Oct 172017

This was the scene a few months back, at the house we were renting.  I was at the other end of the house when I heard a loud “Boom”.  I figured Jack had jumped off yet another piece of furniture.

When I did not hear footsteps or kids talking, I went to check it out.  What I found was two kids quietly, and appropriately, watching television.  Both were honestly innocent as to the cause of the sound. (Yes, mom can tell when you are not being truthful, no matter how much you try.)

Knowing I did not make up the noise, I investigated further.

Seeing that everything inside the house looked normal, I opened the back door.  And this is what I saw.  The tree top actually brushed along the windows to our rental house, while the base was in the neighbor’s back yard.

I did a quick check of the inside for damage, did a visual inspection of the roof, gave our rental company a call, then knocked on the neighbor’s door.

The kids thought it was fun and ran out to climb on the limbs.  It was a great activity till I began hearing the deep rumblings of thunder and had to cut the fun short.


Do you see where the tree used to be standing?  Did you notice a lack of a root ball?  This tree actually fell over right at the root collar, which is not an uncommon event for these trees.

Not only do they have a weak limb structure, due to the angle of the branches coming off the trunk, but they are not known for strong bases.

My recommendation?  Find a different tree to plant. There are options which will last longer and cause fewer headaches.

These trees also cross pollinate with native trees, creating a hybrid which is very difficult to eradicate.

So, please, go native.  Save us all a hassle while creating something which will last many years.

Oct 152017

Here is a list of resources I have used in years past with my children.  Nothing fancy with this list, but it might hold something you find useful.


A Song – Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read Kindergarten – “-at”, “-an”, “-ack” words

CVCC Word Family Song (to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus”) – “-ack”, “ick”, “-ock”, “-uck”, “-all”, “-ell”, “-ill” words

Rhyming words Word Families by talbert – videos for 23+ rhyming endings

Read Word Family – videos for various word endings

Word Families by LearningAlong – some videos I like, some I think you’ll find better ones for.  Videos for various word endings.

Craft or activity ideas you can use with your child to practice words

Word Family “ack” Book – reading of a picture book.  

Word Family “ack” Bingo Game – make a board with the specific words your child needs to learn

fun “dragon” story  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOqa7dRjNs8


Intro to Addition & Subtraction, 1’s Facts,

Oct 152017

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A lot has been happening here lately.  Not in the canning or freezing portion of life, but life in general.  After a few months off of my normal cooking methods, I am slowly getting back into making some of our favorites, and some of the more attention and time consuming meals.

I have also been able to try a few new recipes with the goal of saving time and using what we have on hand.  Thankfully, most of the ‘new’ stuff has been well received by over half of the household population.

A few of the meals are planned such that my husband eats something different than the rest of us:

  • He likes to have salads. My kids are not huge lettuce fans.
  • My kids like chicken, fish, and pre-made meatballs.  My husband does not.
  • I can tell my kids, “This is what is for supper. I am not making something else.”  And they eat it.  My husband, well, he can always make himself a sandwich later.

This means a few times a week my husband has salad and the kids and I eat something else.  It works for us at this time.

But what if we had really picky eaters?  For reasons I am not happy about, my kids really like food and have few dislikes.  Some of the things they do not like, we can work around fairly easily.  Others, well, eggs are eggs and we have them at least once a week.  “Sorry, Kid, that is what is for supper tonight.  Would you like cheese melted on it?”

Katie, from Kitchen Stewardship and Kid Cook Real Food, has a FREE online event later this week if you have kids who are pickier than mine (usually are).

Raising Adventurous Eaters: 7 Proven Strategies to End Mealtime Madness and Get Your Kids to Eat Healthy Food (even if they’re picky!)

Katie Kimball, who is a teacher and mom of 4, will show you:

  • 7 Proven Strategies to Make Family Mealtimes Peaceful (even if you have picky eaters) Plus The Surprising Reason Some Picky Eaters Have More Going on Than Just Food
  • 3 Choices to Give Your Kids That Will Make Healthy Food a Reality in Your House — but They Still Think They’re in Control
  • 2 Way-too-common Ways Parents Sabotage Dinner Without Even Realizing it
  • Why the MS90 1-and-Done Snacktime Rule will be your new best friend
  • The Biggest Mistake Parents Make when inviting their kids into the kitchen…and how to avoid it.

Are you ready to experience a family dinner that everyone enjoys – even the adults?

You won’t want to miss this free event – your kids’ futures depend on it!


For attending, you’ll also get a free knife skills video from her Kids Cook Real Food eCourse that you can use to teach your kids (of any age!) how to use dull and sharp knives safely, in a fun and kid-friendly way.

Over 20,000 families have used this class to teach kids knife safety and techniques. I’m so excited that you get a chance too (it’s usually part of a $20 set of 5 videos)!


