TOS Sweet Critique: WriteShop Junior Book D


WHAT:  WriteShop Junior Book D

COST:  Teacher’s Guide:  hard copy {$39.95} OR eBook {$34.95} AND Activity Pack:  hard copy {$39.95} OR eBook {$29.95}

RECOMMENDED AGES:  Grades 3 and 4, although it can be used with reluctant writers in grades 5 and 6 {reluctant 3rd graders might want to start with Primary Book C}



WriteShop Junior is a homeschool creative writing program for upper elementary students.

Using fun graphics, engaging games and activities, and age-appropriate methods, WriteShop Junior helps you teach the writing process and self-editing skills to your child.

The program comes with a teacher’s guide and activity pack {student worksheet pack AND Fold-N-Go grammar pack}.


Oh man, I love it.  LOVE it!

Babydoll can’t stand writing, and the writing program we originally started with didn’t do much to make her like it either.

I think part of the problem is my inability to teach the process.  I’ve never been a follower of the actual process, although after going through it in college, I see the benefit.

While I know how I sit down and write, I can’t communicate to Babydoll, who hates to write, how to sit down and write something.



The teacher’s guide does a phenomenal job of walking you through the entire process of teaching your child to write.

It doesn’t just tell you which lessons to do on what day.  You are given ideas to create a portable or permanent writing station, several sample schedules to follow, tips on how much you should help your child, and more.

After just reading through the first portion of the teacher’s guide I felt like I would be better equipped to teach Babydoll the writing process.

You are given an easy breakdown of advanced prep, materials needed, and other helpful tips for each lesson.  They’ve designed it in a way that allows a more confident teacher to take what they need and go, while someone like me who is a little uneasy about the whole process can really get the guidance they need.



The activity pack is full of everything your student will need to complete WriteShop Junior.

The fonts and graphics are fun; Babydoll was quickly enticed.



I definitely recommend trying this product if you’re looking for a writing curriculum.

I had all but given up, hoping that as she progressed through her other studies we could find ways to tie writing in.

I am so happy that we had the opportunity to give this a try!

Want to purchase for yourself?  They’ve kindly given us a coupon code for you!!!

Use CREW15 for 15% off any WriteShop Primary or Junior purchase now through June 15th!


Find out what other members of the Crew thought about WriteShop here.

Several different levels were sent out to Crew members, so if your child is not in this grade range, you might find an appropriate level in another review.

True Confessions:  I was provided with these materials in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Sweet Critique: AboutOne

AboutOne New

AboutOne is back and better than every baby!

I fell in love with it back in August, and I’m excited that they contacted me to give the new version a whirl.


Total awesomeness, that’s what!

To be more thorough:  AboutOne is a digital household management system.

It’s designed to help busy families keep track of the important information they need without having to spend a ton of time doing it.

By storing information on your family, medical histories, possessions, photos, and more, you have an always-accessible file cabinet, ready when you are.

They’re adding more features as we speak, which means this will turn into a robust family management system that will work wonderfully with any existing system you have in place.


I know what you might be thinking:  “I already use my paper planner/Gmail/Google Calendar for this information.”

Yes, yes you do.  That’s why AboutOne didn’t focus on mere appointment tracking.

This program is designed for heavy-duty long-term usage.

It’s designed to store important documents that you might not need on a daily basis, but would come in handy one day while out running an errand.

It’s designed to help you remember those oh-so-simple yet sweet moments in life.

It’s designed to help you keep track of family members’ medical histories.

It’s designed to help you keep track of home and car maintenance.

I could go on and on.  This is what I love about this program.

Sure, I have the immediate things on my calendar.  But, when I’m out-of-town and need to call the nurse line to ask a question about something Babydoll might need to be taken to the emergency room for, I am a little too panicked and preoccupied to remember exactly how the doctor phrased her penicillin allergy or what type of asthma inhaler she specifically has.

That information is entered into AboutOne and I can access it from anywhere.

Another great example they give on the site is babysitting instructions.  We don’t go out often, which means we don’t have pre-written babysitter instructions.

Pulling together information from AboutOne {medical history, emergency contacts, alarm passcodes, etc.} allows me to easily print and go.

See the awesome?

I can manage my entire family, including pets, from this program.  {Yes, yes I do need to add a picture of Vince.}

I mentioned that the new version is in beta right now, so I haven’t been able to access all of the awesome, but they did send me screen shots that I absolutely must share with you.

These show you the potential of this program:


Yes!!  They have awesomesauce security in place, the same kind your bank uses.

You can read all about it here.


I really can’t recommend this to you guys enough.  It’s free, it’s easy, and it’s awesome.

I’d also like to point out one last thing, because this concerned me at first too:  use AboutOne as you go.

I thought I needed to take large quantities of time to scan important documents in and set it all up.  You don’t.

Sure, taking a few minutes to get the basics in is important, but I was up and going in about five minutes.

Do a little of the “historical” work here and there, as you can.  Otherwise, just enter information as it begins to unfold.

Have you used AboutOne before?  Tell me what you thought in the comments!

True Confessions:  I was compensated for this post, but it does contain my honest opinions and views.  I LOVE AboutOne and really think you guys should give it a try, it’s great!

Next Week is eBook Launch Week!


