3.27.2017

Product Review: Stem Box Subscription Box

Disclaimer: I received a box free of charge to review. I did not promise a positive review.

STEM.

Science. Technology. Engineering. Math.

Now imagine all that educational goodness in a box that makes education exciting and fun. Is it possible?

Believe it or not, yes! And I don't know who was more excited about our trial box from My Stem Box --- darling daughter or myself. The box we got to try was all about bacteria and included six petri dishes (which darling daughter had been asking for), agar powder, tools, a cute pin, and a cute bacteria stuffy plus a marker that darling daughter loved. The one thing that was missing was the small pipette that it said was included but we couldn't find it; however, I cannot say with 100% certainty that the little thing didn't fall out in one of our many pre-looks before we buckled down to do our experiment.

Since making the agar base involved hot water, I helped darling with this as she wasn't sure she wanted to do it alone PLUS the box did recommend having an adult helper. I was concerned our house would not be warm enough for the experiment as it gets chilly at night and we have no central air/heat but our samples grew beautifully! We put them on top of the fridge like they suggested.

We then examined them under our microscope (not included) and darling daughter figured out what bacterial shapes she was seeing. All of this was done with gloves on...that they provided...cute little purple gloves that fit kiddo hands perfectly.

All in all, it was a wonderful, educational time and we have enough agar to do a second experiment. They give you instructions on how to properly clean your petri dishes if you want to do another experiment PLUS what you can use in place of agar if you want to do more and more and more!

The subscription plan is a bit higher up on my budget for such things but for the value of the box, I think the price is understandable. A one month subscription starts at $30 and they have 3-month, 6-month, and 12-month pre-paid plans that give you monthly savings with the pre-paid cost for one year being $300 (the buy 10 get 2 free can be appealing if you are ready to make the commitment).

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for the opportunity to grow bacteria at home and share stories with darling daughter about when I worked in the lab growing bacteria and yeast.

Daily Bible Verse: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. ~ Romans 12:2

3.22.2017

I don't have the time or money for that - part 2

This is part 2 of my two-part series on the things I often hear from friends and clients - "I don't have the time or money for that". You can read about time HERE.

And trust me, I understand where people are coming from when they say that. I have many times thought or said I do not have the time/money for that. And one thing I adamently said nope to was the cost of Shakeology and man, I was wrong. I am so glad that I finally gave it a try and honestly, with how things worked out, I do have the money for it. Part of it is not truly looking into what expenses would go away when I said yes and then not truly understanding the value of it on my life and how I feel.

We always have the time and money for what is important to us, don't we? I know, this does have some limitations but you get what I mean. Your kids want x, y, or z lessons and you find a way to make it happen. Geesh! You may have once been like me and thought that you couldn't even afford a kid and then, you do. Things work out. Adjustments are made. Priorities shift. And ultimately, I feel that brings us more into focus on what is important.

I am big on giving back to the community and society which is why I may give away way too many freebies to people but hey, it is who I am. I love to share but I do still need to take care of myself and my family. And my daily shake and workouts help with that. It is a good investment because I am stronger, healthier, and happier. Yes, happier even though right now I am in the trenches of a deep and dark struggle with depression but ultimately, that is okay.

I am a marathoner and know the struggle can be hard but the reward is great. I will continue on this journey in faith and my trust in God led me to it (even though I felt warned it would be hard) and my therapist was honest about it when asking if I was ready to embark on trauma therapy (warning me it would be hard).

Hard? I got this! I am a marathoner. I know hard. I run every day and am currently on day 1910. I know hard. I am a Beachbody coach and have done tons of programs pushing me to find inner strength. I know hard.

I also know, going through the hard can bring you some place better and I am not about to say no to that. So if investing in x, y, or z will help me on my journey, it is worth it. I am ready to invest in myself and my well-being in order to be a better me. Are you?

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful to have Beachbody in my life. Hear more about that HERE.

Daily Bible Verse: Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. ~ Matthew 6:19-21

3.16.2017

I don't have the time or money for that - part 1

There are two things I hear very often from friends, co-workers, and clients. I don't have the time or money for that. The that can vary from person to person depending on their needs, desires, and priorities in life at this particular moment in time. Today I will focus on part 1: Time.

Priorities.

That is what it all boils down to and most of the time, the focus on your priorities is indeed just and right. Most of the time.

Don't take that wrong. Priorities matter. They guide our lives but they can only be true beacons of light if they are good and just priorities and not "priorities of comfort" or, don't take this wrong, just plain weak excuses.

I can't workout because I don't have time for that. I am a mom. I have a full-time job. My kids have after school sports and other events. I have no time.

