Monday, January 31, 2011

Lady in Waiting (Review)

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I found Lady in Waiting, by Susan Meissner, hard to put down! This novel tells the stories of two “Janes,” a modern day Jane who runs an antique shop and has just come across a fifteenth century ring and Lady Jane Grey, the “queen for six days.”

The modern Jane struggles to deal with a husband who has just left her, an interfering mother, and the all-consuming mystery of the origins of the ring.

Fifteenth century Jane tries to find happiness in a life in which she is but a pawn in the hands of power-hungry parents and others.

This book pulled me in from the very beginning. I found the characters likable and realistic and enjoyed the “what if…” that the author developed into a story. I also learned a bit more about British history. I will be looking for more books by this author!

Download and read the first four chapters of Lady in Waiting here!

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

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Amazon Gift Card Deal

I just came upon this great deal –a $20 Amazon gift card (no expiration or limits) for $10 at Living Social. I haven’t dealt with the Living Social site before, but read several recommendations from people I trust before I purchased mine. This deal is only good today.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Read and Share Bible winner

The winner of the Read and Share Bible is Mail4rosey (comment #16). Congratulations!

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Our new “Compassion child”

We’ve sponsored a child through Compassion International for many years. Because Emily was adopted from Guatemala, we chose a child from that imagecountry, because we feel a tie to Guatemala, and because we wanted to give little something back to the country of her birth.

We just decided to sponsor an additional child and again looked at the children in Guatemala who were waiting for sponsors. We read through the information about each child and Emily immediately chose this cute little boy, Hermelindo, when she saw that he was six days younger than she is. She’s very excited that they are almost exactly the same age and is eager to write her first letter to him.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Snowed In!

We had record-setting snowfall here in Alabama this week and have been snowed/iced in all week. I don’t mind a bit! It’s been a nice relaxing week. We have 7 inches in our yard, which for us is a lot!  The sled we’re using was mine from when I was 4 years old and lived in Pennsylvania!

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Text Book Rentals

I have three kids in college right now and have have been shocked at the cost of textbooks. It costs hundreds of dollars each semester just to buy books! Sometimes the books can be resold; sometimes not.
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Did you know that you can rent textbooks? This is a great option for a book that will be used for a short time. Several sites offer this option.  If you are interested in looking into book rental, My Coupons Textbook Rental is a good place to start because this site has gathered various coupon codes for free shipping or discounts for 8-10 different companies that rent textbooks.  I browsed a couple of the sites and found that you can rent a textbook for about 1/3 of the list price. It seems that you could come out ahead financially and save effort over buying and reselling books yourself. Also, I know my kids have run into the situation where the required textbooks have been updated, making their “old” books obsolete and un-sellable. Renting will eliminate that risk.
All of the coupon codes and information provided at at MyCoupons is free!
I will definitely be passing on this information to my kids!
Visit the My Coupons Facebook page  or Twitter page to keep up with even more coupon deals.
This is a MamaBuzz review. I was paid to write this post.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Shattered Dreams (Review)

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Shattered Dreams, God’s Unexpected Path to Joy, by Larry Crabb, issues a call to look beyond the trials of life to find the deeper blessings that God has in store for us. The message of this book is that the only way we can find true fulfillment and joy in the Lord is through pain and loss. Those who have peaceful, contented lives have no reason to seek a deeper relationship with God. Yet, through suffering, we are called to look beyond ourselves, to evaluate what is truly important, and to encounter God.

This was a compelling, yet tough book to read. The author doesn’t shy away from the tough questions of life. He says, “Sometimes God seems like the least responsive friend I have…relating personally with  a God who is less responsive than friends with far fewer resources is difficult.”  I have felt that way at times—yet, I am hesitant to express those sentiments to others.

Shattered Dreams doesn’t offer any easy answers—in fact, it emphasizes that God may never take away our trials and suffering and that we may have a long difficult wait before we encounter God. Regardless, the reward of perseverance is a fuller joy in the Lord.

I didn’t find this book as hopeful and uplifting as I would have liked. Regardless, I think it does contain a lot of truth and could be helpful reading for anyone willing to address the “difficult questions” of life. It includes an 8 week group discussion guide and would be a good group study.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Friday, January 7, 2011

CSN Stores

One of my favorite places to shop on the internet is CSN Stores. What I like most is their vast selection. This family of 200+websites carries everything from modern dining room furniture to cookware to kids’ toys! I’ve found the prices to be very competitive, too.

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I’ll be doing a review soon for csnstores.com, but I’m not sure yet what I will choose—a science kit for Emily? Some new cookware for myself? Stay tuned to find out!

Billy the Armadillo

Our wooded yard abounds with squirrels, birds, and chipmunks. We even had some flying squirrels take up residence in our birdhouse a few years ago—very cool.

Last week, though, we discovered something new—an armadillo digging a hole in our fenced-in back yard. The girls and I were all on our back deck moving a ladder when Katie looked down into the yard and screamed, “What is that creature!!!"  Sure enough, an armadillo.

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Allison was thrilled—despite living in Mobile, she had never seen a live armadillo. For some reason, armadillos are her favorite animal. She despises opossums, though. Personally, I think an armadillo is just a possum with a shell! Our new “pet” has been named, “Billy.”

A bit of excitement followed when someone let our cocker out. She chased the armadillo in circles around the yard until  it jumped back into the hole (which didn’t go anywhere) and shot some dirt into Velvet’s face. Armadillos can run pretty fast—I think it and the dog were pretty well matched in the chase. I suspect  the armadillo would have come out ahead in an altercation, though! Do they bite?

We’ve only seen armadillos in the past few years here in north Alabama as they are working their way northward.

