GoodreadsInstagramPinterestRSSTwitter

You are here

  1. discontinued terms
  2. » discontinued terms

Giveaways

Months ago, when spring was still just a promise at the end of a very snowy winter, I published my first e-book - Nurturing Creativity.

Nurturing Creativity is a wee little book I wrote to share my thoughts about making time for creativity in our lives as busy moms. I wrote it from the perspective of someone who came to creativity because of motherhood. I wrote it to encourage other moms and to tell my story.

Creativity is near and dear to my heart. Since making the realization in my late twenties that creative living was within the realm of possibility for my life - I didn't have to be a painter, a potter, or published writer to claim creativity as my own - I've been drawn to the principles and practices of creative living.

Beauty, mess, gratitude, presence, courage, observation, self discipline, nature, reflection, contemplation, movement, fear, intuition, prayer and patience. (To name a few.)

These creative principles and practices, these life principles and practices, have changed me.

Journaling that grew into blogging that grew into e-book publishing. A once tentative desire to capture beauty and light with a camera - photography, to draw with light - has now become an extension of who I am and how I view and relate to the world. Having the imagination to dream, and then the courage to create the life I now live with my family.

Creative living, all of it.

Nurturing Creativity was my attempt at sharing that with the world, mothers specifically, in a down-to-earth, accessible way. There is so much more I wish I could share on creativity and creating the life you want to live but I am but one mama, one writer, one photographer. 

And so I am always on the lookout for others. Mothers who live creatively and will encourage you do likewise.

This is why I'm so happy to introduce you to Christina Rosalie and her new book A Field Guide to Now: Notes on Mindfulness and Life in the Present Tense .

Why do I value the words of mothers, especially, on the subject of creativity? (Or any other subject for that matter?)

Because mothers know what it's like to live with the constant tension of not quite enough time. They understand the beauty (and frustration) of messy children underfoot. They know sleep deprivation and bone-tired. Make art? I just want to get some sleep, thank you very much!

I feel worn thin like the fabric of a blanket too used, too loved, too folded and unfolded to meet the needs of other people's daily lives.

And in spite of those realities and others, which always seem to involve not enough or too much, mothers also long for significance in their work of raising children and to see the beauty in the daily grind. And every mother I know longs to live fully present in the now of her life even though she is always looking ahead to and planning for the future. What is raising children if not an act of faith for a hopeful future?

My days feel endlessly trivial, yet endlessly full. I end up doing one thing, to do the next, to do the thing after that, to end with bedtime. Only then does the small reel of my own life finally begin to unwind and play. Yet all of it is important. Everything I'm doing needs to be done. Yet nothing can wait or be dropped just yet.

So how?

How do we discover our creative selves? How do we make time for our creative selves? How do we stay faithful to the work we're called to do, the relationships we're committed to and still grow into who we want to be become? How do we live, right here, right now, and move forward into the life we want?

What matters is simply this: your intent to claim the day with gusto and bravery and longing. What matters is waking up and asking, What can I be today?, and then devoting a small handful of moments to this task of wonderment. That is all.

Christina's book helps you discover the answer to these questions. Your answers.

Her book is visually beautiful, a sharing of her own creativity. It is written as a field guide to creative, mindful living grounded in the present moment.

Stop thinking in terms of what you think is possible. The odds are just numbers. The best things happen if you let them. Begin with saying yes. All creative work is conceived this way-with saying yes, and then persevering until the amazing and terrifying moment when you must trust the universe to reach out and accept with open palms whatever you've brought forth.

Each chapter of the book starts with a beautiful and intimate essay revolving around Christina's inner journey in the context of family life. A life firmly rooted in relationship, the natural world, and the turning of the seasons. You can understand why I loved these essays so much. 

The chapter then ends with an observation, an assignment, a writing or reflective prompt. Something to help you apply her words to your own life.

These applications at the end of each chapter would be a great personal growth study if you used them that way. Or simply use them as points of reflection.

Whatever the work is that you long to do, do it today without excuses. Involve your children if that is the only way. My studio is always a riot of snippets, their paintings always strewn about my floor. Begin with pouring yourself wholly into whatever you are doing, and trust that momentum will gather, that resources will arrive.

Opportunity will find you.

Christina's book is poetic, but not obtuse. It never left me scratching my head. It's part inspiration and part application (if you choose to use it that way) but it's wholly understandable for us literal types.

And like I mentioned already, it's beautiful. Even the paper feels nice. I think it would make a great gift for yourself or a woman you love. You don't have to be a mother to appreciate her words, but as a mother I appreciate them all the more.

The very fact that I am not always at the center of my own life is what spurs me to acknowledge the only Someday I'll ever have is right now, and to dig in. Having children forces me to consider my life through the urgent lens of the present, and under that intense regard my creative work continues to surface, as persistent and indisputable as my need to breathe.

