Category Archives: Reviews

Giveaway and Sale!! All About Reading Level 4 is READY!

(*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting HGM and my family.) All about reading reviews

We love all the products from All About Learning Press, including All About Spelling and All About Reading!

If you’ve used the All About Reading products, you know that Level 4 has been in the making recently. Well, IT’S READY!!

And, to celebrate, Marie Rippel and the AALP crew are giving you a great sale, some freebies, and an awesome giveaway.

For one week only – through September 15th, 2014 – All About Reading Level 4 is $20 off!

A description of the package from Marie:

In Level 4 (the final level of the All About Reading series), your student will learn exciting new concepts, including words with multiple suffixes, fifteen new phonograms, and methods for decoding multisyllable words – and continue to establish a firm foundation for a lifetime of learning. Every component of reading is taught: decoding (phonics and structural analysis), vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension.

Wow! I can’t wait to dig into it! There are LOTS more details about the whole package at the AALP website and their Level 4 overview page. Three of the freebies I linked to below are sneak peeks at Level 4.

The giveaway is one full set of this brand new reading level – that’s a $140 value! Click here to check out the giveaway. Hurry, because it ends September 14th!

Four Freebies

Eagles Learn to Fly – A Game to Review Level 3 Words

Words from Greek Mythology – A Sneak Peek at Level 4

Charlie’s Sick Day – From Level 4

The Pirate Dictionary – From Level 4

Have you used the other levels of All About Reading? What’s your favorite thing about this reading tool?

The Bouqs Company Review

homegrownmommy review  homegrownmommy review
Flowers? For ME? I don’t mind if I do!When The Bouqs Company asked me if I would review their service on HomeGrownMommy, I didn’t think twice – although, I did think it was too good to be true at first!The process was super easy. Logon to the website at TheBouqs.comand click on Shop at the top.So many gorgeous bouquets! I really liked that they had some unique color combinations and types of flowers.When you’ve picked the one you want, just click Send and fill in your information. You can even send it with a special note to someone else, choose a particular reason for sending or  make it anonymous.When my flowers arrived, they were packaged with extreme care and protection. You can be sure that your flowers will always get to you in perfect condition.

Right after I received the flowers, I cut down the stems and pulled off much of the foliage. {Real flowers have real thorns! Ouch! Wear gloves.} I added some of the little packet of cut-flower food and arranged the flowers in my *vase*.

This review has caused me to realize that I have no vases. How can that be?? We’ve moved A. LOT. over the last two years and I have purged so much of our stuff during that time – apparently, flower vases did not make the cut at some point.

I received the flowers on Tuesday and my daughter’s Ballerina Party was coming up on Saturday. The true test for me was to see whether or not the bouquet from The Bouqs would last until then.

The Bouqs - Premium Farm Direct Flowers
Well, I am so happy to say that, not only did every single flower survive, but they all still looked so fresh! These poor flowers suffered a bit even. My daughter accidentally dumped them over and the water spilled. I thought she put more water in, she thought I put more water in. So, the flowers sat all afternoon and over-night without water. I was worried when I found out in the morning. Not to mention that all my children just had to touch these beautiful creations about every time they walked by – so silky, so pretty!

And, then, during the party, they were dumped again and no one put water in them. They still looked great the next day! Amazing!

I would definitely use The Bouqs again for a special delivery or just to freshen up the kitchen table!

The Well Planned Day Wall Calendar Review

homegrownmommy review
 homegrownmommy review
Planning time! There’s just something about sitting down with a new calendar, new pens and highlighters, new books and a cup of chai that makes me all giddy! When the Back-to-School sales start coming out, all I can think of is that song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”.Needless to say, when I got the opportunity to review the Well Planned Day Wall Calendar, I was so excited!First of all, it’s beautiful. It’s important to me to have beautiful things around me – I’d much rather look at this calendar than the plain old one I have currently.Also, the spaces are pretty large for writing in all those appointments and dates and goings-on for a busy family.

Each month has an inspirational quote, something uplifting to keep you going on those someone-tell-me-again-why-I’m-really-doing-this days. The one currently on their website takes you through the rest of 2014 and through all of 2015.

