Wednesday, July 1, 2015

INTRODUCTIONS -- July Blog Challenge #bloggingthroughJuly #summerchallenge

Hello, hello, and welcome to the Summer Blogging Challenge to blog through the ENTIRE month of July.  I'm excited about this challenge because in these lazy days of summer, I need a little extra push to post regularly.  How about you?

Since this is our very first day together, I thought it only appropriate that we all introduce ourselves to one another.  Now, I know that some of us have know each other in real life or through cyberspace for quite a few years, but it certainly won't hurt to share some information about ourselves either.

For my "introduction" I thought I'd share some of the info from my About Me section from my blog -- and update it just a bit for you.  How's that sound?

Okay, here goes (and I'll start with the basics):

My name is Lynn and I blog from the great state of Mississippi.  It's HOT, HOT, HOT here in July and the humidity is THICK, but I've lived here all of my life so it's not that big of a deal.  I'm married to J.P. (the one I affectionately call the MainMost here on the blog) and we have four children.  I refer to them as the McBlessings (silly, huh?) but thought I'd share their actual names with you here as we begin the Challenge.  Claire is 21, Victoria is 19, Jenner is 16, and Elisabeth is 14.

The MainMost and I have been married for almost 25 years.  WOW!  GOD has been so incredibly gracious to us.

I totally rely on HIS MERCY and LOVE and GRACE.  I am simply a failure with a FATHER who loves me.  I am so thankful that HE does.

We are busy.  Way too busy.  But I'm not sure how to curb that in our present season of life.  Claire is in Grad School studying to be an Occupational Therapist.  Victoria is working and busy planning a wedding.  We will welcome the love of her life into our family officially on September 19.  Jenner has just started his first job as a server at Golden Corral and Elisabeth is exploring life as only a 14-year-old girl can.

My favorite Bible verse is Jeremiah 29:11 which says, "For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD.  "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a HOPE and a FUTURE."  It is my prayer that I follow GOD's plans for my life -- Plan A -- and not get stuck in Plan B because I failed to listen to my DADDY.

So, that's my story.  What's yours?  I'll be reading as you link up.  I am excited to share this journey with you.

Pin It Now!

currently {July 2015}

Here's a look at what is currently on my mind . . . 

Craving:  You remember I quit Cokes in March?  I've been doing so well with that, too.  THEN my 14-year-old talked me into trying a McDonald's caramel frappe.  LOVELY.  Now I crave the silly things like crazy.  Grrr . . .

I'm also craving  little down time.  It's just been CRAZY around here since January.  Whew!  How about you?  Is there any "white space" of nothing on your calendar?

ARGH . . . I can't get enough of these.

Grilling:  The only thing we've grilled so far is burgers.  And only once -- last weekend when we played volleyball in the mud with the middle schoolers.  That's not like us either.  We are usually grilling up a storm around here.  I'm sure our grilling hours will pick up now that July is here.  

Burgers and Volleyball

Listening:  We are in the middle of a fun review and are listening to their latest audiodrama.  With Lee in Virginia by Heirloom Audio Productions is MARVELOUS audio theatre and it's the perfect thing to listen to on these hot days of Summer.  There's nothing better than folding a HUGE stack of clothes together while we listen along.

Adventure at its finest

Planning:  I'm making final plans for Camp Sunshine -- it's NEXT week!  It's hard to believe I've been planning this for an entire YEAR and now the time has finally arrived.  I'm praying over this week at camp that each camper, counselor, volunteer will be blessed as we head out on this adventure of Oh, the Places You'll Go!  

We're also working on the wedding plans for my girl.  We have her dress, the bridesmaid's dresses, and most of the tuxes ordered.  Now to do EVERYTHING ELSE.

Decorating:  Hmmm . . . I'm not much of a decorator, but I aspire to be.  I decorated for VBS a few weeks ago.  Does that count?  I'll be decorating for Camp Sunshine on Monday and Tuesday of next week.  And I really need to just clean up this house and start from scratch on the decorating around here.   Whew!  Talk about needing a makeover.  We've been here for over 16 years with four kids and too many pets to count -- it's about time I claimed it as my own.  Can you relate?

Have a beautiful day and an awesome month, my friends.  And stop back by for my July Blogging Challenge. The very first post went live today -- and it's a super easy one to do.  I'd love to have you join us whenever you can this month.

currently, this month has great potential.

