Monday, March 31, 2014

Follow Up on Olde Thompson

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Earlier today, the post I made on Olde Tompson's wonderful customer service went live. This afternoon, the lid to spice bottle they sent me for free as a replacement for the one that was missing arrived. I did not expect a bottle and for it to contain the spice too! Wow! I am blown away! What a refreshing way to be treated by a company! I was so impressed; I had to learn more about the company.

"Olde Thompson was originally started in 1944 as The George S. Thompson Company. Mr. Thompson retired from military duty in Europe, where pepper mills were routinely used. He then founded his company to "introduce" pepper mills to the American market. In the mid 1960's the company was acquired by Douglas Shumway. Olde Thompson is now the largest manufacturer of salt and pepper mills in the world. Every 18 seconds of every day (24 hours a day, 365 days per year), someone buys an Olde Thompson pepper mill.

In the 1980's, Olde Thompson actively began exporting products through foreign distributorships. Olde Thompson pepper mills are now sold in over 30 countries worldwide from France to Japan, to Chile and Israel."

Their pepper mills:
"Exclusive grinding mechanism has a lifetime guarantee. Designed for commercial use. Each mill is assembled by sonic welding -- eliminating screws which can come loose in long term use. Ceramic grinding mechanism is fully adjustable from a coarse to a fine grind."

I plan to purchase an Olde Thompson pepper mill to add to my kitchen. I like the big one because I won't have to refill it as often for my big family, and it will make a nice centerpiece to our dining room table. I am looking forward to the purchase!

A Company with Great Customer Service

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I purchased this spice rack at a second hand shop because it would put the spices I use the most at my fingertips on my food preparation counter. I've wanted one for a long while and could not pass up the opportunity to get one for $10! 

Well, one of the caps was missing the black flip-up lid. I found the manufacturer, Olde Thompson, and wrote them to see if I could purchase a replacement from them. If not, I would try to find one that fit or attempt to fashion my own.

Olde Thompson's fabulous customer service wrote me back very quickly. They were extremely courteous and professional! They also told me they would mail me one for free! Customer service like that is remarkable today! I will be more apt to purchase things from Olde Thompson because I know they will stand behind them! 

Read the follow up here.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

What Teaching is Tickling Your Ears?

2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

This verse does apply to our generation as a whole, but I think the message can go so much deeper if we allow it. Very few look at this verse, let it soak in, look for ways their own ears are being tickled, and start making necessary changes. "Lord, make me righteous and not a bit self righteous." It is just so much easier to believe it is about someone else who needs to change than to do that hard work in our own lives to make choices to live right before the Lord. It takes effort to police our own selves to live more righteously and few of us want to do that any more. "We must realize that it is the failure of Christians to uphold God's moral standards that has led to the spiritual downfall of our nation. The reason we have so much public wickedness in America today is because we have had private wickedness among Christians for generations."

I'll be honest. When I examine myself, I find a lot of work that still needs to be done. The battle between the flesh and the spirit is fierce. Finding yourself with room for improvement is a great place to be, because if you feel you don't have any room to do better, Christ can't use you.

Christians, grow. Get closer to the Lord. Sacrifice your way of doing things for His. The blessings of obedience are so worth having. Teach your children, and then teach them to teach their children. 

Friday, March 28, 2014


I packed up Isaac's things today. The positive pregnancy tests, the ultrasounds, the things we had purchased for him that we didn't donate, the cards from everyone, our hospital bands, his very tiny clothes someone made for babies his size, etc. I had them in a hidden spot in my room and had been avoiding even looking at it afraid it would knock me down again. I got it done and am OK. 

I think of all of my babies every day, and my arms often ache for them. I can still feel Isaac's tiny form and small weight in my arms. I know where my children are and what God promised. God has given me an incredible ministry to hurting women through my losses. I would not have been as effective in helping others, a very bright spot in my life, if I had not had those painful experiences. Those who know Christ fully understand it is possible to experience real joy and peace in the midst of suffering. 

Last month, I spoke to a woman who abruptly exhibited great anguish in a store because her father had just died. I did not know this 60ish year old woman. She just looked up at me and said "My daddy just died." Then she started bawling her heart out. There were no words I could offer her just then because the compassion God has given me for those hurting had me crying with her. But, that is what touched her and gave her strength to go back to work. I think God allowed me to be there at that time and to react in that manner for a reason. I am asking Him to give me a chance to share Him with her soon. It will be interesting to see what my losses have reaped once we are on the other side of Heaven. I believe I will gain far more through Christ than the short period of time my children and I lost together on this earth.

