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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Catching Up On My Reading

Get ALL of these eBooks for 1 LOW Price! One Week Only!

So, at the beginning of the year I joined Jon Acuff's empty shelf challenge.  I've posted one book (hangs head in shame) This is my big "catch up" post where I tell you what I've been reading lately.  Because I have been reading, just not posting :)

Over the past 2 weeks I've read a TON of homemaking books that are a part of The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle  so I can give an honest opinion of their merit.

Without further ado, here are my favorite books from the bundle, which can be ordered now through Monday April 28 2014, here.

How to Manage Your Mouth - A 30 Day Wholesome Talk Challenge

How To Manage Your Mouth: If you are a human being you need to read this book.  If you are a human being who cares for young children, you need it even more.  I love how Connie uses scripture and humor at every turn.  It's an easy read that I sat down and finished in one sitting, but it can be used as a daily devotional as well.

It's Me or the Coupons
It's Me Or The Coupons: These coupon tips work, and they are simple too.  I sat in on a coupon seminar (yes they have coupon seminar) several years ago and the same techniques that Beth shares in this book are what I learned there.  The tips and tricks WORK, I know first hand.  If you don't know where to get started with coupons this book is an excellent place.

Blog At Home Mom: This book is a must read if you are a work at home mom, who blogs.  My blogging and my mothering were so out of balance a year ago, this book deeply convicted me.  Christin uses plenty of scripture and is very encouraging.  I highly recommend.

101 Independent Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

101 Independent Activities For Toddlers: An excellent resource for moms with toddlers, but invaluable for moms who are also trying to homeschool older children as well.  Sometimes the littles just need something fun to do, this book has excellent ideas.
The Best of Visionary Womanhood Volume Two
The Best of Visionary Womanhood Volume 2: There are some chapters in this book that are absolute gems, and invaluable to wives and moms. But...... there are some philosophical and theological differences I have that prevent me from giving a whole hearted approval of the book.  Keep in mind though it's written by homemakers who are living their Christian faith and have a ton of experience, that in and of itself has great value.
The Homemaker's Guide To Creating The Perfect Schedule: I liked the first section of this book, but I LOVED the second section that dealt with scheduling the homeschool day.  I came away with excellent tips I had never thought of that will be a huge asset to us in the future.

The Sweeter Side of Candida: If you're on a limited sugar diet, this cookbook will be a treasure.  Not only do the recipes look fantastic (even if they are sugar free), there are also excellent tips for cooking with sugar substitutes.  

How To Build a Strong Christian Home: 5 years ago, I would have absolutely loved this book.  I definitely think it's more for a woman who is newer in her marriage or newer in her faith.   I could also see it's benefit for someone who wants to deepen their commitment to Christ in their family but doesn't know where to start.  What I do really like about it is the authors tone of love and not judgement.

So there's my empty shelf catch up.  I'll probably be posting some reviews on Amazon too in the near future. If you haven't checked out the bundle, you must.  It's an incredible value and sure to be a blessing.   

Sale Ends Monday April 28 2014, be sure to check out all the details!

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

3 Sources For Free Phonics Videos

Okay not to brag, but my three year old is reading (albeit not very many words). What's truly shocking about this was I wasn't even trying to teach her.

She's been picking it up from 2 things, me teaching her older sister, and phonics based T.V. shows and videos we watch.

I won't go as far as saying she's a budding genius, but it's apparent she's a little sponge with propensity for words.  So today I'd love to share some of our favorite phonics videos, because, well ummmm, I guess they work.

Here's a Hooked on Phonics playlist.  The songs and videos are a bit slower paced, which I actually prefer as a mom.  Somehow I reason that slower paced means, they'll learn and not be distracted by the cartoonishness of the video.

We also love the videos on  This website seriously can't be beat.

We love Starfall website for the great free reading program.  However it use flash, means it doesn't run on iPAD. Fortunately, with the help of a free app, you can access the website - fully functional like on computers #kidsapps #freeapps
(Pinterest source)

And finally the phonics videos and games on are other huge favorites in this house.

Interactive Whiteboard Games | PBS KIDS  This site is GREAT for use on the smart board!!
(Pinterest Source)

Of course I'm sure the videos have helped all my kids work on their reading, but I'm also sure videos aren't a replacement for books and reading together as a family.  

Looking for more homeschooling and homemaking help?
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Monday, March 31, 2014

Teaching The Value of Life To Little Ones, And a Perfect Book For Spring

I had the awesome opportunity because of a successful book launch for the ABC's of Freezer Cooking  to attend the Allume Blogging Conference in South Carolina.  I had an amazing time.  

I was able to meet some fabulous bloggers, get connected with some wonderful charities and learn about some awesome books being released by Christian publishers.

It was when I was speaking with a representative from B&H publishing that I learned the story of Angie Smith, the author of "Audrey Bunny."  I immediately started crying and the rep offered to send me a free copy to review on my blog, and one to give away too. Apparently the representative assumed if I cried simply from the back story and synopsis of Audrey Bunny, I'd probably review it favorably.  She was right. 

What makes this book so special: I was initially drawn to this book because of the artwork by Breezy Brookshire, whose blog I've followed on and off for awhile.  Her illustrations remind me of my mother's for one, but they absolutely capture the joy of children in a tender realistic way.

