Monday, March 31, 2014

The Greak Kapok Tree and Rainforest Art {with giveaway}

The first theme of the new Poppins Book Nook year is Around the World, which is such an expansive theme with so many possibilities!  I ran through a lot of ideas, but we finally chose the book The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest by Lynne Cherry, because I had the perfect art project.

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The story is about a man who attempts to cut down a Kapok tree, but is visited by many inhabitants of the rainforest who want to convince him otherwise.  The moral is explicitly obvious, but it opens the line of discussion about environmentalism, and the artwork is just gorgeous!  The author actually went into the rainforest to study and illustrate the book!  So we looked at a map and discussed where you can find the Amazon Rainforest, and then used the book as an opportunity to explore the beauty of the rainforest, attempting to create our own beautiful rainforest art!

Awhile back I received a copy of Ms. Woods Wild Art Adventures-The Rainforest, but we had yet to work it into our day.  I knew this would be a lovely, natural pairing!  This is a story and art book in one.  Ms. Woods takes us on an adventure to the rainforest, and along the way she teaches us to how capture what we see through art.  I really enjoyed the book because Ms. Woods teaches technique, vocabulary, art history and artistic styles.  So much ART packed into this book!

We started out flying through the clouds to reach the rainforest, and Ms. Woods helped us paint the sky and clouds.  Then we drew large tropical leaves.  We talked about shading and noticed detail like the veins.

Another project was painting from a "bug's eye view" or from the ground looking up into the trees.  We talked about perspective and vanishing points.  Elliott even got down in the floor, held his painting above him and checked it out from a bug's eye view!

This was our messy workspace. You can see Emory to the left, working on his green color mixing. 

Meet Bonzo; he was a joint effort.  We're planning to go back and paint the toucan later!

These art lessons were a lot of fun, and focusing on the plants and animals of the rainforest went along great with our book this month!  We enjoyed "traveling" to the rainforest, and I'm glad this month's theme took us there, because Ms. Woods' next book is about Japan and it looks really fun too!

April's theme is Planes, Trains and Automobiles, so if you are planning to join in, start thinking about what book(s) you're going to read. That's another very fun topic, especially for my two boys, so I'm excited!


Enchanted Homeschooling Mom ~ 3 Dinosaurs ~ To the Moon and Back ~ Planet Smarty Pants ~ Farm Fresh Adventures ~ Growing in God's Grace ~ Chestnut Grove Academy ~ Faith and Good Works ~ Learning and Growing the Piwi Way ~ The Usual Mayhem~ Preschool Powol Packets ~ Monsters Ed Homeschool Academy ~ Adventures in Mommydom ~ Teach Beside Me ~ Life with Moore Babies ~ Kathy's Cluttered Mind ~ Are We There Yet? ~ Our Crafts N Things ~ Hopkins Homeschool ~ ABC Creative Learning ~ Joy Focused Learning ~ P is for Preschooler ~ Laugh and Learn ~ A Mommy's Adventures ~ Inspiring 2 New Hampshire Children ~ World for Learning ~ The Kennedy Adventures ~ Ever After in the Woods ~ Golden Grasses ~ Our Simple Kinda Life ~ A glimpse of our life ~ Journey to Excellence ~ Happy Little Homemaker ~ Little Homeschool Blessings ~ Simplicity Breeds Happiness ~ Raventhreads ~ Water on the Floor ~ Learning Fundamentals ~ Tots and Me ~ As We Walk Along The Road ~ Stir the Wonder ~ For This Season ~ Where Imagination Grows ~ Lextin Academy ~ The Canadian Homeschooler ~ School Time Snippets ~ Peakle Pie ~ Mom's Heart ~ A Moment in our World ~ Every Bed of Roses ~ Finchnwren ~ At Home Where Life Happens ~ Suncoast Momma ~ The Library Adventure ~ Embracing Destiny ~ Day by Day in our World ~ Our Homeschool Studio ~ A "Peace" of Mind ~ Thou Shall Not Whine ~ SAHM I am ~ eLeMeNo-P Kids

 If you're linking up with us, be sure to grab the button so your readers can follow along!

