Monday, April 29, 2013

Children's book "Can't-Wait Willow!"...and I'm giving a copy away!

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on 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 accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Can't-Wait Willow! from Ideals Children's Books from Ideals Books on Vimeo.

"Can't-Wait Willow!" written by Christy Ziglar, illustrated by Luanne Marten

"Can't-Wait Willow!" is a great book to teach kids about making good choices.  As you saw in the trailer, Willow is so excited about going to the circus...something she's been waiting to do for a while.  She's saved her money, and now she's on her way to the circus.  (One of my questions was...why is she going on her own?  Where are her parents?)  On her way there are...temptations.  Ice cream, a kickball game, and lemonade are just a few things that are distracting Willow...costing her time and money.  But these are good and fun things and Willow has a hard time saying no.  In the end she learns about second chances and making better choices.

I read this book to my kids and they really enjoyed it.  Sophie mentioned the sparkles on the front cover as one of her favorite things : ).  The story line was also appealing to the kids...because they can certainly relate to wanting ice cream, toys, and the other things that Willow encountered.  As a parent, I see this story as a springboard for some good conversations.  Topics like how to deal with temptation, making good choices, making healthy choices, and even grace.  This book also made me think about how I respond to temptations in my own life.  There are things that I personally am trying to say no to...and I was reminded that if I can say no to these little things that I don't really need, then I can reap the joy of future benefits.  (ex: say no to chocolate now...lose weight later!)

This story didn't go down a spiritual route like I thought it would...or hoped it would.  There were some great opportunities to tie in spiritual insight, but instead the moral that was presented in this story was: don't say yes to things that might just seem good and save your "yes" for something that is really GREAT.  Hmm.  It would've been great if there were a Bible verse tied into this story and it explained about honoring the Lord with your choices.  But I don't think that this was meant to be that type of book.  Another thought I mentioned before...where were Willow's parents?  She looked like a little kid...I don't think I would ever let my little one walk down to the circus by herself. The kids didn't notice that when I was reading it to them, so maybe I just have to let that aspect go.  There really wouldn't be a story if the parents were there to tell Willow that she shouldn't play kickball or buy lemonade. 

There are definitely some pluses and minuses about this book, but my overall impression was that the book was good.  It was physically appealing--the illustrations were bright, fun, and the kids enjoyed following the little star on every page to see if it was happy or sad with Willow's choices.  The plot had an overall good message about making good choices and parents have some good follow-up opportunities.

If you'd like a copy of "Can't-Wait Willow!" leave me a comment!  We'll draw a name on Thursday and let you know the winner!

If you'd like to know more about this book, visit: The author's website has great resources to support this book, including a printable poster with "Ways to Shine Bright," as well as a reward chart you can use at home. --the publisher's site --the facebook page

God bless!

Friday, April 19, 2013

We *heart* field trips!

 I don't think our field trip day could've been more perfect!  It was slightly cool that morning and was a little overcast, but the rain held off and God provided perfect weather!  We started off with feeding the animals.
 I think my kids were a little nervous about animals eating out of their hands.  Here's Sophie holding out one little piece of food to the goat : ).
 Then we got to see and hold the baby chicks.  Poor chick.  Isaac didn't cuddle him like the other kids were  He did have a good grip on this little guy and thankfully wasn't hurting him!
 There's my smiley boy...enjoying the day as well.
 Here we are on the hay was really nice!
 Our little group.  I think everyone had a great time!
Here's part of the strawberry fields we were in.  The strawberries were beautiful and there were plenty of them!  The kids did great picking them, too.  Isaac was going up and down the rows and followed directions on only picking red ones really well.  So did Sophie! 

I must recommend Kauffman's Farmarket where we had our field trip.  It's in Montezuma, GA, right in the middle of a Mennonite community.  There is farm land all around and is so quaint and peaceful.  This strawberry farm also uses no herbicides, fungicides or pesticides on their fruit.  That's a big plus for me!  We also had some of their strawberry ice cream and it was fabulous.  I would LOVE to go back and have some more!  We really enjoyed our field trip and hope that some of you are able to go there as well.

After we strawberry picked, we ate lunch at Yoder's Deitsch Haus Restaurant.  Yum!  We've been going there for years and it's always been good, homestyle food.  They also have a bakery and we got some fresh baked sourdough and wheat bread.  The whole family has enjoyed that! 

If you're in the area, you can also visit Andersonville.  It's free admission and the site of the famous Civil War prison. It's only about 15 miles away from Montezuma.  They even have a place where you can schedule a field trip and have a hands-on learning experience.  I would really love to do that sometime. 

There is a wealth of field trips available in the state of Georgia...from free to more on the expensive side.  This site looks like a great resource for finding a field trip in your area.  This year we have visited the Ocmulgee Indian Mounds in Macon, GA (which is free), the Georgia Children's Museum in Macon (minimal cost for a school group), and now our strawberry trip (for homeschoolers it was only $3 per child and included a small basket of berries, the hay ride, petting the animals, and a small ice cream).  We also hope to do some more things this summer.  I LOVE field trips with the kids.  Such a great way to get out of the house and do some hands-on learning. 