I believe God also has a special plan for mothers and babies who were separated too soon. I believe that because that is His nature...a loving, giving, Father who cares so deeply for and gives good things to His children. In the meantime, I am trying to keep my eyes on Him and am doing my best to focus on serving Him as time marches forward. 

Psalm 37:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

A Busy Mom's Friend: Boiled Eggs

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Boiled eggs are a great thing for a busy mama to have on hand.
They are a nutrient dense food that is quick to make. They can be consumed quickly in the morning or easily carried for lunch later. They are great on the go foods and come in their own wrapper! If Mom needs an energy boost, eggs pack a nice protein punch!*

I have been making between 5 and 7 dozen at a time lately. My husband and children ate them in two days the first time and three days the second! Boiled eggs serve as both meals and healthy snacks. Most of the ones I boil are eaten as snacks by my five youngest but very quickly growing and very physically active children. 

It is a time saver to me to make a big batch at one time. I boil mine in a very large enamelware canner and do two layers with baking soda which seems to help with shell removal. I have no problem with eggs breaking. I bring them to a boil and then turn the stove off and let them sit for 10-15 minutes. Then I pour off the hot water and fill with cold water to cool them faster. I peel mine all at once for my family to save them a step and to help control messes by the younger ones.

I rarely buy junk food, so I allow them to get things like fruit, veggies, and the boiled eggs any time they want it as long as they are not wasteful. 

For breakfasts I package two eggs in a sandwich bag and put it in the fridge with other "ready to go" breakfast items. Clint and Brandon often take theirs to work with them. Amanda and I like the convenience of having something ready in the mornings. For the younger children, I put them in big plastic ice cream containers and let them have them as they want them.

Luke 11:11-13 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Mom Invents Harness to Help Disabled Kids Walk

Mom Invents Harness to Help Disabled Kids Walk: An Israeli mom of a child with cerebral palsy has invented a walking harness that changes the way special-needs kids navigate the world. Debby Elnatan designed a support harness to allow her wheelchair-bound young son Rotem to stand upright. By cinching the top of the...

Good Eats

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KC's Crabs and Cues in Kilmarnock, VA is a favorite spot of ours for their meaty and delicious crab cakes and great service!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sent to My Phone Today

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outside of one of Brandon's offices

Brandon was told by several professionals he'd have to work 2-3 years in a lower job before he could get a job like this. He was also given the advice that getting a degree and certifications were a waste of time. He passed exams, gained the credentials, and proved them wrong! Brandon moved ahead after only 5 months! He worked so hard and was able to take a huge leap forward! I am proud of him for not listening to the naysayers, for his hard work ethic, and for reaching further than the rest. I am also very happy for him and thankful to the Lord for opening a door we were told could not be opened.

Psalm 72:19 Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen and Amen!


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Caleb built it!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

They Love Him

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It's hard on the youngest five to be away from their older siblings all day. I often hear, "When is Amanda getting home?" or "I can't wait until Brandon gets home so I can show him this!!" Brandon barely had time to get home and change before his littlest sisters wanted to play with him. He's their go-to guy for rough-housing. Emily and Hannah want Amanda for snuggles or to do nail painting.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Storms of Life

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Free to use as long as unaltered.
A link back would be appreciated but is not required.
The image is of a storm front over our farm.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Many Eyes For Other's Infirmities

“It is sad to consider that saints should have many eyes to behold one another’s infirmities, and not one eye to see each other’s graces.” Thomas Brooks 

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10

Friday, March 21, 2014

Ring My Bell

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No matter where my family is on the property, they can hear this bell ringing for supper time.

I Corinithians 13:1 
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Fill Out Your ICE Contacts

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I took this picture after rescue arrived. Clint was the first trained responder at a flip over accident tonight. The deputies thanked us for stopping. Clint is amazing in emergencies. Some switch is thrown, and he takes charge and does what is needed. I am encouraging him to get his EMT certification.

An older man rolled his truck after losing traction on the wet road. Witnesses say he was air-born and the truck stood on it's nose for a moment. He is OK with minor injuries, but his and his aunt's only vehicle was totalled. Please pray God heals him and provides a new truck for him and his aunt to drive.

