Menu Monday and Weekly Goals: August 31 – September 5

Oh me, oh my, what a week I had.


Last week was my first week with the students at my new full time job.  My gosh, it was rough.  I’m told that the first week of back to school is always the worst, and that things will get easier as the students get settled into a routine.  I hope and pray this is the case.  I’ll tell you what, I have SO MUCH more respect for special education teachers now.  Working with students with behavior management, focus, anger, anxiety, and other issues is tough.  I’m so grateful for the opportunity.  I am convinced that if I survive, it’ll be one of the greatest career experiences of my life! :D


58f0a8884892aa3ded878c8b76332909I’m not quite adjusted to the full-time schedule yet.  I have been EXHAUSTED.  I’m sure that I’ll adjust in time, and keeping meal times organized will help a lot with that.  We’ll be keeping it pretty simple this week, with breakfasts and lunches being pretty much the same thing each day.  My son will eat his whole grain toast with fresh fruit that he loves.  My daughter will consume her cereal with fruit and carrots like usual.  I’ll continue to eat the country breakfasts.  For lunch, my daughter will have school lunch and my son will have his standard bread, bacon, carrots, blueberries and vitamin.  I’ll have a salad for lunch each day.  Dinners will be varied, of course.  Thank goodness, right?  I’m so boring sometimes.


Monday – Chicken and Dumpling soup – I have some leftover gluten free biscuit dough, so I’ll use that with some of our shredded chicken in the freezer.  I’ll serve this with a lettuce salad

Tuesday – Taco soup – this is another meal that is in my freezer.  I’m so glad I did some freezer cooking over the summer!

Wednesday – Hubby is cooking since he’s off work.

Thursday – Breakfast for dinner (french toast, turkey bacon, fresh fruit)

Friday –  leftover night

Saturday – Out to eat

Sunday – Baked Potato Bar with a Lettuce Salad Bar


The goals for this week are simple, just because I’m a wimp, and I’m convinced I’ll be busy enough at work and cleaning house. :)

  1. Write up and post August’s expense report.
  2. Harvest garden tomatoes and can a batch (or 2) of spaghetti sauce.

That’s it for me!  What great plans do you have for the week?

Personal Water Filters – Emergency Preparedness   Recently updated !

*I received the product mentioned free of charge for the purposes of this review.  The opinions are mine alone.  I will NEVER recommend something I don’t truly believe in.



320px-FEMA_-_37174_-_Emergency_Preparedness_^quot,ready_to_go^quot,_kit.Most of you know that I am into emergency preparedness.  I don’t go as far as to worry about living in tent cities or storing items I don’t use for barter, but I do like to have items around to keep my family safe if something were to happen.  We have a food storage, and I keep several first-aid kits throughout my home and in my cars.  I also keep a 72-hour kit for each of my family members.


A few months ago, I read about water filter straws.  The idea intrigued me, and I wanted to learn more.  They are pretty cool, it turns out!  After hearing about the woman who survived for 9 days in the wilderness in the Sierra National Forest, I’m betting that there are others who are curious about these water filters as well.  What an amazing story that is!  I’m so glad it had a happy ending.  :)


I actually received an Acquapura water filter straw about a month ago so that I could review it.  Let me tell you a little about how these things work:


  • Triple Layer Filtration System – makes water 100% safe to drink; Softens Water and Eliminates Water Odor
    Features a Unique Cap with an Innovative Dust-Free Design; Protecting You from the Secondary Pollution of the Outlet Mouthpiece.
    Certified By the WQA and the TUV-SUD; the Most Respected Ranking Organizations for These Types of Products.
    Filters 99.999% of Waterborne Bacteria Greater Than .01 Microns
    Exclusive Antibacterial GAC “Damping System” with UF Membrane Ensures that Raw Water is Completely Filtrated.
  • • Compact and Light-Weight at just 2.12 Oz (60 Grams)

These things are genius!  I wish I’d learned about them before, but I am certainly grateful that I have not been in a position in which I needed one for survival.  I have already purchased more so that I can add one to each of our 72-hour kits.  I’m thinking they are a must have for any wilderness camping and hiking too.  You just never know, and they don’t take up any space or weigh a thing…so why not?


