Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Kayley is Moving on Up!

Kayley keeps moving on up in swimming lessons going from Beginner II to Beginner III, then to Intermediate I all in the last 4 weeks.  She is having so much fun that when I had thought to take the winter off I couldn't bear to take a chance on having her lose we stuck around and I put Maggie in lessons too.  I'm amazed at how well Kayley does in the water.  She has a very relaxed swim now, no more gasping for air, coughing/spluttering, and I don't feel so stressed out sitting pool side that I'll need to offer rescue breathing or scoop her out with that big hook!  LOL.  She started learning free-style this week and working on getting more stamina...she had to swim her first "lap."  She was so tired and hungry when she was done.  I am so proud of her!  We love our teacher Kayla (who is also Maggie's teacher).  If you are local and looking for a place for lessons I super-highly-totally recommend DiVentures!  

Maggie is doing well too, this week was her 3rd lesson and she is not afraid of the water, she is very trusting of her teacher and is willing to do whatever Kayla asks her to do.  Another Mom sitting next to me made the comment "Boy, she is just smiling all the time."  She is loving her swim lessons too!  She is the only little girl in her class, the smallest, youngest and the newest as well but I think she will do great!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Consider the Blessings {Deseret Book Review}

 If you ask people what they love most about President Thomas S. Monson’s teaching style, chances are they’ll say something about the personal experiences he relates. The accounts President Monson shares are always true, taken from his own life or the real lives of other people. Those warm, memorable accounts have truly become a hallmark of his messages.
Who can forget the woman who saved one of the two sticks of gum Elder Monson passed out to youth in postwar Germany? Or the neighbor who returned a box of baseballs to young Tommy as a thank-you for his kindness to her? Or the father who declined to attend a “Mormon” meeting with his family but had his heart softened by a message he heard on a radio that was actually broken?

 I love, love, love our dear prophet, President Thomas S. Monson so I was really excited for an opportunity to review this book full of wisdom and personal experience.   It is our prophets 50th year as an apostle of the Lord and this book shares 50 TrUe Stories of President Monson's life.  At first glance I was disappointed that there were not any pictures of our prophet throughout the pages, but as I got more into the book I realized that the photos were lovely and really gave the book a feeling of "this could happen to anybody" and you don't have to be a prophet of God in order to have such testimony building experiences.   Each story is short, only a couple of pages but full of gospel truth.  President Monson's faith is amazing and his example is worthy of emulation.   Some stories made me chuckle while some stories brought tears to my eyes.  But, each story is unique, beautiful and simple.

This book is a great size for gifting.  Square!  8x8" with 160 pages.  It retails at for $20.69 in hardback with dustcover or as a ebook for Deseret Bookshelf for $12.99.

Seriously, I think you might want to 
add this book to your Christmas Wish List. 

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

Friday, October 25, 2013

Spooky Symphony - Springfield Philharmonic Orchestra

Thanks to some great friends of ours we were given a last minute chance to go to the Spooky Symphony with the Springfield Philharmonic Orchestra at the Juanita K. Hammons Center.  It was the kids' first time to go to the Orchestra and it was really fun.  Not many pics turned out because it was dark but here is a few:

Yes, that is Batman conducting...  
It was a lot of fun and next year we will definitely have the kids go in costume.  It was a great way to introduce the girls to the orchestra.  They played some spooky music and during intermission they had a costume parade and gave out prizes for the best costumes.  The best part?  Tickets are FREE!

