Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Today's prayer request: West Texas is still on fire. The wind is outrageous, and I can't even remember when we last had rain.

Lowe's grocery store has Minute Rice Ready Rice packages of two on sale for $1.79ea. A dear friend gave me some coupons. One coupon was for $1.00/2 and the others were for .50/1. I used all of them. To my surprise, the 50 cent coupons were doubled, so I got each package for 79 cents. When I came home, I opened one package to heat up for the Princesses, and there was another 50 cent coupon! I opened every package, cut out the coupons, and went back to Lowe's for more. Hootie hoo! Of course, I can repeat this cycle again tomorrow, with the 50 cent coupons that I just acquired from the second trip. My kids will love these, and I have a baby niece coming to visit this weekend that will like to snack on them as well.

Most of you, as homeschoolers, are working on wrapping up this school year. We don't plan on stopping for the Summer, but we are finishing up a couple of things. For example, Abbey is doing her makeup work for math. This is her chance to practice and retake certain areas that she didn't do well on the first go around. Melody is working out of Contemporary's GED Short Course book, which is serving as an amazing review for material that she has been working with throughout the year. She won't get a GED for homeschool graduation, but I will give her a sample GED test for the sake of the scores in each subject to put in her files.

We are almost finished with our book about the men that signed the Declaration of Independence, and have made it to the middle of Great Expectations. Great Expectations is so good, that the girls often ask me to continue reading. Hopefully, when we finish the book, we will be able to find a movie to round out that lesson.

Baby Tarja is learning her ABC's and 123's via Mobigo and Youtube. She also loves to have stories read to her, and tends to get jealous when I'm reading lessons to Melody and Abbey. I taught colors and numbers to Melody and Abbey by playing UNO. Maybe it is time to break out the UNO cards for Tarja. I love our little homeschool!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tide Stain Release In Wash Booster

I was fortunate enough to be one of the ladies chosen to take the Tide Stain Release Challenge.

First of all, it has recently dawned on me that our clothes don't often have stains. This could be due to some OCD type behavior on my part. The worst example being that all of my babies learned very, very early to wipe their faces after every bite of baby food. Picture a six month old expertly swiping her tiny mouth with a napkin, and you will either laugh or shake your finger at me.

At any rate, the item that seems to defy me every day is the white sock. White socks are their own breed of laundry. Sometimes I wonder if white socks would get dirty even if we never wore them? That sounds like a good homeschool science experiment.

I began to take notice of the white socks before and after using Tide Stain Release In Wash Booster, and discovered that even my husband's work socks are noticeably whiter than they were before. Therefore, Tide has lived up to their promises once again.

Easter Fun

We have a little children's group at church, and I got the blessing of being able to choose the song that they sang for Easter Sunday. "Celebrate Jesus Celebrate" was the most obvious choice, because it's my favorite, AND it's about the resurrection.

My brother in law's family stayed the weekend, and we had barbeque two days in a row. My favorite!

I taught my brother in law's wife how to make tie dyed eggs They are so easy to do, and when you peel the eggs, the whites are just as pretty as the outside shells were. Our deviled eggs were beautiful.

On both Saturday and Sunday, we took the kids to the park so that they could expend some of their energy. It worked like a charm, because no child had to be asked to go to bed at a decent hour, and the Easter bunny was generous.

Of course, I have to leave this holiday with a little bit of coupon spice. I always give my children something for Easter. This Easter, they received a whole bunch of Snickers eggs that were free from recent Walgreens/coupon deals. At HEB, I bought Tarja a neat wheelbarrow. With the purchase of the wheelbarrow, I got free plastic eggs (which I filled with pennies), free Easter grass, a pretty stuffed lamb, and a chocolate bunny. I bought food coloring instead of an egg decorating kit, because food coloring can be used all year for different projects, whereas the Easter egg kit would be trash after the holiday. My guests helped with meat for the BBQ, and the side dishes and snacks all came from my ever growing stockpile. As careful as I have always tried to be with money, I believe that this holiday can go down as one of my most successful, because of all of the fun that we had, and the little expense that it took to make it great.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Covergirl NatureLuxe

How many of my readers love makeup? Makeup and I have been two peas in a pod since about the 6th grade. As a Bzzagent, I am anxiously awaiting my Covergirl NatureLuxe kit to arrive so that I can try this product. It being Covergirl, I know that I will love it, but so that I can get the Bzzz out to my friends and family, these are the results that I am expecting from this new product.

