Thursday, May 17, 2018

Crochet Chain Video Tutorial

I love to crochet.  It is a great hobby for me and I love creating things to wear, blankets, and more.  I am always learning something new in crochet and I would love to share my skills with you.  I know I learn by reading things, but I also learn by seeing it done so I created a quick video for you.  The chain stitch is a foundation to crochet work and practicing it over and over seems mundane, but the better you get at chaining, the better your work will be.
Here are the written instructions too:
1.  Start with a slip knot.  You wrap the yarn around your fingers and pull the end that is still attached to the skein/ball of yarn through the hole.  Pull tight until you have a starter loop.
2.  Slide your hook into the starter loop.
3.  Put the yarn that is attached to the skein of yarn over your finger for tension.  There are several different wrapping methods to get tension and you can see from the picture I wrap my yarn around my forefinger.  This is just the method I learned when I started.  I have seen other methods and they all seem to work.  Do what is comfortable for you. 
4.  Grab the yarn that goes over your finger with your hook - this is called YARN OVER (YO).
5.  Pull the yarn on the hook through the loop that is already on the hook gently.  Your original loop that was on the hook when you started is now your first chain stitch and you have a new loop on your hook. 
6.  Yarn over (YO) again and pull it through the new loop on the hook.  It adds another stitch to your chain.  Repeat until you get the desired number of stitches in your starting chain.  
Do you know how to crochet already?  What is your favorite thing to crochet if you know how?  If you don't know how to crochet, why do you want to learn?

Tuesday, May 15, 2018


Preschool and Kindergarten was a long time ago in our house, but being a homeschool mom for so many years I do get asked about programs for that age a lot.  I want to be informed when chatting about programs for young students so I do like to check them out when I can.  This is why I was interested to see what MESSYLEARNING FOR PRESCHOOLERS AND KINDERGARTNERS by PandaParents was all about when I got the chance to review their products.
Panda Parents Kindy Curriculum, preschool learning stories, preschool workbooks, preschool learning for kids, preschool homeschool books, early reading activities for preschoolers, early childhood education math activities,
M.E.S.S.Y. Learning is PandaParents' approach to learning designed for 3-6 year old students.  It focuses on early brain building through reading and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) learning.  So their program covers many learning areas and it also uses many techniques to foster the learning.  It uses arts and crafts, critical thinking, problem solving, imagination, and hands-on learning to teach young students.  It is designed to be used 30-45 minutes at a time for 3 days a week.  Their system includes original storybooks, read-to-me videos, workbooks, and creative projects.  Memberships start at just $9.95 per month.

For this review, I received digital access to this program.  I received three pdf books to begin with.  These books are "A Jolly Jingling Journey," "Scotty Skunk Hears a Scary Sound," and "Mommy's Baby".  They each came with a read-to-me video and their own pdf workbook.  I started by reading through the books.  They are fun to read, colorful, and entertaining.  They also have some fun activities right in the book like looking for "hidden" pictures or counting items.  The books feature repeating words and sounds.  They also use words that your child may not be familiar with, but they give the definition to these words so your child learns them.  A couple of examples of this is jubilant and splendid.  The read-to-me videos are a fun way to see and hear the story.  They would be nice to use if you were working with multiple children because they could read along while hearing the story read to them.  The workbooks are fun and colorful while being educational.  They have activities that require the students to remember what they read, tracing, story sequence, putting objects where they belong or make sense, math skills, and so much more.  They review thoughts from the stories and help students be able to apply them.  The workbooks are very well put together and truly cover a wide range of skills for your child to perform.
If I was using this M.E.S.S.Y. Learning program, I would say that "Mommy's Baby" is for very young preschool children and fits with the 3-4 year old age range.  The book is simpler and really reviews the concepts of big and little while playing a fun game between mommy and baby.  The workbook for this book would fit more with the 4-5 age range, but still could be used by a 3 year old, they just may not understand it all.  The "Scotty Skunk Hears a Scary Sound" book and workbook would be great for 4-6 year old students in my opinion because the words are bigger in it and it has activities like dot-to-dots and mazes that require counting and pattern recognition that younger students may not understand.  The "A Jolly Jingling Journey" story book and workbook is definitely for the older preschool and kindergartner age in my opinion.  Again this book features bigger words and concepts that very young students would probably not understand.  They are very well done and have very fun activities, but require knowing and understanding concepts like fast, medium, and slow, understanding patterns, and knowing about animal tracks that little ones may not know.  So I would use these resources in this order: "Mommy's Baby," "Scotty Skunk Hears a Scary Sound," and "A Jolly Jingling Journey."
I think this is a solid, fun, and entertaining way to teach preschool and early kindergarten.  I like the M.E.S.S.Y. approach that Mixes subjects for integrative learning, has Engaging questions and activities for effective learning, Simple steps of read, watch, and learn or create, Smart designs, and Yeah for promoting STEM learning so early.  I think their method would make young students want to learn and even my 9 year old said, "Oooooo, that looks like it would be a lot of fun if I was little again."  You can learn all about MESSYLEARNING FOR PRESCHOOLERS AND KINDERGARTNERS by clicking here.  You can learn more about PandaParents on their website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  You can read about how my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew used this program by clicking on the banner below.
Messylearning For Preschoolers and Kindergartners {PandaParents Reviews}

