May 022017
 

The May flowers are here, and Swagbucks has brought a $5 bonus!

When you sign up through me this month, you can earn a $5 bonus! Here’s how:

1. Sign up using this link

2. Earn 300 SB total before 6/1/17. You’ll get a $3 (300 SB) bonus for it!

3. If you spend at least $25 through Swagbucks Shop* you’ll get another $2 (200 SB) bonus on top of the cash back you’ll get from shopping. If you have some shopping to do online, just go to Swagbucks first and visit the store through them. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but you’ll get SB points for every dollar you spend (on top of the bonus)!

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.

That’s it. It’s super easy, and Swagbucks is for real. I use it myself, and I’ve earned $55 (5582 SB) in the first 3 months of the year.  This is a bit lower than I normally would have earned, though almost a month of that time I was out unable to do my normal activities.  I also did very few surveys and no free trials, both of which can be sources of larger SB earnings. (You do not have to complete surveys or trials in order to earn SB; it is only one option.  There is also no tracker which you must download.  Earning is as easy as logging into their site and choosing which activities you would like to complete.)

The SB were redeemed for PayPal and Amazon gift cards, resulting in home school materials purchased for this upcoming year, as well as replacing a broken radio in our home.  Every little bit helps and begins to add up, especially when I can do these things without having to leave home or interrupt a large portion of my day.

*You must receive your shopping SB before July 1st (I think they mean June 1st, but I will check to make sure on this detail.)

This post contains affiliate links.  As a referral, I receive a small amount of bonus SB whenever you also complete activities and earn SB.  These help me continue to purchase items for our schooling and home needs.

May 022017
 

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Swagbucks had a fun team challenge to help you earn SB from Swagbucks!  Yes, this part of my life has now extended to all parts of my life.  No longer am I restricted to only hearing about this for hours a day while Jack retells step by step the movies, t.v. shows, and games.  It is a good thing I like it as well, though not as intently as he does apparently.

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 “Swag Wars” Team Challenge, begins Monday, May 1st 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 May 1st at 2pm 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 May 1st, you’ll get a 300 SB bonus (as long as you’ve signed up under me)!

Members of the 1st place team will receive a 50 SB Swag Up Rebate, members of the 2nd place team will receive a 35 SB Swag Up Rebate, members of the 3rd place team will receive a 20 SB Swag Up Rebate, members of the 4th place team will receive a 10 SB Swag Up Rebate, and members of the 5th place team will receive a 5 SB Swag Up Rebate. Your SB Swag Up Rebate will be made available on Friday, May 5th and will expire on Wednesday, May 31st at 11:59pm PT.

May the Force be with you!

May 012017
 

child running into fountain

Did you know, if I do not post for 4 days, the number of readers on this blog goes down?  Surprising, right?!

Okay, not so much.

With an award winning post title like the one above, I am sure the numbers will go up today … okay, probably not. 😉

Seems I am 0 for 2 today on the blog!

Speaking of the blog, I have either been very much here or very much not as of late.  To say this past month has not gone as I planned it would be an understatement. I apologize for the inconvenience of not knowing.  It really is an area I am trying to work on.

rose bush thorns

After taking our lllloooooooonnnnngggg trip last week to the home school conference, my body decided the experience was too much stress.  It then reacted accordingly for this whole past week.  When I had finally thought I was past being stressed from all the changes and the surgery, I reverted back to being exhausted and nauseous for several hours each day.

It was not as bad as it was previously, but enough to be annoying and greatly slow down my days. I had to be mindful of what I chose to do each day – one big thing and two smaller things.  Everything else on the list happened if I had the energy.

If I tried to do more, I paid for it the next day – best to stick with what worked and move at a turtle’s pace.  Hence, no posts toward the end of the week; they did not make the list. 😉

I think I have mentioned before what I do to help lower my stress levels when my body reacts this way.  In case you did not see it, and ever face something similar, here are a few of the steps I take to combat the feelings before they lead to larger issues (been there, done that; it isn’t fun):

