When You’re So Proud of Your Friends (+ enter to win a copy of God Made Light)

God Made Light

I’ve been acquainted with Jessica and Matthew Paul Turner for a few years, but it’s only been since we’ve moved to the Nashville area that I’ve really gotten to know them well. And let me tell you, these two are the real deal.

They’ve loved on us, invited us into their home multiple times, asked us to come with them to events, listened to us, and gone out of their way to truly welcome us to Tennessee. Their friendship has been a gift to us and has been an answer to many prayers we’ve prayed for authentic friendships and community.

You know how there are people who just make you feel so special and loved and cared for? That’s the Turners.

And I couldn’t be prouder of them today as they are launching their brand-new children’s book called God Made Light. They have poured years into this project and have funded it with a significant portion of their savings.

This book is a playful, whimsical adventure through the creation of light. It encourages children to remember that they were created for a purpose — to shine and make a difference in this world.

I am really hoping that this is the first of many children’s books they produce because it’s beautiful and so meaningful. The pictures are very well done and its rhyming lyrics make it so fun to read!

God Made Light

This book would make a great gift for Christmas presents this year. Plus, DaySpring has partnered with Matthew and Jessica to produce a line of adorable products you can purchase in addition to the book. My favorite product was probably the encouragement cards, but my kids thought the puzzle and night light were the best. :)

You can get free shipping from DaySpring if you purchase $35 worth of God Made Light products and use coupon code SHIPLIGHT at checkout.

You can read more about the book, the message behind it, and see pictures of the inside of the book over on Jessica’s blog. Also, be sure to check out Matthew’s post on What Happens When 11 Publishers Say “No”.

To purchase a copy or read reviews from others, you can head over to Amazon here.

Win a Copy of God Made Light!

I know not all of you can afford to purchase God Made Light, so I wanted to buy 10 books to give away to readers here. To enter to win, just leave a comment on this post telling us who you would give this book to if you win a copy.

I’ll choose 10 winners on Thursday and will notify the winners via email.

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How I Saved Today: A Laundry Party while listening to the free Psalty album!

Laundry Party

This was actually from last night, but I wanted to share it anyway. :)

Remember the free Psalty album download I posted earlier this week? Well, we downloaded it and listened to it during last night’s Laundry Party. It was so fun to introduce my kids to songs from when I was a little girl.

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Also? Laundry parties are one of my secret house-cleaning tips. We have so much fun and get so much done when we all work together. And when Mom’s excited about it, the attitude is usually contagious! :)

Laundry Party

Want to see a video clip of my girls jammin’ and foldin’? Here you go. Notice their outfits? Cracks me up how two girls in the same family can be so, so different from each other! :)

Oh and thanks for your Swagbucks tips yesterday. I was excited that we earned 55 Swagbucks today — with very little extra time or effort. I scored 11 Swagbucks on my first search try and that helped bump up our total!

How did YOU save today? Did you have any frugal fun at your house?

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My Completely Honest Review of Our Experience With Kiwi Crate

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A few weeks ago, I posted about a sample box that Kiwi Crate was offering. I’d heard a lot about Kiwi Crate before, but I’d never signed up for it.

Kiwi Crate is a monthly subscription service that offers kid’s educational projects, crafts, and activities on different themes. It’s typically $16.95 per month for the box — including shipping. This box will include 2-3 projects, all the materials to complete those projects, plus hands-on learning activities and more.

They recently launched monthly crate subscriptions for various ages: Koala Crate is for ages 3-4, Kiwi Crate is for ages 4-8, Tinker Crate is for ages 8-14+, and Doodle Crate is for ages 9-16+.

Since the Kiwi Crate sample box was only $3.95 and a friend had highly recommended it, I went ahead and posted about it and signed up for a box. {Please note: The Glowworm Sample Box offer is currently not available, but there is a fun Lantern Sample Box available.}

My Completely Honest Review of Kiwi Crate

We got the box within two weeks and I was very, very impressed with what we got for $3.95 (that price included shipping, too!)

The kit came with:

  • All the materials to build your very own glowworm
  • Set of fabric markers to decorate your snuggly friend
  • One-of-a-kind glow in the dark sock
  • Bonus firefly foldout project with set of glow sticks
  • 16 page explore! magazine filled with puzzles, DIY activities and kid-friendly recipes

My Completely Honest Review of Kiwi Crate

The instructions to complete the craft were very detailed and organized. For a non-crafter like me, this was especially helpful!

