Greatly Blessed

Greatly Blessed

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Boxcar Children DVD review & GIVEAWAY


Our family got to review the new Boxcar Children DVD!  Remember the Boxcar Children books?  We have a whole bunch of them.  Now there's a movie!  You can order your copy today through Walmart or Amazon, or you can enter to win the DVD below!


We enjoyed this movie!  It's Dove approved for all ages, and there's nothing in it that I wouldn't want my kids to see.  As the adult, there were a couple parts that were "predictable," but the kids didn't guess what was coming.

The four children in the movie were orphaned, and had nowhere to live.  They try staying at a bakery, but they overhear the wife making plans to send the youngest off to the orphanage and have the older ones work for them.  So the kids take off.  Through rain and dark and adversity, they eventually find themselves in the wooded countryside, where they happen upon an old boxcar that is sitting on an unused rail line.  This becomes their home, and they do an admirable job of fixing it up and living off the land.

The older brother gets a job in town, and is able to provide for the little family's needs... until the younger sister gets sick.  They take her to the doctor, and this becomes the beginning of the end of their boxcar days.

About the Cast
Featuring an all-star cast of voice actors, including Academy Award Nominee Martin Sheen (Apocalypse Now), J.K. Simmons (Spiderman), Zach Gordon (Diary of a Wimpy Kid), Joey King (Fargo), Mackenzie Foy (Twilight), and Jadon Sand (LEGO: The Movie), this is the very first full-length, animated feature adaptation of Gertrude Chandler Warner's best-selling classic!

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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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.”

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Luke's First Day of School


Let's see...  When we last left off in our story, Luke had graduated from Early Intervention, and we were trying to hammer out an IEP for him.  


Well, the IEP is all nailed down now.  Luke will be attending the mod/severe special needs class at the same school where Hannah went to preschool.  It's 5 days a week, but only 2 hours per day.  Right in the middle of the day, of course, so it's as inconvenient as possible, but we should have BUS SERVICE for him soon.  The school bus was the main reason behind getting Luke's wheelchair.

He will be getting physical therapy weekly and feeding therapy twice a month in the classroom.  He has lots of lofty goals, in all areas written into his IEP, but since the only area he met IE goals in was feeding therapy, I'm trying not to get my hopes up.


I'm actually surprised I could get him to stand for these pictures.  He's leaning against the wall, of course, but he usually refuses to stand, even holding on to something in front of him.  He did start slamming his head into the wall by the time I was done snapping shots.

I believe Sam was saying something to the effect of, "Yeah, that's right, you should be crying, cuz school sucks."  Sam and Bri start next week.  I'm looking forward to getting our school year groove down.


Since I always take pictures of the other kids in front of the front door, I had Paul hold him out front so we could get the traditional First Day of School shot for him, too.

Paul stayed in the class the whole 2 hours today to help Luke and the staff acclimate to each other.  He said it went well.  It will be interesting to see how Luke changes this school year.

I'm now packing 2 lunch boxes every day.  I should do a lunch box post while all our stuff is still new and ick-free, for the most part.  Unfortunately, Paul said that at lunch today he was completely unable to use his fork.  Some days, he has a skill, and other days, he doesn't.

I'll be sure to share pictures again when he starts taking the school bus.  Katie loves buses, so she's going to be so excited when one starts coming to our house every day!  I bought some bus fabric, but I haven't decided if I want to make it into pants for Luke or a skirt for Katie yet.  Maybe if I'm careful, I can squeak out both.

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Deception in Paradise book review and $25 Amazon card GIVEAWAY


When I signed up for this book tour, I was offered the option of getting just this book, or having an ebook version of book 1, Crazy in Paradise sent to me as well.  I chose to get the first book, too, thinking at the time, "If I'm not into it after the first chapter or two, I'll just set it aside and read the second one for the review."

While we were on vacation last month, I needed to sit near the little girls while they fell asleep in a strange place.  I remembered the ebook on my iPad, and started reading.  Turns out, I loved Crazy in Paradise so much that I ended up finishing both books while we were there.

Faintly remeniscent of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum novels (which I love), these books were fast paced, funny, and engaging.  I was delighted to discover that there are a total of 5 of them right now!


Madison Westin is back!! The Florida Keys are hotter than ever.

With Madison's never-say-no style she's smarter and packing an attitude not to mention her Glock.

