Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Day

Early Christmas Morning….

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An Alabama White Christmas!

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Gift opening…..

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We enjoyed the afternoon at my parents’ house.

We had a wonderful day.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Unstuff, Making Room in Your Life for What Really Matters (Review)

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Unstuff, Making Room in Your Life for What Really Matters, by Hayley and Michael DiMarco is a book that challenges the reader to take a close look at all the “stuff” in his life that impacts his walk with the Lord.

This is a difficult (and yet most appropriate) time of year to look at this topic as most of us are busily shopping, giving, and receiving “stuff.” And when we are not, ads everywhere are encouraging us to buy, buy, buy!

The authors’ premise is that “stuff” is meant to fill our needs. It is not meant to control our time, our money, and our hearts. We work hard to buy things that satisfy us only temporarily. We expend time and energy maintaining our large homes, cars, and other “stuff.” All of these things leave us little time for what is most important—God and family—and adding to our stress levels.

The authors say, “Stress results from our assumption that God isn’t enough so we have to take up the slack…It is the result of a life that hasn’t focused itself on things above but on things within.”

Unstuff addresses not only the “wallet stuff” that occupies and distracts us, but also “mind stuff,” “body stuff,” “worship stuff” and “love stuff.”

I enjoyed the first part of the book and appreciated the call to simplify. I don’t know how far I am willing to go in letting go of my stuff, but I do know that my efforts over the past few years to simplify my schedule and obligations and to de-clutter have simplified my life and lessened my stress levels. I wish the authors had focused primarily on “wallet stuff,” however. I felt that much of the last half of the book just tried to cover too much material. I think the definition of “stuff” was so broad that the initial emphasis on downsizing our lives was weakened.

I still recommend this book and think that most of us would benefit from this call to simplify our lives.

Thank you to Tyndale House for providing me with a free review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pier 1 Imports

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Pier 1 Imports. All opinions are 100% mine.

I've spent some time this afternoon browsing the Pier 1 Imports website. Pier 1 has such a fun variety of gifts and decorating items. I would love this set of Snowman dishes to use at a party or to serve my family a Christmas morning brunch. Isn't it bright and cheery?

The Christmas decor is all arranged by collection (Gilded Forest, Couture Christmas, etc.) to make it extra easy to pick items that will coordinate to give your home that put-together look. The snowman dishes that I like are from the Yuletide Treasures collection.

If you are looking for some last-minute holiday gifts, the site conveniently has sections for "Gifts for Her" and "Gifts for Him."  While browsing through the "Gifts for Her," I found ideas from throws to jewelry to wallets. Isn't this appliqued throw cute? With the cold weather we've had this week, this appeals to me right now!

Many of the items I found were marked down to clearance prices. All the better! This lantern sconce is only$8.98; marked down from $30! I think a pair of these would be lovely in my foyer!

 

Throughout this month, Pier 1 Imports is collecting donations for Toys for Tots. Unwrapped toys or donations are accepted at the register. Also,  Pier 1 Imports will donate $1 to Toys for Tots for everyone who "likes" them on Facebook. I really appreciate companies that support their communities and reach out to help others as they do business.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Advent Traditions

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For many years, one of our favorite Christmas/ Advent traditions has been our nightly Advent candle lighting and reading. Most nights, during the 4 weeks leading to Christmas, we gather around our Advent wreath and read a devotional together. Our hands-down favorite has been the Jotham’s Journey series. We’ve read each of the 3 books at least twice through. This year, we are reading a lovely devotional that I downloaded from one of my favorite blogs, A Holy Experience

Often our Advent readings are followed by singing a Christmas carol or reading through some of our favorite Christmas picture books and accompanied by hot chocolate and cookies.

I think this tradition as helped us all keep our focus on Jesus throughout the season. What are your favorite traditions?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Super Star Speech Sale

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Do you have concerns about your child’s speech skills? My Super Star Speech books were written to help parents work with their children’s articulation errors at home. Visit Super Star Speech to learn more about speech disorders and look over the free resources offered there!

I am offering free shipping on any Super Star Speech sale from now until Dec. 16. In addition, if you use Google Checkout, you will receive an additional $5.00 off any order of $30 or more.

All of the Super Star Speech books are also available from Currclick in e-book form for about 30% off.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Little Star, by Anthony DeStefano (Review)

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We have a large collection of Christmas picture books, ranging from silly “fluff”  to “classics” that I will keep for my grandchildren. My favorites are those that tell the story of Jesus’ birth in a way that touches children and adults alike. Beautiful illustrations are a plus, as well.

Little Star is a book that falls into that category. The Christmas story is told from the perspective of the star, who watches Mary and Joseph from the sky, feels sorry for their struggles, and loves the baby Jesus so much that he gave himself for Him.  The story is a simple retelling of the birth of Jesus and a tale of a little star who was considered insignificant by the other stars, but it also addresses Jesus’ choice to be born in humble circumstances instead of coming to earth as a King and even foreshadows Jesus’ sacrifice for mankind.

