Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Blueberry Picking 2014

The kids and I went with my mom to do our annual blueberry picking back at the end of July.  (Turns out I found a pile of blueberries in my freezer when it died this summer, so didn't really need any...but it's fun!) 
 
This year the tractor and wagon was back!  Blake really missed it last year and kept asking when it was coming even though we were right by the front.  I think Morgan was happy to have a ride too...look at that smile! :-)
 Sweater is on inside-out, but at least the blueberries won't be staining the 'right' side! ;-)

 It was warm enough that the sweater came off anyway.  Look at all those blueberries!
 They love sticking their little faces in these. This year they're both tall enough that it actually worked! :-)
 And since we didn't fill ourselves up on the berries, we went out to eat afterwards.  The kids were spoiled with their own bottles of pop.  It made them feel pretty special!


Thursday, September 18, 2014

"Fizz, Boom, Read!" Summer Reading Program 2014

The kids and I did A LOT of reading this summer!  Within the 2 months that our library's summer reading program ran, I read 24 hours to the kids.  Morgan ended up with nearly 74 hours, so 50 hours of reading on her own!  Blake ended with about 29 hours, which was mostly from what I read to him, but Morgan read some books to him too without me.
 
It's really fun reading with the kids, but a couple things made it a little extra fun this summer.  The library's summer reading program theme was science, which the kids LOVE.  They kicked off the summer reading program by having the Michigan Science Center come and do all sorts of neat fire-type reactions.  I have to admit that it was pretty awesome!  I was so involved that I almost forgot to take pictures, but got a couple at the very end. :-)
 
 Beyond the kick-off, the library then had a different science activity almost every Friday.  We missed the first one where they were making lava lamps, but we made it to make terrariums.  (FYI-I can not keep house plants alive...they died, we replaced them, those died...I gave up!)
 
There was a sink/float activity that I didn't get pictures of.  Basically the kids put different things in water to see what would sink and what would float, then they experimented with different candy to see what would sink/float.
 
The kids also made what is a lot like silly putty one Friday.  That was pretty cool...as you can see from Morgan's expression :-)

Another Friday, we had some friends over, and they went with us to do some solar activities.  The kids made bracelets with beads that changed color in the light and raced solar cars. :-)
 
The last 'science' activity was mostly using pop and having it react to things.  The best one was using pop and Mentos and seeing the pop shoot WAY up in the air! :-)
 
The library ends the summer reading program with a picnic each year and this year they had a local place come and bring some exotic animals.  I hadn't heard of most of the animals before and it was really neat learning about each one!
 
There were also prizes drawn after the picnic and Morgan happened to win one!  It just topped off a very fun reading program this summer.

The other thing that made reading extra fun for us this summer was reading some classics and then having movie nights to watch the movies based on those classics.  These are the ones that I can remember reading: Little Women, A Little Princess, How to Train Your Dragon (saw the movie first, then wanted to read the book) and The Secret Garden.  It seems like there were more, but those were the main ones.  I think we read some of the stories that the Disney Princess movies were based off of too.  We also read Farmer Boy, (we had read Little House in Big Woods this past winter), and I hope to read Little House on the Prairie soon too.  I hope to track down some of the TV episodes so the kids can see those after we read it.  We had SO MUCH fun doing this, I hope to do even more next summer...if I can wait that long...it might end up being an ongoing thing.  ;-)

Monday, September 15, 2014

"Treasury of Bible Stories: Rhythmical Rhymes of Bible Times" Review & GIVEAWAY (10/1)

*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.



About Treasury of Bible Stories:
Children ages 4 to 8 will be delighted by these rhyming Bible stories pairing spiritual truths with playful illustrations. Featuring lyrical stories full of lighthearted moments, this colorful collection of Magnificent Tales is perfect for reading out loud. As families read these stories night after night, they will make memories together while learning about the Bible.

Check out the book trailer!
My Review:
I thought I had a favorite storybook Bible, and no other could possibly come close, but the Treasury of Bible Stories is now another favorite!  The kids and I both got caught up in the stories as we read them each night.  The rhyming was just so creative, and fun, that many times they begged me to read "just one more"...several times in a night...and we'd end up reading three or four stories!!  Most of the stories were short, only taking about five minutes to read, so reading several was never an issue. ;-)

The kids enjoyed the Treasury of Bible Stories so much that I thought I'd ask them what they'd say about it:

Morgan:  "People would love to read it!"
Blake: "It's really FUN!"

