Enter the Folgers Jingle Contest

This post was sponsored by Folgers as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines concerning the use of endorsement and testimonials in advertising. I received complimentary products to facilitate my review.

"The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup." 

This jingle is one that sticks with you, brings back childhood memories and is probably one of those jingles that has a nice sweet tune to it! I always remember singing along with it when it would come on a commerical. 

Well guess what? Now YOU can come up with a fun, exciting new way to sing the jingle and enter the Folgers Jingle Contest. 

Folgers jingle has become a piece of our culture and with music being a big part of our lives, Folgers is inviting aspiring musicians (or even cute little ones) to take the well-known tune and make it their own!! 

+You can submit a video of your own version of the jingle on the website during January 30th-February 27th. Your version must include the complete melody and complete lyrics of "The Best Part of Waking Up is Folgers In Your Cup". 

+February 27th-March 19th they will choose 5 semi-finalists. Each semi-finalists will have a mentor session with Chris Young before the online vote!!  
+March 27th-April 24th, fans around the country will get the chance to vote daily for their favorite jingle. So exciting! Every vote automatically enters you to win prizes up to $10,000!!! 
+Finally, in May, one winner will be selected to win the grand prize of $25,000-- the best!

Make sure you enter the contest and don't forget to vote (and tell others too) for your favorite jingle during March and April. 

10 Best Reads of 2016

Each year I sit down and review the books I have read in the previous months. It's always been such an interesting process to see how the mixture of genres and topics of books changes with seasons in weather and also seasons of our life. I always have a hard time narrowing down my top 10 (sometimes 15) of the year!

I read 33 books in 2016. If you compare it to 2015 that is a significant amount less than the past.. yet to me it is progress! My goal for the year was to take it slow, soak up my books more and enjoy them longer. I absolutely love reading and will cruise through a book because I can't wait to get to the next chapter, learn something new, see what happens, etc.

I hope you find some good reads in this list and enjoy browsing the titles and adding them to your collection of must reads! I would love to hear-- what was your favorite read last year?

How to Win Friends and Influence People
Dale Carnegie
Since its release in 1936, How to Win Friends and Influence People has sold more than 15 million copies. Learn the six ways to make people like you, the twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking, and the nine ways to change people without arousing resentment. I found so much amazing information in this book and it is one to keep on your bookshelf to return to every so often. 

His Needs Her Needs
William F. Harley, Jr. 
The needs of women and men are similar. But according to Dr. Harley, their priorities are vastly different. Are you able to identify which of the following needs are his and which are hers? Out of the ten marital needs listed here, which are most important to you? In your opinion, which five are most important to your spouse? I loved this marriage book, I always aim to read a few each year. 

The Bronte Plot
Katherine Reay
Lucy Alling makes a living selling rare books, often taking suspicious measures to reach her goals. When her unorthodox methods are discovered, Lucy's secret ruins her relationship with her boss and her boyfriend James—leaving Lucy in a heap of hurt, and trouble. Something has to change; she has to change.... I have read each of Katherine's novels and have LOVED every single one. This one didn't disappoint at all!

A Duty to the Dead
Charles Todd
World War I nurse Bess Crawford, in A Duty to the Dead. A gripping tale of perilous obligations and dark family secrets in the shadows of a nightmarish time of global conflict, A Duty to the Dead is rich in suspense, surprise, and the impeccable period atmosphere that has become a Charles Todd trademark. If you love mystery, suspense-- you will love this series! I read quite a few in this series this past year and have loved each one! 

The Lake House
Kate Morton 
Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories. One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. He is never found, and the family is torn apart, the house abandoned. Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as a novelist. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old Edevane estate—now crumbling and covered with vines. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone...yet more present than ever. A lush, atmospheric tale of intertwined destinies from a masterful storyteller, The Lake House is an enthralling, thoroughly satisfying read. Such a fun read!!! 

