Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Time Out Classics {Deseret Book Review}

Have you had a chance to go to a Time Out for Women event in your area?  If you haven't, you are missing out.  They are fun, encouraging and inspiring!

What is Time Out for Women?
I'm glad you asked!  Every year Deseret Book sponsors an amazing conference just for ladies (and in some areas teen girls!)  Called Time Out for Women, the idea is to give women a chance to get away from their daily routine just for a couple of days and take a "time out" to refresh and socialize.  What a great chance to get faithful women to step away from their daily routine and create space for themselves and their spiritual lives!  Each year the theme is different (last year it was called "Higher") and they bring in wonderful speakers from across the globe who are spiritually prepared to motivate you to greatness.  Last year my girlfriend and I drove 3 hours just to attend a TOFW event and it was totally worth it….

So, what do you do when you can't get to TOFW?  Or, what if there is not a TOFW event in your area?  Well, I was  so pleased to review these awesome little books from Deseret Book that are written by various presenters from the event called Time Out Classics.  Small and simple they are like having your own mini TOFW seminars at your fingertips!  I was given an opportunity to review three:

Making It Through the Middle – Emily Freeman.  Life is full of challenges, and it’s easy to feel the end of our trials will never arrive. But is it the end we should be spending so much of our time focusing on? In this book, Emily Freeman shares six lessons, and various personal experiences to assist readers in staying strong when they are right in the middle of a hard time.   

When we are in the middle of trials it is hard to even imagine where the end might be and we may question if we will EVER make it.  In this little book Emily Freeman focuses on six lessons that will help the reader stay strong and endure to the end!  Making it Through the Middle retails at as a Bookshelf eBook for only 3.99 or as a pocket size hardcover (4x6) for $10.99.
Habits of Happiness – Wendy Ulrich.  When happiness doesn’t enter our days automatically, and when life isn’t going as planned, sometimes we are quick to equivocally gauge our overall happiness in life. In this book, filled with scientific research, practical advice and engaging anecdotes, Dr. Wendy Ulrich invites readers to look at happiness in a new way.
Wendy Ulrich asks readers to focus on 7 habits of happiness in her engaging little book.  Filled with personal stories and quotations each habit offers opportunities for further study and recommendations for creating lists and journal entries.  Sharing that happiness is considered a "divine outcome" Wendy helps you find a path to true happiness and joy.  Habits of Happiness retails at as a Bookshelf ebook for only $3.99 or as a pocket sized hardcover for $10.99.
Everything I Need to Know I Learned at Home – John Bytheway.  Sometimes the smallest phrases we use in everyday language can be eternal principles that get us through our lives. In this book, John Bytheway makes an inspiring and insightful connection between everyday phrases spoken at home and principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I think John Bytheway has to be one of my all-time favorite speakers.  In this little book we hear all those old cliche phrases that our parents told us as children only they are turned around in such a way that John applies them to the gospel with our Heavenly Father reminding us that we need to Change our Attitude and Wash Our Hands and Clean Your Room and more!  You can never go wrong with a John Bytheway book and this message for Moms will not disappoint!  Everything I need to Know I Learned at Home currently retails on for $3.99 as a Bookshelf eBook, as a pocket size hardcover for $10.99, and as an mp3 download for $8.99.
All 3 books are a great read and they are such a small, cute size they would make great gifts!  Oh, and if you can, I can't recommend enough how fun a Time Out for Women event is!  You can check their website to see if they have one in your area!

I received these books free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed here are my very own.  A hearty THANKS to Deseret Book!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Porcelain Keys by Sarah Beard {Book Review}

Aria's life is full of secrets--secrets about her mother's death, her father's cruelty, and her dream to go to Juilliard. When Aria meets Thomas, he draws out her secrets, captures her heart, and gives her the courage to defy her father. But when tragedy strikes and Thomas disappears, Aria is left alone to transform her broken heart s melody into something beautiful. Porcelain Keys is a captivating love story that will resonate long after the last page is turned.
Ok, ok, ok.  I'll admit, I avoided picking up and starting this book because, well, I knew that once I started, I wouldn't be able to put it down.  And I was right!  I started reading this book and I stressed and worried about Aria until I finally finished it.   From the very first couple of pages I was drawn into Aria's story….

Aria is a senior in high school and her life is far from perfect.  Her mothers death several years earlier still causes her much pain.  Her father refuses to grieve and denies Aria an opportunity to heal when he takes all of her mothers precious things and locks them away telling Aria that it is "best to forget the past."  Her father has specifically forbidden Aria to play on the piano, locking the parlor and locking his heart.  One night they argue and Aria flees to the sanctuary of an old treehouse observatory on a neighboring property.  She feels safe there, secure, until early one morning her privacy is disturbed by the high school boy, Thomas, who just moved onto the property with his parents.  As he patiently befriends her he carefully uncovers her secrets and her talent at the piano.  He encourages her to audition for Julliard and helps her stand up to her father offering her a home with his family.  When a tragedy  destroys everything Thomas holds dear it causes him to disappear leaving Aria alone to make her way in the world…  yet she not alone as she discovers the music within herself….and she learns to heal her broken heart.