My own copy of A Field Guide to Now is liberally tagged at my many favorite passages. Some of which I've shared here.

Christina's book is beautiful and soul nourishing. It's all here. The inspiration to dream, the challenge to be present in your everyday life, to have the courage to create and the bravery to take action: right now.

Thank you Christina for this gorgeous book for women and mothers; for those of us longing for creativity, meaning and mindfulness in our lives.

Christina is graciously giving one lucky FIMBY reader a set of 12 art cards featuring her own mixed media art. Lucky you!

To enter the giveaway for these cards please leave a comment, and if you feel comfortable doing so, share one thing you feel holds you back from living creatively, right now. (PS. I bet Christina's book addresses that very thing.) I'll close the giveaway Monday, November 12th.

 

Embarrassed to add after the fact (post-publishing) that Christina has a beautiful website and if you want to learn more about her book and follow her blog you should check it out. Sorry Christina that I forgot that originally.

Today's post is a review for Reading Horizons. In my last post I told you the story of how we discovered Laurent's dyslexia and how we are dealing with that in a homeschool learning environment.

Reading Horizons is the program we are currently using to help our dyslexic son learn to read.

What is Reading Horizons?

Reading Horizons is a full spectrum English language literacy program, i.e. reading instruction. The company offers software and direct instructional materials to support reading instruction from beginner to struggling adults in both school and home settings.

The program we are using specifically is the Reading Horizons At Home Ages 10 to Adult online software.

Our Experience with Reading Horizons

I was asked earlier this spring to try Reading Horizons and potentially write a review. This was an interesting development since I don't normally use a lot of packaged materials for our elementary homeschool curriculum, which I explained in this post. Nor do I write a lot of product reviews.

It's very ironic then that at the time I was asked to try this product I was looking for something to help Laurent with his reading.

Even so, I was hesitant. I had never heard of Reading Horizons and wasn't sure exactly what I'd be getting myself and Laurent into if we agreed to try it.

I'm glad I decided to give it a go. And very pleased this program landed in our laps, quite literally, when it did. It's just what we needed and at the right time.

Program Specifics

We are using the online version of the Ages 10 to Adult software. Reading Horizons also offers hardcopy software.

All you need is an internet connection and the online software does all the teaching and record keeping for you. Each time we login the program remembers where we are and guides us through the lessons. I don't have to plan, prepare or otherwise teach any aspect.

Our subscription gives us access to the online software for a full year. I can set up accounts for multiple students but we're only actively using the program for Laurent. Brienne follows along for fun.

I'll let you explore the Reading Horizons site for yourself to see what the program actually teaches. That's beyond the scope of this review.

What I like about Reading Horizons

1. It's working.

The most important thing in my mind it that Reading Horizons is working for our son. What do I mean by that exactly? Laurent's reading skills, both in the sessions and in day to day living are improving, noticeably.

I can't say Reading Horizons will work for your struggling reader. There are so many other factors in helping struggling learners, including excellent nutrition, overall home environment, adequate physical activity, etc. I can't guarantee Reading Horizons will work for you like it has for us but the company offers a Free Trial as well as 100% satisfaction guarantee. You can't lose.

2. Great support.

I had a lot of reservations about using Reading Horizons. Most of my reservations relate to the fear and uncertainty I feel as parent helping my dyslexic son learn to read. It's scary and unknown territory. So add an unfamiliar computer program on top of that and ack! I was very cautious.

The Reading Horizons representative I've worked with has been very helpful. Maybe it's just because I'm writing this review! I like to think this kind of support is available for all their customers - I sure hope so.

Reading Horizons also offer free webinar language training for parents. I was all set to do a dyslexia specific training session this June but our Montréal plans got in the way. I like having access to this support, especially as a home educator with limited access to professional development and training. 

3. The program does all the work.

This is huge benefit for a busy homeschooling parent. I've tried for years to help Laurent learn to read. I chronicled all that in my previous post. I reached the point where I needed help.

With Reading Horizons, not only do I get help, but I don't have to research, prepare, or teach any lessons. I do however, sit down with Laurent for each of his sessions, to watch his progress for myself and to guide him if he's confused with the user interface.

4. Learner-directed pace and parent overrides.

I was really hesitant about using a computer program because it's important to me that Laurent goes at his own pace. Reading Horizons totally allows for that. Our strategy is to do 1/2 hour sessions, four times a week. We haven't kept to this strictly with all our traveling and our move this summer but because the program requires no prep on my part (yeehaw!) and is online, we can pick it up whenever and wherever we have an internet connection.

What I also appreciate about Reading Horizons is that I can override sections. Now, this isn't recommended and I've only done it once but this is important in my mind. The program has to fit the learner, not the other way around. Reading Horizons is very structured and I want Laurent to proceed sequentially through all the lessons, but I also feel as the parent I should have control to do what's best for my child. This is why I homeschool after all!