This is just another item that I think is a must have in our emergency kits.  When disaster hits, water can quickly become a vital resource, but not if you can’t filter it.  Buy yourself some peace of mind and look into these; I really recommend it.  You can click HERE to purchase this specific brand (NOT an affiliate link; I won’t get a penny if you purchase), or search for other brands online.  There are many options, and I really feel that they are worth every penny!




Online Educational Resources   Recently updated !

You all know how much education means to me. I wanted to share some fantastic resources with you:


Leadership Education

TJ-CompCrop-281x300Educators often get so concerned with “what” to teach that they neglect the “how” and “why.” Yet understanding these creates happier, more empowered children. TJEd gives you the “how” and the “why” to make the “what” more powerful, more memorable, more relevant to your children. They will be inspired as you apply the 7 Keys of Great Teaching and the 4 Phases of Learning. You will bring them face-to-face with greatness. And they will love learning. Discovered and articulated by Oliver and Rachel DeMille, Thomas Jefferson Education, or “TJEd,” (pronounced “tee-jay-ED”) is an educational philosophy and a methodology by which great individuals throughout history have been educated. Thousands of families and professional educators are applying those same principles today, with amazing success. The 5 Habits of Highly Successfully Homeschoolers will show you the “secrets” of excellent homeschooling. Use coupon code EDUCENTS-15 to get 80% off your copy here! AND! TJEd is also offering their premium parent training, the 7 Keys Certification ($160 value) – free when you sign up for their newsletter here! Remember, an investment in your education is not a withdrawal from your kids’. It will pay dividends on a gold standard for generations to come! “An Education to Match Your Mission”


Kirkwood Education Online

250x250_Kirkwood Kirkwood Education Online offers much more than academic curriculum. Students are guided through seven stages of character development with exercises that promote spiritual growth, interpersonal skills, and strong work ethic. Every curriculum concept is taught and demonstrated by instructional video and interactive computer lesson. Academic achievement accelerates as students learn to take responsibility for their own education. Students earn weekly printable award certificates highlighting academic progress. Powerful positive affective experiences occur when a student has invested energy into reaching an objective, and that accomplishment is then recognized and validated. Parental involvement is the single most critical factor in a child’s academic success. Kirkwood Education Online facilitates this involvement and affords parents the opportunity and tools to ensure their child has complete mastery of each curriculum component before moving on to the next. Maintaining accurate records is one of the most daunting tasks of homeschool parents. Kirkwood Education Online effortlessly maintains accurate records and provides parents an at-a-glance overview of their child’s achievement and academic progress in real time. Kirkwood Education Online is committed to providing homeschool families with a system of education that will enable every child to develop the skills of success and fulfill their God-given potential.


Kuato Studios – Safari

250X2501 Safari Tales is an enchanting animal adventure game that encourages exploration in reading and vocabulary skills by casting kids as both adventurer and storyteller. From Kuato Studios, one of the world’s leading learning-through-play developers, children play as five baby animal friends, exploring an African savannah teeming with wildlife, mini games and artifacts to discover and collect. Kids learn countless facts about the various environments, inhabitants and items they encounter on their way, building knowledge and enhancing reading skills. At the end of each play session, the child’s adventures, discoveries and achievements are converted into a beautiful interactive storybook. Each tale can be read with parents, strengthening literacy, reasoning and enquiry skills. Curious kids can also construct over a thousand different questions to ask an in-game guide, Darwin, who will supply intelligent and fact-filled answers. By scrolling on-screen world wheels, kids see how words join together to create different sentences, aiding skills in sentence structure, reading and creative thought. Through the game’s ‘Parent Corner’, mom and dad can tailor gameplay, setting reading ages and can control game length from a variety of session times, ensuring playtime fits the family routine. Safari Tales is available on iOS and Android, priced at $3.99.