• 3 out of 4 professional make-up artists would recommend the new
COVERGIRL NatureLuxe Collection to their clients
• 8 out of 10 professional make-up artists agree NatureLuxe Silk Foundation
provides flawless coverage and a light, luxurious feel
• 9 out of 10 make-up artists would recommend NatureLuxe Gloss Balm to
clients for a sheer color with a non-sticky, lightweight feel

As soon as my free sample package arrives, I will try out the Covergirl NatureLuxe and let you know what I think.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

We have a lot of company coming over this weekend. I don't have to worry about what to feed them, because my successful coupon trips have supplied us with enough food and supplies. It's amazing!

We have twirling practice this morning to make up for one that was cancelled due to our crazy, West Texas winds.

My husband is off work this weekend. Hootie hoo!

We only have one more week to prepare for Melody's Sweet 16, but I think that everything is just about ready.

Happy Easter!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Princess Awards

Princess Melody and Princess Abbey, as of today, have both completed the requirements to earn their Gold Heritage Award from Youth Patriotism There are too many details to list here, but we have completed a very extensive unit study about the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, with special focus on the signers. One interesting point that we have learned over and over again is that the majority of our founding fathers were homeschooled for one reason or another.

In addition to that, both girls have earned the Active Lifestyle Challenge award for doing things like baton twirling, swimming, walking, and household chores.

Congratulations ladies!

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Truth About Homeschooling

1. Keeping your house clean with all of your children home all day long, every day, is like shoveling sand against the tide.

2. If you are new to homeschooling, you might want to learn how to coupon and shop the sales, because almost all meals will be eaten at home. At least, your kids won't be subjected to school cafeteria food.

3. There will be days when you think that your "on" button is stuck, or that you run in two speeds, "fast" and "faster". However, you have a great deal of control over what activities and chores are most important to you. You are your own boss.

4. You are responsible for all expenses related to homeschooling. BUT, you are in control of those expenses, and can find many ways to homeschool at low or no cost. We started homeschooling without any money at all, and I think that it actually made us better homeschoolers.

5. In reference to number 4, you will still have to pay school taxes, even though your family will benefit nothing from the school for which you support. Keep this in mind when area schools start complaining that homeschoolers cause them to lose funding. The fact is that schools cause homeschoolers to lose funding. I would rather spend those dollars on educating my own children.

6. Homeschool support groups are often disappointing. You may join a few of them, and get a new friend here and there, but don't expect the group to do much together as expected.

7. In reference to number 6, you might get a lot more satisfactory experiences from socializing with your church and scout groups, than with homeschool support groups.

8. There are many, many ways to organize your homeschool. The needs of every family are different. What works for one, might not work for another.

9. My favorite homeschool blog is Hacking High School. I have many favorite homeschool blogs, but this one is extra special, because it is written by a homeschool graduate.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Sunday is church day, and will be coupon day as soon as I get home from church. My only concern right now is that my husband might not get home from work in time for us to get to church, but I still have an hour and a half to think about that.

I have a Sunday only subscription to the newspaper. After I look through the one that comes to my house, and if I like the coupons that came with it, then I will go to the grocery store and buy 5 or 6 more newspapers. What do I do with all of those newspapers that I don't need?

I use newspaper to wash my windows, and use the funny papers for gift wrap. In fact, I wrapped a baby cousin's birthday present yesterday, and discovered that I can also make really neat bows with them as well.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


I got up early, and my blood sugar was a little high, so I went out couponing instead of having breakfast. That's crazy, but couponing is more fun than eating.

We stopped at a yard sale, and picked up a book about face painting, and a dress for Melody.

I got to spend a little bit of time cleaning the house (you can't tell it by this time of night), and reorganized my growing stockpile. If we ever have an emergency, we will be able to survive on breakfast cereal, Pringles, and macaroni and cheese.

Melody and Abbey went to see Soul Surfer with their youth group. They both said that it was a very sad, but wonderful movie.