My Completely Honest Review of Kiwi Crate

Silas has an absolute blast working with me to create his glowworm.

My Completely Honest Review of Kiwi Crate

I loved seeing his focus and determination!

My Completely Honest Review of Kiwi Crate

He decided to name his glowworm “Billy Butler”, after one of his favorite Royal’s baseball players. :)

My Completely Honest Review of Kiwi Crate

While he worked on his glowworm, I read to him from the accompanying book.

My Completely Honest Review of Kiwi Crate

I thought there was a lot of value in this booklet. Not only were there short stories, a poem, a number of activity pages, but there were also some fun additional related projects.

My Completely Honest Review of Kiwi Crate

They gave you instructions on how to make your own FireFly Paint Jar — which looked cool.

My Completely Honest Review of Kiwi Crate

There were also pages you could cut out to make a Glow-in-the-Dark FireFly using the patterns and the glow sticks they gave you in the kit.

My Completely Honest Review of Kiwi Crate

Silas got to practice his cutting skills on this project!

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After he finished his FireFly, he went back to decorating “Billy Butler.” :)

He was so proud of his finished product — and especially excited that it actually glowed in the dark when he took it into a dark room. He asked if he could sleep with it tonight before he went to bed.

Why I Can’t 100% Endorse Kiwi Crate

Honestly, I wanted to give Kiwi Crate a huge standing ovation in this post… because clearly, the sample box was a HUGE win at our house!

But here’s the problem: I can’t.

You see, I ordered the sample box and was unsure as to whether or not I’d continue my subscription. While I was waffling over it, some of my readers commented on my post about the sample box saying they were having trouble getting their subscription canceled.

They couldn’t get ahold of anyone at customer service and their card had been charged for a crate that they didn’t want — after they had requested for their subscription to be canceled.

Because of this, I decided that I personally wanted to try canceling my subscription to see if I had trouble getting it to work. I followed the instructions they outlined on their site to cancel my subscription: I emailed customer service within the time frame allotted.

And I never heard back. What’s worse, about 10(?) days later, I got an email saying that my card had been charged for the next crate and it had already shipped.

What?? I had emailed customer services DAYS before to request that they cancel my subscription and I was well within the time frame stated on their site for when to cancel and not get billed for another month.

To say I was a bit frustrated is an understatement. Not so much for myself, but for my readers whom I’d introduced to Kiwi Crate. I felt so badly that a deal I had posted was turning out like this.

I emailed customer service again and reached out to them on Twitter. {I’ve learned that Twitter is often a very effective way to actually hear from companies when email doesn’t seem to be working.}

Would you know it? I heard back from them via Twitter within 30 minutes. They looked my order up and canceled my subscription. I received an email apologizing to me and confirming my subscription cancellation. They also asked they I relay to my readers that if anyone is having trouble getting your subscription canceled, you should contact them through Facebook or Twitter.

They were very gracious about it, which is a big plus. But I still have reservations about fully endorsing this company. I think the sample box was every bit worth the cost, but I’m not sure it was worth the hassle I had to go through to get my subscription canceled. So if you’re thinking of trying it out but think there’s a good chance you might cancel, be aware of this.

That said, I still was very impressed with the box. In fact, we loved it so much that we are thinking that our Christmas gifts for the kids this year will be a subscription to Tinker Crate for Kathrynne, a subscription to the Doodle Crate for Kaitlynn, and a subscription to Kiwi Crate for Silas.

We got the full Kiwi Crate in the mail (the one that I had tried to cancel but got billed for) and I’m planning to try it out with Silas soon and will report back to you on what we think of it. We’re going to make our decision about whether or not we’re going to subscribe after I’ve gone through and completed the projects with him from that full crate.

Note: Since a subscription is rather expense, this also might be a great gift idea to pass along to Grandma & Grandpa for Christmas this year. I love that it’s mostly consummable, very educational, hands-on, and a gift that would keep giving all year long!

Have you tried Kiwi Crate before? Have you tried canceling your subscription? If so, what was your experience?

Note: This post contains my Kiwi Crate referral link. If you click through and decided you are willing to risk it enough to sign up for a subscription, I will receive a referral fee if you sign up through one of my links in this post. If you don’t feel comfortable doing so, you can go to KiwiCrate.com to sign up directly.