5. The choice of online or hardcopy.

I like using an online version because it's less clutter in my home and less stuff I have to store and maintain. However, this limits me to one year of access. I'm not sure about renewal fees. I'm pretty sure we'll be through the program within one year though.

6. The technology works.

Call me quaint but I am amazed that the technology to deliver such high quality instruction right into our home actually works. I love the internet. We haven't experienced any problems with the software, which I appreciate considering I don't need to complicate this process any more than necessary for my struggling reader.

Giveaway

I'm so excited to partner with Reading Horizons to offer a giveaway of the online reading program for Ages 10 to Adult. The same product we've been using.

The winner of this giveaway will get a 180 day subscription to the program, a value of $179! This is fabulous deal.

If you decide to buy the program I think the one year subscription is a better price, for just $20 more you get a whole year of access to the program.

Because this is an online program this giveaway is open to residents all over the world. Yippee for online resources!

To enter your name in the giveaway just leave a comment.  This giveaway is now closed.

Want more chances to win?

I am writing this review in collaboration with some other wonderful homeschool bloggers. There are ten of us all together, sharing our experiences and offering the giveaway.

Each of these homeschool bloggers offer her own unique perspective on Reading Horizons. So, if you're not sure this is the right program for your family, check out what the other homeschoolers have to say. And be sure to enter their giveaways also!

If you're a social media person there is a twitter party happening August 30th. This is an online gathering hosted by iHomeschoolNetwork and sponsored by Reading Horizons. There will be discussion about motivating reluctant readers, ways to boost reading comprehension, and strategies to help struggling readers. And there's prizes (smile).

The giveaway for the 180 day subscription ends Monday, August 27th. 

Giveaway now over, but you can still get a trial version of Reading Horizons. 

As I mentioned already, I was given Reading Horizons for review. I was also compensated for my time in writing this review. I just signed on as a Reading Horizons affiliate. (I was pleasantly surprised to find out they had an affiliate program. I love being an affiliate for products and services our family uses and recommends.) You can read my full disclosure and privacy policy here.

Last winter I read the popular parenting book Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids. I wrote a short review of it also, which you can read here.

In that review I wrote this short summary:

I definitely recommend (this book) if you are looking for strategies to protect your family life from physical clutter, out of home commitments, outside influences and an overdose of media. Even if you think you've got those things under control it will encourage you to keep on the straight and narrow of enriching your family life with a less is more philosophy of living.

So I was pleased when Kathy Stowell from Bliss Beyond Naptime (I just love that name, I remember living for naptime) approached me about her Simplicity Parenting e-course. For those of you who want more than a book, Kathy is offering a very personal experience to help you apply these principles to your own parenting journey.

The Simplicity Parenting ecourse runs from June 1st to 29th and Kathy is giving away one free registration to a lucky FIMBY commenter.

I asked Kathy to share a bit about her course. Here's what she had to say:

The beauty of this season, filled with the intoxicating promise of simple abundance and cute gardening outfits, is reminding me yet again how simplicity in almost all aspects of life amps up the beauty dial in the complicated world around us.

And this sentiment is especially alive in the principles we will be exploring in my Simplicity Parenting ecourse beginning June 1st.

This ecourse will explore the principles outlined in Kim John’s Payne inspiring book "Simplicity Parenting" where the antidote to the effects of the increasing speed of life and pressure to aquire more stuff and activities to our children’s childhood is to slow down, take a moment to meditate on the values we want to embrace in our homes and how to take the small steps toward making these heart felt changes.

This four week experience will be akin to meeting up for a mama only coffee or tea break with a bunch of other like-minded, simplicity seeking mammas and crafting out together values to revisit, strategies to play with and dreams to dream up then celebrate together with. Mama tribe time!

With the teachings from this course you will feel more peace, flow and connection and much support from me and course participants. To check out the details visit www.blissbeyondnaptime.com.

Lots of simplicity, beauty and connection is waiting just around the corner. Not to mention a video of me gushing about this great passion of mine with a gnome hat on.

~~~

Thank you Kathy for offering this course to a FIMBY reader and the world at large.

If you're new to Kathy's blog you'll want to go check it out. Her family lives in a strawbale house on a seven acre hobby farm at the edge of a quaint mountain town (swoon). Kathy's blog offers a glimpse into her family's simple, slow-living life and regularly dishes up "soulful strategies for creative families".

At Bliss Beyond Naptime you can also find Kathy's e-book Self Care for Soulful Mothering, and two sewing e-courses. She is one beautiful, creative mama.

To enter your name for this giveaway leave a comment. Giveaway closes Monday, May 28ths. Comments now closed, Mel is the winner.

PS. There's no more captcha requirements for commenting. Yay!

If you don't see your comment right away, give it a couple minutes. We installed new anti-spam, non captcha commenting and comments take some time to show up. Thanks for your patience.