Friday, October 30, 2009

Mystery of History!

If you read my post here, you know that I LOVE Mystery of History curriculum! I am finding a new love for history, and of course the girls are beginning their school careers with that love. You know that makes this momma very happy!

Today we talked some more about Egypt. For our map activity of the week, we made this:

An Egypt cake! How fun is that?!

I made flags for some points of interest, and the girls had fun putting them in their proper places. (BTW, I'm totally showing my ignorance here. I have no idea how I graduated with a 3.7 GPA - did you know that "Upper Egypt" in Bible times is actually South Egypt, and Lower Egypt is North Egypt? I didn't know that! Back then, they named it that way because of the topography of the land. The southern half of Egypt had a higher elevation, which is why it's called Upper.) (But I'm sure you already knew that).

It didn't taste too bad, either . . .

When we talked about Adam and Eve earlier in the year, the girls had to make a person out of clay to see how difficult it really is to make a person.

This is Emma's mostly anatomically correct "Eve".

We finally got around to painting them today, along with their cuneiform tablets they made.

Sarah's tablet and Eve with a baby.

Emma's Eve with baby.

When we talked about Joseph, we got to make these:

Which turned into these!

Here's our first day of Egypt - mummification.

And Sarah -

Our Stonehenge.

Can you see why we love it so?

Tag - You're It!

My first bloggy tag! Angie over at Messy Cars and Muddy Shoes tagged me for this fun-ABC-get-to-know-you-thingy. She has a great blog, ya'll. She tells the funniest stories. So here you go - more information than you ever wanted to know about me, delivered nicely on a shiny silver platter.

A - Age: 35. How can that be? I still feel 25. Well, maybe 28. I feel smarter than 25, younger than 35. If I'm really 35, then I only have 1 or 2 baby-making years left. We need to pray and decide on this soon!

B - Bed size: Queen. We've gone back and forth the last 11 years, switching from Queen to King then back again. We love the space of a King, then hate the space of a King 'cause we're on opposite ends. We kinda enjoy sharing a bed - it doesn't really feel like we do when we've got a King. ALL that to say, Queen of hearts for us.

C - Chore you hate: Toilets.

D - Dog's name: Ginger.

E - Essential start your day item: This is so exciting - ya'll won't be able to contain yourselves. A bed that's made. Actually, that probably tickles my mama pink. This is a pretty recent development in my life. I've NEVER been good at making my bed every day. In the past year or so, I've discovered that once I make my bed, I'm more productive all through the day. Bed a mess? So is my day. Flybabies around the world say the same about their shiny sinks. For me, it's my bed.

F - Favorite color: Red. Love. Roses. Strawberries.

G - Gold or Silver: Both, please!

H - Height: 5' 1/2'' - Hey, give me a break! I'll take every half inch I can! Especially since dear hubby is 6'3" . . .

I - I am: immensely blessed. In no way do I have a perfect life, a perfect family, a perfect faith. But I do have a perfect God in whom I place my trust. He has blessed me so much. My outlook is probably hard for some to understand. My father died when I was 24, I've had 3 miscarriages, we're barely making ends meet, we're coming out on the other side of marital crisis and loss of trust, etc. etc. etc. To the world, this doesn't really look like a blessed life. But I tell ya, when you've got a living God speaking to your heart, transforming you day by day, you know you are blessed. He's given me so much that I don't deserve. I am blessed.

J - Job: Domestic Diva. I wish people wouldn't laugh when I put that on doctor's forms and such.

K - Kids: 3 daughters on earth, 3 babies in heaven.

L - Living arrangements: Little one story brick house with hubby, 3 girlies, 2 cats and a newly acquired dog.

M - Mom's name: Nancy

N - Nicknames: Marnie, Marge (I sure hope you're not thinking Large Marge, or even Marge from the Simpson's.) Ugh.

O - Overnight hospital stay other than birth: I don't think I've got one! Mama, do I have one? Oh, unless you count Aubrey's week in and out of the hospital with her jaundice after I had her. But I still consider that a part of her birth.