I do like that the pages inside are not glossy coated. I think it’s lots easier to write on them and to erase mistakes.

homegrownmommy reviewWhen I hung the Well Planned Day calendar next to my dollar store cheapy, the main difference that stands out is that the WPD is so much prettier. At only $9.95, I think the price difference is definitely worth it.


Other differences include:

  • The cheap one is also only 12 months – to the end of 2014
  • The cheap one doesn’t show you all 12 months at-a-glance like the WPD

Thanks so much HEDUA for the opportunity to review this great addition to my homeschool planning process!

Watch for my reivew of the Well Planned Day software! With a calendar, bulletins, menu plans, reports and more – this could possibly replace everything else you’ve ever used for planning your day well!

Odd Squad Review – Not So Odd Afterall

odd squad reviewA new series is coming from PBS starring great kids who use math skills to solve odd mysteries! It’s called “Odd Squad” and it will premiere on Wednesday, November 16th, 2014 on PBS KIDS with a one-hour broadcast featuring two back-to-back episodes. There will also be digital and offline content to round out the fun experience for kids.

Here’s the info they gave me about this new show, and then I’ll tell what I think based on the teaser I watched.

The series follows two young government agents, Olive and Otto, who use math skills and collaboration to investigate weird and unusual phenomena. ODD SQUAD is designed to help kids ages 5-8 learn math through a math concept embedded in each of their cases.

ODD SQUAD is created by Tim McKeon (The Electric Company, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, Adventure Time) and Adam Peltzman (The Electric Company, The Backyardigans, Wallykazam!) and produced by The Fred Rogers Company and Sinking Ship Entertainment. The television series is part of a multiplatform media experience that will feature interactive content online and on mobile, including games, parent resources, apps and more.

It definitely looks like it would appeal to my three middle-est kids, ages 9, 8, & 6. Lots of fast-moving activity, cute jokes, and kids everywhere! I love how they are able to weave the math into the episodes in a fun way while adding a little bit of the outrageous in there, too. {a number hog sucking up all the numbers? Lol!}

There are two things about what I say of the program that irked me a little bit. First is the nerd and second is the boss-lady.

It seems to me they are really driving home some deeply engrained stereotypes that I would definitely like to keep my kiddos from adopting.

The first stereotype I saw was in the “nerd” persona of Oscar. He talks funny, he’s got a weird hair-do {by most kids’ standards}, and he’s the ultra-smart scientist.

Now, tell me which kid you know would ever want to be THAT guy. It seems to me that, if kids think smart equals Oscar, they may not want to travel that road. Certainly, we give our kids lots of examples of what smart looks like in action in our everyday lives – so I know this show isn’t going to be the only thing that shapes their definition of what smart is like. But, it’s kind of disappointing to see this stereotype promoted.

The second stereotype was the “boss lady” named Ms. O. She’s loud, she’s crabby, and she’s in charge.

Gives so much more fuel to the “my-boss-is-awful” fire. I know not every boss is awesome and some are downright nasty but, if my children become someone’s boss someday, I don’t want them thinking that this is the normal way to act.

I’m not saying I won’t ever let my kids watch the show. If it makes math fun for them and helps a few of the concepts to stick a little better, fabulous! Just making a few notes of things that I would chat with my kids about before letting them watch.

Go on over and watch some of the teasers, learn about the cast, and have a look around at the site! Reviews Coming Soon!

online reading and math programK5 Learning has an online reading and math program for kindergarten to grade 5 students.  I’ve been given a 6 week free trial to test and write a review of their program. Stay tuned and I’ll let you know how things are going!
If you are a blogger, you may want to check out their open invitation to write an online learning review of their program.

Book Review: The Artist’s Way for Parents by Julia Cameron

WOW!! I had NO idea what I had gotten myself into when I picked up this book from the library shelf.

It almost feels like this book picked me from the library shelf – I really wasn’t searching for anything in particular. I took my kids to the library a few weeks ago and passed by the shelf of new books as we were exiting the building. This one has a nice bright, colorful cover and it practically jumped out at me. When I read the title, it definitely resonated with the parent that I am trying to be so I grabbed it to read at home.

Oh! I am so glad I did!