This time, trouble rolls into Tarpon Cove in the form of Madison's ex-husband, Jackson Devereaux, whom she hoped to never see again. His arrival brings unparalleled chaos and an uninvited corpse.

Teaming up with her hot friend, Fabiana, the two women go from chasing the usual cast of misfits and weirdos to hunting down a murderer. The action turns deadly serious when they stir up a nasty enemy as they try to stay one-step ahead in a game of cat and mouse that threatens their lives.

Deception in Paradise, a Florida Keys mystery, the second novel in Deborah Brown's Paradise series, can be read as a stand alone book.

Buy the book from.....

About the Author
The Paradise series, are Florida Keys mysteries, "great as stand-alone reads, but they're like chips...you won't be able to devour just one!"

I've been writing, in one way or another for as long as I can remember; writing poetry, short stories, a romance novel secretly stashed under the bed and sappy love letters. Fiction should be fun. I wanted to create the perfect beach book, to make the reader laugh, cry and cheer... and then run out and tell their friends about it.

My love of reading began when I was seven, the day I opened the cover of my first Mrs. Piggle Wiggle book. Mrs. P gave lessons to other children in how to behave and to me I learned to love the written word. I live with my family and demon children aka rescue cats in South Florida.

Follow the Author
Website   Facebook   Twitter   Pinterest   Google+   Goodreads

Also available in the Paradise Series




Follow the Book Tour

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I received this book to review through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, all the opinions above are 100% my own.

NOW FOR THE AUTHOR'S GIVEAWAY
deception in paradise giveaway
Win a $25 Amazon Giftcard
Open Worldwide
Ending on Sunday 31st August at 11.59pm EST

Enter Below and Good Luck !!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Thursday, August 14, 2014

My Unpinnable School Room


There have been a flurry of bloggers sharing their picture-perfect school rooms this week.  Every year, I want to be able to participate, but feel like my room is too much of a disaster.  

Then I realized, if I'm feeling this way, I bet there are other moms who are, too.  No more!  Here's my imperfect school room!  It works for us, and your school space probably works for you, too.  Even if it's not Pinworthy.  


We are very blessed to have a dedicated school room in this house.  Our school room is a "loft" or bonus room upstairs.  One wall is all bookcases, and they're full to bursting.  We have a lot of books.  (Probably has something to do with 17 years of homeschooling, right?)

The table in front is theoretically where we do most of our work.  The reality is, it happens all over, and I'm okay with that.  Although I do think we need to buckle down a bit more about handwriting, and it would probably help to do that at the table.

The purple ball hanging from the ceiling is actually a lamp.  Under that, you see two pictures.  One is a collage print of our 7 Safe Families kids, and the other is a picture of Katie when she lived in China.  On the right side of the room, in the black frames, are two pictures of Eli & Jack, taken several years apart.

On top of the bookcases are science kits, toddler activities, reading games, and various other supplies.  The pink bucket on the floor is school supplies we've stocked up on when they go on super sale at Staples.


This shot gives you a better idea of the room's openness to the rest of the upstairs.  My room is behind me, and the dark area on the right leads to more bedrooms and bathrooms.

The interior windows are a blessing and a curse.  On the one hand, free shelf space!  (Which I wish I was better about keeping on top of, really.)  On the other hand, no walls to hang maps/charts on.


Standing by the exterior windows, you can see the kids' computer on the left, along with the required couch potato.  There's always somebody on, and usually a line waiting for a turn.

My desk is on the right.  We have a clock in the classroom, although very few of the kids can actually tell time on this thing.  Makes me crazy.  I think they ask me what time it is on purpose.  Under the clock is an apple wreath the kids and I made the year Hannah was born.

Between the two chairs, you can see our art bag on the floor.  Behind that, I have a couple of file boxes, which seem to attract piles, unfortunately.  If there's stuff piled on top of the file boxes, I can't file anything, which means more things pile up!


The hall wall.  The volcano poster should probably come down to make room for something new.  Under that is the art cart, with more "stuff" piled on top of it.  Next, we have two more bookcases full of books.  They're multiplying, I tell you.

The white board is a new addition last year.  I resisted the idea at first, but now I like it.


The basket on the floor is all board books.  Again, they multiply.  I think I need to go through and set some free to be read elsewhere.

The "window seat" is 3 cubes from Target.  I really love the seating and storage.  I'm not so crazy about how dirty they've gotten!  I wish there was a way to buy just the lids.  One cube has reams of paper in it (bought on sale, of course!), one has more books in it, and one has gardening supplies in it.

