Aug 142017
 

Put on your lei, enjoy some Slack-key guitar, and get ready to eat some Kalua Pork, because Swagbucks is holding a Luau Team Challenge to help you earn free gift cards! For those of you who don’t know what Swagbucks is, it’s a website where you can earn cash back on everyday tasks you do online like shopping, answering surveys, discovering deals, and watching videos. You can even earn for searching the web!

If you’ve never tried Swagbucks before because you didn’t know where to begin, their Team Challenges are a great way to learn the ropes! The challenge, begins Monday, August 14th at 8am PT, but you can pre-register starting on Friday, August 11th!

I have found I earn the most, and quickest, when I have a specific goal in mind.  While my sites have been set on a rain barrel, and I am within a few dollars of being able to use gift cards to purchase it, life decided to happen today. Forget just a wrench being thrown into the plans, that was not enough.  Nope. The WHOLE toolbox was thrown at me.  This meant, my goal has changed.  And become much larger.  Perfect time for a team challenge!

The encouragement of my team members will have me finding ways to earn more than I ever would on my own.  It is also very uplifting to have other constantly telling to you keep going, that “you are doing great”, and “we really can earn ___ in by the end of the day to catch the next team” (even if we can’t).

Here’s how you can join the challenge and the site:  

1. Click here to join the challenge and be assigned to a team.

2. Starting August 14th at 8am PDT, in addition to earning SB you’ll contribute points to your teams total as you complete different activities on Swagbucks.

3. Check back on the page often to see the scores and what you’ve contribute so far.   

All members who participate and contribute at least 600 points to their team’s total will receive a SB bonus in the form of a SB Swag Up Rebate on their next gift card! 

Not only that, but if you sign up under me this month and earn 300 SB before September 1st, you’ll get a 300 SB bonus!

Members of the 1st place team will receive a 100 SB Swag Up Rebate, members of the 2nd place team will receive a 50 SB Swag Up Rebate, and members of the 3rd place team will receive a 30 SB Swag Up Rebate. Your SB Swag Up Rebate will be made available on Friday, August 18th at 2pm PT and will expire on Thursday, August 31st at 11:59pm PT.

Aug 112017
 

If you missed out on the most recent SWAGO game, it is not too late to earn money back on your online school supply shopping.

Or perhaps items for the upcoming winter holidays?  How about Operation Christmas Child boxes?  Or to restock supplies at home? Or to donate to your local school or homeless shelter?

Through September 8th you’ll get double cash back (in the form of SB points) or more when you shop for Back to School essentials at your favorite retailers through Swagbucks. They also have offers where you can earn SB points towards free gift cards for trying school-related products and services. Then you can take all the SB points you earn and use them to get gift cards and PayPal cash!

Click here to see all of the deals they’re running, and if you sign up through me during this sale you’ll get $10 for making your first purchase! That’s in addition to the normal SB you get for your purchases.

Aug 092017
 


If you still haven’t done your Back To School shopping, here’s a way you can get paid for finding a great deal for the students in your life. (Or perhaps for your home office needs? Or for Christmas gifts?)

Swagbucks is hosting another round of Shopping Swago! What is SWAGO you ask? It’s
a bingo-inspired promotion run by Swagbucks, a website that rewards you with points (called SB) for completing everyday online activities. You can redeem those SB for free gift cards. If you’ve never used Swagbucks, participating in SWAGO is a great introduction to the site and an easy way to earn a good amount of points quickly.

Click here to get started!

