Saturday, March 29, 2014

BookLook Review: Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine

I was thrilled when I had the opportunity to review Crystal Paine's newly released book titled "Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life" as part of the BookLook Blogger program. What a blessing to receive yet another book that arrived at the perfect time in my life. I decided that I wanted to be more intentional this year in all areas of my life. Before hearing about this book, I struggled with just how to get my life back in order. I started jotting down my goals but quickly noticed that I lacked direction, motivation, focus, and discipline.

Book Details
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publisher Product Page Price: $22.99
Amazon Price: $17.65
You can purchase the book through one of the following Store Options.

Note: All prices at time of review are subject to change and current at the time of posting this review.

About the Author 
Crystal Paine is the mother of three and a child of God. She is the author of 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life which is another book that I aim to read this year. She is the founder of an extremely popular and helpful website called which reaches over a million readers per month.

Book Description
In Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, you'll find both practical ideas and big-picture perspective that will inspire you to live life on purpose. Crystal Paine has walked the road from barely surviving to living with intention. Packed with straightforward solutions you'll use today and inspirational stories you'll remember for years.

Chapter Topics Addressed
  • Stop Trying to Do It All
  • Say Yes to the Best
  • If You Aim at Nothing, You'll Hit It Every Time
  • Discipline Is Not a Bad Word
  • Be Intentional with Your Bank Account
  • Manage the Home Front
  • When You Feel Like a Failure
  • Yes, You Can Make a Difference
  • Sometimes It Is About YOU
  • Kick-Start Your Success
My Thoughts
It wasn't that long ago when I personally felt like I was living in survival mode (almost two years ago). Several major life changes and shortcomings lead to an increase in stress and anxiety. I suffered from a horrible depression during that time period. I was trying to be a good wife, mother, homeschool educator, and homemaker, but it seemed like everything around me was falling apart. How could I possibly keep up with all of my duties? The additional stress caused unnecessary tension in my marriage. Honestly, I feel like I may be slipping into that mode again. I don't want to EVER be in that place so I decided to reevaluate my life and priorities this year. This book provided me with the guidance I needed. 

The message of this book is clear and straightforward. The 256-page hardcover non-fiction book contains practical tips and helpful advise for those of us that occasionally or always feel overwhelmed. Each chapter targets one goal and strategy. Here's an example from Chapter 5: Be Intentional With Your Bank Account.
Goal: Get your finances in order so you can spend, save, and give with purpose.
Strategy: Develop short-term and long-term financial goals and then create a plan to carry those goals out. 

I appreciate the conversational tone of the book. This phenomenal book is choked full of suggestions that are sure to inspire and motivate you to live a better life. Not all the information written in the book was new to me, but I saw the book as a "go to" tool that would help guide me into saying goodbye to survival mode. It is designed to offer straightforward advice on a real level. The questions at the beginning of the book help you understand whether or not you'll benefit from reading her book enabling you to make a more informed decision about whether you should purchase the book or not. 

The book focuses on nine strategies including the following topics: Priorities, decision-making, goal-setting, time management, home management, financial management, discipline, self-esteem, self-care, and more. Her reader's questions are indicated under the "What You Want To Know" question and answer section of the book. Crystal addresses a broad range of topics throughout the book, yet each topic is related to the chapter. The author also makes it clear that she is not an expert in the field. She explains that what worked for her may not work for everyone. I think this is an important point to clarify, because everyone's circumstances will differ. 

This book has so many wonderful points which makes it difficult to write a short review. I found myself devouring the material - ready and willing to transform my habits and behaviors. The author states the importance of evaluating your priorities first. Crystal shares personal stories about how to say "no" to events that aren't on your priority list. I loved the idea of the SMART acronym used when the author discusses the purpose of setting specific goals. She also encourages you to begin with just a few goals at a time enabling you to take baby steps towards success rather than overwhelming yourself with unrealistic goals only to give up in the end. I have been known to place unrealistic expectations on myself which immediately leads to a sense of failure. 

"Time is what we WANT most, but what we USE worse." After reading this William Penn quote from the book, I came to the realization that I am DEFINITELY wasting too much time online. Crystal encourages her readers to consider making changes to the overwhelming areas of their life. She's inspired me to make my top priorities my best stuff or "yes" list. She also reminded me to leave a little margin in my schedule for interruptions or unexpected occurrences which no doubt will happen at some point in our week. 

