I Have Been Blessed

All about how God has blessed me. In my marriage, with my six children, through homeschooling, and our faith with recipes, large family living, and updates on our life.



When I first heard about the BeeYouTiful Review, I was excited. I think a lot of us would rather use the most natural products we can for our children. However, my family had the Car-to-the-Mechanic or Baby-to-the-Doctor syndrome when it came time to review these wonderful products. You know what I’m talking about, right? You car is making a funny noise, right up until you drive into the mechanics driveway. Or your kid is feverish and listless until you get to the doctor, and then they are running around. All summer long, our family suffered with allergies, bumps and bruises, sunburn, chapped lips, etc. all right until we received these products to try out!


Beeyoutiful sent us a set of some popular products. The set included Berry Well, Ow! Ease, Miracle Skin Salve, Lip Balm, and the Beeyoutiful Views DVD.


The Berry Well syrup is what I was most looking forward to using, as my husband suffers from seasonal allergies. It is an elderberry, raw honey and Echinacea syrup used as a dietary supplement to fight against the flu, colds, and bacterial and viral infections. After a full two days of mowing and weeding our yard, I noticed my husband’s allergies start attacking him and I had him take the syrup. It smells odd, but he said it tasted good; none of the shudder or aftertaste of store-bought medication. The syrup did seem to lessen his allergies. It did not dry them up completely, but it lessened the symptoms, and he only had to take the syrup for a couple of days. It is sold for $19.75 for an 8 oz. bottle.


Ow! Ease was the product we just couldn’t seem to find occasion to use. You would think with six children in the house, we should be getting bumps and bruises daily, but not so for this period of time. Except for a curious two-year old rubbing his fingers through it, we weren’t able to put this product to use. It is a trauma salve used for strains, sprains, bruises, and contusions. It is used to soothe, restore, and actually speed tissue healing. It has an extra virgin olive oil based and is infused with chamomile, St. Johns Wort, organic arnica (which is a yellow daisy-like alpine flower), and cayenne. It is scented with essential oils, which makes it smell very nice (but not girly so that you could definitely use it for husbands or sons.) It is available for $15.00 for a 1 ounce tube.


The Miracle Skin Salve can be used for sunburn, chapped lips, diaper rash, painful wounds and burns. It is made with plantain leaf, comfrey root, calendula flowers and more. I was able to find the most ways to use this product. I burned my arm on splattering grease and it did soothe the burning pain very quickly. It works beautifully on chapped lips. And it soothes bug bites better than any of the over-the-counter products we have tried. I think this is the must-have product of the bunch! There are so many uses for this! It is sold for $15.00 for the 2 oz. tub (which is what we got and would last for a while!), or $25.00 for the 4 oz. tub.


The Lip Balm is again, all natural, and is a great lip moisturizer. It is available in Orange (which I got), and Peppermint, for a very reasonable price of $3 each. It is a great lip balm and I appreciated the fact that it had no alcohol in it. Many over-the-counter chap-sticks have alcohol which actually dry your lips out more, making you need more and more of them.


The Beeyoutiful DVD contains video of Stephanie Tallent sharing how she uses some of the most popular Beeyoutiful products with her family. I know there are other products that I will be diligently checking out and adding to our medicine cabinet. This is available for $3.00 and is a definite must-have for anyone wanting to switch over to a more natural approach to healing. She even instructs you on making a garlic poultice.


We feel blessed to have been able to review these products. We were sent these for free in exchange for an honest review.


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Schoolhouse Teachers

I don’t even know where to start to tell you about all the awesomeness at SchoolhouseTeachers.com. I guess I will start by telling you that somewhere along the line, I found out about The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, and on a subscription special, began receiving their magazine. For someone who knew very few homeschoolers, had never been to an Expo, getting that magazine was an introduction into all the vast array of curriculum that is available. Fast forward in time, and The Old Schoolhouse magazine is now available online, and they have created a website for homeschoolers. The amount of content on there is overwhelming! (The good kind of overwhelming).

Okay, first, let me say they have made a Site tour Video to show all the wonderful things available. You should watch it, because I can’t imagine being able to tell you everything available there. Second, you should definitely check out these Sample Pages. Third, I think you should just go try it out because it only costs $1 for the first month. After that the price rises to $5.95 or you can just do a year subscription for 10% off and pay only $64.26. It’s worth it. It’s so worth it.

