My Whole Self Before You – Book and Curriculum based on The Lord’s Prayer {Review}

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of these items in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

I was put in touch with Susan Bronner by a friend of my husband’s. He owns a book publishing company in town and her book My Whole Self Before You won his Moonbeam children’s book award. After we spoke & discussed various marketing and mommy blogger ideas, she put together a package of items relating to My Whole Self Before You. She sent a copy of:

When I first received it, I was under the impression that it was a Catholic children’s book, but its not. It’s the only book I’ve seen that could be used by Catholics and Protestant equally. Everyone says the Our Father; it’s just called different things. She also separates the Doxology from it and makes a note that its a difference between Catholics and Protestants. Really she is just rephrasing the prayer for easier understanding.

My Whole Self Before You was the original (I think) and its a picture book that rephrases The Lord’s Prayer / Our Father so that kids really understand the prayer they have memorized. It’s a lovely hardcover book with pictures of children and stained glass windows. At the end is a guide for prayer and devotion with 80 (!) discussion points.

The Picture Prayer Book version is the same book minus the prayer guide. The Prayer Guide Devotional is a spiral bound version of the discussion points only. If you only buy one, get the original. It has both pieces and therefore a longer useful life. If all your kids are older, the Prayer Guide/Devotional will probably be sufficient.

As a book, on its own, I’m kind of lukewarm about My Whole Self Before You. I’m not a fan of books with photographs or kid photos in them. Not sure why, but its a personal taste thing for me. But, she breaks down the ideas in the Our Father as a rhyme. And a well-done rhyme at that!

When I read it to my 6.5 year old after a hiatus, she said, “It sounds like a prayer.” When I explained that its the Our Father broken down into easy to understand words. I read her a verse or two and how it corresponded to the prayer and she all but ripped the book from my hands so she could read the whole thing. She had hit a point where it clicked, you know? So I would say that having the study guide for ages 8-12 (3rd-6th grade), is probably pretty spot on.   She gets it at 6, but not enough to do a full fledged study of it.


Where I really get excited about this book is the Study Guide. The study guide contains 80 2-page lessons that really go into depth as a bible study. The study guide comes shrink wrapped & 3-hole punched and is non-reproducible. It’s intended for grades 4-6 and digs deep into the bible as it relates to aspects of the Our Father. My daughter is several years too young for it, but I’m excited to use it when she is. You could get through it in a school year if you did 2 lessons a week. There are even extra activities on their website.

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The worksheets do not appear cumbersome to complete, but look like they would provide deeper understanding & relationship with God. As I said, I have not USED it yet, so I cannot tell you if there is anything contrary to Catholic (or any Protestant) teaching in it. There is an endorsement from the superintendent of our area Catholic schools and they are presenting it to the schools soon so take that as you will.

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Overall, My Whole Self Before You is a book suitable for both Catholic and Protestant families. While I’m not a huge fan of the picture book portion on its own, I think the Prayer Guide & Devotional as well as the study guide could be awesome tools for your older elementary student. I’m excited to share how we like it in a few years!

Jen S.

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$10 Great Dates {Serve Your Spouse Saturday #30}

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support.


I am a planner. I love to plan fun activities, both as a family and for hubby and I. And I thought I had seen nearly every date night idea ever conceived. I was wrong. Not only did I find new date night ideas in $10 Great Dates, but they were cheap!

In $10 Great Dates, there are 52 date ideas for busy parents. That’s enough to keep you creatively dating all year long! They are broken up into sections–adventurous, out-on-the-town, at home, outdoors, romantic unique and even marriage pick-me-up dates. Each date idea is 2-3 pages and contains a short little story from one of the authors about this kind of date and the idea behind it. There are bulleted sections covering talking points as well as tips for before your date and ON your date. Finally, it ends with the Great Date Takeaway.

