A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Crazy Little Thing Called Love

Do you ever wish you could go back and change a mistake you made in the past?  I think we all do.  I know I have.  Crazy Little Thing Called Love is the story of hope for those of us who've goofed.

Vanessa is engaged to Ted, a comfortable fit.  He's a doctor, she's a paramedic.  He's stable.  Predictable.  And he walks all over her feelings and desires when it comes to planning their wedding.  See, there's this medical conference, and it would be convenient if they got married while they were there.  After all, destination weddings have fewer guests, which would help keep the costs down, and they wouldn't have to go somewhere else for the honeymoon.  Yeah, I didn't like this guy, either.

But it seems Vanessa does, because she agrees to fly down to Florida, to a place where she, as a military brat, used to live, to plan the wedding part of things.

Only, while she's there, she runs into this guy she used to know.  Actually, they kinda sorta eloped during their senior year.  As so often happens in young, impetuous love, things didn't work out, and she hasn't seen him since their divorce 8 years ago.  She's not happy to see him now.

Logan, on the other hand, is thrilled to see Vanessa.  It's a sort of sweet torment for him, because he never stopped loving her.  He's going through his own stuff, and needs to make some decisions about his career, which is an unusual one.

The two are thrown together by a hurricane, literally.  Being forced to spend time together makes Logan hope they can rekindle what they had years ago, but Vanessa is still wounded over how things fell apart at the end.

I really enjoyed this book.  In fact, I even took it to the dentist with me, so I could read during the waiting times.

One part that really stood out to me was when Vanessa is talking with her friend Mindy, and Mindy asks her what she believes about God.  Vanessa's reply is:  "I believe he must not love me enought to let me have a lasting relationship."  Now, in her case, some of that feeling goes back to having to move every couple years as a child, at the whims of the military, and how difficult it was for her to make and keep friends.  But I think we all have felt that way at some point.  God doesn't love me enough to heal my child.  Or God doesn't love me as much as He loves the "in crowd" at church.  Or God doesn't love me enough to give me ________.  Whatever it is.

While the book is not overtly preachy at all, this particular nugget was a great reminder to challenge those feelings of insecurity with the truth of scripture.

Author Beth K. Vogt has done a great job crafting a sweet story with realistic and personable characters.  You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  Buy the book on Amazon.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

With Lee In Virginia

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen this special package that arrived in our mail recently.  

I took this "secret weapon" with us on our big road trip to Nevada earlier this month:  With Lee in Virginia, the latest audio drama from Heirloom Audio.  I was so thrilled to be selected to review it.  We really enjoyed reviewing Under Drake's Flag and In Freedom's Cause, also from Heirloom, so we had high expectations for With Lee in Virginia.

It did not disappoint.  In fact, the riveting story line kept the entire family silent and spell bound for well over 2 hours, causing the miles to fly by painlessly.  This was pretty impressive, considering there were 10 people in our van!

The star studded cast included Kirk Cameron, Sean Astin, Brian Blessed, Chris Anthony, Kelsey Lansdowne, and Jim Weiss.  One fascinating little tidbit for you...  Kirk Cameron's twelve year old son, James, plays the role of Will Upton, with father and son working together for the first time.

Heirloom Audio does an incredibly professional production.  They take timeless classic books by G. A. Henty and turn them into radio dramas that are exciting, entertaining, and accessible.  The sound effects were fabulous, and I have to confess, the story made me tear up a couple of times.  (I cry at just about everything these days.)

We received the 2 CD set in tri-fold case, along with online access to the downloadable study guide.  The study guide is a great way to really delve deeper into understanding the story.  It features not just discussion questions, but also words to define.  I've noticed with my kids, they just sort of mentally skip words they don't yet understand, and when we take the time to define them, I can see the light go on for them.  It's like when the teens see a movie again that they used to watch all the time as little kids, and suddenly they "get" so much more of what's going on.  They catch little things they hadn't understood before.

