Friday, November 28, 2014

In This House We Will Giggle {Book Review}

"As a mom in the throes of parenting, Courtney DeFeo believes that instilling virtues in children starts with laughter, not lecture. That perspective propelled her to create this idea-packed book, in which she offers motivating reflections, real-life stories, and a sandbox full of inventive ways to help you turn your kids’ hearts toward God.  In This House, We Will Giggle shows you how to capture the hearts of your children through fun—so that they experience the goodness of Christ, the joy of following Him, and the difference they can make in the lives of others. (Water balloons not included!)"

I stumbled upon Courtney DeFeo's blog a while back and I was intrigued by many of the postings I read there.  Many of her reflections and thoughts spoke to my heart and I enjoyed going back many, many postings to glean as much wisdom as I could.  Imagine my excitement when I saw that Courtney DeFeo's book was available on Blogging For Books to review!  I snatched it up and have enjoyed reading it immensely.

In This House We Will Giggle takes the reader on a journey through character and virtue.  DeFeo shares how parenting is tough but we can really enjoy the opportunity to be Mom's n' Dad's when we make an effort to find joy and pleasure in it.  One of the easiest ways to find joy in parenting is to create an environment where you love to be with your children.

Each chapter corresponds to a month and each month focuses on a virtue that is necessary in character development for your children.  DeFeo provides a personalized story, scripture memory verse, prayer, ideas for activities and games (complete with supply checklist), catch phrases, questions to elicit discussion and suggestions on how to continuously reinforce the virtue that you are learning that month.  Virtues include:  joy, love, forgiveness, faith, patience, perseverance, respect, responsibility, service, humility, gratitude, and generosity.

This book provides a years worth of character training in an easy to introduce and use format!  This book would make a great gift!  We have really enjoyed it!

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Cutest Lightening Bugs Ever....

Better late than never!  Here are a few pictures from Halloween.  My girls wanted to be lightening bugs this year so we made them some adorable costumes complete with blinking lights!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Awaken Love - The Song {FlyBy GIVEAWAY!}

The Song Couple’s Devotional is a 6-week book for couples that can help awaken love in their marriage. With daily relationship insights and prayer points drawn from the Song of Solomon, this devotional will help couples grow in their relationship with God and one another.   Inspired by the Song of Solomon, The Song is both a full-length movie and resource for churches to explore God’s plan for relationships, love and marriage...
James and I have never experienced a "devotional" book together.  Alone, I have have read several.  Usually ones meant for frazzled Moms!  I thought it might be interesting to see if we might enjoy reading this book as a couple.  We are not finished yet, we are taking it slow, but so far we are enjoying the readings inspired by Song of Solomon!

Kyle & Desirae Idleman have taken scripture directly from the Song of Solomon and applied it to our every day lives.  I am pretty unfamiliar with the Song of Solomon.  I never would've guessed that it was so romantic!  I also never would've imagined that us, loving each other in such an intimate way, was such an important part of God's plan for us.

The book itself is divided into days with each section sharing a personal story, the Song of Solomon scripture and its application.  Then the Idleman's offer a "bridge" to connect the application in the book to your life and throw in another scripture or two for you to consider, ponder and discuss.

The reading takes less than 10 minutes but the discussion is what you make of it.  We felt a little goofy when we first started but once we were a few days into the devotional we really enjoyed discussing what we read and sharing with each other.

Would you like to Awaken Love in your relationship by reading from The Song of Solomon?  I have an opportunity to give away one copy to a reader of Swinging On Small Hinges!  Enter below!  Giveaway ends November 25th at 11pm CST.

Want to know more?

Check out this resource website!

Check them out on Twitter!

Check them out on Facebook!

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 the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Friday, November 14, 2014

Colonial Hoe Cakes {On Tour With the Founding Fathers}

We read in the book George Washington's Breakfast about a little boy who makes his Grandma promise that IF he could figure out what George Washington ate for breakfast, she would cook it for him.  After a lot of research he discovered that George ate 3 hoecakes and had 3 cups of tea for breakfast every morning.  So Grandma goes through the trouble to learn how to make a colonial hoe cake.

Hey!  That was cool.  And I totally wanted to make a "real" hoe cake.
Luckily my parents are the type to humor me and so we did!  

