Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Where The Heart Takes You by Virginia Wise...A Book Review

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review via NetGalley.

My personal best indicator of a really great author is one who not only makes you see the character in your mind's eye, but actually feel a kinship with that character - that is just what Virginia Wise does in this novel! Set in the Pennsylvania wilderness in the 1700's, we follow the story of main character Greta Scholtz who has come to the US as an anabaptist refugee fleeing persecution in Germany...

Pennsylvania, 1737. Greta Scholtz braved a perilous journey—and the loss of her beloved father—to find religious freedom in America. With two orphan children she's taken under her wing, she's trying hard to survive this rugged new world. So she won't let settlement elders pressure her into marrying reserved widower Jacob Miller. She and Jacob simply can’t agree on anything—even if the unexpected feeling between them is proving an irresistible force . . . After losing his wife and baby, grief-stricken Jacob keeps everyone at arm’s length. Duty is the only reason he began helping the headstrong Greta make a life for herself and her charges. Yet he’s grown to admire her, especially her strength in the face of obstacles—including him and his wounded ways. But wrenching misunderstandings and a jealous rival could separate them forever. To find harmony—and perhaps even a future together—Greta and Jacob must take a leap of faith and risk opening their hearts . . .

My absolute favorite part of this book is how vivid the scenery and home life of the Amish of this time was painted. Although Greta is adjusting to her new life without her father amongst strangers, she is a strong lead who you truly feel for throughout the story. Although her dwindling courage felt frustrating at times, you were frustrated for her more than with her, because of the spirit of her character.

I would truly put this book right up there with some of my other favorite Amish fiction writers, and I
cannot wait to see what Virginia Wise comes out with next! Want a copy?..


Monday, November 19, 2018

Lowercase Letters Match: A Free Printable Sensory Bin Christmas Activity

Christmas is just around the corner! Can you believe it? I am seriously in awe of how quickly 2018 has flown by and is coming to an end. We still haven't even started our Christmas shopping, but I have been thinking about Christmas-theme activities for school!

One of my favorite parts of this season is getting the kids excited for it - we take out our Christmas decorations, Christmas books, do crafts and bake cookies. We make cards, shop for others and go to so many family dinners. It's just awesome!

In-between all that, however, I do like to squeeze in some learning at some point! This year I discovered that a lot of homeschoolers do what is called 'Christmas School', where they do Christmas-themed learning activities for all of December. Isn't that amazing?

I really wanted to add some Christmas activities in this year too, so I started out making some activities first, including this fun sensory bin activity game. It's going to be part of a bigger Christmas activity pack, but this activity is free :)

I'm really proud of how far our littlest, A, has come along this year in her reading. She's been reading through CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant words, like CAT) really well! We've also been using a lot of fun activities to learn sight words. 

But she still has trouble with mixing up lowercase and uppercase letters sometimes, so that's something I've been wanting to take a step back and focus on. This activity is perfect for that, and it's SO much fun!
You can use any sort of sensory bin you like, or just use no bin at all! 26 Christmas (or pine if you don't celebrate) trees with capital letters are included in this pack as well as a cute winter background scene with matching lowercase letter trees.
We decided to use cotton balls since they look like snow and are so much fun to squish, stretch and make a mess with! In fact, after A finished this activity, she started playing in the bin with her toys too. Well, mostly in the bin - I'm still picking up cotton balls here and there!

As she picked up each tree card out of the bin, I had her say the name of the letter as well as it's sound. She would then find the matching lowercase letter on the background scene. Just scroll down below to grab this freebie on my Teachers Pay Teachers Store - just download it for free! ...

You can get this freebie HERE directly or  HERE in my Teachers Pay Teachers store
And look out for the holiday activity pack I have coming soon! It will include this activity alongside fun centers that teach color names, patterns, sorting and more!

Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

FREE Worksheet Wednesday: Fall Addition Subtraction Mats

Addition And Subtraction Math Mat Printables

Get your free printable addition and subtraction mats at the end of this post...

