Monday, December 22, 2014

Save Me by Kristyn Kusek Lewis

Daphne Mitchell has always believed in cause and effect, right and wrong, good and bad. The good: her dream job as a doctor; Owen, her childhood sweetheart and now husband; the beautiful farmhouse they're restoring together. In fact, most of her life has been good--until the day Owen comes home early from work to tell her he's fallen head over heels for someone else.

Unable to hate him, but also equally incapable of moving forward, Daphne's life hangs in limbo until the day Owen's new girlfriend sustains near-fatal injuries in a car accident. As Daphne becomes a pillar of support for the devastated Owen, and realizes that reconciliation may lie within her grasp, she has to find out whether forgiveness is possible and decide which path is the right one for her.

My thoughts...I loved the authenticity of Daphne. Her husband, whom she loves, is ready to start a family with, her everything suddenly tells her I need a break I'm not sure I'm all in anymore and oh by the way I had an affair (all in the first few pages not a spoiler). What would you do with that! Just as she is beginning to process everything the woman who he had a fling with is in an accident, Owen needs Daphne. Her best friend, Annie KNOWS what is best for her and pushes her to do just that. The problem is Daphne is all over the place.

I understood Daphne. You can't just turn those feelings would want to believe the best even during the worst. I felt so bad for her. It didn't seem like anyone was willing to just listen to her and allow her to process what was going on around her. She knew everything they were telling her, but she needed to decide what she was going to do. In the end, it is her life. (and I'm totally an Annie ;)

I really enjoyed how I wasn't sure how this was going to end. I won't say anymore about the story. This was a really fast read, I just flew through the story. I wanted to know how everything would play out. I could definitely see this as a great book to read with friends and chit chat especially about the end! I'm recommending SAVE ME!

Follow Kristyn Kusek Lewis

Buy a copy of Save Me by Kristyn Kusek Lewis

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Kids Christmas Books

Last week I took the kids over to the library and checked out a number of kids Christmas books. I love how our library marks the binding with a little candy cane making them easy to find. I'm trying to read a few each day, but so far I've read only three...multiple times. My kids like repetition! I hope to pull a few more from our library bin today, but I thought I'd take a few moments and review the three I read so far.

Dora's Christmas Carol 
by Golden Books (Author), Brenda Goddard (Illustrator), Dan Haskett (Illustrator)

Dora the Explorer takes a magical holiday journey back to the past and into the future to teach Swiper about the importance of giving. Based on the DVD Dora's Christmas Carol Adventure, this full-color hardcover storybook is sure to delight girls ages 3-7.

My thoughts: My kids really are not huge Dora fans. They will sit and watch the television show now and again, but won't seek it out. I wasn't really sure how the book would go over. Well they loved it. Swiper has gotten in trouble by Santa for his swiping and now will not receive a gift unless he learns about the true spirit of Christmas. Dora and Swiper take off on an adventure of Christmas' past and future. My kids really enjoyed the book.

The Perfect Christmas Pageant 
by Joyce Meyer  

The popular Everyday Zoo series for young children by beloved and New York Times bestselling author Joyce Meyer continues with The Christmas Pageant, a heartfelt and humorous story about the true meaning of Christmas. When Hayley Hippo is asked to direct the annual Christmas pageant, she decides this will be her Christmas gift to Jesus and she sets out to make everything perfect. However, after a series of disappointing mishaps, Hayley and her friends learn that they don’t need to be perfect. They realize that Christmas is not about the glittering lights, the perfect setting, or an impressive show, but about Christ.

My Thoughts: I have not read any of the Everyday Zoo books before. I was very interested in this book because I knew it would have a religious sentiment. This is very important to me especially at Christmas. The kids and I really enjoyed the story and I'll be honest and admit to my inner Hayley Hippo trying to make everything perfect. It was a sweet story. I am going to be looking at getting more books in the Everyday Zoo series.

The Crippled Lamb
by Max Lucado 

The inspiring story that has encouraged thousands of children who have felt left out or who have special needs.

