Thursday, July 24, 2014

Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms from Apologia Educational Ministries: A TOS Crew Review

Flourish Book Review
Flourish Book Review
 
Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms from Apologia Educational Ministries - $15.00
 
This is one for moms. :) 

 
Flourish Book Review
Yeah - a gem for busy, multi-tasking, almost-to-the-end-of-my-rope mom!  I'm excited to be the tester at Bentz Test Laboratory for Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms from Apologia Educational Ministries.  
 

I've been homeschooling a long while now (heading into year number 13...) and I have yet to be disappointed by any product from Apologia Educational Ministries!  
 
Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms  is written by Mary Jo Tate.  She is another veteran homeschooler, educating her four sons since 1997.  After reading this book, I feel like we sat down together over a cup of coffee (usually next to me as I read) and she shared from the wealth of her years of experience.  Her easy-to-read, conversational tone makes you feel like you have a trusted mentor by your side.
 

This 289 page, softcover book features the following chapters:

  • An Invitation to Flourish 
  • Change Your Mind to Change Your Time 
  • The FREEDOM Toolbox 
  • Where Did My Time Go? 
  • Aim High: Setting Goals What Do I Do Next? 
  • Seven Essential Planning Tools 
  • We Interrupt This Program It’s Time for an Attitude Adjustment
  •  Oxygen Masks and Monkey Bread Days 
  • Training Your Children
  •  Making Memories
  •  Managing Your Home 
  • All of Life is Learning 
  • Solo Act: Flourishing as a Single Mom 
  • Home Business
  •  Moving Ahead

 
Right off, Mary Jo Tate shares her story - a "typical homeschooling mom, married with four sons". But, her story just begins there - her life took an unexpected turn, and she found herself a single, homeschooling mom, who also had to earn a living while educating her boys.  If all I had read was her story, I would have been encouraged!

 
However, her story is just the beginning of this encouraging book.  After being asked numerous times "How Do You Do It All?" - Mary Jo Tate turned her life experiences into a practical, hands-on approach to help moms find strategies to help them Flourish - whatever life may throw at them.

 
Each chapter is short enough to read and digest in one sitting.  In fact, she encourages you to "Take Action" at the end of each chapter by evaluating and planning before moving forward.  Several thought-provoking questions will help you pause to reflect.
 
 
One of my favorite take-aways from this book came from the "Change Your Mind to Change Your Time" chapter.  After evaluating where my time is going, using the handy "Time Log" in the appendix, I discovered many areas I could improve on.  The appendix has many useful planning forms, and you can even download them to print out.   But, for me, the "A-ha!" moment came with her statement - "find peace in the space between the ideal and reality."  So often, I am focused on the ideal, overwhelmed by how far the reality is from it, that I am almost paralyzed into doing nothing.  Her gentle reminders to accept a compromise, make time for the important things and focus on life management to find a real balance, were just the wisdom I needed to hear most! 
 
 
Flourish is just the kind of book every mom should read this summer.  It is filled with the practical suggestions we need.  Many of these ideas I have heard before - and you may have too, but - this book is a great reminder of the importance of our days and making them count. 
  
 
Another great idea - the "Stop Doing List".  I am a compulsive list maker, and the idea of making a list with what we are going to eliminate from our schedule was a very freeing concept!  Editing my life to make space for what is truly important. (seems to be a reoccurring message... God must be up to something big!)
 
 
I love that this book is filled with inspirational quotes, and plenty of testimonials from other moms, just like me.  A new favorite I need to share:
 
"How can it be a large career to tell other people's children about the rule of three, and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe?  How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone?  No.  A woman's function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute." -- G.K. Chesterton
 
 
In addition to chapters helping you Flourish with your time, Mary Jo offers plenty of useful and practical suggestions to help you get control of your home, homeschooling, and even child rearing advice. 
 
 
It's really like getting to sit down with someone who has successfully navigated this path, and have them answer your honest questions.  From - "Why homeschool?", to "How do I teach responsibility?", to "How to I start my own business?"   I can truly say, this is a book I'll open over and over.
 
 
So, if you're tired of just getting by, and ready to Flourish - you'll want to pick up your own copy, brew that coffee, and enjoy sharing the journey with Mary Jo!
 