You know that feeling when you have a pretty big, life-path type of question and the answer starts coming from places you never thought of looking? That’s what reading this book was for me.

We’ve been homeschooling about 9 years now. Most of that time, I would say we have been schooling in a pretty traditional way. Pre-cut curriculum with the kids doing work about one year ahead of where they would be at a school. It’s not how I pictured homeschooling to be, but it’s what was working for us – but, I secretly wanted it to be so much different. At the risk of sounding too dramatic, I would say it’s even a deep longing.

This last year, I’ve been a little more proactive about actually looking for a different way to do things. I really love the idea of unschooling and project-based homeschooling but every time we try it, things don’t go as planned and I end up reverting back to what we know.

What, on this earth, does that have anything to do with this book?

This book is so much more than just *5 Steps to a Creative Child* or a list of things to do that you intermittently scatter through your life.

It’s a way of parenting.

It’s a way of living.

It’s a set of glasses that you look at everything else in life through.

Here is a sneak peek at the Table of Contents:

  1. Cultivating Safety
  2. Cultivating Curiosity
  3. Cultivating Connection
  4. Cultivating Limits
  5. Cultivating Self-Expression
  6. Cultivating Inventiveness
  7. Cultivating Conscious Flow
  8. Cultivating Focus
  9. Cultivating Discovery
  10. Cultivating Humility
  11. Cultivating Independence
  12. Cultivating Faith

I was so inspired by the simplicity of the suggestions Ms. Cameron makes. I’m always looking for things to be big, huge and complex – to me, it’s a sure sign that it will really work. {I say that tongue in cheek.} It’s also a sure sign that I won’t ever really be able to fit it into my life on a regular basis. {Said with utmost sincerity.}

But, Ms. Cameron is really talking more about simplifying our lives in order to let creativity have it’s place, in order for creativity to really flow. Our kids don’t have to be best, first, or advanced – and neither do we. *collective sigh of parental relief* We just need to create an environment where they can try. An environment where they can persue what interests them at the moment. But, an environment with enough structure that they can also refine those skills to something even more fun.

I gleaned so much great parenting information from this book beyond the ideas to help raise creative kids. Like this quote from the book …

“Creativity is born in generosity and flourishes where there is a sense of safety and self-acceptance. Your child is happiest when feeling a sense of security.”

I loved all the stories related in the book from students in Ms. Cameron’s classes about their experiences with their own kids. It helped me to realize that, even though I feel like I have a long way to go in raising creative kids, I can start now and they will still be ok! It’s not too late to start right where I am.

Dry Skin Revisited

Winter is whispering, “I’m baaaaaaaaaack!” and leaving it’s {dry} kisses on the backs of my hands.

Last year, I reviewed the fabulous MadeOn HardLotion bars of coconut oil lotion. Since my hands are particularly dry already this season, I’ve pulled our favorite lotion out again and am getting ready to order some more.

Anyone else have hands that need some lotion love? I love supporting family-owned businesses {especially now that my husband and I own one, too} and the story behind MadeOn, which Renee talks about on her About Me page, is too sweet!

Buy gifts for your family and friends this year that are really good for them and support TWO other families at the same time. (Because I’m an affiliate and Renee works so hard to formulate the bars.)

Talking To Toddlers Audio Course Review – Success Stories

To read my full review of Talking To Toddlers, check out my review article.

To read more success stories, please check out this one.

ANOTHER success story with Talking To Toddlers!

This one is with the potty-trained three-year-old again. I am definitely glad I have learned these techniques to use with her – out of six children, she has certainly been the only with the most will power! With Talking To Toddlers, I don’t have to argue or get upset or yell. {Well, I guess I wouldn’t HAVE to get upset or yell even without T2T, but this makes it much easier to know what to do instead!}

Me: “Okay, honey! Time to go to the bathroom!”
Her: “But I want to help big brother with the toast.”
Me: “Oh. You want to help big brother make toast? Is that right?” (Mirroring her question to enter her world – so she knows I understand what she needs.)
Her: “Uh-huh!”
Me: “Would you like to help big brother cook the toast or butter the toast after you go potty?” (Double Bind)
Her: “Um, butter the toast after I go potty!”