In this timeless bestseller, readers experience the tender love God has for those who feel alone and different. Joshua was a lamb with a crippled leg who felt left out because he couldn’t run and play like the other lambs. But God had a very special plan for Joshua’s life, as He does for all who feel alone. Readers can expect a gentle tug on their hearts as the little lamb’s prayers are answered in an amazing way. Original oil-painting illustrations by Liz Bonham brilliantly capture the beauty and warmth of this endearing story.

My Thoughts: I have read one of Max Lucado's children's books and really enjoyed it, so I had a high expectation for The Crippled Lamb. I sat down with the kids and began reading. Within the first pages we were all sad. The poor little lamb. I couldn't imagine what God's plan for him would be. Then it is revealed. I sat there trying not to cry while reading. I did end up in tears. I mean this is an absolutely beautiful story. This is a book I want to read to them again and again because it reminds me how He has a plan for us. Absolutely loved this. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Busy, busy, busy

Things have been busy here. Working of finishing up our last few weeks of school before we take off for Christmas break. It is hard to believe we have just about completed 18 weeks of school!  I seriously can't believe it! I would have to say I have loved the experience more than I ever expected. I love having my kids around and knowing exactly what they are learning. I love how when C is struggling with a new concept I stop what I'm doing and we keep working on it until he really gets it. I see his areas of weakness and I have the time to really work on those things with him.

Last week, we had the opportunity Brooks Museum where they had a homeschool day. They have a temporary exhibit called Soulful Creatures: Animal Mummies in Ancient Egypt. We had a blast! To prepare we went to the library and checked out a number of books about Ancient Egypt and then did a few arts and crafts projects.

We made necklaces and arm bands. They love all the art projects we get to do at home. We also had a chart in one of our books using hieroglyphics. I attempted writing their names on the white board. I thought they may like to add them to their art projects. M used the hieroglyphics and wrote out mom (the orange on the necklace). She also made a symbol to represent me...yes it's a cup of coffee. Coffee sounds like a good idea right now!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Look of Love by Sarah Jio

“Jio has become one of the most-read women in America.” –Woman’s World

Born during a Christmas blizzard, Jane Williams receives a rare gift: the ability to see true love. Jane has emerged from an ailing childhood a lonely, hopeless romantic when, on her twenty-ninth birthday, a mysterious greeting card arrives, specifying that Jane must identify the six types of love before the full moon following her thirtieth birthday, or face grave consequences. When Jane falls for a science writer who doesn’t believe in love, she fears that her fate is sealed. Inspired by the classic song, The Look of Love is utterly enchanting.

My thoughts...The Look of Love is slightly different from Jio's normal dual storyline. This novel follows current day Jane Williams as she is dealing with a new realized gift of seeing love, though she hasn't experienced it in her own life. The novel is magical and sweet having me falling for a great little group of characters. Everyone around her is dealing with a large gambit of love issues and I really was never sure where any of them was going to end up. The most frustrating part of the novel for me was not knowing what the six types of love were. I kept wanting all these perfect happily ever afters. I actually thought about doing an online search for the six types so I could get everything straight in my head. I'm so glad I didn't. I absolutely loved how Jio tied everything so perfectly together at the end. I sat there going from smiling to crying as a few stories flat our surprised me.

If you are looking for just an all around enjoyable read, grab this! Reading The Look of Love will warm you up during this cold season. Also a perfect Christmas gift (but seriously, all Sarah Jio books are amazing and would make fabulous gifts)! I am a HUGE fan of Sarah Jio and I absolutely enjoyed this from first to the last page. Jio proves again why she is my favorite must read author! Highly recommending.

Follow Sarah Jio 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Arm Knitting

I'm wondering how many people have tried Arm Knitting? I met someone yesterday who made a scarf in one evening by doing this technique. I was able to find a great you tube video showing the how to. I'm so going to go buy some chunky yarn and try this! I'll post pictures once I'm done and let you know what I think.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Still at it

M in her Heritage Girl uniform!
We have completed more than fifty days! The kids are very excited about this since we are planning on having a 100 day celebration. Honestly, with only the three of us I'm at a loss as to what to do! I think I will bake a cake and put a 100 candle on it, do a few count 100 items activity...but after that I'm not sure. I suppose I will spend some time on pinterest for ideas.