Here’s what you need to know to get your 200 SB Bonus (and don’t worry, you don’t have to make a purchase to complete a pattern, though you do if you want to achieve the harder patterns and earn a high bonus):

  • Shop Swago will begin on Monday, August 7th at 9am PT/12pm ET, make sure you hit “Join” otherwise you won’t get credit for completing the action items. Each square on your Swago Board will contain an action item to complete.
  • Once you complete the action item in a particular square the square will change color signifying the action item is complete.
  • You have a limited amount of time to mark off as many squares as possible so use your time wisely.
  • Be mindful of the patterns and their corresponding bonuses located on the right of your Swago Board. The patterns will vary in difficulty and bonus value.
  • Once you’ve achieved a pattern the corresponding “Submit” button will light up. You can have multiple patterns available for submission, however, you can only submit ONE pattern so choose wisely.
  • The game ends Thursday, August 10th at 12pm PDT/3pm EDT. So make sure to hit “Submit” on the pattern you wish to submit. If you don’t hit “Submit” before the game ends you won’t receive your SB bonus.Also, if you sign up through me this month, you’ll get a $10 rebate when you make your first purchase via Swagbucks Shopping! You can activate it in the “Swag Ups” area of “My Account”

Happy shopping and saving!

Aug 092017
 

Summer break.  A time away from public school.  A time to visit the public pool, the library, various parks in the area … yeah, I had great and wonderful plans.

How many of them turned out? Well, let’s not go there right now.

Something George’s teacher sent home at the end of last school year as a pack of papers.  His OT even send home ideas he could work on.  These were great, and would fit in easily to my plans for a simplified home school/summer school.

I was organized.  Truly.  Each kid had a bind of work to do, a sheet at the beginning saying what needed done that day, etc.  In all, it should have taken us less than an hour a day.  Should have.

Even if things did not turn out like I had them planned, they could have gone worse.  Not exactly optimistic thinking is it?

I have learned over the years to not beat my head against a brick wall if I do not have to.  Though it might take several hits for me to be reminded, I do get there.  Here is one great example:

This is a simple enough worksheet. Or so I thought.  George was to work on this page one day.  I should have taken, oh, 10 minutes.  2 or 3 days later I decided that God gave George his own way of looking at things and I was not going to let a worksheet squelch that trait.

Here is how things were going…during Week 1:

Me – George, for each line there is one item that does not go with the others.  When you find that word, write it on the line to the right.

Already, we are at Problem #1 – George’s reading skills are a bit behind.  While I thought this could be independent work while I read aloud to Jack, it turned into him needing clarification on almost every word.

Problem #2 – even if he figured out the word, he would have to write it out.  Writing takes a lot of effort for him, sometimes he uses creative spelling even if the work is right there, and he gets upset about it and wants to give up immediately.

Solution #1a – “Try your best and I’ll go over the ones you don’t know when I am done with Jack.” Yeah, like that is going to work. Silly me.  He lasted 10 seconds before declaring he didn’t know any of the words and chose to play with his toys. Right. In. Front. Of. Us. While I am trying to get Jack to follow what I am reading. While I am trying to get Jack to sit still.

Solution #1b – “Go play in your room and we will work on this when I am done.” 20 seconds later he is back out again, walking in circles around us.

Solution #1c – “If you do not leave this room right now, your brother is going to get to pick all the movies for the rest of the day.  Now get a book and go. to. another. room. (For further clarification) As in, not where we can see you.”

Once I finally was able to give George my full attention I tackled the second problem.

Solution #2 – “Don’t worry about writing it out.  Just circle it.”

Okay, so now we were off and running.  I sat trying to do paperwork while George asked about 90% of the words.  I leaned over to check his work at one point and asked for clarification.

Me – For #4, why did you write that rain did not belong?

George – Wind can blow around sleet and snow. Sleet and snow are both cold. Wind can be cold too.

Me – Um, okay. What are sleet and snow exactly.  Is rain or wind similar to them in that way?

 

Me – For #9, why did you say coral did not belong?

George – The rest are animals.

Me – Well, that is true. Is there any other way the to make some of the words relate to each other?

 

Me – For #10, why did you write that a ‘kite’ did not belong in the group?

George – Because a cactus grows in sand and you can carry sand in a bucket.

 

At this point, I gave him a hug, told him he could be done with the worksheet, and to go play.

See, none of his answers were necessarily wrong, they were only not the ones the authors were going for.  Most people would see that “sleet, snow, and rain” belong together because they are precipitation, “anenemone, coral, and octopus” belong together due to them being in the ocean, and “sand, bucket, and kite” belong together because you play with them at the beach.

