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Practical Tips For Ordering Glasses Online, Zenni Optical

I have been using Zenni Optical to order my glasses for the past decade. My husband's company does offer eye insurance, but I have done the math, and it is MUCH cheaper for me to pay cash for my exams every two years and then order glasses online.

My son just recently started wearing glasses, and it is still cheaper for us to not use his glasses insurance.  Even if you have insurance, most plans only cover one pair of glasses.  Having a spare pair for these low prices is just smart. My son's glasses (with frames, lenses, and shipping) were only $32!! My last pair of glasses, WITH LENSES, was only $50 with shipping.  I helped a friend order no line progressive bi-focals, and they were only $75 total.

I am pretty blind, so when my glasses broke while I was at a fair 30 minutes from my house, I had to race the sun home because the only extra glasses I had in the car were Rx Sunglasses! Because of Zenni's low prices, I now have a back up pair in each of my vehicles.

Their prices have gone up ever so slightly in the past decade, but so has their selection and technology.

1.  Get your Glasses Prescription from your Doctor, INCLUDING Pupillary Distance (PD).
Remember you PAID them for your eye exam, which includes your prescription.  If you get snide comments or looks, just ignore. You have ZERO obligation to order glasses from them if you, or your insurance, paid them for your exam.

Your Pupillary distance is on your prescription.  If your doctor forgets to write it down, call and ask because they have to have it on file. Zenni says you can measure your own PD, but  I highly urge you to have this done by a professional, because a millimeter off can change your glasses a lot.  It will be on your eye glass prescription, and never changes.

If you don't have access to your doctor, and don't want to get another exam, you can even walk into any Walmart Optical or Sam's Optical (I did Sam's), and ask them to measure your PD, they have a quick tool to do so and it is very accurate.

2. Try on Glasses in Real Life to Gather Data
  The only downfall to Zenni is you can't physically try on the glasses.  The  TRY ON technology has advanced a lot in past few years, but it still doesn't completely substitute  for being able  to put on a pair of glasses, especially if you are newbie to eye-wear. I highly recommend you measure a pair of your existing glasses, or a pair that fits you in the store.  You also need to see in real life what each frame shape looks like on your face. Take a lot of pictures of the frames you like.

I have only had ONE Zenni fail, my very first order, and it was because I didn't look at the measurements of the frames as much as the  TRY ON option.  I ordered frames that were way too wide for my face.  These are now emergency glasses, and I don't mind the fail because I only paid $15 for them.

My son is an almost 11 year old boy who was too big for child's and too small for many of the men's frames.  He tried several shapes and sizes in the store.  Take a lot of pictures!!!!!! We found the shape we like on him, and took pictures for reference later. He also tried on MY glasses, and the fit was perfect.  We used these as our baseline for ordering his first frames.  When those arrived, we made sure they fit well, and then ordered a second pair using the same method & measurements.
3. Search
 Using the measurements, pictures from trying classes, in the store, and your PD, start searching for your glasses on   Be sure to make good use of the search filters, or you will be overwhelmed by the vast amount of options.  The filter will save you time by eliminating frames that won't work with your PD or prescription. For instance, when ordering bifocals, you have to have a certain lens height.  Make sure you check filters in your search, so you don't fall in love with pair that doesn't fit your Rx.

You can search for shape of glasses & materials.  This is where the trying on and taking photos in the store will REALLY help, you can narrow your search pretty easily if you already eliminated certain frames.  For example, I don't like any metal glasses, and I don't look good in cat eyes shape.

Again, remember to look at the measurements of your glasses as you search! Use the measurements as your filter for the search.

4. Selfie TRY ON option
This is where Zenni's new technology makes the process really fun.  Using your PD and the front facing option on your phone, take a straight on selfie.  Zenni will show you how to upload and try on your favorite frames.

5. Don't Waste Money with Extra Options
Zenni is just like every salesperson you've ever met, and will try to get you to pay more by adding the expensive add-ons.

Put your RX in very carefully, checking 2 to 3 times that you have everything exactly as the doctor wrote it.  If you can't read something, call your doctor.

Lens Index
The Lens Index is just the type of material your lenses are made out of.  They WILL RECOMMEND a more expensive lens, always. I have a VERY high Rx, and I am still perfectly fine ordering the FREE 1.57 Mid Index Polymer lens, they are VERY light weight and comfortable. I also drop them ALL THE TIME, and have stepped on them, and they haven't broken. Zenni doesn't even sell real glass lenses anymore, so all the option are lightweight & durable.
My sons has very low Rx, and they still recommended an upgrade from the free lens, so they are just trying to make money.  If your child plays rough sports, maybe consider the high impact lens for an extra $9.00.