So far, on average everything has been going relatively well. Don't get me wrong C has had a few major meltdowns when he hasn't wanted to do work. I have had to explain to him it doesn't matter if he doesn't want to do it, he has too. I have found overall my patience with the kids has really grown. I've gotten to the point, "well go throw your fit and when you are done you can join us." Seems to have worked.

One thing I did notice is I'm not allowing for as much fun as I had originally planned too. To some extent it is hard, I mean I still have a house to run and there is still work to be done. Yet at the same time I don't step away from the worksheets and allow them to learn in other ways. This is something I am planning on changing. Don't get me wrong most days will still be worksheets, but I want to pull out some fun activities I've come across.

My husband, who is musical, works with them once a week for a music lesson. He started teaching C the recorder and worked with M on the piano. He has also been playing with them on Djembe drums (using a metronome), campfire songs, and playground clap songs. They really love music time!

We do have lots of time to do artwork (thank-you pinterest!) There are so many fun things to make this time of year! I would love to make everything, but I'll be honest with you...I hate all the added mess. I know that is wrong. I am working on having C and M help more with clean-up, but I still do the bulk of it. I still try to do at least one project a week plus they can pull out stamps or beads anytime they want. I should try to do a little more with them. I will add the links to the great sites I found these projects on if you would like to do them with your kids (all pretty easy).

How to draw a scarecrow
Toilet paper ghost 

The pumpkins were just a combination of ideas. I just used paper plates and let the kids paint them orange. They made faces with black construction paper and cut them out and glued them. We also have a stencil (I've been buying them at Hobby Lobby makes my life easier for art, lol) of leaves, so they picked the leaves, traced on green construction paper and cut. Voila!

The trees were just some printed trees (I can't find the link I used). I then let them pick finger paints for fall leaves and they put finger print leaves on their trees (I have also seen this with q-tips instead of finger prints).


Monday, October 6, 2014

In The Silent Sister, Riley MacPherson has spent her entire life believing that her older sister Lisa committed suicide as a teenager.  Now, over twenty years later, her father has passed away and she's in New Bern, North Carolina cleaning out his house when she finds evidence to the contrary.  Lisa is alive.  Alive and living under a new identity.  But why exactly was she on the run all those years ago, and what secrets are being kept now?  As Riley works to uncover the truth, her discoveries will put into question everything she thought she knew about her family.  Riley must decide what the past means for her present, and what she will do with her newfound reality, in this engrossing mystery from international bestselling author Diane Chamberlain.

My thoughts...

This is the second book by Diane Chamberlain I've read and I can say her books keep me wanting to read more! The Silent Sister really made me think what would I do in the case of Riley. She is in so many ways left alone to deal with her father's estate. Her brother has metal and emotional issues from his time in service, as well as from his childhood.  She has Jeannie, an old family friend, and her daughter Christine who seem to fly in from out of nowhere and take over the tearing apart of Riley's father's home. I'll be honest when I say I did not trust those two for one minute! Nor did I like them! I mean did they not get she JUST lost her dad! They infuriated me!You'll have to read to see if I was right or not!

Actually, the whole book is filled with people I didn't trust! It was as if everyone was in one this big secret except Riley. It was maddening! I constantly felt like I was waiting for the second shoe to drop in the story. I can't say I was surprised by the overall story that came out...many things I kind of guessed. However, there were a number of things I was surprised about! Things would go in this direction when I wouldn't expect them too. Even though I thought I knew how it may end I could never be sure of anything! I was completely absorbed by the story! Not to be missed--I'm recommending THE SILENT SISTER!

 Follow Diane Chamberlain

Friday, October 3, 2014

Nine Weeks

This was taken during outside play!
Today is huge! We have completed nine weeks of homeschool, we have survived! It has definitely had its ups and downs, but I honestly want to keep it up. I feel so much more engaged with my kids. I know what and how they are learning. I've seen C (2nd grader) really fall in love with reading! He had an interest in it last year and somewhat over the summer. Then one day after 'school' he sat down with one of his Magic Tree House books and read the whole thing. He is averaging a chapter book a day. When we leave the house he grabs a book. He no longer sees reading as a chore or a school assignment, but something to enjoy.