But I bet you if you honestly look at your schedule, how you are doing things, how you may be wasting time, you will find a lot of time on your hands that can be used in new and different ways.

My first thing won't be to tell you to wake up 30 minutes earlier to get it done. I was told that countless times but when you are already waking up before the cows, your hubby is giving you a hard time for what time you wake up, earlier isn't going to help.

What I will say and ask is this. Are you using your time wisely? Are you wasting precious minutes watching TV longer than you intended, making many shopping trips versus one, not asking or accepting help when you can, scrolling just a wee bit too long on facebook looking at pictures of friends and family and wham-bam-thank-you-mam there went an hour. Facebook is a time sucker. And so are so many other things.

I don't know about you but a trip to town to get things can take 30-60 minutes in drive time alone. Make one trip a week versus three and lookie-there-dearie, you have 60-120 more minutes in your week! You could get some good workouts done in that time. But that time can be applied to more than workouts if you have other things tugging on your heart.

An example from my life. I have added prayer and scripture reading into my morning by doing it while I run but at the start of the year I felt called and determined to strive to read the entire bible in one year. I started a three-year plan last year and flopped halfway through the year. Time got away from me but I was still determined to take on a bigger challenge and believed I could make it work. But how? How could I read more of the bible each day to accomplish a bigger goal when I already flopped with less reading required per day?

I looked at my plan. Last year my reading was scheduled to happen before bed. Some nights I was just too tired. Just being honest here. A late night, evening unexpected events, and momma just wanted to crash. Waiting to the last minute is not good for me and that is why I almost always get my runs in first thing in the morning. That works for me BUT I wasn't about to wake up 30 minutes earlier to run, pray, and read the bible. We already touched on that point.

So how was I going to make this work?

My solution was golden. I carry my bible with me each day to work and to darling daughter's horse lessons. While she tacks up or while I wait for her at school (yes, I arrive early), I get my reading done. Minutes I would have just scrolled through facebook or other social media outlets to pass the time are now devoted to something bigger and better in my life and it works. And I bet if you look at your schedule you will find "waiting times" that can be redefined into your moments of success helping you to achieve all you want to do in that one 24-hour day of craziness we all have to cope with.

I would love to hear what works for you!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful I have a computer even though it randomly enlarges and shrinks my font. Any tips you have for me?

Daily Bible Verse: "And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man's table." ~ Luke 16:20-21

3.06.2017

Saint of the Month: Saint Perpetua and Felicity

Image Source
How exciting it was for me to sit down to do the saint of the month post for me! I looked up feastdays near the first Monday of the month, the day I have slated to talk saints, and discovered March 7, tomorrow!, is the feast day for Saints Perpetua and Felicity.

Darling daughter LOVES their story and has watched it more than once via Torchlighters, which I believe streams on Amazon Prime for free but you can also find it here for your kiddos.

I was not surprised to see that Saints Perpetua and Felicity are the patron saints for mothers and expectant mothers but I was surprised to see they are the patron saints for butchers and ranchers.

Perpetua and Felicity are Christian martyrs from Africa dating back to way, way, back in the early persecution of the church. In 203, young Perpetua accepted Jesus as her savior and her father was not happy about this at all. In fact, he encouraged her to renounce her faith to save her life and to avoid the ongoing persecution headed by Emperor Severus.

Although Perpetua was very young (22) and had a young, nursing baby, she refused to turn her back on God. Felicity, a very pregnant, slave had the same resolve and stood firm in her faith. Perpetua and Felicity were imprisoned with others who refused to announce their faith and even though the prison was crowded, they found comfort in their faith and each other. Perpetua was eventually granted the right to have her baby with her in prison and Felicity gave birth while in prison. I can't even imagine how awful that could be and yet, these women remained strong.

Perpetua and their faith leader, who was also imprisoned, had dreams that kept them feeling secure in their faith and Perpetua wrote a beautiful record of their time.

All of the Christians were martyred. The men were killed by wild animals but the ladies, Perpetua and Felicity, died by the sword while standing side by side.

You can read more on their story HERE.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for my freedom to practice my faith and to share it with you.

Daily Bible Verse: If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. ~ 1 Peter 4:14-16

3.03.2017

Green Kid Crafts Subscription Box Review


Disclaimer: I received the Green Kid Crafts box free of charge for the purpose of writing this review. I did not promise a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Does your kid love crafting as much as mine?

Do subscription boxes appeal to you as much as they do to me?

Are you looking for something for your darling gem to do while you run and cross train for hours at end?

