Thursday, October 31, 2013

31 Days of Books: Thank You God for Blessing Me {Review}

*This post was originally published on 10/1/11

Thank You, God, for Blessing Me is a wonderful short read about seeing the blessings around us.  With beautiful illustrations and kid friendly language, well known author Max Lucado brings the message of Thankfulness to life.  Little Hermie finds himself being thankful for so many things, from the bed to sleep in to the relationships he has around him.  The pages are durable and the message is clearly written for readers ages 2-5 years.

We really enjoyed this book.  My kids love Little Hermie with his button nose.  Come on... what's not to love about this character?  I love the fact that he's thankful without being preachy. Lucado also introduces that fact that obedience and kindness are ways of showing thankfulness to God as well.  The story gives children a variety of ways to look for blessings in their every day lives and God is clearly woven into the story in a very relatable way.  This little story will bring a smile to your face as your children begin to recognize how truly blessed they are.  It would make a wonderful gift for the preschooler in your life.

*Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book for review from BookSneeze.  All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Nutella No-Bake Cookies

Seriously, nutella?  I am in heaven.  Chocolate No-Bake Cookies are so addictive, but then you add nutella and ... Wow!  And if you think these cookies are good today, let them cool and eat one later.  Even better.  These cookies have found a special place in our home.

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Nutella No-Bake Cookies
(from Shugary Sweets)

1 3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. cocoa
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. peanut butter
1/3 c. nutella
3 c. quick oats

*Cook sugar, cocoa, milk, and butter over medium heat.  Boil for one minute and remove from heat.

*Add vanilla, peanut butter, and nutella.  Combine well.

*Stir in quick oats.

*Drop by spoonfuls onto parchment paper and cool.

Mommy's Favorites to Read with the Kids

Well, today is my birthday!  Yeah for me.  Throw the confetti in the air and break out the band.  We're having a party!

Ok, not really.  It's a school day.  and a work day.  And since I'm a mom, I don't really get to take a day off.  So I figured the least I could do is let myself pick my favorite books for the  day.  Yes, they've all been my favorites, but there's just some favorites that don't fit into any other category that Mommy.  So I thought I'd share those with you today.

These are Mommy's Favorites:

Peas and Thank You--Great illustration of using good manners.

Go, Dog, Go--This is a fun one for the kids to learn to read.

Thank You God for Blessing Me--Sweet way to teach gratitude to a little one.

God gave us Christmas--Wonderful family book for talking about Christmas.

Are you my mother?--This one means even more to me after adopting.

A Fly Wen By--Just a fun, breathless, twister!

If You Give a Cat a Cupcake--I love this series and this one is a favorite.

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear-- A great introduction to a trickster-type tale.

Jamberry-- A fun fantasy travel through berry land.

Corduroy-- A sweet story of a bear who needs a button and finds a family.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

31 Days of Books: Frosty the Snowman

Who doesn't love Frosty the Snowman?  I think this my favorite children's Christmas movie every year.  He's just cute and friendly and clean.  It's a fantastic story and an absolute favorite.

After we read our book, we decided to make snowman again with toilet paper stamping.  I think they turned out pretty cute, don't you?

What you'll need:
* empty toilet paper roll for each child
* acrylic paint
* construction paper
* paint brushes


We dipped the end of the toilet paper roll into white acrylic paint and stamped three circles on top of each other.  Then we added the details and this is where the fun part came in.  Hats, arms, buttons, noses... the sky's the limit. 


What kind of snowman will you create?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Women Living Well {Review}

Courtney Joseph is well known for her popular blog, Women Living Well, which addresses topics pertaining to a woman's walk with the Lord both in and out of the home.  But she's probably nearly equally as known for her appearance on the Rachel Ray show where she was dubbed a "1950's Wife."  That appearance made her a controversial subject, polarizing women across the country.  And why was that?  Because she made no apologies for serving her husband and family.  And that's what she's still doing today.