They both love art the most. I love art myself, but I always press to do all the school work first. This week I did start our Tuesday with art to change things up. It slowed our day down, but the kids seemed more relaxed. I am hoping to do a lot more fun projects before Halloween! I love Pinterst for coming up with lots of easy crafts for us to make!

Today will also be report card day! I can't believe how quickly everything has gone by! 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Six weeks done!

I can not believe I've been homeschooling for six weeks! The time has really flown by! I've been thrilled with the progress of everything! I can see the kids are learning and every week I'm learning how to more effective in our classroom and in prepping. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      There has also been sweet finds along the way...C has really stepped up numerous times and helped M when she has a question or a problem. They work pretty well together (minus the time they are arguing, lol). C really enjoys being able to read to his sister and she loves helping him with artwork and she is always good about telling him how well he is doing!

We had one day that was about to try my nerves. C just would not settle down and work on school. I figured I could sit and fight with him or I could give up for the day, but since this is all so new I didn't want him to think if I just throw a fit no school. Plus I want to try and stay on schedule, because I know there will be days we will need to miss. It was beautiful outside, so I grabbed most of our books and threw them in a bag. I told the kids to get in the car and we drove to a local  park. I let them run around and play, then we read from our book CHARLOTTE'S WEB, played some more and then they were happy to sit and do homework. The only fail was I forgot to pack drinks.

We've been keeping very busy. We just completed our topic of volcanoes. The kids loved erupting a volcano in our backyard! We watched videos, read books and of course did artwork. The kids are brimming with ideas, so we set up a jar where we write our ideas down and pull a topic out of the jar. This is has helped with the fighting over who gets to pick. There will be some I will pick myself. I'm very excited to do a unit on Autumn!

Our first book order!!! 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Five Days Left by Julie Lawson Timmer

"A beautifully drawn study of what is at risk when you lose control of your own life.  Unique, gripping, and viscerally moving -- this impressive debut novel heralds the arrival of an extremely talented writer." —Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of The Storyteller and Lone Wolf

Destined to be a book club favorite, a heart-wrenching debut about two people who must decide how much they’re willing to sacrifice for love.

Mara Nichols, a successful lawyer, and devoted wife and adoptive mother, has recently been diagnosed with a terminal disease. Scott Coffman, a middle school teacher, has been fostering an eight-year-old boy while the boy’s mother serves a jail sentence. Scott and Mara both have five days left until they must say good-bye to the ones they love the most. Through their stories, Julie Lawson Timmer explores the individual limits of human endurance, the power of relationships, and that sometimes loving someone means holding on, and sometimes it means letting go.

My thoughts...Wow! Storytelling at its finest. Five Days Left had me sitting on the edge of my seat with every single page. This is going to be one of those reviews that is hard to write because I don't want to give too much of the story away, but I want to write a review to give this novel justice.

The novel is told from the viewpoint of Mara and Scott. They both know their lives will forever be changed in five days. One has a choice the other does not, but the choice isn't an easy one--it's heart wrenching. Storyline wise, I was more connected to Mara and her story. I could completely understand to some extent where she was mentally. I could understand her dilemma, felt her turmoil, I found myself sickened for heart in agony for what she must have been going through. I respected her fight. I personally have seen both my parents parish to cancer...I've seen the evil of what a disease can do. As a child of parents who have been ill, I scream fight for me. Mara's story is powerful.

Scott's story was also painful. He poured love into his little man for a year. He knew where it was going to end. He put all sorts of love into this little boy and he's leaving...going back to where we hate to think of kids going back to. Scott's heart is breaking, yet his wife not so much. She had opened up her home to bring the little boy there for a year-but she didn't fully invest. Now with the boy leaving, it is almost as if Scott is holding it against her for not being fully devoted, not to be falling apart like he is. He changed the rules without telling her. Then everything changes. Where will this lead this couple?

If I'm going to recommend one book this year...this is the book! 

Follow Julie Lawson Timmer

Buy a copy of Five Days Left by Julie Lawson Timmer

Saturday, August 30, 2014


Return to the golden beauty of Minnesota’s Butternut Lake in this emotional story that vividly captures the joy and pain of first love, as a mother and daughter each come to terms with the desires of her heart.