One more quote (I love them so...):
 
"You as a homemaker essentially create original artwork.  Your family has never existed before and will never exist again.  Every day you paint another memory in their lives" - Dr. Mary Ann Froehlich
 

 
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Thursday, July 10, 2014

WriteShop Junior: Book E Set by WriteShop: A TOS Crew Review

WriteShop Review
WriteShop Review
WriteShop Review
WriteShop Review
WriteShop ReviewWriteShop Review

WriteShop Junior: Book E Set by WriteShop
Includes:
WriteShop Junior: Book E Set by WriteShop - is great for fourth and fifth graders (and sixth and seventh graders who have had little or no formal writing instruction). WriteShop offers an full writing curriculum for K-12 in various levels: WriteShop Primary for grades K-3, WriteShop Junior for grades 3-5, WriteShop for grades 6-10, Write Shop II for grades 8-12.  This program is designed to be a full year program with approx. 3 lessons per week.  It's variety appeals to all learning styles, and it can be easily used with multiple children at the same time.
 The Bentz Test Laboratory tester is just entering 4th grade and was eager to start with the Book E set (Download a Book E sample lesson)
The topics covered are:
  • Fables
  • Humor
  • Adventure
  • Science Fiction
  • Mystery
  • Poetry/Shape Poems
  • Personal Narrative
  • Descriptive Narrative
  • Book Report/Responding to Literature
  • Expository Writing: Nonfiction Report
Skills learned are:
  • Writing in different fiction genres
  • Writing nonfiction and book reports
  • Answering journal prompts
  • Planning and organizing each writing project
  • Choosing strong words and synonyms
  • Developing voice and emotion
  • Writing sentences of different lengths
  • Learning to write using 5 paragraphs
  • Creatively publishing final drafts
  • Using references
  • Using a variety of self-editing tools
Let's start with the Book E Teacher's Guide -  I got the Ebook version, and loved it.  It's a huge 279 page PDF file with everything you need to know to succeed.  It takes the pain out of how to teach writing to your children! 
It is very complete and comprehensive, but very easy to use.  Recommended schedules, how to create your own writing center, literature suggestions, and so much more.  Lesson by lesson, the Teacher's Guide will walk you through the supplies, hands-on activities, advance prep (if any) and the objectives for each lesson.  Helpful tips and encouragement are in sidebars throughout this must-have guide.  If you feel intimidated by teaching writing, or even if you don't - this guide is worth every penny!  Guided scripts will help you "Model & Teach" the concepts with stories, games and plenty of hands-on activities.  You will feel empowered.
The Activity Pack: is an 88 page, printable PDF with all the activity sheets to correspond to each lesson.  My tester loved the variety of activities - charts, prompts, book making, and even a mad-scientist game!  If you have a child that thrives with something other than just a blank piece of paper to inspire them to write, you will appreciate this program.  My tester seems to have "writer's block", unless I can capture her imagination and make it look more like having fun.  WriteShop was just the ticket!  
My tester started with writing Fables.  This is exactly the type of story she enjoys the most, so it was an easy concept to introduce, if your child isn't familiar with this genre - the Teacher's Guide has excellent additional reading selections to help.
  We used the brainstorming sheets in the Activity Pack to choose her characters.  She choose the characters from "Belling the Cat", a familiar tale to her.   The graphic organizers helped her develop her fable with a beginning - middle - end, and adding the moral of the story.   After learning about how fables are usually written with animal characters, and contain a moral,  I let her loose to write her first draft.  I can't resist sharing her "fable" -  she titled it "Die or Put the Bell On"  Are you getting a glimpse into her personality?  :-)
Die or Put the Bell On
By Lydia Bentz

    A family of door mice lived in a enormous house.   Every night they would venture out and
steal some food.  One day the family brought home a vicious cat with big, sharp claws.  Every
time the mice snuck out, the cat would pounce on some of them and gobble them up. 

Inside the hole, one of the mice bemoaned, “What will we do about that wily cat?”. 

     “I know”, suggested the youngest mouse, who all the girls loved.

     “We can tie a bell to the cat’s neck, then we’ll be able to hear when it’s lurching for us.” 

     "Hurray!  Hurray! Hurray!” the other mice chorused.  

    “Hey”, declared the oldest and wisest mouse, “Who’s gonna do it?”  No one squeaked a word.

The moral of this story is: “Die or put the bell on.”