My brother in law and his family came to visit for a little while. This gave us a chance to talk about plans for Melody's sweet 16. My brother in law will be the DJ/Master of Ceremonies, and his wife's aunt is making the cake.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Today was my Walgreens/CVS/HEB/Sams Club shopping day. At Sams, I just bought gas and test stips for my glucometer, and was given a really nice cookbook just for walking through the door. At HEB, I got well over $150 worth of groceries for $86. This includes two 20 pound bags of Purina dog food. Hubs seemed happy to help me, possibly because I was getting his favorite foods. We went to CVS, where I got my free antibacterial product from their facebook offer. Hubs got two bottles of water. I paid about $3.00 for the water, and got $13 back in Extra Care Bucks. Our last stop was Walgreens. At Walgreens, Hubs got a little bit nervous. I separated everything in my basket into several separate transactions so that I could get the most deals and register rewards possible. He looked in my basket, and decided that he should go wait in the car for me. Even so, I paid $18 for $50 worth of products. This calculation also includes the $14 in Register Rewards that I can use on my next trip.

Abbey had softball practice, and Melody went with her boyfriend and his mother to choose the tuxedo for her sweet 16. Tarja had a dollar, and had the pleasure of buying two candy bars with it. In the midst of all this, my brother in law's wife called to say that they are coming to see us tomorrow. Hootie hoo!

Now that the household is somewhat settled down, I can get to work on ChaCha. The house isn't straightened, and I ordered out for dinner, which is the usual state of things on Friday.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Thursday started with a very early, impromptu trip with my neighbor to her eye doctor. Before I got home, I found out that Hubs decided that I should take Princess Abbey to have her injured hand inspected by a doctor.

Thankfully, Abbey's hand is badly bruised, but not broken.

The wind is crazy here, and I had to cancel our twirling practice. Therefore, I spent some time clipping coupons from an All You magazine, and filed a few expired coupons into an envelope that will be sent to the military coupon program.

To write these things down, it doesn't seem as though I have done very much, but most of the day is already gone, and it's about time to make supper. Ground beef is thawing, and I have some leftover corn tortillas from another meal, so this might be taco night or chili night. I haven't made a decision, but home made chili will be kinder to my blood sugar than tacos.

Prayer request: My area is battling many, many wild fires. So many people have already lost their homes. Other people living away from the fires are suffering respiratory issues because of the smoke in the air. We haven't had rain in months.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Around 3a.m. my hubs and I had a conversation this morning, that was quite sad. The conversation was about how his job is nearing an end. The reasons that it is ending don't make any sense at all, but as we have been learning in recent Bible studies, God doesn't do things in the way that we would do them, and therefore some things that have come down directly from God just don't make sense to our human minds.

I went on a short couponing trip this morning. At Dollar General, I scored four Dawn dish washing liquids for 75 cents each. At Lowe's grocery store, I got two packages of Hormel Little Sizzlers for 45 cents each, and paid $3.00 for two bottles of Sprayaway glass cleaner (which is one of Hub's favorite products). I also picked up two packages of tin foil that were marked for 79 cents, and it turns out that the sale on that was over, but someone forgot to take down the sign, so I was still cheerfully given the sale price. When the mail arrived, I got a Parents magazine that contained several coupons, and a booklet from Home Made Simple that had a coupon on every page for things that I love such as the Magic Eraser. HOotie hoo!

Princess Abbey is nursing a hand that she hurt at softball practice yesterday. Tarja is napping after a torrential temper tantrum over having to the surrender the computer for Abbey's school work. Princess Melody busied herself with more of her beautiful artwork, and is now sitting next to me with her studies.

On the homeschool front, we decided to do our history and literature first. For now, and for the next few weeks, we are reading a book about all of the men that signed the Declaration of Independence, and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Abbey is finishing up her 6th grade math course, Tarja is learning her ABC's, and Melody is reviewing all of her material as hard as she can. Spring fever is setting in. The Princesses would rather play outside with their dog and daydream than work, but in the words of a great teacher and friend, "We press on...".

See you tomorrow!
Laurel Santiago

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


This day started with the mad rush to get to the library, the store, and get Hub's lunch made before he had to take our only vehicle to work in the next town. I got it all done just in time.