The "Get Practical" section includes challenges and reflective questions that help you apply what you have learned to your life. I recommend grabbing a journal or spiral notebook for these activities. For example, in Chapter 6 (Manage the Home Front), Crystal encourages her readers to declutter one room each week for four weeks. This challenge will surely help me let go of some of those cluttering items that are piling up in my home. The author states that "either you can control the clutter or the clutter will control you." I am beginning to believe this philosophy! She explains that it takes less time to maintain the items if you don't have the stuff. I am surrounded by clutter that I have accumulated over many, many years. I struggle with the idea of letting it all go but know that it must be done.  
Chapter 5 lists her bare-bones budget suggestions towards reaching financial freedom. She recommends that you develop a budget plan with your spouse. I can't remember the last time I sat down with my husband to discuss money matters so this has become a top priority especially with our current financial situation. These simple steps may allow you to change your thoughts and spending habits. 

There are days when I feel like a complete failure and tend to focus on my flaws and inabilities. The author questioned the purpose of tearing yourself down each day. This was a huge wake up call for me. This tear down isn't helping me attain the goals I desire. I tend to focus too often on my faults and can't improve in those areas if I get "stuck" in that one place. This one chapter touched my heart on many levels encouraging me to refocus my attention on the positives paying more attention to what I AM doing right rather than what I do wrong. 

Furthermore, I always feel guilty about "alone" or "me" time. Crystal emphasizes the importance of taking care of yourself. I haven't really taken care of myself in a long time. She helped me realize that it is ok. She provides a bulleted list of simple ways to recharge your life. I am hoping I will have more time to read encouraging and motivating books, consistently workout, journal, and pray that I have the willpower to unplug myself from all techno devices a couple times a month. I find myself busy, tired, anxious, stressed, and overwhelmed more often than I should . . . forgetting to actually enjoy my life and have fun. I don't want that kind of life anymore. I want to cherish and enjoy every moment that God has given me on Earth -  to live the life or plan that He has in store for me.

She ends the book by giving you "Seven Habits That Will Change Your Life" in addition to a list of suggestions that will kick-start your success enabling you to focus on what matters most. One habit I need to do is replace television and computer time with acts of productivity in order to gain more time. Some of the recommendations I am already implementing, but the chapter served as a great reminder. 

The appendix includes a few miniature goal-setting forms to utilize while reading the book enabling you to immediately apply the strategies. The author also offers her readers a 40-page printable pack if you share information about the book through social media avenues. My favorite printables included in this pack are the menu planning pages, goal sheets, and the daily docket. There is a list of categorized recommended reading resources at the back of the book.

Overall, this book has given me the necessary drive to move forward with my goals in life and to make changes for the better aiming for less stress, more sleep, and passion in my life. I appreciate that the author shared her personal stories, struggles, and successes in her book. Her honesty and truthfulness is evident throughout the pages of the book. She reassured me that we aren't perfect and we don't have to be . . . especially for the sake of others. Her references to Biblical scripture and quotes from well-known financial experts such as Dave Ramsey and Stephen Covey provide hope and encouragement. My word for the year 2014 is INTENTIONAL. This book is helping me get back on my feet by becoming more organized and prioritizing the major events in my life with a more intense focus.

Do you feel like you are living in survival mode?
 Are you looking for a little more direction in setting goals?
Do you want to lead a more purposeful, joyful, and intentional life?


I would definitely recommend this book to any Christian mother or woman wanting to gain more freedom from life's stressful circumstances or obstacles. In fact, I feel that anyone needing a little more direction with setting goals could benefit from reading the book. Crystal can help guide you in the right direction when reevaluating your goals and life priorities. This book will open your eyes to a new way of living. I plan on utilizing her suggestions and advice in hopes to take back my life so that I can live a more fulfilled and purposeful life. Thank you Crystal for providing your readers with this motivational book containing a conglomeration of helpful tips! Would you like to take a peek and read a sample chapter of her book  

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I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
I review for BookSneeze®

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Homeschool Mother's Journal: March 2014

In Our Homeschool . . .
Reading, Literature, Phonics, Writing
Alyssa completed her core Reading and Phonics curriculum a couple weeks ago. I had a feeling this would happen, because the grade level wasn't very challenging. It reviewed many basic skills she previously learned. It did help maintain an understanding of the concepts while introducing her to a few additional skills. I won't be purchasing the next level until April when it hopefully goes on sale again. We are in the market for a new reading curriculum. Any suggestions for a fluent reader and writer? We renewed our subscription to Explode the Code Online Phonics through the Homeschool Buyers Coop. Alyssa is working through Book 4 as review. I have also been giving her non-fiction reading passages to work on reading comprehension. She finds the evidence in the passage to support her answers if possible.Additionally, I give her a comprehension strategy mini lesson.