After she finished writing, we worked through the 4 steps of "All Star Editing" to make her story even better. Checking for spelling, punctuation, capital letters, and for this assignment - interesting words, really helped her carefully evaluate her writing.   At this stage in writing, it's important for you to be working with your child.  WriteShop encourages this to be an interactive subject, not completely independent.

The Fold -N-Go Grammar Pack is a vital part of the program, included in the package.  It contains 10 grammar Lessons, in a file folder format - that you and your student assemble together, covering: 
Lesson 1 Sentences
Lesson 2 Four Kinds of Sentences
Lesson 3 Compound Sentences
Lesson 4 Parts of Speech: Review
Lesson 5 Dialogue
Lesson 6 Homophones, Homonyms, and Homographs
Lesson 7 Five Paragraphs
Lesson 8 Prefixes and Suffixes
Lesson 9 Compound Words
Lesson 10 Synonyms and Antonyms
This is a great way for your hands-on learners to get involved with the grammar needed to improve their writing, not to mention - a great review tool!
If you're a busy mom (HA!), you may want to get the Timesaver Pack - it's a 26 page ready to print PDF of spinners, game cards, and other activities that go with this program. I appreciated this time saver very much.

The Optional Junior Writer's Notebook 1 is another valuable tool to add to your writing toolbox (it actually can be used with any writing program).  This is a 23 page PDF that contains 12 printable worksheets to help your budding author plan and write.  It's their very own "seed bed" of writing ideas.  Characters, settings, plots, word banks, and even a title toolbox will get their creative juices flowing.  
This gem is the component my tester liked the most.  Having her very own Writer's Notebook, that was filled with her ideas and writing was a confidence booster for her.  
As a busy mom of many, I really appreciate WriteShop's programs.
  • They are very comprehensive, but completely affordable, not to mention, large family friendly!  
  • You don't need to learn a complex program to start teaching your child to write - and enjoy writing. 
  • WriteShop makes it easy to teach, and keeps writing an engaging and exciting time for you and your child. 
Find WriteShop on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Google+ 

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Lemonade and Multiplication!

Lemonade and multiplication... sounds like a summer math lesson.

I can't resist sharing this.  Summer afternoons can stretch into hours of "nothing to do", right?  Well, not at our house.

Lydia and her friend Sarah, came to ask if they could make a lemonade stand.  Of course, I was busy writing a review - and was about to say "not right now", when that Holy Spirit whisper answered... "Why not?"

So, I told them they should get to work on making signs - figuring that would take awhile.  Of course, we do have an abundance of cardboard around here from the move.  Off they ran.

Several minutes later, they returned - 5 signs ready to go.  Ok, not exactly ready - since all of them had misspelled "lemonad"  (note to self, move spelling up the priority list this coming year) :-)   After a quick addition to the sign,  I couldn't stall them any longer and I set off to find the lemonade mix, cups and card table.


 These sweet girls know how to work a lemonade stand - pageant waves, big smiles and complete adorableness.  But best of all was their hearts.  They decided the reason they wanted to sit out in the heat and sell lemonade was for our church's mission program!




I couldn't resist... couldn't help but wonder, would they get any customers?  I even tried my best to help them out with a Facebook post. "It's Hot and I know you're thirsty!"...



No need, God came through. In just 2 hours, they had $26!  Sarah's huge smile said it all..."This has always been a dream of mine, to have a lemonade stand!"  


I love how God takes whatever little we have to offer and multiplies it for his kingdom.

We all had a front row seat to watch him at work.  5 little girls saw how they could do something - and it matters - and I saw how often I get in the way... and how I should say "yes" much more than I say "no".

So, if your sweet children need a project to occupy a hot afternoon and ask to sell "lemonade for God" - just say YES!

Moving Beyond the Page: A TOS Crew Review

Moving Beyond the Page Review

Moving Beyond the Page - "All children can benefit from our unique approach to education. This is especially true for hands-on, creative, and gifted learners. A traditional or classical approach will often leave these children bored and uninspired."   I'm already inspired - I'm sure you will be too!