P - Pet Peeve: I have to agree with Angie on this one. My kids leaving things laying wherever they last used them. Especially when I've really worked at cleaning up. It's such a battle for me. Either my house is a mess and I'm stressed out from it, or I've just cleaned it and I'm Martyr Mommy on a roll. I'm definitely working on keeping my joy when I feel as if I'm picking up the same toy for the 20th time in a day.

Q - Quote from a movie: "I love smiling. Smiling's my favorite!" Will Ferrell in Elf. That may not even be quoted right, but it's sure how it's repeated in our house every week!

R - Right or left handed: Right.

S - Siblings: Two sisters, I'm the middle girl.

T - Time you wake up: Su, M, Fr, Sa - whenever the baby wakes up, usually around 7:00.
Tu, W, Th - 5:30, so I can have my quiet time before the baby I keep arrives at 6:15. Sadly, I struggle "working" my quiet time in on the days I don't make myself wake up early. I also (obviously) struggle with making myself get up at 5:30 on the days I don't have to!

U- Underwear: Yes, please.

V - Vegetable you dislike: Let's see here - brussel sprouts, spinach, squash, most peppers, carrots, cauliflower, beets. How 'bout if I say what I DO like? Green beans, raw broccoli, cucumbers. Oh, and corn - if that's actually counted as a veggie anymore. Thank goodness my children take after their father and love vegetables! Asparagus and spinach out of a can - disgusting!

W - Ways you run late: Fixing the girls' hair always takes a little longer than I expect. I HATE running late, though - so their hair isn't always - pretty. I know - I should be ashamed. But I don't run late very often. 'Cause I hate being late. In case I didn't say that before.

X - X-rays you've had: As far as I can remember, I've only had my right middle finger x-rayed. I didn't catch a basketball in high school as elegantly as I wanted - it jammed my middle finger and chipped part of the bone.

Y - Yummy food you make: Homemade Cinnamon Rolls, Cheesecake, Peanut Butter Balls, Baked Chicken. I made some pretty decent Chicken and Dumplins today, too.

Z - Zoo favorite: Monkeys.

I tag:

Michele @ Such Joy!

Jill @ Pathway to Purpose

Amy @ Buffaloes & Butterfly Wings

Ann @ Ann's Thoughts

Lea @ Cici's Corner

If you want to play along, copy the ABC categories, delete my answers, insert your own, and tag someone else. Have fun!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

We Have a Winner!

Congratulations to Andrea, who won a copy of Cindy Woodsmall's "The Sound of Sleigh Bells"!

I know you'll enjoy it, Andrea!

Thanks to all who entered. I've got one more giveaway coming the beginning of next month!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sing, Sing, Sing, Part Deux

The girls sang in our new church a couple of weeks ago with the rest of the children's choir. I LOVE how many children we have there! I was so proud - neither one of them seemed nervous - they sang and danced just as they were supposed to! Sarah's on the first row 4th from the right, and Emma is behind her to the right about 5 kids over. This song was in my mind the rest of the day. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

And. . . she's . . . OFF!

My baby girl is growing up too fast! This video is from Columbus Day - she's 11 1/2 months old here. We were so proud, but she hasn't done it much since then! Methinks her big sissies hold her too much - why walk when someone will hold you? (Ignore the open bathroom door and crazy bedhead. Those are just in your imagination. Honest.)

** Update - Ya'll let me know if the video doesn't work for you. It's working on my computer, but that doesn't mean a THING! :) Have a happy day!

**Update #2 - I thought I had fixed the problem - I hadn't. I think I have again, but it's too late to call anyone and have them check for me. :) So, in case it's not, let's try this: click here to try to see in right on YouTube. Maybe it will work? I'm getting quite frustrated! Grr. . .

Monday, October 19, 2009

Time to Party Like It's 2009 . . .

Today I'm joining Lynette over at Dancing Barefoot for her Harvest of Friends Blog Party. I'd love to meet some new peeps, so I'm in! If you'd like to participate, just click on the banner above for all the info. You've got all week, so join us if you've got a blog!