And, off to the bathroom she went!! Hurray! With this particular child, this situation could easily have escalated into a meltdown if I had not used the double bind.

What situations would you like to turn from potential meltdown to smooth and easy?

Talking To Toddlers Review – Success Stories

I’ve been having so much success with the tools I have learned with Talking To Toddlers, I have decided to post some of the stories here as I think about it. If I can possibly get one of the magical moments on camera for you, I will. With my kiddos (maybe yours too?) you just never know what situation is going to spark a little bit of tension and many times the moment is over before I can get to my camera! 🙂

This afternoon was one of those wonderful moments.

The kids were all caught up with school work, the house was clean {as clean as it’s gonna get, anyway}, my husband and I needed to get some serious work done for our internet marketing business. So, we decided that a little bit of video time for the kids was in order.

Our three-year-old is newly potty trained  – dry all day with regular reminders from us to go and a small treat for each successful trip, dry at nap, diaper at night with it usually being pretty wet in the morning. I wanted her to make a stop in the bathroom before the movie started so there wouldn’t be any accidents.

Me: “Honey, go to the bathroom real quick before the movie, please.”
Her: “But, I don’t want to.”
Me: {a little nervous this might turn into a meltdown} “I don’t want you to have an accident during the movie.  I’ll wait to start the movie until you’re done.”
Her: “But, I don’t have to go to the potty.”
Me: “Well, would you like your treat after you go potty or before you start watching the movie?” (Double Bind with Presupposition – Lesson 1 of the Audio Course)
Her: “After I go potty!” as she galloped off to go to the bathroom.

Not all our success stories end with a treat. This one just happens to because it’s where we’re at with her potty training. It got her mind off of not wanting to go to the bathroom and on to something she did want.

Either way, she did what needed to be done and I did not have to argue or threaten even a little! Hurray!

If you would like to check out the Chris Thompson’s Talking To Toddlers Audio Course, check out his site.

If you would like to read my full review of the course, check out my article.

Talking To Toddlers Review – Scam or Legit?

You love your kids. Without a doubt. You love their smile, their hugs, their voice. You even love them when they are being ridiculously naughty – it’s just not quite as easy as at other times.

Have you ever looked into the eyes of a child in the midst of throwing a temper tantrum and felt at a complete loss for just what to do {in lieu of screaming and throwing your own temper tantrum, I mean}?

Have you ever tried to figure out how to end the bedtime fight so you could put your little angel to bed in peace and quiet?

Has your child ever said, “I don’t want to!” to something you have asked them to do?

Then, I am quite sure the skills you will learn in Talking To Toddlers will help!

But, if your kids are never naughty or defiant {I’ve heard that happens on some planets}, then you definitely don’t need this program. In fact, maybe you should produce one, too!

Product Details

Talking To Toddlers is an audio course that teaches fundamental communication skills to help parents and children avoid the emotional roller coaster that naughty behavior sometimes evokes. Chris takes you step-by-step through some key phrases and ways of interacting verbally with your child in order to guide them to behavior that makes for a wonderfully refreshing relationship.

FREEBIES on the Talking To Toddlers Website –

  • Free Audio – 3 Quick and Easy Parenting Techniques You Can Use Right Now
  • Free Video Presentation – Powerful Parenting Strategies for Toddlers
  • Free Parenting Articles like Raising Self-Confident Children
  • Free Newsletter Full of Even More Parenting Tips

There are 6 tracks or lessons, none of which are longer than 20 minutes. Even if you only listen to one program a day on your drive home from work or during your kids’ naps, you totally have time for it! Here are the titles: (To hear the first two lessons for free, click here to be directed to the Talking To Toddlers homepage.)

  • Lesson 1: Introduction
  • Lesson 2: Double Binds and Presuppositions
  • Lesson 3: How To Avoid Saying No
  • Lesson 4: Yes Sets, No Sets, and Compliance Sets
  • Lesson 5: The Rule of Commitment and Consistency
  • Lesson 6: The Rule of Reciprocity
  • Lesson 7: Picking Your Battles
  • Lesson 8: Reframing
  • Lesson 9: State Management and Anchoring
  • Lesson 10: Embedded Commands and the Quotes Technique
  • Lesson 11: How to Deal With Physical Pain
  • Lesson 12: How to Threaten Punishment

(More review comments below the video.)