Women Living Well is divided into four sections, each addressing one of the following: our walk with the Lord, our relationship with our husband, our relationship with our kids, and serving as a homemaker.  But Joseph is quick to remind us: this is not a how-to book.  Her focus is on encouraging readers in these areas.  We can read hundreds of books on how to be a better parent or wife.  But unless we're also lovingly encouraged by a thoughtful mentor, the how-to's won't make a difference.  This is how Women Living Well differs.  It's written in such a way as to lovingly encourage.  It reads as though the author herself is holding the readers hand through unselfish change.

Joseph bases her encouragement solidly in Scripture.  And admittedly this was the most challenging for me.  It was both an encouragement and a challenge to read how well based she is in the knowledge of Scripture.  And there were also times when I wanted to throw the book across the room.  Joseph's message is not a popular one.  Our culture tells us that she should pursue a career, be our own women, look out for #1.  "Don't serve a man," "Make a difference IN THE WORLD," "Don't waste your time/talent/education at home."  This book challenges all that.  And while I still don't commit to everything the author asserts, she does raise some interesting points.  

Overall, this was a great book.  Push through the issues that confront popular culture and take them in prayer.  You may find that it's not for you.  Or you may find that it's exactly the challenge your spirit needs.

Disclaimer: I received this book free of charge for my honest review from Booksneeze.  All opinions are my own.

10 Goals this Week

Here's how I did on my goals this week:

*Finalize Halloween costumes
*Edit photos

*Finish 2nd book
*Finish 1-2 unfinished posts
*Record a vlog

*Post items for sale
*Fix curtain rod
*Try 1-2 new recipes

*Get 8.5 hrs of sleep each night (about 3 nights)
*Workout 3 days

These are my 10 Goals for the Week

*Work on birthday invitations
*Carve pumpkins with the kids

*Start new book review
*Finish 1-2 unfinished posts

*Order enlargements/prints
*Frame antiquities
*Try 1-2 new recipes

*Get 8.5 hrs of sleep each night
*Workout 3 days
*Celebrate my birthday

What are your goals this week?

31 Days of Books: Wrapped Christmas Book Advent

*This post was originally published on 11/28/12

Last year, I saw this fun idea in several places and tucked it in the back of my mind to try.  Every day from December 1-25th, we'll unwrap one Christmas book to read together.  Reading is a special part of our evening routine and this way we get to explore a whole new set of books.  Especially fun Christmas books.

Since we don't have 25 Christmas books on our shelf, I used the local library as a resource.  I've been ordering Christmas books and picking them up as we go.  It's amazing how many books are out there about Christmas.  I've been screening them as I wrap them, but I've been pleasantly delighted with many of them.

I picked up a roll of wrapping paper from the dollar store and labeled them each with a day.  Especially the library ones so we can get them back on time.  And they're sitting in my Thirty-One bag under the tree.  I can't wait to see what kinds of books we'll discover this year.

*Linked to these Parties

Saturday, October 26, 2013

31 Days of Books: Weekend Links

This Week:

What I Made:  Some Halloween cards and some homeschool tools for the toddler.  I actually did get more done than usual and will be sharing soon.

What I'm Reading:  I'm reading Women Living Well by Courtney Joseph and will share it soon.  Has anyone else picked up a copy?

What I'm Doing: Cleaning up the yard this weekend.  We love our backyard, but it's full of leaves right now.  Find me a rake.

What I'm Watching: Nothing much.  We're watching Survivor and The Amazing Race.  My kids love staying up late on Sunday nights to watch "The Race."

What I'm Enjoying:  I just love fall.  The colors, the change of weather, ... pumpkin.  :-)

What are you up to?

Friday, October 25, 2013

2013 October Bookmarks

*Bookmarks is an online book club hosted at Creative2xmom. Here we discuss the books we've read in the past month as well as the suggested reading. Our suggested reading for October was From Frumps to Pumps by Sarah Mae.

