Thursday, May 21, 2015

Where have we been?

Just a fair warning or disclaimer:  This post is going to be picture intensive!  Sorry in advance.  :)

If you recall we went to the Cincinnati Homeschool Convention back in early April.  We were lucky that we had the chance to pick up my Mom and bring her back with us for an extended visit, so we've been really busy!  Here are a few of the things we did over the last several weeks...

We went to the Zoo...


We discovered that Bass Pro offers a free Kids Club.  Check it out!

We spent a day at the Discover Center where Kayley bravely rode the High Wire Bike!

We paid another visit to Mansfield to visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum.

We had fun at Silver Dollar City where we watched the dance show "Ireland."

My brother and his wife had a Gender Reveal Party that we Skyped in to.  
We were Team Blue.

Maggie went Team Pink.

(Team Blue was the winner!  I'll have a new nephew in September!)

We've had several visits from this little turtle.  
We marked him with a sharpie...

 In other news, I upgraded my computer to Yosemite and the new Photos app is frustrating.  (Hence the lack of updates).  I still  haven't figured it out yet...  boo.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

When Calls the Heart Season 2 Premier! {FlyBy Giveaway!}

The series is inspired by Janette Oke’s bestselling book series about the Canadian West. “When Calls the Heart” tells the captivating story of Elizabeth Thatcher (Erin Krakow), a young teacher accustomed to her high society life, who receives her first classroom assignment in Coal Valley, a small coalmining town where life is simple, but often fraught with challenges. Lori Loughlin plays Abigail Stanton, a wife and mother whose husband, the foreman of the mine, along with a dozen other miners, has just been killed in an explosion. The newly widowed women find their faith is tested when they must go to work in the mines to keep a roof over their heads. Elizabeth charms most everyone in Coal Valley, except Constable Jack Thornton (Daniel Lissing) who believes Thatcher’s wealthy father has doomed the lawman’s career by insisting he be assigned in town to protect the shipping magnate’s daughter. Living in a turn of the century coal town, Elizabeth will have to learn the ways of the frontier if she wishes to thrive in the rural west on her own.

Do you love Janette Oke??  I do!!  I didn't know there was a tv series based on her books until a couple of weeks ago.  I was thrilled to watch the sneak-peak season premier of season 2 of When Calls the Heart.  Taking place in Canada, When Calls the Heart, follows the story of Elizabeth Thatcher, an inexperienced teacher who receives an assignment in remote Coal Valley.  In Coal Valley life is quite different than the elite circle that Elizabeth is accustomed to.  She keeps company with Jack (who apparently kissed her at the end of season 1 and I missed it!).  Jack is a Mountie (SWOON) who was initially unhappy at being assigned to Coal Valley specifically to watch over Elizabeth.  When an explosion in the mine kills several miners the widows are forced to work in the mines to make ends meet.    It is then that they discover that the explosion may have been due to negligence and short-cuts in safety that the mine owner condoned.  As we enter season 2 a trial is underway to get to the bottom of what happened and clear the names of the men who were killed.  Problems with the trial are exacerbated when a female prosecutor arrives and finds the judge fraternizing with the defense.  Things go from bad to worse as their only witness is "bought out" and changes his story on the stand.

This has been such a good show!  I have NOT seen season 1, but I scrounged around to find it and it is available on Netflix!  I can't wait to go back and see what I missed.  You can catch Season 2 airing April 25th on Hallmark channel!!  Don't miss it!

But!  Guess what!  If you are a lucky winner here on Swinging On Small Hinges YOU can win Season 1 on DVD!!  (And then you can loan it to me!  LOL)

Enter using the Giveaway Tools below.  (Ends April 30th).

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Great Homeschool Convention - Cincinnati

Here in South West Missouri we have a small homeschool convention and while it is fun I have harbored this desire to go to a BIG homeschool convention.  So this year I convinced the hubby, James, to load up the kids and go to one of the Great Homeschool Conventions.  We chose Cincinnati since it was only an 8 hour drive and I heard that it was THE biggest.  (Yes, it was go big or go home!)  Anyway, it was AMAZING.  There had to have been 200 vendors there and at least a dozen conference speakers running simultaneously.

The girls attended Giant Cow, the kids conference.  Their first day there was a fire and the kids had to evacuate the building.  The staff kept the kids calm and organized and did a great job!  Both girls had a blast and really want to go back again (this isn't something that they offer here at our small conference)

We were a bit star-struck to meet several homeschool "celebrities" like Dr. Christopher Perrin from Classical Academic Press...

And Mr. Demme from Math-U-See!  
(Please excuse Maggie - she is still shy around strangers and was hiding behind Daddy)

The vendors were fun and friendly...we tried out instruments and got a ton of freebies!