Lens Tint
This is how you make Rx Sunglasses for only an extra $5.00!! Tint to 80% to make sunglasses! You can make your sunglasses Amber, Gray, or Mirrored.

Polarized Sunglasses
I have heard great things about polarized sunglasses for your overall eye health.  That said, I lose my sunglasses ALL THE TIME, so I don't spend a lot of money on them.  I just add 80% tint (above section) for  only $5.00

These are transitions lenses that go from light to dark in sunlight.   All of their options are pretty much the same, but you can pay twice as much for the transitions BRAND transition lenses.

Anti-Reflective coating
Spend the extra $5 and get this!  It is worth it if you ever look at any screen ever.

5.  After Arrival, take into Optical Store for adjustments
Every new pair of glasses I have ever ordered look crooked when I try them on, because I have one ear slightly higher than the other.  I have never once had a problem walking into ANY optical store and asking for them to be adjusted; I've been Sam's Club, Walmart, Stanton Optical, and America's Eye-Glass for adjustments, and all were kind and adjusted the frames for free.   I have never been asked if I bought the frames there or not.

Now remember not all optical technicians are equal. My son's pair of glasses came in, and they were sitting too far out on his face.  We went into Walmart, and the technician working literally did nothing.  We then went into Stanton Optical, (where he had his exam), and they changed out his nose pads with smaller pads for free.

To make it special, we bought my son a new case, other than the standard one that comes with Zenni.  We also bought him a special dust free glasses stand to place his glasses in every night, to prevent stepping on them in the morning!

Fun and practical Glasses Stand

I hope this helps on your search!

Easter and Grief

I can confidently say I've never fully grasped the power of Easter until this year.

I honestly still had doubts. In my innermost heart, I wondered if I ever lost someone dear that I might not find comfort in the thought that they were in Heaven.  Did I really believe in paradise that Jesus promised to the thief hanging next to him on the cross?

Sadly, I learned in the most painful way possible what I believe. Like so many lessons in life, I wish I had learned this particular belief without the accompanying experience.  I want patience without waiting.  I want love without vulnerability. I want wisdom without experience. I want appreciation without  loss.

My doubts are gone, and I know what I believe about that paradise. I know with all my heart where our beloved brother, Caleb, is today. He was only 36 , with a fiance and four young children, when we lost him five months ago. He loved with all his heart, including his love for his Savior. But I am still selfish. I want my brother back. I want him to be the one to raise his four kids. I want him to spend a lifetime with the love of his life.

I think it is OK to appreciate where he is, and still weep.  Jesus wept.  Jesus wept when Lazarus was in the grave, even with the full knowledge he could call him back. If Jesus wept over loss, I can too.

 But when I truly acknowledge where he is, I couldn't wish him back to this world of pain.
My brother was an artist when it came to wood and carpentry.  He was always up for learning something new, even starting sometimes before he fully learned it! He rushed into new fun projects with an excitement that was contagious.

How my heart aches with joy that Caleb is spending eternity with Jesus the Carpenter.

 He is waiting for us now, and I have never felt the joy of the Easter deeper than this year. Praise you Lord. Praise you for your defeat of death.  Thank you for this beautiful & painful salvation.

Inside Our Homeschool Workboxes

We love our 5th grade workboxes! Pardon the lower resolution video, but I thought I'd show a little day-in-the-life video of our homeschool workboxes.

Some of the supplements mentioned in the video:

Draw and Write Through History

Guitar Lessons for Kids

Free Piano Lessons for Kids

To see inside of the workboxes, with more specific of each subject, see below post! 
5th Grade Workboxes

How to Manage Library Books in Your Homeschool

The library is one of my favorite places in the world.  America's library system is a thing of beauty. We have so much wrong with our country, but our library system is a reason to feel to patriotic.  Free books.  To everyone.  It is truly awe inspiring.

As a homeschooler on a budget, the library saves us thousands of dollars a year, enabling us to us to study any subjects we want, without any added book expenses.

One of our favorite parts of My Father's World curriculum is the book basket!  Load of pretty pretty books, but at the price of a free library membership!

While I love the library, it can also be overwhelming. The giant book lists in our curriculum is a pro in my opinion, but it can also become a con if the sheer amount of books overwhelms you, or worse, you start adding up fines. Don't let this amazing tool become a burden in your family!

Online Library Holds
Almost all libraries now allow you to put books on hold ONLINE before visiting the library.  Our library has a limit of 10 books for a hold. I get around this sometimes by using my son's library cards to reserve books online, so we can get 30 books with 3 library cards.  This can be done on your phone from the convenience of your couch, after your kids go to bed.

