Creating a Student Resume with Basic Invite: Stationery That Pops

My daughter turns 15 this autumn and is now in the process of putting together her first resume. She would like to get  job at our local community pool as a life guard because she knows the staff and the hours are flexible. Its the perfect first job for her.

Yet, how does one write a resume when your work experience is so very little? Even when confining her skills and experience to a single page, there is a lot of white space. How does a teen make her resume stand out?

I was compensated for my time writing this product review.

A Unique Student Resume with Basic Invite

I shared with her the idea of using Basic Invite to create a resume. Among their offerings of baby shower invitations  and elegant birth announcements, they also have a fabulous selection of stationery. I explained to her that each template is fully customizable – both the text and the graphics.

“As the card is smaller than a traditional resume printed on paper, your text will fill the space. Thereby, your skills and volunteer experience will pop.” In just a few minutes I drafted a sample for her by customizing a birth announcement.

basic invite graphic

“That’s cool!” she exclaimed. “I want to try.”

Fully Customizable Stationery

Creating an elegant resume took only a few minutes and it was all so easy. Best of all, everything is customizable. If desired, you can even build your own color theme!

Basic Invite is one of the few websites that allows customers almost unlimited color options. Once you select a design you can change the color of each element on the card to over 180 different color options so you can make sure the card is exactly how you want it down to the littlest detail.

In addition, color photos can quickly be changed to black and white or sepia. Each change that you make is instantly previewed for you and you can move text boxes around easily by simply dragging your mouse until your card is just right.

Through the development of unique technology, they’re able to provide you with limitless options that allow you to instantly create a card that is truly unique.

Basic Invite also allows customers the ability to order a printed sample of their actual invitation so they can see exactly how it will print as well as the paer quality before they ever have to place their final order.

Customers can choose from over 40 different colors when it comes to their envelopes so that they can make their invitation stand out even before it is opened. All of our envelopes are peel and seal so the envelopes can be quickly and securely closed.

Based in Saint George, Utah, their passionate team has been creating the perfect card for every event since 2006.

basic invite grad stationeryMany Stationery Categories to Choose From

Check out the many options at Basic Invite. In addition to the elegant birth announcements that I customized, they also have hundreds of options for other occasions such as:

I love the diverse collection of stationery they offer. I know in just a few years I will be using Basic Invite to order graduation announcements and thank you cards.

Unbeatable prices and value, plus innovative products found nowhere else – Basic Invite is now my go-to resource for personalized stationery products.

They often have a sale – look at the top of this page for the discount code and follow Basic Invite on social media Facebook and Twitter).

Mandarin Resources for On-the-Go: “Miao Mi” App Now Available

My daughter is preparing to take the AP exam in Chinese Culture and Language in May. My son will follow her example a couple years later. I am thereby always searching for quality Mandarin resources that provide practice in her second language as well as keep her interest.

A few months ago, I shared a delightful Mandarin resource for families learning Chinese, Miao Mi Educational Programs, a subscription service available through Amazon Prime Video. It has provided a fun way to integrate Mandarin language into our home – even for my teens!

miao miI am happy to announce that Celestial Tiger Entertainment has also launched a Miao Mi app. Now parents can easily immerse their young children in Mandarin language-learning just by using their tablets – perfect for an on-the-go lifestyle like ours.

The Miao Mi app features award-winning shows and games that reinforce language learning. It provides access to more than 500 videos including “Star Babies” and “Pleasant Goat” – popular children’s programs in Asia.

Children and parents with no prior exposure to Mandarin can easily pick up the unique sounds of Chinese just as well as those from Chinese-speaking backgrounds. The programs on the Miao Mi app offer an immersive experience for children at different stages of Mandarin language learning.

“We created ‘Miao Mi’ to give parents a wide range of entertaining and educational programs and games to help give their pre-schoolers a head start learning this increasingly vital global language.” ~ Todd Miller, CEO of Celestial Tiger Entertainment

Available on the App Store and Google Play, the Miao Mi app is free to download, and $5.99 per month to subscribe. A 7-day free trial is available.