Poppins Book Nook


Poppins Book Nook Giveaway! Every month the Poppins Book Nook group will be offering readers a chance to win a brand new storybook that ties in with our theme for the month. This month one lucky entrant will win a copy of Where in the World?  The winner must reside within the United States. This giveaway is brought to you by the company Enchanted Homeschooling Mom, who is owner and founder of the Poppins Book Nook. By entering this giveaway you are also acknowledging that you have read and agree to all of the Rafflecopter terms & conditions as well as Enchanted Homeschooling Mom's disclosures found here {}.  Just enter the Rafflecopter below to win:

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©2011-2014 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Happy Wives Club by Fawn Weaver {Book Review}

Happy Wives Club
One Woman's Worldwide Search for the Secrets of a Great Marriage
by Fawn Weaver

Don't let the title of the book fool you.  It might sound cliche, but the reality is that the author, Fawn Weaver, was searching for other women like herself.  Everywhere she looked, wives complained about husbands, divorce abounded and television "reality shows" only perpetuated the lie that marriages are miserable.  She set out to find women who were happy in the marriages and wanted to stay that way.

In starting an online club from which the book gets its title, Fawn met women all over the country, and the world, who were happy in their marriage.  Eventually she got a wild idea to travel around the world and meet some of these wonderful women in person, with the goal of finding the secret to a truly great marriage. 

Along the way, Fawn met women who were widowed, women who were on a second marriage, women who struggled in their current relationship but persevered, couples who had been married many decades, and some who were in the early stages by comparison.  She learned how women and couples viewed respect, honesty and communication.  She saw how God worked in the lives of these women, and how He was working in hers to make her a happier, better wife.  She learned this on a trip around the world, seeing how different cultures all had the same core values.

I really liked the actual conversations with the wives and the husband/wife couples that revealed their life and history together, but sometimes it felt like the author's interpretation of their stories overshadowed their truths.  There was also a lot of sightseeing during the travels, which was interesting to a certain extent, but sometimes a bit too detailed, considering I was more interested in the happy wives than the traveling.  However, I still liked the premise of the book.

There were two important things I took away from this book.  The first is not to surround myself with women who speak negatively of their husbands.  One wife talked about how easy it is to fall into the temptation to "one-up" the next person with awful traits of their husband.  I specifically remember an instance where I was sitting with two women who knew each other fairly well, although I was only acquainted with each of them.  They were engaged in one of those conversations where each was trashing their husband, and I felt awkward and out of place, for two reasons.  I was basically a stranger, privy to the "problems" in their relationships, and two, because I couldn't imagine dragging my husband through the mud like that.  I don't understand the need to disrespect your spouse in that manner, to open your marriage to the parasite of gossip, to reveal your weaknesses as a couple.  If there is something in my marriage that needs addressed, then I need to pray, I need to go to my husband, and I need to work with him as a partner, not against him.

The second major point I took away from this book, is that I have a choice.  I could choose to be miserable.  Or, I can choose to be happy.  I can pray for our relationship and I can choose friends who are also happy, encouraging and uplifting.  I cannot control everything my husband does, thinks, feels or says, but I can control my response.  I can work at being a better person for him.

This book was interesting, fun, serious and full of emotion.  I would recommend this as a light read for wives or young women who are engaged. 

I review for BookLook Bloggers

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©2011-2014 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

LEGO Love Week 13: The 4 Year Old's Creation

I haven't shared anything the boys have made for LEGO Love in several weeks.  Emory was very proud of his Boat Plane, and I thought it deserved a share.  Apparently the white brick is a super brick, and obviously the Boat Plane has the ability to travel by air or water. 

Emory has never been a fan of kits.  I think they are just past his skill level, but he comes up with his own "creations" all the time.  However, recently I was notified that I'd been chosen as a Chatterbox for the new LEGO Juniors, so they should be perfect for him.  Be on the lookout for more information about the Juniors!