I linking up with Jenna and Anne to share what is currently going on in the world around me.  Join us?  Check back in on August 5th (my little brother's birthday) when I share what I'm currently creating,  wishlisting,  hoping,  eating, and watching.
Pin It Now!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

old fashioned {a book review & giveaway} #oldfashionedmovie #flyby

You'll remember my review of the movie Old Fashioned a few weeks ago and that I asked you to stay tuned for a follow-up review of the books Old Fashioned (the novelization of the movie) and The Old Fashioned Way (a devotional to help you reclaim romance in your life.)  The movie was a great family-friendly romance that we all enjoyed and was perfect for family night.  What I liked most about it was that it emphasized that a lifetime of commitment can and should begin before you say "I do."   Needless to say, we thought the movie was superb and adding the books to the mix has been even better.  Together, this is a phenomenal resource for dating, love, and marriage.

The book Old Fashioned  is a 22-chapter story in which the end is really just the beginning.  Complete with discussion questions that make it the perfect Book Club choice and author interviews, Old Fashioned allows you to get to know characters Clay and Amber in a more developed and personal way than the movie.  Published by Tyndale Fiction, Old Fashioned is an entertainingly easy read that will remind you that old-fashioned courtship can be the most romantic kind of love.

About the novelization:  
Softcover; 303 pages 
Written by Rene Gutteridge

Turning his back on his reckless lifestyle, former frat boy Clay Walsh has settled down to turn an antique shop in a small Midwestern college town . . . and to purse lofty and outdated theories on love and romance.  But when Amber Hewson, a free-spirited woman with a gypsy soul, rents the apartment above his shop, Clay can't help being attracted to her spontaneous and passionate embrace of life.  Amber also finds herself surprisingly drawn to Clay, but his ideas about relationships are unusual to say the least, and they bring to light her own deep wounds and fears about love.  They say opposites attract, but can Clay and Amber move beyond their differences and their pasts to attempt an "old fashioned" courtship?

The companion devotional, The Old Fashioned Way is a 40-day challenge to open up your heart in true relationship and reclaim the lost art of romance.  With daily topics to read that discuss what's right about today's dating scene, sex, chastity, accountability, and more, this book is the perfect tool for couples who have been together forever (I'm celebrating my 25th wedding anniversary this year) and for couples who are just beginning forever (my daughter is engaged to be married in September). Each day contains a quote from the movie, a devotional reading, Scripture, questions to consider, and guided prayer.  I have used this book to challenge my own ideas about love and romance and plan to share it with both of my oldest daughters (ages 19 and 21) to use for both personal evaluation and relationship building/marriage counseling.  The included appendixes give actual examples of how to begin an old fashioned courtship-type relationship and conversation starters that even old married couples will enjoy.  This devotional is a hands-on experience that will strengthen your love for the one GOD gave you.

About the devotional:
Softcover; 222 pages 
Written by Ginger Kolbaba

Contrary to popular opinion, being "old fashioned" doesn't mean you're dull or unromantic.  In fact, a true old fashioned relationship can be more exciting and romantic than anything you've ever experienced!  So what does it mean to do things the old fashioned way?  Sure, it means opening doors, holding out chairs, and taking things slow.  But a true old fashioned romance goes much, much deeper than that.  Inspired by the motion picture Old Fashioned, this book will show you how to reclaim the lost art of romance by introducing you to romantic love as God intended it.  Regardless of your past mistakes, where you've been, what you've done, or where you are now, you can find and create a love that will last a lifetime!  As you work your way through this forty-day journey of inspiring readings and questions for reflection, you'll discover all the unique and amazing benefits of doing things the old fashioned way.  And before you know it, you'll be well on your way to creating a love story for the ages.   

Now here's the fun part -- you can win your very own copy of the Old Fashioned DVD, Old Fashioned (the novelization), AND the devotional The Old Fashioned Way.  Simply enter to win this prize package using the rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can find out more information about this sweet movie AND the books that complement it perfectly by visiting the following Social Media sites:

Because LOVE is patient and LOVE is kind . . .

"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.

Pin It Now!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Enjoy Life {Scripture & a Snapshot}

When rain and volleyball collide with middle schoolers, life is fun.  Enjoy it!