To download the “Miao Mi” app, visit the App Store for iOS.  “Miao Mi” is also available in the United States through Amazon Prime Video on Amazon Channels for $5.99 per month. A 7-day free trial is available. For more information, visit

Rediscovering the Lost Art of Parsing: Grammar Studies with Diagrams

Parsing is a traditional grammar exercise that involves breaking down a text into its component parts of speech with an explanation of the form, function, and syntactic relationship of each part.

Historically, it was one of the fundamental exercises that tested and informed students in English. In 1847, for example, a student may have been given the sentence, Virtue secures happiness.

The child would thereupon reply, “Virtue is a singular noun and the subject of the sentence; secures is a regular verb, indicative mode, active voice, present tense, third person singular; happiness is a singular noun, and the object of the sentence.”

I received access in exchange for an honest review as well as monetary compensation for my time spent in reviewing the product.  
All opinions expressed are true and completely our own. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.

Grammar Studies

Learning to Parse

If you have any experience diagramming sentences when you were in school, you may have already begun to perspire just reading of this example. Many adults today would agree, the exercise of parsing was tedious and often very difficult the way it was taught in the past.

“In Language, by twelve, they should have a fair knowledge of English grammar, and should have read some literature.” ~ Charlotte Mason

As Charlotte Mason homeschoolers, our studies are loosely based on the classical subjects. When my children were younger, we dabbled in sentence diagramming but didn’t pursue it very far. I had always wanted to return to it, but never found quite the right resource.

That is until now.

Diagramming Made Fun & Easy

When the opportunity to review the Learn with Diagrams program, I jumped at the chance. This was just the product I was looking for … challenging, comprehensive, and most of all, fun!

The game design allows advanced students to move faster and less experienced students get easier questions and additional opportunities. My kids had a blast working through the course materials.

They were taking turns initially, seeing who could diagram the sentence the quickest. Soon, they both had their hands on the mouse wanting to work through all of the sentences.

diagramming sample

A good grammarian can parse a sentence mentally as fast as she can read it. In doing so, she can immediately identify if any grammar rule is violated. If she knows exactly how to parse a sentence, she can analyze it mentally, and correct it quickly.

“As you discover the architecture of the English language, you will start to notice the rhetorical elements of our great writers. Diagramming helps to better understand literature or any complex writing.”

Learn with Diagrams

One of the things we enjoyed most about the lessons was that the sentences were engaging – not dry and lifeless. Throughout the interactive grammar course, students were exposed to the wit and wisdom of writers ranging from Benjamin Franklin, Mark Twain, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Kahil Gibran, and Booker T. Washington.

Learn with Diagrams is a fabulous program! I highly recommend it to all families interested in learning more about sentence structure or diagramming.

We used it with the Google Chrome web browser but you can also use it on an iPad. However, it uses Adobe Flash so you’ll need to first download Puffin.

Best of all – it is very affordable! The course is only $19 which provides over 5 hours of lessons, games, and videos. Best of all, you have access to the material for one year. You won’t be pressured to get through it quickly. You can take your time and review as often as you like.

Right now, you can save $10 off with the discount code Grammargame 

Follow Learn with Diagrams to learn more and for future product announcements.


Miao Mi Educational Programs Delight Both Preschoolers and Teens

My children have been learning Mandarin Chinese since they were each five years old. We do not live in an urban area like Portland or San Francisco – so access to bilingual schools or immersion programs have not been available to us. We have thereby relied on the materials we could find online.

I was compensated for this review; however, all opinions are my own.
Miao Mi Amazon Channel Review
This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission.

When we first began our journey with Mandarin, we struggled to find resources and materials that were targeted at second language learners. Much of the curriculum I found was directed at parents who spoke Chinese themselves and desired to teach their children their mother tongue. As I don’t speak Mandarin myself, I was at a loss and unable to assist them with instructions.

Over the years, the availability of materials has increased and I am continually learning of online learning resources, bilingual materials, and curriculum designed specifically for families like ours. When I learned of Miao Mi, an educational channel on Amazon, I was delighted to try out the material with my kids.

Miao Mi offers an excellent way to support language learning, and provides a Mandarin language immersion approach to learning a new language.

Miao Mi is Educational

Miao Mi is a collection of animated programs in both English and Mandarin. Each series is designed to educate and entertain through captivating animation, adorable characters, and clever storylines.

The target age for the Miao Mi educational programs is preschool and early elementary. I was therefore a little apprehensive about sharing the programs with my teens – I feared they would balk at the content and find the animation babyish. Much to my surprise, they not only enjoyed the animated storyline but were engaged in the language.

