Friday, January 20, 2017

Batgirl at Super Hero High by Lisa Yee (audio book review)

Anyone who knows my family, knows we love superheroes (or, in my husband's case, tolerate them). We've been almost every well-known superhero for Halloween (I've been Wonder Woman 3 times in various forms):
2009
2010
 2013
 2014
 2015
 2015

Other than a few stints as Star Wars, Mario, and Scooby-Doo characters, this is us. We read a lot of superhero books (as in, I read to the kids, I don't read my own...) and we've learned a LOT about characters, both popular and totally obscure. It can be ridiculous sometimes but it's fun, too. There are a lot of books about teamwork and you can see how Batman has changed over the years (from no low voice to really deep voice, from caring and kind to selfish - I'm talking to you, Lego Batman - boo).

image via Google images

One thing I really dislike about superheroes is how they dress the women superheroes. Yes, in 2010 I wore Wonder Woman underwear over tights for Halloween (I was on a weight loss high...forgive me), but as I've matured, my boys are growing up and now my daughter is, too - I don't want them to see the revealing clothing most super girls wear!


image via Blogging for Books
 I am very thankful for the new "DC Superhero Girls" line! The dolls, the books, the show (which I haven't seen myself) for the simple fact that the girls (although still lacking in diverse -and realistic -body types) are dressed! Wonder Woman wears a costume that covers her parts!

All that to say, I was very happy to received this "Batgirl at Super Hero High" by Lisa Yang audiobook. It's good and I love that it's an audiobook. Although my husband claims audio books aren't really "reading," he's wrong. It is reading and it's allowing you to just read in a different way. I like to listen to audio books while I exercise or cook. We can listen to this in the car together! And my boys don't realize these are geared toward girls - and I won't be the one to tell them!

I really like Mae Whitman as the reader. You may know her as Amber from the TV show Parenthood or even before as the president's daughter in the movie "Independence Day" (thank you Imdb for that quiz factoid). She has a nice voice and does a great job reading.

image via Google images

I love the character Barbara Gordon - she's really smart and has no super powers. She's a genius and uses her brains to survive at Super Hero High. A great read (and its companion books "Wonder Woman at Super Hero High" and "Supergirl at Super Hero High" are worth 7 AR points) for any kid (or parent) who loves super heroes! You can find the paper book here.

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

Race to Win (movie trailer)

I love Luke Perry - Beverly Hills 90210 (the old one, not the new), 8 Seconds. And now he's out in a new movie, "Race to Win." Check out the official trailer below. The DVD is out February 14, Valentine's Day. You can pick one up for an at-home movie date!

Friday, January 6, 2017

She Reads Truth: Holding Tight to Permanent in a World That's Passing Away by Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams (book review)

I have been a part of the She Reads Truth community off and on for a few years now. I love the insight from real women, digging deeper into the Word of God (and that it doesn't take a seminary degree to understand their devotions).

image via Barnes and Noble website

When Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams came out with their book, "She Reads Truth: Holding Tight to Permanent in a World That's Passing Away," I was excited to read it. I was not really sure what to expect, knowing relatively little about their lives or writing experience outside of devotions. I had little to dread, however. "She Reads Truth" has provided a balm to my soul in a wearying time of the holiday chaos.

Now, if I try to tell you about details of the book, I will mess up. It's written so that each chapter is by only one author at a time, telling a bit of her story and tying it to Scripture and lessons she's learned through reading Truth. While their stories are different, I could very well relate to both gals (although the details get mixed together after reading for me). I could understand the legalism one struggles with and the heartache of the other.

That's what is wonderful about this book and the SRT community - it's real people teaching real life lessons from the real life God. I've grown a lot through reading this book as it came at a perfect time to help me through some personal issues. And I plan to continue to grow as I participate in their online community (there's an app for that). You can find the book at amazon.com.

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

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Christmas

Christmas is a time of joy for my family. We love the music (Pentatonix Christmas is our favorite this year), the lights, the food, the cookies, the movies, the atmosphere. But Christmas is so much more for us. 

image via here
I often forget that it's about more. I can get caught up in the hustle and bustle as much as the next person. But when I slow down, I can remember the real reason - Emmanuel. God with us.