Now, you may wonder what hoe cakes are all about?  Also known as Johnny cakes,  or ash cakes, hoe cakes are a nothing more than a little cornmeal, water and salt.  Remember, corn was a staple in the new world and the people there were very familiar with making "little cakes."  Formed into "patties" the native americans cooked hoecakes on hot rocks near a fire.  The colonial's supposedly cooked them on the end of their hoe!  (although it's open to debate)

We used this recipe from Hillbilly Housewife.

We wanted to try out the idea of cooking these hoe cakes on a hoe (although different websites disagree on whether these were EVER actually cooked on a hoe - which kind of ruined it for me.  Bummer!)  

They turned out pretty good.

After cooking a couple on a hoe we got a little more modern and did what most pioneers would've done.  Cooked them in cast iron with some delicious bacon grease.  Ohhhh boy, THOSE were awesome!  Yum yum yum!

We went crazy and threw in some potatoes. 
(Pioneers had a pepper mill right?)

Served with beans and potatoes our hoecakes were really delicious!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Mount Vernon {On Tour With the Founding Fathers}

Our last stop on our tour was George Washington's Mount Vernon.  The house was smaller than I imagined but by comparison to the average family cabin it would've been a mansion!  It was FULL of original artifacts (his desk, dishes, paintings on the walls, etc) and we even saw the bed that George Washington died in!  Creepy right?!  

They also have a great hands-on children's museum, the tour of the grounds was really neat and included slave cabin replica's, and we even saw the original copy of the Star Spangled Banner!  How cool is that?  

George Washington invented a method for separating the wheat from it stalks by laying it flat in a round barn and then bringing in horses and having them trample it.  The floor had crack and all the wheat fell through leaving nothing behind but straw.

Separating the wheat from the straw.

A slave cabin.

Maggie got cranky and started pouting about midday...

Isn't she adorable?

Kayley had a scavenger hunt challenge that she enjoyed completing during our visit.

It was a really neat place to visit.  
It was a bummer there were SO many tour groups, so it was really, really busy but I'm glad we went!

This last stop on our tour was fun!

We Sold Our House! Are We Nuts?! Probably...

Well.  We have some friends, with a beautiful home.  And they mentioned pretty recently that they were downsizing and planning to sell their house.  We were interested in their has pretty much everything I wanted when we were looking last year.  (think screened in porches, big kitchen, walk out basement and more).  James and I discussed the idea of trying to buy their house and after a discussion with our friends who are selling we thought, why not?  We figured it wouldn't pan out, after all, it's a terrible time of year to sell a house and we were getting ready to go on vacation.  (We were thinking our realtor could show our house while we were gone and it would stay clean!)  So, we quickly listed our house thinking, if it sold then it was meant to be and we would have flexibility to buy our friends home when they put it on the market.

We listed our house the Monday before we left for vacation and had a buyer by Wednesday!!  Again!

Perhaps we are lucky or it was really meant to be?  Either way we went on our big vacation for nearly 3 weeks and then had to hurry fast when we got home to abandon ship....

Finding a rental was a challenge since we did not want to sign a lease.  (We have no idea really when we can put an offer on this house since we are at the mercy of the VA certificate and our friends who have decided to build another home).  Fortunately our realtor owns several rental properties and had something to offer us while we wait.  Unfortunately it is in Springfield...  So we now live quite a distance away from our ward family, James' clinic, and our friends.  Upside?  We are really, really close to all the big shopping areas in Springfield...and at Christmas time no-less.

We moved in the day after the renters moved out and they left a mess!  We helped our realtor clean up since we really needed to be in right away.  The house itself is also dated...  big time.  It was built in 1972.  Think Brady Bunch.  Everything is green.

Green kitchen....

Green Toilet.  (oh and YES, that is CARPET in the bathroom.  Gross...we cleaned the heck out of it, sprayed urine degenerator, and then laid down overlapping bathroom rugs so we wouldn't have to walk on it)

Other things are strangely floral.... 

Or pin-striped.

The shower was pretty rough...we cleaned, bleached, sanitized and threw down shower rugs.

The people who lived here before us had 3 dogs, that seems to have tinkled everywhere so one room is just terribly stinky.  We are chasing back the stink and we are either winning...or I've gotten used to it.  I'll have to remember to ask my friends if I smell bad when I see them.  LOL.

Honestly, its not too bad.  It is better than an extended stay (which would have cost a lot of $$ or signing a lease which would have taken away a lot of our flexibility).