I enjoyed this book!  Congrats Sarah Beard on a real page turner!  :)

Porcelain Keys currently retails on for $15.99.

I received a copy of this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed here are my very own.  Thank you Sarah Beard!

Monday, February 17, 2014

DisneyWorld 2014

We made another fun trip to DisneyWorld!  
Here are a few pictures from our vacation in completely
random order that was too much trouble to fix (thanks Blogger!)
Thank you lots and lots to Gramma and Papa for letting us tag along again.

Smores at the Time Share

Test Track racer that Maggie designed.  Very girly!

Kayley's Racer.

Race Car design.   Test Track takes your car and measures it against performance standards to see how well you did.  It was pretty cool.

Snow White!  We had a dinner reservation at Akershaus in Norway at Epcot's World ShowCase.  It was really fun, the princesses come to your table and talk with the kids and sign their books and take photos.

Then they take the kids on a princess parade through the dining room...

Kayley lost a tooth in Orlando…by lost, I mean, literally.
It fell out never to be seen nor heard from again.

 We spent a lot of time waiting in lines.

Oh, and it rained a lot on us the day we went to Magic Kingdom...


Driving in the car (it takes about 18 hours to get to Orlando)


Thelma or Louise?


Pulling the sword out of the stone…not this time!

Riding the ferry across to Magic Kingdom...

The view from our balcony.

The PeopleMover…the BEST ride in Magic Kingdom.

Papa and Kayley.

Friday, February 7, 2014

In Tune by Gerald N. Lund {Deseret Book Review}

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are all teachers. Not only do we have a glorious mandate to "teach all nations" the gospel (Matthew 28:19), we also have numerous charges to "teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom" (D&C 88:77). In formal and informal settings, as parents or leaders or friends, we are constantly teaching and learning. 
Not only has the Lord commanded us to teach, but He has taught us what we are to teach and how we are to do it: diligently and by the power of the Spirit. But how do we know if we're "doing it right"? What signs can we watch for that the Spirit is actually present in a teaching setting? 
In this insightful companion volume to Hearing the Voice of the Lord, bestselling author Gerald N. Lund brings his decades of experience working in the Church Educational System to the topic of teaching and learning by the Spirit. He discusses common misconceptions, important questions we should ask about our teaching, and the role of the Holy Ghost in the process. 
From the very beginning Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ made it clear that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was to be a "teaching church."  In the Doctrine & Covenants we read that we are to "teach, expound, exhort."  (D&C 20:38l 42).  We also read in the Book of Mormon and in the Bible whole chapters that demonstrate this.  The Savior is the prime example, when He came to earth His mission was to teach the people and minister unto them.   In his book In Tune, author Gerald N. Lund, seeks to share with readers the importance of this charge we have been given and how to teach effectively through the converting power of the Holy Ghost.  He goes into depth on who we are teaching, what to teach, how to teach it…specifically focusing on the role of the Spirit.  Perhaps the most import an aspect of teaching is letting the Spirit testify of the truthfulness of what you are discussing.  Lund dispels myths and goes into detail sharing first what teaching by the Spirit is not…then defines what it really means to teach by the Spirit…which surprised me and literally changed the way I thought teaching by the Spirit was supposed to look like.  Eye opening:  I have been doing a pretty good job of teaching by the Spirit, even thought I felt like I was failing.  Yay!

Now - Here is one of the greatest things about this topic.  We are all teachers.  Even if you are not holding a teaching calling in church right now or if you are not serving a full-time mission, we are all teachers in some way.  We have a lot of opportunities to teach and minister to others without the formality of being a teacher…  This book is a great resource for anyone but as a Sunday School Teacher (13 year olds) this was a very uplifting read that helped me to see what I was doing right and offered advice for more effective teaching.

You can read an excerpt here.

In Tune currently retails on for $21.99 in hardback or is available as a Deseret Bookshelf eBook for $11.99.

The Marriage You've Always Wanted by Gary Chapman {FlyBy Book Review and Giveaway!}

Ever since I have read the book The Five Love Languages I have viewed author Gary Chapman as a relationship guru!  In our family we often refer back to the five love languages as we try to work out our differences with each other.  It really was a life-changing book.  Fast forward several years and now Gary Chapman has authored many more books, each dealing with the difficulties we face in our relationships.  I have enjoyed several in the past including The Five Love Languages of Children, The Five Love Language of God, A Marriage Carol and The Four Seasons of Marriage.  Each one has been a great read!  Thanks to Flyby Promotions I get to read another book by Gary Chapman called The Marriage You've Always Wanted.