The man asked me to call his aunt for him, but he was so shaken up he couldn't remember her number or her name. He scrolled through his contacts in his phone but couldn't remember which one was her. If his ICE contacts had been filled out, I could have chosen one and called them. REMINDER: Make sure you fill out your ICE contacts asap because in that situation you may not be able to think clearly to get the people you need.


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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

River Rock for Gravel

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I was asked what kind of gravel I use in the bottom of my fish aquariums. I go to Lowes and buy the big bags of river rock for $3-$4 and rinse them repeatedly before using. When I asked someone if this could be used over 20 years ago, they told me it couldn't be used because it would put dirt and bacteria into the aquarium. I figured both of those can be washed away, so I used it. I have not had a single issue with disease or parasites in over 20 years of doing this. The river rock looks more natural and has beautiful colors under the lights. After I rinse them, I shake them to settle the small gravel to the bottom so I can scoop up the larger rocks. The larger rocks form gaps where the fish fry can hide and help the water to flow somewhat better to keep the tank cleaner.

Mischievous Leprechaun

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He was actually being a good boy by working on his high school exam, but he looks mischievous! All of them are growing too quickly for this mama's heart.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Every Step of the Way We Heard It Couldn't Happen. But God Said...

"It is My will."

This story started over 20 years ago...

When Clint said he wanted me to prayerfully consider homeschooling because that was where he felt the Lord leading Him, I thought, "I can't do that." God replied, "You won't. I will do it through you."

When we let others know, people said our children would be lacking in academic and social skills. "They won't be able to get a diploma." God made a way for them to get a high school diploma that is accredited by the same agency that accredits the high school diplomas for all of the schools in our state and region of the country. 

We stopped worrying about social skills when Brandon was seven years old and spent two hours discussing automobiles with a 40 year old who said Brandon was one of the most articulate children he had ever spoken with in his life. "It was like talking with another adult."

We were told homeschooled children couldn't attend college which was already disproved at the time it was said. Even 20 years ago colleges sought out and accepted homeschooled students. 

Then we were told they could not compete with other college students. Both of our oldest children have excelled or are excelling in post-secondary education. Neither had problems making friends, but their professors said they stood out as being very respectful and hard working. 

Brandon was told after graduating college that he'd have to work 2-3 years in a lower position before he'd ever be considered for a job at a higher level. "There are no shortcuts from here to where you want to go. It doesn't happen that way."

When over a dozen friends approached us individually to let us know there was an IT job opening coming soon and suggested Brandon apply, we thought, "The company policy says this can't happen, but we have seen God make a way before."

When Clint's and Brandon's "outstanding level of integrity" was remarked upon as why the company knew there would be "not even a hint of suspicion," we were thankful for the testimony God has given us for Him.

When we were told Brandon "kicked butt" in the many interviews and tests, had the best cover letter, the best resume, had the best credentials of any applicant including those who have worked in the field for 20+ years, and "sold himself" as a skilled IT worker, we thanked God for allowing Brandon to stand out. That was also the moment when I felt those long hours for all of those years spent at the dining room table paid off. Clint and I followed where God led, and God kept His promise to us.

Brandon graduated from college less than a year ago. He has worked very, very hard to earn several IT certifications since graduating. He passed every one of them in one exam sitting. He was awarded an entry level job in his field at a local company that is known for being picky about who it hires. 

Brandon worked hard for his bosses and was given consistent promotions and raises. While he was going through the process for the new job, he was given the systems administration work at the regional jail through his then current job. This helped him in a later interview prove he could do the work at the new job. Even the network layout is the same between the two places. God's timing is amazing!

Before he applied for the new job in December, our family gathered around him and prayed for him to have this job IF it was God's will for him. If it wasn't, we asked God to close the door. The wait for an answer was a long one! 

When he was given the new job, we raised the roof with praise!

No one who wanted him to have the job was able to help Brandon. The people who made the decision were strangers who flew in from Georgia to conduct testing and interviews. Earning this job was 100% God's blessing and favor upon Brandon due to Brandon's hard work and humble attitude.

Today, Brandon starts a very nice position for a very nice salary with a great company with lots of room to move up. God is not limited by people's ideas or expectations!

He is in charge of the systems administration work for two large plants and a few hundred employees. He has two offices, a cubicle, and at least two storage rooms at his disposal. He will have excellent pay with vision, dental and health benefits that start on day one including paid holidays and paid vacation time. They will provide him with the nicest cell phone and computers available. He will have business and travel expense accounts. They will also pay for him to continue his education and attend IT training classes. If the Lord allows him to continue in this position, he will soon make more money than Clint does. That's impressive for a 21 year old! Thank You, Lord!