God the Son came to earth, born of a virgin, born in a stable. He came to be with us. He came to lead us, love us, and die for us. 

Without Jesus, Christmas is bland. Gifts will break and be forgotten. Food will leave you too full and uncomfortable. Lights will be taken down, trees put away. But Christ is still Emmanuel. 

This is a time to put aside our differences and love like He loved us. This is a time to count our blessings, one by one, to remember how He has been with us (even in those really hard times). This is the time to celebrate His birth! This is a time to give gifts, remembering the greatest gift of all came wrapped in swaddling cloths. 

That's what Christmas means to me (wait, does that sound like a school essay? oops!). 

Also, if you're looking for gifts still, two great faith-based films release on DVD on Tuesday, December 20th: "Hillsong - Let Hope Rise" and "Greater." I'll share clips below from both. I think you'll like them.





Disclaimer: I received a gift card for myself and one for someone else in exchange for writing this post. All opinions are my own and may differ from yours.

Devotions for a Deeper Life by Oswald Chambers (book review)

"My Utmost for His Highest" by Oswald Chambers has been on my night stand for a few years now. It's been pivotal in challenging me deeper into my faith. Since I've read most of it now, I thought I'd look for another devotional to do the same. "Devotions for a Deeper Life" by Oswald Chambers seemed like the next best thing.
image via BookLook

Many of these devotions were pulled from articles in God's Revitalist from God's Bible School and College in Cincinnati, Ohio where Chambers taught for six months in 1906.

I have not gotten through all of this book as it's a devotional, meant to be read day by day. However, these have not been as challenging to me as those written in "My Utmost for His Highest." I'm not really sure why and perhaps as I lean more into it, they will begin to challenge me more.

What I do like about this devotional is the suggested reading from Scripture and Prayer Thought at the bottom of each day's devotional. The Prayer Thought is like a prayer and summarization of each day's material. Something like that would be helpful in "My Utmost for His Highest" because some of those go way over my head still.

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

A Mile Wide by Brandon Hatmaker (book review)

I had a very hard time deciding whether to review this book or not because of the controversy surrounding Brandon Hatmaker and his wife, Jen. I decided to take a look at this book, reading it as I would any other book - with an open mind and a critic's eye (does that sound weird? I like to take a very close look at books, not just skim the surface). Please do not take this book review as condoning the statements made by the Hatmakers but take this book at face value.
image via BookLook
"Trading a shallow religion for a deeper faith" is the by-line that caught my eye about "A Mile Wide" by Brandon Hatmaker. I want a deep faith, fully connected with a relationship with my heavenly father. Sometimes I feel close to Him, other days He feels miles away...but I know He is always with us...so is it me? Probably. I am fleeting and sporadic in my spiritual disciplines.

In order to learn more about how to grow a deeper faith, I picked up Hatmaker's book. I read almost hesitantly, on guard about possible red flags and bad theology. And yet, I found none. The closest I found in "A Mile Wide" was in chapter 9 when he is discussion biases we may have, why we hold certain things at truth (he did not get into specifics). He wrote, "Let's start by taking a look at our formative faith environments and our past experiences with friends and family." He goes on to encourage readers to try to find out if their biases are there because of how they grew up (faith environment) or a group mentality (friends and family, wanting to belong). I disagree because the first place you should look is the Bible. That is the authority on anything! We need to know what GOD says about everything before we go looking in to our past and present.

There are just some really good things in this book that I believe could help us draw closer to God. One such thing that really made me stop and evaluate myself was at a point where Hatmaker is talking about "common postures I've noticed are helpful in fostering these moments of transformation"...he proposes we "take a moment to consider who Christ was and where he'd be found. Emulate him. Would he be in a hurry? What kind of posture would he take?" Now Hatmaker is speaking more about missions and discipleship things but it caught my eye because of real life. Do I live my life how He would? WWJD? But truly! Do I talk to my kids how He would? Do I hurry them? Do I hurry and miss moments? Do I consider how I should act every minute?

Hatmaker gave ideas about how to grow spiritually outside of typical church stuff: small groups, church services, Sunday school classes (he's not saying those aren't good but they aren't everything). He gave ideas on living in the now, living with a missional mindset (growing where you're planted, I suppose you could say): live in the now (not always gunning for the future or what's to come), slow down and listen ("stop being a know-it-all"), learn the names of your neighbors, be normal ("stop trying so hard), and the list goes on. Those last two resonate a lot with me - I talk way too much and I try really hard!

