Monday, September 27, 2010

Malware Warnings

A few of you have emailed me or left comments saying you’ve received malware warnings when trying to leave a comment or download one of my printables.  I just found out that this was caused by a blog roll link I had in the sidebar of my blog., which was the site from which the coding came, apparently had a blog connected with it that did have malware, and somehow this caused other blogs with coding from to give that same warning.  Whew.  Are you following me so far??

Anyway, all connections between and my blog have been deleted, and I no longer have the blog roll on my sidebar.  Things should be just fine now!  There’s no malware connected to this blog or the downloads I’ve offered. 

Thanks to those of you kind enough to bring this to my attention.  I wasn’t sure what was causing the problem until I read this post by Angie at Catholic Mothers Online.  It was awfully nice of her to figure the problem out! :)  Thanks, Angie!


The Art Box – 9-27-10


It feels good to have The Art Box back!  Although a break is always nice too. :)

M did random art here, there, and everywhere over the summer – wherever the mood would strike and with whatever was available.  It’s been a few weeks since the actual art box has been replenished, so I thought I’d share a few of his summer creations with you this week.

These are a couple of things that he did completely on his own from the beginning of an idea to the completion of the project.  All I had to do was find and give him what he told me he needed.

A collage of Daddy, done one day when Dad had on a melon-colored shirt:aug 2010 039
I love the hair on top and how his eyes are on his “shirt”.  What I really loved though was what M said when he showed it to my husband - “This is your hair, and this is your pink dress.”  Hee hee.  I like your pink dress, Daddy. ;)

One day I was laminating some colored papers and then cut off the margins, which left little laminated strips.  I asked M if he wanted them for anything and he took them.  Here’s what he did (in our camper):aug 2010 042
aug 2010 044The boy adores tape.  I thought it was pretty cool and loved all the “bridges” he made.  He made several of these on various colored papers.

We always love it when my artsy-craftsy niece visits, which happened a few times over the summer.  I’ve shown the day they painted outside.  Here’s some inside art they enjoyed creating:

sara visits (2)
sara visits Cousin S made some pretty art with interesting details.  M – well, he glued craft sticks to paper.  Over and over again.  What a goofball.

If you have a kid's art post, link it up below! Be sure to link back here somewhere in your post.

Have a beautiful day! :)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

CSN Stores

CSN Stores has over 200 online stores where you can find everything from great cookware to beautiful wardrobes to chic lighting pieces!

The wonderful people at CSN Stores have contacted me again to do another review and/or giveaway.  Stay tuned in October for the upcoming post!  I have my eye on a few things, especially this train set.  CSN has such great quality items for kids!  However, it’s nice to look at some of the grown up stuff too (sometimes I forget that Mommy likes new things once in a while too!).  I haven’t made a decision yet, but it’s so much fun looking around their sites! 

They have super prices on just about anything you might want.  Go check them out. :)

Yippee – Autumn is here!

summer - august 2010 033Aren’t these acorns perfect and beautiful?  Wanna see what we did with them?  They were part of our very first autumn craft project this year.  Head over to The Homeschool Classroom to check it out!

Happy autumn!

Have a beautiful day! :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Preschool Math, Our Plan

quiz Sometimes the homeschool blogging world is a great help, and sometimes it becomes something else… a place where we compare our children to others.  And, I think a bit unrealistically, it seems everyone else’s child knows more than “my” child.

M is not a great counter.  This strikes me and others as somewhat odd since he has the mind of a little engineer and/or scientist.  But he can only count to 13 consistently; he tries to count to 20, and then if he means a larger number he just says “forty-eighty-ninety”. :)  He is a bright boy and he’s interested in many things – like how the world and everything in it works.  Evidently, he just can’t be bothered with something small like learning numbers right now. ;)

If I thought he needed to know how to count to 100 by the time he was 4 I’d be driving myself and him crazy.  I’m perfectly fine with his limitations and don’t worry about it (not that I haven’t been tempted to push him just a little in this area after reading other blogs), but I know others out there do worry about these things.  There are mothers who read our blogs, and being wonderful mommies who want the best for their child, start wondering what they should be doing.  I know this because occasionally I get an email from a worried mom asking me what she needs to do.  I am so thankful in those cases that I have a normal, average boy and can offer her a little encouragement and reassurance.  Learning at this age should be all about FUN.  *In the middle of drafting this post, my friend Monica sent me a link to a great article about just this – keeping it simple!  It’s well worth the read.

