Sep 10, 2014

Dolphin Tale 2 Curriculum Review + Giveaway!

When I was offered a chance to review the new free companion curriculum for Dolphin Tale 2, I was SOOO excited! First, because we needed something. Something new and exciting.

Warning: slight tangent ahead...

Aug 29, 2014

Cuddle Bear Challenge!

Call me cynical, it's okay, but I just never feel quite right about donating my money to a big organization for 'research.' I'm sure it's necessary, and I'm very glad people can do that, but I just don't. It feels like the money's just floating away in midair, never to be seen again, to pay for some... well, I don't know. And that's the issue - I don't know!

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month; I never knew there was such a thing, but I'm glad for it. As a mother of a child with cancer, it's like a little sticky note that says, "We have not forgotten you." 

When Anna was first diagnosed with Basal Cell Carcinoma Nevus Syndrome (Gorlin Syndrome), our support group sent her some fun happies in the mail. We all felt loved and thought-about. Just the fact that someone cared enough to send my child, whom they didn't even know, a little care package of cute toys just to make her smile, well, it was very moving. Very moving indeed.

(This is a picture of Anna just after opening her box of love from our support group a few years ago.)

I want to do that. I want to give a smile to a child, to a mom, to a family who has a tough road ahead. It's not easy, and every path is unique, but I want to give them that same smile that Anna has above.

So, what can I do? I'm just one mom (with limited funds!).

Meet Cuddle Bear.

Cuddle Bear is a super-sweet hardback picture book about everyone needing a friend (and a hug!). Usborne Books & More donates a portion of every sale of Cuddle Bear to the Scott Carter Foundation, which supports research to end childhood cancer. Great idea, I'm sure it's fabulous, but, like I said earlier, I just don't donate to huge foundations (although I'm glad people do, really). I just like to give to people.

So, here's what I've come up with...

I'm doing a Cuddle Bear drive for the month of September. Call it a challenge if it sounds more fun, but don't bother with the ice. Awesome, right?! Yeah, okay, but now what?

As you may already know, I work with Usborne Books & More, and they have a great program where they match donations by 50%. So, when you take the Cuddle Bear Challenge (it does sound more fun like that, let's go with it!) and donate $30 to buy the book and super-cute teddy bear, your hard-earned money stretches further. Who doesn't love that?! If you donate two sets, Usborne will donate one, too! If you donate four sets, Usborne will donate two, and so on!

At the end of the month, I'll take all of the Cuddle Bear sets to Huntsville Hospital for Women and Children to be handed out to little ones who need a smile - to kids who need a hug. And Cuddle Bear will be there to give them one.

Will you help make that happen?

Will you join me in taking the Cuddle Bear Challenge?

Our family is donating the first set. Please fill out the form below or message me on Facebook to send a hug to a family who needs it. Believe me, we do need it.

And if you're in my Usborne Book Barn VIP Club, be sure to check out our FB group for a very exciting opportunity!

(Sorry that the form is a little wider than the blog, but life is just too short to spend any more time trying to fix it! You know how it is, right?)

Thank you! If you filled out the form, I'll be in touch soon to get your payment, so expect a call or email from me (check your Spam folder!). Since we're doing the matching funds program to give more sets (woot!), I have to put the order in a special way, which is why you can't just order it online.

I'll also be donating all of my commission from this Cuddle Bear Challenge. And to hype this up even more and get more Cuddle Bears into kids' hands, if you take the Cuddle Bear Challenge, I'll give you free shipping on your Usborne order this month! Please contact me to take advantage of this offer after you submit your form above.

Again, thank you so much for considering helping families who struggle with childhood cancer. It sucks. It really, really does. And anything to bring a smile to their faces is so worth it.

Let the Cuddle Bear Challenge begin!

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Aug 6, 2014

Goal #1 - Accomplished!

I want to say a big thank you to God, my husband, family, and friends, and my new Uzzie buddies for helping me realize my first goal with Usborne Books & More!

We're going to see The Mouse!

Our first family vacation will take place this January, and it's paid for!

And it may seem silly, but seeing this the other day on MY screen made me cry:

Yes, we have a reservation! Yes, my girls will be overjoyed when they see all their favorite princesses!


I'm still in shock. Still amazed that it's happened in just four quick months as a consultant with Usborne! (Click here to read about my goal from the start of this adventure!) The money doesn't fall from trees; it's like any job - you have to work and train and go out there and give it your best. But to our family, it's worth it. I've built an INSANE library of amazing books for my girls, made a boatload of new friends, and paid for our first family vacation. 

And I know I talk about Usborne a lot. I know. But, friends, it's just been such a blessing! It's hard not to share about something I've become so passionate about!

So, I'm sharing once again (shocker!).

If you're looking for something fun and flexible, something where you can be PROUD of the product and be rewarded for your efforts, something where you can stop and pick back up when 'life' happens, then I encourage you to take a look at Usborne Books and More.

