Tuesday, April 30, 2013

An Uncommon Life: Years of Preparation by Lee Tom Perry {Deseret Book Review}

A few blog postings ago I mentioned that I haven't read much by way of biographies.  No reason in particular I suppose, I just haven't.  When Deseret Book offered me the opportunity to review two of them I couldn't resist!  I enjoyed the Eliza R. Snow biography a lot and this one about apostle L. Tom Perry is just as good!!

 
Elder L. Tom Perry, a senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is fond of describing himself as being "as common as dirt."  Yet his life is uncommon by any standard. After spending most of his early years in his hometown of Logan, Utah, and additional years on a mission and in the military, young Tom Perry launched a twenty-year professional career that took him from his first job as an internal auditor in Boise, Idaho, to executive positions in retailing on the west and east coasts of the United States. Soon after his fiftieth birthday, he was surprised to be called as an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve. Not long afterward, President Spencer W. Kimball extended to Elder Perry the call to join the Quorum of the Twelve. Elder Perry has now served for forty years as a General Authority.

Written to commemorate his 90th birthday, this biography is written by Elder L. Tom Perry's son Lee Tom Perry.  In the book he says, "My father has given me little direction about his biography, but he has made one request - it should have a purpose.  In other words, it ought to teach something to everyone who reads it."  Don't worry Elder Perry, it does! 

Following L. Tom Perry's life from birth to present we are blessed to see how his life experiences have shaped the amazing man that he is today.  Did you know he was in the Marine corps?  How cool is that?  Did you know his first name is Lowell?  And, seriously, his smile is contagious don't you think??  Through all of his life he has maintained a positive attitude and by taking this peek into his life we can learn valuable lessons.  He is such a faith-filled man and he shows you through his example how to draw closer to God and live a better life by giving service to others.

I have enjoyed reading about Elder Perry's life and by far the pictures are my favorite part!  You can read an excerpt or if you would like to purchase a copy of An Uncommon Life by Lee Tom Perry you can find it at DeseretBook.com in hardback for $31.49 or as a Bookshelf eBook for $13.99

Don't forget the Deseret Book Bookshelf eBook app is free and when you download you get 8 free LDS eBooks plus the Scriptures!

Disclaimer:  I received An  Uncommon Life free of charge from Deseret Book in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed here are my very own.  Thanks so much DB.com!!










Saving Memories Forever {Mosaic Review}



I have family members who tell the most hilarious stories!  There is nothing worse than sitting down and trying to re-tell that story to someone else and forgetting the details, or worse, the punchline!  Saving Memories Forever is an new app that is designed to help you record your family history and save it to be enjoyed for generations!

From their website:  "Have you ever wished you could remember your parents’ stories about their childhood? Do you have relatives who you only see once in awhile, but whose stories you’d love to capture and keep? Have you planned to write down your family history, but just haven’t had the time? Saving Memories Forever helps families record, save, and share family memories 'one story at a time'". 

Saving Memories Forever was developed by husband and wife team Harvey and Jane Baker.  About 20 years ago they assembled their family tree but soon after realized that there were holes in their history!  They felt like, on paper, they didn't really get to know their relatives.  Their stories were still untold.  They wanted the ability to listen to their family members crack their famous jokes.  From this desire Saving Memories Forever was developed.

Isn't this program such a great idea?  I had a lot of fun playing with it and I'm glad I have an opportunity to share how it works with my readers!

The program is in 2 parts.  You will need a smart phone to use the program and you will need a computer to manage the stories that you record.


I have an iPhone but this product is available for Android devices as well.   So, the first thing to do is go download the free Saving Memories Forever app.  The app is simple to use, it will walk you through the process to record and download stories.

Start by opening the app on your phone:

Click the Get Started button, it will walk you through a simple set up:

Next you add your Storytellers.  In addition to myself, I added both my girls!  Once you type them in, you can add a photo.  

Once you have chosen your storyteller you choose which era of life this story will fall into.  I had my kids record some stories so I chose Childhood.