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HUGE List of Free Homeschool Curriculum & Resources

This is the weekly list of Free Homeschool Curriculum and Resources compiled by Jamerrill from FreeHomeschoolDeals.com. If you aren’t a homeschooler, but you’re a parent, teacher, babysitter, or nanny, you’ll probably find at least a few useful freebies in this list. You may also want to go through the Educational Deals and Freebies from earlier this week for more.

This week’s list is full of great educational resources as well and fall favorites, and a substantial list of popular themes and characters that your kids will love! Start off with this Learning with Pumpkins: Free Pumpkin Printables, Crafts, Recipes + More! list as is has everything you need to jump into fall.

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More Fall Goodness

If that huge pumpkin list wasn’t enough, here is more fall fun:

Apples

Fall and Autumn

Pumpkins and Turkeys

Popular Themes Printable Activity Pages/Packs

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Any little girl would live to learn with this Hello Kitty Subscriber Freebie, a FREE My Little Pony Printable Pack, these cool 20+ FREE Disney Frozen Printables, or this LaLaLoopsey- Inspired PreK Printable Pack {Subscriber Freebie}.

And for the boys, here is a FREE 73 Page Pirate Pack or a Giant List of FREE Star Wars Themed Printables!

Math

Is your little man into learning about the war? Here is a Fraction War Game Freebie that will be a favorite, while your girls will love this FREE Frozen Math Unit Study.

Here are FREE 2nd Grade Math Worksheets for extra practice.

Preschool and Kindergarten

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Practice letters with these FREE Apple Letter Printables , a FREE Apple Letter Sorting Printable Game, or this FREE Printable Animal Alphabet Flashcards.

Reading, Writing, and Spelling

Wondering what to give your third grader to read? Here is a FREE Printable Reading Lists for K-3rd Grade Boys, and a FREE 100 Books to Read Printable.

Practice short vowels with this FREE Instant Download: Short Vowel Word Search.

Bible

Don’t just memorize the ten commandments, teach your child all about them with this 10 Commandments Mini Unit Study Freebie (75+ Pages!).

This interactive study will get your child outside and into the Word. This Falling into the Bible {Subscriber Freebie} Biblestudy combines the best of both worlds.

Health and Science

This Handbook of Nature Study {Subscriber Freebie} gets your child into your back yard, learning , studying nature, and writing.

This FREE First Aid Training Class is a complete First Aid class with a printable certificate at the end!

Social Studies

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This FREE Coffee Unit Study with Printable Pack contains word searches, mazes, and activities that teach your child how to research and where coffee grows and how it looks when it grows.

Teach your child all about their community with a FREE Community Helpers Printable Pack.

Homeschool Planning

Do you use Netflix in your homeschool? Here is a FREE Unit Study Planning with Netflix Worksheet that will help you organize your Netflix school planning.

This FREE Charlotte Mason Style Planner is super versatile. it is a great way to plan, and keep record of what your child is learning.

Click here thousands of homeschool freebies!

*Don’t forget! If you are looking for additional free homeschool resources please check the huge growing list of free homeschool curriculum and resources on MoneySavingMom.com!

Jamerrill is the homeschooling mother of a large and growing family. After seasons of spending $50 or less annually to homeschool her children, she started Free Homeschool Deals in 2012 to help all families afford the homeschool life. You can follow the homeschool goodness on Pinterest and Facebook.

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This crazy journey I’ve been on the last 10 years (and yes, you CAN make money blogging!)

My Journey to Making Full-Time Income as a Blogger

In 2005, I started this thing called a “blog” — something that most people in my circle of friends and family had never heard of before. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, but I had a big dream: I wanted to find a way to earn enough money from home so I can supplement our meager income to allow me to be able to stay home with our baby girl, Kathrynne.

In addition to my big dream, I also had perseverance — something I was going to need in big supply over the next few years. I was very, very determined and that determination drove me not to give up even during the many, many times when I wanted to.

That little blog had a few readers. Then a few dozen. I kept blogging. I kept commenting on other blogs. I kept writing articles for other sites and linking to that blog. I kept networking with other online entrepreneurs.

Over the course of many months, that little blog grew a tiny bit and then a tiny bit more. Pretty soon, I woke up one day and realized that I had a few hundred readers. That idea just blew my mind.