By writing and dubbing each episode in Mandarin and again in English (without translations or subtitles, using appropriate character voices) Miao Mi provides high-quality, entertaining, immersive experiences in both languages.

Miao Mi is a safe, ad-free channel or subscription based service provided by Amazon Prime presenting high-quality animations from Asia’s leading producers of children’s programs.

Miao Mi Amazon Channel Review @EvaVarga.netMiao Mi is an Immersive Experience

Miao Mi is designed to provide immersive language exposure for children who are learning Chinese (Mandarin). Most of the programs do not provide language instruction, rather they immerse the child in the language.

My teens enjoyed the programs, “The stories are really cute and it was easy to follow along.” Though they were familiar with most of the vocabulary, the words that were unfamiliar could be easily understood based on audio and visual context clues.

While prior exposure to Mandarin will help a child learn the language more quickly, the immersive experience of Miao Mi will provide an entertaining supplemental resource that extends the language learning experience.

For Amazon Prime members, ongoing access to the Miao Mi channel is only $5.99 per month.

Miao Mi is Variety 

One of the greatest benefits of Miao Mi is the diverse content. There are several programs to choose from – each of which offer multiple seasons and subsequent episodes.

The Miao Mi language learning video-on-demand service offers over 500 videos specifically curated for kids around the world.

Praxis: College Alternative Apprenticeship Program

My oldest is a freshman in high school and is adamant that she wants to pursue a degree in environmental engineering. She has already begun taking college courses to prepare her for this journey while also pursuing other areas of interest in art and foreign language.

My son, on the other hand, insists he does not want to go to college. Yet, he is very bright and learns quickly. He hopes to someday earn his pilot’s license but beyond that, his goals are less clear.

He states, “I want to make it on YouTube!” It is hard to convince him that the probability of achieving this is less than getting a full athletic scholarship despite his top-5 state times for swimming.

What the future holds for either of them is not certain. What I do know, however, is that they will seek out opportunities that are rewarding as well as fulfilling. While college is the goal for many, we as parents also know that there are alternatives.

What if your high school senior could get an awesome startup job right now, whether she has a degree, a few college credits, or no college at all?

Praxis College Alternative Apprenticeship Program
I was compensated for my time reviewing this product/service, you can read my full disclosures here.  All opinions are honest, and I was not required to write a positive review.

Praxis Apprenticeship Program

I recently discovered a very intriguing program called Praxis and I am more than a little impressed. Praxis doesn’t just teach you about business theory – it is so much more. The program combines educational modules, 1-1 coaching, real world work experience, and personal projects to launch your student to success and an exciting, engaging, and profitable career.

According to their website, “Praxis is a 9 month startup apprenticeship program that leads directly to a full time job. No college degree required”.

Praxis Apprenticeship Program

The folks at Praxis have created a formula that works.  The combination is a 3 month business Bootcamp + a 6 month paid apprenticeship at a growing startup, the result is a guaranteed job with a startup company (no college degree required).

Homeschool Entrepreneurs

We are big fans of Dave Ramsey and we often listen to his podcasts in the car. His philosophy has sparked interest within my kiddos to start their own businesses – she a food cart and he utilizing his new drone.

Their interest and drive is not unusual for homeschoolers. In fact, homeschoolers typically graduate high school with more life experience than your typical public or private school graduate. This often correlates to higher maturity and work readiness. This is something Praxis readily acknowledges. Praxis: Homeschooling = Entrepreneurship

This is not an internship — participants add real value at a company that wants to see them grow and succeed. They shadow the founder(s) of the company, complete self-driven projects, and get to see what the real day-to-day of growing a company looks like. Upon successful completion of the program, they receive a full-time job offer at their business partner. The average salary is $50,000 per year.

Praxis encourages applications from homeschoolers.  In fact, they love getting homeschool applicants.   If you are already interested, you can apply here.

We will be looking at this program for our kids and can’t wait to hear about more results within our homeschooling community.

Ever Wanted to Visit Switzerland? Now You Can With Case of Adventure

Travel has always been a major part of our homeschool lifestyle and we consider ourselves to be World Citizens. We do our best to immerse ourselves in other cultures while also learning more about our own nation’s rich history and geography. When I learned of the opportunity “to travel to Switzerland” with the CASE OF ADVENTURE Switzerland Unit Study, I knew it was the perfect fit for us.

