Monday, December 15, 2014

GIVEAWAY: The Good Lie starring Reese Witherspoon

I've been a Reese Witherspoon fan since she dated Ryan Philippe back in the day but I'm still her fan several boyfriends, children, and years later. I'm excited to share with you this giveaway offer of one of her new movies, released in October, called "The Good Lie."

The movie is a true-life tale about the Lost Boys of Sudan. Their lives were torn apart by civil war while they were left to grow up in refugee camps and then finally given the opportunity (through the efforts of church groups and other charities) to start new lives in the U.S. Reese Witherspoon may be the celebrity name in this but some former Lost Boys are actually in the movie, too. I think that's incredible that they get to be a part of telling their very important story.

This movie could be a part of your home library!


Mandatory: You MUST complete this entry in order to be eligible to win this prize.

Spread the news about this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Leave the URL in the comment section. Must also leave a valid email address so I can contact the winner.

That's it! Very simple for this very busy time of the year.

This giveaway will be closed on Tuesday, December 23, 2014 at 11:59pm so this will make a good New Year treat! Void where prohibited and must be 18 or over to be eligible.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Bonhoeffer Abridged: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas (book review)

There are names in Christianity that are thrown out there like Big Bird and Elmo to a toddler crowd. Names like John Piper, Francis Chan, C.S. Lewis, A.Z. Tozer, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. There are many more but you get the idea. It's basically a bunch of guys with some good quotes (and one with an awesome children's book series), right? Sometimes these quotes and their authors are thrown out there like anyone who's anyone should know who they are! That's frustrating to me on one hand because a lot of Christians are ready for the meat they throw out; they are new and just need uncomplicated milk teaching.

However, I feel like I'm ready for more meaty teachings and so I decided to read more about some of these guys. I've made it through a John Piper book. I've read several books from Chan. I've read more of C.S. Lewis than the Chronicles of Narnia (which are always good). And so Bonhoeffer was next on my list (if I had a list, that is). I picked up Eric Metaxas' book, "Bonhoeffer Abridged." I haven't read an abridged book since reading "Little Women" as a child, but I was glad to read this version of the book.
image via BookLook

There was just enough information about Bonhoeffer's growing up in Germany and his family. There was just enough information about Hitler's rise to power and what Bonhoeffer (and colleagues) thought. There was just enough to pique my interest.

I thought "Bonhoeffer Abridged" very interesting about many a good things I didn't know about World War II. Mostly when I read about that, I read Holocaust accounts. I was very glad to read about the Christian church leaders standing up for the church and Christ - even when so many went astray. I wish they taught more about that in history classes because for a very long time, I just thought "what happened to the Christians in Germany?"

Great book. Great man. Tragic in his early death when liberation was so near. Seems like that happened a lot in that time.

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. All opinions reflect my own and not others'.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

thank you notes

I've been making my kids write thank you notes before they could write. Yes, I have. I used to have them scribble on a typed out thank you I printed. When they learned to write their names, they signed each card. Now that they are getting older, I have had them fill in the blanks on their gift items. Perhaps this year I will have Moose write out full thank you notes.

Nothing complicated, but just "Grandma, thank you for such-and-such. I am having fun with it. Love, Moose." It doesn't have to be grand to be real. But you also don't know if the kids understand what they are doing; the impact it has (or doesn't) on them.

However, I got a glimpse of the impact it's had on Moose probably a month or two ago. I was reading "A Robertson Family Christmas" by Miss Kay Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame. Moose saw the book and was interested (he loves the show). He handed the book back to me and, with all seriousness, said, "We should write her a thank you note."


Dear child thought Miss Kay had given me the book herself. I didn't have the heart to correct him, so I told him sure. He got out some paper and a pencil and he wrote:

"Dear Miss Kay,
 Thank you for the book.
(he signed his real name)

That was it - short and sweet and to the point but it spoke volumes to me. That my son understood someone gave me something and I should thank them. 

Squirt decided he wanted to write a letter, too. I asked who he wanted to write to and he replied, "Uncle Si." So out came another pencil and a piece of paper with this written in cute little 5-year-old handwriting:

"Dear Si,
 I have been playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Mario Kart Wii. 
(who also signed his real name)

I tried to help him write the letter and make it more like I would write it but then I realized, I'm not the author of this letter. He can write whatever he wants. And it's so darling.