I pick up the holds at the front of the library, instead of going all the way to the kid's section.  When we are busy with life, this can really help you get at least some books in that book basket!

 Online Renewals & Text/Email Alerts
I am the queens of library renewals.   Whenever I get an email that a book is coming due, I go online to renew those books.  No matter what. This way I can take back books on my own schedule, and not the library's. Check out your library policy and take advantage of it!  It will save you a small fortune in fines!

Signing up for email alerts & online renewals are the best things I have ever done at my library, it has almost eliminated my fines.

Library Basket 
This is where all library books live in our house.  They sleep here. Library Books DO NOT LEAVE the room of the library basket.  Period.   I wish I could let my kids read all over the house, but the fines are not worth it.  The library basket stays in the living room, where I can see it at all times.
There are a very few times where I allow my kids to take a book out of the living room, MAYBE in the car on a long trip.  But  all books must come back to sleep every night in this basket.

Bi-Weekly Trips
Never just get one week of books at a time, unless you want to live at the library (which honestly doesn't sound that bad to me).   Because of renewals, I have been known to get THREE weeks at a time.

If I haven't gotten around to reserving all the books I need online, I take my whole teacher's manual with me to the library, and stock up with as many books as my rolling cart can carry (below).

As we finish books, I put them in a bag by the door.  Our library as a drive through drop off box, and we drop off the books when we're out and about.  No need for a special trip, and because of renewals, I can do it on my own schedule.

Make your kids responsible  for the fines if they lose a book.  My boys have paid a lost book fine out of their own money because they lost a book at a park, and it never happened again. They had to split the fine because they couldn't agree on who took it to the park, and who left it there.

If you lose a book, of course you as the mom pays for it.  But I firmly believe as homeschoolers, they need to learn responsibility of keeping track of their school items, especially if they are older than 2nd grade.  A public school child must keep track of their backpack, books, coat, boots, etc.  Our kids need to learn to keep track of  book inside their own home.

Library Cart
With the amount of  books we get, it is easy to hurt your back, shoulder, or any part of you that is over 30 years old!  I have a lovely rolling cart that lives in the back of my back of my van!  I LOVE IT!  Every library as an elevator, and this cart gives me an excuse to use it! I keep a few small bags in the cart, so that I can carry the books into my house, but this saves my back from injury.

Rolling Library Cart saves my back!

I hope this helps someone who is feeling overwhelmed with library books!  Remember the library is your friend!

Pros & Cons MFW Exploring Countries & Cultures

Exploring Countries and Cultures (ECC) was our first year in the family cycle of My Father's World. It was by far one of our favorites!  I also think it is essential to begin with this study; the geographical and cultural context you gain will be essential to any historical study that follows.

The beauty of this curriculum is the core teaching is done together, with additional activities are suggested for older students.  While the Daily lesson plans are in an easy-to-use weekly chart format, it took a few weeks to get the hang of the family cycle.   Since the curriculum designed for a multi age classroom, some resources hit younger  kids, some middle elementary, and some for older. Don't get discouraged if a resources seems over your kids heads. You'll see below we had some books that we didn't use now for my 3rd graders, but will use when we repeat the cycle in 8th grade.

 Don't get overwhelmed if you are beginning, the manual will become easier to navigate as you establish the rhythm  for your Together Time.  It took a week or so of actually teaching from the manual to be comfortable with the flow, and to learn how to leave items out that weren't meant for us.  Throughout the year, you will also need to assess if a book suggested works for ALL your kids. It is OK if your youngers don't retain all the details from every book, they are still learning at their own level. For those of you like to check all the boxes,you need be OK with sometimes not doing something listed because it is too old or too young for your kids.

Below are descriptions of why a book did , or did not, work for our kids.  Your kids are different, so your cons may be our pros!  Please leave a comment on what works for you!

  • Hero Tales- We really enjoyed this kid friendly book of true stories of godly men and women and the character traits they portrayed as they served as missionaries. The manual lays out the schedule well, so you learn about a missionary from the continent you are studying. We printed copy work from Mama Jenn that helped cement then stories and lessons, and counted as handwriting practice.
  • Window on the World- This was an informative book, that was also a family friendly introduction to the religions around the world. I like that it gave us specific prayers for each country, to teach us how to pray for different cultures. It also gives you context on a bigger variety of countries that the student sheets.
  • God Speaks Numangagg-  This book is only used once, but it s a great read.  

  • Memory Verses & Bible Copy work- We did not do the Weekly memory verses and daily readings from Matthew because my kids are active in AWANA, a Bible Memorization Club.  They had enough copy work with Hero Tales printables (see above).
  • Missionary Chapter Books (Deluxe package)- These were way too old for my 3rd graders.  We may visit them again when they are older, but Hero Tales covered all the heroes already, so it felt redundant. 