©2011-2014 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Spelling You See (Schoolhouse Review)

I'll be honest, Spelling is something I've never formally covered before. Now that Elliott is reading and writing and wanting to become more independent in these areas, I felt it would be beneficial to start some type of spelling program with him to encourage him along.  I was very happy to be given the opportunity to review the brand new spelling program Spelling You See.  Yes, this is from the same company as Math-U-See, which we've already reviewed and loved, so I was interested to see how they compared. 

Spelling You See review

We reviewed Spelling You See: Jack and Jill (Level B), which is the second of the five levels currently available.  Jack and Jill, as the name insinuates, uses familiar rhymes to move students from the phonetic stage to the skill development stage.  First of all, I am a huge proponent of using nursery rhymes to enhance literacy skills, and I've discussed this before.  Secondly, Elliott does fall somewhere between the phonetic stage and skill development stage (read more about the five developmental stages of spelling) so Level B seemed like the right place to start.  Since this is not a traditional program, I decided we would just start at the beginning, even though some of it was a review for him.

Spelling You See was written by Dr. Karen Holinga.  Dr. Holinga is a reading specialist who is also a former elementary school teacher, college professor and homeschooling parent, and has been testing the methods used in Spelling You See since 2000.  The program fits with the Demme Learning philosophy because there are no grade levels, children work at their own pace at their level, and the program stresses application, not memorization.  Placement is based on the child's current spelling skills; placement does not correlate to their reading level.  This program does not offer spelling lists or weekly tests, but instead utilizes copywork and dictation.

Spelling You See review

There are two parts to the full Jack and Jill curriculum.  The Instructor's Handbook ($16) covers the program's philosophy, gives an overview of each lesson, contains the dictation lists and the answer key for student lessons.  The Student Pack ($30) includes two student workbooks with a total of 36 lessons, a laminated Guide to Handwriting and colored pencils.

We started each lesson by reading, clapping the syllables, and pointing to the words.  Then the instructions ask the student to underline or circle something specific (punctuation, rhyming words, capitalized names, etc), so there's gentle grammar mixed in as well.  Then the student copies a small portion of the rhyme.  The second half of the lesson is the dictation.  In the early lessons dictation is simple CVC words.  While he was beyond this, the dictation really helps train Elliott to actually listen to the sounds. 

Spelling You See review

Note:  I received an advance PDF copy for the purpose of this review before my books arrived, but the product is only available in physical form.  The funny thing is, my son was a little reluctant to use the program initially, but when the actual books came he was more enthusiastic. 

Each full lesson has five sections (A-E) and each section is two pages, meant to be completed in one day.  So if you do the full lesson, you are reading, speaking and writing parts of the same rhyme for five days.  Using the words in context repeatedly is an important part of the program, but if you do not complete every section that is fine too, because spelling patterns will appear again.  Spelling You See stressed that it is more important that your student is comfortable and making progress rather than just filling the pages.  As you progress through Jack and Jill, you cover blends, vowel combinations, 'bossy r' and other rules.  The colored pencils are to help you mark things in a color code.  The dictation lists are not within the lesson plans in the teacher's manual, but are actually all together in the back of the book. After the specific dictation lists for each lesson, there is a General Dictation List if your child needs more practice.  There is also an answer key in the back of the manual, but otherwise, most of the daily instructions for the lessons are in the actual student books. 

My Thoughts
I absolutely love how easy, simple and stress-free this program is.  It is open-and-go.  There are no flashy components or extra pieces, and there's no scripted passages for me to read or flipping back and forth between the instructor's guide to make sure I'm not missing any points for the day.  Easy Peasy.

I really like the concept and flow of the program, but it is a little early to tell if it is going to be effective long term.  I am still working with an emerging reader/speller, and this is our first foray into formal spelling.  That being said, I can see how the program would work well for many people.  I never really had issues with spelling, yet I do often find myself writing out a word to physically see it in front of me, because I don't have the visual recall to confidently spell it aloud.  I can understand how visually imprinting the correct spelling through meaningful context can be helpful. 