Next it gives you a list of questions that you can answer, or if you scroll down further there is an option for "other."  

Here I have chosen the question, "What did you want to be when you grew up?"  Hit record when your storyteller is ready to talk and stop when you are done.  It is so easy!  It will give you the option to playback before you submit it as a final recording.  Upon hitting submit it will also give you the option to share it on Facebook.
My kids LOVED hearing themselves and I can't imagine how precious it will be to have their adorable little voices saved forever tell me stories.

Now, once you have submitted your story you will go to the website to manage them, share them, attach documents or transcripts, etc.



It really is a very simple, easy-to-use way to record your favorite memories!  We are loving it and I can't wait until I get a chance to record some other family members!

Interested in getting started?  Visit SavingMemoriesForever.com to watch a great how-to video, download the app, or set up your account!  The Saving Memories Forever app download is free and they offer a limited use free version that you can try out but to get the full benefit of the Saving Memories Forever app you can pay only $3.99 per month or an annual fee of $40.00 to enjoy unlimited storytellers, stories and more.


Thanks for stopping by and hearing about the fun we are having with Saving Memories Forever!  My friends at Mosaic Reviews also reviewed the Saving Memories Forever app.  To see their thoughts on this fun family history tool visit mosaicreviews.com:




Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Far World by J. Scott Savage {Deseret Book Review}


Do you like to read fantasy?  It's never been my favorite genre but the last several times I have been offered an opportunity to review something like this from Deseret Book, I've jumped at the chance!  I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed this series so much and I think you might like it too.  So it is my pleasure to tell you a bit about Far World!




Far World is an intriguing series written by J. Scott Savage and it follows the adventures of a boy named Marcus and his friend Kyja.  Written in the spirit of Fablehaven this fantasy series finds the 2 teenagers battling against evil forces that are beyond this realm.  In a place where magic spells, charms and potions are the norm they meet up with some interesting characters in a place called Far World.  In this alternate world Marcus and Kyja are gathering the mythical Elementals so they can open a "portal" between both worlds.  I don't want to give too much away, but here is a short synopsis of the series so far.


Book 1: Water Keep
This first book introduces you to the main characters.  Marcus is wheel-chair bound but dreams of a life outside of his crippling circumstances.  When Kyja pulls him into her world he discovers that she suffers from a handicap of her own.  In a world where magic prevails she has none.  Together the two join forces to face "the Dark Circle."

Book 2:  Land Keep
In book 2 Marcus and Kyja must travel to Land Keep to find the Augur Well, an oracle that is protected by perilous traps and trials.  The Dark Circle gets close and Marcus and Kyja are faced with temptations...

Book 3:  Air Keep
In book 3 Marcus and Kyja continue their journey to find Air Elementals.  The Dark Circle continues to grow in power and the teens wonder who they can trust.  Oh...and of course you are left hanging!  We only have only been to 3 of the elements keeps!  LOL.

If you are a fan of fantasy you will enjoy this series.  Although the books are clean (no cursing, there is a kiss though) I would really recommend it for ages teen+ as some of the material wouldn't be enjoyable for younger kids.

Right now all 3 books are available in all different types (hardcover, softcover, eBooks and Audio downloads) at DeseretBook.com.  
Check them out HERE.

Learn more about J. Scott Savage by visiting his website at http://www.jscottsavage.blogspot.com/

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

Spanish For You - Fiestas {Mosaic Review}

We love it when we get a chance to try something unordinary in our homeschool day.  We have tried doing Spanish in the past and we always seem to lose interest in the inexpensive little workbooks that you get from the bookstore but do not want to pay a lot of money for a true Spanish "curriculum."  We were hesitant to try another Spanish program just because we haven't had much success with it in the past but we were willing to try again when we were offered a chance through the Mosaic Reviews team to try a program called Spanish for You!


Spanish for You! was written by Debbie Annett as a way to bring the joy of learning Spanish to every family at an affordable price.  Debbie studied in Seville, Spain and holds a masters degree in curriculum & instruction from Northern Illinois University.   You can learn more about her on the about the author page.

