August 19, 2014

{review} A Grand Design

About the book:

A getaway on a charming island may be just what Alyssa needs—if only she can let go of her past.

When Alyssa Denham, a single career woman, wins a fun getaway for two on Mackinac Island where her grandmother lives, she gives her carefree best friend a call. Together, they tour the old shops and hidden treasures of the quaint island while helping Alyssa’s grandmother piece together an heirloom quilt. Their quest gains them entrance into the homes of many longtime residents of the island, parts of the city that are otherwise off limits to tourists.

As the quilt’s story takes shape, Alyssa gains amazing insight into her grandmother’s life . . . and attracts the attention of the handsome Scott Whitman, an island resident in charge of hotel transportation. Will memories of her past keep Alyssa from letting go? Or will the quest to piece together the heirloom quilt restore Alyssa’s fractured heart—and bring healing to her entire family?

 You can find out more about A Grand Design here.

About the author:

Amber Stockton is an award‑winning author, a national speaker, and a direct‑sales brand partner with Nerium International. She lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, in Colorado. They have a daughter and a son, and an Aussie/retriever mix named Roxie. Three of her novels have won annual reader’s choice awards. Find out why readers love her by visiting her website

My thoughts:

A Grand Design is a fun read, full of romance and mystery. I thought the main character, Alyssa, was likeable and interesting. Her friend Libby was a big annoying at times but I think it made her mesh well with Alyssa. The plot was interesting. I love quilting so that part of the story really appealed to me. I love that Alyssa and Libby learned a little about quilting while they were with Alyssa's grandmother.

There were a few parts of the story that I wish they would have developed more. While this story was definitely 'clean' there was little to no talk of God or religion. They did go to church one Sunday. Scott, Alyssa's love interest, was definitely striving to live a pure life but it would have been nice to read a bit more about why. I think there would be lots of material here for a sequel if the author ever wanted to write one!

Overall, this was a good book. Not my favorite, but not inappropriate.

August 18, 2014

Three Ways I'm Getting Ready To Homeschool

I've got the review worksheets printed. The new schedule is written down - in erasable pen. A new chore chart is ready.

Review starts today at the Card Homeschool Academy.

My girls have already asked several times why we always start so early. It's simple really. First, I'm in charge and I wanna start. Simple enough. Second, I like doing a week of light review before opening the new books. And third, the earlier we start - the earlier we finish. They will thank me in June.

So how am I getting ready for another school year?
Three small decisions that will hopefully make all the difference.

1) I deleted my Facebook app on my phone. All the hoopla around the Messages app lead me to do some research. I realized I didn't want either  of the Facebook apps on my phone. I'm also shutting off every push notification I can. No more notifications = less dings and noises to distract. I can't mute my phone entirely due to some other responsibilities but I'm hoping this will cut down on my nonsense time.

2) I'm committing to setting an alarm. I'm not looking forward to this. At all. On an average morning, I'm not much of a sleep-in kinda person. But I knew with the class load we have this year it was definitely time to add more routine to my morning. I added time for my walk every morning as well as time to read. I have a few different plates to keep spinning apart from homeschooling. So not only did I add my morning block of time, but I added in a block each afternoon. Eventually, I'd like for this to become uninterrupted (apart from emergency) time for me to work.

3) I delegated a few more chores. Sometimes I feel terrible for making my girls work around the house. But then reality sets in, I look at the chore chart and realize that they each only have at most four chores a day. They'll live. Apart from that, it's great life training. They need to know how to run a home. There's no better time than now to teach them.

With that, we are off into another year of school. It's our last year without a high school student. what?! Did I just say that?!

How do you get ready for school?

August 11, 2014

{review} NIrV Adventure Bible for Early Readers

{I received a copy of the NIrV Adventure Bible for Early Readers from Zonderkidz as a part of the Z Blog Squad. A good review was not guaranteed and all opinions are my own.}

The NIrV Adventure Bible for Early Readers is available from Zonderkidz for $24.99. You can read a sample here.

About The Book:

 This new edition of the bestselling NIrV Adventure Bible for Early Readers maintains all of the features loved by kids from its previous edition but is now available in full color throughout! Kids ages 6-10 will be even more captivated with learning about the Bible and growing closer in their relationship with God. Includes the complete New International Reader’s Version (NIrV) which is written at a third grade reading level for children just beginning to explore the Bible on their own.