I think Little Star would be an excellent addition to any family’s collection of Christmas stories. It is a story that will engage any 3 to 8 year old and one that children will understand at  a deeper level as they age.

I received a free review copy of this book from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Decorating for Christmas

We put most of our Christmas decorations up over Thanksgiving weekend. I love Christmas and Christmas d├ęcor so much that I like to put it all up early and leave it up into January! Allison and Katie were home for Thanksgiving weekend, so I took advantage of their help. All went smoothly except for a bit of conflict over hanging the outdoor wreathes. (The guilty parties will be left unnamed!)

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We didn’t get to the tree over the weekend, so Emily and I decorated it last night and had a lovely time doing so. I love all our ornaments and the memories they bring back, from heirloom glass balls inherited from my grandmother to the cross stitched and other ornaments that I crafted the first year Chris and I were married to the sweet decorations the children made when they were small.

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I usually put up lights around our front porch area, but may skip that this year. That’s one task no one else volunteers to help with and it’s a hassle to turn the lights on and off every night (or to fiddle with the timer when it frequently malfunctions). Since finances are tight right now, I think the energy savings would be wise as well. The kids used to love the outdoor lights (and want more), but I don’t think anyone but me cares any more.

The house is feeling so warm and homey now. One of my favorite holiday activities  in the evenings when the house is quiet  is to sit in the living room in the dark except for the tree lights. Just a quiet time to pray, think, and relax after a busy day.

Welch’s Healthy Start Juice (Review)

imageAs a BzzAgent, I was able to try out a free carton of the new Welch’s Healthy Start 100% juice, which comes in three varieties: Concord Grape, White Grape Orange Mango, and Blueberry Pomegranate. The store I shopped at only carried the first two varieties. Emily chose the Concord Grape.

I usually only buy 100% juice because I don’t want to serve my family added sugar and artificial flavorings. 95% of the time, I buy orange juice because I think it is the most nutritious choice. So I am glad to learn about the Welch’s Healthy Start juices that contain twice the vitamin C of orange juice and are a good source of calcium. One 8 oz glass of juice equals 2 servings of fruit!

The Concord Grape was a big hit at our house and my three girls finished up the carton quickly. Fortunately, I got to try one glass for myself. I look forward to trying the other varieties soon.

As a BzzAgent, I received a coupon for a free carton of Welch’s Healthy Start juice and was encouraged to talk about the product. I was not required to give a positive review.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Super Star Speech Sale

Do you have concerns about your child’s articulation skills? Do you have a friend or family member who might like a book that would help their child’s speech skills for Christmas?

I am offering free shipping on any Super Star Speech sale from now until Dec. 16. In addition, if you use Google Checkout, you will receive an additional $5.00 off any order of $30 or more.

All of the Super Star Speech books are also available from Currclick in e-book form for about 30% off.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Old Schoolhouse Black Friday Sale

I have found The Old Schoolhouse to be a great source of encouragement and resources in my homeschooling. The Old Schoolhouse Magazine is a thick, meaty magazine, full of teaching tips and personal inspiration. The Old Schoolhouse Store carries not only products from a wide variety of publishers (and shipping is always free!), but many products  published by The Old Schoolhouse itself. Some of my favorites are the Molly’s Money-Saving Digest and the Download and Go Studies—fun one-week studies on a  variety of topics that combine on-line resources, fun graphics, and lapbooking and notebooking activities. I am eager to try out the brand new Curiosity Files series next.

The Old Schoolhouse store is running a Black Friday sale —Doorbuster specials plus $100 or more of free gifts with an order of only $30!

Here are the official details for the magazine offer:

The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine is extending an extraordinary subscription offer to homeschool families. U.S. and Canadian residents can receive a one-year print subscription and a FREE Homeschooling with Heat tote bag, FREE Schoolhouse Planner of your choice, and FREE E-Book: Cranberry Christmas for just $19.95. One-year subscriptions start with the winter issue. It makes a perfect gift for yourself and a friend. There are a limited number of tote bags available from November 24 through midnight on November 29-once they're gone, they're gone! Hurry and grab this tremendous value today! It's over $80 in free gifts--one of them the gorgeous Cranberries & Cream tote bag.

TOS has a FREE Holiday Supplement available too that is PACKED with great ideas for gifts, cooking and decorating for the holidays.

I am an affiliate for The Old Schoolhouse, so I may benefit if you click on a link and make a purchase.

Friday, November 19, 2010

God’s Mighty Acts in Creation (Review)

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God’s Mighty Acts in Creation, by Starr Meade, is a devotional book for children based on each of the six creation days. For each topic, the author strives to convey not only the wonder of God’s creation, but how each element of creation is used and discussed elsewhere in scripture and even times when the God’s rules for that creation are suspended miraculously.