We received the Fiestas eBook download, .pdf files that included the student materials, Lesson Guide and .mp3 downloads of the audio files.

Right away I could tell that Spanish for You! is different that the generic workbooks we were used to using.  The Lesson Guide is broken up by weeks, with 4 days of lessons per week.  Of course this is totally flexible, you do not need to do this program 4 days a week in order for it to work.  In fact, we moved through very slowly doing only 2 lessons each week.  Each day the lesson guide gives you your tasks to complete with your student.  For example, each daily lesson includes something like, read the lesson in the student guide and listen to the corresponding audio.  Do the worksheet.  Play the suggested game and/or practice ideas.  Study from the flashcards for review.  Sing a song.  It really is that simple and easy to use. 

Here are some other great features:

-Spanish for You! is thematic.  We received Fiestas and are learning about party themes, holidays and special occasions.  They also have seasons and travel.  Studying Spanish thematically is really fun!  It makes it more interesting and gives it a unit-study feel.  The great thing about the thematic approach is that there are no "levels" to this program.  You can start where you are and still use this program!

-Spanish for You! encompasses a variety of ages.  3rd - 8th grade can study the same topics together.  It isn't often that you will find a program that lets your kids in variable ages work together like this.  Oh, and I should add...we are using this for my daughter who is 6 (2nd grade).  I would say this program can easily be adapted to younger children.

- Spanish for You! is inexpensive.  Other than generic workbooks from the store we couldn't afford some of the fancier Spanish programs.  It is not in the budget for us to spend hundreds of dollars on a computer/audio based foreign language program. 

-The lessons are bite sized.  Perfect for my daughter who loses interest in long lessons.  Lessons for grades 3-4 run for 30 weeks while lessons for grades 5-8 run for 24 weeks.

-The materials are fabulous.  The flashcards are black and white and can be colored in by your child if you like.  There are 2 audios, the first is the materials read by the author, the 2nd is the book read by a native Spanish speaker.

 

Spanish for You! - Fiestas retails for $39.95 for each grade level package or $64.95 for the entire grade 3 - 8 package.

The Teacher Lesson Plans for Grade 3-4 are $14.95 or for Grades 5-8 are $12.95 for .pdf download.

The Spanish for You! website also offers some great extras like free curriculum activities and games, free mini-lessons and free downloadable worksheets.  For more information you could also check out the FAQ pages or the Spanish for You! blog!

We enjoyed using Spanish for You! and I know that my Mosaic Reviews team members did too.  To read their reviews visit the Mosaic Reviews website!  Thanks for stopping by!  Adios!



Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Swept Away by Mary Connealy

 
I am a big Mary Connealy fan and I have read nearly all of her books.  This new series, Trouble in Texas debuts with Book 1:  Swept Away!

Ruthy MacNeil is travelling by wagon train with an adoptive family that treats her like a servant.  While Ruthy would love to escape this horrid family she has no where to go until the unthinkable happens.  While crossing a swollen river Ruthy, and her entire family, is swept away.  Awaking confused and in pain, Ruthy is rescued by handsome Luke Stone.  Luke is bent on revenge.  On a mission to reclaim the property that has been stolen from his family he doesn't have time to take Ruthie back up river to find her family.  Her only hope is to let Luke drop her off at the next town and she can make her way from there.  Finding herself thrown into Lukes plans, Ruthy begins to tug at Lukes heart and he begins to realize that revenge may not be the most important thing in his life anymore.
 
I enjoyed Swept Away but I have to tell you:  In this story, Ruthie and Luke were not my biggest concern after we meet two other characters: Dare and Glynna.  I was a lot more concerned about what would happen to them than I was with Ruthie and Luke.  Hey, guess what?  Of course Mary Connealy leaves you hanging at the end!  LOL.  If you want to know what happens to Dare and Glynna, you will have to hold out (impatiently like me!) for Book 2.
 
