Friday, October 21, 2016

A little story about a little book for little ladies

I’m always on the lookout for books for my girls with good storylines. Things that spur them on to be better kids and to see that there are other kids in the world like them. When I find something good, I like to share it with others...and I’ve found the best way to share it is to get the local library to purchase their own copy! So, when Natalie Grant published two books, I asked our public library to order them and they did. Sweet! Now any kid can find these while they browse the juvenile fiction section of our library. The story gets sweeter when I saw Grant had written a third volume, so I downloaded a copy onto my phone. 

Miracle in Music City is about a set of sisters and their mom in Nashville and the funny things they find themselves doing. They love solving mysteries, just as any girl does! This is a fun read, a good one to add to your vacation reading list for your kids. 

As far as e-books, I come back AGAIN to the point that my kids and I do not enjoy them. We had to keep reminding ourselves that this book was stored on my devices. I thought having it with me all the time would mean that we would read it when we were waiting for piano lessons, soccer games or other appointments, but we didn’t. I don’t know if we will ever enjoy the e-book format, so for now, I will be sure to only get physical copies of the books I want us to read. 




Thanks BookLook for a free download in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Book Review: Hidden In My Heart Scripture Memory Bible

I am always on the lookout for a cool Bible to give to my kids or to our college students. The classic, straight forward, nothing-but-the-Bible is a must, but sometimes it is fun and motivating to have additional studies, information or lists throughout the Bible. Tyndale Publishing House recently released a Bible called the Hidden In My Heart Scripture Memory Bible, in the New Living Translation. 

The Hidden in My Heart Bible comes with a download code for 100 free scripture memory songs, because we all know that singing something helps most of us remember it easier, after all. I was a little hesitant about the quality of the songs, but I figured I would give it a try anyway. 

As far as the Bible goes, it is a nice size and weight and I think the scripture memory helps throughout are nice. Tyndale included a list of the first 100 verses to memorize, which go along with the songs included, and a challenge list to memorize after you’ve done the first 100. Additionally, the Core 100 verses also connect to a section in the back of the Bible which explains the scripture further, called the To Dig Deeper section. The readers are told which page to turn to to find the right Dig Deeper page. Also, the corresponding song number is there. My biggest hang-up is that it is not a hardback book, and I don’t think it would hold up to major lugging around without a Bible cover. 

Back to the songs. If you grew up in Sunday School, then you probably remember hearing high-pitched, sticky-sweet sounding songs. To most kids, those songs were fun and nothing too crazy. But to the adult in the room, those songs caused major headaches and the constant question of why the singers won’t bring it down an octave...? These songs are the same. The kids like them, the adults don’t. I do have to admit that there are several genres represented in the 100 songs, and a list is included in the Bible as to which ones would be most appealing to different ages. 

What are my plans with this Bible? I’m ignoring that it came with songs and will keep the Bible around until I meet someone that needs a Bible. If you’re serious about scripture memorization, this is a great place to start. 





Thank you, Tyndale for sending me a free copy of The Hidden In My Heart Bible in exchange for my own opinions.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Book Review: Home Sewn

Home Sewn is a B-E-A-utiful book about sewing things for your home- everything from tea towels, to lamp shades, to large floor cushions.... And these are items that are made with high quality materials which makes for a high-end style final product. This isn't your "I know how to sew, so I am going to download some instructions online and use my stash of scraps" type of book. This book is for the artist who finds interest in the detail of textures, fabrics, and simple homemade goods. The author, Cassandra Ellis, gives plenty of detailed instructions, but she does seem to assume the reader already has a decent knowledge of sewing.

While reading this book, I learned that linen has some amazing super powers. Did you know that it can absorb more water than cotton, has antibacterial properties, nonallergenic and is stronger wet than dry? Also, whereas cotton comes from the cotton plant, linen comes from the flax plant.

The only downside I found with this book is that the recommended sources are only european websites and stores. The same or similar items can be found in the USA, but it might take a little more searching for us. Ellis is writing from London, so it makes sense that her suggested shops would be somewhat local to her.

I have a wonderful artist-friend in mind that I plan on gifting this gem to. She enjoys decorating her home with homemade things and pulls out that sewing machine occasionally.




Thank you, BloggingforBooks, for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review- The Look and Tell Bible (A board book for littles)

Have you seen this cute board book of Bible stories? It’s called The Look and Tell Bible by Dawn Machell. It’s actually a well-made (can take a lot of rough and tumble play,....which is a good thing at my house!) collection of 11 Bible stories. Each story gives you a page of illustrations with their key words, so when you read the text, the child can fill in the key words by looking at the image. This is a great book for the pre-reader and beginning reader, as well as for the older siblings to read to the littles. I love how it’s interactive and asks that the child be involved in the story-telling. 
We have a huge stash of books at our house and I plan on making room on our shelf for this one. I might hide it away in my Christmas hiding spot for my youngest this winter. 