The truth is a 4 year old doesn’t really need to count that high, or read on his own, or any other advanced academic skill.  M is not out looking for a job or even doing elementary homework yet.  By the time he needs a particular skill he will have it, I’m sure of it.  He’s busy learning about what interests him in the meantime, and there is nothing that will spur on learning like a genuine interest in something.

That said, I’ve noticed in the past 2 weeks that he is beginning to take a real interest in counting to higher numbers.  His dot-to-dot book, which he adores, has helped grow this interest.  Our calendar helps a bit too.  And nothing, absolutely nothing, has helped spur that interest on more than the little digital watch he got at Burger King.  Oh goodness, this kid wants to know what that watch says every minute of every day.  9:08 is one thing, but what in the world is 12:35?  He simply has to know. :)

We’ve just started doing “school” this week and I plan on using Montessori bead bars and number boards to aid in counting and other math skills.  I am by no means any kind of expert on Montessori.  I am just beginning to learn a little bit about Montessori.  My interest began when looking for ways to further M’s religious education, in fact… and here we are talking about math. :)  I think this will be a good journey for both M and I!

Anyway, for those of you who are interested, a great explanation of a simple Montessori bead bar exercise is here.  You’ll note the recommended age for beginning this work is 4.5Whew!

I made my own bead bars, using pipe cleaners and pony beads.  Simply twist a pipecleaner at one end, making a little loop.  Then slide on your pony beads.  Each number has a different color – 1 is red, 2 is green, etc.  After sliding on the appropriate color and number of beads, cut your pipecleaner, leaving a little bit at the end to twist into another loop.  So far I’ve made 2 of each bar from 1 to 9, and 20 golden (in this case, clear with gold glitter) 10-bead bars.   bead bars This should get us pretty far in our lessons.  These took about an hour to make one afternoon.  I’ve also made my own number cards and teen board, and then found them already online in a printable version on this site. Go to the middle of the page to find the link for printing Teen and Ten boards.

I will not try to explain the procedures for the lessons with the number cards and the boards, but if you are interested, I have found great videos here, here, and here.    

Have a beautiful day! :)


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Turning Over a New (fall) Leaf :)

So.  I’ve noticed lately that my blog is becoming one big commercial.  And I really don’t like that.  I don’t want this to be all about reviews and giveaways… I find that so boring!  I started this blog as a way to document what M does as he grows and the activities we do together, as well as a place for me to write about random stuff and work out my thoughts about various things.  But then – well, I started getting offers for free stuff, and that kind of thing is soooo hard for this thrifty girl to turn down!  :)  So, anyway, my plan from this point forward is to write no more than 3 posts about reviews and/or giveaways per month.  This should help me be a little more picky in choosing which offers to respond to.

Also, there’s a new look to the blog!  Check it out and tell me what you think. :)  Is it too dark?  Too crowded?  I decided to go back to a 3 column layout, and I’m happy with it this way, but would like a little feedback too.  I have these great seasonal prints, which I absolutely love,  that I got for free at a book sale and decided to use them and some digital scrapbooking elements to make my headers.  Should be easy to change it all up each season!  How nerdy is it that this gets me very excited? ;)

And, there’s a new blog button too!  If you have my button, delete that old thing, and come pick up the new one!

“Regular Programming” should be starting up here in the next week or so, with The Art Box on Mondays and our Preschool activities sometime during the week, as well as good books we’ve been reading!

Happy autumn (a bit early), everyone!

Have a beautiful day! :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


 image image imageI planned on reviewing a wagon from CSN (remember I said it was in the Riding Toys section?), but they were out of the particular one we wanted.  That’s ok – I’ve been wavering back and forth over Wedgits for a long time – are they really as great as everyone says?  Will M actually play with them?  Are they easy to use, yet still challenging enough to keep him engaged?

Yes, yes, and yes.  I finally decided to get them and try them out.  We opted for the Deluxe set, which has 30 pieces.  I’m glad we did because they are so much fun that we all play with them and we need as many pieces as we can get! :) 

These are amazing building blocks (I guess you’d call them blocks??) – they fit inside one another in a variety of ways, and you can even wedge them together so they “lock” as M says.  This set came with a book that shows several designs to copy.  This is great reasoning work for M, since he really has to think about what to do first, second and so on in order to duplicate the design shown.  He also enjoys just “building with my imagination”. :) 

I wish we’d ordered a set of design cards so we’d have more to work on.  That’s on our Christmas list for now.

