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Thursday, August 18, 2016

How good can a manual pencil sharpener be?

I couldn't help wondering what in the world all the fuss was about. How could a pencil sharpener be that much better than others on the market, that I would see it recommended over and over among homeschoolers? But I figured there must be something to it, especially after I finally became yet another devotee of those Ticonderoga pencils you hear so many homeschool moms rave about. Yeah, I buy mine by the 96 pack now.

But that pencil sharpener, the one by Classroom Friendly Supplies, with the funny looking black pincers that stick out on the front: would it live up to all the hype?

As a homeschool blogger, I decided to take advantage of the review program that Classroom Friendly Supplies offers, and try out their famous pencil sharpener for myself. I chose the red one, because I love bright red things. They make me happy. I figured even if the sharpener turned out to be pretty ordinary, it would still look cool.

It took next to no time for the sharpener to arrive in my mailbox. I was anxious to try it out. It took about half a minute to figure out how the black pincers worked. Basically, you pull the metal stage out, away from the sharpener until it clicks, squeeze the black pincers and fully insert your pencil. When you let go of the pincers, your pencil is held securely in place. There's no need to hold it steady. The sharpener holds it in the perfect position for you.

Next, you crank the handle. If you turn it the wrong direction, nothing happens. If you turn it the right direction, the pencil starts moving into the sharpener as the blades quickly and easily whittle a perfectly sharpened end in just a few rotations.

I have a daughter with very poor muscle tone. She was a preemie, and she never really developed much arm and hand strength, even with physical and occupational therapy. She has an extremely hard time even opening a can of pop on her own, so other manual pencil sharpeners are virtually impossible for her to use.

The Classroom Friendly Supplies sharpener was one tool she was able to use with ease. Three cranks of the handle and her pencil was perfectly sharp. It took her less time and effort to use this sharpener than the office grade electric one we normally use. And the pencil's tip came out smoother and neater than with the electric sharpener, too.

I'll admit it, I was a skeptic. I couldn't see how any sharpener could be that much better than others on the market, but I was wrong. If for no other reason than that it works so well for my daughter who can't use other manual sharpeners, I love it! I recommend it! I'm genuinely excited to have it in my home.

Yes, I got a free one to review for this blog, but if I hadn't, after trying one out, I am certain it would be among the top items on my recommended homeschool shopping list, along with a good three-hole punch, a sturdy printer with economical ink refills, and those irreplacable Ticonderoga pencils.

(Affiliate links included)

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

How do you teach your child that character matters?

We all want our children to build great character as they grow from little ones into adults. We want them to develop traits like diligence, patience and honesty. But how do you go about instilling these characteristics into your child?

Of course, modeling positive character is the best way to help them develop these traits naturally. We are our kids' number one role models, and they often mirror the way we behave. We can teach all day long from books, but it would be hard to undo our own mentoring if we fail to live as the examples we were meant to be.

Books and lessons are a good way to reinforce the messages we want our kids to learn, though, and I was recently given the opportunity to review a terrific new resource for positive character building from Stephanie Eidson, the Multi Tasking Mom.

Her new program, My Character Matters, includes a student work book, parent guide, flash cards and an activity guide. You can buy all the pieces separately, or together as a set. They work together to help you and your children explore the meaning of character traits like ambition, responsibility and honor, and discover what those words mean to you and your family, how you've seen those traits displayed in real life and in the media, and how your child can work to improve their character.

I am excited to share this resource with you, because it is on sale through August 12, and you can get all of the elements in the kit, a $25 value, for just $12. That's a full 30 weeks of character based lessons for only $12!

But even if you miss the launch week sale, this would still be a great value, at less than $1 per lesson, and an excellent addition to your student's curriculum for the year. I hope you'll check it out.

(Affiliate links included.)

Friday, July 29, 2016

Need encouragement for back to school? Check out this giveaway!

I am proud to have partnered with Brookdale House homeschool curriculum publishing as a contributor to this year's Back to Homeschool Mom Encouragement Giveaway.

There are hundreds of dollars worth of prizes and multiple winners will be chosen, plus this giveaway is an excellent way to start your new school year because everyone who enters gets some freebies!