The day is almost here:  So, You Think You Wanna Homeschool? the eBook is almost out!

I can’t believe it; I never thought I’d see the day {at least this soon} where I’d have an eBook written.

It’s been a labor of love and it’s been hard to work through the self-doubt.

But, I’m glad I’ve done it!

I’ve got a couple of great giveaways coming up to celebrate, and during launch week the eBook will be 50% off {only $4}!

This has taken up a huge chunk of time, and while I’m glad I did it, I’m glad that I’ll be spending more time here again!

I’d like to again thank each of you for your support; I’m thankful for each of you!

Also be on the lookout for a couple of great homeschool product reviews this week, as well as an update on AboutOne!

I’m also really excited about a homeschool product we’re reviewing right now {social studies} that I’ll be reviewing in a couple of weeks!

Can’t wait to share it all with you!


Sweet Critique: “Mighty Fine”

Mighty Fine

Domestic violence takes on a variety of forms: physical violence, emotional abuse, monetary control.

No one way is worse than the other, and quite often, you’ll hear victims say that the emotional abuse is far more damaging than the physical violence.

Mighty Fine, a movie written and directed by Debbie Goodstein, touches on that emotional abuse.

Based on Debbie’s life, Mighty Fine chronicles the Fine family’s life.

Mr. Fine {Chazz Palminteri – yes, Sonny} moves his family from Brooklyn to New Orleans to be closer to his factory.

He showers his wife {Andie MacDowell} and two daughters {Jodelle Ferland and Rainey Qualley} with an extravagant home, nice cars, and other expensive gifts, but you soon realize something’s not quite right behind the scenes.

Mr. Fine has an anger management issue {to put it lightly}, and any little thing can set him off.

The movie takes you through the family’s life as they deal with their move and the way their husband and father acts.

I won’t give anything else away, you’ll just have to watch the movie when it comes out on May 25th {you can find out if it’s playing near you here}.

You can check out the trailer below.


I grew up with domestic violence around me.  It spanned the spectrum; I saw it all.

This is the reason I wanted to review this film.  I was thrilled that someone had done a movie based on family experiences with domestic violence.

I did come away feeling a little like the movie skipped around a bit too much and that it was a little too Hallmark for my tastes.

It seemed that every time the father got upset, the situation was easily diffused.  This was never my experience growing up.  The situations weren’t easily quieted in mere minutes.

Also, the end of the movie seemed rather abrupt and unrealistic.  I won’t go into details because that would give it away, but it’s just never been my experience that things are resolved in that manner.

All that said, I really had a hard time feeling like this because the movie was based on the writer’s life.  I mean, if that’s what she experienced, who am I to say it’s not right, you know?

Either way, the movie can get a dialogue going about domestic violence, and that’s what is most important.

The movie is rated “R”, mainly for language.  If the “F” word bothers you, you might have a hard time watching this movie.

I’m not a fan of gratuitous anything in movies, but I do think it is appropriate in this situation.  Domestic violence isn’t pretty, after all…

All-in-all, I’m glad I was part of this experience.  It was fun chatting online with the actors after the online screening {I’m not terribly swayed by celebrity, but I totally had a fangirl moment and took a screenshot of the chat with Chazz Palminteri…}, and great being a part of something that was more than just making a film to make money.

True Confessions:  I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Mighty Fine and the distributor. I received access to an online showing of the film and a promotional item to thank me for participating.

Sweet Critique: “Sadie, The Paper Crown Princess”


We love books in our household.


I was a huge book nerd in high school {Vince can vouch for that}, and Babydoll absolutely loves reading too.  Vince is a big Stephen King fan.

We have an over-abundance of books here.

Add to that our love for all things pink and sparkly, and well, we’re super-duper in love with Sadie, The Paper Crown Princess.

NOTE:  Sadie, The Paper Crown Princess isn’t actually sparkly, but it definitely should be.  It’s just that cool.


Princesses, duh!

OK, so without being so vague…  The book is abso-freakin-lutely phenomenal!


It’s the perfect marriage of girly, princess-y stuff and do-good-for-others, be-whatever-you-want-when-you-grow-up stuff.

I’ve often had this struggle since having Babydoll:  I love girly things.  She loves girly things.  But there is another side to us as well: playing outside {her}, reading {both of us}, science and math {her}, and other “non-girly” stuff.

Our society often makes it seem as if you have to pick between the two, but as this book points out, you can be a girly girl and have a love for non-girly things.

You can want to be a princess but still have a desire to do for yourself.

Sadie is headed to princess school and while she has great manners and is smart, she doesn’t seem to do well at being a princess in the traditional sense of the word.

Will she be able to get her tiara and become a full-fledged princess?

You’ll have to read to find out!


You do, trust me, you do.

The awesome author of the book has given me a discount code for 20% off {pre-order it here} AND she is giving away a Sadie t-shirt and paper crown set!!!

Use code “sweetphen” {no quotes} to get 20% off any Sadie purchase, and use the Giveaway Tools form below to enter to win your Sadie set!

Also, don’t forget about the Sadie Twitter party I’m co-hosting on Wednesday.  Details here!

True Confessions:  I was provided with a copy of the book for review purposes.  All opinions are my own.

I’m linked up over on Hip Homeschool Moms!

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