George’s brain doesn’t work that way.  I tried to lead him there.  I was painful.  So painful.  He was frustrated because he just could not see where I was trying to go.

Our relationship is more important than a worksheet aimed at getting him to think like the author wants him to.

No worries, I am not just letting him get by without learning, but there are other ways than worksheets to teach this concept.

Aug 022017
 


This post contains affiliate links.

A day with fun mail, not a bill or notice or advertisement for a new furniture store, is a somewhat rare day lately.  It is even rarer for the fun mail to be for the kids.

This particular day was one of those extremely rare days.  The kids were vibrating with excitement to see what was in the box, and even more so once it was opened.

I am always in search of sensory items, things which may make our day a bit easier or fulfill a need one of the kids seems to crave.  I have found that sometimes the best items are not marketed as such.  When I was given the opportunity to review a Tiny Headed Kingdom stuffed animal, from Calendars.com, I hoped it would become one of those items.

 

The stuffed animal arrived quickly, and thrilled its new owner – Jack.  However, an custody battle quickly ensued with joint custody being negotiated between Jack and George.  It was cute … until it wasn’t.

Apparently both were drawn to the large stuffed animal, “Twist”, thinking they could provide the best care to the newest member of our household.

Twist even came with information about his origin, his birth date, and a bit about his personality.  Jack loved the silliness of one of the stories involving Twist, mentioning it again that night at bedtime.

When I mentioned the Tiny Headed Kingdom animals being large, I am not talking about baby doll big.  When the kids were sitting down, Twist easily covered Jack’s face.  When I held him, I was able to see over his head, but could have rested my chin on it.

While Twist is large in size, he seems to have worked hard to keep the weight off, as he does not weigh much. (I tried weighing him on our scale but he would not register.  My guess is a pound or less.)  If you are looking for weight as a sensory input, this stuffed animal is not for you.  However, if you are looking for something to cuddle, to be able to add pressure to your chest or arms while squeezing (Proprioceptive), these animals would be perfect.

George, our lover of all things stuffed, was quickly found with his arms wrapped fully around Twist, watching t.v.  After an argument, again over ownership of Twist was settled, all was right with the world … and Twist was back in Jack’s bubble of ownership.

Even I was able to cuddle with Twist while watching t.v., after both kids were asleep, feeling fully like I was hugging something, not a limp rag and air.  His stuffing, while not heavy, is dense enough to push back when given a hug or carried around.

 

At night, Twist can now be found in Jack’s room, next to his pillow.  One of my hopes for Twist, and the reason I “gave” him to Jack, was to help Jack gain a sense of something being near him while he is sleeping.  He often seeks out a wall, bed, table, etc. when asleep, only resting fully once he finds an object which will not move.

In the end, Twist did not quite fulfill the need I was looking for in regards to Jack.  I think his weight needs to be more.  Jack did like the soft texture of his fur, though, as well as his size.

As for custody of said Tiny Headed Kingdom animal, for now he resides with Jack.  I do not foresee George taking over care, as Jack has fallen in love, in his own way.

In the photo above, Tiny’s belly is actually pure white.  My camera was having trouble with it and the red curtains behind it.  So, while it looks to have a grey spot, in reality it is pure white. Next time I will know not to sit him next to red curtains. 😉

For the price of the Tiny Headed Kingdom stuffed animals, if you are solely looking for a new stuffed animal for a lover of plush, you might do better looking elsewhere.  If you are looking for something which feels denser than air, is great to cuddle with, is unusual, will withstand daily use, and ships quickly, then this would meet your needs.

To make it even better, through August 31, 2017 use this coupon code to receive 20% off any purchase at Calendars.com

If you happen upon a 2018 calendar you really love, now would be a great time to pick it up. Through August 13, 2017 Calendars.com is offering $1 Shipping on ALL 2018 calendars.  How great is that?!  You do not even need to leave home and you will be able to have this end-of-the year chore taken care of well ahead of time.