Literature Unit:  American Tall Tales and Legends - Online edition (print copies available as well)
Ages 9-11
Cost: $29.41 
Includes:
Online access to American Tall Tales & Legends Guide
and
Physical books: American Tall Tales by Adrien Stoutenberg and Cut from the Same Cloth, American Women of Myth, Legend, and Tall Tale by Robert D. San Souci  
Plus - a  Dream Catcher Craft Kit
Social Studies Unit:  Your State Guide  - Print book
Ages 9-11
Cost:  $16.99
  • Lesson 1: Geography of Your State
  • Lesson 2: State Symbols (2 Days)
  • Lesson 3: State History (2 Days)
  • Lesson 4: Famous People
  • Lesson 5: Places to See
  • Lesson 6: State Field Trips
  • Lesson 7: State Statistics
  • Lesson 8: State Maps
  • Final Project: State Book (2 Days) 
Bentz Test Laboratory loves diving into a good book, even better is when the learning can move off the page and into their experiences.   This is what Moving Beyond the Page specializes in!  With an impressive selection of titles in Literature, Science and Social Studies, for all ages - you will find that learning becomes more than just reading, it becomes a true experience they will never forget. Check out some samples here.

We were elated to get our hands on the two selections above - Literature Unit:  American Tall Tales and Legends  and Social Studies Unit:  Your State Guide.  My 11 year old tester was the first to win the wrestling match when the package arrived, and couldn't wait to dig in!
I'll start with Literature Unit:  American Tall Tales and Legends.    This is an online unit,  meaning that guide is accessible online.  It's very easy to use - just log in and the program will pick up wherever you left off.  Physical books are included in the unit -  American Tall Tales by Adrien Stoutenberg and Cut from the Same Cloth, American Women of Myth, Legend, and Tall Tale by Robert D. San Souci  
Plus - a  Dream Catcher Craft Kit. 


The physical books are both excellent choices!  My tester thoroughly enjoyed reading about old favorites like Pecos Bill, Johnny Appleseed, and Davy Crockett.  In addition, a whole new group of American women were introduced like Drop Star, Molly Cottontail and Hekeke!  


The Online Program Guide consists 6 Lessons and a Final Project.  Moving Beyond the Page units are comprehensive curriculum covering literature, science and social studies, all you need to add is your choice for math and physical activities!  For the ages 9-11,  Moving Beyond the Page requires that children are independently reading at a 5-6th grade level

These lessons explore the geographical regions of the United States by introducing the Tall Tales, Myths, Legends and Heroes/Heroines of that region.

Lesson 1: Story Genres introduces the types of literature being presented. 
Lesson 2: Tales and Legends of the Northeast  
Lesson 3: Tales and Legends of the South
Lesson 4: Tales and Legends of the Midwest
Lesson 5: Tales and Legends of the Southwest
Lesson 6: Tales and Legends of the West
Final Project: Your Own Tall Tale or Legend

Each lesson takes about 2 days to complete and includes - reading, comprehension questions, hands-on activities, worksheets, research and more. Printable activity sheets are easy to download and print. Spelling and vocabulary words to correspond to the unit are also included. 

This particular unit introduces several story genres - trickster tales, tall tales and myths.  By comparing and contrasting, my tester worked with literary terms like hyperbole, protagonists, antagonists and transition words. She loved how everything is integrated together - science, social studies and language arts.  Best of all, absolutely no boring textbook reading! 

Creating  your own folk tale that reflects the region in which you live is the final project.  

One feature we appreciated about the Online version is the "Idea Share" area.  You can add your own idea, link or activity, make a book or video recommendation or even share pictures of your child's activities. And, you can easily access the ideas shared by other users.  This is wonderful!  We found great links, extra crafts and recipes and helpful tips throughout the unit.  A definite plus to purchasing the online unit.

The Online version is also licensed for multiple children in your family - making it a less expensive option.  You can even take it on the go with you, the online versions are compatible with most mobile devices.

A couple of drawbacks,  the online unit requires you to print your own worksheets.  This may be a blessing, or not - I would rather have everything printed and ready to go, than to print as we go along.  But, I'm sure there are those that prefer to print as they need it.  You'll have to decide for yourself.  

 Also, the online unit is only available for a limited time. Once you activate it, you have only 3 months to complete it.   Since each unit is designed to take about 3 weeks to complete, you should have plenty of time to finish.  If you have issues, just contact customer service - they were very easy to work with!

You can also access the their Community Forum - a great place to connect with other families using Moving Beyond the Page. 



Our second selection was Social Studies Unit:  Your State Guide.  This is a printed 95 page guide for ages 9-11.   The concepts covered by this unit are Relationships and Your State. 

