Monday, March 26, 2012

A Perfect Pet for Peyton - review & giveaway!

From the Gary Chapman, best selling author of The Five Love Languages comes a heart-warming story for children!  A Perfect Pet for Peyton by Rick Osborne and Gary Chapman, follows twins Peyton and Penny as they make a special birthday trip to Mr. Chapman's Perfect Pet Pal Emporium.  Finding the perfect pet isn't easy and as Peyton and Penny explore the emporium, interact with Mr Chapman, their friends and meet the animals they are able to discover their primary love language!  Each page is colorful, interactive and just a joy to read!

Enjoy learning more about Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages & A Perfect Pet For Peyton by exploring the following links:

A Perfect Pet for Peyton:
The 5 Love Languages:
 Stay tuned - there will be a free interactive app with in-book experience COMING SOON to the Apple App Store!
Now, for some MORE great news!  I  have been given an opportunity to giveaway a copy of this book!  To enter, please leave a comment below.  Winner will be drawn using on April 2nd at 12pm CST. 

Good luck!  :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Checking In....

Wow!  What a strange tide that has turned in my house.  It has been almost 2 weeks of being thrown into a strange transition period.  I'm not sure how everything just kind of became a "fruit basket upset" but it has.  It's been a while since I blogged anything interesting, so I thought for the sake of Check In...I thought I would, well, check in.  I'm not going to go through the motions of a Homeschool Mother's Journal, but, I think I will give you all an idea of some of the inner workings of our house.

1.  No.  The adoption profile isn't done.  I still haven't even started!  Why?  I can't put my finger on it.  I'm just not "there" for some reason.  With both Kayley and Maggie I felt this strong push to get my ducks in a row...but...for whatever reason, I'm not feeling the push behind me.  Yet.  Several of my friends are friend just got an adoption placement.  I even went to a babyshower a few weekends ago.  While I feel that it is "time"...I'm just not feeling a sense of urgency.  And, I think that is ok.

2.  I have bitten off more than I can chew.  I've backed off of a few of my commitments so I can make more time to focus on my family, homeschooling, and church.  I will sorely miss book reviewing.  I do have a few still out-standing, but I haven't taken on anything new.  Whew.  That feels good.  I was also supposed to be a subject/content writer for Molly (  I can't.  I just don't have time.  I am still an independent consultant/product reviewer for The Old Schoolhouse Mag and I will also still be writing for Latter-day Homeschooling.

3.  I've decided to completely change our curriculum.  Kayley is smart.  Wicked smart.  I am doing her an injustice with the curriculum we are using.  So much of it just become "busy work" for her.  Instead of using a traditional textbook-type curriculum for 2nd grade we will be using Living Books.  (OH! I am SOOO excited).  Following a Charlotte Mason style we will be using Sonlight.  Learning history and geography through Literature.  Hello!  This is the way I wish I had learned in school!  I administered a few assessments to her to see where she was.  No wonder the poor girl was bored.  She tested at a 2nd grade reading level and 3rd grade in math!   We are looking at Teaching Textbooks (3rd grade) for Math, or maybe Singapore.  We need something more challenging.  She has asked to learn cursive so I am searching for ideas there as well.  All of these changes become overwhelming and quite time-consuming.

4.  Maggie has been sick.  Again.  She gets this recurring mystery fever every 6 weeks or so.  She is crabby for 2 or 3 days, runs a high fever...and then --it's gone.  Nobody seems to know why.

5.  The weather has been awful.  I'm thinking we need to invest in a storm shelter.  My heart can't take the stress and strain of freaking out about tornados.  Last night was another sleepless night as I lay awake watching the radar and listening to Southwest Missouri Skywarn net on the police scanner.  Every so often the weather radio would go nuts and shave another 6 years off my life.  I think my stress-hormones are exceptionally high today.  And I am SOOOO tired!

6.  There are piles.  EVERYWHERE.  I am gathering clothes, shoes and toys to be consigned in our spring Rhea Lana sale.  I'm gathering books, books and more books for our new curriculum (this took hours and hours of shopping by the way).  I'm also gathering out-dated curriculum to re-sell at our used curriculum fair.  Oh, there are piles of laundry that needs to be done.  Piles of furniture I want to refinish.  Piles of papers that need to be filed.  Somehow I have started drowning in piles and no matter what I do, instead of the piles going away, they just keep getting moved from one place to another.