Summer at Butternut Lake—a season full of surprises . . . and life-changing choices.

Preparing for her final year of college, Daisy is crazy busy now that she’s back at Butternut Lake. She’s helping her mother, Caroline, run their coffee shop and trying to build a relationship with the absentee father who’s suddenly reappeared. She never expected to fall in love with Will, the bad-boy from high school who works at the local garage. With every passing day she and Will grow closer to each other . . . and closer to the day they will have to say goodbye. As summer’s end looms, Will and Daisy face heartbreaking choices that might tear them apart.

Caroline already has her hands full trying to make ends meet at the coffee shop without having her no-good ex suddenly show up. Now that Jack is back, he’s determined to reconnect with the family he walked out on twenty years ago. But with the bank pounding on her door and Jack’s presence reminding her of the passion they once shared, Caroline’s resolve begins to crumble. As Daisy’s departure looms and her financial worries grow, Caroline just may discover the support she needs . . . in the last place she ever imagined.

My thoughts. I absolutely loved the first book in the Butternut Lake Trilogy, Up At Butternut Lake. I was so disappointed when the book ended and had thought this would make a good series, so I was thrilled when I found out it was going to be. Now that is a lot of excitement for a book to live up too. That said, I'm sure you wanna know what I thought of book two! Well two fold. I was disappointed when didn't I read more about Allie and Jax. I loved these two characters and in the second book there was a bit of a cameo, but that was it. I really felt they easily could have made a few more appearances to help us with what Caroline was going through. It wasn't like they were needed to move the story, but I think girlfriends being there for her would have been nice. Plus they were such a part of book one.

I overall enjoyed Butternut Summer, but not nearly as much as Up At Butternut Lake. I want to add the book really pulled me in near the end. I felt the story moved at a believable speed and loved getting to know Caroline and her daughter Daisy more. I feel the book was very good, but like I said I loved the first one so much, the second one had almost too much to live up to. On the positive, you could read this as a stand alone, but don't! These are really wonderful characters I really recommend you read them in order! Now I will say I am hopeful the third book will really come back and focus on all four ladies! I'm a fan of Mary McNear and this series (I'm actually bummed it is only a trilogy)! I could see how you could add more characters and stories making a number of books, hint hint to the author! I am recommending Butternut Summer! Make sure to grab a copy for a great read this Labor Day weekend!

Follow Mary McNear

Monday, August 25, 2014

A few weeks in

We are now beginning our fourth week of homeschooling. I wouldn't say its been all fun and games, but I wouldn't say its awful either. It is work. Lots of work. I found teaching cursive to be very difficult with the curriculum I was using. C felt stressed. It was disappointing because I've seen a marked improvement with his handwriting in general. His cursive is much cleaner than his print and even his print has improved with me able to remind him to hold his pencil correctly. I was at my breaking point. I have a curriculum to get through. I suppose I'm a bit of a type A personality. I follow the rules. We have to get it done...wait a minute...wait...I'm homeschooling. I can set the rules.
outside play

I made a trip to the store and picked up a few cursive writing workbooks and I've decided to do one lower case letter at a time and move on once he has mastered it. This instead of both upper and lower case at the same time and moving to a new letter (or two) everyday. C is feeling more relaxed and so am I.

I've also really enjoyed how much C has been reading on his own. Today I introduced a sheet he will fill out with each book, so I can tell how much he is comprehending. He tells me the characters, the setting, the problem and the solution. I hope in a few weeks to start having him fill out the same sheet for creative writing. I'm super excited!

M has been a bit of a challenge. She has significantly less work than C, so it's harder to keep her engaged. I can't really send her off to play otherwise C will have a harder time focusing. She is pretty good most of the day, but I've picked up extra workbooks for her to do. She also has learning toys in the school room she can play with when I work with C.

Last week, we began a week long study of stars. I decided I want part of our homeschool experience to include some child lead studies. For our first week the kids wanted to learn about stars. We read a number of both fiction and non-fiction books, watched a Magic School Bus episode (thank-you Netflix) and a few star art projects. The kids loved the study and were excited to pick the next two studies.

