Friday, March 27, 2020

Being Known {Review}

Being Known is the story of Jennalyn, a mother of two grieving the loss of her own mom.  Her husband, Joel, is struggling to balance family and a start up business, leaving Jennalyn lost in a sea of emotions.  An unexpected encounter with an old flame also has her feeling confused and vulnerable.  Although committed to her marriage, Jennalyn finds her heart quickly entangled.  Can Joel and Jennalyn find their way back to each other before it's too late?

The second book in the Haven Makers series, Being Known follows the group of five women... supporting each other through the ups and downs of life.  Unlike the first book (Becoming Us), this book follows the life of a new character.  The other four women have storylines in this book as well, but all are secondary to Jennalyn and Joel's life, allowing the reader to know them better.  Their struggle and emotions feel authentic, and it's easy to fall in love with the characters.

My biggest struggle with Being Known is that the issues are too easily resolved.  Although Jennalyn's struggle with her emotions is very real, once she and Jowl communicate these issues seem to melt away almost too nicely.  Being Known is a nice light read for a relaxing weekend.

*Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.  All opinions are my own.

50+ Titles for Family Movie Night

For years, our family has done a weekly Family Movie Night.  This tradition started back when we had littles and my husband working nights.  Every Friday morning when he'd get off work, he'd take a couple hour nap and then try to readjust his internal clock for the weekend.  By Fridays, I was also tired of chasing two very active littles and just needed a moment where we were all sitting down together.  Thus our Friday night tradition was born.  Over the years, the kids have come to know the routine... always homemade pizza, always popcorn, and a movie for us all to enjoy.  Having a wide range of ages, it can be tough to find something that appeals to everyone, but the following is a list of 50+ parent approved movies for early elementary (some lower) on up through middle school.  As always use your own judgment based on your family values, but we've found this list to be mostly clean and suitable for those ages.  Enjoy!

*The Adventures of Milo and Otis
*Adventures of the Wilderness Family
*Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea
*The Aristocats
*Because of Winn-Dixie
*The Black Stallion
*Cheaper by the Dozen (old and new)
*City of Ember
*Cool Runnings
*Daddy Day Care
*Finding Nemo
*The Game Plan
*Girl of the Limber-lost
*The Greatest Showman
*The Herbie Movies
*High School Musical
*The Incredible Journey
*The Invention of Hugo Cabret
*Little Women
*The Mandie Movies
*Mary Poppins
*Mr. Popper's Penguins
*My Big Fat Greek Wedding
*Night at the Museum
*Nim's Island
*The Parent Trap (old is our favorite)
*Pippi Longstockings
*The Queen of Katwe
*Return to Me
*Robin Hood (Disney)
*Sarah, Plain and Tall
*The Secret Garden
*The Sign of the Beaver
*The Silver Skates
*The Original Star Wars
*Sound of Music
*Snowball Express
*Stuart Little
*The Swiss Family Robinson
*The Ugly Duschund
*We Bought a Zoo (some mild language)
*Wizard of Oz
*Yours, Mine, and Ours (old and new)

What would you add to the list?

Thursday, March 26, 2020

32 Indoor Toddler Activities

*Originally posted on 1/13/16. Reposted to be helpful while we're all quarantined.  Enjoy!

Winter is in full swing.  And with that comes, cold weather.  Even in a mild climate like where we live, this particular winter has been bitterly cold. So with this colder weather, we are spending more time indoors and I'm looking for more ways to entertain and wear out my kiddo.  If you're in the same boat, there are just a few ideas for indoor activities:

*Take out the cookie cutters and playdoh--Don't put those Christmas cookie cutters away just yet.  Mix up a batch of homemade playdoh and see what kind of creations you can make.

*Have a dance party--The temperatures are cool so warm up with a dance party.  Turn on some Pandora and wiggle away the giggles, grumpies, or energy.

*Play Hullabaloo--We love Hullabaloo.  It's a great game for getting out some energy, developing listening skills, playing together.

*Do some marble painting--Marble painting is a great way to mix it up.  Make sure you're supervising with the marbles, but this can be a really fun one for any afternoon.

*Play with sensory bins--There are so many sensory bin ideas out there.  We've loved scented rice and the animals in the ice bins.  There are plenty to keep your toddler busy.

*Make a tent under the table--Throw some blankets over the dinning room table to create a tent, reading nock, cave, or submarine.  Use your imagination and see where it takes you.

*Do some water painting--Water painting really is a skill and can take time to develop.  Take some time to teach your toddler how to add the water and mix colors on the paper to create some lovely masterpieces.

*Thread pasta or pony beads--Threading pasta or beads is great for hand-eye coordination.  Pasta can easily be dyed and pony beads can be found at most dollar stores.

*Have tea time with your stuffed animals--Tea, juice, or even water can be made fun when combined with the idea of a tea party.  Serve some finger foods and add stuffed animals and you've got yourself a party.

*Make leaf prints--Whether leafs, pine needles or flower, go on a nature hunt for your supplies and return home to do some prints.  You can combine nature ideas that make a ton of different designs and prints.

*Create shadow puppets--When the sun peaks out from behind the clouds, be ready to make some shadow puppets.  Either on the walls or if it warms up a bit, make some in the driveway and trace with sidewalk chalk.

*Make lunch together--Kids love being in the kitchen.  It's a great way to learn listening skills, measurements, hand-eye coordination, and so much more.  Budget in a little extra time and get your kids in the kitchen with you.

*Go "swimming" in the bathtub--Find some fishy toys from the toy box, put on a bathing suit, and let your kids kick away in the bathtub.