We've been having so much fun in our homeschool this year and I am so proud of how well it's going so far! We don't always get "everything" done, but we sure do get a lot of learning in...

One way I have been making our days a bit more fun is by including some math games for the two younger kiddos - my 1st grader and kindergartener. This week I made them this fun Fall-themed Math Mats.

This set comes with four different background scenes and counters. Each scene has an addition mat and a subtraction mat. You can grab the firefly one as a freebie, and Get the whole set here for just $1!

These are the firefly mats (and this weeks freebie! Scroll to the bottom of the page to get it). You start out by writing in numbers on the bottom for your child to use, or your child can write the numbers in themselves. You then add in the counters - in this case, the fireflies - and either add some more or take some away for subtraction.

My girls had so much fun with them last week! They're great for practicing writing numbers too, as my youngest did here. We didn't quite get to adding them yet with her, she just loved counting them out!

It's such a fun way to practice addition and subtraction facts! And you can print out as many counters as you need too. We love to laminate ours for durability. You could also add in some velcro dots if you want the counters to stick on. This is the apple tree mat.

Here is the pumpkin patch mat. They especially love this one - who doesn't love to see some pumpkins in Fall!

And finally, this is the fall leaves mat, where you can add or subtract some pretty fall leaves onto the tree or ground.

If you don't want to use the counters, you could also replace them with play dough, blocks, plastic chips or even a few treats!

You can download the Firefly set for FREE by clicking here!
And you can get the entire set in my TPT store for just $1 here!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Monday Inspiration: Reach For The Stars!

Here is some Monday Motivation for you this week!

Just a little reminder to always try - because unless you do you'll never know what might have happened!

"Remember to reach for the stars and they won't be able to resist flying into your hands"
 -Katherine McNamara

Please feel free to repost or share this inspirational pic anywhere, just remember to leave the watermark (messybeautifulfun.com) in place!

Have a happy week!

Monday, September 17, 2018

Motivation For This Week In Parenting

This week's parenting quote is a powerful one that never fails to stir me up!

"You are the bows from which your children, as living arrows, are sent forth."
-Khalil Gibran

For me this quote is powerful. It means that every day I have a chance to impact my children's future selves in an important way. Whether it's through words, homeschooling, playing a game or enjoying a good book together, every little thing matters and sends them forth into the world prepared for whatever comes their way.

What does it mean to you?

Please feel free to share this quote on social media or on your own blog or pages. Please just remember that you must keep my watermark in place at the bottom (see more at messybeautifulfun.com)

Thank you and have a wonderful week of raising little ones!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Worksheet Wednesday: Skip Counting At The Ice Cream Shop Plus FREE Printables

Teach Skip Counting With A Fun Ice Cream Shop Play Center (And a free printable too!)

Scroll down for the freebie and this set!

So the school year has finally started! I must say that after 8 years of homeschooling I am truly finding joy in it now more than ever. First of all, I feel more relaxed since I have an older teen - he'll be 16 this year! I can see how wonderful homeschooling has been for him and know that even if every day (or year!) isn't perfect, things will still turn out alright! In fact, they'll usually turn out pretty great 😉

One of my goals this year was to include some more play in our homeschool. Last year I focused a lot on books, fun books might I add! But this year my 4-year-old is beginning her schooling, my 7-year-old is continuing too and both of them love games. So last week we played a really fun game made by Busy Little Bugs on TeachersPayTeachers. It was a cute shopping game that I just couldn't resist buying!

I also printed out some play money to go along with it and the girls had a great time playing shopping and counting out coins by ones. However, I wanted to continue on with the skip counting I started to teach my daughter last year. So I thought it would be a lot of fun to come up with different play stations for them to practice skip counting in. That's where this week's center comes from...

I made up this play Skip Counting Ice Cream Shop for us to play with! It can be played with as many people as you'd like - you can just have one person as the cashier/server and one as the customer, or you can have servers, multiple customers and a cashier.

It includes this fun printable sign that comes with a separate sheet of price tags. You can go by our method - which is practicing a different number to skip-count by every week, or you can mix them all up to practice addition. This week we're practicing our 2's, so everything costs two dollars.

