3 Steps To Looking Put Together by Having A Signature Style — Jewelry

Disclaimer: I received a necklace in exchange for an honest review.


Life has changed since before I had kids. In fact, hubs just asked WHY I seem to care about fashion & clothes so much more now than before we had kids. The answer was simple.

  1.  I married an awesome guy and don’t want to be that frumpy, worn out, unhappy mom that makes childless people thankful for their contraception.
  2. We own a successful business and I can’t be caught schlepping around like a slob in case we run into clients or members of the business community while we are out.
  3. He works hard to run that business and make a good impression. I want him to be proud to introduce me to people we see.

Is it vanity? Not really. The reality is that your appearance helps make a first impression. Even the infamous Proverbs 31 woman clothed her family in purple and her husband was respected at the city gates.

One of my favorite ways to look put together is with accessories. No matter what my weight, pregnancy status or what have you, accessories like shoes, purses, scarves, hats & jewelry always fit. My favorite accessory is jewelry and my favorite jewelry is usually religious. It’s pretty and makes a statement about who I am, if you are paying attention.



Nativity Stone Jewelry

Recently, the folks at Nativity Stones sent me a beautiful necklace from their Nativity Stones jewelry collection. The Church of the Nativity is built over the cave where it is believed that Jesus was born. In 1963, workers removed a portion of the wall to allow visitors to exit the manger room. Stanley Slotkin noticed this and asked if he could have the pieces being removed. Many were given to charitable organizations and sick people in hospitals, but recently, they have begun to make jewelry with small pieces of the wall inside.

I was sent a beautiful piece of this jewelry–the Classic Nativity Stones Cross. The cross itself is coated in 18k gold and is designed to be worn by either sex, making it a wonderful graduation or confirmation gift. The classic cross is generously sized at 1-3/8″ x 2-1/4″ and includes a quality 22″ rope chain. If you prefer something a little smaller, they make a petite version that is only 7/8″ x 1-3/8″. In addition, they have a simpler Carpenter’s Cross that is coated in silver. It’s stunning to look at! Each piece of jewelry comes in a gift box with a certificate of authenticity and a pamphlet sharing the story behind Nativity Stones.

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For the last few months, I have been wearing the Classic Nativity Stones Cross to Mass on Sunday’s. My baby loves to finger it while he nurses and its sturdy enough that I don’t worry about him snapping the chain. My girls love to look at it and hear the story. I’m sure that people have overheard me telling them the story because I’ve noticed people turning around to look.


3 Steps to a Signature Style – Jewelry

The Classic Nativity Stones cross has become a part of my Sunday uniform–I put it on as a matter of habit. Determining a signature style can help you look put together every single day in a matter of minutes.

1. Survey Your Stuff.

Take a few minutes and survey your jewelry box–the stuff you could wear every day, not the fancy ones.

What do you have the most of? What do you love the most?

Chances are you already have a favorite, you just didn’t know it. Or, you keep buying items that don’t actually work for your life.

2. Pick Your Signature Item.

Pick one or two types of jewelry that fit in your lifestyle. Necklaces & bracelets work best during this season of life, but maybe you prefer rings, earrings, pins/brooches or even cool & colorful watches. I used to be known for crazy dangly earrings in a past life ;). Once you pick a statement item, it’s freeing limit any new purchases to mostly those items and not worry that they will never be worn.

3. Pick a few favorites.

Grab 3 or 4 items to choose from and put them on a valet, fun tray or pretty china saucer near where you get dressed. Everyday when you get dressed, grab something from your tray.

Voila. Instant style!


Do you have a signature jewelry item?

Jen S.






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3 Ways to Fit Fun into Your Home {School} @ Only Passionate Curiosity

I wrote a guest post for Heather, a fellow crew mate at the Schoolhouse Review Crew this week.   I had to snicker when she said that my house sounded like a fun place to learn.  When I read it last night, we were in the midst of learning character, new rules and hard consequences.   It was not a fun night!

Even so, I guess, I do try to find ways to make learning fun.   Here is how I do it…




So I have younger kids and if school gets too boring for two long, they start to revolt.  Really, though, who doesn’t?  Even my husband & I revolt if it has been longer than a year without traveling somewhere.  I think it’s human nature :).

