Thursday, June 25, 2015

Anchored by Kayla Aimee (book review & GIVEAWAY)

Kayla Aimee brings laughter to the scary story of her daughter being born (after years of trying to have a baby) at 25 weeks. I am writing this at almost 34 weeks and cannot even imagine my baby being born today let alone almost 10 weeks ago! Reading "Anchored: finding hope in the unexpected" by Kayla Aimee really was a great read while on this pregnancy journey of my own.
image via Icon Media Group
 As Aimee and her husband struggled with the NICU stay of their daughter, Aimee's faith was really shaken. I just love her honesty in this book. I felt like she was my friend, telling me her story. Her story of fear, love, surrender. It's so beautiful. And funny. Strange, right? But she weaves this humor (and not dark humor) into the story in such an authentic way.

I was just entranced with this story. Hearing about the procedures this poor baby went through, the sweet nurses that worked with her, the way God was with them through it all. Just really an incredible story with such an amazing ending: her Scarlette lives. I don't mind sharing that with you because if you just read the author's bio info, then you'd know that.

image of Kayla Aimee via Icon Media Group
At the end of the book, Aimee shares that while she thought she was just telling her daughter's incredible story until she realized that God had changed her through all of this. Scarlette's story is really Kayla's story, too.

"Anchored" by Kayla Aimee will be released July 1, 2015 so get your hands on a copy beforehand. You can find the book on Amazon.com.

One of you lucky readers will get your own copy from Icon Media Group and ME!

TO ENTER:
MANDATORY ENTRY: Leave a comment telling me about a time in your life when your faith was strengthened by a hard time in your life. If you don't wish to share personal information, just tell me what God taught you or is teaching you now. You MUST leave an email address in this comment in order for it to be a legitimate entry. I need a way to contact you if you win!

OTHER WAYS TO ENTER (one comment = one entry):
- Share this blog post on any social media outlet (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc). Please leave the URL where you shared in the comment.

- If you have kiddos (or fur babies), when were they born? Early? On time? Late?

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in order to write an honest review. Your opinions may not match mine. This giveaway will go until July 2, 2015 at 11:59pm (CST). Void where prohibited and you must be 18 or over to enter. Winner will be contacted via email and will have until July 6th to email me with their mailing address to send the DVD to (I'll give them some time over the holiday weekend). 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Laugh Out Loud Pocket Doodles for Boys by Rob Elliott (book review)

Squirt is our family artist. He makes really detailed drawings and colors nicely. He dislikes that his brother scribbles, but hey, art is not all of our thing! I thought Squirt would like this "Laugh Out Loud Pocket Doodles for Boys" by Rob Elliott. Something to do in church or in the car.
image via amazon.com
Basically, you have a joke: "What do magicians like to eat for breakfast?" An answer: "Trix cereal." Then an incomplete picture to go along (this one is a table with a magicians hat full of cereal with a rabbit peering over the edge of the table). Then there are directions on the bottom of how to doodle the rest of the picture: "Finish the magician. Make his absence disappear."

Super cute idea. Not all kids like to draw but maybe they like to complete a drawing. Not all kids like to draw but maybe they will because of the jokes. Some kids love jokes and drawing so this is right up their alley!

I gave this book to Squirt for a read and rest time at our house a week ago. He loved the idea of it, but only completed 4 pages. I tried to get him to do them in church, too, but he did not want it then. He wanted to read a book. Maybe this will be a good road trip book. Moose loves the jokes in it, but drawing just isn't his thing.

The other thing I really like about this book is that it's little. Little enough to stick in a diaper bag or other bag to carry around. Small things like that are so appreciated by this mom.

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. Others may not have the same experiences I've had with this book.

My Sing-Along Bible by Stephen Elkins (book review)

I thought the "My Sing-Along Bible" by Stephen Elkins would be a great resource for the new baby and my boys to learn parts of the Bible together.

The book itself has a paragraph about a Bible story (Moses in the river or Elijah being taken to heaven). Then it has a Bible verse followed by the words to the song that goes along with that story. I was afraid by the simplicity of this book that it'd be too little for my boys, but they actually enjoyed the music.
image via Tyndale.com
I think this will be a very useful resource to help raise my children up in the Lord. I like that some of the songs are ones I haven't heard before, others use music I'm familiar with, and some are songs I know. It's exciting to find a resource to be used from ages 0-8.

Disclaimer: I received this complimentary book from Tyndale House Publishers in order to write an honest review. Others may not have the same experience(s) with it as I've had.