I've always wanted to try copywork and dictation, but it is something I never knew how to implement.  I definitely think this program is compatible with Charlotte Mason, and that's one of the reasons I like it.  The lessons are systematic, but they are gentle and short, and a timer is even encourage to keep lessons brief.  I love that I don't have to come up with my own copywork passages.  Older students who struggle and are placed in Jack and Jill might balk at the nursery rhyme theme, but thankfully Elliott hasn't reached that point yet. 

Find Spelling You See on Facebook and Twitter, but first, check out the rest of the Crew reviews.  We reviewed all five levels!

©2011-2014 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

LEGO Love Week 12: Finding LEGO Ideas on Pinterest

If you are on Pinterest, you know there are limitless ideas for any topic imaginable.  LEGO is certainly no exception.  LEGO is a toy for almost anyone.  Kids who thrive on structure and those who enjoy the freedom of creativity.  Girls or boys, children and adults.  I have already shared Why We Love LEGO, and because it is a constant activity in our house, I certainly had to create a Pinterest board to make sure we never run out of fresh ideas.  I pin everything from games, to free printables, to science and math lessons to art activities with LEGO.  Feel free to follow my All Things Lego Board and if you have a LEGO board, please leave me a link in the comments!

©2011-2014 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Field Trip - Children's Museum of Pittsburgh

We recently took a little mini-vacay to Pittsburgh, PA.  Why Pittsburgh, you ask?  Well, it started as an extra-long weekend trip planned around a meeting my husband had for work.

We decided to all go up and take the kids to a few places that are different than what we have around here.  One such place was The Children's Museum of Pittsburgh.

This was a neat field trip.  We've been to a couple of children's museums or museums that have dedicated children's areas, and this was one of our favorite field trips of all time!  We were advised to start in the art studio, so that any artwork the children completed would have time to dry.  The boys could have spent all day in this one room!

We painted.

We used clay.

Elliott really enjoyed this. 

We did bubble prints.  

 There was print making and stamp rolling.  So much going on in one room.

The next main area was the MAKESHOP, which is apparently designed for children to explore everything from circuitry, to woodworking to sewing.  So much building and manipulating.  

You should have seen Emory's face when he made this little fan turn on!  They did have a few employees in this area, which was nice for giving the boys ideas.

This was a very cool climbing structure!  Emory wouldn't do it, because he said it was too high (it went to the second floor) but Elliott went up and back down.

In the Attic, Elliott spent time in the Gravity room and playing on the slides, while Emory, Daddy, Eleanor and I looked at puppetry and collections--things you might find in someone's attic!  There was some Mr. Rogers stuff in here, bringing back childhood memories, but apparently no pictures on my camera!

We played with shadows and tried to catch letters.  

The GARAGE was all things transportation!  We played inside tires.  Emory also waited patiently for his turn to "drive" a real car, though my camera was with daddy because I had just gone down a slide with him, one that was not made for adults by the way.

We raced cars down tracks, which we could build and arrange ourselves. 

We built cars.  You could also build trolleys in another area. 

The XOXO exhibit was for exploring emotions and feelings.  You could write down negative thoughts and feelings, and shred them!  You could write a kind letter to a friend, or write something positive down and press it into a token. 

This was neat.  A word appeared on the screen, and you record the emotion.  (Sad, happy, surprised, etc).  Then your recording would soon appear on the wall with the children who went before you, so there's a giant grid on the wall of children expressing emotions!

Then this...this was great.  My kids are not all that familiar with the concept of a payphone, considering they are becoming obsolete, so Emory had to check it out.  Daddy noticed the other phone and made a mad dash.  "Hello, I'm looking for Emory" he said in a deep voice.  I saw Emory's eyes bug out!  "Ahhhhh!  It's DADDY!" he giggled and looked around surprised!  Then they had a funny little chat!  :-)

There were a few quotes throughout the room that would only light up when both hands were touched.  Some of the others were wider, and required two people--each person touched one hand, then held hands, and I think that makes more of an impact! 

