review – Sue Patrick’s Workbox System


Note: I am doing a two-part review on this system. Shortly after receiving it to review, the company that employs my husband hit financial rocky water. I temporarily do not have the funds to set up the system the way Sue Patrick prefers, and I don’t want to give my opinion of how it works for us until I try it her way. I will review the e-book now & will update with our results!

Workboxes were all the rage this summer on the homeschool forums. I was immediately drawn to the idea for my two younger students. It would allow them to get some of their school work done without constantly asking Mommy what to do next. It seemed like a simple idea, and there were blogs aplenty with set-up info, so was there any reason to read the book? Well, after receiving a free copy to review, my answer would be YES!

Sue Patrick developed the Workbox System after her son was diagnosed with Autism. She has spent years fine-tuning her system and teaching  it to other families. (It works for all children, not just one with learning struggles.) The idea is simple: a shoe rack and twelve clear boxes are used to order a child’s daily work. The child works through the boxes in order and can see at a glance how much work is left.

Information abounds about how to set up workboxes, but Sue Patrick’s book contains so much more than that. She walks you through, step-by-step, the why & how of workboxes (with pics). I am a visual learner and this is a big deal to me. My favorite part of the book is when she shows how to customize different items for your children. She shows you how to set up learning centers using posters, and how to take a common worksheet and make it more interesting (again, with pics!). We are a non-textbook family and this was a big help to me.

I do feel the need to pass along the fact that Sue Patrick and I do not see eye to eye about a few things. (Not that we need to see things the same for me to benefit from her book, but she has very strong opinions about them.)

  • She seems to be a “school at home” person – very structured and classroom-y. We do half of our work on the couch all together.
  • She thinks you should focus on school, & only school, during school hours. I have 5 kids and things like switching out the laundry between subjects are a necessity around here.
  • She thinks there is too much talking going on in homeschools. Not really gonna comment on this one, except to say we’ll have to agree to disagree :-)
  • She does not like people to “tweak” her system. I will be using the box system for my two younger ones, but a folder system for the older kids. Five students x 12 boxes = no room! I don’t think is it reasonable to expect big families to find that kind of money or space.

Having said all that, I’m not going to throw the baby out with the bath water just because we disagree on a few things. I just didn’t want you to be surprised. You can view sample pages HERE.

The Nitty Gritty:

The e-book is $19.95. It includes a link to some basic forms to download. You can view her catalog HERE for more products that go along with the Workbox system.

Things I Like:

  • The book has several ideas for creating learning centers and customized worksheets.
  • This system gives my kids more control over their day and frees me up a little to help the ones who need one-on-one instruction.
  • This is probably my favorite thing – it is easy to add in all those little fun educational projects that we never really get around to. I’m not a naturally organized person and this is a good fit for me.

Value: I think this is a reasonable price for the manual, the helpful photos, and the downloads. Like I stated before, I really benefit from the visuals.

See what my TOS Crew Mates have to say about Sue Patrick’s Workbox system!

*jingle* break it up


Sometimes you can save a little money by taking a set of items and breaking it up into several gifts.

~ Burt’s Bees Premium Grab Bag regularly $50 but on sale for $25 while supplies last


  • 6 Regular-Sized Products:
  • Lip Shimmer Merlot
  • Lip Shimmer Toffee
  • Replenishing Lip Balm
  • Beeswax Lip Balm
  • Spearmint & Lime Body Wash (4 oz)
  • Nourishing Body Lotion (3 oz)
  • 12 Mini-size:
  • Baby Bee Buttermilk Bath
  • All-in-One Wash
  • Lip Gloss Red
  • Lip Gloss Nude
  • Natural Skin Care for Men Soap
  • Peppermint Soap
  • Citrus Spice Soap
  • Baby Bee Buttermilk Soap
  • Orange Essence Facial Cleanser
  • Peppermint Foot Lotion
  • Rosemary Mint Shampoo Bar
  • Therapeutic Bath Crystals
  • 4 Special Gifts:
  • Bamboo Poof
  • Burt’s Bees Gardener’s Gloves
  • Red Wristlet Bag
  • Lip Balm Clip-On
  • Items may vary. All sales final. No returns or replacements

Enter code WINNER for a FREE Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream with $25 purchase.