Click the link above to enter by August 3. You could be one of the lucky winners. Want to know more about the fantastic products included in this giveaway? Here's a list...

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Homeschool Bullies: Dealing with Mean Kids, Cliques and Mama Drama

It's one of the least talked about issues in homeschooling today. That's right, I am talking about the problem of homeschool bullies. We don't want to acknowledge they exist, because they mess up the positive picture we'd rather paint. But they do exist, and although homeschooling can be a wonderful experience, and there's no other form of education I would rather choose for my kids, dealing with the bullies within the homeschool community is no fun at all.

I wrote this book after hearing way too many stories of families who started homeschooling only to find themselves bullied within their local groups or online. And having played the role of both a homeschool bully and the victim of bullying myself, I decided it was time to own up to my part in it and make a change for the better.

I take full responsibility for my own actions, and hope that the readers of this book will, too. I believe that working together, we can improve our community, if not for ourselves than for our kids. We can put a stop to homeschool bullying, if we are just brave enough to shine a light on it and learn how to deal with the mean kids, the cliques and the mama drama that we discover.

Visit my store to pick up your copy of "Homeschool Bullies: Dealing with Mean Kids, Cliques and Mama Drama" from CreateSpace or Amazon.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Review of 'More Than Words - for Moms'

I wasn't looking for a devotional. Honestly, this summer has been so busy, I didn't think I even had time to review a devotional, much less put one to good use. But this one caught my attention.

"More Than Words - for Moms" is a devotional for busy moms by author, Stephanie Eidson. When she says it's designed for busy moms, I know she is telling the truth because she is a homeschooling mom just like me. We know busy!

So I decided to give it a look. Here's what I found.

Words are the heart of the "More Than Words - for Moms" devotional. Eidson has provided readers with a whole list of words, words that might mean something different to each reader at any particular point in her journey through life, or even through her day.

Temper, for instance, may take on a whole new meaning at 4:00 in the afternoon, when you've just lost yours because your most stubborn child has refused to finish the eight math problems you assigned right after lunch, and your children may find themselves praying you remember the meaning of mercy. Those are just a couple of the words featured in this devotional.

The awesome part is that you can use the journal pages to record your own studies of each word, in any order you'd like, and to dig out what the Bible has to say about them. And, as far as I can tell, you could use the pages over and over, discovering new things about each word, and new things about the associated scriptures you find, because there is a lot to learn about words like sin, grace, and acceptance.

Personally, I don't care much for devotionals that paraphrase scripture and tell you what to think about what the Bible says. I like the kind that lead you to read and discover the Word for yourself, because it has so much to say on its own, and every time you read a passage, you stand to learn something new.

"More Than Words - for Moms" is on sale for $7.99 until July 22. I think it is one devotional worth checking out.

(Affliliate links included.)

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Summer tips for working out with your dog

Working out with your dog is good for your whole family. You get the benefits of sunshine, fresh air and an exercise buddy that won’t let you down. But summer can be hard on dogs, especially if you are not careful to take care of your four-legged friend.

To keep your workout buddy in tip top shape, make sure you take the summer heat into consideration. Here are some tips to help you and your family dog keep working out all summer long.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Summer sports that will help your kids survive the zombie apocalypse

Are you having trouble motivating your kids to get outdoors and move their bodies this summer? It is awfully hot outside, but we know that kids need fresh air, exercise and play! The trick to getting your kids moving in a healthy way over the summer, besides scheduling outdoor time during the cooler parts of the day, is to provide them with the right sort of motivation.

I'm thinking, surviving the zombie apocalypse ought to do the trick! What better motivation is there than the very survival of the human race? Now, there may never be a zombie apocalypse, but even the CDC has done its part to prepare us for a world infested with zombies, so we should encourage our kids to engage in activities that will help them to ultimately overcome the onslaught and survive.

To that frightening end, let’s figure out the best summer sports your family can focus on to train for battle with the flesh-eating zombies who used to be your friends and neighbors. And remember, you don’t want to start a panic in your neighborhood, so don't feel like you have to tell anyone you are in training to survive the zombie apocalypse. Just take comfort in knowing that your family's efforts at mastering the following sports may mean the difference between life and death… or undeath, as the case may be.