Monthly Archives: May 2016

How I Get Free Stuff to Review

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Influenster Voxbox

Of all the things I call my hobbies, my favorite one is reviewing products.  I am not sure how I started doing this, but I do know I signed up for Smiley360 and BzzAgent first.  These are both awesome, and I kind of messed up around Thanksgiving by not doing a review I REALLY wanted to do, and now I am not getting Smiley products.  Do not do that.

There are never endless streams of products to review.  You get sent surveys for these two, and you fill them out, they match you to a campaign.  Be very honest.  Then, when you get your product and review it, be honest with that, too.

Sometimes, the reviews have to be on the page for the product.  Sometimes you just post on social media.  It is pressure free, you always get plenty of time, and the product is always free. Some of the main rules with these two are fill out your profile and keep active.  All of this is super easy.

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Another Voxbox

There are also sites that do a party type of situation.  You invite people over to review products.  The only one I used was House Party.  That one was not my style, but you can get a whole party going for free on this one.  They have what they call Chatterboxes, which I have done, that are independently.

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Smiley 360 box

Of all of the sites that do only free products to review, my personal favorite is Influenster. Influensteuses your social media pull to give you products to review, and they send out what they call a Voxbox.  These are amazing.  They may be full of products, food, whatever there is for you to sample for this particular box.  If I could only do one more site, this would be it.  The key to this one is also staying active.

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BzzAgent Box

I have found all of these to be the only ones I have ever gotten any products to review through, and I think I am pretty much signed up with all of them.  I got one offer from Swaggable for a review, but the product has not been sent, and I have no more information on that one.  I would not hold my breath on this one.  They offer thousands of products, and I signed up for most of them, yet they have not sent even the one they said they would.

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BzzAgent product

The thing to remember is these products are free.  Do not pay for any of them, unless they are giving you a coupon and you actually want to cover the rest of the cost.  Do not send that money to anyone, use the coupon at the retailer.  Remember the product is for your review.  That is why you have received it.  Be honest.  Do not say something is wonderful if it is not, do not say it is horrible if it is wonderful.  Keep an open mind.  Try new things.  All of these can help you get more campaigns.  Good luck to you, and have fun.

 

How I Started Homeschooling in Texas….. Again

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With the way things are in our society, and the way children are bullied, my children, it became necessary for me to homeschool.  Again.

Homeschooling in Texas is pretty easy.  It is the getting there part that is so hard.  You put up with the system, and the fact that your child is probably falling through a crack or two, and you try to keep them in.  There is always a desire to keep them in.  Then, one day, you get a call about your Autistic child being found curled up in a ball on the bathroom floor and they blame the child.  Obviously, it is a sensory issue.  We call it denning.  Yes, that is a thing.  They do it.

Homeschool in Texas is a fairly easy process.  You pull out the child.  To do this, you choose a curriculum. You notify the school, and you start.  I guess that is a vague explanation, so here is how I did it.

If you want to homeschool your child in Texas, you need permission from NO ONE.  The decision is yours, and yours alone.  There are so many curriculum choices out there.  There are faith based ones, there are non-faith based ones, there are every kind and type.  There are free ones, there are bank breakers.  There are also public schools like K12 that are only homeschool in the capacity that you are public schooling in your home.  They still do the silly tests we all stress over, there is still mandatory attendance laws they conform to.  The classes are all Houston ISD through K12.  My oldest went this route.  It is great for a determined and disciplined child.  The rest, not so much.

This is the Texas Homeschool Coalition’s page.  Before you do anything, join them.  They will have your back in all you do, and if you pay and join, they have attorneys to handle truancy claims after withdraw and CPS claims of people who wonder why your kid is not in school.

The second thing you do there is pick a local group.  They are listed in the THC’s site.  Contact them.  Join them.

In order to WITHDRAW your child, you must notify the school in writing on their last day of attendance.  When I did this by email, as law requires, Lizzie’s school sent me an email back saying they would miss her.  Matt and Sam’s school called me and told me that I must physically go to the school to fill out papers and withdraw.  This is completely untrue.  Since I had joined the Texas Homeschool Coalition, they told me to send this letter, as written by the Commissioner, from the TEA on homeschooling.  Do not go to or call the school.  This is apparently very important.