The Painter's Daughter
Julie Klassen 
Sophie Dupont, daughter of a portrait painter, assists her father in his studio, keeping her own artwork out of sight. She often walks the cliffside path along the north Devon coast, popular with artists and poets. It's where she met the handsome Wesley Overtree, the first man to tell her she's beautiful. Captain Stephen Overtree is accustomed to taking on his brother's neglected duties. Home on leave, he's sent to find Wesley. Knowing his brother rented a cottage from a fellow painter, he travels to Devonshire and meets Miss Dupont, the painter's daughter. He's startled to recognize her from a miniature portrait he carries with him--one of Wesley's discarded works. But his happiness plummets when he realizes Wesley has left her with child and sailed away to Italy in search of a new muse. Wanting to do something worthwhile with his life, Stephen proposes to Sophie. He does not offer love, or even a future together, but he can save her from scandal. If he dies in battle, as he believes he will, she'll be a respectable widow with the protection of his family. Desperate for a way to escape her predicament, Sophie agrees to marry a stranger and travel to his family's estate. But at Overtree Hall, her problems are just beginning. Will she regret marrying Captain Overtree when a repentant Wesley returns? Or will she find herself torn between the father of her child and her growing affection for the husband she barely knows? This one is definitely a re-read on my list! 

Strong and Kind
Korie Robertson
Many parents want to see positive character traits in their children but wonder how to instill them. As stars of the hit reality-TV show Duck Dynasty, Korie and Willie Robertson receive loads of letters and messages from fans asking how they’ve raised such good kids. As they will tell you, “it isn’t always easy, but raising kids with good character is possible.” A straightforward, practical approach to parenting, Strong and Kind helps you identify the character traits you want to see in your children and gives you the tools for putting them in place. Besides strength and kindness other character traits include: Self-Control, Honesty, Compassion, Patience, Joyfulness, Loyalty, Humility & more. By modeling positive traits, with confidence, consistency, creativity, unity, and in truth and love, you can increase the chances of your kids catching on. At the end of the day, the Duck Dynasty stars say the most important thing you can do for your children is what they do at the end of every episode: hand them over to God in prayer. This is a beautiful parenting book that helps you cast a vision for your parenting and your kiddos! 

Raising Grateful Kids
Kristen Welch
"But everyone else has it." "If you loved me, you'd get it for me!" When you hear these comments from your kids, it can be tough not to cave. You love your children--don't you want them to be happy and to fit in? Kristen Welch knows firsthand it's not that easy. In fact, she's found out that when you say yes too often, it's not only hard on your peace of mind and your wallet--it actually puts your kids at long-term risk. In Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World, Kristen shares the ups and downs in her own family's journey of discovering why it's healthiest not to give their kids everything. Teaching them the difference between "want" and "need" is the first step in the right direction. With many practical tips and anecdotes, she shares how to say the ultimate yes as a family by bringing up faith-filled kids who will love God, serve others, and grow into hardworking, fulfilled, and successful adults. It's never too late to raise grateful kids. Get ready to cultivate a spirit of genuine appreciation and create a Jesus-centered home in which your kids don't just say--but mean!--"thank you" for everything they have. Put this one on your list friends-- it has so many valuable tips, honest stories and encouragement for parents of all ages! 

The Magnolia Story 
Chip and Joanna Gaines 
The Magnolia Story is the first book from Chip and Joanna, offering their fans a detailed look at their life together. From the very first renovation project they ever tackled together, to the project that nearly cost them everything; from the childhood memories that shaped them, to the twists and turns that led them to the life they share on the farm today. They both attended Baylor University in Waco. However, their paths did not cross until Chip checked his car into the local Firestone tire shop where Joanna worked behind the counter. Even back then Chip was a serial entrepreneur who, among other things, ran a lawn care company, sold fireworks, and flipped houses. Soon they were married and living in their first fixer upper. Four children and countless renovations later, Joanna garners the attention of a television producer who notices her work on a blog one day... This was such an inspiring look into a beautiful marriage, family and small business life of two influential people! 

