12 Free Learning Websites {For Kids}

Prevent the summer slide and keep your kids brains busy on those hot summer days. Turning to inside play is a winner on those unbearable summer days. Reading and learning is always a great choice. With today being the first official day of summer we are feeling the hot sticky heat here in the Carolina Foothills. Normally it is not so sticky, but we will make do for now until it passes to just burning hot. It all depends on the resources you have in your area for more family/kid geared activities. We are already having a blast this summer with lots of activities, crafts, trips, learning and reading with our local participating partners.  

Our school sent home lots of resources last week for the summer to help us keep from sliding. Yes, we just got out on the 13th for summer. So far our schedule is going pretty well and the kids are adjusting just fine. This list is full of great elementary kid style websites! Some do have options to purchase if that is something you would be interested in. However, you don't have to if you don't want to. 

Magnificent Choices- Tacky Box Review

Have you ever said or done something that deserved the tacky crown? What about your little(s)? Mine have. Social skills are so important for kids to experience. Throughout the day my kids are hanging around friends and even riding the bus where there are older kids using tacky words. They then repeat what they hear later on.  Luckily, a creative mom out there came up with a solution for our parenting endeavours. A tool to help your child and your family make better choices. When our Tacky Box came to the front door, the kids instantly wanted to start creating art and hearing a brand new story. It is so thrilling to be a part of this wonderful Campaign for Kindness and I instantly had high hopes. Not to mention that beautifully engraved wooden box complete with a latch that partners so perfectly with the story. Your kids can be like the character in the book, because they too have a Tacky Box. The book is of excellent quality and the vividly drawn pictures on each page just pulls you in even more. 

12 Delicious and Satisfying Drinks

Shakes and smoothies are one of the best on the go drinks that can make or break you depending what is in them{calorie wise}. They are great for meal replacement, snacks, to cool off or great after a workout to help your muscles. Each and every one of the shakes and smoothies below are yummy and full of what your body loves. You can put 1 scoop of whey protein powder or a packet in each one and voila you have a protein enriched drink. By far my top favorites are the chocolate mint minus the mint with the fat-free, sugar-free pudding mix in it and the orange creamsicle. The ones below are just 1 portion, but they are large portions and my husband and I have always just split it in half. If you would rather a shake base....replace the 12 oz. water with 1 cup of milk. Hey, you might like it. That is the best thing about shakes and smoothies, because you can alter them so much. If you start with less you can always add to it to make it what you want.

Here are a few of our favorites:

Coconut Splash Fruit Smoothie
o 8 oz Coconut splash water
o 1 cup frozen mixed fruit

Strawberry Banana Orange Smoothie
o 12oz. cold water
o 1 small banana or 1/2 of a large one
o 7 frozen strawberries
o 1/2 small navel orange-peeled
*This could be any kind of fruit smoothie....substitute the fruit you like the best.

Chocolate Mint Shake
o 12 oz cold water
o 2 tbsp chocolate fat-free, sugar-free pudding mix
o 1/8 tsp peppermint extract (omit for just chocolate)
o Handful of ice cubes

Mom's Monday Mingle 86 #bloghop

WELCOME! So glad to have you today linking your blogs up with us for Mom's Monday Mingle.

1. Please FOLLOW each hostess (They are 1-3 in the link up)
2. Leave a comment if you are new and want us to return the follow.
3. Grab the button and display it on your sidebar or link it to the post.
4. Have fun and meet new friends!

Blogging Goals for the New Year ~2014

"My blogging goals for this year are..." That is the question for Finish The Sentence Friday Blog Hop on Janine's Confessions of A Mommyaholic. I have thought about this for quite a few days. Well actually before the FTSF Hop took a holiday break. My first thought for a goal was to be more dedicated. It was soon decided that wouldn't be the goal for the new year. Dedication takes time and so much more time that I really do not have. Over the last year, I have spent WAY too much time on the computer. I consider myself a small blogger, I don't have ads, do lots of parties, giveaways or even have sponsors. That way works for me and it keeps from making me crazy. I did try it for a while and it proved to be more than I wanted. When I started blogging, I did it as a hobby. People actually reading my blog was a far thought from my mind. I really had no idea what blogging was all about and how much dedication it takes. However, in the last year I feel like I have gotten a handle on blogging and what I want out of it. So it makes it easier for me now to decide what I wanted for this upcoming year.