The impressive study guide also contains biographical information on some of the real life main characters in the story, as well as maps, links and historical photographs and drawings.  With Lee in Virginia would be an excellent addition to a homeschool study of American history or the Civil War era.  The study guide helps parents navigate discussion of challenging topics like towns and even families divided by Northern and Southern loyalties, and also slavery, and the ramifications of slave ownership for individual people.  The thought provoking questions could easily lead to a full unit study.

The G. A. Henty books are great "boy stories."  Tales of bravery and honor.  Real men of history, doing the right thing in the face of adversity.  I'm so glad that we can listen to these stories that are perfect for Jack, even though he's not reading at this level yet.

I can't wait to see what the folks at Heirloom Audio bring us next!  You can connect with Heirloom Audio on Facebook, G+ and Twitter.  You can also follow With Lee in Virginia on Facebook.  Read what other Crew families have to say about With Lee in Virginia by clicking the box below.

With Lee in Virginia Audio Drama Review

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Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Bride at Last book review and #giveaway

One of my favorite parts about blogging is all the great books I get to share with you.  Today's book, A Bride at Last, is historical fiction.  It's hard to imagine in this day and age of "instant everything" a world in which mail order brides could even be a thing.  That is the era of our story.

Schoolteacher Kate befriends a local mother and child, and when the mom dies, she wants to care for young Anthony.  Except 2 men step forward claiming to be his father.  This book takes us through their attempts to establish paternity in the court, and the hesitant friendship that develops between Kate and Silas, one of the two men.

I enjoyed this book, and would have no qualms about my teen daughter reading it, as well.  It is actually book 3 of the Unexpected Brides series, but can be read on it's own, as I did.  Having read this one, however, I found my interest piqued at the description of book 2, A Bride in Store, so I may have to go back and read the first two.

Can Silas and Kate overcome their rocky start and experience healing—and possibly love? Discover the answer in Melissa Jagears' new book, A Bride at LastNeither Kate nor Silas is prepared for the secrets and past hurts that have yet to come to light as they attempt to prove nine-year-old Anthony's paternity to the court. Can their wounded souls bind them together or will all that stands between them leave them lonely forever?

Celebrate the release of A Bride at Last by entering to win a $100 Memory-Making giveaway and RSVPing to Melissa's August 4th author chat party!

bride at last-400 

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A $100 gift card to Netflix (for a family movie night), Shutterfly (to create a family memory book), or TablePlayGames (for a family game night)
  • One copy of A Bride at Last
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 8/4. The winner will be announced at Melissa's 8/4 A Bride at Last Facebook author chat party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Melissa and fiction fans, as well as for a chance to win some great prizes!

bride at last-enterbanner

RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK, TWITTER, or PINTEREST and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 4th!

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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Our Week - with a Visit to Shriners

We've been busy this week!  I love summertime.  The more relaxed pace gives the kids so much opportunity for free play, and it's fun to see what they come up with.

The cat was feeling neglected.  He's not normally one to aggressively pursue affection, but maybe I don't realize how often I pet him ordinarily.  He needed a little reassurance that the toddlers who chase him around haven't taken up all my energy and attention.

The teens developed a new game:  Fishing For Toddlers.  They're a little bit like kittens, the way they're fascinated with the moving bright paracord.

These dresses from Zulily were supposed to be the girls dresses for church 4th of July weekend, but they ended up not arriving in time, so they wore them this week instead.  I can't get over how lucky I am to be their mama.

Containers are a toddler favorite.  Putting things in and dumping them out again is a fun pastime.

We've been playing outside, too.  Hannah can just barely pedal her big wheel now.  I would really love to find a bike-ish sort of thing that works for her.

This is my Pinned It and Did It for the summer.  One drip pan, 4 Command strips, and a set of LeapFrog magnets have generated all sorts of spelling play.  (affiliate links)  Katie is working on singing the ABCs, and still learning to identify letter names and sounds.  I am hoping this will be a fun way to help with that.

I was concerned about the automatic doors on the waiting room, but they were so good about staying in.  And yes, I am having fun dressing them.  A lot of fun.

This week, I decided we needed a couple of new noisy toys in the house.