Tools You Can Use

I learned some real lessons with this course. Things that, when I applied what Talking To Toddlers was teaching, actually made a difference in the behavior of my child! Even my first time out! {do you hear that relief in my voice? it feels great!}

I have to admit that when I realized that the tools he was teaching me to use fell under the heading of NLP, or NeuroLinguistic Programming, I almost didn’t listen. And, furthermore, I almost didn’t post this review because I didn’t think my readers would like the connotation that NLP brought with it. A little mystical, kind of spooky, possibly not Christian.

But, then I realized that this was just learning a new way to setup questions or comment toward your children, purposefully choosing the words you use with your children.

I am happy to say that I have successfully used all of the tools in this course! {As a matter of fact, my three-year-old is on her way to bed as I type this because I used the Double Bind method!!}

For instance, one of the tools I learned how to use is called a Double Bind. The best example of this is the one the creator of this course uses – “Heads, I win. Tails, you lose.” Either way, I’m happy! When you are using this with your children, basically you are only giving them choices where BOTH choices lead them to do what you want them to do. It creates the illusion of choice.

“Anna, would you like gravy on your broccoli or would you just like butter?” Either way, Anna is going to eat those veggies. {Photo Credit:}

“Caleb, would you like all your bath toys in the tub with you or would you like to pick out the ones you want to play with?” Either way, Caleb is going to take a bath.

No matter what the kids pick, Parent wins and there was no fighting, no arguing.

You are at the park with your child and he is happily playing with the other kids. You look at your watch and realize that it is almost time to go. “Johnny, would you like to read a book or play with your Legos when we get home?” Johnny is thinking about what to do when getting home, not about throwing that fit to not have to leave the park.

How To Avoid Saying No

Another tool we went through in the course was in regard to this idea of parenting and the word “no”. First, Chris cautioned us to really use the word “no” as sparingly as possible.

I have to admit – when I sat back and really paid attention to the reason I was saying no to my kids, I agreed with Chris. It was usually out of physical or emotional laziness, not because what they wanted really posed any danger or other real solid reason to say no.

But, no matter how sparingly you use that word, inevitably your kids will ask you something that you just have to say no to. Chris gives us some great ways to deal with this without a fight from your little one.

No matter what the age, the first step is to always repeat the question back to them. The purpose is to enter their world as an ally – they know you know what they want. You *get* it and that eliminates half the argument right there.

The second step depends on how old they are or their level of cognition. If they can understand the logic behind your answer, go with the Logic Method. If they are too young for logic, then use the Distraction Method.

Logic Method -if your child is old enough to know the implication of what they are asking, this method gets the child to answer their own question the way you would answer it. Except, when they do the talking, it *clicks* better in their brain and you are less likely to get a fight.

Distraction Method – if they are not old enough to know, this method will distract them from the question with other questions, slowly moving away from what they want.


So, as you can see already, there are tons of communication skills you will be learning when you use Talking To Toddlers. It’s not so much that you will never ever have melt-downs or disagreements with your children – but they will be fewer and farther between. When those tense moments do come up, you will feel so much more prepared!


I think Chris is a wonderful teacher. He is very clear-spoken and uses several different examples to drive home the idea he is teaching. Each lesson is so short, you don’t have time to get bored or confused. He breaks down the whole program into logical pieces. The fact that he gives you a little homework assignment at the end of each lesson gets you thinking about how to use the skills in your daily life.

It’s also very easy to listen to this wherever you are – in the car, at home, wherever you have some kind of device that will play mp3’s.

* Cons

My husband and I listened to this together, several times. I honestly have absolutely nothing to say in the way of negatives about this program. Talking To Toddlers is complete and very useful. It isn’t a stretch to say that I use the things I’ve learned here every day of my parenting life.

In Conclusion

I like the Talking to Toddlers program! It really has helped me deal with my children more effectively since I first listened to it. All the links in this review are affiliate links. If you buy this program, a portion of the sale will go to support HomeGrownMommy and my family. I was given a review copy of the program in order to give my honest opinion of its contents. My review was not in any way influenced by the creator of the program or the opportunity to have a review copy.