Disclaimer:  I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed herein are my own.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Eliza: The Life and Faith of Eliza R. Snow {Deseret Book Review}


Eliza R. Snow is one of the most revered women in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We hear stories of her faith and strength, and we sing her beloved hymns. She was fondly known as "Zion's Poetess" and also as "Presidentess," because of her leadership of Relief Society and her role in forming and directing organizations for young women and children. She has remained a legend for generations of Latter-day Saints, but we know less about her "variegated life," as she described it—the personal joys and sorrows brought about by unfolding events in the young Church of which she was a part. 

This intimate look at Eliza R. Snow, by authors Karen Lynn Davidson and Jill Mulvay Derr, reveals a more private side of this extraordinary woman. She emerges as a bright young poet in Ohio, a new convert to the restored Church, a seamstress, and a sharer in the persecutions and hardships of the early Saints. We see a member of the households of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, a dedicated temple worker, and a traveling Relief Society president with a zeal for teaching the gospel.



I have read very few biographies.  I'm not sure why I haven't because I am always interested in learning about people in history.  When I had a chance to review The Life and Faith of Eliza R. Snow by Karen Lynn Davidson and Jim Mulvay Derr I was excited!  As a Latter-day Saint I have heard a lot about Eliza R. Snow but couldn't exactly pin point why or recall what I had heard about her.  

Eliza R. Snow is probably best known for the popular hymn "O My Father" and her role in the early Relief Society organization but by studying her life and her writings I gained insight into one of the best known Mormon pioneer women and discovered that she did so much more!  Filled with photographs, paintings and her original poems, both published and unpublished, this book is inspiring.  Eliza R. Snow's writings share what it is like to lose a loved one, celebrate friendship, suffer hardships, deal with injustice, encourage patriotism and especially gain a strong testimony of our Heavenly Father.  I had no idea that she has written so many amazing poems (over 500 according to the author).   

The book walks you through Eliza's early life including her touching conversion story.  Through each chapter you can follow the growth and expansion of the church and the ultimate arrival in the great Salt Lake Valley with the early Saints.  Each milestone is documented beautifully through Eliza R. Snows descriptive poetry.

I really enjoyed learning about Eliza R. Snow
and I bet you would like it too. 
You can currently purchase a hard copy of The Life and Faith of Eliza R. Snow at DeseretBook.com for $25.19.  It is also available as a Bookshelf eBook for only $15.99.
Don't forget, the Deseret Bookshelf eBook app is FREE for iPad, iPhone & Android devices!


Disclaimer:  I received The Life and Faith of Eliza R. Snow  free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you so much Deseret Book!!

Friday, April 12, 2013

A Miracle & Murphy's Law x5

I'm overdue for an update but its been challenging.  We've had a couple of, what could only be classified as, miracles  and a ton of, what is definitely considered by me to be, Murphy's Law instances.  I'll get started:

Murphy's Law #1.  My computer died, or at least had a near-death experience.  After taking it into an Apple dealer (since I sadly discovered I couldn't fix it myself) I learned that my iPhoto library went corrupt/kaput and is gone.  No, really.... The last 5 years worth of pictures...Poof.  In the words of the infamous Pete The Cat, "Did I cry?  Goodness no!  Pictures come and pictures go..."  Hence the NO pictures on this blog update.  I don't have time to stress about it now because...

A Miracle.  We decided that since James was now working full time in Marshfield we needed to consider trying to sell our home.  We all know that the market stinks and selling seemed unlikely but we really felt impressed to do it.  So we listed our house on a Monday and had an offer by Thursday.  We have to be out the 1st week of May.  Wow!

Murphy's Law #2.  If anything could make selling our house more complicated it is the exciting home inspection.  A handful of things need to be fixed before we can move so I'm under a lot of stress to get somebody in to take care of all of these things so we can make the transition smooth for our new buyers.

Murphy's Law #3.  There are only 2 places for rent in Marshfield and they are both the kinds of places where you would NOT want to take off your shoes.  Ick!  We have affectionately nicknamed the duplex we looked at the "Poo-plex."  Because it really stunk!

Murphy's Law #4.  We looked to buy a house but the house that we loved got an offer on it 12 hours before we had a chance to submit ours.