Thanks BookLookBloggers for sending my this cute book in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Have you given your child the world? (Book review)

Call me superficial, but I really love a book that looks and feels good. (Yes, I do judge a book by it’s cover unless I am convinced of the quality of the author or was told to read it by a trusted friend.) Give Your Child the World, Raising globally minded kids one book at a time, written by Jamie Martin (a Connecticut resident, no less!) met my expectations. I was a little skeptical at first, because, as a homeschool mom, I don’t need another list of books that I need to get my kids to read. I have plenty of those. But I liked the angle this book takes. Martin and her husband feel that raising their kids with a global perspective is a good thing- and I agree, I hope my kids grow up loving something wonderful about this world God has made for them. 

If you’re part of the homeschool read-aloud community, you’ve probably come across a book that lists other books and begins with the word “Honey”. Although that is a great book (I have a copy on my shelf, in fact), GYCTW is different because it gives parents and educators a list of book suggestions categorized by continents and appropriate ages. Martin sticks with the theme of becoming global rather than all of the attributes of a child’s developing heart. She also lists whether the book has religious themes and two or three sentences about it. This is something I can sit with on my library’s website or take with me to the library and sort of plug & play with finding good books. She’s done the work for me. 

You can check out a podcast where Jamie is interviewed about her book on Read Aloud Revival (#48). 

Furthermore. (Whenever there is a furthermore, you should pay attention, right???!!!)
As someone who works with international students studying at one of America’s universities, I think every family who wants to host a student for dinner or for a season of life, needs to read this. The introduction ALONE is worth reading. When I train american families on how to host an international student in their home this upcoming school year, I plan on added this book to the training materials. 


Lastly, as a child born in the 80’s, when LeVar Burton tells me it is something I should read, my ears kind of perk up....and he says this is “an invaluable resource”. Ha, ha. Since CT is a super small state and the group of homeschooling parents is somewhat well connected, I hope I can find my way to having a cup of coffee with my new writer BFF, Jamie. 

Thank you BookLook for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Book Review: Home Cooked: Essential recipes for a new way to cook

I love a book with good pictures and a nice storyline- cookbooks included. This cookbook is beautiful enough to be a coffee table book...and Anya's blue and white apron is on my wish-list now. Home Cooked by Anya Fernald starts with the chef's back story and how she arrived at learning her great skills of cooking. She shares instructions on how to make stocks, can tomatoes and other building blocks for her other recipes. Then, she moves to the parts of a good meal- the starters, main courses and desserts.

So far, I have made 4 of these wonderful recipes: the pound cake (YUMMMMM), the buttermilk biscuits, the cornmeal spoon bread and the blackened carrots. Her recipes are basic and call for minimal, high quality, hearty ingredients. Anya isn't afraid of butter, spices, lard, and old ways of preparing and storing her food.

I am super picky about keeping cookbooks around. I have such limited storage space for cookbooks and often rely on a quick google search for something unknown, but this one gets to stay with me. I will FIND shelf space for this book.


I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks BloggingforBooks for that.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Book Review: 40 Days of Decrease

I pretend that Alicia and I are on first name basis because her real life BFF is a good friend of mine. I have heard her speak numerous times and always walk away amazed and full, like after a truly wonderful Thanksgiving meal. 

40 Days of Decrease is no different from any of her other books, as far as quality of content. It is packed full of wise words, beautiful word pictures and deeply rooted thoughts. She is a heavy hitter with a gentle heart. I am reading 40 Days for the second time and finding it as helpful and insightful as I did the first time. This will be on my repeated-readings shelf. 

40 Days of Decrease, a different kind of hunger, a different kind of fast is a meaningful experience with a Lenten fast, although it can be used at any point in our calendar year. Instead of fasting our favorite drinks, tv shows, or tasty chocolates, Alicia asks us to fast different kinds of things like neat and tidy faith, artificial light, regret and other things that cause blockages to our faith. She gets real with fasting. Each day’s reading includes a short teaching and little reflection point, then an explanation of the fast for the day. She also gives deep history of Lenten practices and places to journal as you read each day. 