The number one top-of-my-list thing I love, love, love is their planners. I am slightly OCD. I love a well planned day. I love to see it all written out. Their parent planner is over 800 pages of forms for you to customize and use. And although the temptation is there, no, I do not print out all 800 pages. I only print what I want/need/can’t live without. There is also Student planners for Primary, Intermediate, High School, and a Special Needs Planner. I currently have the parent one, the Primary one, and the Intermediate one, that I plan to have Brendyn use independently, saved on my computer and I have a long list of the pages I want to print off! There is a form for anything I can think of, and that includes household as well as homeschool forms. The planners – I seriously love the planners!

Okay, so also there are lessons, tons of lessons, from Pre-K to high school. From Chemistry and History and Literature to Home Ec, Math, and Music. Writing, Technology, Special Needs, Lapbooking …. These lessons are updated monthly but are complete lessons. Then there is the Daily Lessons – grammar, math, writing, pre-k activities, this day in history and more. There is even a monthly menu to give you new ideas for your meal time rotation. There are so many lessons that you can use to supplement, or you could almost do all of your teaching straight from that website!

You also get the digital copy of the Magazine, free, as well as access to all the back editions. You get a Free Monthly E-book. You get access to their Schoolhouse Expo Webinars. Okay, it’s $1 for the first month. Seriously, have you signed up yet?!?

I already had a paid membership, but I did get one year added to my term for providing this honest review. We are so blessed.

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DIY Laundry Soap

Okay, this is no News Flash, but I have Six Kids. Can you possible imagine how much laundry six kids make? And Six kids that play outside at least once every day in black Florida Dirt! I do a lot of laundry. A while back when Austin was farming and I was trying to get dollars to stretch as far as possible I hear about making your own laundry soap. I tried the liquid way first, using the Duggars Recipe, and I thought it worked okay, but it was kind of a pain pouring from the 5 gallon bucket into the one gallon container and mine never ‘gelled’ the way they said it would, and honestly it just didn’t get my clothes as clean as our old stand-by Tide with Bleach.So when our five gallon bucket was empty, we quit using it.

Then, when it started bugging me that I was paying upwards of 45-50 cents a load for store bought detergent, I decided I would try again. I diligently searched for a powdered Do It Yourself laundry detergent and found several. So with trial and error and additions and substitutions, here is the recipe we use.

1 bar of Fels-Naptha

1/2 cup Oxi-Clean (we added this because #1 we have hard water and #2 it helped make my whites whiter)

1 cup and 1/4 of 20 Mule Team Borax

and 1 cup Washing Soda (not Baking Soda!!)

In my Wal-Mart these are all in the Laundry Aisle, near each other. I pay 97 cents for a bar of Fels-Naptha, around $3 a box for Washing Soda and Borax, (although I have found them on sale for closer to $2.50 a box!) and $10 for my 5 pound box of Oxi-Clean. The Borax and Washing Soda are each good for about 8 batches. The Oxi-Clean is good for about 20 batches. So by my Math, one batch of soap as above costs about $2.22, and each batch is good for about 20 extra-large loads (we have a HE Front Load Washer), making it less than 11 cents per load!

Anyways, once you have gathered all your ingredients, the next thing to do is to grate your soap. This is a rather hard soap and since I do several batches at a time, I just use an old, but still works like a charm, food processor. I slice it into chunks, then food process my soap, until it is in crumbs (the smaller the better). You can also use a cheese grater and grate your soap. Be warned – unsuspecting children may think this is actually cheese and will ask you for bites. (I recommend saying no!)

After that I throw all the ingredients into an old Animal Cracker Tub (but you can use whatever you have available) and shake it up. (At my house, I have lots of volunteers for this step!)  An extra-large load uses a level 1/4 cup of powder. This soap works great for High Efficiency Washers. Occasionally, if I wash something and it is still dirty, I treat it with Shout and re-wash it and that seems to be enough to do the trick, but I have only had this happen when the kids have gotten really muddy or with some of Austin’s clothes after he had been working on a vehicle. We’ve used this recipe for well over six months!

With the numerous loads of laundry I do each week, this saves my family hundreds of dollars each year!

If you try it out, let me know how it works for you!

We have been blessed.

Five special Blessings to me today: Listening to my older children read to my younger children, Fresh vegetables, New Friends, Beautiful Days, Upcoming Vacation!