I added in my own little note to each, saying why my kids were writing them letters. Especially Moose's, I could see Miss Kay reading it and being like "what book?" I didn't know where to send the letters so I searched online. I remember sending letters to Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Tiffany Amber Thiesen as a kid and getting "signed" pictures back. I wasn't sure what to expect for my boys but I wanted to send their letters. 

A few weeks later, we came back from somewhere and got our mail. And there was a hand addressed letter to Squirt from SPFC Silas Robertson (Ret.). How cool is that?! Our whole house was pretty pumped about this kind gesture from this man. 

Of course, Moose was like, "where's mine from Miss Kay?" but we talked about how sometimes you just don't hear back from someone. And that's not saying anything bad toward Miss Kay at all. I understand completely they can't address every letter they receive. 

Anyway, it was just a really special thing for Squirt but for me to see my boys being so kind with their words.

Did you ever write a movie star or singer when you were growing up? Did you get an autograph back?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Duck Commander Faith and Family Bible edited by Phil and Al Robertson (book review)

It's no surprise that my family loves Duck Dynasty and all things attached to it (although the only merchandise we own is their Christmas CD & a water bottle, the latter of which I won on a blog). We share their ideals and would love to share in fellowship with them. Unfortunately, they're famous so I doubt that will happen (which is too bad because our kids have been asking for a year now to go to Louisiana to the Robertsons' house. They don't understand we don't know them.).

We may never sit down to fellowship with Willie, Korie, Miss Kay, Phil, Jep, etc but I think having a Bible edited by Phil and his eldest son, Al, is pretty close. Except I doubt I cook 1/8th as well as Miss Kay so the dinner is lacking.
image via Amazon

There's not much to review in terms of the writing of this book. It's the Bible so it's pretty awesome and infallible and tells the story of God who loves us so much that He sent His ONLY Son to die on the cross to pay our debt for our sins that we could never pay. If you believe this simple (yet hard) truth, then after you die on earth, you get to spend eternity in heaven with God, who loves you so much. Great story! Best book I've ever read and the best part is; it's true!

There is more included in this Bible than just the Word of God. The Robertsons have included 30 days of Lifechangers which are devotionals that include Scripture and real-life stories of how God has used them to help change others' lives. I just love personal testimonies so I'm always very encouraged when these are included in a Bible. I think it shows how powerful God is.

52 Days with Phil and 52 Days with Al are articles included throughout the Bible to speak deeper into the core values of their family: Faith, Family, Fellowship, Forgiveness, and Freedom. These articles are written by Al or Phil and have Scripture references to help you go further into a study of these ideals.

After Revelation, there is a nice topical index, which helps you find Scripture for different things like brokenness, children, conviction, gossip, healing, etc. I like topical indexes, especially when I was a new Christian and didn't know my way around the Bible (which I'm still learning!). The ABCs of Salvation follow the index. This is just a really simple way to share the gospel of Christ with someone (or read it for yourself!). I haven't seen this before so it was a neat idea for me. I will share this with my kids (remember, the Bible is not just for adults!). Following is a list of Scriptures to take you 30 Days with Jesus that takes you back to predictions about Christ up until his ascension into heaven. Finally there are charts telling (with Scripture references) about the ministry of Jesus, parables of Jesus, miracles of Jesus, and miracles of the apostles.  Some neat things I haven't seen in other Bibles I have.

I'm going to use this Bible to pray over specific Scriptures for Moose and his life. The plan is when he graduates to give him this Bible so he can see how we've prayed for him and hopefully see answers to some of those prayers.

Disclaimer: I received this Bible for free in order to write an honest review. All opinions are my own and others' may not be the same.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

S Club Kart - Wee!

This year Moose has become obsessed with Mario Kart Wii. He talks about it, looks at pictures, thinks about it (constantly), draws the tracks. At school, at home. It's all over. His Mario clothing has never gotten so much wearing.

When the kids had a 6 day break from school in October, Big A found something awesome:
a go-kart track.

We packed up as a family (so loved having Big A take a day off to spend with us), and headed about an hour away with a big surprise for the kids.

The best part was Moose was able to race all by himself!

We started off racing doubles: Me and Squirt vs. Big A & Moose. They won. Squirt insists when I'm "smarter" I'll beat Daddy. Wow, thanks for that confidence booster. And it was hilarious because he just kept saying how smart Big A was and that I needed to be smarter. Oh boys. 