I really love my small group! We've changed some members the past few years, but I've loved it all. I love growing in the faith with others, I love reading through Bible studies (my husband just mentioned "you still love homework, don't you?" uh...yeah!), I love the fellowship. But sometimes it feels....same ol', same ol'. You know? Hatmaker has some suggestions to "deepend what you already have or to invite friends to join you in a different environment:" Add mission (once a month), inject some fun, make it more interactive (high/low with the group, more discussion), diversify your schedule (do something social on the even weeks of the month), celebrate family dynamics (invite the kids into your study or not), add break-out groups (guys/girls prayer time), increase your hang time (fellowship). I love each of these ideas and I plan to bring them up to our group.

Basically, "A Mile Wide" by Brandon Hatmaker could really help diversify and deepen your walk with God outside the traditional confines of the church. We need to stop thinking of the church as a brick and mortar building but as a body, living each day on mission.

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. Others' opinions of this book and/or author may differ from mine.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling (book review)

When I first picked up Mindy Kaling's "Why Not Me?" I thought I'd read it already! Oops. That would make it a forgettable book, right? I'm not sure why I thought that; perhaps I read an excerpt somewhere before but as I got passed the first chapter, I definitely had not read this material.

Unlike most who have read this book (in my assumptions), I have never seen an episode of The Office or The Mindy Project. They just have never filtered themselves into my must-see-tv queue. However, I am a fan of funny women and have read Amy Poehler's and Tina Fey's books. That is why I decided to pick up "Why Not Me?".
image via Google search
What I liked most about the book is that Kaling does not seem to be fake. She talks about tanning and hair extensions and her issues with her weight. I, like many people it seems from reading her book, like that she's not a stick figure. She writes that she is "completely not at peace with the way I look." That makes her even more real and likable to me. I think Kaling is very pretty and her body seems not Hollywood but not real either (her lines are all so clean...I think Spanx? idk).

My favorite part of the book was probably the chapter "A Day in the Life of Mindy Kaling" and "A Perfect Courtship in My Alternate Life." I like the former because of all the pictures and the fact that Kaling eats hamburgers. I like the latter because it would make a fun book, strange and quirky as it was.

Once in awhile I like to read something not super deep. This was just what I wanted!

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

Hillsong - Let Hope Rise DVD GIVEAWAY

Hillsong United's DVD, "Hillsong - Let Hope Rise" is releasing December 20 on DVD and Blu-Ray combo pack. 

Here's a clip from the film featuring United's Taya Smith talking about the meaning of worship. 



And in case you want a closer look at the movie, here is a trailer: 



GIVEAWAY: I have one (1) DVD to giveaway to a lucky reader! This would make a wonderful addition to your movie collection.

HOW TO ENTER: 
Mandatory: Tell me your favorite Christmas movie. 
Please LEAVE AN EMAIL ADDRESS in your comment also so I can contact you. If you don't, I may not be able to contact you to let you know if you have won.

Giveaway is open to residents of the US (or people with US PO boxes, Stacey) 18 or over (void where prohibited). Giveaway will run today until Tuesday, December 13, 2016 at 11:59pm (CST). 

Disclaimer: I received a DVD in order to host this giveaway. I think it's awesome and I'm excited to share this with others.

Monday, December 5, 2016

October - November family update

October and November:
Moose still has not had any seizures since his surgery (thank You, Lord!!!). His medicine continues to make him tired but as of late November, we started to give him his medicine earlier in the morning and at night, so that has helped him to stop needing to sleep as much at school.
Our school has been amazing accommodating his sleeping and we surely cannot thank them enough. It was difficult some days to know if he NEEDED to sleep or wanted to escape, but they are superb and did their best. 


The kids love to watch music YouTube videos. I believe this was for the song that goes with Zootopia "Try Everything" by Shakira.


Moose's music program was their best yet! I just adored the songs and hearing him be so excited to perform. Some day I'd like for him to have a bigger part in a play; I think he'd do well but he enjoys it no matter his part. I am very thankful to whichever girl stands behind him for these performances and keeps him focused. 