Written On Our Hearts {Deseret Book Review}

If you have ever found the Old Testament intimidating, you're not alone. The less-familiar history, themes, and language, coupled with the length of the book, make it a difficult read for many. But author Emily Freeman loves the Old Testament, and as she shares some of the wonderful things she has learned in her study of this book of scripture, you will find yourself coming to love it too.
"There will come a moment in your life," the author says, "when you or someone you love will struggle with a challenge so great you will wonder how you will make it through. In that moment you will long to better understand the Savior's role as the Deliverer, and to do that you must go to the book of scripture that describes that role the best—the Old Testament."
Have you ever read the Old Testament?  I have - but only once.  It is a heavy read and once you get past the familiar stories in Genesis and Exodus I start glazing over as I read about all rules, laws and weird rituals that don't seem to apply to us anymore.  I had to plow blindly through those parts without understanding much of it and since then, I'm sorry to admit I haven't had much desire to read the Old Testament again.

This book, by author Emily Freeman, offers readers a chance to survey the Old Testament, without all the heaviness!  I love a good "devotional" style book and this one fits that criteria perfectly!  Short chapters take the reader on a tour of the books of the Old Testament.  It doesn't pick it apart verse by verse nor it doesn't break down individual chapters.  What the author does is takes a story from the Old Testament and demonstrates how it applies to daily life.  Sharing her experiences, Emily Freeman offers a clearer look into familiar Bible stories by relating them to modern-day experiences.  Each chapter also offers a single, thought-provoking question to encourage further study and reflection.  I have really enjoyed reading this survey of the Old Testament.

This is a small size book, about 5 1/2" x 7" and I am in love with its pretty cover!  This book would make a great stocking stuffer or sweet Christmas gift for someone special!  It retails in hardcover at for $17.99 or as a Booshelf eBook for $9.99.

Remember, you can download the app for Deseret Bookshelf eBooks free for both iPhone and Android devices!

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

Monday, October 21, 2013

Audrey Bunny {FlyBy Review & Giveaway}

From best-selling women’s author Angie Smith (I Will Carry You, Mended) comes this sweet children’s book about a stuffed animal named Audrey Bunny who fears her imperfections make her unworthy of a little girl’s love. She'll learn the truth soon enough, and young readers will learn that everyone is special and wonderfully made by God.

The Parent Connection (last page of the book) shares discussion questions and activities reinforcing God's love for us.

Audrey Bunny is 32 pages and retails for $14.99 as a hardcover with dust jacket.

We have an opportunity to share with you this cute, cute book by Angie Smith called Audrey Bunny.  Audrey Bunny sits alone in a barrel in the toy department dreaming of someday being picked by a child.   She knows she will never be picked though because she has a smudge on her chest that makes her imperfect.  When she is picked by a little girl named Caroline, the bunny is careful to cover up her "mark" so that Caroline will love her and not return her to the store...  One day Caroline takes Audrey to show-and-tell and the frightened bunny has no way to cover her mark...  What happens next is heartwarming as Audrey learns that Caroline loves her - just the way she is.

The last page of the book has is a Parent Connection section that offers a "Read-Think-Do" for your little ones.   The parent discussion page  questions were thought provoking for my daughters and with some prompting my 7 year old was able to make a connection with Audrey Bunny and herself.

Overall this is an adorable book and the illustrations are beautiful!  

Learn more about author Angie Smith and the book Audrey Bunny by using the links below.

Thank you to FlyBy Promotions, they have offered a 2nd copy to giveaway to a lucky reader of Swinging On Small Hinges!  Enter using the Rafflecopter below.  Good luck!

Disclaimer: “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 iton 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 accordancewith the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Light For My Path {Mosaic Review}

As part of the Mosaic Reviews team we had an opportunity to review a new product from Apologia called A Light For My Path: An ABC Book Based on Psalm 119 written by Davis Carman and illustrated by Alice Ratterree.  We currently use Apologia's elementary science and have used several products in the past as well so it was great to review something from Apologia that was a little bit different.

A Light For My Path is geared toward a younger audience (preschoolers) but a delight for bigger kids  (my 3rd grader enjoyed it as well!).  It introduces both the English alphabet (all 26 letters) and 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet.  Designed to introduce God's word into the hearts of young and old alike A Light For My Path brings the wonders of God's creations through Psalm 119.   Each letter is gorgeously introduced and decorated with animals and other beautiful creatures.