We are planning a trip to the Planetarium before we begin our next study on a few Ocean animals (Whales, Dolphins and Jellyfish). I wish we had an aquarium here in Memphis!

The kids are also meeting with daddy one night a week. He is working on music lessons. C is learning the recorder and M is playing on the keyboard. They also practice for 10 mins each day. C has also began practice for the Christmas church musical. He practices one night a week. They've also had three karate classes (they both love) and C has started soccer.

Keeping busy at the library, while mom looks for books
Next week Cub Scouts start back up for him, and M will be starting Heritage Girls in a few weeks. We are also looking into starting horse riding lessons or tumbling for her, as well.

I'm very excited with how things are going! It's a lot of work, but the rewards have been amazing! I've seen improvement with C. He was a good student last year, but struggled with handwriting and his spelling. I can see improvement with holding his pencil, his handwritting is more clear and he did fantastic on his first spelling test! Have I mentioned I'm using phonics to teach and it is amazing! So many neat rules to help him! 

Friday, August 8, 2014

IT IS DONE! The first week of homeschool is in the books!

What a week! I will be honest in saying I was prepared for the worst and I am excited to admit it went much smoother than expected. As I say this, I will continue to be ready for the inevitable melt down of, "I don't want to do school." Overall a very good week.

As we began, the first thing I noticed was for as organized as I felt I was, I wasn't. I had all (most) of the worksheets pulled and placed in day of the week folders for the kids (I also made copies for M for when she is in second grade). This part of it was fine, but it was all the little prep work I fumbled with. The four different types of flashcards, the little counting objects, and constantly trying to remember what book I was teaching from. By the end of the week (today) it ran a little smoother, I believe Laura has found her groove.

On Monday, we went to a local church who has a Karate ministry for homeschool kids. It was the first Karate class the kids have ever taken and they really enjoyed it. M cracked me up because she is so loud when they yell. When we got home it was snacks, change clothes and right to the school work. I was pleased with how easily the kids transitioned.

M has less work being she is only in Kindergarten. I did try to find things for her to play/learn/work with when she completed her tasks. Her favorite was playing puzzles.

Each day the kids have their tasks of updating the daily calendar, feeding the fish, collecting and charting eggs, and adding a bee to our 100 day sun poster (count down till our 100 day party).

What concerned me most about homeschooling was the moving back and forth between the kids. I have to say there was very little issue.  I just had to help M with her wanting to talk and talk and talk. Sometimes I was even able to take a moment if they were both working...

When C (2nd grade) found himself done with his work and I was still working with M, he would grab a book and start reading. He has always enjoyed books--but it has been with a bit of a push towards them.

On Tuesday, we ventured out to the library where those amazing ladies were holding two large stacks of books on hold for us. I also allowed the kids to use their cards to get some books they wanted. They each grabbed a number of books and broke in their cards. Between having the time and feeling big getting to check out his own books it seemed to encourage his reading time. Oh and we are charting all his books. I told him after every ten he reads I'd buy him a new book---ummm gonna have to make that a higher number or I'll go broke!

 Another discovery this week was learning M can't sit still while learning. The girl is on the go! Every time we did seatwork she was either standing or fidgeting. I made sure to give her plenty of work she could do on the whiteboard where she was able to stand up. This seemed to help keep her focused.
I also just had to get over the idea of her sitting still and working. Let her learn and move about the way that works for her. She enjoyed learning the more she was able to move around. Even when I just sit and read to the kids, she is rolling around or hopping about. I told my husband I couldn't imagine how she would do in a traditional classroom. I'm sure she would end up fine, but it would be counter to her personality.

I found most of our days lasted between 3 to 3.5 hours. It's funny how that really doesn't seem that long, but when you are teaching it seemed much longer! We did have a set start time and break time. If the kids were hungry or thirsty they could of course get something, but at break time I had them go play out in the back yard just to recharge and get some fresh air.

We finished the week off with no clips being moved to red, so they both got to dip into the treasure box. I have to admit I am excited for next week!

Monday, August 4, 2014

First day of homeschool--ever!