Anyway, SURPRISED?  Us too.
It happened pretty fast and I totally had sellers remorse at closing.
We have no idea exactly what will happen next or when, but, all will be well, eventually.  :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Celebrating A Christ-Centered Christmas by Emily Belle Freeman {Deseret Book Review}

Discover how each figure of the nativity can lead your family closer to Christ this Christmas season. Learn the tradition of the tinkling bell, whip up a batch of French cocoa, create a tender mercy tree, and find ways to make your gift-giving more meaningful as Celebrating a Christ-Centered Christmas guides you through seven meaningful traditions inspired by the nativity setting. These simple experiences will give you an opportunity to escape from the frantic busyness of the Christmas season to spend time reflecting on the Savior and the miracle of His birth.
Ok!  I'll admit that I am guilty of the sensationalism and commercialism that surrounds my favorite holiday.  We love Santa Claus, we love presents, the tree, the lights and all the sights and sounds that come with it. 

Last year we finally decided that we HAD to cut back and give our kids less.  Yes, it is fun, but it was creating a sense of entitlement and I realized that our kids were not understanding the true meaning of Christmas and they were not having a heart for others who had very little.  In fact, last year, I was trying to explain to my children that other kids may not get much for Christmas this year because their families couldn't afford it.  They were perplexed because, after all, if their moms and dads couldn't afford it Santa would still bring them gifts!  What a mess. I want my kids to love the magic of Christmas and still understand the true meaning behind the holiday - which is the focus on our Savior, Jesus Christ.

So, I started looking for activities and books that would that would help bring more spiritual meaning to our Christmas.  This one is a winner!  In this small book, Celebrating a Christ Centered Christmas, author Emily Belle Freeman demonstrates for us seven traditions that will lead us closer to christ while not compromising the childhood joy of the season.  Starting with Mary, she discusses Joseph, the Angel, shepherds, wise men, the lamb and lastly the Christ Child through personal stories, scriptures and hymns.  Her insight helps the reader to glean more meaning of the scriptures and provides the reader with thought-provoking dialogue.  At the end of each chapter she gives the reader a Tradition to Ponder.  This includes a hymn to sing, a story to tell or lesson to share, and a "moment of celebration" where you a service for someone else.  Lastly, you place the figure in the nativity.

You could treat this book as an advent, reading from it and doing the activities in the weeks leading up to Christmas.  Starting with an empty nativity, placing the figures as you go.  I cannot wait to do this with my family this year!  If you are interested in this book I highly recommend getting it several weeks before Christmas to give you time to really dig into the stories and do the activities.  

Celebrating A Christ Centered Christmas retails at for in soft cover for $10.99 and as a Bookshelf eBook for $7.99 .  

All opinions here were my very own.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Monticello {On Tour With the Founding Fathers}

Continuing our tour with the founding fathers, we spent a day visiting Thomas Jefferson's Monticello.  There were a few interesting things that really struck me about our visit, the first being, there was a TON of people there!  On a weekday.  Tour buses, school groups, and families.  They were organized but we were shuffled through Monticello pretty quickly and it was impossible to see everything because we were crammed into pretty large groups and were pretty smooshed together.

To keep you from knocking stuff around they made us wear our backpack backwards.  That was fine but wowzer, they were adamant about it.  I was reminded twice before I even managed to get into the tour line.  It was borderline impolite when I hadn't even managed to get within 20 feet of Monticello yet.  

The house was very interesting, just full of artifacts including a portion of Thomas Jeffersons library (the rest is at the Library of Congress). It was pretty darn cool to walk where Thomas Jefferson walked.  I was a little star struck I have to admit.  Too bad we couldn't take pictures inside.

 Once we finished our tour of the house, things were a bit more spread out as you headed into the lawn and gardens.

On the steps of Monticello.  
This is the back side, where it was a lot quieter.

The gardens.

They are currently doing excavations at Monticello down in the slave quarters area.
Kayley even found a small piece of pottery!  She asked the archaeologist working and he agreed with her assessment and told her she could keep it!

Thomas Jefferson Grave.

The girls and Thomas Jefferson.

The museum was pretty cool.  Here is an invention of Thomas Jeffersons called a cipher wheel.  This allowed him to send secret messages.

Another inventions of Thomas Jefferson's.  A Polygraph.  He invented this so it would automatically make a copy of whatever he was writing.  He was an avid letter-writer and wrote hundreds of letters in his lifetime.  We learned that he would get upset with his grandchildren if they did not return his letters.  

Maggie enjoyed cooking over the open fire in the slave cabin.

Kayley's Monticello.

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