My first blogging header{My first official professionally done website header — added when I switched from Blogspot to Typepad.}

The Income Began With a Little Trickle

I started experimenting with ways to monetize that blog. I researched. I watched what other people were doing. I read many books and blog posts on monetizing a blog. And I just jumped out and began trying things.

Pretty soon, there was a little trickle of income coming in from that blog. When I say “trickle”, I truly mean it. It started with $10 per month, then $20 per month, then $50 per month.

If you would have divided my blogging income by the hours invested in blogging, I was probably making what would amount to a few nickles per hour. However, I was learning, the blog was slowly growing, and I was truly enjoying the process of writing and interacting on a blog.

Speaking at My First Blogging ConferenceSpeaking at my first blogging conference — I was a scared, insecure mess inside and I can see it written all over my face in this picture.

Starting to See the Potential

As time marched on and I kept plugging away, I found other creative ways to add additional income streams — like selling ebooks and then an online course on cutting your grocery bill. I went from making $50 a month to a few hundred dollars per month.

I started to see the potential. And I began to believe that it truly would be possible to earn a part-time income from blogging someday.

My husband and I began talking about adding a niche blog dedicated to frugal living. There was a lot of interest in the topic, it was something I was passionate about and experienced in, and I was pretty sure I could do some specific things to monetize a frugal living blog that I couldn’t do on the blog I currently had.

My Second Blogging ConferenceMy second blogging conference — I was still nervous and scared, but I felt more myself and more whole and I can see it in my face here.

How MoneySavingMom.com Began

It took about a year from the time the initial idea was birthed to when the final product, MoneySavingMom.com actually happened. But in the fall of 2007, I announced the launch of MoneySavingMom.com on the other blog I had.

I still remember the post where I let the world know MoneySavingMom.com was official. I said that I was probably going to blog on MoneySavingMom.com “about 3 times per week”. {Yes, 3 times per week. That still cracks me up!}

The first version of MoneySavingMom.com was on Blogspot. It was an all white background with capital letters at the top of the page that said MONEY SAVING MOM. {Clearly, I was very into bells and whistles. ;)}

I had spent $10 to buy the website URL and that was all I could afford. Later, I paid $25 to have a teen of a mom I knew design a header for me. But those were the very humble beginnings of something that I could have never imagined…
My first radio interviewMy first radio interview — again, this was a completely unnerving experience for shy me. I felt like just going back to my hotel room and crying when it was over because I was sure I had totally bombed it.

Rapid Growth Beyond What I Could Imagine

Since I’d already put in countless hours to build an online platform over the two previous years, knew how to run a blog, and had a pretty good grasp on what topics people were interested, jumping in with MoneySavingMom.com was much easier than it would have been had I been starting from scratch. I also was at the right place, at the right time, because the economy was beginning to tank, coupons were coming into vogue, and the media started to do a lot of coverage of money-saving ideas and frugal living topics.

My initial readers told their friends who told their friends, people found me from random searches and stuck around, and within a few months, MoneySavingMom.com had grown to 14,000 to 16,000 pageviews per day.

It. was. mind-blowing!

I didn’t really know what to do, but I knew that I needed to continue to produce good content and continue to do all I could to help people save money. I also continued to learn all I could about win-win ways to monetize the blog.

My First BookMy first book: basically an exercise in how to do everything wrong! I learned so much, and wished I could have done it all over again because there would be so much I would change!

Fulfilling My Dream — And Making So Many Mistakes

Within a few months, I was making $800 to $1200 from MoneySavingMom.com. And the income just kept increasing. By the end of the first year, I was making the equivalent of a full-time income from blogging.

All of a sudden, I woke up and realized that not only was I living my dream, it was a LOT more work than I could have ever imagined — especially as the blog continued to grow!

The Story Behind MoneySavingMom.com

The past almost 10 years have been a journey… one riddled with many ups and downs. I’ve made many mistakes. I’ve let people down. I’ve sometimes posted things before taking time to really think through what I’d written.

I’ve been arrogant. I’ve said and written hurtful things. I’ve taken on too much and stretched myself to thin. Many times, I’ve had my priorities out of whack and given my family the leftovers instead of my best.

Through it all, I’ve grown, matured, been humbled, had to ask forgiveness, and learned a great deal about my own limits. I’ve gone from a very black and white person who thought she had everything figured out and thought she should share her very legalistic, dogmatic views with everyone, to discovering this beautiful thing called “grace” and realizing that there are very few hills worth dying on.