Today is the day. Today we begin our adventure into homeschooling. I'd be lying if I said I'm not nervous...I am very nervous. I am also very excited to be able to explore learning with my youngest two children (C and M). We will start the day by heading out to a homeschool karate class, so I am feeling pretty confident about that, hahahaha. When we get home we will have snack and start lessons. Thankfully the curriculum has our first week pretty easy learning week. If I was being honest I am most nervous about teaching two at a time. How does that work? I have my expectations pretty low to begin. I've read enough out there to just try and relax and allow ourselves time to find our groove. Let's be honest the first week kids are in elementary school have a slow start too.

Here are some final pictures of our classroom. There are a few changes, but overall I'm pretty happy with the way it all turned out.

Friday, July 25, 2014

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

One single mom. One chaotic family. One quirky stranger. One irresistible love story from the New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You

 American audiences have fallen in love with Jojo Moyes. Ever since she debuted stateside, she has captivated readers and reviewers alike, and hit the New York Times bestseller list with the word-of-mouth sensation, Me Before You. Now, with One Plus One, she’s written another contemporary opposites-attract love story that reads like a modern-day Two for the Road.

Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for. That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell—until an unexpected knight-in-shining-armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess’s knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages . . . maybe ever.

One Plus One is Jojo Moyes at her astounding best. You’ll laugh, you’ll weep, and when you flip the last page, you’ll want to start all over again.

My thoughts...I admit it, this is the first novel by Jojo Moyes I've read. Now I've been buying her books along the way, I believe I have three others--but I often don't get a chance to read books I buy when I'm trying to keep up with my review piles. Well I have been missing out!

I have to start with the main character Jess! I absolutely loved Jess. Here she is working her bum off to take care of her family--no one helping her, but she could really use the help! She is resourceful, helpful and wants to do right by her kids. She is everything a mom should be. She honestly reminded me of my own mom. We also struggled financially and she just did everything she could to put us first. I was sad for Jess, wanted to cry for all the struggles, yet I was clapping for her and cheered her on because she doesn't want anybodies tears.

Then there are Jess' children, Tanzie and Nicky. What great kids and they love their mom. Tanzie is just a sweetheart who loves her Maths. I could completely understand how Jess would do anything she could to help Tanzie get into a good school--I mean I wanted to pull out my own checkbook to help! Oh and Nicky...I just wanted to give that boy a hug!

These characters felt so real. Their story felt real. All the mishaps, sadness, joy--life. Moyes captured the beauty of the ordinarily wonderfulness of life.

One Plus One is a wonderful novel, with imperfect characters with messed up lives who are just trying to get by. Told in multiple voices (mostly Jess). A book you don't want to miss. One Plus One equals a perfect summer read! Highly recommending.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Best Birthday Gift

I am just gonna go on and on about these Magna Tiles I got my daughter for her birthday from Amazon. I had seen my kids play them once at the Children's Museum while back and never thought of them again. Then a month or so ago I saw some kids playing with them in my seven year old's Sunday School class. I asked the teacher about them and tolId me the kids were nuts for them. Well knowing I'm going to be home with my kids 24/7 with homeschooling I am on the look out for lots of activities to keep them occupied and thinking.

     I looked around on different educational websites for them and to be honest was shocked when I saw the hefty price tag. My first thought was to go with one of the other brands. I researched them and didn't really find any negative reviews. I also searched for different prices. In the end I did go with the name brand because it wasn't so much cheaper to go with another brand and for the cost I liked that I wasn't reading negative reviews. I went with the 100 pieces from Amazon (the best price I could find). My husband ordered them the next time he made a book order.

     Once we got them, we started playing with them. I thought gee maybe if they were younger, but I couldn't imagine my kids would love them. Well, the day after my daughters fifth birthday party I found out what they thought of them...they got up to play with them. My son lead the charge (he knew what they were). All over the floor they went. Within minutes he was building rocket ships. My daughter building a city. Hours later...they were still playing. Never have my kids sat and played anything for hours. They barely look at legos or any type of block toy ( I had reservations about the Megna Tiles for this reason, but I did find a few ideas to incorporate them with homeschooling--my pinterest board for them). 