hi was born out of 25 years of research at Stanford University. They provide adaptive, online K-12 courses in mathematics, language arts, science and computer programming. Their flagship course, Redbird Mathematics: Advanced Edition, features the latest in adaptive
instruction, gamification, and digital project-based learning. Redbird Mathematics won the 2015 Association of American Publishers award for best mathematics resource. This online, K-7 math course offers students over 15,000 exercises, 500 instructional modules (including multiple forms of instruction for key concepts), 50 digital manipulatives, and 75 games. Additionally, students tackle real-world STEM challenges.
Students who take courses can finish 2+ grades ahead. Watch this 3-minute video to learn more about Redbird Mathematics: Advanced Edition.


Cover Story Writing

cover-story-250x250 Middle schoolers love this Language Arts program! In this exciting video-based curriculum from Daniel Schwabauer, the creator of the popular One Year Adventure Novel, 6th–9th graders take a guided tour of the universe of “Story” as they create content for their own magazine. Students write poems, short stories, nonfiction articles, letters, and many other short pieces, all for a magazine of their own invention. They also learn to notice and record their thoughts and ideas by following the creative structure of The Remarkable Journal of Professor Gunther Von Steuben. DVD-based and parent-friendly, the program comes with an optional 12-lesson grammar component, included with purchase. Cover Story‘s approach to grammar de-emphasizes memorization of latinate terms and emphasizes true comprehension. Cover Story transforms writing for both strong writers and reluctant writers. It is fun yet practical, and inspires kids to communicate, through a magazine, what they are already passionate about. As noted curriculum reviewer Cathy Duffy writes, “the delivery and learning methods are so different that even reluctant writers are likely to enjoy the process.” Watch demos at


One Year Adventure Novel

OYAN Educents Guide 250x250 The One Year Adventure Novel writing curriculum guides students (grades 8–12) step by step through the process of writing a compelling, fully structured novel in one school year. DVD-based, self-directed, and parent-friendly, it is ideal for homeschool students! Young writers, no matter how much natural talent and discipline they have, need training in understanding “Story”—what makes a story work. With honesty, passion, and humor, author Daniel Schwabauer takes students behind the scenes of novel-writing. Extensive support resources that come with a curriculum license welcome young writers into a vibrant Creative Community where they can thrive as writers. They can join an active online Student Forum to give and receive feedback on stories, watch monthly webinars on writing topics, participate in contests, and more. The course is worth one full high school English credit. Whether you have a student who loves to write, and you know they need training to take their gift to the next level—or a student who could just use a fun change of pace from traditional English curriculum – we recommend this fascinating high school English course! Watch demos at


Applied Scholastics Online

educents pictureApplied Scholastics Online Academy is a fully accredited non-profit K-12 organization dedicated to helping students acquire real life skills and critical thinking through home study. Applied Scholastic’s vision is that by embracing the uniqueness of the individual they create students who love learning and truly use what they learn to ensure a successful future. Applied Scholastics provides parents with effective teaching tools and step-by-step curriculum designed to make learning enjoyable. For more information contact:


Risas y Sonrisas

RyS_250pxRisas y Sonrisas, “Laughter & Smiles”, is what this award-winning Spanish program is all about…making learning and teaching Spanish fun!

The curriculum is multi-grade appropriate for grades K-5. It provides a variety of creative resources to keep all learning styles engaged – colorful visual aids, catchy songs, ASL (American Sign Language), games, role playing, books, workbooks, online activities and more.

The curriculum covers beginners to advanced concepts in Spanish. The focus is on vocabulary acquisition and practical conversation rather than formal grammar. What sets this homeschool language program apart from others is that it not only includes DVDs, CDs, an instructor manual and workbooks – it also includes a myriad of hands-on learning activities that allow children to explore and manipulate the language they’re learning.

Knowing Spanish is not necessary with the media tools provided in the program and you will learn with your child! The curriculum was developed by native Spanish speaker and teacher. Best of all…children love learning with “Laughter & Smiles!”