Now, for some randomness of me.

1. What's your favorite thing to snack on while you're blogging? Chocolate. Oh, chocolate. I'm seriously trying to work on this - limit myself to water - or just a few chocolate chips. But chocolate and feelings. I really like to have them together. I sort through a lot of feelings when I'm blogging - chocolate just belongs right in the mix! (Anyone else feel this way, or am I crazy?)

2. What is one thing you wouldn't want to live without? Jesus. I know, I know, it's the churchy answer - and this isn't church! But hear me out here. A year ago, I would have said my family. And I STILL wouldn't want to live without them. But my family has been through the fire this past year - over and over and over again, it seems. I'm not sure I would still be surviving, much less thriving right now, if it weren't for the loving, comforting presence of Jesus in me. So I don't want to live without my family, but if that were God's will for my life, I could make it as long as I still have my Lord. It wouldn't be easy, but I would get through. I COULDN'T live without Jesus.

3. Beach, Mountains, or Farm? Where would you live if you had a choice? No question here - absolutely, positively, unequivicably the beach! I could walk for hours and hours and hours along the shore, picking up perfect little sand dollars and such. The sounds, the smell, the water, the sand. One of God's most wondrous creations!

4. What's your least favorite chore/household duty? Duh, toilets. I'm EXTREMELY thankful for them, but ew.

5. Who do people say you remind them of? I haven't heard anything since Clueless was out and Brittany Murphy was still brunette and innocent. Please don't tell me I look like her now. She's a little - harsh to me.

6. Prefer parties and socializing or staying at home with the fam? It seems that the older I get, the more of a homebody I become. I love people - but I love the peace of my home, too. I've also recently discovered that I'm not as good at meeting new people in person as I used to be. My husband is the life of the party. I think I've spent the last 11 years happily letting him take the lead in social situations. Now I get pretty nervous in a new place if he's not right by my side. I know, it's a little sad.

7. What's your all time favorite movie? "We go together, like rama-lama-lama-ka-dinky-da-dinky-donk!" Or how 'bout "You're the one that I want, you're the one I want, I want, you-hoo-hoo! Honey!!" What's not to love about that?

8. Do you sleep in your make up or remove it like a good girl every night? Yeah, this would be something else I'm working on. I'm not a very good girl most of the time.

9. Do you have a hidden talent or a deep desire to learn something that you've never had a chance to learn? What is it? I'm not really sure I could learn how to do this, but I wish I had a beautiful, angelic singing voice. I'd love to be able to praise the Lord without cringing the whole time. Hopefully, it really is just beautiful praise to Him - maybe the ickiness gets lost in translation on its way up to Him. :)

10. What's one strange thing you're really good at? Well, duh! Obviously - I'm very good at overusing dashes when I write. Good thing I'm not a professional - my editors would cringe every time they saw me coming! - -

11. What first attracted you to your spouse? Well, it kinda took a while. (I love you, honey!) We had become fantastic friends - I soon began to get the impression he was interested in me, and I was so concerned about leading him on. Cause, well, I wasn't very interested in him that way. You know, he was such a good friend, like a brother! Sure enough, he called one night and asked me out. I was prepared. I had practiced. The speech was ready. What came out of my mouth? "Sure!!" So, we met some of his friends at the movies, and then to dinner. I was still steadfast that he wasn't my type. On the way home, (a 45 minute drive) I started to get sleepy. He noticed and began making up a fairy tale about a short little princess (me!) and how wonderful she was, and how the poor little peasant didn't deserve her.

Yeah, I was a goner. We were married 5 months later - July 25, 1998. If you'd like to see more about how far I've come from those days of non-attraction, go here.

Oh, and his boo-tay is quite cute, too.

12. What is something you love to smell? Gasoline. And cheesecake. Just not together.

13. Tell something about you that you know irritates people. I snap at my kitties when they're doing something wrong. Not snap, like, mental snap. Snap, like snap my fingers, snap. I had no clue that I did this until our 10th wedding anniversary. We watched our wedding video and tacked on the end was some footage of us in our first apartment - with our first kitties. I "snap" at one of them in the video and Ivan says, "You still do that!" How can you do something consistently for 10 years and never realize you do it?