When you finished all of this, the true fun begins.  You are in control of how and what your child learns, and who and what they are exposed to.  This means you can teach your children in a safe and non-violent atmosphere, and in our case, on the level in which the child is actually learning.  I will share our math nightmare as soon as I can talk about it while thinking clearly.

Everyone keeps screaming what is wrong with this country.  Some say we removed God.  Others, we can no longer hit our kids.  I believer they are dead wrong on the hitting.  I also believe that removing the pledge and prayer, we also removed any show of respect and allegiance most of the kids now-a-days ever see.  There just isn’t any.  And, I am an Agnostic.  They no longer respect anyone or anything, or themselves.  People are still hitting kids.  As a result, kids are still hitting and hurting each other. I believe the actual problem is not only the breakdown of the family, but the drive to be so materialistic that we no longer raise our children.  Other people have had and continue to have these jobs as we shame the housewife.  Moms are important.  Family is important.  We really should remember that.  With all the things you cannot control, this is one that maybe, you really can.  Society is not always right.  Moms usually are.

 

Sam’s Favorite Meal With Veggies

With children with sensory issues, finding a food they will enjoy that is healthy can be a real battle.  We have battled through an, I only want Raman phase, then chased that one with a hot and spicy Cheetos, and ended with everything must have spicy peppers.  In all of this, there really was little to no nutritional value, and the kids were never really full.

Sometimes choosing battles means all out war, regarding health and healthy choices.  An easier road, though, is involving the kids in some creativity, and allowing them in the kitchen.  When I did this, the battle became barely a struggle.

If you have picky kids, you know they basically have to make that choice to eat.  You cannot force it without causing just misery to all parties, so this is our solution in our home.

Preheat your oven to 350
Call in your children
Have them pick a meat of their choice, we do fish or chicken
then have them pick out veggies (we have used fresh or a bag of frozen green beans)
have veggie stock ready, or chicken stock

I usually use two pans.  I get fresh veggies now, I combine bell peppers of different colors, some mushrooms, some onion, garlic, tomato.  I have even used Rotel and corn.  Put that in the bottom of the pan.  Place the meat on top.  The next step is why I use 2 pans.  Let the kids pick out their own seasoning.  These kids pick Cayenne and black pepper.  They use a lot.   Finish with making sure there is some liquid in the bottom of the pan.  I use veggie stock.  Then I cover it with foil and I bake it for about an hour for chicken and maybe half an hour for fish.  It really is good, but the kids think it is amazing because they made it.  I am sure you could use potatoes or anything you wanted to use, I just usually try to stick with the peppers and mushrooms.  I love the flavor, and they do not mind it when they helped make it.  Simple and easy is so much better when you have kids who have special needs, and making them a part of everything is so important.  I hope you and yours enjoy this as much as we do.


Why I do not Spank my Kids

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The most sociopathic, narcissistic, controlling, and insecure people I ever met in my life were spanked, yet I hear the argument coming from people with good intentions repeating that that spanking is the reason for our messed up society.   According to the Academy of Pediatrics, Guidance For Effective Discipline, 80% of criminals grew up in a violent household.

I do not ever remember being hit as a child.  My mother slapped me one time when I was 14 years old.  Now, I am not going to claim that I turned out just fine.  I am not going to pretend I did all the right things and I made the best decisions.  What I can say is I have never been in a physical altercation.  I do not hit anyone out of anger.  I have never had a child cower down before me afraid of what I am going to do next.  I have witnessed that, and nothing is worse than a broken human being.

Society is messed up.  It has been messed up.  I wonder if the people who blame parents who do not spank actually take time to really look at our society, and the shifts in our roles in our homes and elsewhere.  The most important thing when crime was lower was family.  Families stuck together.  They raised their children, the communities were involved.  Now, that is not the case.  Parents are absent, the ones who are present are often stressed and tired.  The kids are looking for attention.  If your child acts out, they will get that attention.  How you deal at that moment, as a parent’ forms your child.  This forms their self esteem.  This is a moment you cannot get back, and when you choose to deal with it in an angry and violent manner, you cannot ever change that reaction.  No one looks back in their old age and thinks I should have hit my kid more.