My favorite part of these date night ideas is the section at the end–the take away. I love how they tie in the creative date with the nature of marriage as a whole. For instance, on the Just Desserts date, they had this to say:

…Take this time to reflect together about all the blessings or “sweet things” in your marriage…After your date, you can take your gratitude list home…you may challenge yourselves to add one new thing a day for a week…

How awesome is that? It’s the date that keeps on going! I also like how they are cheap. If they had more “at home even with kids” ideas, I’d like it even more. There were only 6 of those, though several more could be tweaked.

$10 Great Dates is definitely a resource I’m going to use when filling our date night calendar for next year. We might be able to go on real dates again soon. The “baby” will be 18 mos at Christmas and is good for hours as long as it doesn’t interfere with nap or bedtime. If I had the energy, I’d start now :).

Do you have a go-to source for date fun with the hubs? Or do you do the same thing?

Jen S.

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4 Pre-Trip Grooming Tips for a Fuss Free Vacation {Beauty for Busy Moms}

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!



Have you ever vacationed somewhere that Europeans visit? Have you noticed how they always look fabulous? I cannot tell you how many packing tips say things like, bring stuff you plan to get rid of and leave it behind as you go. Seriously!

Are you guilty of being a frump on vacation? I get frazzled enough mentally with 3 kids; I don’t want to send the impression that people shouldn’t have kids because I am frazzled AND haggard, you know? Here are 4 easy ways to fight vacation frump before you leave home so you can have a fuss-free vacation, while still looking good!

1. Shave

I am lucky enough to have slow growing, light colored hair. I do not need to shave every day. Before I leave on vacation, I make sure to do a thorough shave — armpits, legs, bikini. Not only is the bath relaxing after spending the day packing & prepping, but its really hard to do a great job in a dimly lit shower with no glasses on :).

2. Pedicure

If you are wearing open toed shoes at ALL, be sure to do a pedicure. If you are going to a beach or pool, it’s almost essential! Personally, I prefer a bright polish that contrasts with my most frequently worn shoes, but consider whether it is a work or play vacation.

3. Nail sticker mani

If you don’t do gel manicures, you might be like me and have your nail polish come off after only 3-4 days. Between diaper changes, wiping toddler bottoms, cooking and everything else, I’m surprised they last that long, to be honest. That’s a lot of hand washing! My best trick is nail polish stickers. I use Sally Hansen Salon Effects nail polish stickers. These rock because they last several days longer, are easy to pack, and almost impossible to screw up.

4. Cut or color

In need of a cut or color? Consider doing it a week or two before you leave so you feel like a million bucks! If you don’t have time, maybe try a new hair accessory or check Pinterest for a super quick & easy but stylish look. Master it before you leave so you can look put together in no time!



Those are my 4 tips for looking good on vacation by doing a little smart prep work before you leave. Especially if you are going abroad, you kind of represent all of us. Let’s look like we enjoy the life we’ve chosen :).

Do you have any vacation style tips?

Jen S.

You can see all the Beauty for Busy Moms posts here.

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UberSmart Math Facts Review {Schoolhouse Review Crew}

Much like when we hit our teens & twenties wall, we are hitting a wall with addition and subtraction math facts. Many curriculums (especially online ones), teach strategies for problem solving and totally ignore memorization. In my opinion, its totally necessary. When the opportunity to review UberSmart Math Facts came up, I all but begged to be included.


UberSmart Software

We were give a beta copy of the newest version of UberSmart Math Facts by UberSmart Software. I had installed a trial of the last edition and it was fairly similar looking. ÜberSmart Math Facts is a piece of software that you download and install on your local computer, though techies CAN set it up on a server environment if desired. It is essentially a software version of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division flash cards. For Windows machines only, the software is $24.95 and is intended for about kindergarten age to adult. You can install it on as many computers as you want in your home, but the number of students is limited. Recommended use is 2-3 sessions of 10-15 minutes.


Likes & Dislikes

So the UberSmart Math Facts software has some really cool features. First, it has a diagnostics test and once it determines that you don’t have certain knowledge, it ends. Quickly. There is a keyboard skills practice and it will tell you when you’ve mastered keyboard skills and can move on to practice. It considers mastery to be 3 seconds for a 2 digit number, as an FYI.