The training has 3 times to choose from so it’s even easier to get there:

* Thursday, Oct. 19th, at 1PM Eastern (10AM Pacific)

* Tuesday, Oct. 24th, at 7PM Eastern (4PM Pacific)

* Saturday, Oct. 28th, at 4PM Eastern (1PM Pacific)

It will be recorded and signing up is the only way to get the replay!

Oct 122017

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If you have been following this blog on Facebook, you will have seen several times where I have shared about gardeners looking back on the gardening season to reevaluate what has worked and what has not.

I have done this in the past and found it to be a great learning experience.  It also allows me to realize all that has been accomplished over the previous weeks and months.

Gardeners are not the only ones to look back and reevaluate past actions, nor is gardening the only area of life to which one can apply this activity.  Perhaps it is my introverted nature that often has me doing this as I go through life. I find a balanced look at past and present actions can be a great opportunity for personal growth.

AlinaJoy from Good Old Days Farm has recently gone through a similar process with her blog.  After life brought some (good) changes, she reevaluated the direction her blog was taking.

Good Old Days Farm is where I found the Easy Peasy Chores a few years ago.  It was a great system to use with our pre-readers.  Even now the kids would love the ease of knowing what is expected of them.

After some thought and consideration, Good Old Days Farm is getting a new makeover.  The most obvious will be a name change to Happy Unconventional Life.  What is not changing is the content to help you create a godly family culture.

To celebrate my new blog… I have a HUGE launch! I’ll be opening the doors for the very first time to my brand new resource library. Inside the Library, there are hundreds of pages of files about Family Fun, Homemaking Help, Bible Study and Encouragement. Best of all, everything will be free, Free, FREE.  ~AlinaJoy @ Happy Unconventional Life

Not only do you get access to this free resource, but for those to sign up now there is an Early Bird Bonus of resources from 20 various bloggers!  These have been put together to create a Faith & Family ToolkitThis bonus is only available until October 16th.

My home has benefited from resources and wisdom of shared by AlinaJoy, and will continue to do so in the future.  (Though, a particular son of mine would not mind if I conquered the laundry pile by allowing him to go naked, or wear the same outfit for days on end.  But that is a different issue altogether.)

I am looking forward to having access to this free library of resources and the Early Bird Bonus available for the next few days.  I am curious to see what the Electronic Free Bingo has in store for our family; the struggle is real over here.

As an added bonus, if this has not been enough already, once you sign-up you will be presented with a limited time offer to redeem a coupon which can save you several dollars off one of their most popular ebooks.  You need not take advantage of this offer to access the rest of the FREE materials, but I did want to make you aware of the opportunity in case you have had your eye on this great resource.

How about you?  What resource are you most excited about?

Free Resource LIbrary for Busy Homemakers


Oct 112017

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It is finally my favorite season of the year.  Now, if it would only feel and look like my favorite season of the year.  Currently it seems like an odd mix of rainy Spring and humid Summer.  Even the kids did not believe me when I told them it was officially Autumn.

In hopes of encouraging a glorious sensory experience this season, I am trying to will the trees around me to look like those in the image below.  So far I am not having much luck in the way of colorful results.

What I have had luck with is finding ways to add points to my Swagbucks account each day.  It may not seem like much at the end of each day, but a little progress each day really begins to add up.

Last month I was able to use it to buy a large bag of cashew nuts online and save over $20 on our grocery bill.  We use these particular nuts each week on our salads.  Even better was the fact that the price per ounce was better than I could have gotten them for in the store.  This made it feel like a double win for me.

I also did something not so smart last week and will be using some of the remaining balance toward fixing my mistake.

We recently got rid of our 18 year old, almost 300,000 mile car.  The issues with it were things I could handle, until I realized there were electrical problems (again), which resulted in the brake and reverse lights along the trunk to no longer work.  That was the last straw.  Off to be recycled it went.

I thought I did really well getting all my stuff out of the car before saying “Goodbye” to it.  And I did.  Except I forgot our garage door opener remote on the visor.  Oops.

While not the smartest thing, it is not the worst mistake ever.  Especially when I can help ‘fix’ the problem with a gift card from Swagbucks.

Swagbucks is celebrating this wonderful season with another big “Swago” promotion starting Monday, October 9th at 9am PDT!

Swago is 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, meaning you can get more gift cards faster. Here are a few tips:

  • Each square on your Swago Board will contain an action item to complete. They can be anything from getting a search win, completing a survey, or just visiting one of our popular stores!
  • Once you complete the action item in a particular square the square will change color signifying the action item is complete.
  • You have until 12pm PT/3pm ET on Monday, October 16th 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.
  • Each activity you successfully complete on your Swago Board will give you anywhere from 1-20 spins on the Spin & Win Wheel. PLUS, when you submit your board for a bonus you’ll get additional spins. The number of spins will depend on the pattern you complete. The wheel has all sorts of great prizes that you can win, and each spin is a winner!