     It's been a few weeks and they are still enjoying them. It's a great toy for using their imaginations and I couldn't be more thrilled with the purchase. I wish I had bought them when they were even younger :)

Here is my affiliate link to them, but I was not asked to review this product. 

Here is also a link to the other set if you are interested, but don't want to spend as much. Like I said I don't recall reading any negative reviews.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Midwife by Jolina Petersheim

The story about a mother who risks everything to save a child not genetically hers . . .

The Past — Graduate student Beth Winslow was sure she was ready to navigate the challenges of becoming a surrogate. But when early tests indicate possible abnormalities with the baby, Beth is unprepared for the parents’ decision to end the pregnancy — and for the fierce love she feels for this unborn child. Desperate, she flees the city and seeks refuge at Hopen Haus, a home for unwed mothers deep in a Tennessee Mennonite community.

The Present — As head midwife of Hopen Haus, Rhoda Mummau delivers babies with a confident though stoic ease. Except in rare moments, not even those who work alongside her would guess that each newborn cry, each starry-eyed glance from mother to child, nearly renders a fault through Rhoda’s heart, reminding her of a past she has carefully concealed. Past and present collide when a young woman named Amelia arrives in the sweeping countryside bearing secrets of her own. As Amelia’s due date draws near, Rhoda must face her regrets and those she left behind in order for the healing power of love and forgiveness to set them all free.

"Jolina's lyrical storytelling absolutely sings--but it's her quick-paced plot, complex characters, and insights into the Plain world that made it impossible for me to put The Midwife down." ~Leslie Gould, #1 bestselling author of The Amish Midwife

My thoughts...The Midwife is an absolute outstanding read. Jolina didn't just write Beth breathed life into Beth. Beth is a young girl trying to do something good to help someone else by becoming a surrogate at a time when it was relatively new. Things get over her head when the doctors believe the baby has abnormalities and the parents want to terminate the pregnancy. A mother's hedge of protection surround this tiny soul within her womb and Beth runs to protect her. As I read Beth, I felt for her I cheered for her. I couldn't believe the people around her and what she was seeing. She wanted to give this little baby a chance.

Over time, Rhoda a Midwife in a Mennonite community becomes cold and a little distant from those around her. Her past she keeps hidden until her past shows up on her doorstep. I honestly wasn't sure how all these stories were going to come together and one piece had me completely thrown off (I won't give more of a clue than that), but as the novel closes I was dumbfounded by the last piece of the puzzle.

The Midwife is one I had a hard time putting down. The story is told with alternating voices of past Beth, current Rhoda and Amelia. I love when I can't put everything together just right and The Midwife offers that. My heart broke for Beth and Rhoda...I wanted them to find peace and happiness. Sometimes there is no greater punishment, than the punishment we inflict upon ourselves and this was evident in The Midwife.

Do not label this book as Christian, or Amish/Mennonite fiction--labels are limiting. A stunning story of healing, of walking through our past, and coming out in-the-end a better person because of it and understanding who we are.

A book I will highly be recommending to all my friends. Jolina Petersheim is fast becoming a favorite author of mine.


Jolina Petersheim

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Eating our own food!

It's so exciting! I've planted blackberries last year and again this year. I have finally seen some of the literal fruits of my labor! I was able to pick two handfuls of blackberries. Some of them were tart, but most of them were so sweet! The kids enjoyed most of them for breakfast.

When I started putting together their plates it was exciting to realize they were eating both eggs and blackberries from our backyard!

I need to start backing my own bread. I tried a bread machine, but that didn't work out to well. Not sure if it was operator error or a faulty machine. I've been pinning recipes to make breads, but haven't made it a priority. I think I'll try to make a loaf this week. I figure I will follow the recipes and use as many organic products as possible.
Then last night I made some of the chicken we raised for meat for dinner. I made a baked chicken (I know it was too hot). I would really love some recipes for making my own breading. I really see the need to be more organized about menu planning. I want to make things using better choices, but it's so easy to use store bought...then I feel badly. I keep telling myself we are making small changes. If I can buy it organic or non gmo I do.

Please feel free to comment below with great sites or recipes!