The set also comes with these printable bills and coins. I printed ours on colored paper to make them a little more colorful, and save on ink! They come in denominations from 1-10 as well so you can easily practice a different skip counting number every week or mix them up.

Finally, there's the cone cards and scoops! The server will dish out the number of scoops requested and put them onto the cone either with glue or with pre-stuck velcro dots like we did. This way everyone can practice their skip counting! The customer with their "money", the cashier giving the total and even the server(s) counting up how many scoops a customer will get for, say, $6. We're counting by 2's this week so that would be 3 scoops!

Finally, here's the freebie I'm offering this week, which is also included in this pack. It's a printable set of ice-cream scoop skip counting charts - from 2's to 10's! So you get 9 charts, each with 15 numbers.

You can grab the whole printable Ice Cream Shop set in my Teachers Pay Teachers store here for just $2! And you can get your free set of printable skip counting charts by clicking here! Please remember if you're going to share this freebie to link to THIS page, not the direct download :) Thank you! And I really hope you enjoy your Ice Cream Shop!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Motivation For The Week - Laugh A Little!

This week's quote is all about having a good laugh. Whether it's with your partner, your kids, at a joke you overheard at the office or on a TV show, a good belly-laugh is medicine we all need at some point. So even if your day isn't going perfectly, google a funny meme or search for a "try not to laugh" challenge on Youtube. Get a little laughter - and sunshine - into your day!

"A good laugh is sunshine in the house" - William Makepeace Thackeray

*Please remember you can share this on your blog, social media, or print it out. Please just leave my watermark (messybeautifulfun.com) in there*

Have a great week!

Friday, September 7, 2018

A Simple Singing by Leslie Gould: A Book Review

Leslie Gould's newest book in The Sisters of Lancaster County, A Simple Singing.

*Psst - I received a free copy of this book on Netgalley in exchange for my honest review*

If you've read my blog for a while then you'll know that I'm a HUGE Amish fiction fan. I just love the escape from our everyday world full of busy-ness and lights and screens. Trust me, I would never want to give those things up (I AM a blogger after all) but I love to read about simpler times. It's the same reason I also love historical fiction. And this book by Leslie Gould just happens to combine those two things!

A Simple singing is the second book in this Sisters of Lancaster County series. It follows Marie Bachmann who thinks she pretty much has life figured out. Get married to an Amish farmer, live close to her parents in her own district and live the life of a farmer's wife. But as Marie soon finds out, God's plans are not our own...

For years Marie Bachmann thought of herself as the "good" daughter. She was the most loving to their mother, the most dedicated to their Amish way of life. But when a Mennonite farmhand, Gordon Martin, shows interest in her she can't help but be flattered--until her mother sends her off to Florida. While there, Marie begins spending time with bad-boy Eli Jacob, the bishop's son from back home. 
When Gordon shows up in Florida to volunteer in a homeless shelter, her life becomes even more complicated. At the same time her aunt begins telling her of a Civil War-era ancestor and the woman's uncommon bravery . . . a story that begins to work at Marie's heart.
Marie hopes returning home may simplify life, but Eli soon follows. As Marie grapples with whether she should court Eli or leave the church for Gordon, the story of Annie Bachmann shines a light on what God has for Marie's future.

I just adored this book! Not only is it full of the wonderful Amish fiction that I love, but the story of Annie was absolutely my favorite part. If you love reading a good, clean romance with a twist of the simple life then you'll love it too!

You can grab it on Amazon here or Read More About It On Netgalley Here.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

FREE Worksheet Wednesday: Pumpkin Number Match 1-20

Free Pumpkin Number Match Game For Preschool and on. A fun way to practice number sense.
**Psst - scroll down for the free download link...

Well, it's finally our first week of school officially this week! I've honestly been preparing all summer for this coming year for many reasons. Mainly it's the first year I'll really be homeschooling 3 kids, and there are so man different levels to think about.