14. When you have extra money (HA!) what's the first thing you think to do with it? I usually want to head out and find something pretty for my house. Like furniture. But we never have that much extra money, so I forego getting anything at all.

15. Are you a silent laugher or a loud laugher? What makes you laugh the hardest? Oh, I'm definitely a loud laugher. Sometimes an embarrassingly loud laugher. Don't tell anyone, but sometimes I'm even a snorting laugher. I try not to, but - well. You know. Other people laughing usually makes me laugh the hardest. It makes me feel not quite so bad about my own laugh. :)

16. Where is your favorite place to shop? Ross Dress for Less, me thinks. Or maybe CVS. Ours is really nice here.

17. What's one thing you'd do more often if you had more time? Definitely blog. I've lost so many posts in my mind, because I didn't stop to write them when I thought about them. Last week, I wrote 4 or 5 posts on the nights my hubby worked late and scheduled them for later in the week. This might end up working for me - time will tell!

18. Are you a big spender or frugal? Definitely frugal - but I think my frugality covers up what a big spender I could be. It's a game and a challenge to see how much I can save (or not spend at all) - this is what makes shopping fun for me. However, if it weren't NECESSARY for me to be frugal, I might have fun shopping without the game of saving. I might have too much fun. So I think frugally, and make that my mission as I head to the store.

19. Who is your favorite character of all time (from a movie or book)? (Can't be real) This is a toss-up between Danny Zuko and most of the characters in The Princess Bride. Another classic!

20. Would you want to be famous? Definitely not. I've seen fame ruin too many people. Besides, if I were famous it would be for something like winning 10,000 buckaroos on America's Funniest Home Videos for my snorting laugh. :)

So, Queen Diva in a nutshell. There you have it. Thanks for stopping by - (I'm glad to have met you!)

By the way, I'm having my first giveaway here. Hop on over and leave me a comment to be entered. (You could even subscribe or follow me if you want to!) Happy Day!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Pumpkin Patch!

Last weekend Ivan took a few hours off from his 2nd job to get in some good ole family time. The weather was pretty icky, but we were in no way, shape or form going to pass up this opportunity for some fun times!

We headed to Bayou Pumpkins - they opened their pumpkin patch to the general public this year. I've got lots of pics, so few words are necessary, methinks.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Joshua Bell - At Home with Friends

I have to be honest with you. . . before I was contacted by the One2One Network about reviewing Joshua Bell's latest album, I had never heard of him. I'm sorry about that - he is a very gifted Grammy Award winning violinist - a true artist!

At Home with Friends includes classical, pop, bluegrass, Broadway, jazz and ethnic World Music. Every song features Joshua with one of his friends/fellow musicians including Sting, Josh Groban and Chris Botti.

Here's the lineup:

I Loves You Porgy featuring Chris Botti

Come Again featuring Sting, vocals

Oblivion featuring Carel Kraayenhof

Cinema Paradiso featuring Josh Groban, vocals

Para Ti featuring Tiempo Libre

My Funny Valentine featuring Kristin Chenoweth, vocals

Maybe So featuring Edgar Meyer, Sam Bush and Mike Marshall

Grieg: Violin Sonata No. 3, Movement II featuring Sergei Rachmaninoff

Eleanor Rigby featuring Frankie Moreno, vocals

Rachmaninoff: O, Cease thy Singing, Maiden Fair, Op. 4, No. 4 featuring Nathan Gunn, vocals

Il Postino featuring Carel Kraayenhof

Left Hand Song featuring Regina Spektor, vocals

Chovendo na Roseira featuring Dave Grusin

Look Away featuring Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile

Bariant Moods: Duet for Sitar & Violin featuring Anoushka Shankar

I'll Take Manhattan featuring Marvin Hamlisch

My favorites were definitely I Loves You Porgy, Oblivion, I'll Take Manhattan, and Grieg: Violin Sonata No. 3. They had the power to really mellow me out. Honest, I could feel my heart rate slow down, my limbs relax. Trust me, that is NEVER a bad thing! Come Again was not a favorite, but it was a VERY different sound from Sting - I enjoyed seeing a different side of him although I didn't love the song itself.