I think I need to reconfigure the shelves on the bookcase on the end.  If I move them all down a bit, I can fit more shoebox sized tubs up top.  Those house various craft supplies, such as pipe cleaners, paper punches, glitter, etc.

If you peek down the hall, you can see into Eli & Jack's room.

No, our school room won't win any contests for design or decor.  But it's chock full of resources, and happy memories.  Learning happens here.  I can live with that.

Homeschool Classrooms

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Sewing for the girls

When my big kids were much younger, I used to sew almost all the children's clothes.  It's been several years since I've been very productive in the sewing room, mostly just a project here and there.


But I'm slowly kicking things up a little bit.  I think I've mentioned that our dentist is next door to Hobby Lobby.  Taking the kids every 6 months gives me a chance to add some fresh fabric to the stash, which usually inspires a bit of sewing.


The dress is Katie's, the skirt is Hannah's.  The dress is a Big 3 pattern I've been using for ages.  Hannah had several tops from that pattern.  The skirt is a Kwik Sew pattern that I used to use for Annaliese and Brianna.  (It's also the same one I used to Hannah's first day of school Panda Skirt, and for the Very Hungry Caterpillar skirt.)


Katie "models" while Eli plays on the computer.


I love that Hannah and Katie are okay with matching.  I remember when Josiah and Samuel decided they were done with me making them matching shirts.

I have a bunch of pants going for Luke right now.  I hope I guessed right on his size for the winter!  It feels good to be creating again.

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What's In The Mailbox?


I wanted to share some of the fun things that have shown up at our house recently.  It's always a highlight of my day to get packages!  


Arm & Hammer baking soda from Smiley360.  Diaper pail, cat box, laundry room...  I've had this shaker all over the house lately.


Caltrate Calcium gummies, also from Smiley360.  These are yummy!  I used to take calcium chews that were more of a taffy consistency.  I quit taking them, because they were kinda gross.  But since my Vitamin C are gummies, too, I knew I could handle gummies.


New panda shoes from zulily.com (affiliate link).  Hannah really thrashed the old ones on the right, so when I saw them again, I got her another pair.  Unfortunately, between the time I ordered them, and the time they arrived, she got a new (bigger) foot!  So they don't fit now.  I've put them up for Katie to grow into.


This was a great VoxBox from Johnson's and Influenster!  No more tangles shampoo, conditioner, and spray!  Confession?  Brianna had asked me for another bottle of tangle spray the day before this box arrived.  I let her have this one.  Hannah and Katie are using the conditioning shampoo.  Love it!


One of my sweet sewing mama friends sent me this lovely box of handmade soaps!  Brianna staged them for me with some of her recently crocheted washcloths.  Aren't they pretty?  The soaps smell great, and we're having fun trying them out.  You can see what she has available here.


We have a Special Occasion coming up that I want to look extra nice for, so this is a good time to play with some new makup from Modern Mom and Sheer Cover Studio.


Moms Meet sent us a package of Walgreens Well Beginnings brand diapers, wipes, and baby wash, plus samples and coupons for my friends!

Anything interesting in your mailbox lately?  I'd love to hear about it!

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Luke Graduates From Early Intervention


Three of Luke's 4 therapists came out last week to commemorate the end of his time with Early Intervention.  When a special needs child turns 3, they transition to services provided by the school district.  Luke is 3 now, and we're hoping to have his district services nailed down soon (tomorrow, actually!).


These ladies, and Luke's wonderful feeding therapist, have been working with him for the last year.  While it has been discouraging to me that Luke never reached any of the goals they set for him last August, these guys have been so patient.  They came out, week after week, and sat on the floor and played with Luke.  H, on the right, was his physical therapist.  He screamed through many of their sessions together (don't get me wrong; he threw impressive fits for the other ladies, too, but PT seems to be a special kind of misery for Luke).  H was always very gracious about his behavior.


Since aging out of EI is related to a child's birthday, the ladies brought cupcakes, and we sang Happy Birthday.


Hannah helped with the blowing out part.


While he obviously wasn't crazy about the cap & gown nonsense above, he downed the cupcake in about 4 bites.  Anything that involves food can't be all bad, in Luke's opinion.

Hoping to have some news about Lukey's preschool plans for you soon.

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