditioner for Thick and Curly Hair
  • Johnson's Baby Shampoo and Conditioner for Thin and Straight Hair
  • Johnson's Baby Shampoo with Calming Lavender
  • Johnson's Baby Soothing Vapor Baby Bath

Additionally, for most of their new and improved baby products, Johnson's Baby has removed parabens - ahead of their 2015 commitment as part of their promise to you.  The new and improved products will continue to roll out onto retail shelves until their meet all of their commitments.  For more information about Johnson's Baby policies and timeline, please visit

As the new products hit shelves, Johnson's Baby is launching a heartfelt campaign called, "Your Promise is Our Promise" as a way to express their ongoing commitment to moms.  Just as moms make promises to their children, Johnson's Baby also makes promises so moms don't have to worry about the products they use on their little ones.

Watch this beautiful video here:

Johnson's Baby has made this "Our Promise" video as an open letter to moms showing their scientists and their families coming together to build an origami stork mobile, symbolizing the delivery of their promise to always listen to moms.

This amazing video concept was inspired by a Japanese legend that folding 1,000 origami cranes will result in a wish granted and a promise fulfilled, which is thought to be a big labor of love.  Changing their products was Johnson's Baby's labor of love for moms and babies, but they used storks in the video because they represent the delivery of babies and the hopes and promises of families.

I'm proud to have used Johnson's Baby products with both of my babies.  Do you know other moms who have had concerns about ingredients in the baby products they buy?  Please share this post with them so they can feel good about their promises too.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post in partner with JOHNSON’S® Baby and The Motherhood. I received compensation and free product in exchange for providing this post. However, all opinions expressed here are strictly my own.