Anyway, while these are tips I use to plan for “fun school” for my smaller kids, they are absolutely adaptable for older kids.

Check out all three ways that I plan to incorporate fun into our homeschool year over at Only Passionate Curiousity.   These tips are great for just incorporating fun into your home, too.

Jen S.

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Math Apps for Early Learners — Eggy Numbers 1-10 & Eggy Add to 20

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of these iPhone apps in exchange for an honest review.


Math Apps for Early Learners

This has been a math kind of summer for both of our girls; it is one of the two subjects they are working on during summer school. Earlier, we were invited to review a few apps from the Reading Eggs folks. We have downloaded several of their apps and I was pretty sure that two of their iPhone apps, Eggy Add to 20 and Eggy Numbers 1-10, would give us a bit of a head start on the new school year.


Eggy Add to 20

My oldest daughter, age 6-1/2, is working on her number facts. Grudgingly. She is entirely unmotivated to learn them. She has, however, been loving the Eggy Add to 20 app. The Eggy Add to 20 app has 6 different games to play with 2 or 3 levels each. For each level you successfully complete you get a Mashie, a character in the app gallery.


All levels have you doing addition problems up to 20. In Balloons, you have to pick the balloon with the correct answer. The different stages use numbers, pictures of cubes representing 10′s & 1′s, number to word recognition & more.


Snowboarding is the hardest. You are snowboarding down a hill and you have to drag the snowboarder back & forth across the slope to avoid obstacles AND collect flags. Each successive stage gets faster and has more incorrect answers to avoid. If you mess up, you start the stage over.


In Teddy, a bear is hanging from a rope, you need to pair numbers that equal the total enough times to make him climb the rope. You can move the rows and columns to move numbers next to each other, if necessary.


Memory is pretty self explanatory except you are matching the problem to the answer.


Sheepdog was a pretty neat game. 4 rows of sheep are moving in alternate directions and you have to hop across the 4 rows by answering the questions at the top. If you hop wrong or get to the edge of the screen he falls off and you have to go back to the top. You have to go to the bottom and get a bone, then carry it to the top until you get all the bones. The sound effects on this one were particularly fun :).


Fishing was my daughters favorite, I think. You have to move the boat across the screen & then drop a line to catch a fish. Your goal is to catch 2 fish that equal the number at the top. The further you get, the more fish there are.


Overall, my daughter has really enjoyed playing all the games in Eggy Add to 20 and she is hooked on trying to earn all the Mashies. I was trying to get her to do math fact problems in a rapid-fire time-trial thing, but I don’t think she will ever hit that goal. I’m satisfied that she is making headway in knowing her addition problems quickly. And she’s having a blast doing it; I don’t mind giving her the screen time when I know she’s getting something out of it.


The app has not crashed my older smaller iPhone 4S, so yay for that! The sounds are not obnoxious and are actually quite fun. While you can pick your accent, I am partial to the Australian one :). Eggy Add to 20 had a bit of a game learning curve (we severely limit screen time), but it was super low compared to some things we’ve tried. It took a day or two (at 15 minutes/day) to really master the game play.


Eggy Numbers 1 to 10

We also downloaded a copy of Eggy Numbers 1-10 for my 3-3/4 year old. We haven’t spent a ton of time on number recognition and need a little work on 1:1 correspondence.


Eggy Numbers 1-10 has 2 sections. The first covers number writing & recognition and the second covers counting. You earn acorns for completed activities and like the Eggy Add to 20, Eggy Numbers 1-10 has little trophies you can collect. In this app, however, they are called critters and there are 18 to collect. You can earn critters for things like playing 30 minutes, using it for 4 days in a row, or earning 1 acorn on all activities.


In the number section of Eggy Numbers 1-10 there are 4 activities for each number from 1 to 10. The first is dot to dot, where the child draws the number by connecting the dots. This one was a little picky in my opinion. The screenshot above shows a failed 1. It looked pretty darn good to me! In Draw the Number, you draw it & it shows you what you should have done. You self compare in this one. In Copy the Number, you trace the shapes. In Number or Not, you say whether the number of items in the box is the number you are working on.