Vintage Remedies

We were able to review a book called Vintage Remedies for Kids. This is a workbook, for kids aged 2-6, to introduce them to natural living and healthy lifestyles. There are three sections in the book – Food and Drink, Health and Wellness, and Healthy Lifestyles. Each section is broken up into a few chapters, and each chapter is broken into parts – Parents Section (background information to inform and educate Mom so she can sound like she knows what she is talking about!!), Read to Me (a Section to read to your children), Additional Comments, Thinking it Over (a few questions to ask for comprehension, Leading By Example (changes Mom can make so that the kids see what they are learning in real life – i.e. eating more fruit, eat more real food, tell children why one food might be healthier than another when making dinner), Featured Project (for example a recipe to encourage what they have learned), Additional Projects (for further learning and encouragement).

There was a lot of information in the book that was very common-sense to me as the parent, but not necessarily something I would think to make a point of with the kids (the why’s of things – why we need to eat our vegetables, wash our hands, take our medicine … why it’s healthier to grow our own food than buy it, etc.). There was also things I didn’t know (what plants and herbs are good for what). Vintage Remedies for Kids would make either a great Unit Study, or a good Health and Nutrition component to Homeschooling. This book retails for $25 and I know at least my kids love projects that mean they get to help out in the kitchen!

I did receive this book for free to offer an honest review on it, which I feel I have done with this blog post. Other homeschoolers also reviewed this book, and you can see their review and mine here.

We are so Blessed!


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It Worked for Me

Here are some things I have done in the past (that I should probably institute again) that have worked for us in the past to streamline, organize, and create better harmony in our house.

Toy Storage – the solution to a Never-Clean Room: When the kids were having a particularly hard time keeping their rooms cleaned, and I was tired of seeing toys everywhere – we did Toy Baskets. I gave each kid a basket and put a name tag on the handle. Each kid was allowed to choose 10 toys and put them in their basket. All other toys got boxed up and went upstairs (which is our storage room.) Those were there toys for the week. Each night I had them turn in their basket to me with all ten toys neatly tucked in the basket….toys not in the basket got added to the upstairs collection, hence losing them a toy. On Mondays, they had the opportunity to swap out their toys for new toys. This worked for us because it meant there were only 50 toys in my house (5 kids after all!!!) and I saw real quick which toys never got chosen, which toys were favorites, and it fostered cooperation as the children often chose toys that went together. Maybe after Christmas we will institute this again!!

Another thing I should really do – Sometime before Adreya was born, Mom and I worked together to do a Once-a-Month Cooking Day. We cooked and cooked and cooked and at the end of the day had about 30+ meals to put in the freezer for quick dinners. I really need to do this again especially with Cassidy on the way. I should really plan this for a Saturday in January!!!!! One of the most simplest things we did on that day was to simply pre-cook hamburger, chicken, and taco meat. Even these small advances helped make for getting dinner on the table quicker! I also like the idea of making something for Austin for his lunches that can be tossed from freezer to cooler (like breakfast burritos or something.)

Motivated Mom’s Planner – I have probably bought this a couple of times (it is only $8). It is a daily (or weekly) House cleaning and Bible Reading Planner. It has a simple to-do list of what should be done around your house. If you do what’s on the list, the idea is your house will stay company-ready. I usually do pretty good in January, then slip away from it. I’ve bought the planner for 2012 and plan to keep up with it. I really appreciate the fact that includes chores I often don’t think of (change out kitchen  towel), but also includes the chores that need to be done daily, weekly, monthly, yearly right into the lists without me having to think about it. (MotivatedMoms.com) Like I’ve said, I’ve done this before, but often fall away. I’d really like to stick with it this year.

It’s the end of the year, and I find myself not only preparing for what the possibility of the new year can bring to us, but also really looking forward to the addition of one more!! I’ve decided that I am going to wait until after Christmas to start really preparing the house for baby Cassidy and just the thoughts of pulling out baby clothes, setting up a bassinet, etc. has me even more excited to meet her!

I am So Blessed!

Five Special Blessings to Me Today: Ice (I chew ice while pregnant as fast as I can freeze it!), Cooler Weather (at 30 weeks pregnant, I am happy to be out of the 80’s), A lighted Christmas tree when all the other lights are out, Clean Bedrooms (all 3 kids rooms are clean, or at least were clean at some point today!), Christmas Music

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Before Five in a Row

I was so excited to see our name on the Book Review List for Before Five in a Row. I have heard from other parents in our area who use FIAR and love it. I have probably looked at the website over and over, trying to decide whether or not we should give it a try. This is a lesson-plan type book which has 24 mini-units each based on a different children’s story book, such as Goodnight Moon, Corduroy, and Prayer for a Child. For each book, several activities to expand the book into different learning areas (Bible, Manners, Animals, Science, Social Studies, Art,  Games, Observations, Numbers, Projects). The units are geared for children ages 2 through 4.  Part Two of the book, called, Parent’s Treasury of Creative Ideas for Learning Readiness, offers a multitude of great suggestions for building an educational foundation.