I'm Happy For You (Sort of...Not Really) by Kay Wills Wyma (book review)

Comparison. It's everywhere! We in America get thrown into Glimpses every day of people's lives: their perfect living rooms, their perfect recipes, their perfect baby showers or birthday parties, their perfect families. What's a Glimpse? Well that's something I learned in "I'm Happy for You (Sort of...Not Really)" by Kay Wills Wyma.

A Glimpse is exactly what those things mentioned are: glimpses of the good things in people's lives. We see what people (friends & strangers) want us to see on social media - on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest. Those are their best moments. And what do we compare them with? Our worst moments.

I see my friend who is ever patient with her children. I see her in public and compare that with our private moments. I'm sure she has her moments she'd rather not everyone see, too!
image via amazon.com
 Wyma's book really forced me to look at how comparison runs in my life - and has the potential to ruin it! I look at everyone's best but forget that their best is not my best, necessarily. I've been trying to teach my children this lesson, too. We have these measuring sticks in life - some are good and healthy and help us reach goals, but some are really dangerous. We try to live up to others' expectations (or our own unrealistic ones) without taking into account God's plan for our life, His design of us. He doesn't make mistakes so why do I get all crabby when my house isn't HGTV ready or I can't run through a pregnancy? What does it really matter, too?

I have so many notes throughout this book but my favorite part came toward the end when Wyma's daughter was talking about being the setter in volleyball. She was upset because she wasn't a hitter and hitters get the applause. Then she thought about it, saying, "It feels good when people cheer for you...Then I thought about all the girls on the court with me and how great they must feel when people cheer for them. Then...I started to realize what a great spot the setter job is. oh my word! My whole role will be setting people up to feel good." It's ok to stare slack-jawed at this one. I did, too.

What if we, instead of comparing ourselves in made up life competitions, started to look at life as an opportunity to set people up to feel good about THEMSELVES? What if we took our eyes off of ourselves and put it on them? I believe that's one of our purposes here on earth; God made us for community but not so we could compare and compete but to build one another up.

That's my plan. I want to set people up to feel good about themselves. Is this going to be easy? No, I am very selfish and self-centered. I talk a lot about myself and forget to ask others questions or listen to them. It's going to be really hard for me, but I want to do this. How glorifying to God would this be if His people started to look at others and how to build them up?!

Disclaimer: I was given this book in order to write an honest review. Others may not have the same experience with this book as I've had.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

anything...but autism...or that

When I was pregnant with Moose in 2006, I was taking education classes and we discussed autism. I remember thinking, "oh Lord, anything but that." My husband remembers me praying about it, too.

It wasn't until 2010 his autism was diagnosed.

It was hard and full of emotional questions: was this my fault for past transgressions, was this my fault physically, why, now what. In those 5 years since, I've learned SO much about being a mom, a wife, a human being, a Christian that I otherwise would not have learned if I'd had a "normal" kid my firstborn (Squirt does not have autism).

I have learned to pray that God be glorified in these really hard moments (when our firstborn had his first seizure this year and subsequent epilepsy diagnosis). Whether He is glorified in how we handle the situations presented, in our parenting, in our struggles, in our lives.

We want Him glorified and so I say "anything" as we await this third child this summer. It's a hard decision to make, saying anything. It's scary because anything means anything!

But I have seen God glorified and use this situation for so many things and I am willing to say "anything" for this daughter growing in my womb because I can't handle anything, but God can.

Jennie Allen's book, "Anything," is being re-released this summer to include a study guide in the back (order the book here). I have this book sitting on my shelf, waiting for me to start it. June 15th, FaithGateway is kicking off a summer Bible study using this book (register here).

You can share your own "anything" story to enter to win a few prizes (plus it's good to get it out there!). Do so here.

*I have no pictures because I've been too lazy to upload them, sorry!*

Saturday, June 6, 2015

baby shower

I have the best friends ever. Seriously. They threw me and Baby Girl a baby shower. It was PINK! I love pink, so this is not a problem with me. I thought I'd share some pictures from the shower. Please ignore my facial expressions; I look silly in most of these pictures (we'll blame it on the pregnancy).

My friends, Rachel & Kim, who threw me this awesome shower to welcome our girl!

 
This beautiful quilt not only matches the baby's room but it was made by my good good friend/mentor, Linda.


My storytime boss, Kim, made this beautiful blanket. I love the pattern and colors. Very girlie.


The food was delicious. I could eat that popcorn every day. The watermelon was perfect. And the leftover gumballs have made the boys very happy, even if they were pink.


There was a headband making station. This girl's bald head is going to be beautiful! 