This month, we have a great special on our new consultant kit:

Here's what's included:

There's a Mouse About the House (Classic!) - $10.99
See Inside Your Body - $14.99
Illustrated Dictionary of Math - $12.99
1000 Things That Go - $14.99
Illustrated Dictionary - $15.99
My First Word Book - $9.99
Secrets of the Apple Tree (SO fun; flashlight book!) - $12.99
Muddle and Match Adventure - $8.99

(we just passed the $100 mark...)

100 Paper Planes to Fold & Fly - $7.99
That's Not My Goat - $7.99
Ted and Friends (GREAT phonics collection!) - $19.99
Conspiracy 365 (young adult fiction) - $10.99
Special Forces (LOVE this one!) - $8.99
Baby's Very First Big Play Book - $22.99
Drawing, Doodling, & Coloring (AWESOME!) - $13.99
Wipe-Clean First Words - $7.99

(just passed the $200 mark...)

Jonathan James & the What If Monster - $6.99
The Last 13 (young adult fiction) - $10.99
100 Things for Little Children to do on a Trip (wipe-clean activity cards - SO great!) - $9.99
Dogs (non-fiction beginning reader book) - $4.99
Underpants for Ants (phonics book) - $6.99
Sticker Dolly Dressing Princesses - $8.99
Lots of Things to Spot at School - $8.99

And YOU can get them all this month for just $100!

For $100, you can give Usborne a try! There are no monthly minimums; sell, don't sell, it's YOUR business. However, I do encourage everyone to at least do a kick-off show with your new kit. When you do a kick-off, you are the consultant (get 25% commission) AND you're the hostess (get double-free books and other discounts up to 75% off)! So, why not?! The commission from an average party will pay for your kit, and you're left with bookoodles of FREE and discounted books! Kick-off parties are the!

So, now that my first goal has been achieved, I'm moving onto my next:


Each year, Usborne has an amazing trip that consultants can earn. Everyone starts off on the same even ground (love that!), so anyone and everyone in the company, old and new, has a chance to earn a free trip! This year, we're going to Ireland! The contest started this past June and ends the last day of January...

(big news ahead...)

I'm over half-way to my free trip!


From my personal business page:

Am I saying to toot my own horn -


I'm showing you this because four months ago I never DREAMED that we would be going to Disney World. I never DREAMED that I could be going to Ireland for free! I'm not a dreamer anymore - I'm a realist. Going through what I do with Anna has (what's the right word??) leveled me out a bit. Did you ever read the Anne of Green Gables series? I LOVE those books! Well, if you remember, in the first couple of books, Anne is so bubbly and lively and over-the-top. Then tragedy strikes with her first child and it... levels her out. And I don't even know if that's the right word or phrase... maybe 'matured,' is correct. I don't know. She's just more even-stephen and cautious with her dreaming I guess. Well, that's exactly how I've changed with Anna's diagnosis. It's just a heavy-hearted thing to deal with (as I'm sure many of you have your own heavy-hearted issues and concerns as well), so my dreaming has taken a back seat.

Well ... today I dreamed again.

Today, after we got our commission report for July and realized Disney was now paid for, I hopped up on the kitchen counter next to my sweet husband (who was doing the dishes - makes him even sweeter!), and said, "What do you think?! Let's go to Ireland!"

And we talked about passports and childcare and got on the computer and looked at pictures of old Irish castles. It was surreal!

We're dreaming again.

And it feels good. 

Really good.

And I want to give all the glory to God. He is the one doing this and leading us places. We have just prayed and prayed through this. He has led us to Usborne. And I just want to say that if you feel Him leading you to try something new to bless your family, I'd love to welcome you to the team. Click here to start your new adventure!

And if you're like me, maybe it's time to let yourself dream again.

It's feelin' pretty good!

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Aug 2, 2014

Beginning of the Year Tutor Pep-Talk

The tutors in our Classical Conversations community recently got together to share first-semester plans. It was a very fun and productive evening, but I kept thinking about one thing -

boy, have I mellowed out!

Jul 5, 2014

My Interview with Jim Weiss!

sort of.

A little while ago, I received an email from Jim's wife, asking if I would be interested in talking a little bit about Jim's recordings on my blog. She would send me some free CDs to listen to, and if I liked them, I would write about them. Standard blog review. No biggie.

But, this wasn't 'standard.'

Jun 18, 2014

Usborne History Match-Up for ALL CC Cycles!

Encyclopedia... what images come to mind when you see that word?

For me, it's a dry, boring book with pages and pages of text of itty-bitty font.


May 25, 2014

Parent Practicum 2014

It was so great!

Here are some more pictures of North Huntsville's (AL) Classical Conversations Parent Practicum 2014:

Our amazing Support Manager, Tammi, opened up each day in the sanctuary.