Character is Higher Than Intellect

CiHTi LOGO for educents Character Is Higher Than Intellect is based on a 5-level Hierarchy: 1) Self-discipline; 2) Responsible Behavior; 3) Honesty to Self; 4) Honesty to Others; 5) Reverence for Life (for the public school version) and the Creator of Life (for Private Schools and Parents) which encompasses all values. The curricula have a powerful teaching methodology utilizing high-interest media, role-plays, examples and non-examples of the concepts or values being taught. When the methodology is coupled with high-interest stories or scenarios that capture the interest and enthusiasm of the learner, they become involved in the learning process through role-plays and other student involvement techniques, then deep, vital learning occurs; also retention, and transfer is maximized. That is because learners remember: 10% of nonsense syllables; 35% of factual material; 50% of what is heard; 65% of what is seen and heard; 100% of what they feel. The lessons in Character Is Higher Than Intellect are designed to be at the feeling, 100% retention level. There is curriculum for every level, written specifically for that level. You’ll love teaching it and watching enthusiastic students learn vital, life-shaping values, principles and concepts.


Conceptual Academy


Self-study courses in physics, chemistry, and physical science created and presented by best-selling textbook authors and respected college professors Paul Hewitt and John Suchocki are now available for grades 8 – 12 through Each course includes hundreds of video lessons featuring the authors’ recorded classroom lectures, studio presentations, and screencasts. These video lessons reach a
broad range of learning styles while providing the context students need to make sense of the textbook, which is sold separately. Each class within a self-study course is further personalized with the author’s written messages guiding the student through the content. Carefully selected homework assignments, worksheets, chapter summaries, and unit exams allow students to articulate and confirm their understanding. Home-based lab activities are found within the textbook as well as within a separate lab manual. These are genuine, full-length science courses for the college liberal arts major made affordable for high school students seeking an enjoyable introduction to upper level science. Home school group facilitators may request an instructor’s account through which customized courses can be created. Contact Conceptual Academy for more information. Conceptual Academy’s chemistry self-study courses were reviewed by Cathy Duffy, known for her rigorous assessments of homeschool curricula.


Life of Fred


Not sure where to start? Read more about the Life of Fred books on the Educents Blog. Instead of nothing but dry exposition and endless drill exercises, these books contain fun stories about Fred Gauss, a child prodigy math genius. During his hilarious adventures, he encounters every day math situations that call for solving mathematical problems. Children actually want to read these books. The stories carry on through the exercises, leading the student through them. Many of the books have a series of quizzes called Bridges every few chapters. Passing a quiz means the student is ready for the next chapter. Some books have all the problem solutions in them, while others have separate answer keys or companions.


Math Mammoth

1151005_309842519161911_1609575547_n Math Mammoth Light Blue Series constitutes a full elementary mathematics curriculum for grades 1-7. It is mastery-oriented and organized into chapters by topics.Thus, in each chapter the curriculum concentrates on one theme and its connecting topics (such as place value, multiplication, or geometry). Each grade level typically contains 8-10 chapters. The curriculum focuses strongly on conceptual understanding, and visual models and exercises are used extensively. Mental math and number sense are also emphasized. The curriculum is nearly self-teaching for many children, since the full explanations of concepts are included in the student books, thus it requires fairly little preparation time from the teacher. The curriculum also meets and exceeds the Common Core Standards.


Complete Curriculum

Untitled design-14 Complete Curriculum publishes distinctive K-12 digital texts and provides an engaging web-based instructional interface.Your students will experience engaging supplemental activities, real-world application exercises, and 21st- century skills with development activities. Their cutting-edge technology takes students beyond the textbook into a world where what they learn becomes more than answers on a page. It becomes a part of their experience. Further, their program allows educators to supplement and customize each daily lesson in an affordable, accessible and effective curriculum that provides streamlined instruction, practice, reinforcement and testing. By blending academic, social and interpersonal skills development, Complete Curriculum texts promote teacher
and parent involvement in catalyzing a student’s learning ability— in and out of the classroom. Developed by a consortium of teachers, academics and editors, Complete Curriculum texts organize and present content that enables parents to actually participate in helping their child to study or complete their homework, and enables home-schoolers to affordably ensure the curriculum they are teaching their children meets the required grade level content expectations. It also enables beginning educators to confidently engage their students and immediately produce on the first day of class. Experienced educators can creatively adapt each lesson and text to their preferred teaching style and methods.  