A pink ombre cake. It was SOOOOO yummy!!!


and beautiful!


Baby naming game. Not sure if we had any contenders but some good laughs for sure.


More trying to think of names. Big A's grandma came to the shower; I really appreciate her support always. It means a lot! Everyone who came (and those who couldn't make it) are so loved in my life. 


My little sister got baby the book "Vader's Little Princess." Hilarious book and the boys have read it probably 15 times each since getting it.


My friend, Jessie, said this Avengers shirt screamed our baby as she was walking by in Target. For sure. And the boys have worked out that baby will be Wasp for Halloween. 


Baby's first dollhouse from college friends Jessica & Kate. They brought their baby boys (cousins born 20 days apart, I believe) with them. It was nice to meet their sweet guys. And Moose really wants to play with this dollhouse - this kid and baby toys that make noise.


Baby Girl got some beautiful clothes! She is going to be well-dressed.


This little doll and teether are from my friend, Judi. Very unique and so cute. So tiny!


Diaper cake made by Kim. I love diaper cakes; they are creative and functional.


My parents watched our boys while we went away for this weekend, our first "babymoon." While we were gone, she had the boys make these butterfly prints for baby's room. Not 100% sure which wall they will go on but it will be nice to have something from them in her room. Love them!

Overall, this was the nicest shower. Just fun. I got to laugh with family and friends, stuff my face with good food. I felt so loved!!

Signed Sealed Delivered: With Love From Paris (Hallmark movie premiere review)

Back in the day, I loved Martha Williamson's tv show, "Touched by an Angel." Who didn't?! Well, she has a tv series on the Hallmark channel: "Signed Sealed Delivered." This series is expanding into a movie series and "Signed Sealed Delivered: With Love From Paris," premieres TONIGHT, June 6 at 9pm ET/PT (8pm CST).

image via Grace Hill Media
Here is from the press release: Williamson’s signature laugh-while-you-cry style is evident in her highly anticipated new movie SIGNED SEALED DELIVERED: FROM PARIS WITH LOVE. Lead postal detective Oliver O'Toole is a man of faith whose wife has left him to pursue her dreams in Paris. In this inspirational story, his wife returns to explore the fate of their marriage on the same day the POstables deliver divorce papers to another couple grappling with the true meaning of love and the sanctity of marriage.
    Primetime television veteran Poppy Montgomery ("Without a Trace") guest-stars alongside returning stars Eric Mabius (“Ugly Betty”), Kristin Booth (“The Kennedys”), Crystal Lowe (“Smallville”) and Geoff Gustafson (“The Interview”) in this world premiere two-hour movie from Martha Williamson.
    “At the heart of the franchise is Oliver, a modern day gentleman with old world values played brilliantly by Eric Mabius. He and his wonderful team of postal detectives will continue to make it their mission to solve mysteries behind lost letters that can change lives when they reach their intended recipients. And in SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED: FROM PARIS WITH LOVE, the life that’s changed is Oliver’s, said Williamson.

I got to watch this movie premiere yesterday (fun to be in on things before they're released!). I was a little confused at the beginning with some back flashes. If you're a fan of the tv show then you'll be just fine. If you're not (like I'd never seen the show), you'll catch up in no time! 

This was a really cute romantic movie. I don't want to give much away because I think it's easily spoiled. Like many romantic movies, it's kind of easy to see where the plot will twist and turn. I will say that I enjoyed it and the ending was great! My favorite part of the movie was when the divorce papers couple plot wrapped up. Very cute!

So check out the movie premiere tonight (8:00pm my time Central) and keep checking back here at the S Club for a giveaway soon having to do with this!!!

Disclaimer: I received a link to watch this film in return for my honest opinion. Others may or may not the same experience(s) with this film as I've had.

Monday, June 1, 2015

American Sniper DVD/Blu-Ray WINNER

Thank you to all who entered the American Sniper DVD/Blu-Ray giveaway here at the S Club. Please stay tuned for new giveaways soon.

The winner, chosen by random.org, was Joseph Wallace. I've emailed Joseph and he will have 2 days to email me with his address or another winner will be chosen. Congratulations to Joseph!

Monday, May 25, 2015

American Sniper Blu-Ray/DVD combo MEMORIAL DAY GIVEAWAY

Today we remember those who have served so bravely in our armed forces to protect our freedom throughout the years. My dad served in the Navy, my sister currently serves in the Air Force. Another of those soldiers was Chris Kyle, a Navy SEAL, who served four tours of duty in Iraq before coming home and finding his way back to his family. I'm sure you have heard of him.

