September 12, 2014

Five Things Friday: the update edition

On My Heart: *prayer. Just remembering how easy it is to silently pray for situations, friends, loved ones, direction, our nation, our church leaders throughout the day. Remembering that it doesn't have to be beautiful and drawn out, it just has to come from a heart that is earnestly calling out to Him. *slippery slopes. Watching how one poor decision leads to so many more. Wanting to shake my girls and remind them that every decision matters, every choice, every reaction can be one that either glorifies God or destroys something. *thankfulness. God provides. You can look at it and say 'what a coincidence!' and that's your choice but I know. The little things that just happen are His way of reminding us that He's present in our lives.

On My Mind: *organization. For the longest time, I did not want an organized to the hour kind of homeschool day. But with some changes afoot and new responsibilities coming, it is necessary. And I'm loving it. *chickens. Tomorrow is chicken processing day! This may seem disgusting to some of you but I love knowing that from hours after they hatched to their last moment, these chickens have been in our care. And now they'll fill our freezer for winter. *changes. Some changes are coming to this little blog soon. Things I've wanted to do for a long time and realized that if I don't do them now, they're never going to happen. I'm really excited to share it all with you soon.

On My iPhone: Podcasts! Part of my new schedule is time for a morning walk, 4-5 days a week. During that time, I usually listen to podcasts. As much as I want to really sharpen my mind and spirit with excellent preaching during that time, my brain is not always on board with that much information so early in the morning. So I've been listening to The Chicken Thistle Farm CoopCast, A Happy Home Podcast, Homeschooling IRL, the HEDUA podcasts and will be trying out the Real Life at Home and Inspired to Action podcasts.

On My DVR: Fixer Upper. That is all. If you don't have cable, watch episodes on her blog. You must. Today.

On My List: First would be finishing up the preparations for chicken day and a visit from my parents to give my October babies their birthday gifts a bit early, finishing up the work on blog changes I'm making, writing some reviews, menu planning for next week (do you menu plan? love it? hate it?), taking two girls for fillings - fun times. One thing that's not on my list - switching over to fall/winter clothes. We finished that after 8+ hours of work yesterday. Dressers and closets switched, rooms straightened, bins returned to the attic. Painful, exhausting and emotional with four daughters -- but done!

September 8, 2014

{review} Home To Chicory Lane

{I received this book from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and a good review was no guaranteed.}

About the book:

Landyn longs for home, but her mother may have other plans.

Audrey Whitman’s dreams are coming true. Now that their five kids are grown, she and her husband, Grant, are turning their beloved family home into a cozy bed and breakfast just a mile outside of Langhorne, Missouri.

Opening weekend makes Audrey anxious, with family and friends coming from all over to help celebrate the occasion. But when Audrey’s daughter, Landyn, arrives, the U-Haul she’s pulling makes it clear she’s not just here for a few days. Audrey immediately has questions. What happened in New York that sent Landyn running home? Where was Landyn’s husband, Chase? And what else was her daughter not telling her? One thing was for sure, the Chicory Inn was off to a rocky start. Can Audrey still realize her dream and at the same time provide the comfort of home her daughter so desperately needs?

About the author:

Deborah Raney’s books have won numerous awards, including the RITA, National Readers Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, and the Carol Award, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. She and her husband, Ken, recently traded small-town life in Kansas—the setting of many of Deborah’s novels—for life in the (relatively) big city of Wichita, where they enjoy gardening, antiquing, movies, and traveling to visit four children and a growing brood of grandchildren who all live much too far away. Visit Deborah on the web at

My thoughts:

Home To Chicory Lane was a charming story of a seemingly perfect family.  But once the layers start to peel back, we see that nothing apart from God is perfect and even the Whitman's have their problems. Deborah Raney's writing style is comfortable and easy to read. The imagery in the book - from the streets of New York City to the countryside in Missouri - is wonderful. It was fun to imagine opening a bed and breakfast, with all the details and determination that goes into it. I thought that part of the book was really interesting to read!

Home To Chicory Lane is pleasant to read, but I never felt grabbed by the story. The drama was a bit childish to me. I just wanted to shake Landyn's shoulders and tell her to grow up several times in the book. Although the characters were realistic and the writing pleasant, I don't think I will be reading any more books in this series.  

{review & giveaway} Dolphin Tale 2

Winter is back! Dolphin Tale 2 hits theaters this Friday and I've got some fun freebies for you!

First here's a little about the movie:

Warner Bros. Pictures and Alcon Entertainment’s “Dolphin Tale 2” continues the story of the brave dolphin Winter, whose miraculous rescue and recovery—thanks to a groundbreaking prosthetic tail—made her a symbol of hope and perseverance to people around the world and inspired the 2011 family hit movie “Dolphin Tale.”