Monday, May 14, 2018

A Review of Kids Email Safe Email for Kids from Kids Email

Keeping our kids safe and accountable on the Internet is important to us.  I want to teach them about using email, but turning them loose on a free email account that has no boundaries could be dangerous.  This is why I was excited to receive a one year subscription to Kids Email Safe Email for Kids from Kids Email to review.
Kids Email, Kids Email, Email for Kids, Kids Email Account, Kid Friendly, Parenting,  Family, Kids Email Safe Email for Kids, hsreviews,
Kids Email is an online site designed specifically to be a safe email service for kids and families.  Their site allows children to have their own email while giving parents the ability to set the controls on the account and know exactly what messages are coming into and going out of your child’s email.   This product is designed to protect your kids while giving them freedom.  Kids Email has the following features and settings:
  • Mail Monitoring
  • Time Restriction
  • The Mail Queue 
  • Block Senders 
  • Contact Manager 
  • Custom Mailbox Folders
  • No Ads
  • GPS Tracker
  • Removing Links and Images 
  • Controlling Attachment Types
  • Offensive Word Filters
  • Spam Filtering 
  • Template Options
  • Activity Log
Kids Email can be used on any device as they support both Apple and Android devices, computers, and Kindle devices which makes it very versatile.  You can use it for up to 6 email accounts.  They offer affordable annual and monthly payment options so you can pick the plan that best fits your family.

Little Miss was super excited to get access to Kids Email again (we have reviewed for them before).  She couldn't wait for me to get her account all set up for her.  She told me she wanted to be able to email me, dad, and it would be great if she had other kids to email too.  Email is almost as good as getting regular mail with her name on it mostly because she isn't old enough to get bills by email or mail yet.  Kids Email gives her the independence to communicate with others, but it allows me to set the settings for her and approve who she is emailing and who is emailing her.  I was also able to add some other restrictions to her account like the times she could email so that she wasn't using her school time to email.  I could also see how long she spends in her email by checking her activity log.  Little Miss was pretty excited to email us and she was excited to email back and forth with other kids from the Homeschool Review Crew.  They have enjoyed being pen pals by email and it has been great for to chat with other Crew kids.  She plans on continuing to use this email as long as we have access to it.

Buddy used the email a little too.  It was a great way for me to email him his to do list for the week.  Then he could email me when he got things done or if he had questions.  He doesn't mind using email, but being a teen boy it isn't his favorite thing to do.  I wish I could get all the great settings this email program offers for texting, that would be fantastic.  Buddy did like being able to email back and forth with me about assignments and chores.  He also liked being able to email his dad about outside chores that he has.  I did set time restrictions on his account to just to make sure he was emailing after school work was done.  I also set it up so that neither of my kids could email during meal times and to see if it worked I had Buddy to try to login during that time on purpose.  He couldn't login and he got a message that he was trying to login during a restricted time.
This is email queue where I had to approve messages.