The introductory material gives the parent or teacher some tips on how to use the book and author, David Carman describes the books purpose as 4-fold.  First, read while cuddling with your child to bond with them.  Next, it helps children learn the letters of the alphabet both upper case and lower case and an animal that starts with that sound and a precept from God that also starts with that letter.  Finally, it is meant to help children learn a love and reverence for God and His creations.

This is not a small book, 80 pages of beautiful illustrations.  My kids enjoyed this book as we cuddled up on the couch and I found my older daughter reading it to my youngest several times.  The consistent "God's word, law, statutes, decrees, and precepts are..." were catchy and my 3 year old could "read" the book by herself after listening to it a few times.  

Each page also has an animal "follow you" from one page to the next, my kids had fun finding the animal that jumped onto the next page!  The last pages introduce the Hebrew alphabet and Psalm 119. Overall this cute book would be a welcome addition to any preschool library helping your child learn the alphabet AND God's word.

A Light For My Path retails for $14.00 and can be purchased on Apologia's website.  If you'd like to see a little bit more you can check out these sample pages.  Several of my teammates at Mosaic also reviewed a copy of this book.  You can read their reviews at!

Friday, October 11, 2013

SHAME ON YOU! Rowan Forest Homeschool!

Apparently I have some creepy friends at Rowan Forest Homeschool who have been stealing my blog content and claiming it as their own since 2009.  Mostly review product links but a handful that actually includes pictures of my children, my husband and myself. There are no links on their site that allow you to contact them, pretty clever and sneaky.  Nor are there any ways to leave comments on their postings.  I'm not sure what they hope to gain through their copyright infringement, I am a small blogger...or maybe that is why they chose to steal from me, assuming they wouldn't get caught.  And, they've gotten away with it for 5 years now.  I guess it worked.  

But it is WrOnG!
It is illegal!

Rowan Forest Homeschool!

Potty Training Success (Finally!)

We thought this day would never come, but we have finally had potty-training success!  Maggie was a thousand times NOT interested in potty training EVER.  She was very clear.  We had tried several times but she wasn't having it.  I finally gave up.  Just completely gave up and ignored the whole potty training thing.  Then one Saturday we were at Walmart and Maggie spied this little potty seat that plays (annoying) music.  It fits over a regular toilet.  She insisted she NEEDED this potty seat and that, if we bought her this potty, she would potty train...she promised.  So, we figured, "why not?"  

We took the potty seat home where it was forgotten about all day Sunday.  Then, Monday morning (this was a couple of weeks ago now) Maggie woke up and said, "I'd better use my potty seat."  And she went into the bathroom, climbed up on the toilet, pushed the triumphant (not annoying anymore!) music button, washed her hands and requested big-girl panties.  I obliged and the rest is history. 

I'm not kidding.  I did NOTHING other than hand this little independent girl a potty seat and Rapunzel undies.  She potty trained herself...  Way to go Maggie!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Swimming Lessons Update...

Kayley has been in swimming lessons for several months now and she has really taken to it like a fish!  She loves it and she is progressing nicely.... Her teacher is wonderful and so patient.  While the classes can hold up to 4 kids it has just been Kayley and one other little girl- who is also a homeschooler - who also turned 7 in July!  She loves having a little friend in her class and they are both advanced enough that they can often be in the water at the same time.  With only 2 kids that makes their swimming lesson a great deal for the $ we pay!  It is basically a semi-private lesson for the price of a group. 


Deep enough?   Yes, you are reading that right, 
Kayley is swimming past the 14 foot marker.
I try really hard not to hyperventilate while she is swimming 
but sometimes I tend to hold my breath!
I think somehow I am trying to "help."  LOL!
 I'm glad she is doing great and loving it!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013 {Deseret Book Resource} provides new resources for missionaries and their families
Where you serve is not as important as how you serve.