My First TV Interview

My first TV interview — I was a complete nervous wreck. Literally shaking from head to toe!

I’ve grown up a lot. I’ve faced a lot of fears. I’ve done things I never thought I was humanly capable of. I’ve confronted many of my deep-seeded insecurities head on. And I’ve had many opportunities to work through my long-held tendencies to be a people-pleaser.

Scared of the Scrutiny

You see, as the blog took off and became something more than a little mommy blog, I struggled a lot. Part of me was so excited about the growth and the possibilities. The other part of me wanted nothing more than to just run away from it all and go back to being a stay-at-home mom.

As a normally private person, I hated having my life scrutinized by people I didn’t know. I was scared to come out and talk much about the business side of my life — the meetings, the responsibilities, the opportunities — because I knew some people wouldn’t be happy and would criticize the fact that I was making a good income, was running a thriving business, and was no longer just the frugal stay-at-home mom blogger struggling to make ends meet that I had been when I started blogging.

My Second Book

Growing Into My Own Skin

I love being a wife and mom, I love managing my home well, I love saving money, and I love freezer cooking. I am also a business woman who loves marketing, entrepreneurial ventures, and learning everything I can about strategy and monetization.

It took me awhile to be brave enough to say that I am both out loud. But once I did, it has freed me up to make decisions that were best for our family and the business — like bringing on more help, not always making everything from scratch, and eliminating some frugal practices that were not giving enough return on my investment of time in the season of life I am in.

Knowing who I am and embracing that has been so freeing for me. Yes, I still regularly get emails and comments from people who think I shouldn’t be living my life the way I am, but for the most part, this community has rallied around our family. And you have no idea how much you bless us.

allume-conference-smilebooth-0154My 4th(?) blogging conference: This time, I went with the sole desire to pour into others and look for other people to bless. Guess what? I completely forgot about my usual insecurities and ended up having a blast!

I Would Have Never Imagined This Life

As I look back over the past 10 years, I could never have imagined what my life would look like today. I would never have pictured myself running a business with multiple team members, speaking at events around the country, working with brands, consulting, doing national media interviews, or writing a book that hit the New York Times bestseller’s list.

Nor would I have pictured that this blog would be the catalyst for our family to get in a much better position financially so that were no longer living on a beans and rice budget, could pay cash for a house and a rental house, and can give generously to the needs in our community and around the world.

I also would have never pictured that, through the income from this blog and business, we’d be able to make the choice to move from Kansas to Tennessee, to slow down and simplify our lives, and get the opportunity to work together as a family from home.

So grateful I get to do life with this man!I’m so thankful for the opportunity to get to work together with my husband and best friend! While we have our disagreements and struggles, we are a definite team. I wouldn’t be who I am today without him encouraging me, supporting me, and being my biggest cheerleader.

THANK YOU For Being a Big Part of This Journey

You all have been a big part of this journey. Without you reading here, this blog would never have grown like it has nor would the doors of opportunity have opened up like they have. I am forever humbly grateful for each of you.

While the income from this blog has been a blessing, the community I’ve found in you all has been priceless. You’ve supported our family through thick and thin. You’ve loved us. You’ve prayed for us. You’ve cheered us on. You’ve forgiven me when I’ve made mistakes. And you’ve been incredibly loyal.

My three precious kiddosMy three precious kiddos. There are days when they make me want to pull my hair out (!), but I love them to pieces and am so thankful for the privilege of being their mom!

Looking Ahead to the Future

I don’t know what the next 10 years of my life will hold. Right now, I’m just focusing on living one day at a time! But I do know that I want to live each day that I’m given to the best of my ability. And as long as I’m given the privilege of blogging here, I want to use this platform to make the most impact I can and encourage and bless as many people as possible.

Blogging has broken me. Blogging has healed me. And, more than anything, blogging has taught me that perseverance pays off.

So no matter where you are in life right now, I want to encourage you: Keep on. Press forward. Keep learning. Keep experimenting. Keep holding onto hope. And most importantly: don’t give up! The best is yet to come!

Thinking Of Starting a Blog?

Over the years, I’ve received many requests from folks for help on how to start a blog and how to make money blogging. I’ve written on this in past years, but I wanted to let you know that I recently put together a comprehensive page on How to Make Money Blogging with updated information and links. I encourage you to check it out here if you’re interested in how to make money blogging.

(Note: The links in this post are affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy here.)
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