These are the books I read this month:

Secret Keeper by Beverly Lewis--See my review here.

Raising a Soul Surfer by Cheri Hamilton--  Cheri Hamilton shares her family's history that led up to their daughter's brutal shark attack, leaving her to surf with only one arm.  Though Bethany's story is well-know, her mother goes behind the scenes to share how she and her husband found the Lord and the testimony that they believe prepared them to thrive through these horrific circumstances.  Knowing this family's story, it's easy to see how the Lord prepared them to face this crazy turn of events and come out still praising him.  I was hoping for more insight into their parenting philosophy that has kept their kids grounded after being thrust into the spotlight.  But it still made for an interesting read of a family's journey with the Lord.

The Duck Commander Family by Willie and Korie Robertson-- We love the Duck Dynasty reality show.  A little bit country, a little bit family, and whole lot over the top, we're hooked.  So when my library started carrying this book, I was excited to get on the wait list.  This book was a quick read, sprinkled with Robertson family recipes.  However, there really wasn't much solid content.  The subtitle is how faith, family, and ducks created a dynasty.  But for me personally, the faith aspect seemed real, but tagged on.  Mostly the story was about the family and while well and good, there were some serious issues that seemed glossed over.  And left me wondering just how authentic it was.  There were some highlights in the story though.  It was a refreshing delight to learn that the Robertson's themselves have been adoptive parents.  And that's enough to warm this Mama's heart.  So if you can borrow or find it at the library, it's a fun read.  But there's not much in the way of deep content.

Our suggested reading for October was From Frumps to Pumps by Sarah Mae--  I wanted to like this book. I really did.  I wanted to find motivation in presenting my best self to the world.  MY best self.  And Sarah Mae was good about making sure we focus on our Own Personal Best, rather than living up to the world standards.  But beyond that I really didn't find any helpful information in this one.  It was too ... elementary?  Basic?  It just really wasn't for me.  What did you think?

So what are your bookmarks this month?

Tell us in the comments about the books you're chewing on. Or link up a review from your own blog. Let's share the books we're finding, good and bad. And give us your thoughts on From Frumps to Pumps by Sarah Mae.

And join us Nov 22 as we discuss Steady Days by Jamie Martin.  Note that I will be publishing this post a week early due to the Thanksgiving Holiday.  Can't wait to see you then.

*Linked to these Parties

Thursday, October 24, 2013

31 Days of Books: 10 Tips for Read Alouds

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Reading is in our blood.  I've always been a big reader and as a writer, words have a huge impact in my life.  Reading opens new worlds and experiences for our children, and I really want mine to grasp what a great experience it can be.  So one thing we did early on was read aloud to our kids.  Every night before bed, we all climb up on the couch and read the Bible, along with other books.  It's some of the sweetest moments in our days.  These are some of the tips we've learned along the way:

1. Get comfy--Find some place you want to linger.  For us, it's the couch.  For you, it might be your child's bed, or an old comfy rocking chair.  Pile on the pillow, find a comfy spot, and settle in.

2. Make it a routine--My kids miss it when we don't read every night.  Some nights are hectic or company is in town.  But it's become so routine that my kids miss it.  They come to crave the closeness and discovery together.

3. Speak clearly--Read clearly.  When you're "hearing" a story, it's harder to follow the story than when you're seeing the words.  So read with distinction, pause in important conversations, and pronounce new words clearly.

4. Read Slowly--Reading aloud isn't about just getting through it.  Savor the words.  Use your pauses well and don't let your kids miss a thing.

5. Speak with emotion--People don't speak in monotone so why read in monotone?  Using emotion conveys meaning and makes the story clearer.  And if you're reading a lot of dialogue, try using voices.

6. Use prediction questions--Ask the kids questions as you read.  What's going to happen next?  How do you think the character feels about what's happening?  Use the illustrations to your advantage.  As them to analyze the action and predict what's going to happen.