There was so much more.  This doesn't begin to capture everything the kids enjoyed, and this was only the first floor.  The second floor was the nursery, and even though Eleanor would have enjoyed it, we do not like to split our family up like that.  She was content to people-watch in her stroller and she was able to enjoy a few activities anyway.  The whole day was a full sensory experience for her!  The third floor was the water floor, and Daddy and I made the executive decision that since we didn't have a change of clothes for the boys and were intending to go somewhere afterwards, we shouldn't even go up there.  We still spent hours on the first floor, and it was worth it.

The only unpleasant experience was the parking lot.  I'll not go into a rant here, but suffice it to say, my husband and I have never seen anything like it before, even during other travels.

Overall, we really enjoyed the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh and if we're back in the area, we'll definitely be back.  They are a member of the Association of Science-Technology Center, as is our home art/science center, so a membership to our home museum will get us reciprocal admission!

We also went to the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium while we were there!

Field Trip Friday

©2011-2014 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

LEGO Love Week 11: Clubs, Classes and Challenges

What are your kids creating with LEGO right now?  We're traveling, so the boys aren't really creating, but we hope to get back into the swing of things soon, and of course that will mean back to LEGO!  In the meantime, if your kids love LEGO challenges, be sure to check out some of these classes and challenges around the internet to give them inspiration and ideas! 

LEGO Challenge
Challenges straight from the LEGO website!

LEGO Master
This is an Official Skill by LEGO "to achieve artistic and engineering excellence." is a place just for kids to gain skills, create a portfolio and earn real patches.  It would be an excellent supplement to homeschooling, particularly lending itself well to interest/delight/unschooling methods.  

LEGO Club for Homeschoolers
This FREE class on Currclick is based on the beloved brick, and each class has a theme, lesson plan, show and tell and challenges.

LEGO Challenge of the Month
A challenge from Outside the Brick; submissions can be emailed in and are shared on the blog.

From The Canadian Homeschooler, this is a monthly challenge for real or virtual builds, that can be shared through your blog or social media.  

Now send your kids off to pick a challenge and create! My 7 year old wants to become a LEGO Master!  ;-)

©2011-2014 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Random 5 on Friday - March, 14, 2014

1.  The boys took their first gymnastics class this week.  It is a new class, and specifically for homeschoolers.  They both really enjoyed it and are looking forward to next week. 

2.  We are trying a lot of new things on the homeschooling front lately.  Be looking for some interesting activities and reviews in the near future.

3.  I don't think I've shared that my little Eleanor is walking.  She took off a few weeks ago.  I love, love LOVE the toddler stage, and watching them gain speed, literally toddle around and then catch their balance just before they fall just to try run again.

4.  She has also picked up coloring.  She's always had a thing for crayons, though.  This is what happens when you tell her "No" she can't EAT the crayons.

5.  We went to the Zoo today.  It was a mild day, and no crowds, so one of our better zoo experiences.  Then the chocolate factory.  Yummy.  I think I gained a few pounds just walking through that store.  Not to mention what we purchased.  More on our impromptu mini-vacation later.

The Pebble Pond

©2011-2014 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Egglo Entertainment (Schoolhouse Review)

Sometimes when we get a review, it has much more of a "fun" element to it than others, and we love those!  It breaks up the monotony and gives the boys something new and different to enjoy.  Recently we were given the opportunity to do a review for Egglo Entertainment, which includes glow in the dark Easter eggs.  How fun!

Egglo Entertainment - glow in the dark Easter eggs

As part of the review, I received several items:
Glow in the Dark Egglo Eggs ($11.99/dozen)
The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure Book by Darcy Cobos ($12.99)
The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure audiobook ($2.99)
Egglo Treasures Scripture Scrolls ($4.29/dozen)
Program Guide/Curriculum ($14.99)

The program and products are recommended for 4-13 years old.