The best part is that the kids are learning the Bible stories and having fun at the same time! What a wonderful way to experience the bible for the kiddos!

I also wanted to share a portion of the story "Every Beast Times Two" (Noah's Ark), so you could get a feel for the rhyming in the Treasury of Bible Stories and, also, why the kids and I couldn't help but chuckle now and then:

"For days and days they'd huddled close,
all cozy, safe, and well.
Now, men and beasts were getting bored,
and things began to *smell." 
*Emphasis added...because it's more fun to read it that way ;-)

Such a fun storybook Bible!!  I highly recommend that this be added to your children's home library so it can be enjoyed over and over again!

Buy It!:
The Treasury of Bible Stories released on September 1st and can be purchased at Christianbook.com for $14.99!!

GIVEAWAY!:

Congratulations to comment #2, Debby!

One lucky reader is going to win their own copy of the Treasury of Bible Stories!

To enter to win leave a comment below. Please be sure to leave your e-mail address with the comment, so I can contact you if you're the winner.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Extra Entries:(1 extra entry per method. Leave a comment for each.)

*Subscribe to my blog in the upper left hand corner.
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Open to U.S. residents 18 years and older. Giveaway will end Wednesday, October 1st, 2014 at 11:59 EST. Winner will be chosen shortly after and contacted via e-mail. The winner will have 48 hours to respond otherwise I will have to choose a new winner.

Friday, September 12, 2014

"Hero" Review and GIVEAWAY! (9/28)

*Disclosure: I was provided with a copy of the following film in exchange for my honest review.  I was not compensated in any other way.

About Hero (from the press release):
From producers of Alone Yet Not Alone, comes a heartfelt movie about legendary small town baseball coach, Joe Finn (Burgess Jenkins, Remember the Titans, Nashville, The Shunning), who after taking his shot as a scout for the big leagues returns home to discover the damage he's done by leaving his family behind. Now on a quest to rebuild his relationship with his son David, Joe forms a new baseball league to reinvigorate the underdog little league team his son had been coaching. Together, as father and son, they try to put away their differences and help bring their ragtag team of ball players, “The Gappers”, to victory.

Check out the trailer!

My Review:
This is such a wonderful movie to show the importance of fathers in their son's lives.  Even strained relationships between fathers and sons can heal and become something wonderful later in life.  It's not something that I can completely understand, being a girl and all, but I can definitely see how our son is a completely different little man when he's with his Dad...there is something special there...

I also liked how, in the movie, they stressed for the boys to work hard and be the best baseball players that they could be....how it's important to have fun, but it's really fun to win and know the work you put into it to get there.  It's definitely something to be proud of! :-)

Hero is a great movie and I highly recommend it....for dads especially! :-)

To learn more about Hero, check out the website here: http://www.herofamilymovie.com/HERO_Movie_Official_Site/Home.html

Buy It!:  Hero can currently be preordered through WalMart.com for $12.96.  It will be available to purchase in stores on September 16th.

GIVEAWAY!:

Congrats to comment #8, Rosey!

One lucky reader is going to win their own copy of the Hero DVD!

To enter to win leave a comment below. Please be sure to leave your e-mail address with the comment, so I can contact you if you're the winner.
Extra Entries:(1 extra entry per method. Leave a comment for each.)
*Subscribe to my blog in the upper left hand corner.
*Follow me through Google Friend Connect
*Follow me on twitter.
*Tweet this giveaway and leave the URL in your comment
*Follow me on
Pinterest
*Pin an image from this post to one of your boards
*Leave a comment on a non-giveaway post and let me know which post.

Open to U.S. residents 18 years and older. Giveaway will end Sunday, September 28th, 2014 at 11:59 EST. Winner will be chosen shortly after and contacted via e-mail. The winner will have 48 hours to respond otherwise I will have to choose a new winner.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

4-H Fair Projects 2014

Our county's 4-H fair was back in mid-August.  The kids are still too young to show their own animals at fair, but are enjoying being Cloverbuds right now and taking 'still' projects.  They are both getting anxious to be able to work hard in their project areas and be able to compete with other kids their age to earn bigger ribbons though! :-)

MORGAN'S PROJECTS
Rocks & Minerals
 

Photography

Arts & Crafts: Jewelry (pendant)

Arts & Crafts: Painting
 
Woodworking (Morgan took scraps of wood and created, and painted, this herself.  Had some help nailing it together though.)