Pretty simple. That was my idea when I originally jumped into blogging. I have complicated the whole process for myself. I have stressed way too many times and tried to be more than what I am comfortable with at times. I wanted to express my thoughts and creativity with others. It was created as a 'me' thing to relax and do for enjoyment. I take breaks here and there because life happens. I blog in real life...to me that means that I am blogging within the week or day of a published post. Yes, one reason is that I just don't have that much content and the other is me being a procrastinator. As my kids get older, it really seems like there is more to do and I get less done. I have spent way too much time with blog related things...hobbies are supposed to be fun and enjoyable. 

My kids were home for a week and a half and yes, I felt like a crazy person every day they were home. However, I love them so very much and spending so much time with them made me realize that I need to do more with them. I have been doing so many other things and it should be with them. By keeping it a hobby, it brings it back to the basics and give me more time to focus on better quality in my posts that I want to express and share most. It gives me more family time and time to do the things I really need to be doing. 

o My original intent was list and series posts. Those are the ones that I am most fond of. I get impatient and post many projects individually when I could work them into a list. This will be something you will see more of this upcoming year. 

o I won't lie....I LOVE traffic from Pinterest. Seeing Pinterest within the top 3 of my traffic sources makes my heart happy. A sense of accomplishment, even though it is small, it is so very exciting for me.

o I am interested in the series posts and hope to get my foot in the door on that one this year. Additionally, a longer term goal would be to invite others to do it with me. 

*Future-orientated fear- My biggest fear and lack of the 'go-getter' spirit in blogging is the fate of nothing happening. No linkers, readers, comments. I avoid doing lists and it took me a while to do my own link up for the fear of no one coming to link up and hop around. To me it feels like failure or poor content if I lack linkers and people that want to interact with me. 

o Since I am not making money, I decided that it is pretty pointless for me to force out continuous posts 
M-F and it be a hobby. They can only go together if I am ready and am confident in the material within the post. So for now on, I may post 2 posts in a week or even more at others times, depending on how the week is going. I hope that more posts will be the case, but I won't sweat it. 

o Developing friendships by commenting and connecting- I have a list of other blogs that I really enjoy reading their blogs and connecting with them. I go through phases of being able to comment on all of their posts and other times I run out of time. I don't know how some people do it. I do make an effort to comment on other blogs, but often times it is once or twice a week in a long stream of back to back blog visits and commenting. I feel like it helps me write a more personal comment.  Once upon a time in my time blogging, I spent a large amount of time linking up and visiting other blogs, but it really made me feel like I was living on the computer. With doing blog content, editing photos and regular life it just eats up so much time. I am really realizing that commenting and visiting other blogs is really the only way to actually develop a close relationship with other bloggers. A bloggers writing is something personal and comes from within, which is the best way to connect on a more personal level. 

Personal Blog Connections- When I originally started blogging, I had the plans of doing post only articles and my blog not being a personal blog at all. I had no interest in me or my family being in my blog. It took a really long time to include personal details and personal photos, especially of my children. It freaked me out to put their photos on the internet. I wanted a tutorial type blog. I got overwhelmed with pushing out creations so I could post them and some of them were not fun because I rushed through it. Now, I couldn't imagine not being a personal part of my blog and giving it a personality. I then connected with quite a few great bloggers and it changed my thought on the whole not connecting personally to my blog. How can others get to know you and enjoy your content if they have no way to relate to you on any level if you say nothing about yourself or your life? They can't. 

Blogging groups- I moved through a few different larger "blogging groups" before I ended up where I am right now. I couldn't figure out where I wanted to be, needed to be or where I felt like I fit best. I really feel like these semi-private blogging groups exist. You can tell a blogging group, because it seems as if a certain group always stick together in all they do, they partner together for projects or other things, they hop together and associate within the group the most. Some group bloggers join in with other groups and others have no group. The first 2 groups I feel like I tried to connect with were not enjoyable and didn't seem to have time for outsiders. I may be wrong, but for me that is how I have perceived it. I now enjoy a mix of connections within different groups. Some are crafting, creating, baking, sweets, organizing, personal and family. Everyone should do what works for you.

My want of the year: To further grow the connections with the bloggers in whom I already interact with and enjoy their blogs. I will take quality blogging friendships over quantity any day.  