And....we tried Cincinnati Chili.  It was yummmmmy!  I have GOT to learn how to make it!

Overall the convention was so fun!  We had such a great time and while I said something to the affect of "oh...this is probably the only time we will do this" I have to admit...that I may have to convince the hubby to go again next year!  :)

Monday, April 13, 2015

What Makes Us Sisters {Deseret Book Review}

"Sisters take care of each other, watch out for each other, comfort each other, and are there for each other through thick and thin," observes Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women general president. 
In this delightful and inspiring book, Sister Oscarson encourages all women to look beyond differences in age, culture, and circumstance in order to better nurture and serve one another. She explains that all women—young or old, married or single, working in an office or running a home—have unique talents and gifts to share. Focusing on the boundless blessings that Latter-day Saint women enjoy, Sister Oscarson urges women throughout the Church to live and inspire others in ways that realize their greatest potential.

Sister Bonnie Oscarson has been one of my favorite conference speakers.  She is always so insightful and has such loving, kind advice for women.  In this little book, What Makes Us Sisters, Sister Oscarson asks all women to look carefully at one another and recognize that, while we are not all the same, we are all sisters in Christ and we all have great potential.  It is filled with inspirational pictures, some of which would make awesome "memes!"

I love these "gift sized" books (measuring 6.5" by 6.5").  They perfect for giving in a welcome basket, a special friend who needs to be uplifted, or mothers day!

You can buy a copy at as a hardcover for (currently) $14.99!

Disclaimer:  I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions here are my very own!

Monday, April 6, 2015

A Heart Revealed {Deseret Book Review}

Amber Marie Sterlington, the Rage of the Season in Regency-era London, has her pick of men, and she knows what she wants most in a husband: a title and a fortune. Why would she ever marry for something as fickle as love? And why would she ever look twice at Thomas Richards, a third son of a country lord?  But when Amber's social standing is threatened, the character of her future husband becomes far more important than his position. After a public humiliation, she find herself exiled to Yorkshire. alone except for her maid, Amber is faced with a future she never expected in a circumstance far below what she has known all her life. Humbled and lonely, Amber begins to wonder if isolation is for the best. Who could ever love her now?
Ok, I shout for joy every time a new book comes out in this favored Proper Romance series!  I have LOVED every single one I've read and I'm always ecstatic when I get to review another one.  This book, written by popular author Josi S. Kilpatrick is called A Heart Revealed and it features Amber Sterlington, belle of the season.  Amber is beautiful and could have her pick of men and she is out to get just the right husband.  She wants one with a title and a fortune.  Love?  Nonsense.  But, as we read in the teaser her "social standing is threatened" when something dreadful begins to happen to her.  I am NOT going to tell you what it is because it would really spoil the book for you.  She is forced into exile and realizes that love was NOT nonsense and she should've grabbed for it while she had the chance.  Doomed to a life of exile she is surprised by the attention of Thomas Richards and wonders if maybe, just maybe, she might not be forced to live a life of loneliness after all.

It is good.   It is really good.  Every Proper Romance I read just gets better and better.  This "dreadful thing" is unlike anything I've ever, ever, ever read in a historical romance before.  You know another thing I like about this book?  It's tasteful.  Proper Romances always are.

So, I think you will enjoy A Heart Revealed and you can buy it at as a paperback or a Deseret Bookshelf ebook.

Disclaimer:  I received an advanced reader copy of this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed here are my own.  Thank you so much Deseret Book!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Real Moms {Deseret Book Review}

I didn’t have gold shoes, and I didn’t have time to go shopping, but I thought I could just spray-paint some heels I owned that I never really wore. I spray-painted them and tried them out for three hours at church where they held up perfectly. I felt pretty good about myself. “Suckers who buy gold shoes when they could just spray-paint them,” I thought, congratulating myself for my frugality and my foresight for testing them out. 
As moms, we improvise. We get along. We make things work. And we make a lot of things up as we go along because, let’s face it, no manual is ever going to cover all the bases a real mom needs to touch. But if laughter and perspective and a renewed energy to face the day are what you’re after—if you too are a “real mom”—this is the book for you!
I am a real mom.  How about you?  While I've never gone so far as to spray paint myself a pair of gold shoes I have gone so far as to make things work with household items like tape and safety pins.  Some thing have worked out and some, well, not so much.  But isn't that what motherhood is all about?  Making things up as we go.  There is not one single right way to do everything and sometimes we just have to improvise, substitute or DIY.

In this book Real Moms: Making it Up as We Go, Lisa Valentine Clark (remember her?  from Pretty Darn Funny?), shares the ups and down of being the Mom.  Complete with rants and "side rants." Lisa offers the reader a humorous and insightful look at Mommyhood.  I found myself laughing along with her foibles and nodding my head yes emphatically over the things NOT to say!  She is a real mom and she helped me discover that I am a real Mom too and that that is a great thing.