Emma loves Para Ti' - she calls it Chinese Fast Play. "Because most of the songs they do in Chinese are fast - I learned it in Kindergarten. And they call it Fast Play. That's all!" Spoken from someone who really seems to know what they're talking about! :)

Most of the other songs with vocals were just okay for me. I've never been a big opera fan, and a few were, uh, operatic. Others were just not my style.

All in all, I do enjoy this CD. It's great music to have on in the background throughout the day. I usually don't add a lot of extra noise to my day, but I can with this. It's such a diverse conglomeration of songs, styles and artists - a nice potpourri to simmer through the day.

Some helpful links:
This CD was provided for review by the One2One Network.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Our Curriculum

I've been meaning to do this post for what - 2 months now? I am SO excited about our curriculum this year! We started school in the middle of September and nothing has disappointed me yet!

I posted here that I wasn't sure how the Lord was leading me regarding our curriculum. After lots of encouragement (and loaners!!) from some wonderful homeschooling friends, I felt peace and a little excitement about scrapping the boxed curriculum we used last year and researching/picking myself what the girls would learn from for this year. I spent about 3 weeks CONSTANTLY on the computer, researching, reading reviews, researching some more. Here's what I came up with.

To teach both girls together:

SPELLING: AVKO's Sequential Spelling - Audio, Visual, Kinesthetic, Oral. This spelling curriculum uses all of these senses to learn to spell. Rather than introduce words as they're presented in graded reading, S.S. teaches spelling by word families, much like phonics. The girls are tested every day, but the tests are used as a learning device, not as a method of evaluation. I give the girls their word and they spell it to the best of their ability. I immediately show them the correct spelling if they missed it, and they correct their word at that time. Don McCabe, the developer of this curriculum, feels it is much more beneficial for the children to correct their own mistakes when they make them, not hours, days or weeks later. I'm finding that I agree. The words build on themselves every day. On day 5, both Emma and Sarah spelled "beginning" correctly. I am very pleased with this, and I'm thankful I found 3 years worth on Amazon!

BIBLE: Character Building for Families, Vol. 1. - I am so happy with this, too! Lee Ann Rubsam has created this unit study on 12 Biblical character traits that we should all be aiming to improve in our lives. These include: Obedience, Orderliness, Diligence, Loyalty, Deference, Cheerfulness, Gentleness, Contentment, Gratitude, Truthfulness, Servanthood and Hospitality. Each day includes Bible reading of Jesus and others exemplifying (or not) the specific trait we're talking about. Scripture memory and prayer are also a daily activity. This has not only been good for the girls, but the Lord has spoken to me quite a bit, too!

SCIENCE: God's Design Science Series - We're using God's Design for Life this year. This works very well for the two girls together. This year we will go through 3 books: The World of Plants, The World of Animals and The Human Body. So far, everything has been VERY hands-on, which we love. The girls retain what they've heard so much better when they DO something with it. We've taken hikes through our little acre of land to distinguish between our evergreen and deciduous trees, we've disected pinto beans to see all the parts of a seed, and we're currently examining 5 different jars of seeds (in different conditions) to see which germinate and why. Next year we'll probably use this same series, God's Design for Heaven and Earth. The three books in this are Our Universe, Our Planet Earth and Our Weather and Water. I'm looking forward to it!

HISTORY: The Mystery of History - Ask either Emma or Sarah what their favorite subject is and they will both scream "History!" They LOVE LOVE LOVE this! Linda Hobar has written this Biblically based curriculum with Activities for younger, middle and older students. We're using Volume 1 which covers Creation to the Resurrection. We learn about 3 different historical events/civilizations/wonders each week, Monday through Wednesday. For example, this week we learned about Stonehenge, Early Egyptians (including heiroglyphics and pyramids), and the Minoans. On Thursdays we make figures for our timeline, and Fridays we review and do some mapwork. The first week covered Creation, Adam and Eve and Jubal and Tubal-Cain. On Adam and Eve's day, the girls had to try to sculpt a person or an animal out of clay to see how difficult it is to create a person. They each made Eve, a baby, AND a bunny. I'll have another post soon with pictures of some of the activities we've done with this.