  • Teacher's Manual Hands-on activities (cooking, flag sticker book, passport, etc) were easy to execute, without buying too many crazy extra items. I would usually make whatever food item was called for on Friday. If we didn't want to use the recipe in the manual for the country, I'd just google a simpler recipe for that country.
  • Student Sheets- You will definitely need the student sheets for this year!! 
  • Trip Around the World & Another Trip Around the World- These books have a few extra worksheets & activities for some of the countries you visit.  You will have to make copies for each child.  
  • Book basket- We used the book basket list  and the library heavily this year, more than any other year. These books will so much more context than you can provide to your together time. Remember this is a jumping off point for your library search! Every country allowed us to fill the library basket full of fiction and non fiction books for all ages. Online library searches at home were a weekly event, and allowed me to easily add many books that weren't on the book list to our basket. Studying one country or continent at a time made finding alternatives very easy.
  • Geography resource books of Children's Atlas of God's World, Classroom Atlas, & Maps and Globes were everyday resources that were essential to the study. We did enjoy the blow up Globe, and used it a lot each day. 
  • Geography From A to Z  was a wonderful book, age appropriate book. It might have been our favorite book of the year!  The illustrations are clear and even taught me many new vocabulary words.  The books is also scheduled strategically throughout the year, like learning about Fjords when you visit Norway.  We used the Printables from Mama Jenn, so that at the end of each child had their own hand drawn dictionary!
  • Currency Kit- We used the money kit, but never fully the way described in the manual. We were suppose to use it to "buy" items in your house each week. What we did was to have them visit the "Money exchange" office each time we got a stamp in the passport. Each new country, they would exchange  $10 American for the currency of that country. They just kept the money with their passport, until we went to the next country. 

  • Wall World Map-We did not use a world wall map due to a very small house & not enough wall space, instead used the map placement we had bought during Adventures in U.S.  History. The blow up Globe also took the place of the need for the wall map. If you have the room for this in your house, go ahead and put it up!!!
  • Geography Game. Even though it comes with the Student Sheets, we never actually used the Geography Game.  Instead we used Stack the Countries App.
  • Exploring World Geography. We did not use this, as I only had two 3rd graders.  I am sure we will use it for when we do the cycle again, but it is more for upper elementary or Junior High. Research skills are developed through the study of continents, many reports are done that are better for older kids.

Our favorite part of this year was the easily accessible science topics. All kids love animals, and the focus on different habitats (desert, rain forest, grassland, forest, polar region, etc.) was loved by all.

  • Living World Encyclopedia was a great kid friendly book, with lots of bright illustrations.
  • Book Basket-Plan to get many of the optional library books listed in book basket, especially for younger kids.  If the book listed isn't at your library, just type in Keyword for whatever ecosystem you're studying! The ecosystem always correlates to the country being studied (e.g., rain forest when studying Brazil), so searching your library catalog will be pretty easy. Even the least well stocked libraries should have some fiction and non-fiction  books on the major ecosystems (babies animals in the desert, animals of the savannah, etc.).
  • The Great Animal Search- This is a good book for younger kids.  Again, the animal study was very age appropriate for elementary aged children. 

  • Properties of Ecosystems was a good book that we tried to read with my science lovers.  It is more of a textbook, as opposed to a living book.  While we enjoyed it sometimes, it mostly just went over the head of my 3rd graders and they didn't retain any details. I'd recommend it for older elementary/junior high science lovers, but may be a bit much for most elementary aged kids.  We will probably like it much better when we repeat the cycle later in 8th grade. 
  • Weekly nature walk and nature journal.  I know this is so important to Charlotte Mason, but   we just spend a lot of time outside already, there was no need to formalize the walks.  We have never kept this up.
  • The Complete Books of Animals (for 2nd & 3rd graders).  We did not use this book, because we used  Draw Write Now which was a science and art curriculum combined.  I found our schedule for these books on the MFW ECC Group.  We also felt the abundance of library book options made this book redundant.  If you do not use Draw, Writw, Now  or your library is not well stocked, I would recommend getting this book for 2nd & 3rd graders. 

For 7th and 8th graders, add Apologia science (purchase separately). We were in 3rd grade, so this didn't apply to us.