Our Thoughts:

The NIrV Adventure Bible is perfect for young readers. While some books for early readers tell Bible stories, this Bible contains the full Bible text in an easier to understand translation. It also contains several features that make it fun for young readers. Lauren, my 7 year old, loves the touches of green through all the pages. It's her favorite color, so that was a hit from the beginning!  Lauren also really loves that she can follow along with what someone is reading from a "real" Bible.

Some features that we are enjoying:

At the back of the Bible, there is an Activities index. As you can read below, it gives an easy place to find the different activities throughout the Bible. There are great ideas in this section! 

There are several full color, glossy pages through the NIrV Adventure Bible with different questions, answers and ideas for kids. They are well written and loaded with Scriptural backup.

Another feature is the People In Bible Times, that explains more about different, lesser known people. I found this interesting as well!

Overall, the NIrV Adventure Bible is a solid choice for a young reader that wants their own Bible but still needs some fun stuff to keep their interest.

August 8, 2014

{review & giveaway} Celery Night Fever

{I received a copy of Veggie Tales: Celery Night Fever in exchange for an honest review from FlyBy Promotions. All opinions are my own and a good review was not guaranteed.}

The newest feature from Veggie Tales - Celery Night Fever - will be available August 5 for $14.99.

About the DVD:

Veggie pals Laura Carrot and Junior Asparagus have a big job to their beloved Celery Park from being destroyed! Laura and Junior plan a fundraising concert with the formerly famous Groovy Brothers, but the bandmates refuse to play together because of an old grudge. All hope of saving the park seems lost until the group remembers that God forgives without question, so why can't they do the same? Will the band reunite to save Celery Park? Find out in this fun, music-filled VeggieTales adventure! Featuring Terry Crews as the voice of "Bruce Onion"

Our Thoughts:

Another home run from Veggie Tales! Although I've heard complaints from some since Veggie Tales has veered from retelling Bible stories, my family really enjoys the fun stories they produce. You cannot find decent entertainment for children that teaches Biblical values or even good moral lessons. I love that Veggie Tales is still making quality entertainment for families.

Celery Night Fever is a fun story with really great songs. We were all humming along with the tunes while the movie was playing. They're catchy and definitely groovy. The story reinforces the idea that God loves us, so we need to love and forgive each other. Lauren, my 7 year old, thought this movie was fun and the music was awesome.

At the end of the movie, Bob and Larry share Ephesians 4:32, summing up beautifully the lesson taught throughout the movie.

"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you"

This is more than family friendly television. Veggie Tales has consistently used solid Biblical wisdom to teach children important lessons. Celery Night Fever is more of the fun, Biblical entertainment we've all come to expect.

And happy day for you! I have one DVD of Celery Night Fever to giveaway to a lucky reader! To enter, comment below and tell me your favorite Veggie Tales movie or song. Giveaway begins on August 8 at 6am and ends on August 20 at 8pm. Winner will be notified by email.

"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.”

August 6, 2014

{review} My Learn To Read Bible

{I received a copy of My Learn To Read Bible: Stories in Words and Pictures from Zonderkidz as a part of the ZBlogSquad in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and a good review was not guaranteed.}


About The Book:

My Learn To Read Bible: Stories in Words and Pictures, written by Tracy Harrast & illustrated by Christine M. Schneider, is available from Zondervan for $19.99

This beautifully illustrated My Learn to Read Bible features over 100 Bible stories which will allow beginning readers to not only feel like reading is easy, but also fun through the use of over 90 different full-color picture icons.

Watch the trailer:

My Thoughts:

I've never seen a Bible formatted like this before and I love it! Obviously, this is not an exhaustive text, but it is formatted perfectly for young children. In my opinion, this would be great for children as young as 2. Here's what I love:

At the beginning of the book , there is a glossary of sorts that you can use to teach your children the pictures and words they'll see through the book.

 The illustrations are colorful and pretty.  They capture the spirit of each story wonderfully.

At the end of every story, there is a one sentence summary that reinforces the main idea of the story. They are important ideas for young children to start learning such as ' God cares about our little problems' and 'Wisdom comes from God.'

The most important story in the Bible is shared in a way that clearly communicates that Jesus died to pay the price for our sins. 

At the top of each story, there is a title for each story. Under it is the corresponding Bible verses. I love that there is clear evidence linking each story to the Bible.

It did not take my 3 and 7 year old daughters long to catch on to what the pictures meant. They were reading the stories right along with me. I think there is no better way to help children learn Bible stories, than having them tell the stories themselves. This Bible definitely helps with that! I think this unique Bible would even make a great baby shower gift. It's hard cover, with a beautiful presentation page. We are really enjoying the Learn To Read Bible and hope you do too!