Kyle is portrayed by Bradley Cooper in "American Sniper." My husband and I had the opportunity to watch this movie together in our home. I don't want to give a lot away in the plot, but this was a really powerful movie for me. Seeing circumstances portrayed from Iraq in the years after 9/11 were more than I expected. Kyle's service and how that service to our country (and ultimately us as US citizens) affected him mentally was heartbreaking. Imagining how his wife and children handled his service was really impacting to me as a mother.
image via Grace Hill Media

We really enjoyed watching this movie, sharing in this man's life, and crying over his untimely death. The only part I didn't enjoy was the cursing throughout, but I've come to realize war movies will have that. It doesn't take away from the movie itself or the life of Kyle.

From now until 12/31/15, $1 from the purchase of every movie (perhaps of the Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital copy) will be donated to the Wounded Warrior Project (up to $1,000,000. Void in AL, HI, IL, MA, MS, and SC). This organization helps soldiers who have been wounded as they transition back to civilian life. What a neat opportunity we have to help those who have sacrificially given to our freedoms.
image via Grace Hill Media

Grace Hill Media, my partners in this giveaway, have given me two extra copies to give to my dad and my sister to thank them for their service to our country. I'm excited to get these to them. In addition, one of you will be lucky enough to win a copy of your own of "American Sniper" on Blu-Ray/DVD.

GIVEAWAY:

TO ENTER (MANDATORY ENTRY): Please leave the name of a service man or woman that you are close to (family or friend). Please leave their name(s) in a comment along with a valid email address.

OTHER ENTRIES (ONE COMMENT PER ENTRY): Leave a comment with how you are spending your Memorial Day (around here, we're cleaning and organizing closets and bedrooms).

Spread the word about this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Leave the URL in the comment section.

Disclaimer: All opinions are my own and others may have other opinions. Giveaway void where prohibited. Must be 18 or over to enter. If you don't win the giveaway, feel free to purchase this DVD on Amazon.com.  Giveaway ends Sunday, May 31, 2015 at 11:59pm (CST). Winner will be chosen randomly on Random.org.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Food52 Genius Recipes by Kristen Miglore (cookbook review)

Reviewing "Food52 Genius Recipes" by Kristen Miglore was really intriguing to me. I'm a new cook. I have taught myself everything I know about cooking in the last 5 years, I'd say. I'm not great but I've learned to bake bread and make pies and I throw together one heck of a pan of ham sammies. So the subtitle of this cookbook was really exciting for me: "100 recipes that will change the way you cook." I don't have one certain "way" so if these can make me a better cook, why not try? 
image via Food52 website

It took me awhile to work in a recipe from this cookbook due to time obligations and ingredients on hand. I don't have wine vinegar, muscovado sugar, steel-cut oats, hulled raw pumpkin or sunflower seeds, red quinoa (or any other kind), pistachios, scallions, a waffle maker (really need to get one, though), nuts of any variety other than peanuts, tahini (have tried to find it in a few stores with no luck), fava beans, fleur de sel (what is that?)...OK you get the idea! We are simple meat and potatoes kind of people and we live in a rural area so sometimes this stuff is hard to find or expensive. 

However, I did find a wonderful recipe to try that I had everything on hand for: Crepes from Kenny Shopsin. I describe these as french toast with tortillas instead of bread. The book calls these "lazy crepes" but considering I've never had a real crepe, these were delicious. And SOOO easy! The creator of these cheater crepes said "Not one person has ever figured out that I wasn't making crepes in the traditional way (of course, I would tell anyone who asked)." They must taste the same as real ones, but I think real ones are much more difficult (hence why I've never attempted).

I had the eggs, heavy cream, vanilla extract, flour tortillas, and butter on hand. I even warmed some frozen strawberries and blueberries up for a compote. My youngest did not like the blueberries, so I made him a savory crepe with cheese. He liked that better but it just wasn't his cup of tea. Which was fine by me because I ate his up. 

I'm excited to try a few other recipes in this cookbook like the Fried Eggs with Wine Vinegar, Touch-of-Grace Biscuits, No-Knead Bread, Garlic Green Beans, and Marie-Helene's Apple Cake (are you hungry yet?). There are a few that will never grace my table, too, like the Kale Salad (I just cannot get on board with kale), Shrimp Grits, Tomato Water Bloody Mary, Cauliflower Soup, or Grilled Favas. Not every recipe is for every family, right? The recipe I'll try next will probably be the Poached Scrambled Eggs - sounds quick and easy! Who doesn't love that in a recipe as long as it's delicious in the end?!

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. Others' opinions may differ from my own.

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