Grace not Perfection 
Emily Ley 
Grace, Not Perfection takes this message from a daily planner to an inspirational book that encourages women to simplify and prioritize. Designed with Emily Ley’s signature aesthetic, this book gives women tangible ways to simplify their lives to give space to what matters most. With a focus on faith, Emily reminds readers that God abundantly pours out grace on us—and that surely we can extend grace to ourselves. Have you been told you can have it all, only to end up exhausted and occasionally out of sorts with the people you love? Are you ready for a new way of seeing your time? Learn to live a little more simply. Hold yourself and those you love to a more life-giving standard in Grace Not Perfection,and allow that grace to seep into your days, your family, and your heart. This book gave practical tips for list making, simplifying your life, strategies to center your day and more! 

Honorable Mentions 

OOLA Dave Braun & Tony Amdahl
The Mountain Midwife Laurie Alice Eakes
A House Divided Robert Whitlow

Our Homeschooling Days: a mid year update

This seems to be the time of year homeschooling mamas feel the "blahs". Cold weather keeps us indoors a little too much longer each day and if we haven't taken frequent breaks we are feeling the burnout ever growing.

I'm happy to say burnout is NOT a problem this year since we have been taking a week's rest every few weeks. It's been such a superb idea and I encourage all homeschool mamas to implement it. It does consist of a little bit of planning. Grab a calendar- count six weeks. Mark the 7th week as a rest week. Rinse & repeat! So simple and that is what we've done. On our rest week we have:

+deep cleaned the house a little more
+I plan to get extra work done at home with my business 
+we plan more intentional fun family time with a fun outing or two

If this is your first time reading my blog or homeschool posts- a little background for you. I homeschool our two little men: a 1st grader and pre-kindergartner. I love a rhythm for our days and each Friday sit down and go through our books to see what is planned for the next week. If I had to pinpoint our "homeschool method" it would be a mixture of Charlotte Mason/Eclectic/Traditional. My basic ideology at this age and beyond is read, read and read more. Everything else follows after easily.

If you caught our beginning of the school year post you know I found a curriculum I was pretty happy with yet.. it fell apart about a month and a half in. If something isn't clicking I don't like to continue with it. After talking with a close friend I went off and sold our barely used books and unused curriculum and purchased the following for the boys.

Benjamin (1st grade)

One thing I love about online shopping is purchasing our curriculum. It's made it simple, affordable and painless! I purchased the following A Beka curriculum from Christian Book Distributors..

+ Arithmetic 1 
+ Spelling & Poetry 
+ Writing with Phonics 
+ Languages 1 
+ Letters and Sounds 1 
+ Handbook for Reading 
+ Grade 1 Readers (my friend and I are sharing these!)

Ben is also starting Science Class this week with a co-op and we are reading this book for history. My focus this year with Ben has been to get him reading on his own and just one short month after beginning A Beka he jumped ahead quickly to reading chapter books by himself! He has read a few Magic Tree House books and also just started the first book in the Boxcar children series. It is so neat to see your own kiddos read books you enjoyed as a child!

We are also in Awana this year and each day he writes out and recites the verses he is memorizing for the week. This has been such an amazing resource to have in addition to our school!

Ian  (Pre-K) 

I loved when we used Rod & Staff with Ben in Pre-K so I decided to grab these books again. It says Preschool but this series is truly SO informative and works on developing thinking skills, motor skills, hearing vowels and consonants, beginning to read and more! He is loving the books so far and really enjoys each morning we pull them out.

My focus with Ian this year has been to develop his writing skills more (which he has improved so much in already!) and to take the beginning steps to reading. My other focus this year is helping him to make friends since he is just like his mama and becomes pretty shy!

He is also in Awana this year, so each day we recite his verse of the week! He will also be in the same Science class with his brother which he is excited about.

Our typical school day looks like: 

Breakfast/Getting Dressed/Brush Teeth

Morning Chores (making bed, one chore each that varies)

Playtime either outside or indoors with legos, nerf guns or drawing time

School time begins with Ben starting math or writing his Awana verses, I will start school time with Ian once Ben is working on his workbooks and understands what to do

We usually finish about 11:30-noon and head right into lunch time with a Netflix show or two

Quiet time begins after lunch..which also is my work time for me

Any extra schoolwork left we will finish after quiet time

I have a goal (and since starting the new year I haven't done as well) of reading aloud after quiet time so we are picking it back up this week. We recently finished Farmer Boy- which the boys loved!