I would recommend this book to anyone desiring to learn about fasting and Lent, but also to those who’ve become complacent about a temporary surrender of self in order to hear from God. And I would especially recommend this book to my friend who was looking forward to her New Year’s 40 Day fast so she could drop a few pounds. But that’s another story. 




I was given a free copy of 40 Days of Decrease in exchange for an honest review....but because I love Alicia so much and I love support my friends in ministry, I’m going to drop a gift card to Starbucks in the mail to her. 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Book Review; The Naturalist by Darrin Lunde

I snagged a copy of a book on Theodore Roosevelt because I thought my husband would enjoy reading it. But, I started reading it one sunny afternoon- prior to all these late April, chilly, rainy days- and found it highly interesting. 

The Naturalist: Theodore Roosevelt, A lifetime of Exploration, and the Triumph of American Natural History by Darrin Lunde is about the boyhood explorations of Roosevelt and how they highly impacted his career. Everything from his desire to please his outdoorsy-type father, to his issues with asthma and his interest in cataloguing small animals and birds all intertwined to become his life passions. He devoted his adult life to proving naturalists were true biologists, protecting animals that were on the verge of extinction and providing lasting specimens for which could Americans learn. The Naturalist gives a great account of his life and how he accomplished the many goals he dreamed of meeting. 

As someone who isn’t too political, I enjoyed the bit of information Lunde included about Roosevelt’s presidency. It was just enough to see how his interest in America’s natural resources influenced his ideals as president. Mid-way through the book, I watched PBS’s documentary about the National Parks (by Ken Burns) and was excited to see how much of the history of the Parks I already knew from reading this book.  

Lunde did a fine job explaining the dichotomy Roosevelt faced as he was a hunter and a naturalist. He worked to create rules of hunting as a true sportsman rather than a blood-thirsty hobby. 





I was given a copy of this book free of charge in exchange for my honest opinions. Thanks Blogging for Books! 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

handmade

I never thought I'd enjoy sewing clothes for myself. I am usually a "quick project" type person, but lately I have been changing it up a bit. I am finding that I can make things that fit better and look nicer with less money than if I found the same item in a store. As they've worn out, it's been a fun challenge to replace my store bought items with handmade things. It takes a bit of forethought, but I am slowly (read: only once or twice) beginning to think ahead on what I'll need in the upcoming weeks or months (a professional looking outfit for a work/ministry meeting or a dress for Easter Sunday, for example) and attempting to making it myself.

When I saw a call for pattern testing for a knit cardigan, I got a little excited and applied. Surprisingly, I was accepted and sent the pattern to test and had a fun time making myself a cute cardigan. You can find the link to the pattern for sale here....and you MIGHT just see a little picture of your's truly! =0) The designer is also offering a little coupon if you purchase it soon.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

On kids and their worship

Being missionaries, Gil and I get the honor of traveling to many churches. Often, when we visit these churches, our kids are with us and attend the children's programming. We've seen a lot of kid’s ministries. 

Let me put it to you straight. When kids worship purely, they aren’t doing it to perform or show off- just as anyone else. It’s not a spectacle when kids worship. It isn’t cute and doesn’t need to be pointed at, smiled at, shown to the person sitting next to you. One quick way to get kids to “fake” worship or show off in our churchy culture settings is to make light of their actions. 

Acts 2:39 says that the Holy Spirit is for every believer. Not just the grown up believer. When a child believes in Jesus, he or she is a believer. 100%. Not a miniature adult with a portion of belief, but an actual, 100% believer. 

Do we point out when someone puts offering in the basket? Or reads Scripture aloud to the body? Do we think it’s cute when an adult prays for the group? These are all acts of worship. Why then, do we make a spectacle out of a child raising her hands in worship, clapping along and singing with the congregation? She is actively participating in the worship service, which is what we desire as parents. If it is our hope to raise our children as a part of the Body of Christ, then why are we distracted when they do? 

Kids are so aware of us and notice the slightest change in their spaces. They will see you pointing out another child and- if they are like mine- will not do whatever that other child was doing so they aren’t also pointed out. 

This thing we call "following Jesus” isn’t a game, folks. It’s real life. Let’s keep it real, alive, growing to maturity, and pure. Don’t let yourself be distracted by another believer and don’t be is a distraction to someone else. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Living Life At Baby Pace

I like to start things. I like to make things. I like to brainstorm amazing ideas for books and writers retreats. I like to make lists of things to do with my bestie, amazing recipes, crafty things, building she-sheds and huge tree swings on remote farms in the countryside. I like to be busy. I like to go places, see people, explore little shops. I like decorating and making the ugly into pretty. But I have learned that I get so busy with my interests and activity, that I miss things. 