Cuckoo Clock Secrets in Switzerland unit study

Whether your family enjoys traveling or has never traveled overseas, you’ll love how Cuckoo Clock Secrets in Switzerland makes learning come alive.

Cuckoo Clock Secrets in Switzerland is the first book of the CASE OF ADVENTURE travel series. It centers around a homeschool family that travels regularly. Upon reading the first chapter, your kids will dive into adventure with Ren, Rome, Jake, Libby and Tiffany as they discover an ancient coin and a mystery connected with a cuckoo clock which takes them to the beautiful land of Switzerland. In their quest to solve the puzzle, they unearth some fascinating history and recover a lost fortune.

Switzerland Unit Study Resources & Ideas

We’ve have always had an eclectic, Unschooling approach to educating our children. Many of our most enjoyable learning experiences have been unit studies using a novel as our spine.

Some of our past unit studies include:

We thereby relished in the opportunity to explore Switzerland in a unit study based on the novel Cuckoo Clock Secrets in Switzerland. It was a relaxed way to stay engaged in academics through the holidays.

I began each morning reading aloud a chapter or two and then the kids would dive into the investigation suggestions (IDAs) at the end of each chapter. Several videos related to the content were suggested for each chapter. We thereby learned how cuckoo clocks were made, how ropes are made for mountain climbing, relative distances, the Protestant Reformation in Switzerland (a huge part of the mystery), and the process of cheese making.

Huge metal vats of curds and whey were stirred with big metal arms and the curds cut into small blocks with wire slicers and then reheated. 

“How does the milk change into cheese?” asked Rome of Frau Von Allmen. 

“They add a culture to the milk. The culture is a bacteria which changes the cheese as you heat it,” she replied. 

cheese factoryUpon reading about the family’s visit to the large cheese houses in the village of Gimmelwald, we revisited our own experience in cheese making at a local cheese factory. Inspired, we also enjoyed making cheese fondue and sampling a variety of Swiss cheeses we found at our local grocer.

To coordinate with our science studies, I asked each of the kids to write an expository essay describing how a cuckoo clock functions – describing the simple machines within. As I shared our activities with family over the holidays, we learned that Grandma Raandi (my mother) has one she says needs a little repair that she would be willing to give us. We haven’t yet got our hands on it (she doest live locally), but we look forward to applying our new knowledge soon. We’ll keep you posted. :)

I love how living books can encourage further investigations and explorations of topics. Following these little rabbit trails are what make homeschooling so unique. After immersing ourselves in the Cuckoo Clock Secrets, it is no wonder that Switzerland has now bumped up on our “must see” countries list.

Switzerland Lapbook Activity Packs & Printables

If you are pressed for time or if you are inexperienced in putting together a unit study of your own, CASE OF ADVENTURE makes it easy. In addition to the great novel, they have also put together a wealth of activities and downloadable resources. Destination Switzerland is available now and Scotland will be available soon.

Switzerland Unit StudyVisit CASE OF ADVENTURE to purchase the Destination Switzerland Unit Study as well as download the FREE Maps Pack and Money Pack to use for your geography studies. You will also find the Mega Travel Activity Pack that goes along with any novel in their series. Filled with spy gear and codes – this activity pack will bring the mystery to life, especially for younger kids.

My kids have never been very keen on lapbooks and we don’t have a color printer. Thus, what I appreciated best in the activity packs was the teacher manual which provided all sorts of amazing tips and suggestions for integrating Switzerland studies into our daily activities.

Worldview: CASE OF ADVENTURE is not a fully secular curriculum. There is mention of Christianity, bible study, and prayer but the curriculum and activities that accompany the novel are not a Bible curriculum.


Follow CASE OF ADVENTURE on Facebook and Instagram to learn of future titles and activity ideas. You will also find them on Pinterest. If Twitter is more your style, follow Karyn Collett, the author.

Take advantage of the Special Launch Discount of 25% off entire cart for 10 days only – use coupon code: 25LAUNCH (February 1-11, 2017) or enter to win

Please note the discount is applied to the downloadable products only, not the print book from Amazon.