Alyssa is Reading . . . 
1.) American Girl Book Series
2.) A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning
3.) Numerous Pictures Books Covering the Following Topics:
  • President's Day
  • Bible Stories
  • George Washington
  • Ireland
  • Olympics
  • St. Patrick's Day
Our Current Read Aloud Books . . . 
  • Black Beauty written by Anna Sewell
  • The Enormous Egg
  • Bible In a Year (NCV) by Tommy Nelson
  • Callie's Contest of Courage (Review Coming)
We are working our way through Confessions of a Homeschooler's Black Beauty Lapbook. Alyssa is highly motivated by this unit study. The other day during a family movie, I noticed that she had the following horse book open and was creating her own unit study.

We read 1-2 chapters a day. I changed the timeline activity into a summary activity. After each chapter, she summarizes the main events using story elements or the 5 W's: Who, What, Where, When, and Why. I have definitely noticed an improvement in her writing.

Furthermore, she's been enjoying the topics chosen as copywork passages. Her handwriting pages consists of Bible scripture, St. Patrick's Day quotes, President's Day quotes, horse copywork, and more. We utilize her Draw Write Now books as well. I never thought she would enjoy drawing and writing this much!

We recently won the Isabel Writing Bundle from New Millennium Girls after attending a Facebook party. Isabel's Secret is about a girl that lives on a horse ranch. I can't wait to take a rabbit trail into this writing curriculum after we finish Black Beauty. It arrived in the mail yesterday! My daughter can't wait to get started.
Doesn't it look great! 
Alyssa will also complete her Math curriculum early. She has been diligently working on double-digit multiplication. We were at a standpoint with lesson 24, but only because the multiplication strategy was different from the one I taught her prior to the lesson. We practiced problems using worksheets and games for an additional two weeks. I also introduced her to additional multiplication strategies known as lattice and box method. She had a blast! She started Lesson 26 the other day.

Here is a shamrock multiplication activity we did for extra practice. She rolled the die four times and placed the appropriate number tile on each shamrock. Then, she solved the problem on a piece of paper. I so wish I had four 10-sided dice. In the bottom photo, she estimated her answer before solving it.

She has been learning about The Last Supper using Grapevine's sample e-lesson. She finished a very short Fruits of the Spirit devotional last week. I hope to find an Easter devotional for us to focus on in April.

She also reads in her Bible For Kids and jots down scripture that has meaning to her in her journal. She bought the journal with her won money. I also opened the page and saw a wonderful message inside the front cover. 

We are focusing on equine (horse) science. She is studying a variety of topics. We are making use of our Simple Schooling Classroom K-6 subscription which includes a Horse Unit Study. It is a bit advanced for Alyssa (Age 6), but it was her idea to use it. The exposure is helping her understand the concepts better. We are also completing several horse lapbooks and notebooking project packs. I have been picking and choosing mini books from A Learning Journey's Horse Lapbook and Hands of a Child Horse Project Pack. I found several other free resources online. We talked about the horse's diet, horse names, lifecycle, hooves, facial markings, leg markings, and more. I am sharing a picture of just a few of the mini book components we have completed. Most of these are part of the Black Beauty Lapbook.
Lapbook Components

Arts and Crafts
Alyssa enjoyed creating her shamrock trinity crafts. She also utilizes her Art DVD's for Biblical drawing lessons which uses a variety of mediums throughout the week including oil pastels, pencil, and watercolors.

Alyssa is playing songs on the piano using the grand staff. She was recently invited to play in the June piano recital. If she decides to participate, then she'll play two songs. I am impressed with how far she has come since the beginning (she started in October). She reads musical notes. She is now working far beyond my level of understanding so I can't provide any assistance during the week when she practices at home.

She is also preparing for her dance recital which happens to be in June too. It looks like June will be a busy month! One of her hip hop costumes arrived as seen below.

We are doing so much more, but I can't add it all in this one post. It would be way too long!

Music I'm Listening To . . . 
Holding On by Jamie Grace

Here is one of my morning wake up songs before Bible study time:
God Day sung by Jen Stanbro

What Alyssa is Listening To . . . 
Jamie Grace singing Beautiful Day

Blessings I'm Thankful . . .
  • God's Forgiveness, Strength, Mercy, Grace, and Answered Prayers
  • My Husband's Promotion Test Score
  • Safety and Health of Our Family and Friends
  • My Husband's Grilling Skills
  • Books We're Reading
  • Alyssa's Current Curriculum
  • Giveaway Winnings
What I'm Reading Now . . . 
Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine (Review Coming Soon)

What I Read . . . 
Christmas with Strategic Shopping and Strategic Shopping by Candy Foote

The Marriage You've Always Wanted by Gary Chapman

What We're Baking . . . 
We made Green Velvet Pancakes for one of our St. Patrick's breakfasts this week. The recipe came from a book I borrowed at the library called Everyday Confetti by Karen Ehman.