That's our speaker above, Betsy. I'm sorry that I don't have better pictures of her.

The bookstore!

Sandra, our CC book rep., is SO knowledgeable and helpful! I'm glad she could join us again this year!

Love the new Practicum t-shirts, too! 

Look who I ran into! Amanda and Sophie! Click here to read more of my sweet friend's heart-warming adoption story.


The church that hosted our Practicum is set in a beautiful location. What a blessing!

The picture below shows the Geo Drawing Camp. It looked like SO much fun! I didn't bring Mary this year, but I probably will next summer.

Below, is the IEW Camp for the older kiddos.

We were also very blessed to welcome a special guest to our second afternoon session, National Number Knockout winner (and Alabama homeschooler!) Aaron Slack!

It was jaw-dropping to watch Aaron do an N2K demo for us! I mean, WOW! I would have video'd it, but I really didn't expect him to just go for it and start rattling off math equations at lightning speed! Click here to see Aaron's audition video (although I believe he was even faster in person). And Aaron won the whole shebang in Orlando in March. The whole thing. The national winner! The first one! Wow! It really was awesome to see him in action! Thanks goes out to our SM, Tammi, for inviting him!

After lunch each day, I had the privilege to come alongside of twenty amazing tutors and directors and walk through our yearly Foundations tutor training.

 To be honest, I was nervous about being the tutor trainer, y'all. What if I forgot an important new slide? What if I was boring and they all tuned out or started texting to each other? However, I asked special people to pray for me, and I know other friends were lifting me up, too; I could actually feel God guiding and carrying me through this new adventure. It was pretty exciting!

God is faithful!

Midway through Day 2's training session, we split the tutors into groups based on the approximate ages of their classes, and they had chances to discuss what we were covering. 

Day 3 was to end with tutor presentations, but God had different plans for me. Plans like the stomach virus. 

The stomach virus of death.

I will not elaborate, except to say that I almost called 911 at one point. It was that. bad.

Anyway, I'm better now, North HSV Parent Practicum 2014 is in the books, and I'm looking forward to training another great class in July. I learned so much from the other tutors and from the entire experience itself! I can't wait to do it again (but maybe this time without the death-is-preferable-to-this stomach bug)! ;)

Have you been to one of CC's free Parent Practicum's yet? Click here to find one in your area!

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Apr 30, 2014

Usborne & CC Cycle 3 Science Match-Up!

I'm getting SO excited about Science (never thought I'd say that)!
Usborne has like a million-gazillion Science books, and it might be hard to choose the best ones when you can't pick them up and look through them. So, I thought I'd go through and pick what will work for our family this year with CC Cycle 3, take some pictures to compare my favorites, and then share them with you!
And... here we go!


Click here to get the FINAL version of this Science match-up!
First, I made an Usborne books and Cycle 3 Match-Up:
Click here to get it!
New! Click here for the updated final version!

Here are the three books that we'll be using the first semester when we study the human body:
The Usborne Science Encyclopedia (or the big boy, as I call it),
First Encyclopedia of the Human Body,
See Inside Your Body.
We'll also use (absolutely fabulous!) The Usborne Flip-Flap Body Book, but I didn't include it in the Science match-up. Instead, I tried to use just one book that would target each age group.
Since you're there, and I'm here, you obviously can't flip through each book and see what will work for you next year. So, I've taken lots of pictures, and hopefully you'll get an idea of which titles would be helpful if you're considering these books.
First, The Usborne Science Encyclopedia (big boy) is the perfect general reference for all things Science. This is what I use to look up definitions and find great pictures. It's also one that we won't outgrow anytime soon. This encyclopedia has 448 pages and is for ages 9 and up. Here's a peek at the inside:

Notice the pages on Digestion above in the big boy. 
Now, to compare, here is the digestion page from First Encyclopedia of the Human Body:
The font is bigger, as well as the images. This is the perfect body book for elementary students! It's geared to ages 8 and up, and it has 64 pages of awesome information and graphics.
Here are some more pictures of the First Encyclopedia:

Next, See Inside Your Body is for ages 7 and up, and it has 16 sturdy board pages with over 50 flaps. This book is so much fun! Here is the spread on digestion, just to compare with the other books, followed by more pictures:

Even though this book is for the younger set, it's my favorite! There's just so much to explore and make learning fun!
We'll also be using The Usborne Human Body Sticker Book for some more hands-on learning. 
It has 32 pages of information plus 10 sticker pages with over 130 stickers! I like all the extra information and fun facts that are included in this one! Here's a peek inside:

I hope this little look inside some of my favorite Usborne Science books has been helpful! Don't forget to grab your copy of the Usborne and CC Cycle 3 Science Match-Up. I'll be updating the second semester page soon, using Usborne's Illustrated Dictionary of Chemistry
More later, alligator!
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All of the links take you to my Usborne store. Thanks so much for your support!
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