*Make cookies--Back in the kitchen, why not let your kiddos help you make some cookies?  It's always a treat when Mommy lets you bake AND eat cookies.

*Use Daubbers on a white board--Invest in a new set of color daubbers and let your little one get creating.  Small white boards can often be found at the $ spot in Target or Dollar Tree.

*Go on an alphabet hunt--Whether in your home or neighborhood, print out the ABC's for your child and go on a hunt.  Whenever they spot a letter, let them cross it off their list.  It's a great way to improve letter recognition and sounds.

*Create an obstacle course--Obstacle courses can be as simple or elaborate as you want.  Use footstools, dining room chairs, pillows, and couch cushions to create a fun obstacle course to wear them out.

*Make a balance beam--Use a roll of masking tape to create an inexpensive balance beam.  Great for coordination and balance.  Once they master balance, try walking backwards, chasses, or ski jumps.

*Play with balloons--Blow up some balloons and see how long you can keep it up in the air.  Hit it back and forth, toss it to each other or create paddles with paper plates.

*Thread straws--Cut some plastic straws and thread with string.  Another great hand eye coordination activity.

*Draw and create yourself--Find a small handheld mirror and challenge your child to draw what they see.  Do you have long or short hair?  Blue or green eyes?  How is the face shaped?  What's on top: the eyes or mouth?

*Practice with scissors--Pull out a piece of scratch paper and start with straight lines.  Then draw curvy lines, circles, or letters.  Sit patiently with them and allow them to practice their scissor skills.

*Do a puzzle-- Puzzles are great for expanding vocabulary, hand eye coordination and time spent together.  Toddler puzzles can easily be found used or at the dollar store.

*Discover new ways to paint: Q-tips, cotton balls, toy cars, etc--There are so many new ways to paint.  Look around your home and you'll be surprised what you'll find.

*String fruit loops--Another low cost threading activity, stringing fruit loops can not only be great for coordination, but provide a fun treat afterwards.

*Play with oobleck--Oobleck is a fun homemade substance that is once liquid and then a solid.  It's fun to run through your fingers and squish around. 

*Drive cars through shaving cream--Find an inexpensive bottle of shaving cream and a few hot wheels cars.  Spray some shaving cream on the table and let the kids drive their cars through.  Easily cleaned up.

*Glue beans on letters-- Draw out a block letter and glue beans, pebbles, and pasta to fill in.  A great activity for learning letters, pairing upper and lower case and learning letter sounds.

*Have a "car wash" in the kitchen sink--Run a sink of warm water, provide some rags, and those hot wheel cars and create a car wash.

*Finger paint--Who can say no to finger painting?  Even as a mom, I love this one.  Use some blank paper for imaginations to run wild or if your child is nervous getting started, tear a page out of a Dollar Store coloring book.

*Make bean noise makers--Staple together a couple of paper plates and fill in with dried beans to create fun, inexpensive noise makers.  Decorate the outside with crayons, markers, and stickers.

*Create a one-man band--Look around your home for musical instruments, including the noise makers you just made.  Can your child come up with a fun beat or creative lyrics?  March around the house singing your new songs.

What about you?
What are your creative ideas for indoor toddler play?

Monday, February 24, 2020

The Englisch Daughter {Review}

Husband and wife, Roy and Jemima, have weathered the storm and come out stronger.  Or so it would seem.  After Roy recovers from a devastating accident, the two start to pull their lives back together.  But as time goes on, Roy begins behaving stranger than ever.  Till one day Jemima discovers that her life savings, meant to buy a food truck and start a business, has mysteriously disappeared.  And that's only the tip of the giant secret Roy has been keeping from her.

Can Jemima recover from this betrayal in order to love an innocent child?  And can Roy begin to unravel the mystery of what truly happened?  Or will the two simply find this secret to be too much?

A long time Cindy Woodsmall fan, I was excited to read this newest novel written in partnership with Erin Woodsmall.  These two have collaborated in recent years and written some incredible books.  The Englisch Daughter follows the tale of a man riddled with guilt and a family fraying at the seams. At times, I wanted to scream at both Roy and Jemima, begging them to see what was happening.  Raw and real, this novel takes a hard look at the work, and the rewards, of marriage.  And the grit required to find, and bring out, the best in each other.  An entirely different storyline than I've ever seen in Amish fiction and satisfyingly good to the very end.  If you enjoy this genre, The Englisch Daughter ranks right up there with one of the best I've read.

*Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher.  All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Forever Hidden {Review]

At 23 years old, Hayvn Powell lives an enchanted life in Nome, Alaska.  Supported by her loving mother and grandfather, Hayvn and her sisters have grown into a trio of strong women.  All seems ideal, until a mysterious illness strikes her grandfather, leaving the family looking for a way to hang on to their livelihood.

An unknown gentleman arrives to keep the farm running, but the girls uncover documents that may prove him less than noble.   With grandfather and then their mother both falling ill, the girls must search out the truth amidst a sea of secrets and romance.  Before they lose everything.  

Another wonderful read by Peterson and Woodhouse.  The authors of The Heart of Alaska series return to a familiar setting and place this story in the 1900's gold rush.  Melding history and romance, they write a cast of well-rounded characters, each unique and distinct in their own right.  Forever Hidden also includes the rich details of both the gold rush period and Alaska itself that make it an interesting read.

While some aspects of the story were predictable, others were not.  And some characters that seem flat later came to life, providing twists and turns throughout the story.  For anyone that loves historical Christian reads, Forever Hidden will not disappoint.  The only problem is... now I'm anxiously awaiting book #2.

*Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.  All opinions are my own.
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