Thanks for checking out our Best Curriculum Guide of 2015! We hope you discovered some new curriculums and learned something new about your favorites as well. Happy learning!

Creativity Never Stops Giveaway!

I’ve got another giveaway for you all – I think you’ll love it!!



Creativity Never Stops Creative

Young, Old, or Somewhere In-Between
We all need a way to express our creativity.
Coats and Clark Grand Prize Package

Coats and Clark Grand Prize Package
Make It Coats is the place to discover all that Coats and Clark, the world’s largest supplier of crafting products, has to offer. If you love textile crafting, this is a place especially for you. Feed your creativity and be inspired. Whether you’re a beginner, casual hobbyist or seasoned professional, there’ll be something for you here.

Skein of Tie Dye Resilient Wool Sock Yarn from Expression Fiber Arts

LoveArtsCrafts Ergonomic Crochet Hook Kit

The Crochet Lovers Prize Package
TIE DYE – a brilliant, gorgeous rainbow blend! This Expression Fiber Arts signature sock yarn is perfect for hand-knit socks, shawls, modern baby clothes and hats, accessories, mittens, stuffed animals and anything else you can think of!
With the nine Love Arts Crafts ergonomic crochet hooks in this set you will be able to create many beautiful gifts for your friends and family. The handles allow you to crochet longer without the pain or hand cramps that you often experience with regular hooks.

Because of these great sponsors you have a chance to win 
two great prize packages that are sure to get your creative juices flowing!

What will you create?
Need some inspiration? There all kinds of ideas on my Pinterest Boards!

Follow PaulaMS’ Reviews, Giveaways, & Freebies’s board You Can Do It! – Crochet & Knit on Pinterest.

Follow PaulaMS’ Reviews, Giveaways, & Freebies’s board You Can Do It! – Arts and Crafts on Pinterest.

Enter by 9/13 to win 1 of 2 Great Prize Packages in the Creativity Never Stops #Giveaway

Welcome to the
Creativity Never Stops Giveaway

Hosted By
PaulaMS’ Giveaways, Reviews, & Freebies

Co Hosted By
The Minister’s Wife
Deliciously Savvy
Beyond Attachment Parenting
August 21, 2015 at 12:01 am EST through September 13, 2015 11:59 pm EST

2 Prize Packages
1 Coats and Clark Grand Prize Package $200 RV
1 Crochet Lovers Prize Package $63 RV

Coats and Clark Grand Prize Package $200 RV

The items in this $200 prize package are:
  • Coats & Clark Dual Duty thread 50 spool assortment
  • Make It Coats Bag
  • Make It Coats Mug
  • 2 Make It Coats pens
  • Free Spirit Fat Quarter Bundle
  • Rowan Kaffe Fasset Design Roll
  • Susan Bates Digital Row Counter,
  • Susan Bates Cable Stitch Holders & Handi Tool
  • Susan Bates Yarn Essential Kit
  • Susan Bates Aluminum Stitch Holders
  • 5 Coats & Clark zippers
  • 3 balls Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable
  • 3 balls Red Heart Sparkle Soft
  • 3 balls Red Heart Grande
  • Red Heart Tape Measure
Crochet Lovers Prize Package $63 RV

The items in this $63 prize package are:
  • Skein of Tie Dye Resilient Wool Sock Yarn from Expression Fiber Arts
  • LoveArtsCrafts Ergonomic Crochet Hook Kit
I would like to give a big
Thank You

to all the blogs participating!
By following us on our social networks and by email we are able to bring you the best giveaways possible! Please take a minute to “like” us on Facebook!