In the counting set of activities, there are 3 games with 2 levels each. The first game is called Counting With Buddy. The game gives you a number and an animal and you have to drag the correct number to the barnyard. The second is Number Ring. In Number Ring there is a circle in the center with a number of animals in it. Around the outside are circles with numbers 1-5 (or 1-10). You are to drag the animals to the correct number.


The Number Domino game is the hardest. You have to match up halves scrolling across the top with the ones at the bottom. And you have to drop it when it’s over where you want it to go. Sort of. Because the top box is smaller than the play area and its tough to drop it at the right time AND match top & bottom halves of acorns & such. It’s a lot for a 3 year old to get.  Heck, it took ME a minute :).

I’m surprised at how much my almost 4 year old knew without us sitting down and teaching her and she picked up on it really quickly. I wasn’t a fan of the writing portions, but perhaps she will grow into those. An electronic salt box, if you will :). She enjoyed the Number or Not activity and Counting with Buddy the most. When left to her own devices, though, she had so much fun pushing buttons & dragging animals around that she didn’t learn much :). When guided through, though, she got a ton out of it. She also did a great job with the Number Circle.


Overall, we liked Eggy Numbers 1-10, too. She asks to play her “math game” nearly every day and she’s really starting to understand the 1:1 correspondence. Her recognition of 1-5 is pretty well there now also. I also love the summary screen showing activities, time spent, etc.  I wish Eggy Add to 20 had a similar page.

The farm animal theme is fun & enjoyable for 3-4 year olds and cracking the eggs to hatch the critters is fun, too. Eggy Numbers 1-10 was also kind to my aging phone; not only is it a 4S, but I’m not running the new updated iOS (which isn’t so new anymore). It didn’t crash or hiccup and ran pretty well. Some activities were a little bumpy; my 3 year old is not known got her precision and an iPhone screen is small. Still the apps were well built for the small screen and everything was easy to read.


Overall, our family has really enjoyed using Eggy Add to 20 and Eggy Numbers 1-10. My kids have enjoyed being able to play fun games on my phone. I’ve enjoyed that their screen time is not a total brain drain. And hubby is grateful that they run well on my phone because he doesn’t want me to whine about needing an upgrade. He likes the content me, not the gadget-hungry one in need of a tech fix :). We’ve been really happy with the quality of all the iPhone apps we’ve tried from the Reading Eggs folks. I’m excited to see what they create next!


What math apps do your kids love?


Jen S.

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A Night, Night Prayer {Tommy Mommy Review & Giveaway!}

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Bedtime Board Book

This month, we received another hit from the lovely folks at Tommy Mommy to share and review with you.  A Night Night Prayer is a board book(-ish) edition of a story originally published in 2008.   They have redone the illustrations and the inside and it’s absolutely adorable.   It is the current bedtime favorite of my 1-year old, who has recently discovered the joy of grabbing a book and plopping himself into the nearest lap.


As I mentioned, it is a board bookISH edition.  It is a padded board book, but not the full on hard cardboard pages kind.  The pages are of the thin cardboard variety, not the indestructible kind.  It’s also a bit more of the picture book end of size more than the typical board book size.  A Night Night Prayer is about 10×10 which makes it great for all ages.  The tough pages allow your little ones to turn pages to their hearts content, while the large size and not so baby-board-book pages help it appeal to preschoolers.   My 3.5 year old considers A Night Night Prayer HER bedtime book and I had hubby snap a rare shot of me reading the bedtime story.


After the girls were in bed, the Little Man lugged it over to daddy’s lap for an encore.  Yes, these pictures were really taken at bedtime! The sun is just starting to set at 8-8:30 when we put the kids to bed in summer.  Luckily their bedrooms are on the east side of the house & not the west!

A Night Night Prayer is a story about an alpaca who is saying goodnight to the things of God’s creation before he goes to bed.   Beautifully told in rhyme with the repetition that little kids love, it’s been a hit for both my 1 year old boy and my 3-1/2 year old girl.   The boy loves the alpaca and the illustrations.  He gleefully points out the dog, flowers and other things on the page.  I did have to laugh at the part about mom being asleep.  Because no mom is ever asleep when her kids are awake.  At least not for long.  Maybe the little alpaca was talking/praying himself to sleep–my kids do that all the time :).  It’s great for the 3-1/2 year old because its the perfect transition from crazy to quiet.   The story lends itself well to bring down the energy level and getting ready to sleep.