7.  I'm teaching primary sharing time all month.  Don't get me wrong, I love teaching...  even teaching kids is ok.  lol.  But, I'm all Type A.  A serious perfectionist and I spend ALL week stressing about my lesson.  Thankfully I just need to teach this Sunday and then I get 1 month as a floater, then a month of conducting before I teach again.  Whew!

8.  My diet is going...nowhere.  Oh. Wait I said I wasn't going to diet.  Well, I joined WW about 2 months ago...I've lost, maybe 5 pounds?  Not much.  Because the eating right/exercising bit seems to take a lower priority.  Higher priorities right now include: sleep (which is why I can't drag myself out of bed early enough to get it done), homeschool, chores, rearranging my piles, sleep, keeping my kids from beating on each other, and sleep.  

There are not enough hours in the day.  Seriously?  Where does the time go?  I blink and the day is OVER.  I would love to kick back and read a book, but if I stop moving for even 5 minutes I start getting awfully sleepy. 

Well.  That is it.  Where we are today.  How are YOU doing today??

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Mercy River - Guest Post, CD Review & Giveaway!!

I am so excited to host Mercy River on my blog today!!  
To celebrate the release of their newest album, Higher, Mercy River is making a full blog tour!  Thanks to a great opportunity from Deseret Book enjoy this guest post by Mercy River's, Brook Stone, and a great giveaway of their latest CD!

A Memory Making Mom 
By: Brooke Stone of Mercy River

Since we’re just getting to know each other, how about we start with a confession. My turn.  Sometimes I get (gasp!) bored playing My Little Ponies. 

Did I just say that out loud? Now that it’s out there, it’s rather liberating. And it’s true—I can play polly pockets, ponies, cars, puzzles, peek-a-boo, etc. for a good 20 minutes or so, but then my attention span starts to wane a bit.

I’m fully aware of this flaw in myself, and it’s always something I’ve wanted to improve on. So last year I decided to do something about it. I made a goal to be a “Memory Making Mom”.
This goal originally seemed rather daunting, but I was determined to make it work. I’ve learned two tips along the way, so even an easily distracted mom like me can make memories with their kiddos.

1) Use the senses. How many times have you heard a song or caught a smell, and suddenly you were taken to another point in your life? I love baking and my kids have always been big helpers in this department. (Which may have everything to do with licking the spatula at the end.) Since my oldest was 2, she’s been perched on top of the counter, cracking eggs, pouring sugar, and, our favorite, smelling the vanilla. I love the smell of vanilla, so anytime we use it we take a moment to sniff in the aroma, smile, and say a collective “Mmmmm!” before measuring it out. I never thought much of this ritual until a few months ago. I started measuring out the vanilla when my daughter yelled out, “Wait! Mom! WE DIDN’T SMELL IT!” I hadn’t realized it was something special to her.

I’ve always believed there is great power in music, and I try to use that power while making memories. My kids know that any activity--from making dinner to doing chores, requires a soundtrack. Many times I play the same music during certain events. We sing the same songs at bedtime, and my kids listen to the same music as they fall asleep.
My hope is, one day they will hear a song and a memory will come with it. They’ll smell vanilla somewhere and their mouths will start hankering after mom’s chocolate chip cookies. There’s a lot of power in the senses.

2) K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple, Sister. Last month my husband and I took our kids to Disneyland for the first time. An insane amount of planning went into this—hours were spent reading reviews, searching hotels, and packing for the long car ride. My oldest, who is 6, is smack dab in the middle of the “princess fantasy stage”, so we knew she would be walking around with stars
in her eyes and a grin that could not be removed. On the way home from our trip we asked her, “What was your favorite part of our vacation?” Her answer? “Swimming with dad in the hot tub!” Mind you, they were there for maybe 30 minutes. I know she loved the other stuff we planned, but that half hour with her dad was her memory.

For Valentine’s Day I decided to do a big Valentine dinner for the family-complete with pink mashed potatoes, heart shaped biscuits, fancy drinks and candlelight. I asked my daughter to help me decorate the table by cutting out hearts from construction paper. She thought it was FABULOUS. She didn’t mention one thing about the dinner I did-but cutting out decorations? She now has plans to cut out shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day, eggs for Easter, and flags for the 4th of July. Boom. A memory that simply requires scissors and construction paper.