Your children actually do not belong to you.  They are not your property.  They are individuals who will make individual decisions.  We look down on societies who treat women the very way we treat kids.  We are here to empower and equip our children as we best know how so they can become functional and productive members of society.  Hitting is not the way our society should function.  Every day, this world more violent.  Every day, you hear a story of horrific crimes.  Our society is breaking down.  Not spanking our kids is not what is contributing to that breakdown.

What if we actually started to respect children and their feelings?  What if we sat down with them like we would any other human being, in a dignified manner, in a non-controlling way, and told them which parts of their behavior needed to be modified in order for things to be easier on them?  What if we allowed them to say the same of us?  What if parenting actually became about what was best for the kids, not the parents? Maybe if we saw children as actual people, they could change an otherwise bleak future we are facing.  Maybe positive parenting is the key to a stable future in a world where too little time is spent between parent and child.  I know it sure couldn’t hurt anything to try.

I know many people ask, how do I discipline my kids?  Well, I do not know.  I agree time out does not work.  I even agree grounding is not very practical.  I also know I do not have to discipline my kids, nor can I think of one thing they ever did that warranted me hitting them as a punishment.  I tell them what I expect of them.  They always do it.  When I have an issue, we discuss it.  They know they can come to me, and they do come to me, but I cannot remember the last time anyone actually needed to be punished.  There is no sibling rivalry in my home.  There hasn’t been between Matt and Sam for most of their lives.  Matt and Lizzie used to fight a lot, but that was around two years ago.  There are no arguments between my children.  My kids take turns on their own.  I never have to intervene.  They say please and thank you, yes ma’am and no ma’am.  What I can guarantee you is I do the same to them.  It is reciprocity.  It may just be that my speeches on why I am disappointed really bore the crap out of my kids.  I am not sure.  What I am sure of is that it works.  It isn’t perfect and neither is my family, but it works, and I never have to raise my hand.

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Best Biscuits I Ever Made

Some nights, the kids and I get a little in the mood for a impromptu snack, and I usually like to make them myself.  I am a major Bisquick fan, I always loved making drop biscuits with it.  Last night, while going through random recipes, we got an idea to make some jalapeno biscuits with cheese.  Much to my dismay, I realized we were out of cheddar, but had random cheese.  Here is our improvisation kind of adapted from the garlic biscuit recipe from the box and what we had in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 350

Mix

2 cups Bisquick
2/3 cup milk
1 whole fresh Jalapeno, diced
about a cup of cheese

Bake that for about 10 minutes.

Like I said, I was out of cheddar cheese.  I also had 3 kids with me, so they do get creative.  We used one slice of American, one Havarti, one slice of blue, and i had to put in Velveeta for Lizzie.  The biscuits were amazing.  It really would not matter what kind of cheese you use.  They were also all gone in one setting.  I am not sure if that is a good or bad thing, but it was definitely fun.

Our Skittles Strawberry Cake

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I was asked by Skittles through Crowdtap how I incorporate Skittles into summer snacks.  I had to really think on this, I have never incorporated skittles into anything.  So, I ran to Walmart and I grabbed what I think was a $.94 box of sour skittles, a strawberry cake mix, and cream cheese icing.

This entire cake cost me less than $5.

So, as  I was mixing the batter,I followed the instructions and also dropped in a half a box of skittles.  This was not a lot.  As you can see from the picture, you can really only distinguish one of the Skittles.

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After the cake baked and cooled, we covered it in the cream cheese icing and I put skittles across the top of only one side.  Those things are incredibly sour.

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The cake turned out great.  The skittles actually melted into little tart colored places in the cake. I think this was a pretty fun and cheap recipe for the kids and myself.  I would really suggest if your kids like super sour things, you try this.  Here is a picture of where a green and yellow one melted into the cake.

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