President Thomas S. Monson shocked the listeners at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints General Conference in October 2012 when he announced an age change for missionaries.  With this call to serve many young men and women all over the world are taking strides to serve a mission right now.  I am not close to having a child out on a mission myself, but I know that many of my friends are so I thought I would quickly share this new resource sponsored by Deseret Book.  It is called and it offers tons of missionary information all on one easy to use website.    I found it to be a wonderful website!  

Here are a few of its features:

Comprehensive Q&A and FAQ sections help you determine how/when/why you should serve a mission.  Articles, videos and more.  There is even a section for senior couples who are thinking about serving a mission.

 If you have already received your mission call you can learn all about your mission by reading through the mission directory.  Discover what you'll eat, what language you'll speak and hear about the mission from real missionaries who have served in that area before you.

For families who are supporting missionaries in the field 
you can conveniently send care packages!  

Salt Lake City, UT (September 17, 2013) – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints currently operates over 400 missions with more than 75,000 missionaries serving throughout the world. When the missionary age change was announced in the October 2012 general conference, a new wave of prospective missionaries began preparing for the moment they would receive their call.

After receiving the call, missionaries and families often begin their search for specific information on that mission. 
Until now, there has not been a centralized site to learn about the culture and people of each mission area.  On October 1st, 2013 Deseret Book Company will launch an online missionary website, focuses on each phase of missionary service—prepare, serve and return. It includes helpful hints to prospective missionaries including tips for how to pack efficiently and how to prepare to leave as well as inspiring and authentic experiences from former missionaries.  A complete mission directory, created by missionaries who themselves have served in that area, provides information about local customs, food, transportation, safety, and many other insights.

“We saw a way that we could provide a gathering place for missionaries and the families of missionaries to become acquainted with the area where they would be serving as well as provide other unique resources,” said Laurel Christensen Day of Deseret Book Company, “and was born.” is easy to use and provides a library of information for prospective and returning missionaries as well as help to families of those currently serving (a section for senior couples will be coming soon). Familiar LDS authors as well as recently returned missionaries and past mission presidents will be regular contributors to the site. 

In addition to great free content and resources, families will be able to send care packages directly to their missionaries with guaranteed delivery from Deseret Book. Service is available to most missions.

For more information on Mission Home, visit

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Rufus and Ryan Go to Church {FlyBy Review & Giveaway!}

This cute little board book by Kathleen Long Bostrom introduces us to a little boy named Ryan and his stuffed friend, a little monkey named Rufus.  We watch as Rufus and Ryan attend church together learning a bit about the "do's" and the "don'ts" of sitting in a worship service.  They learn to be quiet and reverent.  They learn to close their eyes during the prayer and to say "amen."  Afterward they have a snack with the other children and head for home.   The illustrations by Rebecca Thronburgh are colorful and adorable.  The characters are also very real in their "wiggles and giggles" while sitting in the pew.

While this book is a board book and recommended for (about) ages 2 to 5, this book is perfect for any family who will be taking their children to church with them for the first time.  In the past I attended churches that didn't have children in the sanctuary or chapel at all.  Our church is not like that, we actually keep our kids with us through the entire chapel meeting.  This could be a difficult transition for families who are accustomed to dismissing their children to "children's church" while the adults worship together. 

My daughter Maggie thought this book was fun but she was quick to point out that it was not allowed to have a big toy like Rufus in church.  (Which is not's one of our family rules, it makes us a little less than reverent).  It made it a great opportunity to explain to her that some children, especially when coming to church for the very first time, might feel more comfortable or safe with a special friend from home.  This made perfect sense to her! 

 Rufus and Ryan retail for $7.99 but you have an opportunity to win a copy for free right here on Swinging on Small Hinges!  Enter using the Rafflecopter below and thanks so much for stopping by!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: “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 iton 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 accordancewith the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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