~God bless~

Monday, April 15, 2013

Reviewer's Bookshelf: Swept Away by Mary Connealy

*I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers to give an unbiased review*

If I see a new series of books come out by an author I love...I'm going for it!  I've been reading Mary Connealy's books for a while now, and I've thoroughly enjoyed her take on the wild west.  In "Swept Away", the story begins with Ruthy, traveling in a wagon train with her adopted family.  Ruthy is basically used and abused by them...forced to do all the chores and treated like she's worthless.  Her adopted brother also keeps giving her uncomfortable looks and her parents have agreed to arrange a marriage between the two.  Not good.  We also have Luke, on a mission to reclaim his father's ranch that is rightfully his.  The evil man who has taken over claimed it as his own and won't give it up without a fight.  Luke is ready to give him a fight, along with his Civil War "brothers" who are going to help him.  Then Ruthy and Luke's lives cross unexpectedly after Ruthy is swept away by a raging river and ends up washed up right in his path.  Ruthy isn't well enough to be left alone, so Luke takes her along.  This is the beginning of a fantastic tale of hardship, loyalty, courage, and of course, love.

Ruthy's character has some similar traits to some of Mary's other female characters.  She's strong, smart, and she'll get right in the fray with the boys.  Ruthy is different in that she has been abused by her adoptive parents, so it makes her overly hardworking and protective of those who have to endure abuse themselves.  She was a very likeable character.  Luke, the male lead in the story, was fired up with revenge.  He was ready to do what he had to so that he could get his ranch back.  Ruthy helped balance him out and cool him down.  I loved the interaction between these two characters.  It was fun, romantic, and just made me smile.  An aspect of the story I particularly liked was the "band of brothers" that came together in the story.  Luke's friends had set themselves up in town, waiting for Luke's arrival so they could come together and get his ranch back.  They had different professions: lawyer, doctor, preacher, and law man.  That created some great action in the story, as they took on different roles in the "brotherhood".  They also were all imprisoned together at Andersonville, another point of interest since I live close to Andersonville and have visited there before.  I could picture the prison camps that the men were held in.  It made the fact that they had formed such a strong bond there more convincing for me...because I've seen what horrible conditions were there.  To survive, I can see how men would come together and be so dependent on each other. 

I really enjoyed this book.  If you're a fan of western adventures with a twist of humor and'll like this one!  If you're read The Kincaid Brides series by Mary, there is a connection between those books and this one.  It's kind of neat to see other characters pop up here and there in later book series...well, it is for me, anyway : ).

Happy reading!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

This Is Our Time...dvd review and a free copy for you!

*Stacy're the winner!! : )  Thanks for commenting!*
This Is Our Time presented by Pure Flix Releases on DVD and Blu-Ray on Tuesday, April 16. It will be available nationwide at Family Christian Stores and most Christian online and brick-and-mortar retail stores nationwide.

About This Is Our Time
 The movie tells the interwoven stories of Luke (T.J. Dalrymple) and AlĂ© (Erin Bethea), who marry right after school and move to India to serve as missionaries for Embrace A Village, a ministry that cares for those afflicted with leprosy and their families; aspiring financier Catherine (Kate Cobb), who joins a prestigious financial institution determined to make an impact on corporate America; Ryder (Matthew Florida), who lands an impressive job in social media and can’t wait to use the powerful medium for a greater good; and Ethan (Shawn-Caulin Young,) seemingly the odd man out, who struggles to find his God-given-purpose and feels sidelined by God. “What they all come to learn is that it never really was their time,” Arnold said. “It always was, always is, God’s time.”

I have really enjoyed being able to watch some quality Christian films through this review program! When I saw that Erin Bethea, who was in Fireproof, was in this movie I wanted to check it out. I also liked what I read about the synopsis. This Is Our Time is a thought-provoking film that focuses on the purpose God has for our lives. It brings out the point that God's timing, even though it may not be our timing, is perfect and He has a plan for what happens in our lives. The character Ethan feels like he's not worth as much as the rest of his friends and family because several things haven't gone the way he'd planned. But God shows him that even when you're not doing what you planned, it's still in God's plan. I also loved how Ale's character challenged her friends and family to be who God created them to be.

This was not a action packed film (I'm thinking of how fast-paced "Courageous" and "Fireproof" were), although it did have some humor and the actors made their roles seem very authentic. I felt like I could relate to the characters in the story. Most importantly, though, I related to the deeper meaning the movie was trying to convey. Even though the role I have in my own life...a wife, mom, teacher to my children...may sometimes seem like it's not impacting the world and is often challenging, I'm right where God wants me to be. The role He has me in is important and He is using me in the lives of those I love and come in contact with on a daily basis. I would definitely recommend This Is Our Time.