7. Ask questions to check understanding--Ask questions about new words and situations.  Does your child understand what's happening or need some clarification.  Checking for understanding as you read can bring the whole story together.

8. Take turns--Some times my kids want to read to me.  And that's ok.  In fact, that's great.  Allowing them the time to read to me gives them great practice in reading, pronouncing, and reading aloud, which is a skill in itself.

9. Define hard words--Don't assume that your kids know what every word means.  Sometimes new words can be defined in context.  But if you find you're reading a lot of new vocabulary, take the time to define new words and explore new concepts.  After all that's what reading is all about... new ideas.

10. Use Audio Books--Don't forget to use audio books.  We listen to audio books all the time while we're running errands or traveling to visit family.  We've explored so many new words, new characters, and new stories in listening to audio books.  So if you're struggling to find time for reading aloud, work audio books into your day.

Do you read to your kids regularly?  What are your tips?
*Linked to these Parties

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

31 Days of Books: Family Book

*This post was originally published on 9/23/10

On Made by Me Monday this week, I promised I'd give you a closer look into these "Family Books" I've made for the kids.  Since our family lives so far away, it was important to me that our kids have some familiarity with them when they visit.  At the very least to have a face that goes with the name.  And these little books have opened up hours of conversation centered around family, love, traditions, and reliving memories.

I got ahold of some blank board books from Oriental Trading company.  If you'd like to be even more frugal, shop your local thrift store or yard sales for used board books.  They can easily be recovered as well.

I found with the boughten books that the pages weren't a standard size.  So although I measured twice and cut once, some of my pages would be short on an edge or two.  That's fixable and we'll get to it later.  But if it truly bothers you, you're going to want to measure every page to make sure you get a perfect fit.

I cut my papers and modge podged them to each page.  You'll have to do this project over the course of several days as each set of pages has to fully dry before moving on.  Make sure you're drying your pages with the book open.

After the pages dried, I laid out the order of the pages.  Mommy and Daddy first, sibling and a special cousin, Grandma and Great-Grandma, Nana and Papa, and several pages of Aunts and Uncles.  Since my kids don't have a lot of cousins yet, that was our list.  Just brainstorm and come up with the major family members that you want your kids to remember.

On each page, I printed a picture and matted it in a coordinating color.  Then cut out letters with my Cricut.  The picture and matte were adhered with scrapbooking tabs, the letters with a Xyron tape, and the ribbon and flower with glue dots.  I also traced around the letters and matting with a coordinating pen to make them really stand out.  The ribbon was used as a decorative element to cover when the pages were mis-sized.  Any cut little decorative element adds a special touch.

Finally I modge podged the entire page again to seal it.  Again, allow the pages to dry thoroughly and leave the book open to prevent sticking.  Sealing the entire book is a great idea, especially if you're giving it to a small child who will be handling it a lot.  These books go everywhere with my kids and I have yet to have something fall out of them.

I'd love to see what other ideas you come up with using these little books.  What special memorabilia would you create?

*Linked to these Parties

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

10 Books with Good Parents

Marila Cuthbert and Anne Blythe in the Anne of Green Gables Series

Sarah, from Sarah Plain and Tall

Mrs. Broody from Little Britches

Mr. Alden (Grandfather) from the Boxcar Children

Ma and Pa from Little House on the Prairie

Marmee from Little Women

Mama and Papa Bear from the Berenstein Bears

Mother from Love You Forever

Runaway Bunny

Horton Hatches the Egg

*Linked to these Parties

Monday, October 21, 2013

31 Days of Books: 10 Ways to Fit Reading into your Day

*This post was originally published on 7/15/13

During the last couple of years, I've found that my list of reading just seems to get longer and longer.  Someone mentions a book and I suddenly can't wait to get my hands on it.  My list grows by the minute.  And since I also do reviews for several sites, I may not finish my list before I die.  :-)

Reading is good for the soul.  It encourages us, stregthens us, enlightens us, allows us to escape.  Books open up worlds that we can't physically travel to: worlds in the natural sense and worlds of imagination.  If you're looking to fit more reading into your day, here are 10 ways I keep reading:

1. Make the time-- You have to make reading a priority.  Some days my priorities are out of whack and I spend too much time on facebook.  So make the time.  Know that three or four hours in your day won't magically open up, but you may find time that you didn't know existed.