Turns out, I should have gotten 2 of the same thing instead of 2 different ones.  We're working on the fine art of taking turns.

This was incredibly sweet.  They were bringing me stuffed animals and playsilks so I could wrap up their babies for them.

I love love love watching my teens with the babies.  Last night, Josiah and Sam each carried one out to the van for me.  There's something so endearing about watching young men be gentle with little ones.  A couple times now, Sam has gotten into the play yard and let them climb all over him.  They love it!  The toddlers light up when they see my boys.

Guess who came over to play this week?  We haven't seen Brayden in a while, so it was great to have him here for the day.

This is a cool stacking toy that I got from 4Knowledge-4Fun a while back!  Right after I snapped the picture, Little One toppled it over, of course.  I like the way it can be stacked in any order, not just cone shaped, like most stackers.  And there's no center post (which in my house would turn into a hammer or weapon).  It was really nice to be able to welcome our Small Guests with a brand new toy that I'd tucked away.

Eli has been making new K'nex creations again.  This one is a pickup with a helipad.  He comes up with the most interesting designs.  He also did a hand grenade and a large helicopter this week.

I took Katie and Hannah to Shriners this week to get checked up on by their surgeon.  Both girls needed adjustments to their prosthetics.  Katie got the good news that she no longer needs to wear her AFO (brace) on her formerly clubbed foot at night time!  I'm so grateful that her foot and ankle are in such good shape, despite not being corrected until she was 3 years old.  For our family, club foot has been a super easy special need.

Actually, limb differences in general has been quite manageable.  Each of the girls has had one surgery, and we visit Shriners every few months, but on a daily basis, they're just kids.  Kids clowning around while they wait for their legs to come back from the prosthetist.  I'm amazed at Hannah's upper body strength!

When we were done, we were told there was free ice cream out front, so we went to check it out.

Turns out, Uber was there giving away Three Twins ice cream cups and other swag to promote their business. That was a fun treat!

On the way home, we had a dragonfly land on our antenna.  Hannah asked me how many types of dragonflies there are in the whole world.  I have a feeling I'm going to be doing a lot of internet searches with her homeschooling this year.  (5000, if you're curious.)

This week we hit one month with our Little Visitors.  I have found having them here to be healing to my mama heart.  Being sought out for affection, being the recipient of spontaneous snuggles has gone a long way. These things and more are helping me realize that the "perks" of caring for small children are what make it worthwhile, and it's just amazingly hard work when those perks aren't there.  Luke turned 4 this week, and we sent a gift and got a picture of him with it.  I feel good about his placement.  He's being well cared for, and I hope that, against all odds, he can make some progress there.

Less than one month until school starts now!  I ordered Eli's backpack this week.  And we got some cool school supplies from BzzAgent, too!  Eli snagged The Big Pen and claimed it for his own right away.  We're looking forward to checking out the rest of the Designed By Students line at Staples.

Aside from Hannah's math, all of our curriculum is here waiting for our first day.  I don't know what that first day will look like yet, since I don't know if I'll still be entertaining toddlers at that point or not.  But I suspect that one day that first week will involve stopping at the donut shop after we drop the teens off at school to celebrate.

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Goodbye, Magnolia

Ready for a modern working woman romance?  You'll enjoy Goodbye, Magnolia.  Up and coming novelist Krista Noorman delights with the story of Maggie, a photographer who has let her broken heart close her off to love, despite the fact that she's surrounded by it as she takes wedding pictures.

I really enjoyed the progression from enemies to competitors to colleagues to friends to more than friends that developed between Maggie and Simon.  I would have loved to have a little more of Simon's thoughts or perspective, but the author still manages to convey his integrity and thoughtfulness.

Goodbye, Magnolia is a sweet story.  When the book arrived, my 15 year old daughter made off with it and declared it a good book when she returned it 2 days later.  When I got a turn to read it, I had to agree.  If you're looking for wholesome with just the right amount of romantic tension, and a great best friends sideline, you'll enjoy this book.

You can connect with author Krista Noorman on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.  There's even a trailer for the book on YouTube.  She also has a blog.  I'm looking forward to seeing what she publishes next!