Interesting fact: Allison tells me that armadillos can carry leprosy. So don’t cuddle with one!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Currclick Secret Sale!

Currclick is now having a “secret” Winter Whisper sale. This sale hasn’t been advertised on their homepage or Facebook and is only accessible by the “secret” link. Now it is not really secret, because I (and you) are encouraged to spread the word about it.

10 of their top homeschool product publishers are offering their entire lines at 50%  off. Plus, there are 10 new freebie products—including lapbbook studies and literature units! Go check it out (and spread the word)!

The sale ends on Jan. 19.

Secret Sale

Read and Share Bible (Giveaway)

 

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The Read and Share Bible, published by Tommy Nelson Publishers is a story Bible written for young children and early readers. It includes more than 200 Bible stories, both the familiar favorites and some less familiar ones, such as Hezekiah and the sun moving backwards and Elisha causing an axe head to float.

The illustrations are bright and fun and are sure to engage any child’s attention.

A feature that I particularly like about this Bible is the discussion question at the end of each story. Here is an example of one, “God gave David courage so he wouldn’t be afraid of the giant. What would you do if you needed some courage?”  I think this is a great way to help children apply the stories and lessons to their lives, even at a young age.

This story Bible would appeal most to ages 3 to 8, but Emily (10) has been enjoying it as well.

 

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Read an excerpt of the Read and Share Bible on Tommy Nelson’s Facebook page to see what a sweet book this is.

Giveaway!

Tommy Nelson Publishers sent me an extra copy of the Read and Share Bible to give away.  To enter,  just leave a comment. I will draw a winner using Random.org on Jan. 16.   US entries only!

For additional entries (leave a comment for each):

1. Follow me on Google Friend Connect.

2. Leave a comment on my Super Star Speech blog.

 

I received a 2 free copies of the Read and Share Bible from Tommy Nelson—one to review and one to give away. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Welcome, 2011

I am looking forward to this new year---a time for new beginnings. 2010 brought with it many blessings and good times that I cherish, but also a lot of heartache. I am determined, in this new year, to move forward, and to emotionally let go of some things that are distracting me from what is most important.

I’d like to do more writing. I started with NaNoWriMo in November and failed miserably, in part due to being out of town for half the month, but I still want to try my hand at writing fiction. I’m exploring new ways to grow my Super Star Speech business and and am open to seeing where God may lead me.

My first priority right now is raising Emily. I hope to see her grow in the Lord this year. We’re also working on some attitude issues that need to be fixed ASAP. I’d like to see her become more self-initiated in her learning and conscientious in her quality of work. (Any suggestions would be welcomed!)

I am excited to see where God will lead me this year!

Good-bye 2010

Last year, I posted some New Year’s resolutions. I thought it would be good for me to revisit them and to think about how I did!

2010 Goals:

1. Get up earlier to begin my Bible/prayer time. I am consistent about doing this nearly every day, but I would like to start about 30 minutes earlier, so that I can finish before Emily is up. I tend to let her oversleep or make her wait for breakfast and school because I am still having my quiet time.

I started out well with this, but in recent months have really slipped! This is a good goal to carry over!

2. Smile more. Make an effort to have and be more fun with the kids. Take time to stop and enjoy the moment instead of worrying so much about checking the next item off my mental list.

Again, I think I’m doing better, but there’s still room to improve! Now that Emily and I are the only ones at home, we’re definitely more relaxed. This year, I’d like to work on getting up earlier and being more efficient in the first few hours of the day in order to feel more flexibility the rest of the time. I’m going to print out a “smile” sign as a reminder, too!

3. Relax and trust God. My life in in upheaval right now, and has been for the past couple of years, but I spend way too much time worrying about what might happen and trying to “fix” things myself rather than trusting God to work everything out for good in His own time.

Well, sometimes I do really well here, and sometimes I fall apart. I’m really working right now on letting go of the past and trying to thrive where I am, trials and all.

4. Put more time and effort into preparing good and nutritious meals instead of throwing something together at the last minute. Reminder to self: It really doesn’t take that much longer to plan ahead!

I’m actually doing better here. My freezer is also loaded with casseroles and soups that I can pull out for a quick nutritious meal.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year’s Eve Game Night

Allison went out with some friends for New Year’s Eve, but the rest of us enjoyed a quiet night at home playing games with my parents and father in law.

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Mind Benders (Review)

I have always loved logic puzzles, so I when Timberdoodle  Co. gave me the opportunity to introduce Mind Benders to Emily, I eagerly took it. We were sent book A3  (grades 3-6) to review.

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Mind Benders are deductive reasoning puzzles. Each puzzle is accompanied by a blank chart that the student will fill in as he or she draws conclusions from the given information. This is the example problem in the Mind Benders book:

Davis, Edwards, and Jones are an astronaut, a computer programmer, and a skin diver.

1. Davis is not the astronaut or the computer programmer.

2. Jones is not the astronaut.

What does each person do?

The book explains how to solve a problem using the chart, so if you, as a parent, are wary of tackling these, you have help! Answers and step-by-step procedures are also provided in the back of the book in case the student or teacher gets stuck.

Emily had a few moments of frustration with some of the puzzles, but she did think they were fun. She is learning that she has to read very carefully to pick up small clues that will yield information and is excited each time she figures something out.

She struggles with work problems in math and has a tendency to skim over small details when reading, so I think that the Mind Bender puzzles will be excellent training for her that should carry over into her school subjects. Best of all, she does the puzzles for fun, not because they are “school!” Actually, I think they are a lot of fun, too!

I was given a free review copy of Mind Benders A3 by the Timberdoodle Co. for review purposes. Timberdoodle sells a  variety of Thinking Skills books and games.