Fort Magic {Giveaway!}

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Fort Magic Giveaway

This is a paid review. I was given Fort Magic free in exchange for my my honest review – and you have a chance to win the giveaway. Woot! {Keep reading!}

My children are always making forts somewhere in the house. Whether over the bunk beds or using the couch, this is a regular form of play for my children. Imagine their delight when I told them Fort Magic was going to be delivered to our doorstep!

Fort Magic Rocket Ship

My kids absolutely love Fort Magic and I was quite impressed by it myself!

Fort Magic Box

Fort Magic Submarine


It comes with lots of pieces – 382 to be exact. And they are high quality. They can take the pressure of children or adults working them into the connectors (which does prove to be a bit easier for adults than children to get them in all the way).

Fort Magic Contents

Fort Magic Supplies

It also comes with a very durable and convenient storage bag.

Fort Magic Storage Bag

Construction and Imaginative Play

My children impressed me by being able to build the forts they wanted all on their own. They followed the instructions offered in the book which accompanies the kit (and you can also view it on their website). Which really only consisted of a 3-dimensional picture of each fort and the pieces needed to build it.

Fort Magic Pirates


Fort Magic Castle

My children have enjoyed building their own creations that suit what they are learning in school as well.

Once we move into our new house (just a few short weeks!), they will build a fort suitable for sleeping in on a main floor bedroom. These creations make some pretty large forts! I was amazed at the size of them. We are looking forward to many more hours of building and play.

See what other moms are saying about Fort Magic.

Some Fort Magic Specifics:

The “Magic” of the Fort Magic kit is in the large number and variety of sticks and connectors.  It is this unique combination that allows kids to build any design they can think of with a single Fort Magic kit.

Every Fort Magic kit includes 382 Pieces:

•  165 Straight and Curved Sticks in seven different sizes!
•  87 Connector pieces in five varieties of shapes and sizes!
•  130 easy to use fabric and accessory Clips! Securely fasten sheets or fabric to ANY shape design your child invents!
•  A full color Instruction Manual with over 20 designs to build!
•  A high quality Storage Bag that securely holds all of the Fort Magic pieces – so clean up is quick and easy every time!
•  A 30-day Money Back Guarantee!
•  Fabric Covers Are Not Included.

You can purchase Fort Magic here.


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Breathe: 31 Moments With God {For Moms}

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Breathe 31 Moments with God

Finding Moments with God

As a mom, it is challenging to find some quiet time to just “be” with God. While I am constantly in conversation with Him throughout the day, I still really need that focused time with Him; something more in depth. He always refreshes me. I used to scoff at the idea of getting “just five (or ten) minutes” with God because I thought, “Well, that’s not enough! God deserves more of our time then a mere 10 minutes!”

But I’ve come to learn, ten minutes is better than nothing, and ten minutes several times throughout the day can really keep me refreshed and focused in my daily life. It’s not just about “getting in time with God”, it’s about meeting with Him because I need to. I can’t do anything apart from Him, and sometimes meeting with Him doesn’t need to be all about asking Him for something, but simply glorifying Him for who He is. Recognizing what He’s done for me, just in those day to day moments. Everyday graces. Everyday joy.

Devotion for Moms

Jaimie Bowman has created a lovely, focused devotional just for moms who need those minutes throughout the day to just focus on God. These are specifically tailored for moms and our unique situation as being mothers. We struggle with various challenges, such as balance, feeling overwhelmed, guilt, exhaustion and the list goes on.

Jaimie begins each devotion with a passage of Scripture she invites you to look up and read. It’s an illustration or example of some of the issues we may face as moms and how we can see our challenges in a new light.

Each devotion ends with a prayer and questions for reflection.

These are encouraging and helpful and I recommend them to any mom who needs a few moments to just breathe and reflect. Get your copy here. Right now it’s only $4.99. Read a sample day here.

Giveaway {Closed}

Winner: #28 Dawn – Congrat’s!

I’m giving away a physical copy of the book. Woot!