Some sweet 4th graders with a 2nd grade photobomber


Squirt (top row, 6th from left) really enjoyed soccer this year. They had a pretty good season - win some, lose some. Their last game of the tournament was so exciting! It went into a double overtime, so shootouts. Squirt actually got to score the final goal! So exciting!

 Squirt is second player from the left, I think.


The weather was terrific throughout October and most of November. We enjoyed our time at the parks. Princess likes the big swings and has several times (for short periods) liked to swing with Moose.




Moose continues to enjoy drawing race tracks on our driveway. 


Cub Scout buddies on the hay rack ride. 



The boys continue to improve quite a bit for the little we go skating. It's fun to watch them enjoy it, especially Moose. He does not do well being off balance so this is a big deal for him. 



We love Snapchat!

 Halloween is one of my favorite days of the year. You get to dress up and it's so fun! Maybe that's why my boys love to dress up so much. This year we did the Scooby-Doo gang. It was just perfect because our Scooby costume just barely fits Squirt and we finally have two girls to pull the look off! It was so fun and I was astonished at how well Princess kept her Velma glasses on (elastic hot glued to the back)!

November: 

 My baking buddy helped me to make a pear pie and an apple crumble pie for our church's chicken pie dinner.



We call her our baby Linus with her blankie and thumb sucking. She does prefer her pacifier but will take her thumb in a pinch. Kind of nice!


We visited a friend who had a decorative jar of corn kernels set out and Princess ended up playing with them. She sent us home with a baggie full and I found a little box for her to play in without making a terrible mess. It was cute!


I got to go to our high school's production of Fiddler on the Roof with these two! We had fun going out for lunch before and watching together. A few weeks prior we had viewed the movie together so I would know what to expect! The high school did a fabulous jobs; I still find myself singing some of the songs!


Our kitten is growing and loved the leaves! I'd see him out playing in the piles I raked while the kids were at school. 


 Rain gutter regatta was fun this year. Both boys tried their best but I think only Moose won one race. We just can't quite get the hang of making a fast boat.




 Princess remains a mama's girl but she does like her daddy. Especially when he dances with her. 



And my husband is the best! He surprised me with these last two Hunger Game movies a few weeks ago. What a guy!!!

Now you're caught up with the S Club!

September (picture overload!)

  Princess "driving" cars around. She's her brother's sister.


My fantastic group of IF:table girls. Please learn more about IF:table - it has been such a spiritually enriching and encouraging time with these women (a few of whom I knew very little of before meeting together).


Go Big Red - cutest Husker supporters!


I gave her a devil's creme pie thing - gross.


We vacationed at the zoo for a day with some dear college friends of ours. Their youngest and our youngest are about a month apart. Last time we saw them was the day before Princess was born.

butterfly pavilion. Squirt so wanted one to land on his finger - no such luck.


Not sure what she thought of the goats

the babies were good sports, being chauffeured around all day

 Then we hit up the children's museum. We love this place! It's been several years since we've been there. 



Moose at one of our first times at the children's museum


Moose on our current museum trip; 
I have a picture of him on this very motorcycle;
 I just can't find it! 



 

Princess loves when I sew on a machine; she is fascinated with the needle movement. I finally finished her birthday gift...2 months late - a book of colors. So fun to make but it took me forever! 
I even had to learn some hand stitches. 



We went camping on another family vacation. Squirt liked to climb the trees (with help).



My outdoor girl loved this camping stuff!!


I got to take my family to a drive-in! I grew up going to drive-in movies in the summer but the one I grew up going to got taken out by winds one summer and never re-built. boo. I was just thrilled to be able to take my family to something so special to me!


And they weren't showing a new movie but a good old one, Twister! Big A loves Helen Hunt and this movie PLUS they had the Paxtonmobile with one of the Dorothy things in the back like in the movie. The boys thought that was cool.



When we got back from vacation, we got a kitten. His name is Spotty. He is lovable! 


He's been so sweet and patient with Princess. I love when animals are gentle.





We love to Facetime with my sister! And mom! And dad! And other sister!

Where's Princess??

September was a really good month for us, just being together as a family before the real busyness of the school year picked up.

happy followers