In each situation, I had planned my heart out, trying to create memories for my kids. But the things that stood out to them the most were the simple moments.

My memory-making goal is a work in progress. But my hope is, the more memories we make, the less guilt I'll feel when I tell my son, “My racecar is taking a nap.”

Learn more about Mercy River by visiting their website, or buy their newest release, Higher, at Deseret Book!  Want more opportunities to win a CD?  Check out their tour schedule HERE.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

With 12 children between them, it’s amazing that Whitney Permann, Brooke Stone, and Soni Muller have time for anything other than runny noses, sock hunts, and prying suckers off the van floor. But music has been a part of each of their lives since childhood, and is now a strong presence in their homes. The three friends met while singing in the Jenny Phillips Choir and there found a common love for tight harmonies and sharing the gospel through song. Over the past four years, Mercy River has traveled all over the United States and Canada as a highly sought after ensemble, performing for thousands of people while testifying of the Savior. Each member of the group brings several years of experience performing, writing, and directing hundreds of firesides and concerts—as well as recording on dozens of inspirational albums. Their self-titled debut album was released in May 2008, and their popular second album, “Beautiful Dawn,” was released in March of 2010.

Whitney resides in Spanish Fork and loves buttery popcorn. Soni lives in Farmington and loves her bed. Brooke lives in Layton and loves her Kitchenaid.

A hearty THANK YOU to Mercy River and Deseret Book 
for providing me with this opportunity!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Hometown Hearts - book review

Oh, yeah, it is NO secret that Jillian Hart is one of my favorite authors.  I was excited to read her February release, Hometown Hearts, and she didn't disappoint!  

Cheyenne Granger, the local veterinarian, has her broken heart-strings tugged when Dr. Adam Stone's two young daughters bring her a wounded goldfinch to try and save.  As the Cheyenne and Adam are brought together by the girls they begin to wonder if maybe, broken hearts can be mended...  

Follow the continuing story and characters of the the Granger Family Ranch Series...another wonderful Love-Inspired read from Harlequin.

Buy a copy HERE.

Want to read some for yourself?  Check out an excerpt HERE.

Disclaimer:  A hearty THANK YOU to Jillian Hart for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed herein are my own.

Lilac Wedding in Dry Creek - book review

When she ran away from the juvenile home she was raised in, Cat Barker left more than an unstable childhood behind. She also left her first love, Jake Stone. The two had more in common than anyone understood, but neither knew how to trust. Now Cat needs help, and there's only one person she can turn to—Jake, her daughter's secret father. Though Cat can see the tender man she once cared for, she still fears love and marriage. Until a daunting challenge renews her faith—and teaches them all a lesson about trust.

Another wonderful story from Janet Tronstad's Dry Creek series, a Love-Inspired read by Harlequin...Perfect for a rainy day!  Cozy up!   Harlequin Love-Inspired are some of my favorite books!  Clean and heartwarming.  Follow the characters in Dry Creek through an entire series of coming home to an old friend.  :)

To read an excerpt click HERE.

To purchase, click HERE.

Disclaimer:  Thank you to Janet Tronstad for providing me a copy of her book in exchange for an honest review.  Opinions expressed here are my own.

Constantly Craving - book review

In the book Constantly Craving, Marilyn Meberg demonstrates how to make sense of always wanting more.  She insists that our craving are written into our DNA.  Cravings like, happiness, love, friendship, romance, forgiveness, excitement, free time and peace are all part of our nature and that this was essential to our spritual design.  Unfortunately, our cravings are driving the choices we make as adults and they leave us feeling unsatisfied.  The author knows all about cravings and in this books she sets out to help us understand our appetites for more, how to manage them, and how to find satisfaction in our god-given purposes.  Our desires can lead us closer to God and through Him we can find answers and understanding to fulfill our spiritual desires.  I found this book to be a quick read filled with hope for overcoming worldly desires and replacing them with spiritual goals.

Disclaimer:  I was provided this book free of charge by Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review.  All the opinions expressed herein are my own.

The Woodcarver - DVD review and GIVEAWAY!