I just changed the liquid food color to green. I SO want to own this book! Unfortunately, the pancakes are a leaf green. I didn't find the correct green color in time. We did add a little of the correct hue to the cream cheese topping.

In Our Life This Week . . .
My husband took and passed his promotion test with a 95%. He is currently number one in rank for a promotion. Looks like he'll accomplish his goal to be a Captain for the SA Fire Department hopefully soon. A well deserved accomplishment and prayer answered.

We have been dealing with Internet issues for over a month. I keep getting a message that Safari failed, isn't responding, or isn't connected. I am still trying to figure out a solution or the cause of the problem with Apple and my Internet provider. This has been a very time consuming problem. I think we may have found a temporary solution having to do with our DNS server. This is one of the reasons why you haven't been hearing from me as much. I am behind on writing reviews and posts due to this complication, but it seems to be working properly now.

Places We Went . . .
  1. Dance was canceled during spring break week, but Alyssa still went to piano lessons.
  2. We saw another play at the Magik Theater called Skippy John Jones. It was funny. I didn't bring my camera this time so I have zero zip pictures to share with you.
  3. We went to the movies to see Mr. Peabody and Sherman as a family.
  4. We visited our friends (Pam and Andrea) for Pam's birthday last month. I love celebrating birthdays. Speaking of . . . I posted photos of my daughter's Sixth Pirate-Themed Birthday Party. I would love for you to check it out if you have a few extra moments.
  5. We took a road trip to Kerrville to visit relatives a couple weeks ago. We enjoyed playing games and dominoes while catching up.
Praying For . . . 
  • My Godmother's Health
  • Grandma Mae
  • My Family
  • Internet to Continue Working Properly
Thinking About . . . 
My niece's visit in May. I haven't seen her in a couple of years and look forward to spending quality time with her soon.

Needing To . . . 
Declutter the play room so that we can make room for a bed. I want my niece to have a place to sleep with a little privacy. I also need to start going through the garage and shed again. We are hoping to have a garage sale, but the task is overwhelming right now. 

I will link this post up at Homeschool Mother's Journal and Weekly Wrap-Up.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Family Time Fitness Core 1 Curriculum Freebie: This Week Only!

I have to share an awesome freebie with you today just in case you haven't seen or heard about it yet. The Core 1 Curriculum offered by Family Time Fitness is FREE this week only . . . you heard me correctly. It usually retails for $37. I haven't EVER seen an offer like this in the past. They are offering this curriculum for free, because March is National Athletic Nutrition and Training Month. Here is a video overview of the program if interested.

Are you looking for a homeschool physical education curriculum you can use with the entire family?

If so, you should definitely check out this resource! My daughter enjoys using it - maybe your family will like it too. Head on over to their website now and grab this freebie while it is still available. It is ONLY available from March 17th through March 21st.

Visit Family Time Fitness to get your Core 1 Curriculum Freebie Today! 

Disclaimer: I am NOT an affiliate. I just wanted to share this freebie with my blog readers.

Thank you for visiting A Learning Journey! I hope you come back again real soon!

God bless,
Tracey M.

Friday, March 14, 2014

W is for Wednesday Crafting: Shamrock Trinity

Did you know that St. Patrick used a three-leaf clover or shamrock to teach others the Trinity concept?

I can't believe it's almost St. Patrick's Day! On Wednesday, Alyssa made a shamrock (clover) craft. We found the original idea for this craft on Pinterest. Thank you Karen's Adventures in Mommyland for sharing your idea! We added a little verse printable from which states "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Holy Spirit" on the back.  I can't find the correct link at this time. We also used green popsicle sticks for the stem. The following videos from the History Channel may be helpful: St. Patrick and Shamrocks.
Front Side
Back Side
We read an exceptional biography about St. Patrick written by Knowledge Quest as part of their St. Patrick's Day Unit Study in addition to several other articles and books. One of the books we read was St. Patrick's Day by Gail Gibbons.

I also recently checked out a book titled, St. Patrick's Day Crafts written by Carol Gnojewski. There was an Irish Shamrock craft with templates included in the book which utilized the colors of Irish flag. You could easily change the craft into a "Trinity" shamrock project. The picture below is an unfinished product. Alyssa still needs to decorate it and add the words Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

I Can Teach My ChildCornerstone Confessions
Teach Beside MeVirtual Fridge Link UpWelcome Home WednesdaysHip Homeschool MomsHearts for Home Blog Hop

I hope you enjoyed visiting A Learning Journey! Come back for a visit soon! 

God bless,