Students At Home

For Everyone Who Learns at Home

Review: “Merry And Bright”


This is the first Debbie Macomber book I’ve ever read, and I’m honestly surprised that I liked it so much!

You see, I’m usually not a romance fan, and I knew this would be a romance story. For that reason, I almost put it back on the shelf. But I’ve watched several of the Hallmark movies based on Debbie Macomber books and figured I’d give this one a shot.

Primarily because of the romance, I thought I would hate this book. But it sucked me in from page one, and the story definitely surprised me! It’s cute and engaging.

I think it helped that I liked Merry instantly and appreciated her close relationship with her family. She loves her parents and her brother Patrick, and they love her. I found it refreshing to read about a young, professional and competent woman who is still dedicated to her family as she stretches her wings.

Jayson is another story. He’s a hard nut to crack, eager to please his uncle and to fulfill his professional obligations, even if he has to be rude to do so. But as he explores love, his heart softens. He also allows Mary/Merry to introduce him to the joys of giving and the true meaning of Christmas.

I definitely recommend “Merry and Bright” if you’re in the mood for a lighthearted and well-written holiday read. It’s a fun book that will help you escape from all the obligations of the holiday, get into the Christmas spirit and smile.

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Review: The Audacity Of Hope


This is the first Barack Obama book I’ve read. While I don’t agree with many of his opinions, I did enjoy listening to him narrate the audiobook version.

In it, he shares insights into his political beginnings, passion for people, faith in God, and love for his family.

“The Audacity Of Hope” also offers Obama’s insights into how Americans can get along better. I appreciated those insights and the opportunity to see things from a different perspective.

Overall, this book encouraged me to show more grace to others who disagree and to look for our common ground. We may have strong opinions about the best ways to help our country, but we all agree that we love America and want what’s best of its people and our future. Can we figure out a way to get along make that happen?

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Review: “I Have The Right To”


I chose to read “I Have The Right To: A High School Survivor’s Story of Sexual Assault, Justice, and Hope” out of curiosity. My daughter’s in high school, and I wanted insight into some of what she and her peers may experience.

The book surprised me in many ways. It’s actually incredibly empowering, and it’s an important book.

In it, Chessy Prout tells the story of her sexual assault, court experience and adjustment to advocate. She shares her heart for survivors with raw courage and honesty.

While the book could be triggering to survivors and includes graphic sexual details and adult language, it’s an important story to hear, especially for people who have not gone through such an experience. It has opened the doors for me to experience greater compassion and understanding as I support family members, friends and strangers who are survivors.

I’m going to share #IHaveTheRightTo with my family as we create our own bill of rights. Thank you Chessy, your family and Jenn for your dedication to advocacy and truth!

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Hidden Peril Book Review

If you’re a fan of mystery romance novels, give this one a try! Irene Hannon is a good writer. Unfortunately, I’m not into romances and didn’t finish the book. From the description, it sounds like a fast-paced, entertaining book with crime, mystery, and intrigue. While the prologue did grab my attention, the first chapter proceeded to introduce readers to a romance complete with a middle schoolish internal dialogue. For this reason, I didn’t finish the book, but the content minus the romance was interesting and well-written. hidden peril

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How Mr. Rogers Taught Me To Talk To Children


Mr. Rogers was one of my favorite childhood TV friends. I appreciated his calm demeanor and special guests, especially Mr. Neely. Now, as a parent, I enjoy sharing Mr. Rogers reruns and YouTube videos with my kids. I also take lessons from Mr. Rogers and use his techniques for talking to kids in a way they understand and with kindness and compassion.