  1. Eat breakfast twice – first one is smaller, focusing on getting something in me, preferably a protein, and immediately upon waking.
  2. Get outside. Nature calms you, even if intermixed with car sounds.  If no birds are around, download and play nature sounds, though the real thing is better.
  3. Drink green tea.
  4. Go for a walk. Even if it is only in circles around your deck. (Useless fact – 115 laps around my deck equals a mile…Make sure to switch direction every so often.)
  5. Get sunshine on you. Vitamin D can help you feel better.
  6. Don’t worry about the smaller stuff. Your kid wants to take his lunch box and cold pack to school so his water bottle at snack time is cold? Say, Yes, and move on.
  7. Listen to the Bible audio version style, since you are up at 4:30 a.m. anyway. (Amazon has mp3 versions you can play on an app or your computer. Some are free if you have a Prime account.)
  8. Read a book, unless it makes you dizzy, then go back to #7.
  9. Go to bed early.  My body has been waking up at 4:30 a.m., no matter the time I go to bed.  However, being tired makes me feel even worse the next day …. so, 8:30 p.m. bedtime it is.
  10. If you do happen to wake up at say 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. or any other o-dark-thirty time and your stomach won’t stop turning so you can sleep … drink a cup of water.  Maybe even take an antacid chew-able.  Water can do a lot to help our bodies heal themselves.
  11. Distract yourself.  After a few days of whining internally, I found that getting out of the house and talking about something completely different really helped.  Don’t push it too much, but start focusing on other completely unrelated items for a time.

My husband thinks I am too complicated, having these ‘rules’ in place.  He prefers to spend several hours at the gym.  Normally I would agree.  However, that is not always possible and I needed to find things to help while still being at home, schooling, parenting, and trying to keep the house running.

What he did do to help was take a kid or two out for activities, even when I did not feel like going.  “Walking around in 88 degree weather while looking at art? You go right ahead; I will stay home and play a board game.”

He also gave me grace when I did not have the energy to do the dishes at the end of the day.  Our dishwasher is broken and I had been doing them by hand.  Not a big deal, but when you feel like you might fall asleep in the middle of washing a cup … the dishes can wait till the next day.

spring flower collage

Today, I am feeling better.  I woke up at 4:30 a.m. (again), drank some water, went back to sleep till 6.  Woke up feeling not-nauseous, ate breakfast, got everyone ready for their day, then went to an IEP meeting.  I seem to have gone to one each month since the beginning of the year.  The joys of moving states and school districts.

I plan to grab lunch out, once this post is finished, before going to carpet stores to get some samples.

The goal is to be in the new house in June.  New carpet is really the only thing we wanted to have done before we move in.  With no furniture currently in the house, this is the perfect time to do so.

While it needed to be done, there were other Big Items on my to-do list (spring break, surgery, updating insurances, grocery shopping…getting better) which needed to be done first.  Now that those are over, and I was able to get a person out to measure, we are now moving on to actually choosing something.

I have slowly been taking items over and unpacking them, though nothing large at this point.

Last week I did grab a bag of potting mix to start some seeds/transplants in this upcoming week.  While I may have missed several vegetable planting times, there are others that are still able to be started.  I waited till after the storms went through and cooler weather was forecast for a few days.  Hoping it works out.

I did consult the growing calendars for my state and realized my best bet is a late summer/fall garden.  Not a bad idea at this point as the yard has NO current garden or beds.  If I had nothing else happening,  I could focus on building them, but for now, I do what I can with what we have*.

Something I have been doing is watching YouTube videos concerning gardening.  One that stuck out to me last night was called “Why We Are Not Doing BACK TO EDEN Gardening”.  The premise was the same as I came to for any sort of permanent garden right now – I would rather some something growing than have it exactly how I ideally would like to have it but not grow anything this year.  In other words, something is better than nothing.

*In case that sounds too much like giving up before starting, I wanted to clarify – I have plans, new things to try for our different zone, different yard, and different challenges.  The something I am going to have is the first step in trying to overcome one two of the biggest challenges, very poor soil and lack of time to focus solely on gardening.  This is one method others have used with success, so I am starting there while researching more solutions.

Apr 252017
 


Swagbucks has one more bit of April fun – it’s the return of Swago! 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.

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 700 SB ($7) bonus!

The bonus this time is higher than normal as some of the squares require a bit more effort to achieve.  There are still opportunities to earn smaller bonus amounts for some of the easier activities.

Click here to sign up and get started! If you sign up through my link and earn 300 SB before May 1st, you’ll get a bonus 300 SB!

This post contains affiliate links.

Apr 252017
 

Alexander Hamilton book

It is Tuesday.  Not Monday.  Yes, I am aware of that and gave myself enough guilt about it yesterday.  However, it is Tuesday and not Wednesday, so that is saying something.  Right?

