Homeschool Helper Review and Giveaway!

I’m so excited to hold a giveaway for one of my favorite homeschooling tools, the Homeschool Helper App! This app does everything I need it to and more! I used it last year, but this year feel more prepared to utilize all aspects I need to fit my needs. (You can read my original review here)

There are just sooooo many features in this app, many options that I think it will work for absolutely every family now matter how you homeschool or what curriculum you use. I’m going to highlight some of my favorites…

I absolutely love the attendance feature. Our state has minimal requirements, but one of those requirements is attendance. I have a form I am required to fill out, but it is a pain to take it out every day. I already keep my iPad handy, so I take attendance here and then update my required form every few months. You have the options for a full-day, a half-day, and absent.

I love how I dictate what courses we are studying and how grades are calculated. I can give percentage amounts and change how the letter grades are separated numerically. I prefer a 10 point grading system and only grade for classwork and tests for the few subjects I give. On the summary page for each student you can see not only their overall average at a glance, but also attendance records (just in case I forget to click that button one day!), upcoming field trips, and upcoming tasks. I don’t utilize the task function yet, but I like the idea of having it available. 

Grading is probably my least favorite part of homeschool. It is funny how I used to pretend school as a kid and I thought this was the most fun! Now it is just a tedious necessity. Homeschool Helper has taken out much of the hassle. I already mentioned the ability to calculate grades as you want, but the actual inputting of grades is so easy. There is a little calculator to the side where you can input the number correct, the number possible, and it will calculate a percentage grade for you! I have been doing a much better job of keeping grades this year because of this app. I do take the time to input the lesson because if one of my girls struggles in an area I need to know what it was. This also lets me see how they are doing overall quickly at a glance. My total grading time if I do it all together in the afternoons is right around 15-20 minutes. I grade grammar, spelling, vocabulary, and math in the traditional way and the other subjects as a participation type grade.

Sweet little Grace is still officially in preschool, so I am not required to do any of this for her, but you had better not tell her this! She wants her report card just as much as her sisters and she isn’t shy about telling me this. For her I use an effort based grading system which is an option I love. She’s doing great so all of those E‘s mean excellent. I also love how I can add as many subjects for each student as I need. The most you can include is 14, but I seriously can’t imagine needing all 14 ever.

The last really neat feature is the field trip planner. I have several field trips in mind, and I am currently using this list for my own use. However, once we take a trip, it will pop up on their summary and report cards, which is really cool. I do give my girls report cards because as much as I know grades are not everything, it is a good teaching tool. They can see where they are growing and learning and I think they deserve a chance to feel good about their hard work. It is also fun for them to show this to their grandparents which they heartily do!

 I think this is one of the best valued apps for the price I’ve ever come across. The current cost in the app stores is $4.99. It is well worth the price and it is available for Android users, iPad, Kindle Fire, and Nook color!

And now what you have been waiting for!!!! Your very own chance to win this app! I wish everyone could win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Motivated Mom: Review and Giveaway!

I’m so excited about this review and giveaway! Most of the things I am blessed to review and give away are more for the kids. THIS is for you, Mom! Just for you…and maybe a dad or two if they’re interested!

If you had to pick one area in your life which your struggle with most what would it be? Lesson planning? Discipline? Keeping it all together? Ding ding ding! This would be me. Just keeping things running smoothly and the house mostly in order. I don’t expect perfection, but neither am I okay with just “letting things go” as I’ve heard from some. No matter what anyone says, it is possible to keep your home in order and homeschool successfully. You can even throw in a part-time job if needed and keep the home nice. The hardest part for me has always been coming up with and sticking to a plan.

Until now…

Let me introduce you to Motivated Moms. I just love their motto: Make every day count! This wonderful system was developed by a mom who saw a need for an easy way to keep up with all of the responsibilities we moms carry. Often times the reason why I see things fall apart around me is because I feel so incredibly overwhelmed with the many responsibilities I have. I also find when life gets crazy getting back on track can sometimes feeling close to impossible. Motivated Moms has tools to help you whether you’re feeling swamped or looking for help with maintaining the order.

There are two different formats you can go with from Motivated Moms. If you are into mobile devices there is an app available for both android and apple devices. If you tend to be more of a pencil and paper type you can purchase a printable e-book in a variety of formats. Both include the same helpful lists, just presented differently. I have enjoyed reviewing both and am going to give you an idea of the differences.