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Get Ready for Back to School with Fundanoodle #BTS

I'd like to introduce you to Fundanoodle products!  I recently became a Fundanoodle Ambassador, after using a couple of the books with my daughter, Katie.  After seeing the whole product line, I'm very excited about what Fundanoodle has to offer.

This is my daughter, Hannah.  She's 8, and was adopted from China at age 3 1/2.  She has done amazingly well learning English, and is in second grade at school, but every once in a while we come across some learning gaps.  She's been working in the I Can Write My Own Stories book, from Fundanoodle's green line.

This book gives her the opportunity to really stretch her imagination with creative prompts and fun activities.  It's top spiral binding is great for left or right handed kids.

Fundanoodle's green line also includes I Can Do Math 3, I Can Write Lower Case, and an Activity Book.

This is my daughter, Katie.  We adopted her from China 2 years ago, at age 2 1/2.  You may notice that her hands are a little different.  She was born with Amniotic Banding Syndrome.  She's pretty amazing at figuring out a way to do what she wants to with the fingers she has, but she does have some challenges with fine motor skills.

Katie is working in the I Can Do Fun Activities book from the orange line.  Fundanoodle's orange line also includes I Can Cut! and I Can Do Math 1.

Fundanoodle's products are not all workbooks!  They've got some great manipulatives, as well.  My girls are working with the I Can Build Uppercase Letters magnets, using the Magnetic Dry Erase Letter Practice Board.  There's also a lower case letter building set, and the ever popular I Can Pound kit, as well as Muscle Mover Cards in both upper case and lower case.

Fundanoodle's products span from age 3 to learning cursive, designed for kids in second grade, and are great for kids with special needs who need remediation.  They were designed by educators, occupational therapists, and most importantly, moms.

If you're a homeschool mom teaching multiple ages, you know it can be a challenge to keep little ones out of mischief while you're working with older children.  Fundanoodle is a great way to let them "do school" just like the big kids!

I hope you'll stop by my Fundanoodle Facebook page to keep updated on the latest Fundanoodle news!

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Kidnapped in Paradise book review and $25 #giveaway

You guys know how much I love the Paradise series by Deborah Brown.  I've raved about each and every one of them so far, and Kidnapped in Paradise is no exception.

I really enjoy Deborah's writing style, and it's been great to watch the characters develop through the series.  We get to keep up with even peripheral characters like Brad, Julie and Liam, or like the couple that owns the local mortuary.  Although some characters, like Jax, Madison's trouble-magnet ex-husband, we're not too happy to see again.

The crazy capers that Madison and Fab get into make me laugh.   Personally, I wouldn't think of a lighthouse being a portable object, but Fab manages to have one moved to use as her new office.  This time around, things get hairy, as the girls manage to cross the wrong bad guys, and end up in some sticky situations, including being 8 miles from shore without a lot of resources.

Although each book can be read on it's own, you'll want to start at the beginning and read the entire series.

In the Florida Keys, trouble is brewing along with the coffee. Friends Madison Westin and Fabiana Merceau search for the mastermind behind gruesome warnings showing up on their doorstep. Fab’s infamous new partner and Madison’s reappearing ex-husband complicate matters in this sexy and humorous action-adventure, the seventh installment of the Paradise series.

Can they slip the bonds of protective custody and solve the mystery before they are Kidnapped in Paradise?

Kidnapped in Paradise, is the seventh novel in Deborah Brown's Paradise series, which can be also read as a stand alone book.

Available to buy from.....

"I loved it. Couldn't stop reading; real page turner! Would highly recommend. Can't wait for the next book in the series!" 

"Deborah Brown has done it again. The whole crew of South Florida lunatics are flying in every direction in this, the seventh book of the Paradise series." 

"I love the characters with their attitudes and personalities not always agreeing it is a great read!I hope there is more to come can't wait to see what these two cook up next! Definitely two thumbs up Deborah Brown!"  
above reviews from Amazon

About the Author
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.

Find the author on the following sites...

Also available in the Paradise Series

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