All you need to do is leave a comment telling me ways that you steal moments with God throughout the day. Winner will be drawn on Friday. Please be sure your email address is entered into the comment form so I have a way of contacting you if you win. 

U.S. Residents only.

I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for this honest review.

iHomeschool Studio: Online Webinar!

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Attend a Homeschool Conference from Home

iHomeschool Studio: Online Webinar

I am so excited to share this opportunity with you!!

iHomeschool Network is putting on a homeschool conference—and you can join from the comfort and ease of your own home!! We’re calling it iHomeschool Studio.

iHomeschool Studio: Online Webinar

There are 24 live sessions, and you will receive the mp3s recordings so you can go back and listen again and again! There will also be door prizes, giveaways, and special discounts.

The 24 convenient online sessions will take place during the afternoons and evenings of Tuesday, February 11 through Friday, February 14, 2014.

Topics include:

Homeschooling a Child with Learning Challenges

Homeschooling Through High School

Organization for a Peaceful Home

Managing Intense Kids

Creativity Builds Character

Overcoming the Mommy Anger

Affording the Homeschool Life

+Many More!

This is such a unique opportunity for homeschool moms. The 24 sessions add up to 24 hours of invaluable information for homeschoolers.

Visit iHomeschool Studio to see more details on sessions and speakers, and reserve your spot today!

iHomeschool Studio: online webinar

4 Reasons to Attend Great Homeschool Conventions

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This is a sponsored post and contains affiliate links.

4 Reasons to Attend Great Homeschool Conventions

Great Homeschool Conventions

This year, Great Homeschool Conventions has some great things in store for their convention year. Think great speakers, awesome exhibitors, and wonderful encouragement. If you have never been to a homeschool convention (or even if you have), I want to offer you four great reasons why you should be at one of the three locations for 2014 (Texas in 2015!).
GHC | 300 x 140

1. To be Encouraged

Homeschooling is very rewarding, but it can be tough. Very tough and sometimes it can feel very alone. Being encouraged by fellow homeschooling families is one key to keep moving forward…everyday and every year.

You better believe there have been a few days when I have wanted to quite homeschooling altogether. It’s hard enough being isolated most days — homeschooling moms (and dads) need to know they aren’t alone and there are families who have gone before them and come out successful (and still sane) on the other side. It’s OK to admit homeschooling is hard! The Bible says to encourage one another, as long as it’s called today. Get a heaping helping of it at Great Homeschool Conventions.

2. To Find Curriculum

Sometimes we can just feel lost, not knowing where to search for what we’re looking for to work with our family and our children.

Meeting with people face to face to choose a curriculum package that is just right for you is an invaluable opportunity. Furthermore, you’ll find you can tap into the experience of other homeschoolers and get a feel for how a curriculum works and how much prep time is involved.

Catalogs and endless internet searches can keep us running in circles. Great Homeschool Conventions can offer you some of the best options out there and often, you can look through it before making any decisions.

3. To Transition to a New Level

Are you new to homeschooling or transitioning from elementary to middle school, or middle school to high school? These rites of passage can be a little intimidating. With each new level, there is a bit more responsibility that goes along with it – for the parent and the child. Even after years of homeschooling, suddenly you can become paralyzed with simply not knowing what to do next.

Great Homeschool Conventions can address these developments and help put your  mind at ease by offering you some definite direction.

4. To Refresh and Refocus

Sometimes what we’re doing just doesn’t seem to be working anymore. Our season of life has changed or we’ve learned our child’s style of learning isn’t lining up with how we’re doing things.

Stepping away to gather a fresh perspective may just be what you need to get back on a track that works well for you and your child. And sometimes, we just need to step away and come home refreshed and energized to begin again.

Oh and one more….

5. Because Bob Smiley will be there.

Who’s Bob Smiley? Well…

{click here to go to blog to watch video if reading in an email}


Get your registration at Great Homeschool Conventions!

Hands-On History

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This is a sponsored, compensated post. I received this product free in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Civil War - Exploring History through Activities

The ability to learn through reading and hands-on activities are truly invaluable. And Homeschool in the Woods, they have some pretty awesome projects to bring history to life. I think I enjoyed our study of the Civil War these past couple of months as much as (or more than) my children.