It also has a neat dot card drill for addition facts that would be great for child just learning addition. Kindergarten maybe? Instead of typing an answer, they select one of 4 tiles with the answer in dots. In addition, there are flashcard style mastery drills. You can see the problem before and after as well as a visual of problems & time remaining.


I kind of wish they had a “start here” thing. First thing to do? Go to Test and do a beginner assessment test. Beware; its LONG. But it cuts you off quick once you don’t pass something. My 6 year old spent almost two weeks on keyboard entry because of her keyboard skills (or lack thereof). Our primary computer is a laptop so I bought an external 10-key pad for entry. It didn’t help much.


Finally, I had her start doing drills for the easy problems anyway. I had the time set to max and even once she had mastered the 10-key pad, it was still torture. For both of us. This particular child is the one who is only quick when it will bug her siblings. I literally had to bite my tongue while watching her. She would eventually read it, then count it out on her fingers (if necessary), then trace around every single key on her way to the number(s) she needed. I tell ya. At this pace, we only did it for one session of 10 minutes 3-4 days a week. We stuck it out as long as we could to get a good basis to review from.

The only thing *I* disliked was that it was software and not an online program. I literally had to switch computers mid-test period. It was a real bummer that all her progress (the little there was) & stats were lost :(.


While this type of drill in math facts was not a great fit for us, I really liked UberSmart Math Facts. It ran really well. It was simple and intuitive as far as the drilling was concerned and I liked the option to drill by dot cards or by flashcards. I really thought that because she is such a visual learner that it would have worked better than it did.


I also liked the varied styles of reporting. The visual grid chart did seem to help my daughter realize that she had mastered more than she thought but it was still like pulling teeth to get her to do it.

If you have children who enjoy flashcard drills, beating the clock or similar forms of motivation, UberSmart Math Facts will probably work well for you. Good keyboard and computer skills would come in handy, too.


Click here to see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought about UberSmart Math Facts.


Do you make your children memorize math facts?  Why or why not?

Jen S.



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Future Paleontologists — Dinosaur Fun {Poppins Book Nook}

Junior Paleontologists


This month’s theme for the Poppins Book Nook was When I Grow Up. Since my oldest wants to be a paleontologist, we picked dinosaurs for our focus this month.

usborne dinosaur books

Usborne Dinosaur Books

I bought two Usborne books from Marie & though she is no longer sponsoring these posts, I’d still like to give her a little shout out :). The first book I bought was See Inside the World of Dinosaurs. I absolutely adore the quality of these books. They are so well put together physically and the girls could spend hours peeking under all the flaps together. There are 8 different spreads covering the beginning of life in the ocean, early dinosaurs, giant dinosaurs, strange features, dino battles, extinction, and fossils. They are not Creationist (capital C) and are not young earth so if you have those prejudices, don’t buy this book. That being said, we loved it and its fun to see more than the standard dinosaurs we learned about in elementary school.


I also bought Usborne Preschool Activities Dinosaur Fun. This is a spiral hardcover with tabbed projects for different dinosaurs. The pages are a heavy cardstock and each project is an art project that is super simple and hands on. My artist daughter (6) and hand-on girl (3), loved it equally. We did 2 of the 11 projects. With a few of them, I wish they had provided a template to copy but c’est la vie.


We also bought The Great Dinosaur Search, a padded hardcover similar to 1001 Things to Spot in the Sea, but no one was interested in it. I already had a copy of Usborne Internet-Linked World Atlas of Dinosaurs and my youngest and I looked through that and I read pieces that seemed to interest her. It was a fun discussion!

Dinosaur Activities

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Junior Paleontologist

Since my oldest wants to be a paleontologist, the first thing I did was dig out the Toob I bought her on clearance a few years ago. It had 7 Dino skulls in it and frankly they were ugly. She wanted them so badly I gave in. The next thing I did was go to Home Depot & buy 14 bags of play sand. I promised Dino digs for the month but we hadn’t refilled the sandbox yet. $40 later we had sand and bones for a fossil excavation :).