 

Shop Toys on Calendars.com

Jul 282017
 

This post contains affiliate links.  However I am also currently doing this, in between a lot of other things, and wanted to share it in case someone else was interested as well.

Swagbucks is holding their Swago promotion starting Monday, July 24th at 9am PDT! It’s just like bingo, but in this case you’re filling out squares as you earn points on their site for doing things you already do online. If you’re thinking of trying Swagbucks, this is a great chance to learn all about how the site works and earn bonus points while doing it.

The best part is that the points you get can be used to get free gift cards to places like Amazon, or PayPal cash!

Fill up your board and then submit your pattern to get even more points – if you can fill in the whole board, you get a 500 SB bonus! That’s enough for a $5 gift card in our Rewards Store.

Click here to sign up and get started! If you sign up through my link and earn 300 SB before the first of next month, you’ll get a bonus 300 SB!

While this SWAGO has already started, your Swago Board is active from July 24 at 9AM PT through July 31 at 12PM PT.  This means you still have several days to complete activities.  For each square you complete, you earn a spin on a wheel which will reward you with various prizes.  You must use your spin opportunities within a set time or else you will not be able to spin the wheel.

My favorite “win” from the last SWAGO was the opportunity to double what I earned taking a survey.

You do not need to purchase anything to participate in the SWAGO board game and still earn a few extra SB.  Good luck and let me know how it goes!

Jul 162017
 

This post contains affiliate links.

On your marks, get set, EARN! Swagbucks is holding a fun team challenge called the “Swagathlon” to help you earn free gift cards!

For those of you who don’t know what Swagbucks is, it’s a website where you can earn cash back on everyday tasks you do online like shopping, answering surveys, discovering deals, and watching videos. You can even earn for searching the web!

In June, I was able to earn 1565 points called SB ($15.65), all without purchasing anything.

While being gone out-of-state one week to visit family.

While moving into our new house.

In essence, around other things I needed to do and without spending any money in order to do so. (I did order something through the Shop the month before and received the SB in June, but did not include those numbers here.)

Here is a breakdown of the activities for June to show where I earned most of my points:
  • Searching the web – 16 SB
  • Referrals – 245 SB
  • Shop – 104 SB
  • Swag codes – 23 SB
  • Other – 162 SB
  • Answer (surveys and profile questions – 448 SB
  • Discover – 252 SB
  • Bonus SB – 52 SB
  • Watch – 101 SB
  • Mobile Watch – 2 SB
  • nCrave – 264 SB

The biggest help to reach this amount of SB with only about a week of effort, was the June Team Challenge.  The encouragement from team members, the extra eyes finding quick earning potentials or knowing which to avoid, and the fun of talking with others who have similar goals always helps my SB earnings to increase.

I have found it also helps to have a purpose for earning or saving.  Personally, I have my eyes set on a rain barrel for our new house. After July’s Swagathlon Team Challenge, I believe I will have reached my goal and be able to order it before the next rain storm is expected.

Knowing specifically what I am working toward, the amount needed, and having a time when I would like to purchase it in mind helps me stay motivated even when I would rather be watching a show on t.v. or mindlessly browsing social media sites.

My goal this month is to earn enough to purchase a rain barrel.

If you’ve never tried Swagbucks before because you didn’t know where to begin, their Team Challenges are a great way to learn the ropes! The challenge, begins Monday, July 17th at 8am PT, but you can pre-register starting on Friday, July 14th!
Here’s how you can join the challenge and the site:  

1. Click here to join the challenge and be assigned to a team.

2. Starting June 17th at 8am PDT, in addition to earning SB you’ll contribute points to your teams total as you complete different activities on Swagbucks.

3. Check back on the page often to see the scores and what you’ve contribute so far.   

All members who participate and contribute at least 600 points to their team’s total will receive a SB bonus in the form of a SB Swag Up Rebate on their next gift card! 

Not only that, but if you sign up under me this month and earn 300 SB before August 1st, you’ll get a 300 SB bonus!