In the Spring of 2013, we had an incredible time visiting a local historical site that has live exhibits. During Memorial Day, we happened to pay this Village a visit and they were doing a Civil War reenactment the entire weekend. It was incredible.

Civil War - Village

Civil War - Village 2

Why Hands-On History?

Civil War - The Camp Kettle.jpg

Along with reading living books, putting hands to work in order to truly explore and understand history is the best way for children to learn. Allowing them to be a part of history is a wonderful gift we can give our children. Reading textbooks merely offers facts and doesn’t allow the child to feel what it might have been like to be in that point of history. To taste the food and wear the clothes brings history to life – it doesn’t just live in textbooks, we learn that it’s a part of us.

Our Favorite Things

Civil War - LapBook

We really loved the lapbook projects and focused most on those and the timeline.

I can’t get over how beautifully detailed the graphics are. I can’t say I have ever seen any print outs that were so well done.

The directions have suggestions on what kind of paper to print out certain projects on, and we complied as much as we could based on what we had on hand. In some instances, I got creative and found some pretty unique kinds of paper laying around my house that were passed down to me from my mom and other homeschooling moms.

One such type of paper was made from cotton! We printed our Camp Kettle Newspaper (see pic above the LapBook photo). The cotton industry just so happened to boom right before the Civil War due to the evolution of the cotton gin.

LapBook Details

Civil War - Hands-On Paper Dolls

Civil War - LapBook

Civil War - LapBook Details

Civil War - LapBook Booklet

Also included are all the lessons in text format. I read each lesson aloud and we discussed what was read. Then, the timeline figures from that lesson were found, colored, and added to the timeline. My eldest daughter added to the Camp Kettle Newspaper as headlines were read throughout the lesson.

Civil War - Timeline

Civil War - Newspaper

Included in the projects is a student notebook that each of your children can put together as well. We opted out of doing that this time around simply because there was so much richness in what we chose to do already.

All the lesson plans are already laid out for me. As a busy mom of five, this is a huge help to me. All I needed to do was print out the lesson texts and follow the project instructions. The set up is very simple to use and navigate.

I cannot even begin to express how much I love this Time Traveler. I look forward to adding more of their products to our history lessons in the future.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the projects included in the Civil War Time Traveler:

*Please note, this is a CD-R product and materials are not included.

  • 25 Lessons
  • Creative Writing
  • Recipes of the Era
  • Notebook Timeline
  • Factfile Cards
  • Penmanship Pages
  • File Folder Game
  • Notebooking Activities
  • Three-dimensional Projects
  • Authentic Crafts (such as Corn Cob Checkers)
  • 12 LapBook Projects
  • A final “Civil War Jamboree”

If you are going to be learning about the Civil War soon, I highly recommend including this Time Traveler with your studies. It will enrich and bring your lessons to life. They also have Time Travelers for other parts of history. Be sure to check them out in the left sidebar at Homeschool in the Woods website.

Homeschool in the Woods has done such a phenomenal job helping my children explore history through hands-on activities, that I already went ahead and purchased their History Through the Ages Timeline Figures and their Record of Time Timeline Notebook to supplement the rest of our history in a BIG way.

I encourage you to follow Homeschool in the Woods to keep up with their latest releases:


I cannot recommend them highly enough. And surprise!! I’m doing a giveaway!

Giveaway {CLOSED}

Winner: #23 Shannon

I am giving away one of the following {winner’s choice}:

  • The Civil War Time Travelers Study (see it here)
  • The Industrial Revolution through The Great Depression Time Travelers Study (see it here)
  • 20th Century in America Lap Pack (see it here)

To enter:

Leave a comment telling me which pack most interests you from Homeschooling in the Woods. Please be sure your email address is entered into the comment form so I have a way of contacting you if you win.

U.S. Residents only please.

Giveaway will end next Monday, January 20th at 11:59pm EST.