In this book Gary Chapman first focuses on the "why" of marriage focusing mainly on our relationship with God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost as our example of unity in purpose and how, with God, we can have the same oneness in our marriage when we create a trinity of God-Husband-Wife.  From there, in the next chapters Chapman addresses common relational problems like why won't they change, what does love really look like, why won't they listen to me, who is responsible for what, decision making, financial battles and even intimacy in our relationships.  Each chapter ends with a "Your Turn" where you are given several tasks to complete before moving on to the next chapter creating an opportunity for you to journal and dig deep to discover how to create the marriage you have always dreamed of.

While Gary Chapman offers a lot of tasks to complete that you should do "with your mate" he makes it quite clear that your marriage CAN change even if you cannot get your spouse on board with you at this time.

I thought this was another great, well-rounded read by Gary Chapman!

For more details about this and other books, visit Gary Chapmans website below.   Oh!  And I should mention that he offers free downloadable study guides on his website for his books.  I'll be taking advantage of those for sure!

They even have small group curriculum available:

Author, speaker, pastor, and counselor.  Gary Chapman has a passion for people and for helping them form lasting relationships.  He is the best-selling author of The 5 Love Languages and the director of Marriage and Family Life Consultants, Inc.  Gary travels the world presenting seminars, and his radio programs air on more than 400 stations.  

Just in time for Valentine's Day, enter to win a copy of Gary Chapman's The Marriage You've Always Wanted below!  Giveaway ends Valentines Day, February 14th at Midnight.  Good Luck!  :)

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.”

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Where are they now?

Ugh!  Right now I am approximately 3 months behind.  Behind what?  I'm not exactly sure.  I wouldn't say "behind schedule" because we are not really a scheduled family.  I'm just living somewhere about 3 months ago and I haven't caught up yet!

Things just went crazy around Thanksgiving with family visiting, then Christmas, then Maggie's birthday, then a trip to California, and now our somewhat-annual trip to DisneyWorld in just a matter of hours!  We have been busy with all kinds of fun things like swimming lessons and field trips, doctors appointments, dentist appointments, car-fixing appointments and a whole lot more.  We have just fallen off our routine and have had a terrible time trying to get back into the swing of things.  Especially hard when you have a trip coming up and you kind of think "why bother?"  LOL.  Homeschool has marched on sporadically with the girls getting way to many vacation days in the last several months.  Its a good thing we "school" year round so that we can have this built in flexibility.  

Anyhow, when we are done with our magical vacation, THEN I can finally celebrate "New Years."  Yes, I'm still mentally in 2013 and I'm ready to move into 2014.  I'm just a few months behind.  :)  

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Reading Eggs Review & FREE TRIAL! {Mosaics Review}

My kids are seriously computer savvy.  We LOVE learning online and have taken quite a tour of many different online programs in the past finding so many wonderful qualities in each one.  But some of the programs we love more than others and I was really excited to get an opportunity to review Reading Eggs with Maggie!  Now that she is 4 she is really making it clear that she wants to do school too and finding a simple online program has been such a fun way to get her feet wet in computer-based learning.  Thank you so much to Reading Eggs and the Mosaics Reviews team for giving us an opportunity to review this product!

What is Reading Eggs?
Reading Eggs has made it their mission to make learning to read fun and enjoyable for your children.  It is easy to use and its virtual world encourages kids to learn...and they don't even realize that they are doing it!  They think they are just having fun and playing games!  There are 120 learn-to-read lessons and 96 spelling lessons on Reading Eggs that are perfect for kids about ages 3 to 7.

Reading Eggs also offers a reading program for older children for children who have completed the Reading Eggs program or who are reading for early chapter books as well as a newer program called Mathseed for Math!  We were given a free trial to Reading Eggs for this review and I'm really glad that I get an opportunity to share my thoughts with you as well as offer an opportunity to get a 5 week FREE trial of your own!

How Does Reading Eggs Work?
Reading Eggs is super simple to use.  Upon login your child would see this screen below.  They can enter which ever program they are wanting to work in.  Maggie, so far, has only tried Reading Eggs (although I'm hoping to try out Math Seeds with her soon because it looks really amazing!)

This opens up your childs dashboard and they choose where to go next…  I usually have Maggie complete a lesson before she can play in the Playroom, My House or Arcade.

After choosing "Lessons" it pulls up her game board.  This screenshot shows you where she is currently in her lessons.  After clicking not the bird she gets started with the program!