Happy New Years 2014

Happy New Years! We hope you have a year full of all the things you want it to be. The choice is yours! A new day, a new beginning. If you wanted to do something last year and didn't get to....maybe it wasn't that important. Life is what you make it. We have had a wonderful year. Grateful for the good times and the not so great moments. The bad things just teach a lesson and it is up to us to figure out what that lesson is. It has been a true blessing everyday that we receive. I am grateful for each and every follower and reader of Consider Me Inspired. Cheers to a NEW YEAR!

10 Almosts of 2013

Everything is not perfect, just because another did a project and had no issues or made that fabulous goodie or dish doesn't mean that the next will have as much luck. I make lots of projects and I have my share almost projects as well as fails. Part of what I do as a creator is go through that process of elimination. I don't mind admitting what didn't work for me. It never hurts to try something new and if it works, that is fantastic. If it doesn't work, then you know what to change the next time; if you decide to do the project or make that recipe again.

Where do I get my inspirations from? 

o Things made growing up with my mom, school projects and crafts I did on my own.
o Seeing a fabulous set up in a magazine(often Pottery Barn) or in a store like Kirklands and even kid stores.
o I scour Google and Bing images for a subject that I am interested in creating and I brain storm off other peoples creations. This is normally my go to process and I often scan and wonder what I can make that hasn't been made already or even how can I change another project to reflect our families needs or interests.
o I also scan through Pinterest for inspiration.

***I never try to create something exactly the same as another. I like to make everything I do my own. It works out a majority of the time.***  I am an over analyzer, so when it comes to projects around the net I often wonder how they did it and sometimes I try it out for myself...exactly as they said.

Most disappointing project of the year: Baking pan as a magnet board.

WHY? -It actually requires a old school metal pan not a typical baking pan that one normally has in the cabinet. I do not think I have came across one that says you need a real metal baking pan. I tried thick ones, thin ones, round ones, rectangle ones, small square ones, store bought ones and even the free ones that come on the phone book or a business magnet. They all just fell right off.


Fruit Bouquet- I was like oh yeah, I am going to have the prettiest little bouquet. I actually made it for my neighbor that has no children or family near for Mother's Day. It was a mess and when I got the fruit and had the color scheme and design set up in my head, I failed to think about a few things.

1. How do you get flat fruit cut outs with round fruit?
2. How do you make all of the fruit stick together with toothpicks and it actually look neat?
3. How do you prevent the juice from the fruit dripping everywhere?

It worked just well enough to me to quickly get it to my neighbor to prevent a complete self destruction of the project. It is a good thing no matter how torn up fruit is, it is always good for something. Snacks, smoothies, cereal accessory and so on.

What happened? -I have it on my list to try again. I used 1/2 water 1/2 glue solution the last time and I dipped the yarn beforehand and then wrapped it. Super messy and just inspiration crusher. I was over it. What happened with the glue was it ended up leaving a glue skin after popping the balloon and it was just ugly and the yarn ball was unstable. I saw a new way to actually wrap then dip and I will try again with a mod podge and water mix. I know this is possible. Sometimes it takes a few tries to get a project to do what you want it to.

I swear I really lucked out in the great man department. My husband and I was walking down the strip of stores and as we passed the corner of Sports Academy- a baby bat was right there on the cold corner of the wall sleeping. At the time his camera on his phone was way better than mine, so he offered to get the pic for me. I was so amazed, because I had never seen a bat in real life. Pretty cool, right!

This was my attempt at making homemade bread and stopping the store bread buying. I think that possibly I should have divided my bread into 4 section before the second rising stage. The bread was really heavy, but it was quite delicious. My daughter loved it, my husband and son....not so much. I was happy with it with the exception of it being pretty fragile and falling apart easily. I will try this one again. We buy way too much bread in this house; we have 2 school lunches and 1 man lunch a day. That is about 3 loaves a week. 

Our sink was replaced in the bathroom this past year. It once had a floating sink that was higher and was replaced with a lower sink with a cabinet below. Well, when it was moved it had ugly drill holes so I wanted to cover them. I also wanted the kids to be able to see in the mirror when they brushed their teeth, hair and anything else they needed it for. I trimmed the board to size and it fit perfectly. I ended up putting magnets on the back of the mirrors and magnets stuck to the board to make the mirrors actually stay. They fell off constantly, so I ended up just taking them down and replacing them with a double mirror. I must figure out what makes the magnet paint actually work. It says paint any surface and let dry and you can even paint over it with another color or even chalkboard paint, but I have used it a few times and I must be doing something wrong because magnets won't stick. 