Members of the 1st place team will receive a 100 SB Swag Up Rebate, members of the 2nd place team will receive a 50 SB Swag Up Rebate, and members of the 3rd place team will receive a 30 SB Swag Up Rebate. Your SB Swag Up Rebate will be made available on Friday, July 21st at 2pm PT and will expire on Friday, August 4th at 11:59pm PT.

Jun 132017
 

This post contains affiliate links.

One of the ways we have saved money over the years is by not having cable television.  We found it was not something we watched and would rather spend the money elsewhere.  (For a brief time, our internet was cheaper if we also agreed to have cable … but we forgot we had it and never watched it.)  Instead, we have come to find we prefer watching movies, or streaming televisions shows we are actually interested in seeing.

Recently, my husband added Hulu to our home viewing options.  He was looking to watch a particular show, and I appreciate the variety of option they have available.

If the father in your life is a TV lover, you can get him the gift of a month of Hulu and get paid to do it. Thanks to an offer through Swagbucks, you get $15 (paid in the form of points called SB) for trying Hulu for a month. That will cost you $7.99, so you’re making $7 on the deal!

Hulu has tons of current and classic programming, movies, brilliant original series, and more. Here’s how you do it:

1. Click this link.
2. Create your Swagbucks account (takes 30 seconds)
3. Click “Continue” and sign up for Hulu
4. Enjoy Hulu! You should have your points within 30 minutes.

This is a great time to join because when you sign up through the link above and get your 1500 SB, you’ll get a bonus 300 SB at the beginning of July. So that’s $15 (1500 SB) for trying Hulu plus your $3 (300 SB) bouns, which gets you 1800 SB, which means you make $10 total for giving a cool gift to the Dad in your life (or yourself)!

Haven’t tried Swagbucks yet? They’re a site where you earn points (called SB) for doing things like online shopping, watching videos, taking surveys, and discovering deals and services you might like to try (like Hulu!). You then take those points and turn them into free gift cards to places like Amazon, Starbucks, Walmart, Target, or PayPal cash.

Jun 112017
 

This post contains affiliate links.

To help make your June a little sweeter, Swagbucks is holding a fun team challenge to help you earn free gift cards!

 

Jack has been asking when the next challenge will take place; he loves seeing the teams’ totals increase and leaders change.  My participation level in the various Team Challenges in the past has depended upon what else is happening in life at that particular moment.  If not a lot else is going on, I am able to earn more points.  When I am called away from the house for hours each day, I am not able to do as much, though there is still a lot you can do in the evenings, mornings, or over your lunch break. 

Two weeks ago, George got out of school for summer break, and started his Summer (home) School routine. Jack started Term 3 for school, as we took off more time during the winter months to move and get established in our new community. Last week, we were gone to see family out of state.  Next week, we will be moving our stuff to our new house.

Currently life has something routine-changing going on every week, which throws my kids off and makes my life more emotionally and energy draining. (They do not do well with routine changes.)  I still have high hopes for the Team Challenge, as there are a variety of activities I can do to help reach the 400 Team Points needed to earn the Swag Up Rebate, as well as the personal goal I have set for myself.

One of the reasons Jack likes these challenges so much is that he gets to watch some of the videos as they play.  (Note: not each challenge has the same activities available to earn team points.)  He also “helps” with other Discover activities and is sometimes asked to participate in Surveys.

Some previous team members I have had were at home sick, making it possible to spend 8+ hours a day finding ways to earn points, called SB, while figuring out the most efficient way to do so.  Other members were parents who also worked full time.  They were only able to contribute a small amount of time each day.  The benefit of having a message board for each team is when other team members share what has worked for them and the fastest ways to earn Team Points (which are different than your personal SB earned).  By working together, everyone learns and is able to earn more.

Currently, I have a particular goal in mind, an item for our new house which I would like to purchase in the next week. I am currently 75% of the way to my goal and hoping this the Sweet Treat Team Challenge will help me get the rest of the way there. I find that having an earning goal in mind helps me stay focused and actually increases the SB I earn, and therefore increases the amount of gift cards I can redeem them for.