After he left, I swallowed hard and decided to call the doctor to find out what my lab results were from last week. I really, really, didn't feel like I could handle anymore bad news, but something was telling me to call today. Something was telling me to hurry up and call NOW. I called and sat on hold for about 10 minutes, and was tempted to hang up and forget the ugly mess. The nurse finally came on the line and said that ALL of my lab results came back normal. I asked her if she was sure???? She went through and said that my A1C (blood sugar) was slightly over 7, which is down from the 11 that I had before Christmas, and all other issues were just right. The nurse and I had a little time of rejoicing over the phone, and she told me to keep doing whatever it is that I am doing. Please visit, if you want to know about my dietary changes. The owner of the site is a fellow homeschooler, and was surely sent by God to minister to people such as myself.

On the homeschooling front, I have Princess Abbey doing her math on, while Princess Melody is trudging through a refresher writing course to improve potential test scores. Princess Tarja and I read two Alphabet town books, and now she is keeping busy by bothering her sisters while they do their work.

After school, Princess Melody might have a housekeeping job to do for a neighbor, we will all have twirling lessons, and then Princess Abbey has softball practice.

I am thinking strongly of changing our twirling club name from The Sparklers, which was our name in our home town, to Celebration Corps or Celebration Parade Corps. I don't have this solidified in my mind, but I'll let you know when a decision has been reached.

Hope to see you back tomorrow!

Monday, April 11, 2011


Today marks the start of a series, which will simply be titled by the days of the week. I hope that you will join me and comment on each day.

I would like to begin Monday with a prayer request for some observations that I made last night. When I went to a particular store to buy milk, a loud noise startled me. It was a very obviously beaten down man screaming obscenities into his cell phone. He was screaming and acting so violently that I was afraid to get out of my vehicle. From his side of the conversation, someone has hurt his heart in ways that we don't even want to think about. Judging from his apparent position in life, it's not the first time. After I got my milk and started to leave, I saw a man with legs and one arm that can't bend. Usually I see him walking, but this time, he was riding a bicycle. He's horribly thin, and unkept. I've seen him out when the temperature was below freezing. This person has some serious health problems and probably needs home health. As I drive home, I encountered two homeless men. One is often seen walking around with a bicycle and basket loaded with his only belongings. Another was a man that I have not seen before, carrying a backpack. Lord, please do a work in the lives of these four men. I know that their circumstances may be such that man, alone, can't change, but YOU can turn it all around and show them that you are God, and that you have the resources to heal their hearts, their bodies, and their desperate situations. Friends, if you pray, please pray for these four men. I don't know their names, but God does.

Monday, is weekly House Blessing Hour, which will be familiar to you if you like to use I won't go into a lot of details about this special day of the week, since I don't want to take away from Flylady's good work, but if you will go check out her site, you will find out all about it. I take House Blessing Hour a step further, and call it "mindful cleaning". Regardless of how clean I can get my house (keep in mind that we have a toddler tornado running around), I give praise and thanks for my home and all of the good things going on in our lives.

The girls had a successful school day. How can I call it successful if they aren't being graded against their peers? Nobody got into any trouble. Nobody got hurt. Everybody did their lessons without complaints, and everybody got where they needed to go after school, and on time.

Hope to see you back here tomorrow!

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Queen's War

My husband might have to suffer another job change in the near future. This means that our insurance will change.

This means.............if my training in insurance law serves me right.......that this diabetic queen will not have coverage for her diabetes for a period of two years.

This was on my mind when I went to bed last night, and was haunting me again when I woke up this morning.

As I went through my daily routine of blood sugar readings, meds, breakfast, etc. I mentally calculated the cost of each item that I have to use to get through my day.

The greatest expense, of course, is the lab work, second only to the dreaded insulin injections that I have to take every day.


Here are the demands that I am making on my body:

1. My blood sugar is going to be brought under control without the aid of insulin.

2. I will use my newly gained knowledge of dietary effects on blood sugar for the remainder of my days.

3. My body will respond in kind by reactivating all of the systems that have worn down, or never have worked correctly.

4. I am going to enjoy my life with my family, as I have discovered that my blood sugar is lowest when I am happiest, so I am going to be deliriously happy.

In Jesus's Name....

Thursday, April 7, 2011

St. James Creations

Princess Melody is an artist. She is also thirsty for knowledge, which led her to research and find out that our last name, Santiago, means St. James. This information, in combination with her talents, merged together to form St. James Creations. She made her own sign, which she will someday hang in front of her very own store. As for now, it is the default picture on her facebook page.