Art & Music

  • Teacher's Manuals Art Projects- I am an artistic person, but can slack on art with my kids. Thankfully the projects were scheduled that didn't overwhelm the day, or require super weird materials. Example: When learning about Mexico, we made tissue paper flowers on Thursday that we then used for our fiesta on Friday (we made homemade tortillas on Friday, and it was almost the only thing scheduled for the day).
  • Fun with Easy Origami (Deluxe package)- My kids LOVED this book. That said, is only used during Japan, so you could easily get a simple Origami How-To Book from the library! Be prepared from a house full of paper animals! 

  • GLOBAL ART (Deluxe package) The teacher's manual provides so many hands on activities, that I didn't usually feel like we needed any projects from this book. It would make your day extraordinarily  long if you added all these. If you have crafty kids, you will like to be able to pull from this book throughout your year.
  • Wee Sing around the world (Deluxe package) At first, when we finished every country by eating food from that country, we would play a song from that region while eating.  But the CD only has one song from each region.  I would recommend just getting some CDs from that country from your library, or looking up some on your phone. 

 We have never had great luck with MFW recommend Math. We use Math U See, you can see our review here.

Language Arts
  • Language lessons for Today, Grade 3-  We again enjoyed LLFT, because it is a gentle Charlotte Mason approach to language arts.  Some feel it is too light, but as we have stuck with it, I have seen it gets harder at an age appropriate level.  Some years past have felt almost too light, but I think the 4th and 5th grade are beginning to pick up, and challenge them more with grammar and writing. 
  • Cursive handwriting -  This was a great year to start cursive.   We enjoyed  Cursive Connections: Modern Style, but I think MFW has a different recommendation now. 

  • Spelling-  Spelling Power is confusing, and just does not work with our work-boxes.  It is very teacher driven and we needed a more independent spelling curriculum that didn't require so much teacher presence.   We used Spelling By Sound and Structure for Christian Schools.

Add- Ons
Stack the Countries App   We use this instead of the Geography Game

LEGO LANDMARKS, free supplement using the Legos in your house- This past year we turned my boys' Lego obsession into another avenue of learning.

Friday Family Movie Night. Family movie night during ECC always included a movie from whatever country we were studying. Thankfully Disney has done several different countries.  You can find an extensive list in the MFW ECC Group.

Workboxes - The Workbox system has saved my sanity! I can't imagine homeschooling without it!

Draw Write Now  We used this as a science, art, and handwriting curriculum, and my kids LOVED IT.  Their drawing improved by leaps and bounds, and it as an independent activity that worked perfectly with our work boxes  We used a schedule for these books in MFW ECC Group.


LEGO Landmarks: Free Supplement to ECC

3rd Grade Workboxes- ECC

Soft Pumpkin Cookies~Dairy & Egg Free

I love pumpkin all year long. These cookies are easy to make, and fun little mouth full of pumpkin.

Soft Pumpkin Cookies
Dairy & Egg Free
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg 
  • ½ teaspoon salt 
  • 1 ½ cups sugar 
  • ½ cup margarine (1 stick), softened 
  • 1 cup Pumpkin pie filling
  • 1/3 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 to 3 tsp unsweetened almond milk (add more if too thick to drizzle)

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease baking sheets
  2. COMBINE flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in medium bowl.
  3. Beat sugar and margarine in large bowl until well blended. Beat in pumpkin, applesauce until smooth. 
  4. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Drop by small spoon size onto prepared baking sheets.  Do not make too big or they will not cook through.  
  5. BAKE for 15 to 18 minutes or until edges are firm. Remove to wire racks to cool. Drizzle Glaze over cookies. 
  6. MAKE GLAZE Combine powdered sugar & unsweetened almond milk in a small bowl until smooth. I use a spoon and drizzle over top in a side to side motion. It's not perfect looking, but tastes yummy!

Pumpkin Scones- Dairy & Egg Free

Pumpkin Scones
Dairy & Egg free

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 7 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½  tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • ½  tsp cinnamon 
  • 6 tablespoons cold margarine, cut into small cubes (I put a stick of margarine in the freezer for 10 min or so)
  • ½ cup canned pumpkin pie filling 
  • 3 tablespoons DF Sour cream ( I use Tofutti)
  • 1/3 cup applesauce

1. Scones: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside (or you can use greased backing sheet)
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, pumpkin spice. Using fork to cut the butter into the dry ingredients.  Use fingers to combine  until the mixture is crumbly and similar texture to corn meal, set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, cream, and applesauce. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until mostly combined, (the mixture will seem dry), use your hands to knead the dough against the sides of the bowl, to ensure it is completely combined.
4. Pat the dough into a 7-inch circle. Cut the round of dough into 8 equal triangles. Place the scones on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes, until gold on bottom
5. Powdered Sugar Glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup powdered sugar and 2 tbsp almond milk until smooth.  Drizzle onto scones once they are cooled