~ Virginia Soaps & Scents I will be posting a review on this soap next week, but I’ll sum up my opinion for you in one sentence: I love it!! The scents are wonderful and the olive oil base leaves my skin sooo smooth (and I”m not getting paid to say that!) I really want to try the Christmas Scents.

Sampler contains twelve 1.75 oz. bars for $18 in these scents:

  • lavender
  • oatmeal, milk & honey
  • fresh orange coconut lemongrass
  • sandalwood
  • bay rum
  • baby powder
  • victorian rose
  • violets & lace
  • country clothesline
  • the outback
  • waltzing matilda

They have a new deal on their full size 4.5 oz. bars – 10 bars for $35.00.

review – Guardian Angel Publishing


We received 5 e-books from Guardian Angel Publishing to review. You can also purchase the books in CD or print form. I’m really impressed with the educational books, like the bones & earthquake titles. The are full of interesting information and very enjoyable to read – not dull or dry. I would prefer to read a story book in print form, but the science books worked great for us on the computer.

Here are the titles we read:

an1No Bones About It!

There is a bunch of information packed into this little book. Each page has several facts about bones & the body, and then there is a catchy little rhyme at the bottom that teaches the names of the bones in order. The pictures might be a bit graphic for the squeamish, but my gang loves that kind of silly stuff.



This very energetic, colorful book looks at what causes earthquakes and how they are tracked & measured. A few easy activities are scattered throughout and there is quite a bit of info on being prepared in the event of an earthquake. (We don’t have much of a need for that in this area, but I hope they come out with a similar book about tornadoes!!)


Andy and Spirit Go to the Fair

Andy has some physical disabilities, but he is able to overcome some challenges with the help of his horse Spirit. We just recently attended our state fair, so this book had good timing. This was not one of my favorites, but I think a little horse lover might enjoy it.


Maybe We Are Flamingos

This book is too cute! Little Flora and Fernando are worried that they will never be pink like the other flamingos. They find out that the pink color comes from their diet and start imagining what they would look like if they ate broccoli or tacos. This would be an adorable book to read with your pre-k/k child and then do a drawing activity like they did in the book.


Rainbow Sheep

The illustrations are what make this book so sweet. All of the characters are created from felted wool and they are beautiful. A big bonus: there are four pages at the end that give instruction on felting wool and show a few felted projects.

The Nitty Gritty:

  • e-books are $5.00
  • e-book CDs and printed books start at around $10.00 + shipping

Things I Like:

  • The educational books are packed with information.
  • The pictures and writing are very appealing.
  • The e-books are affordable.
  • Even though I prefer a physical book, these were very easy to read when I chose to view them in a 2-page layout.

Value: I think the e-books are a good value. I can’t really give an opinion on the printed books without seeing one.

See what my TOS Crew Mates have to say about Guardian Angel Publishing.

*jingle* free $15 Kodak gift code


Christmas is just a few weeks away, and I think many of us are having to cut corners and get creative with gifts this year. I am going to start posting some of the great internet deals I find and how you can use them to get cheap or even FREE gifts. (I’ll eventually come up with a catchy title & button for this series, but no time for that now! I’m only on my coffee break.  LOL) done!

Many of these deals will be very time sensitive, so don’t just bookmark them & come back later -they might be gone!!

Be sure to subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss any deals!!

Here’s the first deal:

The Kodak Gallery Million Thanks Giveaway

Sign up for their newsletter & receive a $15 Kodak Gallery code. (limited to the first 100,000 each phase, so keep trying)

  • Phase 1 (Oct 20 – Oct 28): Minimum 100,000 $15 Gift Codes will be given away
  • Phase 2 (Oct 29 – Nov 5): Minimum 100,000 $15 Gift Codes will be given away
  • Phase 3 (Nov 6 – Nov 13): Minimum 100,000 $15 Gift Codes will be given away

But wait, it gets better! Go through Ebates to place your Kodak order and get 20% back! If you are new to Ebates you also get a $5 sign-up bonus.

Stayed tuned for more!

HT to Money Saving Mom

review – Sarah’s Wish


I curled up with the free copy of Sarah’s Wish that we received and had a hard time putting it down! Jim Baumgardner, the author of the Sarah Book Series, wrote this book for his nine grandkids. He describes it as Young Adult fiction written by a Christian author. He makes history come alive for his young readers.