New from Faith & Family Films, The Woodcarver is a movie about finding answers to prayers.  When troubled teen, Matthew vandalizes a local church he reluctantly agrees to repair the damage he caused to the hand-carved wood by working with the artist & woodcarver Ernest Otto (played by John Ratzenberger).  Ernest is reclusive since the death of his wife and the unlikely pair form a unique friendship.  Together they discover that "everybody makes mistakes....the key to mistakes you make them right."  As their prayers are answered in unexpected ways they discover the importance of finishing what you start and answering the timeless question, What Would Jesus Do?
A heartwarming story of friendship, faith and family!

I do have 1 copy of The Woodcarver to giveaway, enter below! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway  

 “Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or
services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it 
on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally 
and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance 
with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the 
Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Big Girl

I was not ready for the move to the big girl bed, but on Sunday morning, I walked into Maggie's room and realized that she was way too tall for the crib.  It is surprising she hadn't figured out how to get out!  As I walked closer she lunged toward me and at that moment I knew that the crib days were over.  She flung her body over the railing and I caught her right as her body tipped over.  Whew!  The crib was dismantled and packed away and in its place the coveted "big girl bed."  Maggie has slept peacefully in it for 2 nights now, not even getting up once.  She is thrilled!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Homeschool Mothers Journal

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week:
It has been a crazy week.  We have had 2 series of severe storms roll through our area.  I have spent 2 sleepless nights keeping vigil over the radar, Skywarn chatter, listening to the weather radio, and watching "tornado TV."  I'm not sure why but I am completely terrified of tornadoes.  I have seen their devastation.  I have seen houses wiped completely off their foundation.  Living only 1 hour from Joplin keeps tornado safety in the forefront of my can happen here.   I've noticed that so many of my neighbors and acquaintances have such a complacent attitude about the tornadoes in our area.  In fact, one night last year, while I was nervously watching radar I had one friend respond to my Facebook status saying, "you'll get used it (tornado season)...I'm shopping at Target."  One night last season too, I was sitting at Olive Garden with a group of girlfriends when the weather got angry and within minutes the sirens were blaring.  Literally...people kept eating as though NOTHING was going on.  I could see out the windows, the rain was actually blowing sideways.  I, personally was ready to run and duck for cover in the walk-in freezer...but my friends laughed at me.   Perhaps I am panicking unnecessarily...but...the blase' reaction from people who live in this area is unreal sometimes.  Of course, not everybody is like this, but I've encountered it a lot.  Today, storms are bearing down on some of my friends to the East of me and I pray that they are taking the weather seriously and that they will be ok.

In other news, our new chore chart has been going great, our schedule has really helped us to have more time to do fun things and our school days have been going ok too.  My husband has been working tremendously long hours and we are all missing him terribly but somehow even though the days are awfully long, the weeks fly by so quickly.

In our homeschool this week:
We have been really enjoying learning about the Iditarod, sled dogs, Alaska, and the Great Serum Run of 1925.  I blogged about that HERE.  Kayley is learning 2 column addition with carrying, and 2 column subtraction.  She loves math. We have a new hanging workbox system that has been working has really opened up some more space for us to keep more organized.   I know it is time to start working a bit more with Maggie, but I haven't figured out how to make that happen.

Places we are going/People we are seeing/Stuff we are doing
So much to do, so little time.  This is my month to teach sharing time in Primary, and I admit that I am really, really nervous.  I have been preparing for 2 weeks...and I'm still not sure what I'm going to do on Sunday!  Don't even ask about the Sunday's after that or I might have to get a bag to breathe in.

My husband is supposed to be planning the party for the Elders Quorum next Friday, that means that I have been busy helping with this project as well.

What's working/not working:
We've been doing a really fun book for a short morning devotional called "God & Me"  Its for ages 5-7.  We are loving these short stories with questions.   Along those lines...I've decided that our Language Arts program just isn't working for us anymore.  Kayley is just too smart for most of it that it ends up being dreaded busy-work.  I think it is time for a change...  I'm not sure what we might change to, but I'm searching.

I'm reading:

100 Days of Weight Loss by Linda Spangle.  I have been blogging my 100 Day weight loss journey over on a new website called:   Fattery Will Get You Nowhere.  Stop by if you are interested in seeing how I'm doing. This book focuses on the MIND of weight loss...not the diet.  It has been really eye-opening to get behind the "why" of eating.

Something Sharable:

Can you believe how patient and cooperative our cats are?  Me neither.  They put up with some serious shenanigans from my kiddos.  And they are usually purring.

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