For those of you who don’t know what Swagbucks is, it’s a website where you can earn cash back on everyday tasks you do online like shopping, answering surveys, discovering deals, and watching videos. You can even earn for searching the web! If you’ve never tried Swagbucks before because you didn’t know where to begin, their Team Challenges are a great way to learn the ropes! Their latest, the “Sweet Treat” Team Challenge, begins Monday, June 12th at 8am PT.


Here’s how you can join the challenge and the site:  

1. Click here to join the challenge and be assigned to a team.

2. Starting June 12th at 8am PDT, in addition to earning SB you’ll contribute points to your teams total as you complete different activities on Swagbucks.

3. Check back on the page often to see the scores and what you’ve contribute so far.   

All members who participate and contribute at least 400 points to their team’s total will receive a SB bonus in the form of a SB Swag Up Rebate on their next gift card! 

Not only that, but if you earn 300 SB before July 1st, you’ll get an additional 300 SB bonus (as long as you’ve signed up under me)!

Members of the 1st place team will receive a 60 SB Swag Up Rebate, members of the 2nd place team will receive a 40 SB Swag Up Rebate, members of the 3rd place team will receive a 20 SB Swag Up Rebate, and members of the 4th place team will receive a 10 SB Swag Up Rebate, Your SB Swag Up Rebate will be made available on Friday, June 16th and will expire on Friday, June 30th at 11:59pm PT.

Jun 102017
 

In April, my husband and I went to the Great Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati.  It has been an annual event for us these past few years, often combining visits with friends from our college years. Granted, it used to be closer.  At LOT closer.

So why did we go this past year?  My parents offered to watch the kids and my husband was going to take an extra day off.

However, plans changed and my husband had to go into work.

Starting a long trip out at 8 a.m. is a whole lot different than starting it out at 5:30 p.m.  Vastly different.  Especially if bed times are usually 7-7:30 and you rarely leave the house after 6 p.m. due to tired behaviors.

Next year … well, I doubt we will attend a conference at this particular location. 😉

At the end of this past week, we embarked upon a long return trip.  The going out part had taken place last weekend, spread across two days as the end destination contained cousins not seen in months.  We (adults) decided it best to not get there after the bedtime hour had occurred.

Coming back, however, was a different story.  With the lure of our beds awaiting us, we started out at 7 a.m. and arrived home 13+ hours later.  It was a long drive, though not nearly as looooonnnnggg as the shorter drive (distance, but not attitude, wise) we took to the Midwest GHC.

And that, dear readers is where I have been this past week and why I suddenly dropped off the face of the earth … or at least the blog.

Between George starting his summer break from public school and Summer (home) School routine, Jack starting Term 3 of AO’s Year 2, and me getting ready for our trip, I had forgotten to schedule posts to occur while we were gone.  I apologize.

This upcoming week is a bit calmer, though it contains activities to prepare to move the majority of our belongings to our new home the week after.  Gardening wise, I hope to: mow both yards, do some weeding at the new house, and cut down some stray saplings at the rental house.

 

Before we left to visit family, George helped me do some imperfect gardening – we spread magnolia marigold seeds from 2014 in the front beds of the new house, covered them over lightly with the mulch, and hoped for rain while we were gone.  There were still some weeds growing, some sort of grass, but I decided not to wait till it was “perfect” in order to use the seeds I had in my collection.

If some of the flowers grow, that would be great.  If they do not, well, no great loss. As they were gathered 2.5 years ago and stored in standard envelopes in the basement, I would be surprised if any grew.  He had fun helping though, so that was worth it.

The flower boxes pictured in this post were outside a restaurant in Cincinnati in April.  It was unusually warm at that time, though pansies and dusty miller are fairly common early garden plants.  As time goes by, both will increase in size, spilling over the sides and adding great color.  They are not overly picky (this was a fairly shaded spot between buildings), and come in a variety of colors.