My oldest, MJ, is in high school, while K is in grade 2 (ish) and A is just starting kindergarten. All three of them will be using a certain curriculum that I love called The Good and The Beautiful, but I didn't want to just leap in right away. Especially with the younger ones I wanted to start things out a bit slower and give them some fun learning games and resources to use.

This Pumpkin Match Game 1-20 is one of those things. Made for my youngest, A, it's like playing a fun game, but really gets kids practicing using number sense. That is, matching a number of things to an actual numeral.

And the best part is it doesn't stop at 10 - it goes right up to 20! Plus it has a fun Fall pumpkin theme.

You can choose to print them out and just match them up, or you can cut a slot in them like I did for the pumpkin to go in. It makes it a little extra fun!

You can start by giving your child a wheelbarrow and laying out a few pumpkins - I wouldn't put all 20 out at once since that would be a little overwhelming. I usually put a number out and then put about 5 pumpkins. You can adjust the number of pumpkins to your child's level.

You can go over the number and how to count to it first, or you can just let your child match them all up.

Whatever way you use these pumpkin matching cards, I hope you and yours enjoy them! Download below...
**Please remember that you can share this free resource from THIS page, not the direct download link below. Thank you and enjoy!**

Monday, September 3, 2018

Motivation For The Week - A Fitness Quote To Keep You Going!

Welcome to my motivation Monday! If you feel like you're lagging behind in your workouts this month then don't sweat it! In the busyness of this month, most of us let our own goals get put on the back burner. But remember to let yourself breathe too - sometimes the best medicine is a little R & R!

"Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live" - Jim Rohn

*Please remember that you are free to share this graphic quote on your blog, social media or print it out to enjoy. Please just leave my watermark (messybeautifulfun.com) in the corner. Thanks!*

Have a wonderfully beautiful week!

Friday, August 31, 2018

NEW Free Printable Wall Art Poster - Where We Love Is Home!

Well, I loved sharing my printable wall art sign last week and just couldn't wait to share this one with you all too! It features a lovely quote about home:
"Where we love is home. Home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts". -O.W. Holmes, Sr.
 Don't you just love that? It makes me think of my own children making their way in the world, making their own homes, but never forgetting this one of their childhood. Their feet may leave but their hearts will not. Love it!

And you can absolutely print it out for free for your own home! It's a lovely, inexpensive way to add a touch of coziness and color to a room or add some light to a corner that needs brightening.

Download this free printable PDF below, and please remember ...
**Please share this download with whomever you like, just please remember to share THIS page and NOT the direct download page** Thank you!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Free Printable Letter Matching Worksheets At The Apple Orchard

Pssst - scroll down for the download link!

If there is one thing my kids look forward to every year, it's a trip to the apple orchard we love so much. It's actually a super fun place - there's apple picking obviously, but there's also 3 huge playgrounds, farm animals and a wonderful restaurant (with bar and apple gin included!).

A post shared by Debbie Jean (@debbiejeanmcmullen) on

So when I was trying to think of some fun themes for new worksheets for my youngest, apples were on my mind! She's 4 now and still has a bit of trouble distinguishing between some of the uppercase and lowercase letters, particularly the similar ones like ''b' and 'd' (whyyyyyyy did they make them like that!)

So to help her along I made these Uppercase and Lowercase letter matching sheets with a fun apple orchard theme - and of course, I'm going to share them with you. I'm nice like that.😎

You can print out just the letters your child struggles with a little, or print them all out and go through one per day or week. My daughter loves to color them in first (as you can see, some quite a lot!Also, her arm...) and help to cut them out with her little scissors. After cutting them out, you glue the letters on the appropriate tree - capitals on the capital tree, lowercase on the lowercase tree.

It's simple and requires no prep at all, just print and go! Click on the link below to download.
*And just a note - please feel free to share these free worksheets! But when sharing please link to this page, not the direct download page. Thank You!*

Monday, August 27, 2018

Motivation For This Week: A Parenting Quote

Happy Monday! Here's your motivational quote for this week - and it's all about parenting!

"It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men" -Frederick Douglass

I sincerely hope this motivates you in your parenting journey this week.
Have a good one!