This past weekend included a llloooooooooooooonnnngggggggggg gggg  ggggg drive (do I need more g’s to make the point?) to a homeschool conference.  The original plan was to leave Thursday morning, with my husband taking two days off work, drop the kids off at my parents, and allowing my husband and I to have a restful weekend away together.

What happened was, and I promise there is a point to this beyond whining:

  • my husband’s job moved a meeting to a week and a day which it was not originally planned for
  • resulting in us not leaving Thursday morning, but Thursday evening instead.
  • I drove, which is not our norm on long trips, because I knew my husband had worked a full day and was tired. (He did drive the last few hours.)
  • We met up with my parents several hours past the kids’ bedtime, with the last point making the trip a very hard one along the way.
  • By the time we got to our hotel, it was past midnight.

I was able to get about 4 hours of sleep that night, resulting in the realization that my body was not past the point of being stressed.*  Yet.  I felt icky Friday (tired and nauseous), but had a day of talks ahead of me.  Knowing the reason for feelings helped me address them.  What it did not do was take away the feelings themselves.

Friday night I slept horribly, being awake from about 3 am – 5 am, then sleeping fitfully for 2 hours.  So much for getting a good night’s sleep.

Saturday came, I kept going, knowing that moving, eat small snack throughout the day, and not dwelling would help getting past the physical reactions.  This allowed me to figure out if I was actually feeling tired or hungry; I am amazed at how they can feel the same if you are both very tired and very hungry.  Taking the edge off really helped.

Saturday night, I had another plan:

  • I passed visiting with my  husband’s former college roommate (and new baby) in order to rest
  • reduced the nauseous feelings
  • and ate something high in protein, thereby setting myself up for a solid night sleep.

It worked!

By Sunday morning I was feeling … better.  I could not wait to get home though.

We still had a 7+ hour drive home, including picking up the kids and visiting a bit with my parents.

The drive home was actually one of the best ever with the kids.

We had no electronics – partly planned (no personal devices were packed), partly not (both of the dvd players, our “half-way there” treat, decided not to work).  What we did have were books on tape, audio dramas, snacks, and activity bags.  We also had kids who were tired from 3 fun filled days at the grandparents.

It was while listening to one of our books on tape, Parables From Nature by Margaret Gatty, that I realized I too have room to learn. Chapter 7, called “Waiting”, is specifically what I am speaking about.

In this chapter, Mole tells the House Crickets that sitting around bemoaning their issues do no good.

Every animal has a purpose. Yours is to wait for the sun to rise.  That is what you should be doing.  Anticipating the sun rise.  Once it goes down, then you find a snug place to stay till it is time to do your job again.

(quote not word for word)

Add that to something my husband shared from learning at the conference, that worry is feeling tomorrow’s emotions today.

I had been bemoaning and worrying, even if I thought perhaps I had not been.  This also goes to show why I feel better when I would get up and actually do something, taking my mind of how I was feeling and focusing on something else (walking, birds, gardening, solar lights, garden layouts, starting a garden … you get the idea).

Once we were home, a new board game was set up (Risk: Star Wars edition) and the boys, big and little, played while I tried to create some kind of order out of the chaos which comes from cleaning out the car from a long weekend away.

Monday morning came, I enjoyed a cup of tea on the back deck while listening to the morning birds.  My bemoaning and worry began to wash away, reminding me of the purpose and job I have to do right now … not the potential feelings of tomorrow or wonderings of why things for us are not like they are for others.

bird scared away from feeders waiting to return

The giveaway for Alexander Hamilton’s Guide to Life has closed.  Anita Yancy’s name was selected by Random.org as the winner.  

*After a while of contemplating, part of me began to wonder if the stress my body was feeling was not only due to being tired and the change of traveling, but also remembering our trip to this conference last year.  On that particular trip, we had a foster child with us, one who had not gone on trips with us before and was only a year younger then Jack.  It was a lesson for everyone involved.  We learned that a larger age gap is needed, due to the emotional needs of our kids, if we ever choose to foster again.

 

This post contains some affiliate links.  If you click on them and purchase something, I will receive a small percent back.

Apr 242017
 

persistence watchfulness wood ducks

Last month, we took advantage of the first ever Spring Break George was given at school.  It was a whole week.

It did not include the Easter holiday.

And my husband had vacation days he could use.