The printable e-book is available in black and white or color. You can also choose from full-page or half-page, 1 day per page or a week per page, and whether or not it includes a daily Bible reading. Wow! I really appreciate how many choices are provided, no matter your preferences. They really thought of everything!

I prefer the week-at-a-glance view because my days rarely always go as planned. I like being able to look ahead if I have a few extra minutes to get ahead and to know what I’ve missed along the way. I also appreciate the several  extra lines available to add in anything you want.

Each task has a small check box ready to fill. Who doesn’t love checking things off? I’ll admit I’m one of those who will add items to a list just so I can check them off! Seeing all those little boxes filled in just make me happy.


I recently purchased an iPad and am loving how easy and fun it is to use apps to organize my life! Although I’ve been a pencil and paper kind of girl for the most part, the ease of apps for keeping up with things is a beautiful thing.
The interface of the newly updated app is quite lovely as well as functional. Simply click the chore you have finished and it moves to the bottom with a check mark. I like this because I can see what I’ve accomplished! The pre-loaded chores are a great place to start and adding or hiding individual chores is a breeze.

One really nice thing about the app is the ease in adding chores. When you add a chore you have the option of repeating it on specific days, weekly, or every day. You can also very easily assign chores to individual with a unique color coded system. Initially the setup takes a bit of time, but once it is finished you are all set! Another cool feature is that each year as the app is updated you can easily import the settings and changes you have already made.

So, how can you choose? It is really hard, but here is a breakdown of the differences and similarities.

What they both have…
1. Daily and weekly chores
2. Space to add new chores
3. Ways to check off chores
4. Every possible chore you could consider to keep your home in order!
The differences…
1. The app allows you to assign chores to individuals. 
2. Chores have to be added each week on the e-book pages, but can be done only once for the app. 
3. Only the e-book allows you to see a week at a time. 
4. Only the app allows you to push scheduled tasks to the following day. 

There are a couple of benefits to the app compared to the e-book. The first is with the e-book you have to write in weekly or daily tasks each time. This isn’t a big deal I suppose, but I really like the one-time deal with the app. The only other benefit is keeping an e-book with you is not nearly as handy as a device you already have. There are times when I’m able to complete tasks on my list (usually related to homeschool) and I wouldn’t have my printed e-book with me. The app, however is right there.

The one main benefit I really liked with the e-book was being able to see everything for one week in front of me. I work about 18 hours a week part-time and my days are not always predictable. Being able to see chores I have missed allows me to determine what absolutely needs to be done. The app does have the feature mentioned which allows you to forward tasks ahead though which helps make this easier.

Overall you can’t go wrong with either one. It simply is a preference thing. The best part for me is when I’m following Motivated Moms closely our home is peaceful and attractive in less than an hour a day (honest!). When life does happen and things fall apart (like last week when we ALL got sick!) it doesn’t take very long at all to get back on track.

So, which would you choose? The wonderful people at Motivated Moms is giving away 1 app and 1 copy of the e-book! There are several ways to enter so hurry to do so now!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I received the Motivated Moms app for iPad and the printable e-book in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. 

Paperless Home Organization from Simplified Pantry: Review and a coupon!!!!!

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(Make sure you remember to snag the coupon at the bottom of the post!)