The Spin & Win Wheel will be available all throughout Swago and you have until 11:59pm PT on Monday, October 16th to use all your spins.

I earned an extra 33 SB

Today I earned an extra 33 SB, several entries to a sweepstake, and double SB on future surveys from the spins on the wheel.  The spins were earned through activities I would normally do on SB, none of which involved a purchase.

While I might do that later, for a gift card to a store I plan to shop at, it is not necessarily something you need to do in order to earn points for a gift card. I showed how I was able to earn 300 SB over two days without purchasing or downloading anything.

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, which is enough for a $5 gift card from the retailer of your choice.

Click here right now and click “Join” to get started! If you don’t already have a Swagbucks account, you’ll be able to quickly sign up; PLUS, if you earn 300 SB before the first of next month, you’ll get a bonus 300 SB!

Oct 092017

This post contains affiliate links.

Now that Halloween is almost here, Swagbucks has increased cash back at a big group of their Halloween-related stores, so you can earn cash back while getting costumes, decorations, and more for the end of the month. Just click here to see the deals, and sign up for Swagbucks (if you haven’t already) to start earning cash back in the form of SB points, which you can exchange for gift cards or PayPal cash.

The sale is going through October 31st, and if you sign up through me, you’ll get a 1000 SB rebate ($10) after your first shopping purchase through Swagbucks!

Oct 032017

This post contains affiliate links.

If you haven’t tried Swagbucks before, you can get a bonus $3 for signing up during October as part of their Three for Fall promotion. Swagbucks is a rewards site where you earn points (called SB) for things you’re probably doing online already, like searching, watching videos, discovering deals, and taking surveys. Then you take those points and exchange them for gift cards to places like Amazon, Starbucks, Walmart, Target, or PayPal cash.

In all, during the month of September, I earned 2,516 SB.  That is enough to redeem for a $25 gift card or money through PayPal, and still have some SB left over.

Why am I so excited about Swagbucks?  Because I have used this site for years and earned many a gift card through them.  Some years it was used to help purchase gifts, while other years it was used for ordering grocery items online.

This year I have used Swagbucks to help offset home school materials and was looking to purchase a rain barrel for our home.  However, circumstances changed suddenly, more on that later, and it was used to purchase grocery items from Amazon.com instead.

When you sign up through me this month, you can earn a $3 bonus! Here’s how:

1. Sign up using this link

2. Earn 300 SB total before 11/1/17. You’ll get a $3 (300 SB) bonus for it!

3. If you want even more bonuses, you’ll get a $10 (1000 SB rebate) bonus for making your first shop purchase! That’s in addition to the SB you earn for every dollar you spend.

If you are not sure how to earn 300 SB, take a look at this post where I earned 300 SB in two days’ time, without having purchased anything.


Oct 022017

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In my mind, I am a young adult with endless energy and possibilities.  In reality, well, I have responsibilities and am not as limber as I once was.

Braving It: a father, a daughter, and an unforgettable journey into the Alaskan wild by James Campbell spoke to my inner younger self, conjuring up images of an adventure I would love to take.  From the coolness of my air conditioned house, sans mosquitoes, I was able to live vicariously through James and his daughter, as they traveled to Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to help his cousin build a cabin. (As was talked about in the book, this is a privilege which was grandfathered in for a few seasonal residents when it became a national wildlife refuge.  Sorry for squashing any dreams you may have had of doing the same during retirement.)

James’ cousin, Heimo, was building a new cabin along a river to use during the trapping season.  Due to restrictions of the location, the building would need to be completed in a small window of time and be very labor intensive.  James had been to Alaska before, was skilled in the outdoors, and said “yes” when his cousin asked for his help.

He also saw this as a good opportunity to give his daughter, Aiden, the Alaskan adventure he had promised her.  At 15-year old, James was not sure how Aiden would handle the ruggedness of the setting, nor the hard labor that was involved.  While they were an active family, it is different when you are in bear country, working in clouds of mosquitos, and sleeping in a tent.

Aiden ended up handling it better than he thought, and it turned out to be an experience which brought them closer together.

Braving It‘s 355 pages talked about more than a single trip to help build a cabin.  They actually went three time throughout the course of the book – once to help build the cabin, once to help hunt and trap, and once with a two other people on a hiking and kayaking trip along the Hulahula River.