In the book there is a little bunny with a mark over it's heart.  The bunny waits in the toy store, afraid it will spend it's whole life at the bottom of the stuffed animal barrel because of it's imperfection, until a little girl falls in love with the sweet bunny.

The bunny attempts to hide the mark from the little girl whenever they play, only to later discover it was because of the imperfection she chose him.

My children loved the story the story from the first time I read it to them.  In fact my daughter has a bunny that's holding a carrot over it's heart (like the bunny in the book who was always trying to hide it's mark behind something) she's named Audrey that immediately became a favorite toy after reading the book.

What's truly wonderful about the book though is the fact it opens the door to discuss how God made us all, and knit us together in our mother's womb.  In fact there is a discussion section in the back of the book as well.

Why I started crying when talking to the B&H representative:  The story is incredibly sweet yes, but that's not why I started crying at Allume.  I started crying because the whole reason why Angie Smith wrote Audrey Bunny was because she had lost a baby to a horrible heart defect.

While pregnant she was told her child wouldn't survive long after birth.  Rather than terminating the pregnancy she carried her baby.  She felt her baby move in her body, she grew to love her baby, she and her family celebrated the life of her child even though it was terribly brief.

She loved her daughter Audrey because of her heart defect, not in spite of it.  Having dealt with 3 miscarriages, this is why I started crying in front of a complete stranger.  

You can enter the giveaway below, or buy the book on Amazon.

The Giveaway:  I have one hard copy of the book, and for fun I'll also send a sweet little stuffed bunny (one I bought myself) with it.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

It's Almost Time To Tap Your Trees!

So it looks like warmer weather *might* be on it's way.  While much of the nation is gearing up for an ice storm, Michigan might actually have temperatures above freezing next week.

Say what?  How does that happen?

I feel bad for all of you who will be digging out of your driveways, believe me I do.  But let's just say I've dug out of our driveway enough times this winter thankyouverymuch.

The whether is getting just a little warmer, which means it's about to be perfect for tapping maple trees!

Once the whether in your area stays over freezing in the day, but drops below freezing at night the sap starts flowing, and you can start tapping.

So if you're interested in tapping Maple Trees, be sure to check out my other posts, and sign up for the newsletter to get your free eBook.

How To Tap Your Trees (It's easier than you think and it doesn't cost a lot of money)
How To Turn Sap Into Syrup
How To Can Maple Syrup

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Friday, January 31, 2014

Do You Need Help With Daily Devotions?

I have a free devotional book for those of you who are (or become) subscribers to my newsletter.

If you've been looking for a quick timeless devotional take a minute and subscribe.

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

A New Place For the Homeschool Mom

Okay so here's the deal.  For those of you who don't know me, I am a moderately funny, former educator, turned blogger, author and stay at home homeschooling mom of 3 wonderful kids.

I also have big dreams.  And I don't mean kind of big dreams like sing the national anthem at a Tigers Game (although I'd totally love to do that), I mean knock your socks off only God himself can fulfill them kind of dreams. One of these dreams just so happens to be writing a novel with my husband.  This is "the" book.  The one that wormed its way into our brains and won't let go.  It's the book I'll actually be sending to agents.

I have literally taught every age level from pre-kindergarten, to elementary school, to middle school, to high school, to college, and even senior citizens professionally.

I'm no longer teaching professionally and I've started the journey of homeschooling with my own children and there are times when I'm bursting with ideas and other times when I'm overwhelmed.

Long Story Short Lessons From Ivy is getting a little face lift.

 Before it was mostly my ramblings of motherhood and every day life.  Moving forward I'd love to create a community for other homeschool moms like me, and plenty of encouragement.  Oh and a truck load of free Printables ;)

Here's the deal, this blog post is just to let you know what's going on.  I'm not re-launching the website for a few months yet, maybe as many as 6.  For the moment I'll simply be sharing posts and printables I hope will be a blessing to other homeschool moms.

So if that's you, take a minute and subscribe if you haven't already.

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Monday, February 25, 2013

A Psalm for the Depressed and Grieving

I started out today wanting to make a blog post and an info-graphic of Psalm 42 verse one which reads "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God."

I found a picture of a beautiful stag and I started researching fun factoids about deer to include in today's devotion.  I wasn't sure who wrote the Psalm so I started researching that as well.  Come to find out the only real information we know about who wrote this Psalm of the Bible was that it was written by someone who was struggling with depression.  The direction of my post completely changed.

I've received a handful of e-mails over the past week from women struggling from depression and my heart beaks for them.  What breaks my heart even more is that these women have been told to "snap out of it" by family and friends.

Sadly, grief is not something you can snap out of.  Clinical depression is not something you can snap out of.  As I read this Psalm, I can almost feel the writer telling himself to "snap out of it."  He knows in his mind that God is his rock (vs. 9) but he still continues mourning.

This Psalm doesn't have a step by step cure for those with heavy hearts, but in it we can see a person whose depression was used for the Glory of God.  We can see that despite, great pain and heart-ache, this Psalmist still chose to Praise God.

Praising God when we ache is never easy, but sometimes that's all we can truly do.

"Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God" Psalm 42:11

 I encourage you to read the whole chapter today.  What passages of scripture have blessed you in times of sadness.

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