 BLAKE'S PROJECTS
Rocks & Minerals
 
 Woodworking (Blake also took scraps of wood to create this and painted it himself. Again, he had some help with nailing it together.)

Birds Project
 
Judging was on a Saturday and we made it back to the fair on Monday to see the sights and ride the rides.  Since the kids are 4-Hers, they get in free all week, plus get one day of riding rides for free, so we make sure to take full advantage of that! ;-)  In a couple more years I'm sure we'll be spending all week at the fair taking care of animals....the kids are really pushing for those cute goats the neighbor has-lol!  They just have to convince their Dad... :-)


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

"When Calls the Heart: Second Chances" DVD Review

*Disclosure: I was provided the following film in exchange for my honest review. I was not compensated in any other way.

 
About When Calls the Heart: Second Chances:

When Calls the Heart- “Second Chances” is a feature length film from the episodes of the When Calls the Heart television series. The When Calls the Heart television series debuted on the Hallmark
Channel to more than 3 million viewers, making it the No. 2 for the night on all of cable for the primary telecast at 9 p.m and No. 3 overall in households. Distributed by Word Entertainment, previous DVD’s are available to purchase in Christian Retail.

Synopsis
As Elizabeth and Jack fight to restore their relationship, she searches for ways to help one of her older students learn how to read. Meanwhile, Adam Miller struggles to adjust to his new disability. With so many difficult changes affecting the community, can Elizabeth create a Founder's Day play that will spark hope in everybody's hearts?

What others are saying about When Calls the Heart:

“A TERRIFIC SERIES FOR THE ENTIRE FAMILY”-Dove Foundation

“absolutley beautiful and very entertaining”-Movie Guide
Check out the trailer!


My Review:
I actually feel blessed to have the opportunity to review each of the films in the When Calls the Heart series.  My family literally CAN NOT WAIT for the next film.  My kids start checking the mail again the day after the last one came (because films this good should be released daily) and when one isn't there, they just watch one of the other DVDs we already have all over again.  They're just that good!  If you haven't seen the When Calls the Heart series yet, I truly feel like you're missing out!

As expected, When Calls the Heart: Second Chances was just as awesome as the previous films in the series.  The families, and their problems, really pull at the heart-strings and it's always wonderful seeing how it all works out.  The kids and I are really enjoying the ups and downs in the relationship between Elizabeth and Jack too.  My daughter thinks the last film is going to be called "The Wedding"!  As much as we can't wait to see what happens between the two of them, we also don't want the series to end....ever! ;-)

Buy It!
When Calls the Heart: Second Chances, along with the other DVDs in the series, can be purchased at Christianbook.com for $14.99.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Soccer 2014

It's soccer time again!  Blake played his first game this past Saturday and did awesome! 
 
 
The past couple years, Blake has mostly had fun while trying to play the game, but he really surprised us Saturday.  He actually got the ball, dribbled it down the field, dodging the other team as he went, and SCORED a goal!  I know he's scored goals in the past, but to see him using footwork was just amazing.  He even told us afterward that while he was dribbling, he was trying to keep it close so the other team couldn't get it.  Most of the time the kids his age get the ball and kick it way out in front of them and run for it, so he really surprised us and we are super proud!  I hope he has more opportunities, in the ten more games he has left to play, to get that footwork going again...and hopefully pick up a few more skills too.  Either way, I know none of us will forget that play for a long time! :-)


Monday, September 8, 2014

"A Long Way Off" Movie Review

*Disclosure: The following film was provided to me in exchange for my honest review.  I was not compensated in any other way.  All opinions are my own.