If you would like to peek at the adorable illustrations and the text, you can preview the flip book for A Night Night Prayer.

Ready to win one?

Please note that the first entry, to comment, is MANDATORY! Every person who entered last month’s giveaway was disqualified for not commenting.

Good luck!!
Jen S.
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Family, Community, and a Free Episode of Adventures in Odyssey

Disclaimer: This post was provided as part of a sponsored campaign.

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For a limited time, you can listen to a new episode of Adventures in Odyssey for FREE! Album 58, The Ties that Bind, will be available this fall for digital download and CD purchase, but if you join the Odyssey Adventures Club, you can listen to the full album now! Guess what? The $5 special held last month was extended through the end of July, too, so you can join in the fun for only $5!
Here’s what part one is about (which you can listen to for free HERE):

It’s a time of surprises as Wooton becomes the celebrity guest at Comic-Connellsville and Whit finds himself in conflict over the upcoming “Let’s Get Together Festival” in Odyssey. Plus, hear an interview with writer-director Paul McCusker about the entire 14-part series.

Album 58 was inspired by Focus on the Family’s The Family Project, a 12-session small group experience that explores the theological, philosophical, and cultural underpinnings of the traditional family, and combines that information with inspiring stories and practical tools to help 21st-century families thrive.

One way families can carry out God’s design for families is by serving their community—right where God has planted them, being His hands and feet together. Want to serve your community with your family, maybe make a day of out it? Here are some fantastic ideas from some Adventures in Odyssey bloggers and club members:

  • Make scarves through the year and deliver them to your local homeless shelter at the start of winter, or regularly donate food to your local food bank. —Shirley
  • Our family likes to help with Meals on Wheels. We also do reenactments of the Civil War and WWII to help educate people on history. I like to show my kids that we should be servers and givers by taking meals to people who need them (i.e. baby just born, someone died, someone had surgery, etc.). —Erin
  • We have been visiting a nursing home with friends once a month. The kids just sing and then we fellowship, but the ladies love it! —Lisa
  • We make lap blankets for nursing home residents and take the time to visit with them. We also collect food for the local food pantry. —Donna
  • We make blessing bags to give to the homeless when we encounter them. We also donate clothes and food to a local shelter. —Amy
  • Our MOPs (Mothers of Prechoolers) group supports our local Pregnancy Support Services with donations, gifts, and notes. We also supports the Durham Rescue Mission, which helps people break free from addictions and restore families. —Melissa
  • We live in a very rural area. Our church serves two of the poorest zip codes in the state, and about a decade ago, they started operating a food pantry out of a closet. It has expanded since then, so we now use the closet for storage, but the pantry is basically a classroom. The kids and I serve over there a lot. My 17-year-old and I go to Care & Share (50 miles away) to get food to bring back to the pantry. All of us help unload and stock shelves. On pantry days, everyone can get involved with helping people go through the line, playing with the kids, carrying boxes out to cars, etc. There are so many hungry folks, especially in the summer when school breakfasts and lunches aren’t available, and helping a bit to put food on some tables is such a blessing for us all. —Debra
  • We pack food bags each month for the homeless and needy through a thrift store that offers an outreach to the community. We also help clean our church and our Sunday school. —Michele
  • We work through our AHG troop to do several service activities a year. My girls just recently made bracelets they are selling, which 100% of the profits goes to Hope House in Africa to help young girls. —Sarah
  • Our church works with a homeless shelter in downtown Atlanta. We cook food ahead of time, and when our schedules allow we ride down with the group to serve the food. My son always reminds me when we haven’t been for awhile, so it’s something he looks forward to. —Maria
  • We do lots of random acts of kindnesses within our community: pay for others’ meals, leave change at a vending machine, hand out Gatorade/granola bars to people on the side of the road asking for food. We also love to support Mobile Loaves and Fishes. —Kathryn

Did that provide some ideas to give your family service activity the kick-start it needs? What other ideas do you have for serving your community? Share in the comments!

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