There are a lot of different activities.  When we logged in for the very first time it gave you the option to test your childs level so they would be placed appropriately on the game board.  We opted to just start at the beginning since Maggie had very little by way of reading/phonics skills.  She breezed through the first 20+ lessons and is finally feeling pretty challenged as now she is required to phonetically sound out some words and recognize sight words quickly.   In this activity Maggie is learning how to draw an "S."

This activity has Maggie dragging the word to the correct picture.   Honestly, she learned how to do this within a matter of a few days.  I had no idea that she could learn the phonics behind reading that fast!  And it is FUN!  Completing activities earns you golden eggs that you can spend in Reggie's Store.

This activity has Maggie spelling her own words.  Wow!  She has learned a lot and I'm surprised at how well she does!  Most of the activities are simple to manipulate but still challenging.  Maggie has learned a ton of sight words and can recognize them in different settings as well as increased her grasp of phonics and discovering how they string together to make words.

Now, there are two activities that have really caused some frustration…one of them is this one.  You have to stack up those falling bricks.  This requires you to either click the left and right arrows to match them up or use the arrow keys on your keyboard.  Maggie is just not quite coordinated enough that when the bricks are close to the top…she can't coordinate her fingers fast enough to get them to land where they need to go...

Then this activity (Golden Goose) requires her to match up the words.  It is timed and she can not get through this activity without getting frazzled.  She just can't coordinate the clicking and reading before the timer makes her do the activity again.  I ended up doing the clicking while she pointed.  Otherwise she wanted to quit and not play Reading Eggs anymore.

Once Maggie completes a full lesson she is free to play in the Playroom or Arcade, or go "shopping" in Reggie's store.  The Playroom is really fun.  the kids can explore the room playing kitchen, music, puzzles, reading, and more.

The Arcade has fun games that lets you earn extra golden eggs to spend in Reggie's Shop.
 In Reggie's Shop you can spend your golden eggs….
 You can use the stuff you buy to update your avatar!

There is SO much more to this program that I could share with you that we haven't really explored much of yet.  You can visit the music cafe, your house, see your awards, read books, check out your cool critters, and write stories in the story factory!  It is a very comprehensive program that offers something fun for kids of all learning types.

A couple other things:  Reading Eggs is compatible on both iMac and PC computers and there is an app for both Android and Apple devices.

Our overall thoughts about Reading Eggs:
Maggie really has enjoyed playing with the program and asks to do it outside of school time.  She also does more than one lesson in one sitting just for fun.  Once she completes a lesson she has fun playing in the Playroom or Arcade.  It is easy enough for her to use independently but I do have to help her with some of the activities that require more fine motor skills than she has just yet.  I don't mind though, it gives me an opportunity to really see what she is struggling with.  Oh!  I forgot to mention, when your child earns a certificate in the program you receive an email letting you know that your child has advanced.  Plus you can print off the certificate for your records.  How cool is that?  

Reading eggs retails on their website for $49.95 for a 6 months subscription and $69.00 for a 1 year subscription.  You can also add a 2nd or 3rd child and receive 50% off their subscription price.  There are also options to buy book packs that go along with the lessons.

But, don't fort the part where I mentioned you can receive a free 5 week Reading Eggs trial!  

Here are the details...

The Reading Eggs Read-To-Cure Challenge:
From February 3rd to March 7th your child can join thousands of children across the US taking part in the Reading Eggs Read-To-Cure Challenge - an effort to inspire children to read while raising funds for The National Children's Cancer Society )NCCS).  Our goal is to raise $25,000, plus Reading Eggs will match every donation made up to this amount!

About the cause:

The Reading Eggs Read-To-Cure Challenge aims to help the NCCS realize their mission to improve the quality of life for children with cancer. All money raised will help provide financial, emotional and educational support for children and families battling childhood cancer. Learn more about the NCCS at

How does the Read-To-Cure Challenge work?
Children sign up for a FREE 5 week trial of Reading Eggs, the popular online reading program for 3– 13 year olds. From February 3 to March 7 they are encouraged to complete as many books and Reading Eggs lessons as they can. Friends and family can sponsor their reading efforts, with all money raised going to the NCCS*.

What’s more, there are great prizes up for grabs for the top 3 children who read the most books and the top 3 children who raise the most funds!

The Reading Eggs Read-To-Cure Challenge is a FREE event. To start fundraising, children will be set up with their own fundraising web page and you can email family and friends to sponsor their reading efforts with donations!  

To Sign up to join this challenge and start using your free 5 week trial of Reading Eggs visit:  

Discloser:  We received this program free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  Many of my fellow cremates also reviewed reading eggs and you can check out their thoughts by visiting  

*NCCS will earn a minimum of $25,000 from Reading Eggs plus 100% of the donations collected by RTCC participants
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