Murphy's Law #5.  That was the only house I even liked.  Now we are going to have to settle and buy something we don't really like, rent the poo-plex, or live in a bus in the Walmart parking lot.

And there you have it.  The update.  ;)


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Apologia Planners {Mosaic Review}


I consider myself a relatively disorganized person in general but when it comes to keeping track of appointments and such I have always, always used some kind of calendar.  In college it kept me from losing track of due dates, while in the military it kept me on time for appointments, and now as a homeschooling mom it keeps me from losing track of swim lessons, dental cleanings, chores, assignments and so much more!  I have tried out many different planners of different types and I am always happy to try out one more.  Thanks to Debra Bell at Apologia I had a chance to review the Ultimate Homeschool Planner along with the Ultimate Daily Planner for Students.  Trust me, it was no hardship to review such great products!




First, let me tell you about the Ultimate Homeschool Planner.  To start, it is a lot more than just a calendar.  This planner is a comprehensive planning system that manages your household, your homeschool, and so much more.  Check out the table of contents:

 

The first several pages include detailed pages that show you the myriad ways you can use this planner.   A one-year planning grid helps you plan out your entire year at a single glance.  Everything from summer camps, vacations, birthdays and holidays all in one easy-to-use place. 
The Student Goal Setter pages are perfect for helping your children to set Character and Academic goals for the year.  There is room for 6 students.  Pages also allow you to jot down family priorities, resource lists that you plan to use with each child for the academic year.  The back includes a high school planning guide as well as teaching tips, reading lists, and field trip record sheet.


The calendar pages are blank which I love.  This allows you to fill in your own month and dates allowing you to start anywhere in the year using this planner.  The weekly planning pages start with a Lord's Day plan. This is where you can write down notes from church or your scripture study and refer back to it through out the week.

Included in each weekly plan is a section for recording memorable moments, achievements and evidences of God's grace.


Of course, a homeschool planner would not be complete without a section for tracking each student and their assignments.

This planner is fabulous.  It is so easy to use.  A couple other features that I really like:  The cover is a heavy duty plastic.  It is durable and wipe-off-able.  There is a nice pocket on the inside of the front and back cover that is handy for storing papers.  The planner is full size pages (8.5" x11")

The biggest drawbacks for me on this planner are that there are no tabs or bookmarks.  So when looking for the current month or current weekly planning pages it was taking me a while to shuffle through them.  I have some sticky tabs that I put in myself and it is working just fine.  Also, if you live in a area that requires you to take attendance or keep track of hours there are no forms to help you with that.  You will have to find a place to write that in somewhere yourself.  All in all, this is a great resource!

You can download a sample of the planning pages and check them out!

The Ultimate Homeschool Planner retails for $28.00.

Now, on to the Ultimate Student Planner!

If you have  upper elementary age to junior high-ish students this planner may be a great fit for your kids!  It gives your kids independence in scheduling and planning their own school day as well as an easy way for you to keep tabs on what they are working on!  This planner includes an "all about me" section, personal goals tracker, a study-smart toolkit, grade grid, reading list and activities log, timelines of U.S. and world history, maps, science/grammar resources, Greek/Latin roots, measurements and well, I could go on and on.  This planner is a full study guide!

Oh, I love the active lifestyle log in the back!  This helps your student meet the requirements for the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award.  Cool!

Of course this planner wouldn't be complete without the monthly planning pages (that you fill in yourself so, like the Ultimate Homeschool Planner, you can pick this up and begin using it any month of the year.)

The most essential component to this planner would be the weekly assignments pages....



Don't you love this?  A bubble to mark off "quiet time" (we have quiet time daily at our house!) and a box to mark "done" and "approved."

A couple of other great features:  This has the plastic sturdy cover, is a smaller size (perfect for backpacks about 6.5" by 8.5") and has the moveable bookmark that is also a ruler! 

The Ultimate Daily Planner for Students retails for $19.00Download a sample to get a better look!

I am enjoying my Ultimate Daily Planner and my friends did too, read their thoughts at Mosaic Reviews!

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