Our Thursday's will be different starting this week as it will become our Library/Science Day. So I plan to take our schoolwork to the library in the morning after dropping Josh off at work and then enjoying lunch out with the boys and heading to Science class right after. It's not a definite plan so the first few weeks we will see how it flows!

We have a field trip planned for February with our little homeschool group I formed last year. It has been so fun to form relationships with other homeschool moms and also see the boys begin to connect with those their age. I'm excited for what this spring holds for our little Buccaneer Academy!!

Hang in there homeschool mamas if it is rough right now, the rough days come and sometimes that's when you just drop the books, head outside and enjoy nature! Or if it is frigid and cold out- pop in a movie or pull out a board game.

Homeschool mamas- what have you loved about this school year and what has been a struggle?

Camping with Kids: Simple Living Way

We had been eagerly waiting until the boys were a certain age before we went camping. This past fall seemed like the perfect time! When we went camping they were almost 7 and 5 years old and big helpers when it came to carrying bags, making their own food, etc.

I knew I wanted to make it simple, so we could repeat it again each year- make a list, shop, pack, go! It turned out much better than we ever thought and now I think we could of even done a younger age.

We went for 2 nights about 3 hours away to a camping site right in the mountains. It is beautiful and a cute little mountain town. We even heard a coyote howl the first night! The boys loved making a campfire each morning and evening, reading a book and making countless s'mores & hot dogs.

Here is a little checklist of what we took with us:

+ 2 mattress pads  (a lifesaver to put under our sleeping bags!)
+ 4 person tent
+ sleeping bags
+ camp stove with propane (these work amazing!)
+ utensils (next year our goal is to buy some just for camping)
+ trash bags
+ water (we left it in the car to refill)
+ matches
+ soap & hand sanitizer
+ paper towels
+ cloth napkins
+ lantern
+ first aid kit
+ a cooler (next year we plan to pack it with dry ice- way better way to do it!)
+ folding chairs
+ 2 towels (one to wipe our feet before stepping into tent, the other to lay our cookware on)
+ cookware (we took a pan, 2 cooking utensils and a mixing bowl)
+ tablecloth for table
+ tablecloth for under tent

Our meals we packed were pretty simple- eggs & bacon, pancake mix, shrimp, hot dogs, lunch meat & snacks. We made some sweet memories for our first camping trip and truly can't wait to return this next fall for our next! Have you been camping with little ones? 

The big 5! {interview with a five year old}

Last night while wrapping birthday presents and talking with Josh, we did a little trip down memory lane. We both can't believe our littlest man is 5 today...seems too big, too fast! We both used to talk about when the boys are 6 and 4 we will do this...when they are 7 and 5 we could go here! 

Now we are halfway to 10 years old and it truly has been a special gift to be their mama.

Ian Luke Dawson, you are a sensitive, caring little man who is sometimes shy but then isn't afraid to rummage through other people's fridges to find food. You look up to your brother and love all the things and toys he does. You are now a whole hand!! Happy Birthday little man.

If you didn't catch his first interview from last year, you can read it here. Now onto one of my favorite parts of their birthday!

What is your favorite color? Red and Pink

What is your favorite toy? Lightning Mcqueen

What is your favorite fruit? Bananas

What is your favorite tv show? Octonauts

What is your favorite thing to eat? M&M yogurt, like the ones Daddy gets

What is your favorite shirt? Buzz lightyear shirt

What is your favorite game? Uno

What is your favorite snack? Pop tarts

What is your favorite animal? Dogs

What is your favorite song? The song you like with the girl and boy singing (Closer)

What is your favorite book? Corduroy's Christmas

What is your favorite cereal? The cookie cereal

What is your favorite drink? Soda

What is your favorite holiday? Easter

Who is your best friend? Ben

What do you like to do outside? Play race cars

What do you like to take to bed with you? Doggie

What do you want for dinner on your birthday? Roadrunner's pizza! (It's a local pizza place)

What do you want to be when you grow up? Fireman

What color are your eyes? Brown as a meatball

What color is your hair? Brown as a brownie