Real Moms retails at as a paperbackbookshelf eBook and an audio book!  Don't forget that Deseret Bookshelf app is free and can be downloaded to Android and iPad devices!

Disclaimer:  I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed here are my very own.  Thank you Deseret Book!!

Monday, March 23, 2015

#Amazed By Grace {Deseret Book Review}

What is grace? What difference can grace make in our lives? How does the Savior make His power available to us? And what must we do to gain access to that power?
In Amazed by Grace, Sheri Dew discusses each of those important questions, exploring a topic that she describes as being central to the Atonement of Jesus Christ. "The most compelling, most life-changing message of all time," she writes, "is that Jesus Christ has already triumphed over sin, death, hell, temptation, and every kind of misery."

I have always loved Sheri Dew.  When I joined the church she was a counselor in the General Relief Society Presidency.  She is just so "real" that I felt like she was one person that I could really relate to.  She has never married and I appreciate her optimism and enthusiasm for life even through the trial of being single (when church expectations are otherwise).  I wish that I had been able to face the future with such bravery and faith when we were going through the trial of being childless (also something the church expects otherwise).

I have read (I think) every book Sheri Dew has published.  She is an insightful woman.  This book, Amazed by Grace, was another winner.  She discusses Grace, what it is, and the idea of it being "after we have done everything we can do."  I was blown away by the end of the first chapter when I realized that I had been defining "grace" wrong and I actually had no idea what it was or what it was all about.  It was an easy read.  Sister Dew has a special knack for making complex topics understandable for those that read them.  Sister Dew's unique style of writing is very conversational.  I would sure love to meet her in person one day!

This book is small, perfect for gifting.  (Mothers day is right around the corner!). You can purchase it as a Bookshelf eBook or as a hardcover.

Disclaimer:  I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions here are my own.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The First Easter Ever {BookLook Review}

It's not very often I run across a really great kids book that focuses on the events leading up to Easter. The first Easter is often viewed as a tragic time but in reality it is a joyous occasion.  Jesus did what God had asked him to do, to provide a sacrifice for sin and demonstrate Gods love for us by offering his only Son.  This kids book is perfect for reflecting on the joy that is Easter.  Starting with Jesus' ministry we see John the Baptist, his selection of disciples, and his preaching to the people.  We do see Jesus upon the cross but it is tastefully done for small children. 

I have enjoyed every book we own that is illustrated by Dennis Jones.  So well done!  This book is also an awesome little paperback (not a board book).  My 5 year old has happily toted this book around the house.  Check out The First Easter Ever.  It will be a nice addition to your library.  :)

Disclaimer:  I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.
I review for BookLook Bloggers

Monday, March 16, 2015

To My Friends {Deseret Book Review}

"If you need a burden lifted, I want you to imagine I am in a personal, private, closed-door chat with you. I want to help you if I can." With those words, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland invites every reader of his latest book to become a friend, to receive instruction and encouragement, counsel and comfort.

I love Elder Jeffrey R. Holland.  Ok, I admit, I love all the apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  :)  It seems to me that whenever an apostle opens his mouth you can just feel the love and concern for us pouring out.  This new book by Elder Holland is a compilation of past talks with beautifully designed quotations pages on a rich background of color.  It's true that I have heard many of these talks before but they are still wonderful to have in a nice hardbound volume.  His words of comfort and messages of counsel are timeless. 

In this book, Elder Holland addresses these powerful messages "to my friends who love the Lord," "to my friends who want to change," "to my friends who face opposition," and more. Throughout, Elder Holland's powerful witness of the Savior shines through, for, as he writes, "I am grateful for the greatest friend any of us could ever have, in time or eternity, the Lord Jesus Christ."
I enjoyed reading through these messages.  Some I was hearing for the 2nd time but some I was hearing for the 1st time.  (I'm a convert!)  As, I was reading, I was sure wishing I had the ability to frame the beautiful artwork and hang it in my house!  This book would make a lovely gift for a dear friend or family member (think, Mothers/Fathers day is right around the corner!)

To My Friends retails at as both a Booshelf eBook and a very lovely hardcover.

Disclaimer:  I received To My Friends free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you Deseret Book for the opportunity!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Orscheln Chick Days

It's always great to find something to do that is educational, free and fun!  This morning we headed to Orschelns Farm and Home store to check out all the baby chicks at their annual Chick Days!  The employees there are so patient and sweet with the girls and they were able to pick up the chicks and hold them.  I believe this is going on all month so check it out!  Kayley, my nature girl, LOVED it...and Maggie, my girl who likes all things soft and cuddly, was in Heaven. 

A baby turkey...

Those are "fryers."  
Kayley was horrified when she realized that meant they were to eat!

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