Reading List and Challenge for 2014

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What I'm Reading 2014

I’ve started a Pinterest board to pin all the books I want to read in 2014. My goal is that by the end of the year, I will be able to change the name of the board to, “What I read in 2014″ and start a fresh board again for next year.

Reading has been neglected and I want to get back into it. The best way to do that is to challenge myself. So, here are a handful of the first books on my list to read.

Reading List

{affil links}

Happy Wives Club

You can pre-order Happy Wives Club here. Releases January 7th. Watch for my review next week! (Hint: it’s really good!) Also, if you pre-order, you get a ton of great freebies.

Say Goodbye to Survival Mode

You can pre-order Crystal’s book here. Her’s releases January 21st. Again, so far, very good book. You also get some pretty sweet freebies when you pre-order. Find out what they are here.


Tricia Goyer just released this eBook in December – it’s only $2.99 and is packed with practical help for work-at-home moms like myself. You can get it here.

The Tipping Point

I have heard great things about this book though I haven’t peeked into it yet. It is on a discount, so I snagged it up. You can grab a copy here.

To view more (where more are being added), follow my Books to Read in 2014 Pinterest board.

Pinterest Book Cover.jpg

Also, Jon Acuff has challenged his readers to clear off a bookshelf (whether tangible or digital) and fill it with books read throughout the year. He has invited anyone interested in the Empty Shelf Challenge to be a part of his community Pinterest board, just for this challenge. The object is to share your progress by taking photos and uploading them to the board each time you finish a book and place it on the shelf. My shelf is yet empty, but won’t be for long.

This year I’ll be sharing short reviews of the books I complete in case you are curious as to what to add to your own shelf, and if they are worth the read.

Interest in joining? Head on over to Jon’s blog for more details.

Empty Shelf Challenge


Finally, if you haven’t yet joined the Life: Simplified Project and you want to, you can head here for details on that. I have also started a community board for anyone interested in simplifying their life and sharing their journey. All the details of how to join the project and Pinterest board are here.

Life Simplified JM 2

Free Printable to Remember 2013

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What a great way to record a bit of 2013 then by having your children fill out their favorite things and what they loved about the year?

Free Printable to Remember 2013

Click to download (watermark url will not appear in download) Be sure you save a copy to your computer.

Pinnable Celebrate Printable.jpg

Download this free printable to help you do just that. After your child(ren) fill it out, tuck it away some place safe and repeat in future years! What a wonderful, memorable tradition — and it’s not too late to start! Enjoy! :)

Gift Ideas for Homeschool Moms

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Not sure what to get a homeschool mom for Christmas? There are some awesome tools out there to help a homeschool mom get her year off to a great start as well as gifts that can help them all year long. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

5 Gift Ideas for the Homeschool Mom.jpg
This post contains affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure here.

Gift Ideas for Homeschool Moms

GHC Registration

A registration to Great Homeschool Conventions, with speakers like Heidi St. John, Dr. Susan Wise Bauer, Linda Lacour Hobar (author of Mystery of History) and many more, this is a place of empowerment and encouragement for any homeschool mom. See the full line of speakers here.

Perfect Gift for Homeschool Mom


Comb Binding Machine

Now this little toy tool is used to bind your child’s pages into a bound notebook so all the pages remain in tact. Or, you can use the Comb Binding Machine to bind eBooks that you find more helpful to be printed, such as The Preschool Journey; a full preschool curriculum only available as an eBook, but worth every penny to download and print based on the goodness packed into it.

Comb Binding Machine


Scotch Laminator

I have owned my Scotch laminator for three years and use it often. It is an excellent way to preserve work and make activities more durable – especially those preschool activities. There is really no limit to how you can use this gem. It’s a must for every homeschool family, and it is very affordable.

Scotch Laminator


  Ultimate Homeschool Planner

If you’re looking to buy a planner, it’s a good idea to know the needs of the person your buying for because planner needs are different from person to person. Some prefer electronic methods while others (like me) prefer to write it down.