2. Have a book handy--When I'm reading, I have a stack of books on my nightstand.  There's always 2-3 books that I want to get through quickly and keep them where I can find them.  I do read in other places of the house, but replace them when I'm through so I always know where they are.  Books travel with my everywhere: T-Ball practice, the pool, doctor's offices.  Always keep a book handy.

3. Set Goals--Often times when I'm not sure if I have time, I'll set a goal for myself.  Perhaps I have a book to review and I don't know when it will happen.  So I'll get a goal for finishing in a week.  Then I'll break it down to so many chapters a day.  Most times it means 2 chapters a day.  And even if I get behind, I'll find that I'm further along then I would have expected.

4. Read to the Kids--I love reading to my kids in the evenings.  They like to curl up on the couch and hear all the stories we have and many more from the library.  We also try to keep a chapter book going. Currently we're in book two of the Boxcar Children series.  One chapter a night, slow and steady.

5. Turn off the TV, the computer, the phone--It's so easy to turn on the TV when the kids go to bed and find that it doesn't get turned off till long after.  The computer has the same effect.  I'm not anti-TV, but imagine how much reading we could be doing in that time?

6. Always have a book going on your Kindle--I didn't get a Kindle till just over a year ago.  And while I still love a "real" book in my hands, there are a lot of good books to be found on Kindle.  In fact, there are many free or discounted books if you're willing to look around.  And if you don't have a Kindle?  You can get a Kindle for Mac download for free which will allow you to read from your computer.

7. Make sure of "Dead Time"--Remember I said always keep a book handy?  What about that dead time?  Now I love to spend time swimming with my kids, but they could be in the pool for hours and I need a good book.  What about while my kids are sitting so patiently at story time?  I'm sitting in the back reading a new book I picked up on the holds shelf.

8. Utilize Audiobooks--My kids love books almost as much as I do.  And if they're one thing that guaranteed to keep them happy on car rides, it's audio books.  Do you know how much time we spend in our cars moving from the gym to T-Ball to the library to church?  We spend an unbelievable amount of time int he car.  And so we listen to audiobooks.  Right now we have The Secret Garden in the mini van.  It's wonderful to hear the language and ideas that my children are learning.  And the sense of imagination that's been build day by day.

9. Join a book club--Since I started a monthly book club on Creative2xmom, I find that I get more and more reading done.  Knowing that I have people to discuss books with keeps me accountable to finishing them.  I love to discuss books: new ideas, beloved characters, and unique settings.  And a book club gives me the perfect excuse to make time for reading.

10. Read before bed--Reading before bed is a wonderful way to unwind.  Sitting in front of a TV or computer keeps our mind reeling.  A good book is the perfect way to settle at the end of a long day.  And reading 1-2 chapters an evening can quickly add up.

How do you fit reading into your day?

*Linked to these Parties

10 Goals this Week

Here's how I did on my goals this week:

*Finish sensory bottles
*Work on Halloween costumes

*Finish book
*Finish 1-2 unfinished posts

*Fix Noah's curtain rod
*Finish decorating fall mantel
*Photograph items for sale
*Try 1-2 new recipes

*Get 8.5 hrs of sleep each night
*Workout 3 days

These are my 10 Goals for the Week:

*Finalize Halloween costumes
*Edit photos

*Finish 2nd book
*Finish 1-2 unfinished posts
*Record a vlog

*Post items for sale
*Fix curtain rod
*Try 1-2 new recipes

*Get 8.5 hrs of sleep each night
*Workout 3 days

What are your goals this week?
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