Okay, you may not be able to answer yes to all of the questions above but I would think at least one fits you. And if you are still reading this post, I bet it is that your kids love crafts. Now imagine crafting fun that is:
  • Good for the environment
  • Educational
  • Easy to get
  • Affordable

And what you have is....Green Kid Crafts! Boxes start at $19.95 a month if you do a monthly subscription but if you commit to more than one month, you save. Commit to a year and the price goes as low as $17.95 a month. PLUS they have the option to add on an educator-approved book each month and/or extra sets for siblings for families with more than one craft loving kiddo.

I know at first you may be thinking, geesh, that is a lot for a craft box. But trust me, as soon as I
opened the box with darling daughter I saw the value. It has everything your kiddo will need to complete the 6 or more educational projects.


Darling daughter is still enjoying her Arctic-focused box and even the Polar Bear mask, which I thought would only take minutes, took much longer than I expected. While doing this, she learned about the Inuits and their culture.

She has made homemade window clings for our windows that are still up and it has been weeks! In this project, she learned about animals that inhabit the Arctic.

Plus, she made a homemade postcard for me to mail to my buddy, Toby. And that reminds me...I gotta mail that! 

She used what I thought were normal crayons for that project and as soon as she started she exclaimed, "Mom! These colors are so much more vibrant than my other crayons!" and she started reading the container and by golly, they are eco-friendly soy-based crayons. How cool is that? I never knew that existed and she was right, the colors are much more vibrant. It is amazing!

I am truly amazed by this box and am seriously considering getting her a subscription but first, she has one more box to check out but that is a post for another day but to be totally honest, it is completely different and this momma may end up getting two boxes!


Daily Gratitude: I am beyond thankful for the opportunity to review this amazing eco-friendly craft box.

Daily Bible Verse: And he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze. ~ Exodus 35:31-32

3.01.2017

Lent - Is giving up something really a sacrifice?


Today is Ash Wednesday and marks the start of the 40 days of Lent leading up to Easter. For those wise mathematicians out there, you may be saying, hey, there are more than 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter and guess what? You are correct. There are but the Sundays during the Lenten season do not count as official days of Lent...if that makes sense to you.

Growing up, Lent always marked a dreary time for me. A time when my parents and religious education teachers told me to give up something I really liked for 40 days. They always suggested candy. How could I live without candy? Fast forward to today, easily. I hardly ever eat candy but to a young child it seemed cruel and wrong. 

I can't say I was instructed poorly but I was missing the point. I was clueless and part of me thinks that was just the child I was then. The child with no cares in the world, no worries, no true understanding of what "the cross" means and what Jesus did for us. I knew the story. He died for our sins and was resurrected from the dead but to the child me, I didn't get it.

Fast forward again with me to today and I can say, I get it. I get it to the point I get chills up and down my spine and want to cry out how sorry I am that I helped nail my Savior to the cross with my sins. And how unworthy I feel of His love, mercy, forgiveness, and blessings every single day of my life....even when I was straying and walking down a terrible path. Jesus loved me. He called me back. He saved me.

So Lent is here again and it has new meaning. Yes, I will give something up but my small "sacrifice" pales in comparison to what Jesus did for me, for you, for all of us. But I also realize, this "sacrifice" will feel harder to darling daughter as we are doing it together. We are giving up TV. Since Sundays are not official days of Lent, she will have TV time then for her educational and fun cartoons, but the other days, nope.

I want the next 40 days to focus on growing us closer to God and each other. I have pre-selected some faith-based DVD's from Netflix that I will allow and since we do the one DVD out at a time plan, this may end up being our Sunday viewing and not much more. The start will be learning about who Abraham is and his story in the bible. The final one will be The Passion of the Cross, an animated version great for kids. And we will continue to listen to our Daily Devotion each night from Adventures in Odyssey and do our bible verse readings and discover new ways to help those in need. 

I look forward to this time to really delve into my faith and am excited to share the season with my nine year old. Maybe, just maybe, she won't stray as far as I did as I am doing one thing I never remembered my parents doing, I am telling her my story of pain and how not following God hurt me in my past and how very sorry I am. And she is seeing me working on getting better, growing deeper in faith, and becoming an active member of our parish community. But ultimately, her future is in God's hands and Jesus, I trust in you.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful that I can share my faith with my daughter and for how receptive she is to it.

Daily Bible Verse: When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? ~ Psalm 56:3-4

P.S. I love seeing how God works in my life and ironically, after writing and scheduling this post last night I found out....Netflix is streaming a new season of The Great British Baking Show. Oh my goodness! I love this show!!!! All of a sudden 40 days without TV has become a wee bit harder for me. Thank you, God, for allowing me to do this for you.