I think we all had so much fun watching Moose race. And he did awesome. I think he ran into the sides once at the very start and then not again. I didn't even drive that well. It was so cool. He loved it as you can tell by the pictures.

We had a blast together but next time, I'll let Big A drive Squirt so he can be "smarter." Squirt keeps saying he wants to go back when he's 7 so he can race by himself. I think he'll be tall enough before then, but ok. 


Well, I only had one entrant for Miss Kay Robertson's Christmas novella, "A Robertson Family Christmas." Which means either my audience 1) doesn't read this anymore, 2) doesn't like Duck Dynasty, or 3) doesn't read. Hmmm all are a little disconcerting.

Anyway, the winner is actually my mom. It may look like I won but she just used my email address because she hates signing up for things like a Google account. I'll take her the book on Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

GIVEAWAY! A Robertson Family Christmas by Miss Kay Robertson (book review)

Moose was so sweet when he saw me reading "A Robertson Family Christmas" by Miss Kay Robertson. He thought Miss Kay had given me the book herself and so he wanted to write her a thank you note. So he did and I dug up her address and sent it to her. I hope she enjoys the sweetness of my boy (and Squirt saw Moose do this so he decided to write to Uncle Si - sent that one too; those post office people probably think I'm nuts). My kids also ask frequently to go to the Robertson's house/West Munroe/Louisiana. They think if we go, we'll go to their house. I tried to tell them we didn't know the Robertsons but they insist we do (because we watch the show). Sweet boys.

I wasn't sure what to expect with Miss Kay's book. She's a little nutty on the show (love her dearly!). I was so pleasantly surprised by this book. It's a fiction piece (realistic fiction if you asked my son who is all into knowing specific genres) where a kid, Hunter, is picked to spend Christmas with the Robertson family. If you all live under a rock, the Robertsons are the family that make Duck Commander duck calls and have really made themselves a household name (not to mention, sharing their faith in Jesus Christ on national television) through their reality tv show, Duck Dynasty. I would be psyched to get to spend any time with them, let alone the holidays. I think the kid in this book hit the jackpot. He doesn't think so - he knows nothing of the family or life outside the city.

What an interesting premise to think about: a kid from a broken home goes to spend time with this tight-knit family that is super famous. He thinks they'll be hicks, but something about their authentic attitudes and genuine faith begins to break at his inner wall he's built up. Will the Robertsons be able to show Hunter the real meaning of Christmas? I guess you'll have to read to find out!

I was super pleased with the writing style in this book. Miss Kay did use an underwriter/ghost writer/co-author, Travis Thrasher, so maybe that's why it's so good. I've never read any of his other work. I am telling you though, this book was like watching an episode of Duck Dynasty. I could see it all in my head! The dialogue sounded perfect out of each character.

The thing that struck me most in this book was that, although it's written by Miss Kay, she's not the dominant Robertson character in this book. Her daughter-in-law Korie is (that's Willie's wife). And to have Miss Kay shine such a wonderful look on her DIL is so meaningful to me, who has had such a rough relationship with her mother-in-law. It's so sweet to me that she would write so wonderfully about Korie. Just shows me a real loving relationship could be possible in a daughter-in-law/mother-in-law relationship.

I have some great news to share! I get to GIVE AWAY one (1) copy of A Robertson Family Christmas by Miss Kay Robertson!

TWO ENTRIES PER PERSON (please leave a valid email address in your comment)

1) tell me what you are most excited about GIVING this holiday season.
2) share about this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Leave URL in the comments.
  Copy & Tweet: Enter to win a copy of Miss Kay Robertson's new Christmas novella:  …  

Disclaimer: I received this book (and copy to give away) in order to write an honest review. Others may or may not have the same opinion(s) about the book and/or author(s). Must be 18 and over to enter. Void where prohibited.