For homeschool planning, my all time favorite planner is Debra Bell’s Ultimate Homeschool Planner. One of it’s best features is that it is not predated. So I can fill in the dates myself and tailor it for my homeschool year. Some moms prefer the Well Planned Day, which is also a very good planner. But, because it is dated, purchasing it mid-school year costs much of the planner to go to waste.

For everyday life, I use the Franklin Covey Blooms-Classic planning pages. Several years back I bought it complete with a leather case. Now I simply purchase the refills each year and it is worth every penny to help keep me organized everyday. Now, this is a bit of a bulky planner, so it’s not one I typically travel with. I write down my homemaking duties and blog work in the daily pages. I use the calendar for planning out blog posts.

Educating the WholeHearted Child


My favorite, most detailed and thorough book on homeschooling I have ever read is Clay and Sally Clarkson’s Educating the WholeHearted Child. It talks about everything from Home Nurture and Discipleship to Learning to Methods and making it all work in your family structure. It is nearly a 400 page book packed with direction and resources. It is my #1 go to book for homeschooling.


Save Big on Homeschooling

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Just want to share a couple of great homeschool deals with you — from products I already use and highly recommend.

{This post contains affiliate links}

My favorite laminator is on sale at Amazon right now for only $19.99 (normally $80.49!!!)! This only goes on sale a couple times per year and it is well worth it!! I have had mine for a few years now and it is still going strong!

{Be sure to check price when you click over because it can change at any time!}

Scotch Laminator

For those of you who have been eyeing my Illuminations posts - Bright Ideas Press is having a sale on their curriculum now through Monday.

Bright Ideas Press 20% off

Notebooking Pages is offering $25 off their lifetime membership. This is huge savings and worth every penny. I have recently paid for the lifetime membership and love the variety and accessibility of grabbing notebooking pages as I need them.

So if this is something you’ve been sitting on for a while or something you are interested in starting in your homeschool, now is the time!

I will be sharing in future posts how we utilize Notebooking Pages so if you’re not sure how to use them, stay tuned!

Also, one of my favorite books on motherhood is only $1.99 on Kindle. Get Desperate for Kindle here.


Finally, there are just a few more days left for the DaySpring Super Deals and Super Sale. The Super Sale is 30% off everything with code 30SPECIAL, storewide, including items already on sale — excluding only the Super Deals.

Discipleship and Discipline Webinar for Moms 50% Off

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

This post contains affiliate links.

I’m sharing these deals with you because I think they are excellent products, I fully endorse them , use them, and believe them to be excellent resources for moms and families.

Discipleship and Discipline on Demand Webinar

Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson ran a live webinar back in September called Discipleship and Discipline and it is choked full of great encouragement and help for moms. Right now, you can buy it for only $8.99  with code FRIDAY (normally $17.99). This is a steal friends! Sarah Mae and Sally are very down to earth about motherhood, and offer some practical and doable ideas to help you in mothering. It’s not formulated or step-by-step. They focus more on your heart and that of your child’s, which are too unique for boxy formulas.

  Truth in the Tinsel - Advent Devotional


Also available right now is the popular Advent devotional, Truth in the Tinsel, written by my sweet friend Amanda. This is such a simple, well written devotional, with simple craft ideas to make it meaningful and memorable, for you and your children, each day of Advent.

By the way, Advent begins this Sunday! It’s not too late!


And, if you’re a bit too busy during this season to make your own Advent ornaments, Amanda offers them all pre-made for you! Sometimes, you just can’t put a price on keeping things simple.

Truth in the Tinsel ornaments

Sometimes, for me, it’s a decision whether not doing it at all, or taking the simple road and doing it. I’m all about simple!

Finally, Sarah Mae has a wonderful Christmas countdown called More Than Candy that is only .99 right now with coupon code: HAPPYCOUNTING

More Than Candy - 25 Day Countdown to Christmas

It’s 25 days of things to do with your family that matter to the people around you. This is not an Advent devotional. This helps you with ideas on how to serve during this season. Let’s make these days count.

Get it here for only .99 with code HAPPYCOUNTING