If you'd like a copy of this wonderful movie, I am giving one away if you comment on this blog post! I'm not particular about what you say, but feel free to share what role God has you in right now. Are you a wife, a mother, a teacher, a friend? Love to hear about it!  We'll draw a name on Sunday and let you know who the winner is that evening : ).

If you'd like to check out more about the movie:

God bless!

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on 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 accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Worldwide Culture Swap

Have I posted about this before?  Honestly, I can't remember (do you feel sometimes like all of your brain cells are shot by the end of the day...). I just took the plunge and signed our family up!  I'm honestly really excited about this!

A mom in our homeschooling community sent us a mass email about this not too long ago and I checked out the blog.  This is right up my alley.  I LOVE learning about different cultures and making connections with different families.  The worldwide culture swap is a way for families to connect with each other across the globe.  It's free to sign up...but you're committing to sending four packages to different families you are grouped with.  Your package needs to contain some things about your state...postcards, food items, seed packs, etc.  You can also get as expensive or inexpensive...and you want to.  The other families in your group will also be sending you a package from their country.  It's a great way to learn about another country, connect with people around the world, and to's just fun!  : )  I had pen pals from England and Italy when I was in middle school/high school and on up through post college days.  I haven't been in touch with them in a long time, but it was really fun to exchange notes, little packages, and other things over the years.  I think the kids and I will really enjoy it and it fits right in with learning at home. 

If you're not interested in sending packages overseas, they also have a USA swap, where you can swap with other families right here in the states.  That may be something we do later.  For right now, I was interested in the overseas one.  It says it takes 2-4 weeks to be paired up with your group.  I look forward to blogging about this!  Let me know if you decide to do this with your family!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Train up a child

Having kids and training them in the way they should go is a lot harder than I thought it would be.  When I was single, I observed the way my friends and family would discipline and train their kids and I liked some things and didn't agree with others.  I formed some ideas on how I would do day.  Well, "one day" has come, and I'll just confess...I don't think anything fully prepared me.  You can't predict the way you're going to feel when your child decides to run the opposite direction when you tell him or her to come to you.  You may be sleep deprived, or you may have had a rough week, a headache...and that one little act of defiance may push you over the edge.  I've been there.  For sure!  Adding more kids in the mix just gives you extra opportunities to see these acts...and practice your responses.  

Lately I've actually been thinking a lot about my responses.  Reading Ann Voskamp's "One Thousand Gifts" helped me to stop and think about what is the root issue of my child's disobedience.  Sin, for me, is the obvious answer.  My little ones need God's Word and they need our help in training them in the right direction, because Jesus can change their heart.  For me to blow up, loose my cool, and not be disciplined myself while training them is probably not the best.  It's so hard not to do that, though.  I need Jesus to help me and I KNOW that if I'm repeating His words to my kids on a regular basis, it's going to change me, too.

I've talked to a few friends and asked for prayer and direction in facing some new, challenging child training issues.  God's Word is definitely the direction I want to go with a more effective way.  A wise lady in my church recommended this tool from "Doorposts" and I'm really excited about it.  It's called an "If-Then" chart.  Here is the link to it.  
It basically has three columns, and you have an offense on the left side, scripture in the middle that goes along with it, and on the right side you can write in what type of discipline you want to use.  So when your child does one of those offenses, you can take them right to the chart and do the discipline.  I think it will help take the frustration out of some of the issues we have. Doorposts also makes a "Blessing Chart" that helps encourage your kids and offer rewards for behavior that honors the Lord and encourages others.  Their website has all sorts of resouces that help with organizing household chores, teaching stewardship, and more.  Definitely worth checking out!

Another tool I ran across tonight while checking out some blogs was the Child Training Bible.  I had to watch the tutorial on their site to really understand what it was, but it basically uses tabs and highlighters to mark different verses in the Bible that reference different discipline/training issues. 

The creators of it explained that they wanted to use Bible verses with their child training, but either couldn't think of them right off hand or didn't know the verse, so they created something that would help get to it right away and address the specific issue.  Their resource cards also give some discussion questions to go along with it.  I can totally relate to what these parents were saying...because I feel the same way.  The great thing is that it's obvious this family wants to take their kids...and those who purchase this resource...back to the Gospel.  It's all about learning what Jesus did for us on the cross and showing that the Bible really does relate to everyday life and struggles.  Another thing I love about is the price!  Both the Child Training Bible cards and the "If-Then" chart are less than $10 each.

There are lots of great ideas for training your children...and more than enough books on the subject.  I like to read, but sometimes reading book after book on kid raising just overwhelms me and sometimes confuses me.  I like these tools because they are broken down and just go right back to the Word.  I want my kids to have God's Word in their heart and I honestly need to focus on His Word, too...and take some of the emotion out of the situation.

Are there any resources or tools that you've found helpful?  I'm open to suggestions!  : )  Child training is tough.  Pray for me...and let me know how I can pray for you!