I'm joining with my friend Jennifer over at a glimpse of our life as we give glory to GOD through our photos.
Scripture and Snapshot
Pin It Now!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Nest {wordless Wednesday}

Hidden Treasure

Hello, World!

Are you my mommy?
Empty Nester

After weeks of watching them, I can't believe they are gone.  It happens in a blink.

I'm linking up today with my fellow Crewbies, Wendy (over at Life at Rossmont) and Karen (over at Tots and Me).  Check out the link up for more "Wordless Wednesday" posts.

Wordless Wednesday at Life at Rossmont

Pin It Now!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Schoolhouse Review: Circle C Adventures #hsreviews

Tales of the Circle C Ranch Bookk Review

Reading Time
We've reached that time of the year where we're all ready for formal academics to be over and summer adventures to begin. Unfortunately, we've had a crazy-busy year and we are not quite finished with all that I wanted to have marked off of the proverbial list.  Because of this, I've worked to incorporate several "fun" things that can also double as academics.  For the Princess this means reading the latest book from Circle C Adventures.  She has enjoyed being a part of Andi's life from the very beginning, so reading Tales from the Circle C Ranch (softcover, 151-pages) and working through Andrea Carter's Tales from the Circle C Ranch Learning Lapbook (39-pages) is the perfect mix of school and fun.

Andrea Carter's Tales from the Circle C Ranch is a companion book to the books we've read from the Circle C Beginnings series, the Circle C Adventures series, and the Circle C Milestones series.  It serves as a bridge to help transition readers from the early stories of little Andi to the more recent stories of growing-up Andi and answers reader's questions from all three series along the way.  Divided into two sections -- The Early Years and The In-Between Years, the eleven short stories span the eight years of Andi's life from 1873 - 1881.  Since we've been fortunate enough to read and reveiw the Circle C Andi books for several years, my girl can't seem to get enough of them.  She is happy to spend time reading on her own every day -- and she's enjoyed working through the pages of the lapbook as well.

Tales of the Circle C Ranch Bookk Review
The Learning Lapbook is available in both digital and printed formats.  The printed format includes absolutely EVERYTHING you need to tie history and literature to the softcover book and you can purchase them as a bundle if you'd like.  For purposes of review, we received the learning lapbook in a digital format.  I simply printed out the pages and handed them off to the Princess and she turned her lapbook into a personal masterpiece.

Gathering supplies & reading instructions
Since we didn't have file folders on hand and she didn't want to wait to get started, she used cardstock to create the spine of her lapbook and pulled out her scrapbook paper for added flair.  That's always when I KNOW that something is successful -- when she is willing and able to be creative on her own without worry or complaint.  I like that I could easily turn this project over to her and that she enjoys it so much that she jumps right in to the journey of learning. Reading the stories from the Tales from the Circle C Ranch and then utilizing the hands-on aspect of the projects adds a beneficial dimension to her learning experience.  It's one thing to read about denim britches and why they were inappropriate for little girls in the 1800s but it's a totally different thing to research britches, overalls, and dresses and understand who could wear what and when it was appropriate to deviate from the expected.

Cardstock Creation
Illustrating the masterpiece
Although the stories included in Tales from the Circle C Ranch serve as a transitional bridge to the books from other series, it is in no way necessary for your reader to have read any other book before picking up this one.  Tales from the Circle C Ranch serves as a complete stand-alone read, but will enhance and further endear you to Andrea Carter if you have read other books about her crazy adventurous life.  How fun is it that author Susan K. Marlow takes the questions that her readers have to heart and creates new stories to further develop her characters?  Even better, each of the 11 short stories tells you the date it takes place and exactly which book it coincides with.  For example, story 2, The Best Gift of All, takes place in October 1874 during Andi's Scary School Days -- the very first Andi book my Princess ever read.   Story 6, Hurrah for the Fourth of July!, occurs on July 4, 1880 before the events in Andrea Carter and the Dangerous Decision.   I truly love the continuity shared throughout all of the series and we look forward to many years of Andi books.

Make sure to "mosey on over" and you can download and read the first story for yourself.  Make sure to check out the following Social Media pages for even more information and get your horse-loving daughter started on the Circle C series as soon as possible:

Crew Disclaimer

I was given the opportunity to review Tales from the Circle C Ranch as a member of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew thought of this and other products as well (or just click on the banner below.)