 Yes, almost laundry detergent. Why? -Well, I think it was just error in the process. I cooked it on the stove top and blended the rest of the ingredients and I just thought it wasn't thick enough, so I added more ingredients. My mom and I worked on this little solution to save money on detergent. However, it did end up coming together. It was more of a concentrate and ended up looking like a super gel. You know the only problem with this solution is that with all of the washing machines being HE. I do wonder about how that would be possible with a HE machine. Lesson learned: BE PATIENT

I am loving the variety of hair braiding styles there are. It is absolutely amazing what people can do. I practice on my daughter anytime I can she will let me. She is just so pretty with fixed hair, however she is pretty impatient and can't sit still for one second. It is like taking a little kid to get their hair cut at the salon except there is no crying or hair cutting, just lots of wiggling and moving and wanting to walk off. I almost have it down, just a little more practice. I need to make it tighter and I think it will turn out the way it should. I just haven't figured out how to make it tighter. Any braiding secrets you want to share? 

The chalk hair craze hit hard, but it was short lived. That is just not my type of thing. The last hair fad I followed was the 3 different colored layers of hair in like 2005. So, my super experimental and totally in the fads of now sister had her mind set on this. We tried the regular chalk pastels and found out it had to be the oil pastel chalk. We did the wet spray, chalk, flat iron to set. It was so super light. We tried a few times before we gave up on trying to get that vibrant chalk coated hair. It was messy and our fingers got stained from the pastels. NO GO on another attempt on this little doozie.

Wow, that is a horrible way to make dinner. My most scary moment of the entire year. This was a super crazy story. I always want my husbands dinner to be hot and ready when he comes through the door, so I keep it on low. I want it to be fresh for him after working a long hard day at work. Luckily, it took about 45 minutes to get him and get back home. If it would have been a moment later...we would have lost our house. I put the lid on the pot to keep the heat in, but obviously I forgot to turn off the burner. There was actually more chicken meatballs in the pan...many of them incinerated from the heat.

We drove down the driveway and got out and instantly we could smell something stinky. I ran to the door to open it and was instantly flooded in the face with white smoke. A really horrible white smoke that the instant you breath in it feels like pain. A sharp, stabbing and suffocating type of pain. The kids stayed outside, and my husband and I covered our faces and ran inside to turn off the stove, throw the pan outside, open all of the windows and doors. Thank goodness for 13 windows, 2 doors and 1 giant fan. I really think that the lid that I put on the pan before I left kept as well as the 2 cups of water to coat the bottom of the pan kept it from catching on fire and spreading to our entire house. The burner was a little damaged and the house smelled horrid. We actually left for about 3 hours before returning to the house after we opened it up. The kids room door had been closed so it wasn't bad. 

I had just washed all of the bedding and couch cushions earlier that day. They all had to be rewashed as well as our clothes that were out or hanging. The walls had to be wiped down from base board to ceiling and everything else had to be cleaned. My house has never been so clean. The smell went away after about a month. We sprayed odor sprays as well as kept candles burning to contain the smell. We thank the good Lord above for having a home still to this day. I mean luck has nothing to do with it, it was a pure blessing. I have never made another chicken ball to this day!

Let's get chocolate wasted together. We were traveling back up to North Carolina after vacationing for a month with my mom in Mississippi and on our way back home we stop any place that looks interesting. We normally go the MS, AL, GA, SC, NC route, but this time we decided to drive north into TN for the route back home. It is longer even though it is less states to travel through. Anyway, we ended up in Athens, TN where there was a Russell Stover Factory Outlet. We had to stop....I mean you just can't pass something like that. I was surprised at the beautiful chocolates in the casing. We really got a great deal on the mountain of chocolates we left with. Anyway, if you ever want to get chocolate wasted, I am always available. GODIVA is my best friend! 

Mom's Monday Mingle #social #bloghop

Mom’s Monday Mingle #85

WELCOME! So glad to have you today linking your blogs up with us for Mom's Monday Mingle.