In addition to the above, Emma and Sarah also have work they do individually, with or without my help.

MATH - They're both doing Horizon's Math. Based on some reviews I'd read, I went on and got the 2nd and 3rd grade editions for Emma, because Horizon's is about a year advanced. I'm so glad I did this! Multiplication tables are introduced in 2nd grade, so I'm afraid she would have been overwhelmed starting out at the 3rd grade level, having never seen them before. I'm currently doing 2 lessons a day for her out of the 2nd grade book. When we finish it, we'll start on 3rd grade. I'm pretty sure she and I will do math all year through, summer included. I'd like her to be able to start the 4th grade edition next year when she's in 4th grade. Sarah is doing great so far in the 1st grade edition.

LANGUAGE ARTS - First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind. Sarah is doing the 1st grade level while Emma is doing the 3rd grade level. This is a classic Language Arts curriculum. The girls are memorizing parts of speech and other such things. Each lesson has lots of review, with a little more info than the last. Sarah is already learning about proper and common nouns and she really seems to get it. This isn't terribly exciting curriculum, but I'm pleased with it over all.

LANGUAGE/SARAH - I ordered Explode the Code which is a worksheet based phonics program. Sarah is breezing right through it. I have 3 books for the year, but I have a feeling I'm going to need to order a few more. I had planned on Emma using this too, but it's really a little elementary for her. I just give Sarah her book, and she does as many pages as she feels like (usually 5 or 6). It's very much a lot of review for her right now too, so I'm pretty lax with it.

CREATIVE WRITING/EMMA - Writing Strands, written by Dave Marks. I've started Emma on Level 3, which is just perfect for her. Marks believes that children will become better writers not by memorizing parts of speech and such, but by writing! (Kinda like riding a bicycle - you learn by riding). The book is written TO Emma, so I hand it to her and stand by for any questions she may have. She wrote her first paragraph today about her tooth fairy doll, sans the topic sentence. Enjoy!

"Twinkle's shiny red braided hair was beautiful in a pale yellow bow. She held my teen in a gold and purple pouch when I lost them. Her clothes were beautiful. They're pink, purple, red, white and green. Also, she wore some cream and lipstick. I played with her whenever. It was fun! My sister realy, realy, realy wanted to steal her"

Dontcha just love it? I think she'll be doing quite well by the end of the year.

HANDWRITING - A Reason for Handwriting. Emma is continuing with cursive, and we're working on manuscript some more with Sarah. This is your typical handwriting practice, with the exception of the end of the week. The workbooks contain lots of bordered handwriting sheets in the back. The girls "practice" through the week is words to Scripture. On Friday, they are to color their decorative paper, and use their best handwriting to write their Scripture for the week on it. We then mail this to someone, take it to someone we know is sick, and we might even hit up a nursing home or two by the time the year is done. I love that I'm also teaching the girls to think of others, and they love coming up with who they want to send their sheet to.

In addition to all the above, a dear friend loaned us all of her Sonlight Core 1 and Core 2 Readers and Read-Alouds. I LOVE THESE BOOKS!!! Each of the girls is responsible for reading the Readers each day, and I am responsible for reading the Read-Alouds to them each day. It's great cuddle time! Emma's readers consist of books about George Washington, Sacagewea, Thomas Jefferson, etc. Sarah is reading lots of Dr. Seuss on her own. It's absolutely amazing to see the difference in her reading in just a few short weeks! Our current Read Alouds are Charlotte's Web for Sarah and Strawberry Girl for Emma. I will definitely be buying these 2 groups of books for the girls every year. It's an investment I'm more than willing to make!