Sarah is a twelve year old girl living in 1858. She helps her mom hide runaway slaves as part of the Underground Railroad. Her mom tragically dies in an accident and now Sarah must be brave, keep her secret, and help deliver the “packages”. (My daughter & I are both a little bummed that a parent always seems to die in stories these days.)

Mr. Baumgardner has done such a good job of creating interesting characters that pull you right into the story. He comes across as quite a likeable character himself in his emails! Our book included a link to an audio download that our whole family will listen to as soon as I can figure it out 😉 We are studying American History this year and we are eager to read the entire series.

The Nitty Gritty: free s&h and books come autographed

  • Sarah’s Wish  $9.99       (126 pgs.)
  • Sarah’s Promise $13.50 (248 pgs.)
  • Sarah’s Escape  $17.50 (304 pgs.)

Things I Like:

  • There is a glossary at the beginning of the book.
  • We would much rather learn history through a living book than a dry textbook.
  • The book includes a link to a free audio download.
  • Our book was autographed and included a beautiful butterfly sticker.
  • The author is a hoot! He has a wonderful monthly newsletter full of info about the olden days. (See top right corner to sign up.)

Value: I think you get your money’s worth on this one. Your purchase includes a personalized autographed book, an audio version, and a monthly history lesson delivered to your inbox. This is a put it on the shelf & keep it book. This would make a great gift.

See what my TOS Crew Mates have to say about Sarah’s Wish!

ministering @ home


My morning devotional time for the past couple of months has been spent working my way through Titus 2. One day I would read the book of Titus and the next I would read a lesson from God’s Beautiful Design for Women: Living Out Titus 2:1-5. (The Revive Our Hearts Ministry is a fantastic source for studies. Nancy Leigh DeMoss is gifted by God to convict hearts and show us how to apply Scripture.)

I’ve begun to read familiar Bible verses in a whole new light. Instead of reading them in the context of interacting with fellow Christians and the church body, I now try to read them as they would apply to my children, husband and home. All of a sudden new life is being breathed into Scripture!

I want you to give it a try. Read the following verses and think of how you can apply them specifically to your family. It will change your actions and your speech….oh, and it might sting a little too 😉

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.            Titus 2:7-8

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Colossians 3:12-13

So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.  II Timothy 2:22-25

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.                        I Peter 4:8-10

seeking autumn


“Delicious autumn!  My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth
seeking the successive autumns.”

–   George Eliot

review – Nature Friend magazine


Nature Friend magazine was met with Oohs and Aahs as soon as it was pulled out of the mailbox. We received a free copy of the August and September issues. The photography is stunning! Everything about this magazine is beautiful, from the God-focused articles to the lovely thick paper on which they are printed.

There is no advertising in Nature Friend, so it is just page after page of fascinating animals, insects and natural habitats. We were excited to find an informative article on Cicadas since that was a popular topic in our home at the time. One of my favorite features is called Wondernose. It is fun to read the clues out loud as everyone tries to guess the mystery creature. The monthly drawing lessons are perfect for nature journals. You can view sample magazines HERE.

Our magazine included an 8-page Study Guide companion. It is conveniently bound into the middle of the magazine. The study guide reinforces the articles with puzzles, a writing assignment, and even a nature photography lesson. The study guide costs $2 a month. You can view sample study guides HERE.

The Nitty Gritty:

  • $36 for a 1 year subscription
  • $68 for a two year subscription
  • $24 additional for 1 year of study guides

Order by November 30th and get $3 off with the code BLOG93

Things I Like:

  • The focus on God’s amazing creation.
  • It is enjoyed by the whole family. I might even like it more than the kids!
  • The pages are thick & high quality. These are meant to be kept and enjoyed for years to come.
  • Because there are no ads to chop up the articles, it is very easy to browse just  an article or two at a time.

Value: The cost is a little high on this one for me right now, but I definitely think you get what you pay for in this case. I will be subscribing as soon as the funds are available. I won’t be getting the study guide, but I can see how it would be worth the money if you want to use Nature Friend as a curriculum.

Go see what my TOS Crew Mates have to say about Nature Friend magazine!