  1. “State the idea you wish to express as clearly as possible, and in terms preschoolers can understand.” Example: It is dangerous to play in the street. ​​​​​​
  2. “Rephrase in a positive manner,” as in It is good to play where it is safe.
  3. “Rephrase the idea, bearing in mind that preschoolers cannot yet make subtle distinctions and need to be redirected to authorities they trust.” As in, “Ask your parents where it is safe to play.”
  4. “Rephrase your idea to eliminate all elements that could be considered prescriptive, directive, or instructive.” In the example, that’d mean getting rid of “ask”: Your parents will tell you where it is safe to play.
  5. “Rephrase any element that suggests certainty.” That’d be “will”: Your parents can tell you where it is safe to play.
  6. “Rephrase your idea to eliminate any element that may not apply to all children.” Not all children know their parents, so: Your favorite grown-ups can tell you where it is safe to play.
  7. “Add a simple motivational idea that gives preschoolers a reason to follow your advice.” Perhaps: Your favorite grown-ups can tell you where it is safe to play. It is good to listen to them.
  8. “Rephrase your new statement, repeating the first step.” “Good” represents a value judgment, so: Your favorite grown-ups can tell you where it is safe to play. It is important to try to listen to them.
  9. “Rephrase your idea a final time, relating it to some phase of development a preschooler can understand.” Maybe: Your favorite grown-ups can tell you where it is safe to play. It is important to try to listen to them, and listening is an important part of growing.

Whether you’re a parent, grandparent or childcare provider, Mr. Rogers can help you talk to children in a kind way they understand, too.

Read the full article here.

(Photo courtesy


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Tackling a Big Project? Try the Pomodoro Technique

For over six years, I’ve worked from home. It can be challenging to stay on-task, especially with our newest addition, Idgy (see photo below). But I have deadlines to meet, and can’t afford to sit around and waste time.

That’s why I use the Pomodoro Technique.

I learned about it a year or so into my work-from-home venture, and it has become an incredibly helpful technique that has improved my productivity and work/life balance.

Here’s how it works.

  1. Work for 25 minutes.
  2. Take a five-minute break.
  3. Work for 25 minutes.
  4. Take a five-minute break.
  5. Work for 25 minutes.
  6. Take a 15-minute break.
  7. Repeat until your workday is over or your work is finished!

While this technique works for me, you may question the need to be tied to a timer. Feel free to modify the method to meet your needs! Some days – like when my kids are home or I don’t feel well – I work only 15 minutes before breaking or build longer breaks into my day.

The beauty of this time management technique is that it helps me stay on task, and it’s useful for any job from working to cleaning. During my breaks, I stretch, make coffee, fold laundry or do whatever task is calling my name. I love that I can get work done in small doses – no more feeling tied to my desk for an hour at a time or wasting my workday on social media. It’s a win-win!

What’s your favorite way to tackle big projects? I’d love other suggestions! 🙂



13 Health Benefits of My New Obsession – Cinnamon

I discovered a new obsession:



Two weeks ago, a friend and I shared coffee at Folklore, a coffee shop in Elizabethtown, PA. I decided to try the regular brew but added a little cinnamon and milk. Amazing!

I’m not sure what it is about cinnamon, but I can’t get enough. Every morning, I wake up craving my cinnamon coffee, and I want a cup before bed, too.

While researching online today, I discovered that my obsession isn’t all bad. Cinnamon actually has several health benefits!

  1. Delay cell decay or damage with antioxidant properties.
  2. Reduces inflammation.
  3. Fights infections.
  4. Boosts immunity.
  5. Repairs tissue damage.
  6. Lowers cholesterol and heart disease risk.
  7. Regulates insulin, which affects metabolism and energy.
  8. Lowers blood sugar with a dose as small as 1/2 to 2 teaspoons.
  9. Improves Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease potentially.
  10. May protect against cancer.
  11. Treats respiratory tract infections.
  12. Inhibits certain bacterial growth, including Listeria and Salmonella.
  13. Prevents tooth decay and reduces bad breath thanks to its microbial properties.

With so many health benefits, it’s easy to see why I can’t get enough cinnamon. But you don’t have to like cinnamon coffee to get the benefits of this wonder spice.

  • Sprinkle cinnamon on your fruit, ice cream or yogurt.
  • Add cinnamon to soups.
  • Cover meat with cinnamon before you roast or grill it.
  • Toast almonds in cinnamon for a quick snack.