How we Celebrate....

We hope you had a very Merry Christmas with your family this past week. Ours was not bad. I missed my family, as I always do during these holidays you are normally with family. Christmas time is so very special to me. I love the magic and heart that it brings. More people focus on things just for this month that should be expressed during the entire year. A big one is doing good for others.

It is really hard for me to see how some people take Christmas and other holidays from their children. I am all for someone living their life and raising their children how they see fit. Most of the reasoning is because it is simply just not true, it gives false hope, it is only about Jesus Christ. Those are just a few. I won't elaborate any further. I know if I have heard it, more than likely you have and possibly more. I just was drawn to letting you in on how we celebrate in our home and what we think about the whole situation.

When you were a kid, when did you wonder about Santa? 

Honestly, I never had a chance to not believe in Santa or wonder about him. A few times, I do remember waking up on Christmas morning and seeing the tree surround by beautifully wrapped packages with gift and treat stuffed stockings. The excitement was priceless and one that is so memorable. We did go to church (Catholic) services as well as the classes weekly. Religion never took away our chance to experience Christmas. 

When I was in 2nd grade my step father(alcoholic-verbally and physically abusive) decided to take his life on Christmas Eve night. He decided to do it right in front of my mother after telling her "Merry Christmas." Our night was filled with horrific sights a child should never see or experience. It changes the rest of your life, well it did mine. We got Christmas much later...all of our gifts had to be cleaned off and rewrapped. Since it was no longer Christmas time, my mom, aunts and grandma wrapped our gifts in the comic book section from the newspaper. Every once in a while I do wrap gifts in comic paper just because. So, that is the reason why I never experienced the "Is Santa Real" question.

Now that you have kids, what is your approach?

1. I want my children to know that the reason for the season is to celebrate, our Savior, Jesus Christ being born. I feel like you can experience and show your love for The Lord and enjoy the magic of a big jolly man riding around in a sleigh pulled by reindeer. 

2. I do not see any reason at all to take this away from our children. My husband did not get to experience Christmas as a child, but it was not because of religion.  When you grow up, you are in the real world. The world filled with the nice and the naughty, bills, life and other stresses that will be there forever. There is not much magic about being a grown up. Unless you are lucky enough have that magical and fairytale like wedding with the movie type engagement and proposal. That is the most magic you will get as an adult, in my opinion. There is no magic like the magic of believing as a child. 

So our approach is celebrating with our children while educating them as well. It works for us and we of course let our children know that Santa brings one special gift and we pay for the rest, but Santa brings them. I mean it ties real world in with the magic. My husband works 13+ hour work days up to 7 days a week and they often go to bed without even seeing him in a day until he goes in to tell them that he loves them at night. It is important that they know that their daddy is working is for them to have the basic things in life such as shelter, clothes and food as well as the special things and the credit is not  just given to a mystical person. Even though, Saint Nicholas was the Patron of Children and we go with the different symbols of Christmas.

When you stop believing that is it. You can not go back from that. So yes, we believe in Santa at our house, but we know it is the celebration of Jesus Christ being born.

oooo My children are home for Christmas break right now, so I am having very little chances to get on the computer. It is hard for me to concentrate on what I am doing, much less write blog posts or even edit photos as of late. There is nothing wrong with a break though. I am getting more time in with my kids, which is so very important. They are driving me nuts and I am kind of ready for them to get back to the classroom and learn. They are not at the age of Christmas break meaning "let's sleep late" yet.  By time the day winds down, my husband is getting home. Then it is the other side of my day, then bed. No room for dedicated and uninterrupted computer time. I am contemplating on the upcoming year and what blogging adventures I will take on. 

I love reading Janine from Confession's of a Mommyaholic's posts. She is always doing really great series and other posts that are equally interesting. Janine's Confessions of a Mommyaholic has a great series every Friday. I have been wanting to take part in it for so long, and I just haven't gotten around to it or something else was going on. I am excited and dedicated for the upcoming post.  I will be joining January 3, 2014 weeks sentence to finish......."My blogging goals for this year are...."

Merry Christmas to you All!

We hope you all have had a wonderful and very Merry Christmas with your family and friends today. Be safe in your travels this holiday season. 'Glory to God' in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Thanks to God for his unspeakable gift. MERRY CHRISTMAS! 


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