There is even a feature to "Ground" your kids from their email if they break the rules.
I like that I don't have to worry about the content of the emails that my kids get with this email program.  I know that I have to approve their contacts and emails, but if someone on their contact list would get hacked or try to send them a link that might have questionable content, it will not get through because I can control the settings and set offensive word filters, disable links and images in their emails, and spam is filtered out.  I truly appreciate all the safety features in this program for email.  I also like that I can set up a kids account for my 9 year old and a teen account for my 14 year old.  I know my teen still has all the built in safety features for his email, but it designed for teens to look and feel more mature than the regular kids accounts.  I think this program is still a fantastic way to ease my kids into the world of email and the responsibilities of having an email account.
This is where I could set it so the kids could not login at certain times like during school.
There are so many great safety features to this email program that make it worth the cost in my opinion.  You can even try it out before you buy it.  You can find out more about that and Kids Email on their website.  You can also find them on social media on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+.  You can learn more about how my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew used their email accounts by clicking on the banner below.
Safe Email for Kids {Kids Email Reviews}

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms out there!!!!  
A Glimpse of Normal, Happy Mother's Day, Blessed, Mom,
I hope your day is filled with love and many blessings.  Children are a gift from God and each day with them is precious.  Cherish them in the stage they are in because it will pass quickly.  Cheer them on, laugh with them, cry with them, and squeeze them tight.  Let them know you love them and pray for them every day.  Be their safe place, be the one they can talk to, and teach them what is right.  Being a mom isn't always easy, but it is a great gift from God so enjoy every single second of it.

Lots of love and hugs to you,                   

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Spilling the Beans on....Beans

Welcome back Thrifty Thursday!!!  I really do try to write a money saving tip for every Thursday, but I am not just a blogger and life happens.  The past couple of weeks have been full of finishing up school, reviews, appointments, and events.  So I had to put my thrifty tips on hold while I got other things done.  I hope you forgive me.  Now that we have that out of the way, I'm going to spill the beans this week on beans.  Read on...
A Glimpse of Normal, Thrifty Thursday, Saving Money, Grocery Budget, Beans, Instant Pot
I try my best to stretch my grocery budget as far as I can.  For me, being the math nerd I am, it is a fun little game.  I win when there is grocery money left at the end of the month.  I lose if I need to get out extra money for groceries.  I told you that I serve soup to save money.  It is cheap, gives us leftovers which either become lunch the next day or I freeze for another day, and it is filling.   I also told you about my Instant Pot that costs a little up front, but helps me save money by not eating out when I forget to thaw dinner and saves me time because things cook quicker in the pressure cooker.  Today I am combining both of these ideas to spill the beans on ....beans.
A Glimpse of Normal, Thrifty Thursday, Saving Money, Grocery Budget, Beans, Instant Pot
Canned beans are not super expensive and I will be the first to tell you that I do buy them sometimes, but not all the time.  At Aldi's (I so hope you have one of these grocery stores where you live, they save me a ton of money) I can pick up canned beans for around 55¢ a can which is a great price, but I can buy a bag of dry beans for around $1.50 - $2.00 a bag depending on where I shop.  That one bag of dry beans is enough beans to equal 4 cans of beans depending on the type of bean.  Also when you buy canned beans they come in the liquid.  That liquid has lots of hidden sugars in it that you just don't need.  When I cook my dry beans, I can use the liquid because it is just water and sometimes a little beef base that I put in to help flavor them.  Dry beans are super easy to cook too.  First you open the beans into a bowl and sort them.  You are looking for rocks that end up in the beans from them being picked....yes beans are picked.  Then wash the beans really good to get the dirt off.  I wash mine a few times and then drain them for a few minutes.  If you are cooking them on the stove you are supposed to soak them overnight, but I usually forgot.  On the stove they take a few hours to get good and soft.  Make sure you cover them with plenty of water before you put them on to boil.  You can add seasonings, salt, and onions while they boil to help add flavor.  You have to keep an eye on them and make sure they don't run out of water or you will burn them...been there, done that, it doesn't smell pleasant.  You can also cook beans in the slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours.  The method is the same as the stove top except you don't need as much water.  I always forgot to start them early enough.  My favorite way to cook beans is the Instant Pot.  I sort the beans, wash them, and then throw them in my Instant Pot.  I added water to cover them and a little more water for broth.  I also add my seasonings, salt, beef base for flavoring, and onion.  I set it on the "Bean" setting for 30 minutes and let it do it's thing.  I think it takes between 1 and 1.5 hours from start to finish (the pot has to pressurize before it cooks) and the beans are always soft.  I take out what we need for whatever soup I am cooking and then I divide the rest into containers for future batches of soup and freeze them.  I cook one bag of beans and I get multiple meals.  I save money and plan ahead.  It is a win in my book.