If you’ve been wondering about Wedgits yourself, I definitely encourage you to go ahead and get a set.  They are a bit pricey, but well worth it in my opinion.  We are very happy with our Wedgits and they are something that will grow along with M.  I envision him playing with these for years to come!

Have a beautiful day! :)

I was given a complimentary set of Wedgits from in return for writing a review.  This review is my honest opinion of the product I received. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Big Universe

imageIn the past I’ve turned down offers to review educational websites; I just don’t like the idea of helping my 3 or 4 year old develop a computer addiction (like mom, heh).  I hear things from other parents, thinking they are praising a particular site, that make me cringe… things like “my 5 year old wants to be on the computer first thing in the morning!”, or “I can’t pry him away from this awesome site – he loves it!”.

This just rubs me the wrong way, and I’m not sure I can even explain why.  Call me crazy, but interaction with a real human being and having a 3-dimensional learning experience, are standards for me when it comes to educating very small children.  And as for learning computer skills – well, don’t get me started.  Even if it is something that will benefit them in the future, technology changes so quickly that whatever skills they learn today may be very well be obsolete by the time they have any real need of them. 

Ahem. But I digress.

When Big Universe contacted me my initial reaction was to say no, as I have in the past to other “educational” websites.  However, I took a look at the site first and, you know what?  It’s not bad.  It’s books, and books are good!  It’s jam-packed full of books to read together.  I can see how it would be a fun way for a beginning reader to practice their reading.  But it’s also great for just browsing and reading books together with a smaller child.  It’s searchable by age, reading level, publisher (I was happy to see Sylvan Dell and Zoobooks!), and categories.  You can choose to read math books, science books, social studies, language arts; there’s fiction, non-fiction, poetry… I could go on and on. 

You can even write books to share with others on Big Universe.   

I like the set up of the site;  I’ve found it easy to maneuver and find what I am looking for.  I also really like the layout of the books as we read them – the pictures are crisp, and it’s really as if we are reading the book itself.  It’s easy to save books to my virtual bookshelf, and I like this feature since I can browse and scan the books first and then have them easily accessible to read with M later.

Many of the books have “quizzes” to go along with them.  These are made up of basic reading comprehension questions and are a help in determining how much M is ready for.  He understands much more than I imagined and is easily comprehending books for much older children (just some shameless mama bragging). 

Check out Big Universe when you get the chance.  It  has a lot going for it and is a great (supplemental!) way to get and keep children interested in reading.

I was given a free 6 month membership to in return for writing a review.  This review reflects my honest opinion of the website.

God’s Words from A to Z CD Giveaway Winner!


The winner of this beautiful CD is #2 – LBO, who said, “I love the samples of this album, and would love to win the giveaway! Thank you!”


Send me an email within the next 24 hours with your shipping address and I’ll forward the information on to the Philips!  tiredneedsleep(at)q(dot)com

Have a beautiful day! :)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Music CD Giveaway! God’s Words from A to Z - GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

imageI was recently contacted by Liza Philips of and asked to review their new CD for children,  God’s Words from A to Z.  We love this CD!  There are 26 songs – which are 26 scripture verses set to music.  Sounds simple, right?  But, oh, the music!  These are very catchy tunes,  with an enormous variety of styles.  Everything from rock to bluegrass, jazz to indian to celtic… it’s amazing! 
I like that each song is simply the words of the verse sung over and over – it’s very much like a meditation on the words of the Bible, and set to beautiful music this way, you and your children will find yourselves memorizing scripture verses without even trying.  This CD started out as a way for the Philips to help their children learn Bible verses, and fortunately for us, it turned into something much bigger.  The Philips are a married couple with 3 children; they have been writing songs and hymns (with “depth and passion”) for the past 10 years.  Check out their other CDs here.
I am so thankful to Liza for sending us this beautiful and wholesome children’s CD, and they are graciously offering to give a CD to one of my readers. :)
Leave a comment to enter the giveaway, and I’ll pick a winner on Monday, September 13th.  Good luck!!

Book Review – The Edge of the Divine, by Sandi Patty

imageIn my high school years I was a fan of Sandi Patty’s music (I won’t tell you when that was, but let’s just say shoulder pads and big hair were in style), and have always appreciated the power of her voice to uplift my spirits.  So I was excited to have the opportunity to review her latest book – The Edge of the Divine: Where Possibility Meets God’s Faithfulness

I wasn’t sure what this book was about before I received it; I simply thought it was a sort of autobiography – what I had read on the publisher’s website was that it was written to be inspiration for women to trust God and live life on the “Edge of the Divine”.  So it was a bit of a surprise to learn that this is mainly the story of her journey to a healthier lifestyle after having lap band surgery to help her lose weight.  Regardless, I really enjoyed her insights and her conversational style of writing. 