We went south. 😉

With the warmer climate and air flow patterns, the plants there were ahead of the ones where we live.  The birds, too, were experiencing “spring”.  I am not sure if it was George and I being in the right place at the right time which allowed us to see this.  Or if it was due to the warmer climate there.  Either way, a slow walk around a pond (storm water detention basin, which was very well designed) resulted in a first hand look at bird behavior.  This was better than any book could have shared.

These wood ducks looked fairly calm and placid, but upon closer observation we determined that a few particular ones in the group were … determined to reach their goal.

The colorful birds are the males, while the dull gray/brown one is the female.  Yes, there is only one female and the rest are males.  Even among the males, though, there is not equality.  If you pay attention you shall see which seem to be in charge of his lackeys.

I was amazed at their determination, at the coolness of the female through the whole thing (she seemed to like doing what she wanted, no matter how much trouble it caused her escorts), and at the sneaky strategy of the intruders.  What a fun thing to watch!

We were able to observe the various body movements of the males, how they flapped their wings (they were not only stretching), how they dipped their heads and swam around.  What awesome, intricate ways to communicate and “strut your stuff”.  Though, at times, I feel we humans do exactly the same thing.

 

Apr 222017
 


If you love Steak ‘N Shake, I know we do, you can get a 15% cashback when you purchase Steak ‘N Shake gift cards from MyGiftCardsPlus, which is a site that gives you cash back when you buy gift cards to your favorite retailers.

This would have been great during an 8+ hour road trip the kids and I took last fall.  The car’s air conditioning went out 3 hours into the drive, and there was only so much rolling down of windows could help with. (Though the kids thought they were cool stuff being able to roll down windows on the interstate highways, something usually off limits in our household.) Steak ‘n Shake was a life saver, offering a yummy way to keep cool with their delicious shakes!

The cash back is paid in the form of SB points on Swagbucks, which you can turn into free gift cards to places like Amazon, Starbucks, or PayPal. You can take advantage of this deal by clicking here, and if you don’t already have a Swagbucks account, you can create one there so you get your SB points for your purchase! (You may also receive up to a $5 bonus!)

This is a limited time offer that’s good through this April 30th or until supplies run out, whichever happens first!

Apr 222017
 

Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe For The Earth giveaway ends tonight!  Have you entered yet?

From their Facebook page:

“THREE weekly winners will be drawn (April 8/16/22), each to receive a hardcover copy of the groundbreaking picture book, COMPOST STEW: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth….Open to US/Canada only. Ends April 22, 2017 at 9 pm (PDT).”

 

This post contains affiliate links.

Apr 222017
 

recycjingbank

Recyclebank is website where you can go to learn about recycling and be rewarded for your efforts.

People join Recyclebank for different reasons. Some join because they want to get rewarded for recycling in their community, some just want to learn about living more sustainably for themselves and their families. No matter what inspires you, we’d love to share our tips and reward you for making a positive impact in your community.

I have been using this site for several years.  During this time I have come to realize how limited my idea of recycling really had been.  It is also amazing the opportunities we have now, which were not around a few years back.

While helping me format the image above, George was curious what Recyclebank was about.  The easiest way to describe it to him was to take him there and allow him to see.  We learned about the various ways to recycle denim, earning 5 points in the process.  I was anticipating a list of crafts you could do; instead I found a list of companies that recycle old textiles and links to ideas for projects.  Yes, there are companies who will recycle other clothing.  What a great option!

Some current rewards:

  • Coupon for FREE one year subscription to Modern Farmer – 0 points needed
  • 1-year (12 issues) of ESSENCE® Plus Exclusive Free Tote Bag – 240 points
  • 2-year subscription to Traditional Home – 200 points
  • 2-years subscription to Better Homes & Gardens – 300 points
  • 1-year subscription to Southern Living – 200 points
  • 2-year subscription to Country Living – 240 points
  • Donate to the Arbor Day Foundation or The Nature Conservancy – 250 – 2500 points
  • Coupons for Happy Family products
  • Coupons for One Twine
  • Buy One Adult Entree at Ruby Tuesday and Get Another 50% off – 100 points
  • and more.

Check out their Facebook and Twitter pages for more information.

Apr 202017
 

Would you do me a favor and test out this video?

I am wanting to know if it played alright, or if there were any issues with it. If all work out, I may have finally found a way to share videos.

Yes, I realize YouTube is not new.  Yes, I have used it before.  So why the delay and using it to share videos?

That is a great question with a not very great answer:  It was yet another item in a long list of items, all of which I had convinced myself was difficult, time consuming, and hard to accomplish.

If it works, I was wrong.

Yet again.