We enjoyed the lessons. We were excited to do the units, and review this product! I was not let down. Before Five in a Row definitely lived up to all the good rumors I had heard about it, and even better, inspired me to look for more learning opportunities in my children’s Favorite Books. This book currently retails for $35 and is available at Rainbow Resource. Our family (gratefully) received this product for free to provide an honest review, which we feel we have done. Other families also reviewed this product and you can find my review and theirs listed here.

We are so Blessed!

Five Special Blessings to Me Today: God’s Provision, The choice and chance to Homeschool my children, Ultrasound tomorrow!, Air conditioning, Church tonight.

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Sweet Tea Concentrate

We drink a lot of tea in this house. Like, a lot! Probably a gallon or more per day. But I am the only one that makes it. (Sigh!) The bad part about sweet tea though, is it takes about 20 minutes to make (at least the way we make it – about 5 minutes for the water to boil, then 15 minutes for the tea to steep.) But it takes the same 20 minutes to make 1 gallon, or 4! I just don’t have the refrigerator room for 4 gallons of tea. (Said refrigerator room is currently being occupied by the 4+ gallons of milk we drink each week!)

So, I got to thinking…..(They do say, necessity is the mother of invention) …Why couldn’t I steep the tea and sugar, remove the tea bags, and then freeze it….When we needed a new gallon of tea, melt, mix with water, drink. Viola!

I went to my local Wal-Mart (this is where I go on vacation!!), and bought 8 (16oz.) freezer jars.

In each freezer jar, I added 3/4 – 1 cup sugar and 3 quart size tea bags (we use Luzianne!)

Then boiled my water, and added water to the top of the jar, let steep for 15 minutes, removed the tea bags, stirred in the sugar, topped off with water, screwed on the cap, and threw (or rather placed them gently) in the freezer!

I was a little concerned if it would reconstitute well, but I am happy to announce, it was perfect!

I see many more sweet tea concentrates in my future, and how great for a party. If you had one in the fridge, you could refill a sweet tea, very quickly.

I am always excited when I try something new, and it works!!

I am Blessed!

Five Special Blessings to Me Today: A hard-working husband!, Having just what we need before we knew we needed it, Soft kleenex tissues, five loving children, my The Old Schoolhouse (homeschooling) Magazine that came in the mail today!


Canning Crazy

Monday it rained, and rained, and rained, and then rained some more. People don’t really go to Flea Markets in the rain. Which means, we didn’t sell all our vegetables. It wasn’t a huge loss, but we brought home 25 Red Peppers and 60 Cucumber Pickles that had to be “put up” so they didn’t go to waste.

Up until now, my canning experience has been limited to Strawberry Jam. I’ve canned it once with sugar, once with Splenda. Luckily, for Christmas, I got the “Ball: Complete Book of Home Preserving”. I looked up the recipe for pickles and then I looked up Red Peppers!! And then I caned, and canned, and canned, and canned some more. I made Dill Pickles, Bread and Butter Pickles, Red Pepper Jelly, Balsamic Red Pepper Glaze, Salsa, and Red Pepper Spread. (A lot of Red Pepper Spread).

It was a long day, but there is some peace in seeing those canned goods line my shelf. Knowing that I did that. That I am helping prepare my family for the future. But please, don’t mention Red Peppers to me for a month, or at least two weeks.

Five Special Blessings to Me Today: Canning, Recipe books with detailed instructions, Home-made pickles (finally tasted some today!), Electricity (we lost it for 3 hours yesterday!), God’s Provision

Have a Blessed Day!

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Rain on a tin roof

…there is not a more relaxing sound! The kids and I took advantage of a rainy morning to get caught up on our sleep. Although a part of me feels guilty that Austin is out on this weather selling vegetables at market.
I have been teaching myself new things lately. With my new Bread Machine (thanks Betsy) I have been making homemade bread almost daily. I made and canned Strawberry Jam. I have been working at teaching myself to knit. I am putting together a new chore system and schedule and doing lots of research so we can do Unit Studies next year for Homeschooling. I love trying new things!!
Five Special Blessings to me today: rain, a devoted husband, DVDs to keep the kids happy on a rainy day, my sisters, the five best kids ever
Hope your day is Blessed!!!