I miss the details in the hurry. I focus on the destination and forget the journey, as the old adage advises. And one of the parts of life that is the most tiring taught me to slow down. 

When the littlest legs in the house can only go at a snail’s pace, the entire family slows down. Daily schedules revolve around nap time and bed times, shopping trips only last as long as the youngest, and meals are eaten faster than it took to just set the table. Despite the spent energy and never-ending to do lists, I learned that the season of babyhood healed so much of me. 

I was forced to slow down, attend to someone else’s speed and in the process of adoring the little love bugs, I found happiness in the slow. I found contentment in serving little ones because they came with pure hearts and true needs. Serving someone else without expectations of reciprocity teaches a heart to see past the exhaustion and lowness of the task. Serving with love, for love and because of love changes hearts- even the heart of the one serving. 

Call me boring. Call me outdated. But call me content. And call me happy to separate myself from the over-glorification of being busy. 

I still have my grumpy days where I am sick of dishes and diaper changes. I don’t glisten with joy when I’ve been puked on or lavish in the thought of spending evenings picking up toys- again. I wish for a glamorous day out and pampering at the spa...but those things that can wait. I only have these little ones for a short time. I pray I remember that better on the days when I want to pull my hair out. I am still in the process of learning to love laundry duty- and perhaps I’ll never get there. But one thing I have learned is that we are- I am- a better person when I slow down. I like that my older kids are learning to think of others, to put aside their own immediate wishes while we wait for a younger one, to help pick up messes and to do it with a happy attitude. 


My family functions better at the speed set by the baby. We slow down. We simplify. We settle. We soften. We serve. 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

A Paris Birthday

My littlest lady turned 8 recently and asked for a Paris birthday party. We kicked it up a notch and hosted a Posh Paris Petshop Party and invited a few girls to bring their (stuffed) pets to get glammed up. We loaded up on cute ribbons and scented sprays. The girls had fun. We served all sorts of paris style treats and had a fancy tea party. Her grandmother gave her a few Eiffel Tower decorations for her bedroom, so we used them to decorate for the party. It was all so sweet. 

To top off all the paris style details, I gave her a copy of Paris Street Style: A coloring book. She had been asking for a grown-up coloring book, so she was so excited to see one all about Paris. The book is super nice, with study pages and detailed drawings. I also like that it has an elastic strap which wraps around the entire book. It's so posh looking! I think, of all the grown-up coloring books I have seen, this is the nicest. 



Thanks BloggingforBooks for my copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Pretty things

I have wanted a grown-up coloring book for awhile, but I never would spend the money to get one. I sent one to my sister in law and dear friend in Alaska, stashed away some for Valentine's Day for the girls (Shhh!...don't tell them!) But, thanks to BloggingforBooks, I was sent this one called Whatever is Lovely. It's perfect. The pages are thick and durable, the images are really pretty and I can't wait to get a little time to color. Now, I just have to figure out if I want to use the standard crayola colored pencils, or something else more grown-up.....and a hiding spot for it!







I was sent this copy for free from BloggingforBooks in exchange for a free review.


Friday, January 1, 2016

My secret indulgence

Interesting, lesser-known fact about me: I love stand-up comedy. 

However, I only love clean stand-up comedy. My take on the issue is, if you can’t be funny without slumping to the lowest common denominator, then you aren’t that talented. It takes major talent to be funny without slamming or shaming others, making light of completely inappropriate topics or employing every vulgar word in the book. 

During the first few winters here in New England, I found the best way for me to fight the blahhs was to give myself a double-whammie of endorphins.... this happened by listening to the PG comedy station on Pandora while working out at the gym. I am sure I made more than a few people wonder what I was doing as I laughed my way around the indoor track. It was loads of fun and worked well to combat the dark, wet months. 

One of the best mostly-clean comedians is Jeff Gaffigan. Even his last name sounds funny. His routines are hysterical. He has loads of kids, loves his wife, makes fun of himself, gym habits and strange foods. I seriously cry when I hear his Hot Pockets bit. 

So, if you’re like me and appreciate the funny, grab yourself a copy of Food by Jim Gaffigan. Turn straight to page 188 and prepare to laugh-cry. He devoted an entire book to his ideas on food. I wasn’t sure it was possible to fill 327 pages on food stories and jokes, but he managed. But, I think this book would also be interesting to the “foodies” among us. Although Gaffigan claims to not be a “foodie” but an “eatie”, he does a great job describing foods of America regionally. 


bloggingsforbooks, thanks for the great read in exchange for my thoughts on it all.