Dynamic Literacy Review
Pin It Now!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Schoolhouse Review: SmartKidz Media Library #hsreviews

SmartKidz Media Review

It's always exciting to find new things to enhance our homeschooling journey.  I am blessed to be able to review cool products and websites and share them with you and I always hope that you'll find them just as wonderfully engaging as we do.  Homeschooling affords us the opportunity to meet our children right where they are and invite them to fall in love with the process of learning through a variety of tools and methods.  That's one of my favorite things about educating my children at home -- I can specifically tailor each child's education to their individual learning styles.  Finding resources that present "something for everyone" all in one place that's easy to find is a WIN in this momma's book and SmartKidz Media has proven to be just that.  The SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers offers a digital media resource library for you to use at home that includes music, videos, eBooks, and more.

Talk about something for everyone, there's a TON of neat stuff on this family-friendly website that I've been able to turn my family loose on.  My kids thrive on documentaries and "how stuff works" videos.  It is not unusual for the Eagle Scout  to tell me some tidbit of information during school lessons and then explain what programs he watched the night before that taught him all about it.  That my friends is what homeschooling is all about.  I LOVE it when my children take the initiative to study and attain knowledge all by themselves.  The SmartKidz Media Library makes it easy for them to do just that.  Super user-friendly, it is set up in such a way that we can access it all from our iPhones, iPads, and computers.  I've been able to allow my children to visit topics of interest and I've enjoyed sitting back and watching to see what they wanted to learn.  We've also used the Smart Kidz Media Library as our "family time" entertainment.  I love it when learning just "happens."   Don't you?  With 16 different categories in the World of Discovery collection, we can literally find something about everything.  There are 5 - 10 videos in each category ranging from Animals & Wildlife, Nature, and Cultural Documentaries to Health & Fitness and Lifestyle & Cuisine.  You can take off on adventure as you Travel the world and soon you'll even be able to learn about Sports and History.  We are enthralled with the travel documentaries and are having fun imagining life abroad as we "visit" new places through video.

This barely scratches the surface of what is available.

One of the things that I remember about my grandfather was his love of great music.  He played a double-barreled silver clarinet as a child and that fed his life-long passion for toe-tapping tunes.  It was not uncommon to walk into his house on any given day and hear jazz tunes or the blues blaring from the tape deck of his stereo.  He was a fan of the big band era and his passion fueled an appreciation in each of my children.  Can you imagine my delight when I came across the Music & Fine Arts Collection of SmartKidz Media?  With volumes of classical, cultural, jazz & blues classics, and relaxation music, we could easily find something to reminisce over as we listened to some of Poppa's favorites over the internet.  We found some really cool new things to add to our favorites list as well.  (You've GOT to check out the 25 Rhythms of the World for the neatest cultural experience and the most hauntingly beautiful rendition of Danny Boy that I've ever heard.)

The Mighty eBook Collection contains flash animated eBooks that the children in your family will fall in love with and ask to watch over and over and over.   I'll even admit to enjoy singing along to some of the songs myself.   What a great way to promote literacy beginning with our littlest learners.  The books in this section reminded me so much of the sweet little VHS tapes I used to play when my girls were mere babes.  (Yes, I realize I'm dating myself because WHO even knows what a VHS tape is anymore?)  I so loved sharing Aesop Fables and The Real Mother Goose with my children.  It's nice to know that those sweet lessons can continue.  The sing-along books help your little ones learn to read as the highlighted words are spoken and sung to them.  With science lessons and Bible stories included, there's something here for everyone.  Speaking of cool things for kids, there's even a Baby Signs program and Potty Training Help.  Neat, huh?

I love, love, love the Quick Find Study Guides that offer help in categories from Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, AND Science to the new categories that are soon to arrive -- Basic Accounting and Foreign Languages.  There's even a Special Needs section on SmartKidz Media that has tons of helpful read-along books and videos to learn by.  Seriously, you need to check this learning resource out for your family.  You're going to love it!

You can find out even more about what SmartKidz Media has to offer your homeschool environment by visiting the following Social Media sites:

Crew Disclaimer

I was given the opportunity to review SmartKidz Media as a member of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew thought of this and other products as well (or just click on the banner below.)

SmartKidz Media Review
Pin It Now!