Greatly Blessed

Greatly Blessed

Monday, October 31, 2016

A Sister's Wish and An Amish Family Christmas


I've shared Shelley Shepard Gray's books with you here before.  This time around, we have two!

A Sister's Wish
Two Amish boys grow up together.  One in a stable, loving family; the other, not so much.  One stays and joins the faith; the other goes a bit wild during his youth, leaves the faith, and the town he grew up in.  Now Simon is back, ready to commit to the faith, the Amish lifestyle, and Lukas' kid sister.  It's not surprising that Lukas thinks Simon isn't good enough for her.

Amelia is tired of being the baby sister of the family, having all her siblings try and make decisions for her.  She also understands that while Simon's past may have shaped him, it doesn't have to define his future.

I like the way the author weaves a complex story, with Simon reconnecting with his sister, Tess, and struggling with his problems, rather than just a simple romance.

An Amish Family Christmas
A struggling single mom presents herself to the world as a widow.  But just when things start going well for Julia and little Penny, the past catches up with them.

Shelley Shepard Gray doesn't shy away from difficult issues.  One of her character's, Tess, finally gets The Refuge up and running, a place for people to get help.  Drawing from her own experience as a runaway, she creates an inviting place where support groups can meet, and people can find resources.

Levi has returned to Charm, but he's still struggling to find his place after his father's death.  His brother and sister in law live in the family home and run the family business.  Nothing really "fits" for him until he befriends Julia and Penny and starts thinking about making a life with them.  But can he accept Julia's secret?

These books handle mature content in a wholesome way, and I have no problem passing them on to my 16 year old daughter, Brianna, to read.

You can find A Sister's Wish  and An Amish Family Christmas on Amazon, and you can connect with author Shelley Shepard Gray via her website, and also on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.




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Sunday, October 30, 2016

You Know What Breaks My Heart?


There was another advocacy group in Beijing recently.  I've followed their trip on Facebook.  Both because I'm getting ready to go to (another part of) China on an advocacy trip myself, and because their trip is very similar to my trip there last year.

What breaks my heart is that when I see their picture of all the kids and advocates at the zoo...  It's not that it looks very similar to our zoo trip last year, it's that I see some of the same faces.  And I'm not talking about the advocates or the nannies, either.  It's the same kids, still there, still waiting for a family to see past the special needs and see a child.  Perhaps a child that would fit into their family.


One of the advocates sent me a video of my sweet friend, Aury, from last year.  Guys, he's funny and happy, and would make a great son for some lucky family, yet he still waits.  His file is currently with America World Adoptions.



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Saturday, October 29, 2016

Our Week Before My China Trip


Another week has flown by.  My China trip is getting closer and closer!


Last weekend was homecoming.


Bri went with a friend from the football team.  She's one of the water girls this year, so she's gotten to know the team well.


Sam demonstrated his culinary skills this week.  He saw a recipe video online and decided he had to make it.  He and Hannah worked on it together, and I was pretty impressed with it.  There's cookie dough, Reece's PB cups, Oreos, chocolate chips, graham crackers, and more cookie dough, and it's baked in a cast iron pan.


The children are punishing me for cancelling Netflix.  When they told me they'd have nothing to do, I told them they could play games or go outside.  The trees are plotting my death now.  Eli has made himself a bow.  And an arrow.  Be afraid.


I caught Paul building with the Magna-tiles.  We really love these things.  I might need to add some specialty pieces at Christmas.


Jack carved his pumpkin this week.  It was his first time carving by himself.


I think he did a great job!


Paul helped Katie with her math one morning.  As you can see, I still haven't come up with a great solution for her having more desk space.


We won!  Figures in Motion had a contest recently, and we made a big dino and showed a picture of it on Facebook, and we won a copy of Dinosaurs on the Move!  My kids love these books, so they were fighting over it to see who would get to flip through it first.


After not making it to the library last week, I was really glad to get a chance to go this week.  We had Sam with us, to help carry the heavy bag of books.


Hannah had to hold her finger in the book when I checked it out, so she wouldn't loose her place.


Jack is enjoying the Redwall series.  I'm really thrilled at how much he's reading now that it's finally clicked for him.


The Walking Dead books are Sam's.  I even got a couple of books for myself this time around, but I'm not sure I'll have time to get through them before I leave.


My friend's kids were over one day this week.  So we decided to fingerpaint.


Katie did two pages.  This one, and one that was much more... blended.


Like Hannah's.  I let the kids get completely gooey.  They enjoyed washing up almost as much as they enjoyed painting.


Jack and the "big boy" of their family jumped on the trampoline and played video games while the younger kids stayed in the playroom where I could keep an eye on everybody.


The big girls played Great Pumpkin Uno.


I turned Jack's carving mess into roasted pumpkin seeds, but nobody really liked them, so after a few tries, they got tossed in the trash.


Another art project we worked on was sand painting!  Several years ago, I ordered 10# of colored craft sand.  We did a few projects with it, and the remainder has lived in the art cart ever since.  It was nice to pull it out and put some to use.  I'll share the completed photos later.