When I commented about how much more money he'd be bringing home, Brandon said, "Good! I can tithe more to the Lord each week."

Clint and I are at an age where we can see what God was doing so many years ago when He led us to homeschooling. We are humbled that He would do this work through us. We are very thankful for our son's new job. If we, as Christians, follow the Lord and let Him lead us, He will bring us to a place where we can prove our nay-sayers wrong and worship and rejoice in Him. 

Thank you to everyone who has been praying along and rejoicing with us through each IT certification exam passing, promotions at his former job, and successes at each of the many steps in the interview process for the new job. It was a long process!

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Brandon leaving this morning for his new job!
He didn't want his picture taken, 
but let me do it to thank our family and friends for their prayers.

Putting the Home in Homeschool

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Emily doing her lessons with her buddy.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Free Kindle: Worm Composting

Worm Composting - Woodworking Plans & Worm Bin 

Ideas for Use in Organic Gardening

As part of our homeschooling lessons, we made a wormbin last fall and are looking forward to putting the worm castings to work in our garden. We're going to split the worms and make a second bin once it is warm enough to move them out of our shed.

Words Have Power

"Words are seeds. Before you speak, think about what you are planting." says The Praying Woman in her article Words Have Power: Are You Blocking Your Blessings

Words will not only affect your life, but the lives of those to whom you are speaking. The words you use with your children today are the thoughts they will have in their heads about themselves tomorrow. Harsh tongued, critical mothers can do a lot of damage to tender hearts.

If you grew up with a person who tore you down verbally and still struggle with self worth, I recommend Bible studies on how God sees you as His child, what He did for you to redeem you, and the promises He has for those who are His. It is in Him we find our true worth!

Psalm 19:14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Proverbs 16:24 Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.

Read more on what the Bible has to say about the power of words.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Thank You, Joshua!

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Clint told me he was going to come home and put up the weather vane. Since he had already told me where and how he wanted it mounted, I asked Joshua to knock that item off of his dad's "to do" list.
Joshua cheerfully mounted the weather vane to give his dad a hand.
Clint was surprised and said "thank you" to both of us.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Hmmm, Maybe

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Emily (6): "Hannah!! Mom and Dad rented the Smurf movie!!!"

Emily quietly to Clint: "Hannah doesn't like smurfs."

Clint (while smiling): "I like smurfs! They are tasty!"

Emily: "What?!!!" (brief thoughtful pause) "Hey, they might be poison. They ARE blue, you know!"

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Stop the "I Don't Have Time" Excuse

What you make time for, sends a direct message to others about what you value. There are so many things calling for our time and attention, but the truth is, we get to CHOOSE where and on what and who we SPEND our time. People make time for what is important to them. 

“Time is a created thing. To say, ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to.'" Lao Tzu 

“When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for our affection, the demands on our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities.” Ezra Taft Benson

James 4:13-17 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

Ephesians 5:15-17 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Homeschooled Child Enrolled in College at Age 11

"Stephen R. Stafford II was home-schooled by his parents. At the very young age of 11 years old he started college courses at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. His mother saw how much potential that he had while she was teaching him and she just could not keep up with his academic skills."

read the rest at The Black HomeSchool

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Around Here: March 2014

Clint has recently spent time in our hometown wrapping up some business his company had there. I always looked forward to those trips because sometimes I'd take the day and ride with him so we could see friends. We will have another opportunity for a visit there soon. We are staying with friends the last weekend in April. We have a couple of things planned with people already, so let us know if you want to get together.

Clint and I just returned from a wonderful weekend together in Williamsburg. We hit some new hiking trails, cooked gourmet dishes together, soaked in the jacuzzi while watching movies, and did a little shopping too. We came back very rested and relaxed!

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As our middle children grow and do more, we are on the go more. We recently saw friends in Kilmarnock and checked on a house for a friend on Gwynn's Island. We are slated to visit family/friends in Wiliamsburg, Harrisonburg, Kilmarnock, and Mathews. We have a family vacation planned on the Chesapeake Bay. We have several small fishing trips planned. Clint has a business trip turned family trip to Boston where his employer will pay for our gas and room expenses. We have our usual family biking and hiking activities. Clint and I will spend May 7 alone together in memory of our son, Isaac. We are going to Sterling area in June for one of our older children. We may also take a trip to Charleston since Clint is suppose to be sent there for yet more training classes. Thanks to Clint's good friend/work connection, we've been told we are going to get free NASCAR race tickets for Richmond. Then we have a week long family camping/fishing trip planned to Belle Isle for September or October since we enjoyed our visit there last fall. It's going to be another full spring/summer. That's the plan right now subject to change as quickly children grow.