Something I really enjoy doing is organizing. I know that isn’t everyone’s idea of a fun day, but there is something about a freshly organized drawer, closet, or room which makes me feel warm-fuzzies all over. Yet although I love to organize, keeping things organized is a totally different animal. I’ve tried numerous systems, printables, and variations. I’ve used pre-made and made my own. My problem has always been simplification for implementation…in other words I need a simple enough system that I can actually follow through with it!
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When I found out I was going to have the chance to review Paperless Home Organization by Misty Winckler from Simplified Pantry I was very interested, but was afraid it was going to be seeing just one more system that would end up on my been-there, done-that list. I am pleased to say this couldn’t be further from the truth! Although I am still learning how to fully implement her ideas I think I may have landed on a home-organization home which fits my style much better than others I have tried and at $3.99 this is an excellent buy!
 Like the author I have made several home-binders in the 11 years I have been married. Some were incredibly simple. Others were unbelievably complex. Several problems arose with these systems which seem to be taken care of with a paperless system.
1. Attractiveness
With my old notebook and paper type systems I found myself focusing a lot of my time on finding something that looked attractive. Who wants to mess with something that is sloppy and messy?
2. SOOOOO much paper!
The more I organized our lives into one notebook, the more paper started accumulating. I don’t mind paper, but it was getting to the point where I was going to need a separate binder to organize the many facets of my life! 
3. Unity and Cohesiveness
I frequently found myself flipping back and forth between all those pages trying to figure out when I could schedule in something different.  
4. Portability and Size
I tried taking my household notebook with me out of the house a grand-total of…once. Yeah, all it took was one outing of lugging a large notebook with me to show me I was not cut out to be a notebook toting mama. I see many moms with home organization notebooks I envy, but I just can’t manage keeping it all with me. Not to mention that since it had my grocery list inside I was asked no less than five times by complete strangers where various items were in the store. I didn’t realize why until the last lady asked me about something I didn’t know. She said, “Oh, I’m sorry! I thought you worked here because of your notebook.” It was a lot like learning the lesson to never ever wear a solid red shirt to a Target store!
So my journey has brought me to the digital age and here is what going paperless has already done for me in such a short time…
~ I love my Kindle Fire for this which I already have in an attractive case.
~ I am able to have much more unity in all areas of life-organization.
~ Using apps allows me to store things digitally and saves so much space.
~ No one has yet asked me employee type questions. (That is just so embarrassing!)
This e-book lays out the basics, giving everyone who has the ability to be mobile the tips and tricks to get them stared. The only problem I had with this was figuring out some new programs! I gave them a shot, and some I’m continuing with (I love Evernote’s note stacks!) but for other suggested apps I’m going to use ones I’m already familiar with. 
The apps which are suggested include Google mail and calendar, Evernote, and Remember the Milk. Because I am not familiar with these I am trying them out, but deciding which of these I want to keep and which ones I may trade for something more familiar. I do like the Evernote note stacks which allow you to create groups of information such as recipes, medical information, addresses, etc. 
The benefit to using these same tools is that the author walks your through each, step-by-step and gives tips and tricks to make them work for you to their ultimate potential. One things I really like about the apps chosen is they can be updated on a computer and the information syncs to the apps on your mobile devices. I still prefer traditional typing because I can do it more quickly so this is a nice feature.
There are a handful of downsides to going paperless. The first is, it’s paperless! That may seem strange, but if you can’t get your mobile device to work and don’t have a back-up plan in place you may have a problem. We are fast moving to being a paperless society with online banking, digital medical records, digital books, etc. While I am not opposed to these new technologies I am aware that complete dependence upon them can wreak havoc when malfunctions occur. Paperless is convenient, but it can sometimes come with a price. Because of this I do have a hard-copy back-up system of a single page so I can get what I absolutely need to done. We also keep all of our vital documents in a safe and easily accessible place for emergencies. 
The second downside is the time it takes to set-up and learn the various programs. While I do think it is worth it, I have spent much more time pursuing this option as opposed to the 30 minutes or so it takes me to put together a notebook. However I the time-investment in the beginning does balance out because of the ease of use and lack of paper! 
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Simplified pantry also has two excellent e-books (Simplified Dinners and Simplified Simplified Dinners Gluten/Dairy Free) for making meal-times and your pantry more stream-lined. We do not have any issues with gluten or allergies in our family and we simply eat by rules of moderation. There are a few things which are excluded from our diet (artificial sweeteners, alcohol, gourmet items, etc.) but in all things we strive for moderation. Because I am blessed to not have to worry about allergens as I cook I focused on taking a look at the Simplified Dinners. 
I was pleased to find that the list given in the beginning of what should be in your pantry was almost exactly what my staples already are. This made looking at the recipes within the book even more exciting! Nothing is quite as discouraging as wanting to try something new for dinner only to realize you don’t have all the ingredients. I look forward to trying some of these in the coming summer months now that our lives have calmed down a bit.

As an wonderful gift Mystie Winckler, the author of these fabulous e-books, is offering a coupon code exclusively for readers of the Schoolhouse Review Crew for 30% any of her e-books books! To take advantage of this offer use the code TOS2013 at checkout.

Don’t forget to check out more reviews from my Crewmates!