Giveaway will end Friday, November 21st at 11:59pm. Winner will be notified via email (thus the need for an email) and will have 48 hours to email back with mailing address. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

trick or treat Star Wars style

ignore my pistol. It's a painted squirt gun 

just thought this was the perfect Jedi pose

Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn

love the whiskers
Halloween is always a fun time of the year. We don't go for the gruesome and ghoulish around here but the fun and exciting. A day to be someone else (not that our normal selves are bad but just...normal). This year we opted for a Star Wars theme (how long will I be able to keep the themes up?). I (with the assistance of friends) turned a few panels of brown curtains into Jedi cloaks. And a couple of sheets into a Princess Leia dress. Big A's cousin made me hair buns/hat. Even Big A got in on the fun and spray painted my pistol. My mom tried so hard to turn a bunny costume into Chewbacca but costumes don't dye well.
 In the end it was fun. We ended up losing the costume contest to twin tornadoes. Next year!

Friday, October 31, 2014

A Beautiful Mess: Happy Handmade Home by Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman (book review)

As I've just repainted the boys' bedroom, I really want to do more DIY and painting in our home to make it more "us." Not 100% sure how "us" looks but beige walls aren't what I'm thinking. I was more than happy to review "A Beautiful Mess: Happy Handmade Home" by Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman. They are bloggers at A Beautiful Mess and really have crafted their homes into "them."

The book itself is beautiful - full of bright, colorful pictures, a few recipes, DIY tips. It's just a book that screams "fun!" However, the content was less than I was hoping for.
image via Random House
A few of the DIY (do it yourself, for those not up on acronyms) projects are completely do-able - the quotable wall art, hanging plants, flower faces 9 ways, update your old refrigerator. OK so most of the DIY are do-able but then there's a few that are out there (mostly in the time realm): yarn throw pillows (making your own loom), DIY kitchen rug, DIY dream house recipe box, DIY cross-stitch stool. I don't have the time nor the skills (cross stitch?) to do these. But maybe someone does!

The one DIY I really want to try is to make a bubble bath shelf. I love taking a bath but am always getting stuff wet because I'm putting it on the floor outside the tub. I love the idea of making a shelf to lay my stuff on. It doesn't look terribly difficult either: some thin wood, paint or stain, some screws.

What I really got out of this book was inspired - and I think that was their whole goal. At the start, they say that these are just a stepping stone. I don't want my house to look like their house but like my house. Some of the ideas that I've been inspired to try (over many years):
- wallpaper the wall behind our bed vs. a headboard (some crazy pattern or something)
- wallpaper the North wall in the hallway by our bedrooms
- shelves in our closet (for shoes, purses, baskets of scarves)
- big giant bookshelf...not sure where this would go
- swing chair (2 would be nice, in the toy room and in our bedroom to read in)
- hammock outside (I really really really want this)
- outside lights strung over our patio/porch area
- metal chairs spray painted yellow or a variety of colors (outside)
- paint dining room furniture (not sure of color)
- kids' wall of art (a friend has one strung up in their toy room and in this book they have multiple strung in their playroom - not sure where to have this)
- paint the trim white in the toy room (love the wall color but it needs some brightening up)
- paint the front of my dresser (or whole thing)
- paint our room light gray with a slightly darker gray in this alcove my dresser is in
- highlight above room with yellow - spray paint the fan (even ceiling fan?), full-length mirror, Big A's clothes shelf
- living room: do one really big current picture of our family and then outline that with several other pictures of our family of different sizes

Maybe my ideas will be shot down by others in the household or maybe we'll have to collaborate or maybe this really will take years to do, but I just want to end up in a place where I LOVE my house. I love every room in it. I really do love it now, there's just some things I don't love (like brown everywhere; it's just not my color). 

I may not use many of the ideas in this book but I think it was worth reading to get my inventive, creative juices flowing. I also may need to learn woodworking.

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. Others may not share my opinion(s).

Thursday, October 30, 2014

thankful challenge Day #2

You're not missing Day #1 of this gratitude challenge (hosted by my good friend, Evi); I just didn't post anything. I did get out my handy dandy gifts notebook to begin (again) logging the blessings poured upon me in a day.

Day 2 Challenge: 
  • Stop, actually stop, somehow "pull over" in your day, even if it's for 30 seconds to notice a gift.  Find a way to give back to the giver (whether that's a person or the big G Giver).
Today I was given a reprieve. A reprieve from my boys' growing. 
Squirt wanted to walk in himself today. I reminded him if he did so, he'd have to go in the (very loud) gym with all the other kids. Well, that didn't sit with him and so I got a reprieve.

I got to walk my baby to class today. 
Not sure when he'll stop being my baby, but for today he is. 
My baby.

in case you missed something