Do you cook your own beans?   We even sometimes just have ham and beans as a meal which is super tasty too.  How you do you save money on your grocery budget?

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Chain Stitch and Repeat

If you have been on my blog tonight on or my social media pages you might have seen some goofy things happening.  I have been working to add a page to my blog specifically for my stitching.  It has taken a little work and I had to do a process of trial and error to get it so you may have seen posts pop-up and disappear, pages have popped up and disappeared, but I think I finally have it.  Coding is not my friend.  But it boils down to this...
A Glimpse of Normal, Chain Stitch and Repeat
I plan to share my stitching knowledge with you!!!!  I am doing this in a way so that you can find all the posts in one place on my blog under the Chain Stitch and Repeat tab.

Please be patient with me.  It is a work in progress and I am by no means an expert on stitching.  It is just a passion of mine that I feel like I can share with you.  I plan to chat about:
  • Sewing
  • Cross Stitch
  • Embroidery
  • Crochet
Keep watching for posts to start appearing and for me to move old posts to that tab.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

A Review of Media Enhanced Books from Weigl Publishers

Books, books, books!!!  Oh how we love them in our home.  We recently discovered a new way to learn from books in our house thanks to Weigl Publishers.   They sent us three digital books to review.  The titles included Glaciers, A Lion's World, and There Once Was a Cowpoke Who Swallowed an Ant.  Each book was interesting to read through and fun because of all the extra things Little Miss could do and learn from the books.
Glaciers Earths Water, media enhanced books, AV2 Books, Digital books, Weigl Publishers, hsreviews

Weigl Publishers Media Enhanced Books
Have you even heard of media enhanced books before?  Me neither until we received these books for review. So what is this enhancement?  It is all about making books come alive to your students.  This happens not only by making the books read along, read aloud books, but also by adding extra educational videos, printable PDF activities, slideshows, transparencies that layer maps, graphs, and timelines, interactive maps, quizzes, and keywords.  Weigl Publishers has books for students of all ages.

The first book we worked with was Glaciers from the "Earth's Water" series.  This book is intended for students in grades 3-6.  It is enhanced by using Lightbox and a special code in the book.  This takes the book from being just a book, to a true in-depth study guide.  This book had extra video clips that Little Miss could click on and watch.  In one video she watched as a man who was studying glaciers and capturing photos of them called home and gave his wife a report of his findings.  It was a really neat video that showed and told lots of details about glaciers.  The book also had charts, graphs, and timelines that she could click on.  At first they had all the information on the chart, graph, or timeline, but when she clicked it, the information would be removed so she practice putting the facts back on and this would help her learn the facts the picture taught.  There were also a couple of worksheets throughout the book that she could click on from the sidebar and it would pop-up a PDF worksheet for her to fill out.  These were good because they checked her understanding of the material she read and the videos she watched.  There was also a quiz and an experiment for her in the book.  Glaciers featured amazing pictures, lots of science facts and information, and using Lightbox to view the book digitally, made it a lot more fun for Little Miss.  She said that she wished all of her science material was presented this way.  It took her a couple of days to get through the book because she would work on it for about 20 minutes at a time.  She learned a lot about glaciers this way and I think everyone in the family sat down to watch the book with her at some point because of the amazing pictures.  I appreciated that it captured her attention and made her want to work on it more.
A Lions World