Chances of winning depend on entries received.
Open to US residents 18 years and older
Winning entry will be verified


Creativity Never Stops Giveaway

Disclaimer: PaulaMS’ Giveaways, Reviews, and Freebies nor any blog promoting this giveaway, is not responsible for the awarding of the prize. Sponsors are responsible for prize fulfillment.Any Questions about this giveaway? Email Paula At paula_stewart (at) ymail (dot) com.

Disclosure of Material Connection: PaulaMS received the product mentioned above for free to facilitate the writing of the review. Some of the links on this blog post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I may receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, she only recommend products or services that she uses personally and believe will add value to readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Getting in Shape on a Budget – Jump Rope, Anyone?

I am a person who will never own a gym membership.


I simply can’t justify the cost.  I know there are cool exercise machines that I don’t have at home, and I know that going to a gym helps you really be in the zone while working out…but I just can’t convince myself that it’s worth the cost when I can get a perfectly good workout at home.

There are SO many affordable options out there for getting in shape at home.  Some products require a one-time purchase, and then you’re working out for free.  Other options are completely free.  It doesn’t cost a thing to walk around the neighborhood in shoes you already own!  It doesn’t cost a thing to do push ups, sit ups, jumping jacks, or burpees!

I won’t lie, I do have a few small pieces of equipment that I use and love.  I own a couple of exercise DVDs.  They’ve been well worth the cost.  I own a couple sets of dumbbells and an exercise ball.  I own a jump rope.  I LOVE to jump rope, but my wrists tend to get sore when using them a lot….until I found this one:

The rope rotates inside the handle so smoothly that there is no need for me to turn my wrist to compensate the rope turning. I LOVE that about it. It’s really easy to cut to your own personal size, too. Simply unscrew the “cap” from the handle and cut the actual rope to size. My kids both love it and keep trying to steal it from me, but I guess I’m okay with that. :) It seems like a durable rope, and I am getting a lot of use out of it!  The best part is that you can get it on Amazon for a little over $12!


Still need some ideas?  Here are some of my favorite free or affordable workout options and gear:



*I received the jump rope free in exchange for an honest review.  The opinions are mine alone.  NONE of the links posted are affiliate links; I will receive NO compensation if they are clicked on.  I simply like the products. :)
What are YOUR favorite ways to get exercise?


Menu Plan and Weekly Goals – August 17



Another new week, more changes coming.

I started my new job last week.  I’ve been in training, and I’m realizing that it is going to be more physically demanding than what I’m used to.  I’m pretty excited about that, though, because it’ll help keep me in shape!  :)

My daughter is starting school THIS week.  It’s her first year of junior high, so it’s a big and exciting thing for her.  I hope we’ve got everything ready!  Guess we’ll find out soon enough.  I think that as hard as it is to see summer break end, it’s probably good for us to get back into a routine.

20140206-112158Last week, I tried a new recipe for Chicken and Dumplings from More Than Simply Living.  It was a hit!  I’m so glad to have another gluten free crockpot recipe that I can use in my meal rotation now. :)  Here are the meal plans for this week.  As usual, we’re keeping things simple and easy to duplicate.





  • Pb & J sandwiches with carrots
  • Chicken and Cheese Quesadillas
  • Leftover dinners
  • School lunch
  • Salad


  • Hawaiin Haystacks
  • Sweet and Sour Chicken
  • Spaghetti (gf noodles for me) with homemade spaghetti sauce
  • Navajo Taco Bar
  • Leftover night

As for the weekly goals, well let’s take a look at how last week went:

  1. Finish back to school/work shopping– YES
  2. Make a freezer batch of Country Breakfast Bowls. – YES
  3. Vacuum out car.YES
  4. Go to the library and return books and finish the summer reading program. YES, I returned the books: NO, I didn’t get the summer reading program signed off.

The goals for this week:

  1. Make sure all is ready for Munchkin to start school.
  2. Make a batch of homemade pickles (the cucumbers are out of control in our garden!)
  3. Get the summer reading program signed off at my local library.
  4. Have dinner on the table every night (this is a goal this week because it’s my first full week being a full-time employee since having kids and I’m nervous I’ll fall behind).

That’s it for me!  I hope you ll have a great week!  What are your plans?