Sam's cooking experiences aren't all positive.  I had started some water boiling and gone upstairs.  I asked Sam to go put the macaroni in it for me, and this was what I found when I came down again.  He'd dumped the cheese packets into the water with the noodles.


Still, he's cute and funny, so I think we'll keep him.  At least until he leaves for boot camp in January.

Speaking of boot camp, we got another letter from Josiah this week!  He sounds good.  I'm seeing photos online of all the stuff he's getting to do, which makes him seem not quite so far away.  Fortunately, I'm keeping plenty busy here getting ready for my trip.  And we'll be off to see him graduate shortly after I get over jet lag from China.

There will be no Our Week posts the next couple of weeks while I'm gone, but I will try to blog during the trip.  And there will be plenty of advocacy posts and posts about the trip after I return.  I appreciate your prayers for the health and safety of our team while we're away, and that God will be preparing the hearts of families who are about to hear about their future children.

While you're here, please take a moment to enter the Balance Beans giveaway we have going!

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Friday, October 28, 2016

Balance Beans game review and #giveaway


Our family recently got a real treat in the mail from ThinkFun.  They sent us the game Balance Beans to review.


Jack has experience with several other ThinkFun games, so he was super excited to get into this one.


One of the features I like about ThinkFun games is that they come with a bag for the pieces.  Boxes are bulky and they tend to get destroyed around here, so it's nice when I can fit several games into a basket because they're all in drawstring bags.  This also makes them easy to tuck into a purse, diaper bag, or carry on for fun on the go.


Setting up Balance Beans was super simple.


The bean pieces are adorable!  I love the different little expressions they have.


The game comes with 9 bean pieces (singles, doubles and triples), the teeter totter style balance, and a deck of challenge cards.


The challenge cards start out easy.  You place the pieces shown on the board, and are allowed to add the pieces below the image of the game board in any position to make the scale balance.


"I did it!"


The challenge cards get increasingly more difficult as you proceed through the deck.


Jack really enjoyed playing with Balance Beans, and spent several days going through all the cards before he was willing to allow his younger sisters to have a turn.


Balance Beans is intended for players ages 5 and up, which made Katie happy, since she is six.


Although Balance Beans is designed to be a single player game, something I really appreciate for quiet time play, my girls developed a way to play together.  They were taking turns putting pieces on their sides of the board to try and keep things balanced.


They liked the faces on the beans, and were soon developing stories and having all sorts of fun with them.  Balance Beans has been a hit in my house, and I'm guessing it would go over well in your house, too.  ThinkFun is generously offering one of my readers their own Balance Beans game!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Thanks for entering!  You can connect with ThinkFun on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, G+, or through their education blog!  Please keep ThinkFun games in mind for holiday gift giving and help entertaining the kids during holiday travel.


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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

CrossTimber review and #giveaway


One of the greatest privileges of parenting is getting to choose your child's name.  I've never liked my own name, but I love my children's names.  The pondering over name choices, the imagining who your child will be, it's magical, whether your children come to you by birth or by adoption.  Each of my children has a story that goes with the names that we chose for them, both first names and middle names.

Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews

CrossTimber is a business all about names!  The Homeschool Review Crew was offered the opportunity to review a wide variety of their products.  CrossTimber offers everything from a personalized framed plaque with name meaning and Bible verse, to music boxes, bookmarks, coffee mugs, and even multi-name plaques.  Their products are totally customized to what you want.  Deciding what to order was the hardest part for me!  I couldn't very well get a name plaque for one of my children and not all the others, could I?

I was browsing the occupations when I found a firefighter mug.  I decided I would get that for my husband, Paul, who is a fire captain.  The ordering process was simple, and the staff personable.  They even offered to research my odd name for me.


The mug arrived quickly by priority mail, and was very well packed.


It's beautiful!  I'm very happy with it.  I was originally planning for it to be a Christmas gift, but since Paul sees the blog from time to time, I'll have to give it to him now.

They included a small name card with it, with the same motif as the mug.


There's even a discrete logo on the back of the mug, which is nice if I want to order more of them.  The website is right there, without me having to think, "Now what was that business called again?"

The mug is microwavable, and dishwasher safe, both very important in our house.
Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews

CrossTimber products would make lovely baby shower or first birthday gifts.  As we head into the holiday season, they're also a great gift idea for the hard to shop for people on your list.  After all, everybody has a name, right?

Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews

CrossTimber also has gifts featuring the names of God.  You can select from a variety of the Biblical names of God, on various backgrounds to create beautiful artwork for your home, or as a gift for your pastor or mentor.

Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews

CrossTimber is generously offering discounts for volume purchases.  They're also sponsoring a great giveaway!  The grand prize winner may select either a mug, a name plaque or an 8x10 plaque.  Nine additional winners each get a $10 gift certificate toward the item of their choice.  Click the box below to enter.  

CrossTimber 2016 giveaway

This was a really fun review for the Crew, and everyone has a unique story about what they chose and why.  You will want to click the box below to read all those reviews and see pictures of the other products CrossTimber offers.

Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews

You can connect with CrossTimber on Facebook and Pinterest.

Crew Disclaimer

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