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Back in early December, the weather warmed up, so I decided to get some deep cleaning and painting crossed off my list. I put in long days knowing the warm up would not last long. I over-used my wrist to the point of injury. It was one of those things you don't feel until you stop using it. I am still in a brace/splint contraption, but am seeing enough progress I can have limited use during the day. Someone complained about not seeing updates as frequently...that's why.

When it warms up, I am going to go through homeschooling books and will be offering some of them for free. If you want first pick, call or email me with grade level and subjects. I may also have some toys, furniture, and other items. Email addy is in the header. I'll respond to calls/email first and then will be listing them here and on Facebook, and finally will give the rest to the local women's shelter where Brandon volunteers.

If you have been following along with past few posts, you know Brandon has had more accomplishments. It's been an exciting time for him! We are very thankful. I can't elaborate yet, but God has been pouring out blessings on him. He has said he will let me know when it is OK to share. 

Amanda and Clint have a race going. There is a $500 incentive for whomever earns their degree first. It will take a while to see who earns it. It is entertaining for the rest of us to hear them ask each other questions to try to figure out where the other one is on their lessons. She also has something neat going on, but again, we have to wait a bit.

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Joshua, Caleb, and Bethany are looking forward to building a new tree house this year. Over the winter, I recycled wood from all over the place for them. It will be interesting to see what they build.

Emily and Hannah are loving their My Little Pony computer game. I love sitting with them while they share what they are learning. Their opinions about the game often make me chuckle. 

Next month, the barn swallows return!! I have enjoyed their return to the farm for as long as we have lived here. I am looking forward to seeing if Chip and family return!

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Monday, March 10, 2014

Free Kindle Books Frugality, Homesteading, Homeschooling, More

Check the price before you download. These were free when I listed them. Happy Reading!

The American Frugal Housewife 

Letters of a Woman Homesteader 

Education in The Home, The Kindergarten, and The Primary School 

A Tin Man (The Single Sound System of Learning to Read) 
Sight Word Sentences Set 2 - Lessons 1-4: 4 Books in 1! 
Home Economics for Homeschoolers Unit 2

Things Mother Used to Make A Collection of Old Time Recipes, Some Nearly One Hundred Years Old and Never Published Before 

925 Ideas to Help You Save Money, Get Out of Debt and Retire A Millionaire So You Can Leave Your Mark on the World 

Practical Suggestions for Mother and Housewife 

Recipes from the Kitchen of a Frugal Non-Cook 

The Quest of the Simple Life How to Save Money at Home: A Room-by-Room Guide to Cut Spending

How to Live on 24 Hours a Day 

The Book of Household Management Wrapped in His Arms: A girl's guide to high school, dating, friendships, and Jesus. 

Desiring God: 31 Prayers Seeking the Heart of God 

Desiring God: 31 Prayers Seeking the Heart of God 

The Daniel Fast Made Delicious: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free & Vegan Recipes That Are Healthy and Taste Great! 

Paleo Slow Cooker Recipes: The Complete Guide to Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and More (Every Day Recipes) 

Bacon Recipes: The Complete Guide to Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and More (Every Day Recipes) 

Jerky :The Ultimate Recipe Guide - Beef, Turkey, Vinison, Alligator, and more! 

Household DIY: Save Time and Money with Do It Yourself Hints & Tips on Furniture, Clothes, Pests, Stains, Residues, Odors and More! 

Simple Living: The Ultimate Simple Living Guide - How To Simplify Your Life, Declutter Your Home, Reduce Stress And Be Happier Living With Less (How To ... Stress, Eliminate Stress, Living Simple)

Minimalist Living: Decluttering for Joy, Health, and Creativity 

The Modern Parent's Guide to Kids and Video Games 

Brush Me Floss Me Be My Friend. Welcome to Toothville: Learning Begins Here. A Kids Book About Caring For Their Teeth 

Attention all Struggling Students!!!: Practical Guide on how to use Effective Study Methods in an Emergency Setting