This guide contains 8 lessons and a Final Project.  You choose the state you wish to study.  There are no "required" books for this unit - but, you are encouraged to explore on your own. We found some great resources on our new state - TEXAS!



 This unit can be used independently, but works very well alongside the Literature Unit:  American Tall Tales and Legends.   It covers:

Lesson 1: Geography
Lesson 2: State Symbols
Lesson 3: State History
Lesson 4: Famous People
Lesson 5: Places to See
Lesson 6: State Field Trips
Lesson 7: State Statistics
Lesson 8: State Maps
Final Project: State Book

Each lesson clearly outlines "Stuff you need" - supplies and worksheets, give "Ideas to think about" - discussion questions, "Things to Know" - what you need to learn in this lesson, "Reading & Questions" - based on your reading and independent research, and "Activities" - here's where the fun begins!  

Each lesson offers suggestions for activities you can do as you get to know your state better.  From creating a postcard, charting monthly temperatures, creating topographic maps to even visiting historic sites.  This units blends social studies, science and your own literature seamlessly.  It becomes a complete unit study of your state as you work through the guide together.

You know, we could not pass up the opportunity...  since we are living in San Antonio, we visited the Alamo and the Riverwalk during our field trips lesson! 



This guide recommends two state-related field trips - we love taking our learning out and about!  
I love the easy-to-use format of this guide.  You could use this with any state, or even over and over to study EVERY state - if you wanted to.  
Moving Beyond the Page offers many units to choose from in six different age levels (4-14).  You can create a one-of-a-kind custom education for your child.  Moving Beyond the Page is affordable, easy-to-use and comprehensive.  I know you will be impressed with each and every unit, we have been!

Find Moving Beyond the Page on Facebook!
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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Experience History through Music: A Review


Diana Waring introduces her Experience History Through Music book and CD combos, and I get to be among the first to tell you about them!






America The Heart of a New Nation
Westward Ho! Heart of the Old West
Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder

Each book/CD combo costs $18.99 each. If you buy all three in July you can get the set for $50!


Check out this video to get a taste of  history songs you won't be able to forget!  



This is John Standefer on YouTube. He was one of the main studio musicians on the recordings (and one of the four partners who produced the original books/tapes).


America: The Heart of a New Nation - "From the French and Indian War to the first transcontinental railroad, America is a chronological tour of American history through its music. Enjoy the songs and stories of our past that have been shared from generation to generation—songs that make you laugh, make you cry, and make your patriotic spirit soar."  The CD includes:

1. Yankee Doodle 
2. Star Spangled Banner
3. Erie Canal 
4. Oh, Susanna 
5. Sweet Betsy From Pike 
6. All Night, All Day 
7. Old Dan Tucker 
8. Wade In The Water 
9. Johnny Has Gone For A Soldier 
10. When Johnny Comes Marching Home 
11. Shenandoah 
12. Git Along L'il Dogies
13. Drill Ye Tarriers 
14. Polly Wolly Doodle 
15. She'll Be Coming Round The Mountain 
16. Old Joe Clark


Westward Ho! "America's westward expansion is amazingly rich in stories and songs. InWestward Ho!, you will find the pioneer spirit that stirred the hearts of thousands of Americans to leave the safety and comfort of home expressed in folk songs of or about that time. Now you can experience the pioneers' adventures, dangers, joys, sorrows and hopes as you join in and sing along"  

The .CD includes:
1. Apple Picker's Reel
2. Boll Weevil
3. Missionary's Farewell
4. Oh, California
5. Ho! For California
6. San Juan Pig War
7. Chisholm Trail
8. Westward Ho!
9. Home On The Range
10. Little Old Sod Shanty
11. Strawberry Roan
12. Old Settler
13. Gooey Duck
14. Little Cabin in the Cascade Mountains



Laura Ingalls Wilder  - "The well-loved stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder will come to life all over again as you listen to the songs that were a part of life for the Ingalls and thousands of other pioneering families. Written by William Anderson, noted Laura Ingalls Wilder biographer, the book also includes beautiful photos by internationally known Little House photographer, Leslie A. Kelly.