Believe it or not, we're usually finished with school within 3 hours or so. I haven't been able to purchase my Art curriculum yet. We'll be using Artistic Pursuits just as soon as we can. Again, this is something we can do through the summer if need be.

WOW - I didn't imagine this would be so long! Hope you're still with me! ;) Just thought somebody out there might be a little curious about what we weird homeschoolers do each day. :) God has blessed our family so much through homeschooling already this year!

Oh, I purchased almost EVERYTHING from Rainbow Resource. This is an amazing homeschool curriculum site! They were consistently lower than most new things on Amazon and eBay. Another homeschooling friend gave me their catalog, which is probably bigger than a New York phonebook! I just pick it up and browse through it sometimes. Think I'll get a headstart on next year!

The best deals I got were from Homeschool Classifieds. Yes, those products were used, but when you're just buying the teacher's manuals, it doesn't really matter.

As soon as I can get it photograph ready, I'll get a post up with pictures of our schoolroom. Feel free to ask me any questions, I'll try my best to answer!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Sound of Sleigh Bells by Cindy Woodsmall (and a giveaway!!!!)

Yay! My first giveaway! I'm doing a happy dance so give yourself a laugh and imagine it! I don't really understand why this excites me so - but I love to win things and I'm finding that I love to be on the other end so one of my friends can win, too! :)

The Sound of Sleigh Bells was my first book of Cindy Woodsmall's to read - and let me tell ya - I love her!

Beth Hertzler is a young Amish lady, mourning the death of her fiance'. Unknown to her friends and family, she is also hiding a secret - one that has made her vow to never love again. She works alongside her never-before-married Aunt Lizzy in their family dry goods store and Lizzy wants nothing more than for Beth to live life again. She doesn't want her beloved niece to live a life of lonliness as Lizzy herself has.

Beth's soul is stirred by a woodcarving she sees in another store. Hope springs in Lizzy's heart as she sees little signs of life awaken in her niece once again.

Is this a new beginning, or will the artist and woodcarving just lead to more heartache and pain for Beth?

I loved this book! It's a lighthearted, relaxing read that I was unable to put down. (I think I finished it in less than 3 hours). The Amish storyline really intrigued me. I genuinely respect the spirit that Woodsmall portrayed of the Amish community. I admire their willingness to live how they are convicted to live - with no thought of what modern society may think of them.

This is a story of forgiveness, love and hope. I believe we can NEVER have too much of any of these! My heart and mood were lifted after reading it. So. . .

leave me a comment by next Friday, October 23rd and you will be entered to win a never-before-opened hardback copy of this book! :) (If you don't want it for yourself, it would make a great Christmas gift. . . I'm just sayin'. . . )

If you don't win, you can purchase this book at Waterbrook Press. I highly recommend it!

This book was provided for review by Waterbrook Multnomah.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Harry Connick, Jr. - Your Songs

Friends, I am a sucker for those old crooning love songs. When I was given the opportunity by the One2One network to review good ol' Harry's new album, I jumped at the chance!

Oh my, isn't that nice?

I LOVE LOVE LOVE "All the Way" and "Can't Help Falling in Love With You." Oh, and "And I Love Her", "The Way You Look Tonight", and "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face." And maybe "Some Enchanted Evening" and "And I Love You So" also.

If you know me at all, you know how much I love Michael Buble'. Harry Connick Jr. comes in at a close second. Many of these songs, Michael has done. I enjoyed hearing the differences in their arrangements, and I thoroughly enjoy both of them.

Here's what you can expect from the album.

Album Tracklisting (Originally performed by):

All The Way (Frank Sinatra)

Just The Way You Are (Billy Joel)

Can’t Help Falling In Love With You (Elvis Presley)

And I Love Her (The Beatles)

(They Long To Be) Close To You (The Carpenters)

Besame Mucho

The Way You Look Tonight

First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (Roberta Flack)

Your Song (Elton John)

Some Enchanted Evening

And I Love You So (Don McLean)

Who Can I Turn To? (Tony Bennett)

Smile (Charlie Chaplin)

Mona Lisa (Nat King Cole)

Here's a behind the scenes "Making of" the album.
Here's Harry's website and Facebook pages.