Chapters 2 through 12 focus on light and water. Various devotions address—the woman at the well, God causing an axe head to float on water for Elijah, Jesus as the “light of the world,” the sprinkling of water to cleanse us from our sins, the magnificent power of the oceans that are still under God’s command, and the plague of darkness over Egypt. Personal anecdotes, lessons from the world around us, and Bible passages all reinforce the concepts.

For example, Chapter 9 discusses God’s control over light and darkness and how He suspended natural laws to send the plague of darkness over Egypt. The author explains how this plague particularly mocked Pharaoh because Pharaoh was considered to be one with the sun god, Ra and how the three days of darkness showed his lack of power. Verses from the book of Job are also included that emphasize  God’s power over light and darkness.

Emily and I are currently working through another devotional book together, so I gave her this one to read independently. She says, “I love it because it’s more serious than the other devotions I’ve read. This one gives you Bible verses to look up and explains points better. It teaches me more about God. I also like the questions and activities. I wish it were thicker!”

I am impressed with how “meaty” this book is. Although written for children and families, it contains solid theology and is thought-provoking and meaningful for me as well. For families and young people that are serious about growing in knowledge and faith, this book is an excellent choice!

I received this book free through Crossway’s Book Review program. All opinions are my own.

Perfect Fit Button

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Do you have a favorite pair of pants that are just a bit too tight? Or maybe the waistband is just a bit too big? Personally, I have several pairs of pants that I always have to wear a belt with because the waist is too big. Sometimes I take in the waistband, but that always leaves an uncomfortable lump. I have one pair of jeans that I sewed an extra button on, allowing me to tighten the waist to a perfect fit. Or, on a “fat day,” to use the original button. Well, someone has marketed that idea….

I was recently given the opportunity to try out the Perfect Fit Button.  Each button set comes with 8 buttons in four different colors—silver, khaki, brown, and black. The buttons are a bit like tie-tacks. You just poke the point through the fabric, then attach the back on the inside of the waistband.  Easy to put on; easy to take off to reposition.  The company suggests removing the buttons when washing.

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Initially, I had a very hard time removing the back from the button. You have to pinch the button inward back while pulling. It was rather frustrating, but I think it will get easier with practice. Trust me-once the buttons are attached, they will stay attached until you intentionally take them off!

The buttons are standard jeans-sized buttons. I had one pair of pants that had a smaller button, so the Perfect Fit button was too big for the button hole. I think they are a great size for most pants, though. The Perfect Fit button would work well for replacing missing buttons as well.

The Perfect Fit Button set retails for $9.99 and can be ordered online at http://www.perfectfitbutton.com.

I received a free set of Perfect Fit buttons for review purposes. No other compensation was provided and all opinions are my own.

Monday, November 15, 2010

What’s in the Bible? Winner!

The winner of the “What’s in the Bible” giveaway is comment # 7—Linda!

Disney trip

P1000154 We concluded our 3 1/2 week Florida trip with 3 days at Disney World. 4 parks in two (14 hour) days, with a day of rest in between! We camped at Fort Wilderness and enjoyed riding our bikes around the resort.  It was a bit different being at Disney without the other four members of our family—just me and Emily and my friend, Becky, but we had a wonderful time.

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Osborne lights at Disney-Hollywood Studios

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Adventures in Odyssey—Cause and Effect

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Emily is a huge Adventures in Odyssey fan, so I was excited to have the opportunity to review  the newest cd set, “Cause and Effect.”  Emily loves to listen to Adventures in Odyssey when she is in bed at night and in the car. I am very happy that Focus on the Family and Tyndale House are producing such wholesome entertainment for families.

This 4 cd set is number 52 in the Adventures in Odyssey series. We’ve been traveling a lot lately and have been listening to the set as we drive. Several of the episodes are mysteries and we found them especially fun to listen to. Emily loves the stories and I have enjoyed them too. It’s nice to find something that appeals to adults as well as kids. Some episodes are just silly, while others give the listener something to think about, such as the effect that one small action can have on others for years to come.

Since Emily is our resident Odyssey “expert,” I asked her to give her opinions. This is what she said:

I love this cd set except Mr. Whittiger sounds different. It teaches me more about God. And now because of Mr. Whittiger,  I am learning about fasting! It also teaches me about friends. I like that Adventures in Odyssey encourages people to love and to spread God’s Word. I enjoy that in “Stage Fright,” Emily is so eager to use the brain God gave her to solve a mystery! And in “Opposite Day,” it teaches people how important friendship is. I really love this Adventure in Odyssey and I hope they make more!

This Adventures in Odyssey cd set sells for $24.99. Keep up with the latest Adventures in Odyssey news on Facebook!

I received a free review copy of Adventures in Odyssey: Cause and Effect from Tyndale House. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sea World

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We had a lot of fun watching the penguins.
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Just having fun….Emily and my friend, Becky.







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Fun on the Beach

Emily and I are spending a few weeks visiting friends in Florida. We’ve enjoyed walking on the beach and have found some really interesting things washed up on shore…

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Coral

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