With the book separated into three connected parts, there is not a lot of detail about each point in the story.  However, the overall theme of finding one’s self, of facing challenges, and accepting we are not in control of everything weaves throughout the story.  If you are looking for details on how to build a cabin, this is not it.  If you are looking to connect and learn from someone else’s experience living in a tough wilderness, learning to let go as a parent, and a look at a disappearing wilderness, then you are in the right place.


I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Sep 272017

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Disneyland is a popular destination for family vacations.  While most will not go every year, I know many who have been at least once.  Recently two of my friends went with their families and returned with many photos and memories of time spent there.

From past experience visiting as an adult, I know that it is also important to plan ahead.  There are so many activities to do and things to see, you could spend your whole vacation there and not see everything.

It can also get expensive is you do not plan ahead and pay attention. There are many money saving ideas for a family who is looking to vacation in the Land of Magic.  While the internet is full of articles and tips, here is a new way to help save on such a trip.

Swagbucks, the online rewards site where you earn cash and free gift cards for the everyday things you do online, has added Disneyland eTickets to their lineup of rewards!

If you haven’t used Swagbucks before, here’s how it works: You get points (called SB) for things like online shopping, discovering new products and services, answering surveys, watching videos, and even searching the web. Then you redeem those points for gift cards from places like Amazon, PayPal, Walmart, Target, Starbucks, and now you can redeem them for tickets to Disneyland!

For you Disney fanatics out there who are planning a trip to The Happiest Place on Earth, Swagbucks is a great way to stretch that travel budget further. You can earn while booking your hotel, get gift cards for travel and restaurants while you’re away, or just offset the cost of the tickets using your SB points!

Here’s some information from their FAQs about it:

How will I receive meTickets?
These are electronic tickets that will be delivered to you via email.

Where can these eTicket be used?
These eTickets are specifically for use at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, CA, and cannot be used at Disney World in Florida, or at any Disney Stores or other Disney resorts. Tickets cannot be used for admission to special events (ie. Mickey’s Halloween Party).

What type of eTickets does Swagbucks offer?
2 Day, 1 Park, Child (ages 3-9)
2 Day, 1 Park, Adult (ages 10+)
2 Day, Park Hopper, Child (ages 3-9)
2 Day, Park Hopper, Adult (ages 10+)
3 Day, 1 Park, Child (ages 3-9)
3 Day, 1 Park, Adult (ages 10+)
3 Day, Park Hopper, Child (ages 3-9)
3 Day, Park Hopper Adult (ages 10+)

What happens if I redeem for the wrong ticket?
These eTickets are non-refundable. Please make sure you are redeeming for the correct ticket and pay close attention to the type of ticket you are selecting, as there are different tickets depending on the amount of days you wish to attend the park, the type of ticket (one park per day vs. Park Hopper), and the age range the ticket is for (adult vs. child). Adult tickets are for ages 10 and up.

Also, please keep in mind it may take a few business days for you to receive your eTicket, so be sure to give yourself enough time when redeeming before you plan to visit the park.

Sep 192017

The digital rewards Swagbucks just hit a major milestone – they have given their members over $200 million in cash and free gift cards since 2008! I use Swagbucks all the time to get free gift cards doing stuff I already do online, like shopping, answering surveys, watching videos, discovering great deals, and searching the web. To demonstrate how big a number 200 million really is, here are some fun facts:

$200,000,000 is a huge number, and to celebrate they’ve been holding a “Swago” promotion for the past week! (It ends at 12pm PT/3pm ET today.)

If you’ve been playing, you’ve also been getting spins on their Spin & Win wheel. Starting at 9am PT/12pm ET today, you can start cashing in on those spins! The wheel will close at 9AM PT/12PM ET on Thursday, September 21st.

Every spin on the wheel results in either SB earned, entries into an Exclusive Limited Time Swagstakes or an exclusive Swag Up. Click here right now to start spinning!

**The SB options on the wheel will credit immediately. Please note, the SB you earn from the wheel will not count towards your Daily Goal meter. The Swag Ups will be live for a couple of weeks and will expire 15 days from the time they are applied to your account so there will be different expiration dates.

  • Shop Swag Up Bonus: Make a qualifying purchase before October 1st and earn a 500 SB Bonus when your Shop & Earn SB Credits! Manual crediting of SB will not count.
  • SB Local Swag Up: Earn SB from SB Local before October 1st and earn an additional 200 SB Bonus! Manual crediting of SB will not count. Must earn atleast 25 SB from your SB Local purcchase. to qualify for the additional 200 SB bonus.

**All Swag Up and Double Search and Survey SB will credit back as Bonus SB which means they will not go towards your Daily Goal Meter

This post contains affiliate links.  When you click through to Swagbucks and join, I will receive, at no cost to you, a portion of points you earn.  That you for helping support this blog and my love of shopping at Amazon via earned gift cards.