Sandi Patty relates her story of how and why she learned to turn to food for comfort, and how she came to a point in her life where she decided to work towards a more healthy lifestyle.  Along the way she gained some wonderful insights about her relationship with God, and described with honesty the “edges” she reached in her personal life – points where she could choose to step over the edge and trust God or remain safely where she was despite being unhappy and unfulfilled.

I don’t agree with all the choices Sandi has made in her life, as told in this book, and many of the Scripture quotes using a modern and pretty casual interpretation (The Message by Eugene H. Peterson) annoyed me.  However, all in all, I really enjoyed the book, parts of which were really humorous.  I’m glad I read it and it did serve to make me more thoughtful about the relationships in my life.

Thank you to Thomas Nelson Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy of this book to review.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Dump Cake

      aug 2010 018 

Yum!  We made dump cake this week – I’d forgotten about this until I ran across the recipe when I was looking for something else.  (The something else was a good recipe for zucchini bread – if you have one, please share it in the comments!)

This is such a simple dessert to bake, M was able to do almost all of it when he was only 2 years old!  My 9” x 13” pan is missing (I think it’s in the shed being used for an oil change pan – yuck!), so we used a slightly larger baking dish.  The fruit didn’t quite cover the bottom like it should, but if you use the correct size pan it should be just fine.aug 2010 005


  • 20 oz. can of crushed pineapple
  • 14 oz. can of cherry pie filling
  • 1 yellow cake mix
  • 3/4 Cup of butter or margarine

First, grease your pan.

Then dump the crushed pineapple in and spread it around the bottom.aug 2010 007

Dump the cherry pie filling in and spread it over the pineapple (we ended up just mixing our fruit together to cover the bottom of our dish).aug 2010 008 

Next, sprinkle the cake mix on top of the fruit.  Use the entire mix, and smooth it out with a spoon as much as possible.aug 2010 010

Then slice your butter and lay it on top of the cake mix, evenly, trying to cover as much of it as possible.aug 2010 011

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. 

Try not to eat the entire delicious thing in one sitting. ;)

***NOTE***Previously when we made this, instead of slicing the butter and placing it on top of the cake mix, I melted the butter in the microwave, then mixed it into the cake mix in a separate bowl until all the cake mix was moistened and crumbly.  Then we sprinkled it on top of the fruit.  It was less time consuming than slicing all that butter AND we ended up using less butter that way.  I only remembered this after I had half the butter already sliced! 

Have a beautiful day! :)

Book Review – Simplify Your Life

imageI recently read Simplify Your Life, by Woodeene Koenig-Bricker.  As you may know, I’ve been making a dedicated effort to bring more simplicity, peace, and focus into our family life – and this book came at the perfect time!  (Remember how I was going to write several posts about my efforts to simplify?  They are still up and coming, it’s just that I was thrown off a bit by the fact that apparently simplifying means spending less time on the computer.  Huh.  Who knew?)

It’s a quick read, in fact it’s marketed as part of a “30-Minute Read” series.  There are a lot of relevant quotes scattered throughout the book, and I really enjoyed reading them.  Quotes like this one:

“Our Life is frittered away by detail.  Simplify, simplify, simplify!  I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumbnail.”

                                                                             -Henry David Thoreau

Or this one:

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”

                                                                           -Hans Hoffman

This little book (only63 pages) gives sound advice on the following areas:

  • Cutting down on clutter
  • Simplifying relationships
  • Nurturing our minds, bodies, and spirits
  • Simplifying the way we live as we learn to use our resources wisely and treat our environment with more care
  • How growth in gratitude will help us live more simply as we focus on our blessings and stop wasting time and energy to gain what we do not have.

Much of what I read was plain common sense, but there were new ways of viewing areas of my life that I appreciated, and I really enjoyed this book!

One more quote:

“Both abundance and lack exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities.  It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend…. When we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present – love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature and personal pursuits that bring us pleasure – the wasteland of illusion falls away, and we experience Heaven on earth.”

                                                                - Sarah Ban Breathnach

Thank you to The Catholic Company for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book to review.


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