The CD includes:
1. Wait for the Wagon
2. Green Grows the Laurel
3. The Old Chariot
4. Buy a Broom
5. Sweet By and By
6. Rock me to Sleep
7. Buffalo Gals
8. A Railroad Man for Me
9. Beware
10. Pop! Goes the Weasel
11. Oft in the Stilly Night
12. The Girl I left Behind Me
13. My Sabbath Home



I am so excited to share this resource with you!  I truly believe the best history lessons are those that we get to EXPERIENCE in some way.  Diana Waring has long been a favorite of mine - her history lessons have breathed life into our studies, over and over.  Now, she's bringing back a NEW (old ) favorite  Experience History Through Music books and CDs - you need to take a minute to read the story of restoration HERE!   

Each book contains short history lessons, pictures, and sheet music for the songs on the accompanying music CD. The CDs feature approximately 40 – 50 minutes of American Folk music.

 Since we love learning on the go (aka - "van school") these CDs were a great way for us to enjoy listening together - plus, everyone is buckled in, a "captive" audience!

With the rabid (that's what the boys call us...) Little House on the Prairie fans in this house, you can guess which one of the books we liked the most... (Of course, we loved all of them)

 The Laura Ingalls Wilder book is filled with beautiful, black and white photographs taken by Leslie A. Kelly. Mr. Kelly traveled to the home sites of Laura Ingalls Wilder to capture these photos while following his family's interest in this amazing American pioneer girl.  My girls were delighted with these stories.  Last summer we made our own trek to visit Laura's home site at Pepin, WI - home to Little House in the Big Woods.  


Diana Waring is not only the author of the books, but also a female vocalists on the CDs.

 Having been a lifelong fan of all things Little House myself,  I was surprised by how many new and interesting facts and stories that Diana Waring included in this book! 

 My girls loved the actual photographs of Laura and her family as well as the pictures of her home sites.

The music is so well done.  Very professional.  And even though the boys would never admit it - they enjoyed it too!!

This is a perfect complement to your Little House on the Prairie studies, or just a way to enjoy our American heritage!  I guarantee you'll find yourself singing along in no time.  For those of you who are musically inclined - Diana Waring has included sheet music for all the songs in the books as well.  Now, I just have to get my son, Sam to fire up his fiddle for us... :-)

With our history focus for the upcoming year being America - I couldn't wait to preview America: The Heart of a New Nation.  Since we usually focus on history from a worldwide standpoint, I have come to realize we are in need of an in-depth year studying our great country.  Recently,  I realized that my sweet children didn't know much about the Star-Spangled Banner... yikes! 

Out came the CD - and now, we not only know the history behind our national anthem, but we can sing, and/or play along.  So, if you are following a classical 4 year world  history cycle, you may want to pick up this book set to have a fun way of introducing a bit more depth to your American history knowledge.

 I actually enjoyed this CD so much, I listened to it ALL BY MYSELF!  Just for fun!  These CDs are something the entire family will enjoy.

Westward Ho!  is the next musical adventure we are enjoying. With our recent move to Texas, our family has become enamored with horses, cowboys, and "Home on the Range". This book and CD have been the perfect complement as we begin to study the history of our state. But, not only Texas - the wide frontier is waiting for you in this book and CD.  Boll Weevils, the Goldrush, the San Juan Pig War, and more - will forever capture the adventure of the American pioneers in your family's imaginations!

Once again, Diana Waring brings history to life, and makes it unforgettable.  These are an excellent resource that belong on every bookshelf and CD player in America.  Thanks Diana!


Don't miss out on the amazing Giveaway - ending July 4th!  Over $700 in prizes from Diana and her friends - you could be the winner!





  
 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Summer Hang outs!

Pictures are worth a 1,000 words!  What's the best way to enjoy summer?  Hanging out, of course!

My delightful daughter gathered all her friend's Eno hammocks and brought them with for a visit to San Antonio. These simple, parachute, double hammocks were the biggest hit of our summer.  THIS IS NOT A REVIEW or a sponsored post (for those of you who know me)  I just couldn't resist sharing them with you...

 If you've been dreaming of that getaway, it could be a close as your suburbia back yard!


So easy, she had them set up and swinging in no time!








Guess what is at the TOP of everyone's birthday list this year?


Fun for friends too!



No spare bedroom, no problem!



My favorite sleepyheads,  Lydia is inches off the ground, but making sure she's protected, just in case she "wanted to sleepwalk".  No need, they slept safe and sound!

Hanging out was filled with  fun and family memories.  Best of all, we didn't need to pack up, rough it, or even leave the porch.

 This is a family staycation you can do!