How did we Use Egglo Eggs at home?
Well the boys were so excited to get started that we just jumped right in.  I decided to read them the book while the eggs "charged" under light (instructions are included) in another room.

Egglo Entertainment - glow in the dark Easter eggs

The book tells the story of a brother, sister, cousin and dog, who get caught up in an adventurous egg hunt that is full of danger and wonder, and learning to trust that God is always with them.  The theme of the book is John 1:5 and the children learn how Jesus is the light in darkness.  While the message is clear, I found it a little too long for one sitting. I probably should have split it into two or three readings.  The audiobook is thirty minutes, if that gives you any indication as to how you might want to structure the book around your activities.  I do think the audiobook might be better suited for a class/group reading.  The reader does a good job with inflection and emotion, and it could easily be paired with a snack, coloring pages or other quiet activity.  There is also a DVD that could be fun for groups too.

After the book, the boys went to their room while I hid the eggs around the house right as daddy was arriving home from work.  Yes, I timed it that way.  Unfortunately it was too wet/cold when the eggs arrived for an outdoor night hunt, but soon!  They got a kick out of hunting in the dark!  Afterwards they told Daddy about the book and the meaning of the glow in the dark eggs.

It was really hard for a non-photographer type like me to get a good picture of the eggs actually glowing, but let me tell you, the kids loved them!  There was just enough glow for the kids to find them in the dark house.  They also enjoyed recharging them and playing with them themselves.  

They also wanted to check out the scrolls.  The scrolls are the perfect size for placing inside the eggs, and each one having a different verse gives plenty of opportunity for discussion.  Elliott wanted to read them and see if they matched the verses on the scrolls in the book. 

Egglo Entertainment - glow in the dark Easter eggs

The Program Guide & Alternative Uses
The program guide is tailored for group environments and has several suggestions so that churches or groups can choose the activities that suit their needs.  There are decorating ideas, a few snack suggestions, a devotional, coloring pages and so much more!  My husband and I are in charge of the children's Easter celebration every year at church, and many of these activities would be perfect, and I am currently trying to determine how to work them into our program.  However, some of the individual activities would still work well for object lessons outside of an Easter party.  They would work well in family devotionals, Sunday School, Jr. Church, or AWANA.  I work with the Sparks, and I also think the eggs themselves would be great for game time, since we already play a lot of "in the dark" games.  Spoon-egg relay and glow-in-the-dark-egg-toss would both be a hit!

Egglo Entertainment also offers ideas for using the glowing eggs all year.  I think the scavenger hunt is next on our list!

What did I think?
There are so many ways to utilize the book, devotions and eggs to reinforce the underlying message.  It is a fun lesson for kids and I liked the concept and that the eggs are a visual reminder that Jesus is the light in the darkness.  I think most of the activities are very age appropriate for the recommended age range, and offer something new and unique.  We enjoyed the glow-in-the-dark eggs and the message, and I look forward to trying new ways of using them.

To find out more about Egglo Entertainment, you can find them online:

Google +:

Also, be sure to check out what the rest of the Crew thought!

©2011-2014 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Walking Does Us Good

This week's springlike weather has been much needed.  We were tired of the cold.  The snow.  The wet.  Taking a walk as a family was a great way to get out and enjoy the weather, to unwind, to get excited about the thought of spring.

The four year old wanted to "explore the forest" so we went out to the farm and into the woods.

They had to see what they could find.  

Daddy, what's inside?

They found "hiking sticks" and went down into the woods.

 While they explored, I stayed up with the baby in the stroller.

We played peek-a-boo and chattered baby talk for awhile.  Then we turned around and headed back up the hill, out of the woods, and back into the sunshine where it was warmer.  I talked to Elliott via walkie talkie. 

We waited for the boys to return, before heading home.  

Momma, look what we found!

Just a peaceful afternoon.  Walking.  Nature Study.  Enjoying our time together.  Making memories.

©2011-2014 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.