The film reunites the entire main cast, led by Harry Connick, Jr., Oscar® winner Morgan Freeman (“Million Dollar Baby”), Ashley Judd, Kris Kristofferson, Nathan Gamble, Cozi Zuehlsdorff, Austin Stowell, and, of course, the remarkable dolphin Winter as herself. Charles Martin Smith, who directed “Dolphin Tale,” wrote the sequel and is again at the helm. 

It has been several years since young Sawyer Nelson (Gamble) and the dedicated team at the Clearwater Marine Hospital, headed by Dr. Clay Haskett (Connick, Jr.), rescued Winter. With the help of Dr. Cameron McCarthy (Freeman), who developed a unique prosthetic tail for the injured dolphin, they were able to save her life.

Yet their fight is not over. Winter’s surrogate mother, the very elderly dolphin Panama, has passed away, leaving Winter without the only poolmate she has ever known. However, the loss of Panama may have even greater repercussions for Winter, who, according to USDA regulations, cannot be housed alone, as dolphins’ social behavior requires them to be paired with other dolphins. Time is running out to find a companion for her before the team at Clearwater loses their beloved Winter to another aquarium. {source}

To go along wit the release of Dolphin Tale 2, there are two exciting things: 1. Homeschool Day at the movies and 2. a free curriculum - every homeschooler likes a bargain, right?!

The free curriculum can be found at Homeschool Movie Club. It is a well-written, thorough study of dolphins. Although it's written for five days of study, I think this curriculum could be rounded out with some books and writing to make it last a month. Here is the breakdown of the topics:

Lesson 1: Get to know dolphins: anatomy and physical science
Lesson 2: A day in the life of dolphins
Lesson 3: Dolphins in the ocean
Lesson 4: Aquarium life
Lesson 5: Dolphins and us

Each lesson includes a short video and downloadable .pdf file with vocabulary words, small experiments and exercises to reinforce what the student has learned. There is also a downloadable 77 page curriculum from Classical Conversations available on the same page. They are colorful, interesting and loaded with great information.  Here are a couple of examples from the Classical Conversations curriculum:

And it's free! You can't beat it!

To support the release of Dolphin Tale 2, the folks at Homeschool Movie Club have declared September 12 to be Homeschool Day at the movies! So find it in your local theater and head to the 12 noon matinee. Let's show Hollywood that homeschoolers have a voice and we use it to support good, wholesome family entertainment.

So what am I giving away to show our support of Dolphin Tale 2? Raise your hand if you'd like to win a Dolphin Tale 2 Prize Pack, containing a t-shirt and a pair of Dolphin Tale 2 sunglasses!

The giveaway will end on September 19 at 8pm. Winner will be notified by email. Enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”


September 2, 2014

What I've Been Reading: Mom edition

It's not uncommon for me to be reading several books at once. I love to read and depending on what kind of mood I'm in, I like reading different things.  Over the last year or so, I've been reading some great books on being a mother. Most of the homeschool and fiction books I read wind up getting reviewed here, so I thought it would be fun to show you what else I've read.

Most recently, I finished Feminine Appeal: Seven Virtues of a Godly Wife and Mother by Carolyn Mahaney. Carolyn walks the reader through the characteristics listed in Titus 2:3-5. I really enjoyed Carolyn's writing style - challenging, encouraging and completely honest. This book is also loaded with Scriptural references. Every chapter outlines the why's and how's of the seven virtues found in Titus 2:3-5 but Carolyn also uses every chapter to point readers to the Cross. My favorite quote from the book is one that Carolyn writes as a prayer ... "Lord, help me to build the kind of home where all who enter find it 'impossible to keep from thinking of God'." Amen.

I will soon be rereading this book and it is one of my favorites. I love that there is great wisdom on relating to and raising older children and teenagers. It's also just great information for relating to Understanding Your Child's Temperament by Beverly Lahaye is a practical, easy to read and interested book for any parent.
people in general. The study of temperaments is a fascinating one! It's out of print now, but used copies can be easily found online and I would highly recommend it for any parent's bookshelf.

For mothers of daughters, I can't recommend Enough: 10 Things We Should Tell Teenage Girls highly enough. Since I did a full review of it, I have had quite a few opportunities to discuss this book with fellow girl moms and I've lent my copy out, happily. If you have daughters, read this one.

{My full review can be found here.}

The first book I've read by Sally Clarkson is The Ministry Of Motherhood. I want to read all of her books now. Reading Sally Clarkson's book is a lot like sitting down and talking with a seasoned, patient mother of many. She writes of her experiences with transparency and grace. I love it. Sally lists and details for her readers the way in which she purposed to teach her children of God's GIFTS - grace, inspiration, faith, training and service. It's just as inspirational as it is practical. My copy of this book is full of scribbles, underlined words, stars and notes yet I can't wait to read this one again. The wisdom in these pages never gets old. My favorite quote is right at the beginning of the book but it's such a great reminder --

"Effective spiritual, emotional, and social training in the lives of my children would have to be both intentional and planned."

So that's what I've been reading lately. Don't even get me started on my favorites I had to leave off the list ... First, We Have Coffee ... but it's a start. What have you been reading?