How will you enjoy cinnamon today? If you want, come on over and join me for a cup of cinnamon coffee! : )

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Birthday Month Celebration Week 2

I’m continuing my month-long birthday celebration, and it feels great! Self-care is so often neglected, but I’m determined to continue creating time each day to celebrate me and the things that bring me joy.

Here’s how I celebrated this week.

Day 3: We have bananas, ice cream, peanut butter and chocolate sauce in the house, so I made a sundae! And I savored every bite! To cut the sweetness (I’ve made an active choice to limit sweets this summer), I fixed a cup of black coffee and savored it, too. Delicious!

Day 4: I tossed a pair or ratty pajama shorts into the trash can today. The elastic is stretched and exposed, and there are holes where there should not be holes! 😉 I hate spending money on new clothes, but today I gave myself permission to toss this item of clothing and add “new pair of shorts” to my shopping list. It feels good to give myself permission to wear clothing that looks good and brings me joy. Oh – I also drove to the library and pharmacy alone! How sweet it was to enjoy silence in the car on my drive into town and to choose the radio station I wanted on the drive home!

Day 5: Fresh peaches for lunch! My favorite fruit! 🙂  And hubby and I shared a pleasant afternoon chatting as we watched TV. I’m grateful for these moments!


Day 6: I gave myself permission to take the entire day off work! It felt so refreshing and empowering not to power up my laptop!

Day 7: My daughter gave me the first four presents of my birthday month! They’re each folded neatly and wrapped in aluminum foil and newspaper (one layer for day 1, two layers for day 2, etc.). How fun!

irene's birthday gifts to me august

I also returned a library book today before it was due. Library fines are tax-deductible, but I always appreciate when I remember to be responsible and don’t have to pay a fine. 🙂

Day 8: While waiting for my daughter today, I read a book instead of playing on my phone. That permission to relax and do something I like made me feel content.

Day 9: While sipping my morning coffee, I heard a bird chirping. I paused a minute to listen to the song and realized how much joy I felt from this simple act. Sometimes, treats surprise me with their simple yet profound impact!

I also enjoyed lunch at Red Robin with a friend. And because of a gift card and my free birthday burger, our meal cost only $5.12!

Day 10: This morning, I tried to work on an assignment, but my brain just wasn’t working. I finally decided to wash dishes – I always feel better when my sink is clean! I then prepared a cup of cinnamon coffee, savored a small scoop of chocolate ice cream and listened to the Parachute Band on YouTube. That 20-minute treat brightened my mood, helped me relax and made me smile!


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Happy Birthday Month To Me!

My birthday is not until the end of the month, but I celebrate every day in August because why not!?!? 🙂
A few years ago, I decided that life is too short not to celebrate me, so as part of my self-care, I throw myself a mini party every day in August! So far, I’ve:
Day 1: Treated myself to two small scoops of mint chocolate chip ice cream. I prefer Moose Tracks or Turkey Hill’s Double Dunker, but this is the only flavor in our freezer right now. And I let it sit out a bit so it was melted around the edges just the way I like it. Yum!
Day 2: Met a friend at the Target Starbucks and enjoyed a coffee with cinnamon and vanilla sprinkles and a much-needed talk!
Stay tuned for more birthday adventures! 🙂
What are your favorite ways to celebrate your birthday?
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Best Crayons for Hot Summer Weather

On a family vacation to Valley Forge and Philadelphia, my parents, sister and I toured Betsy Ross’s house, saw the Liberty Bell and picnicked on the site of the Revolutionary War soldiers’ camp.

It was an exciting vacation, but the drive was well over three hours. To keep us entertained, we took crayons and a coloring book.

Unfortunately, it was so hot in the car that our crayons melted all over the rear window dash!

Don’t let that happen to you this summer! Take crayons that won’t melt inside a hot car.

crayon meltThe winning crayons (i.e. the brand that melts the slowest in hot temperatures) is Cra-Z-Art from Walmart. The loser is Scholastic.

It’s okay, though, if you don’t want to buy new crayons. Simply pack your crayons in a plastic bag and place them in thermal bag with an ice pack or frozen water bottle. They’ll stay nice and cool and will be ready to color when your kids need a playtime activity in the car on hot summer days.

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