I also purchased this tub of dinosaurs from Toys R Us I had been eying for months that happened to be on sale for $16. Score! They have spent hours in the sandbox with dinosaurs this month. Best money spent EVER!

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Dinosaur Art

We did several art projects from the Dinosaur Fun book and it was not nearly as messy as I’d feared. They were super simple and way better than anything I saw on Pinterest! Worth getting your hands on in my opinion.

Dinosaur Garden Field Trip

The month still isn’t over yet and I’m hoping to get over to Dinosaur Gardens. We have to go over to that side of the state soon and while its about an hour out of the way, I’d like to try going there. I’ve never been but when my little bro was in elementary school, my mom chaperoned a field trip there (which is a miracle itself). She said it was pretty neat so it’s always been on my list. If we make it, you’ll see a field trip Friday post about it!


That’s all we did this month and the kids had a blast. Honestly the Dino dig was the best idea ever. They are always out there.


Poppins Book Nook

Check out posts from all Poppins Book Nook co-hosts about what children would like to be when they grow up and add your post to the linky below.

Poppins Book Nook main image 2014 - 2015  Clip Art by Melon Headz

Check out more Poppins Book Nook posts from around the world by these lovely bloggers:

Enchanted Homeschooling Mom ~ 3 Dinosaurs ~ To the Moon and Back ~ Planet Smarty Pants ~ Farm Fresh Adventures ~ Growing in God’s Grace ~ Chestnut Grove Academy ~ Learning and Growing the Piwi Way ~ The Usual MayhemPreschool Powol Packets ~ Monsters Ed Homeschool Academy ~ Adventures in Mommydom ~ Teach Beside Me ~ Life with Moore Babies Kathy’s Cluttered Mind ~ Are We There Yet? ~ Our Crafts N Things ~ Hopkins Homeschool ~ ABC Creative Learning ~ Joy Focused Learning ~ P is for Preschooler ~ Laugh and Learn ~ A Mommy’s Adventures ~ Inspiring 2 New Hampshire Children ~ World for Learning ~ Ever After in the Woods ~ Golden Grasses ~ A glimpse of our life ~ Journey to Excellence ~ Happy Little Homemaker ~ Little Homeschool Blessings ~ Raventhreads ~ Tots and Me As We Walk Along The Road ~ Stir the Wonder ~ For This Season ~ Where Imagination Grows ~ Lextin Academy ~ The Canadian Homeschooler ~ School Time Snippets ~ Peakle Pie ~ A Moment in our World ~ Every Bed of Roses ~ Finchnwren ~ At Home Where Life Happens ~ The Library Adventure ~ Embracing Destiny ~ Day by Day in our World ~ Our Homeschool Studio ~ A “Peace” of Mind ~ Thou Shall Not Whine ~ SAHM I am ~ eLeMeNo-P Kids ~ Simple Living Mama




When I Grow Up Bundle Giveaway! Every month the Poppins Book Nook group will be offering readers a chance to win a brand new storybook or product that ties in with our theme for the month. This month one lucky entrant will win a bundle of fun for the theme of When I Grow Up.  This bundle will include a copy of the storybookWhen I Grow Up by Mercer Mayer, one copy of Community Helpers Puzzles by Trend, and one copy of Community Helpers & Careers Pocket Flash Cards by Trend.

Entrants must be 18 years or older and reside in a country that receives U.S. Postal mail. This giveaway is brought to you by the company Enchanted Homeschooling Mom who is owner and founder of the Poppins Book Nook. By entering this giveaway you are also acknowledging that you have read and agree to all of the Rafflecopter terms & conditions as well as Enchanted Homeschooling Mom’s disclosures found here {}.  Just enter the Rafflecopter below to win:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Follow more Poppins Book Nook fun on Pinterest!


What do your kids want to be when they grow up?


Jen S.

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