So, if you're an old romantic like me, it is well worth your hard-earned dollars to purchase this album. I recommend it to anyone!


Oh, how I love me some Michael Buble'! His voice is like satin - or silk - or satiny silk.

He puts me in a very happy place.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Another One Bites the Dust. . .

Another year, that is.

Happy birthday, love! Today, on your 32nd birthday, I'm thinking on our life together these past 11 years, and on the amazing man you are.

I am oh, so thankful for you.

This has probably been the best and worst year of our life together so far. Our first year was tough - dealing with Daddy's death while learning to live with another human being wasn't easy, but that wedded bliss helped so much to get me through.

This year . . . wow. We've been places I never could have imagined.

Dark places.

Lonely places.

Scary places.

And hopeful, freeing, loving places.

But we've been through these places together - together with the Lord.

It's been a year of learning, of growing, of stretching and maturing.

You are so strong. I have seen supernatural strength in you - strength to overcome your trials and temptations. Strength to keep going and keep working when it seems like nothing is going the way you want it to.

You are becoming such a wonderful leader in our home. I see a new passion, a new hunger, a new fire in you for God's Word and how it applies to your life. You strive so hard to be who HE wants you to be, and I cannot explain what it does to my heart to see you live for Him, and not for people.

You have become so transparent in our home - there is no better example for the girls to see. You aren't afraid to share what's on your mind and in your heart. You alone have fostered a level of emotional intimacy between us that didn't exist before. I thank you so deeply for that.

You are such a natural teacher to the girls. I hope that someday Emma remembers her special time with you, walking through the meaning of salvation, and exploring what a life-changing event that is in her life.

You still light up a room when you enter. Your contagious joy affects all those privileged to know you.

You're making such an effort to make me feel loved, even when your mind is overwhelmed with work and your responsibility to provide for us.

You are working up to 70 hours a week to make sure your family is provided for. We miss you like crazy, but again, I'm so thankful that you are a man who sees what needs to be done and does it.

I'm more thankful today than I was 11 1/2 years ago that God chose me to be your wife. I'm glad that you're there for every one of those hard days I have, and even more thankful that I'm there for yours.

I love you, Superman.

Happy Birthday!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Extraordinary by John Bevere

Time for another book review! I second-guessed myself in agreeing to do a review on John Bevere's book, Extraordinary from Waterbrook Multnomah. The title made me think of Prosperity Theology/Health and Wealth gospel. Although the title is a little misleading, I still wasn't entirely impressed by the book.

Although the book doesn't claim that if you are a believer you will prosper, I feel that Extraordinary puts an unhealthy emphasis on how great our life should be.

"Satisfy your intrinsic desire to rise above the norm."

"Isn't it true that we long to see the extraordinary, experience the extraordinary, do the extraordinary? Yet, so often we settle for mediocrity when greatness is within our grasp."

"Best-selling author John Bevere reveals how all of us were 'meant for more,' extraordinarily created and intended for a life that is anything but ordinary. Here is the roadmap for your journey of transformation. You are marked for a life that far surpasses the usual definitions of success or fulfillment."

I guess I feel that it is God's will for some people to have very ordinary lives. If we have a living, growing relationship with the Lord, we experience the extraordinary every day as He speaks to us through His word. I don't think searching for greatness, even in our spiritual life, should be our focus. I think we should be searching for Him, and Him alone. He is greatness, and if He wants to do something great with our lives, that will come from Him, not from something we do.

To be honest, I only got through chapter 10 in this book. It wasn't an "easy read". I had to go back and re-read many sections to follow Bevere's train of thought. I kept intending to finish the book and give a proper review, but it just wasn't one of those books that I couldn't put down.

I can positively say that Bevere used a lot of scripture, which always impresses me. He also was very candid about his past struggles with lust and an addiction to pornography. He openly discussed how saturating Himself in God's Word helped him to overcome these strongholds. He has been renewed in the spirit of his mind and is truly free.

If you'd like to purchase this book and judge for yourself, click here.
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