Right now, she is hosting a giveaway to celebrate her grand opening. If you comment on any one of her pictures, she will enter your name into a drawing. The winner will receive a framed picture from her collection. The winner will be announced Saturday.

Enter here: St. James Creations

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Extreme Couponing

I finally, at long last, got to watch Extreme Couponing on TLC. I truly admire all of the people on the show that were able to get thousands of dollars worth of groceries for pennies. I must say, that I have absolutely no place to put 60 bottles of mustard, BUT the fact that it can be done is just fascinating to me. What's even better is that I am about to watch the third episode of Extreme Couponing, when I previously thought that I had missed the show while we were in church.

Couponing has actually helped me with something far more important than free groceries and toiletries. For reasons that I don't know how to explain, I have had a certain phobia about shopping. It was very hard for me to enjoy shopping for necessities, making shopping for enjoyment an impossibility. I have been known to literally break out in hives during shopping trips. Imagine my trip to purchase my first set of diabetes meds and testing supplies! Spending over $200 dollars for items that I literally can't live without was very painful. Discovering couponing has opened a whole new world for me. Not only have I established some very financially healthy habits, but I have found myself shopping for enjoyment. I have no explanation for the real reason that couponing has been so helpful except that getting what I need for pennies or even FREE is a lot less painful than paying hundreds out of pocket. Also, as a mother, it makes me feel good to know that if I were not able to shop for necessities for whatever reason, many of our needs have already been met via my budding stockpile from my coupon shopping trips. Will I ever bring home 150 Butterfingers or 1,000 boxes of cereal? I'm guessing not. Although I admire those that can do this, I don't have a special room to house my "grocery store", but I do enjoy the peace of mind that having extra supplies can bring.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Free Homeschooling

Do you think that you can't homeschool because your income is limited, or have you started homeschooling and are overwhelmed with the expense?

It would be somewhat unrealistic to believe that one can home educate without any money at all, but here are a few of my "tried and liked" tips to help ease the possible financial burdens of the situation.

1. Visit your local library on a regular basis. Keep yourself informed of the resources that they have available, and be sure to mention to the librarians that you are homeschooling. Many libraries host special events and Summer reading clubs. I personally like to borrow as much material as I can from the library. Because we use the Charlotte Mason approach of living books for most subjects, this has worked out very well for us.

2. Hastings and Barns & Noble will give homeschooling parents an educator's discount. There is a short form to fill out, and you will receive a card.

3. Keep your eyes and ears out for free or no cost community events that your family can enjoy. When you attend a concert, movie, fair, play, etc. save the programs and ticket stubs for student portfolios.

4. Instead of workbooks, I purchase spirals and composition books at the beginning of the year to be used for journals, centuries books, and copywork books. My total out of pocket cost for school supplies per year is normally less than $20.

5. You will have to provide more meals than a public schooling family would normally provide throughout the year, which makes it worth the time and effort to become a coupon mom. This is especially true if you left a full time job to homeschool.

6. A high speed internet connection can be costly, but the savings can be realized through all of the free homeschooling resources available around the internet.

7. Don't forget the importance of play. Board games and even some video games actually cover several important subjects at one time. I always teach colors and numbers by playing UNO.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The ChaCha Queen

A lot of friends and family have asked me about and how they can become ChaCha guides. First of all, ChaCha is a mobile search engine that you can use to text questions from your cell phone, and a human guide will text your answers back to you from his or her home computer.

ChaCha pays up to 20 cents per question answered. That doesn't sound like a lot, but consider how many questions one can answer in a few hours. Treat this like a regular job, and discipline yourself to work 6 or 8 hours throughout the day, and you will gain some easy money.

I treat ChaCha as my full time job, but the fun part about it is that I can get my chores done around the house, homeschool my children, and do numerous other activities, and then log into ChaCha for a break time of sorts. Therefore, I earn money while relaxing. Talk about the ideal work at home situation!

If you want to become a guide, simply go to, and click on "become a guide". Use my email address: as your reference so that we can be team mates. Apply, and you will be invited to take a pre employment test. When you pass your test, you will receive online training, and then you are ready to make some money.