Even though  A Lion's World is intended for students in grades K-2, Little Miss wanted to see what it was all about.  She can't pass up a good cat book and this one about lions looked fun to her.  It used EYEDISCOVER to enhance the book.  This program can be used on a computer, tablet, or whiteboard.  It enhances the book by allowing students to read the book, listen to it being read aloud, and watching as the pages are brought to life.  You can hear a lion's roar, see cubs, and see them run among other videos.  Little Miss enjoyed having this book and reading it for a fun study break from her normal school.  She is an animal lover so she loved learning all the facts about lions like how far you can hear them roar.  This book would be perfect for younger students and I appreciated that even though Little Miss is older, she learned a couple of things about lions from it.
There Once Was a Cowpoke Who Swallowed an Ant
The last book we reviewed was There Once Was a Cowpoke Who Swallowed an Ant.  This book is intended for students in grades K-2 and is a fun, fiction book.  It is a AV² book that is enhanced because you can have it read to your child or have your child read it aloud.  They click the words on the book page to highlight them and have it read.  This story is pure fun and that is what Little Miss read it for.  I have not heard so many belly laughs from her in a long time as I did when she was reading this book.  It cracked her up.  It would be a great way to help kids that are learning to read because they can follow along as it is read aloud and they can practice reading what they highlight.
Little Miss learning from the enhanced content of Glaciers.
This was one of the PDF activity sheets from Glaciers.
When Little Miss clicked on these sidebar items, it took her to safe enhanced content.
These books from Weigl Publishers were educational and fun which make them a win in my opinion.  I will definitely check out the other books they offer to see what other titles they have for older students like Little Miss.  The enhanced content never expires and it is a way to make learning fun for my student.  With over 1800 AV² titles there is something for everyone.  You can learn more about Weigl Publishers and all they offer on their website.  You can learn more about how my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew used these books by clicking on the banner below.
Multimedia Digital Books {Weigl Publishers Reviews}

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

May 2018 Menu Plan

May is here already!  This year is flying by so far, but that might be because we have been pretty busy.  Today, May greeted us with a gorgeous day that felt much more like summer than spring which I will take.  I love seeing all of our flowers bloom and the buds for leaves on our trees.  The farmers all around us are planting and everything is greening up again.  I'm loving all the sunshine and blue skies.  Now on to what is for dinner at our house this month.  We are keeping it simple and using up some food from the freezer and our pantry.  Here is our plan:
A Glimpse of Normal, May Menu Plan, Menu Plan, Whats for Dinner?,
  1. French Dip Sandwiches
  2. Zucchini Ravioli
  3. Haystacks 
  4. Cast Iron Pizza
  5. Parmesan Meatloaf
  6. One Pan Mexican Quinoa
  7. Avocado Bowls with Pepper-Lime Chicken
  8. Copycat In-n-Out Burgers
  9. Lemon Butter Chicken
  10. Cajun Dirty Rice
  11. Pizza Casserole
  12. BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad
  13. Out to Eat - It's Mother's Day and I don't have to cook today!
  14. Black Bean Tostadas with Cilantro Sauce
  15. Crock Pot Cafe Rio Chicken Tacos
  16. Super Easy One Pot Lasagna
  17. Green Beans, Potatoes,and Kielbasa
  18. Pizza
  19. Mexican Zucchini Beef Skillet
  20. BBQ Pulled Pork
  21. Quinoa Bowls with Hummus Vinaigrette
  22. Walking Taco Casserole
  23. Skillet Chicken Parmesan
  24. Thai Veggie Quinoa Bowls
  25. Pie Cooker Pizza
  26. Hobo Dinners (foil dinners)
  27. Philly Cheesesteak Packets
  28. Brats
  29. Hamburgers
  30. One Sheet Cilantro Parmesan Broccoli Baked Salmon
  31. Tamale Pie
You can find many of the recipes for these meals on my May Menu Plan board on Pinterest.  While you are there checking out the recipes, take a moment and follow me.  What is for dinner at your house?