 
 
About "A Long Way Off":
Retelling the timeless parable of a father’s unconditional love, tempestuous young Jake tries to escape the duties of the family business by leaving his home and taking his dreams to the big city. Far
from the wise words of his father, Abraham, Jake is finally free to live the high life that he’s
always wanted, trading the traditional values of his upbringing to revel in every temptation that money can buy. Just when Jake thinks the world is his playground and every day offers another enticing opportunity, he must come face to face with the consequences of the life he’s chosen.
Jake must learn that sometimes it takes losing everything to realize/appreciate what he left behind,
and if his mistakes can ever outweigh the grace of a father’s forgiveness.
 
Take a look at the trailer:



My Review:
A Long Way Off was an enjoyable family-friendly movie.  I like that it shows that a parable told 2000 years ago, in the Bible, is just as relevant today.  Already knowing the story, we knew what the ending was going to be, but it was interesting to watch and see the little modern-day twists that were in it...even some pretty intense scenes!

A really nice movie that I would definitely recommend watching! :-)

Buy It!
"A Long Way Off" is available for $14.99 at Christianbook.com.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Labor Day Weekend 2014

I was going to write this post and include every detail I could remember of the weekend, but I figured that would bore you, so I'm going to keep it to the highlights:
 
*Laughing at the fact that we were taking a snowmobile to a cabin...in August.  Then laughing again that the summer had been cool enough that maybe we really weren't getting the strange looks we imagined we were getting on the expressway.
 
*Rich's idea of taking the snowmobile to said cabin up north was that we'd do it on the way to the our destination.  'North' is not on the way to 'West'...and a typical 3 hour drive took ALL day!  I'll admit it was worth it seeing the friends at the cabin though and the ride wasn't too bad...
 
*Driving through downpours so heavy you can't see out the window is bad...especially when the truck is leaking on you the whole time...from what I understand anyway...Rich was driving.  Morgan and I helped though!  With some teamwork we stuffed napkins by the leak and it was dry driving from then on!
*Morgan is attached at the hip to her best friend every time they get together...until said friend hits Morgan in the face three times with her cast while sleeping...then Morgan decides that she can sleep in her own bed the next night.

*Being out on the water in a boat is amazing...enough said! 
*Loons are not at all like ducks.  Ducks go under water and come right back up.  A loon goes under water and you can watch for what seems like forever for it to reappear....come to find out that loons stay under water for like 15-20 minutes...we know better than to try to watch now...
*Blake learned he could trust his life vest beyond being able to touch his feet to the ground...and LOVED swimming!
I didn't ask for permission to post this picture on the blog...just know there is cuteness under the smiley face :-)
 
*Blake also learned that when he finds something cute, like a little baby turtle, while with 5 young girls, that the turtle is as good as gone.  He was informed by one of the dads that he might as well learn the lesson now... :-)
*SpongeBob Island is FUN!  Shallow waters, anchored pontoon, drinks, snacks, games, warmth, music, laughing...FUN! 
*Everyone loves fireworks...and they're more enjoyable from the boat, because as I said before being on the water in a boat is AMAZING....especially at night...because between fireworks, there is still an awesome view of a light show in the sky.

*Fireworks are also scary...the one who lights them says choice words and tries running through the water, and ducking, while still trying to hold the lighter above the water, each time one is lit.  Immense laughter comes from those still on land watching this all take place.

*Learning about leeches 'the hard way' is not fun!  Being the one who removes the leech from the little girl (who was probably WAY tougher than I would have been) is not fun!  The whole instance causes several of us to want to avoid the water for quite a while...

*Steak and sweet corn on the grill, mashed potatoes and watermelon makes an awesome last meal to celebrate the end of summer.  We have to remember that for next year!

This is only a bit of the fun we had.  It was such a great weekend!  Definitely feel blessed to have spent it with some wonderful friends. :-)

**Thank you Jen for the extra pictures! :-)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Blake's 7th Birthday

Blake's birthday kinda happened in three parts this year.  While his birthday is later in August, we actually started his birthday July 31st/August 1st with a trip to Alpena, MI!  My parents wanted to take Blake to a Dinosaur Garden/Prehistoric Zoo for his birthday, so the trip was a very enjoyable early birthday present.

The dinosaur that greeted us as we entered the woods.  The kids thought it was great that they could go inside!  I think this guy was the largest of the sculptures.  The man who created them made them between 1935 and 1967.  There are a few that have been made in the same way more recently.  There were at least 25 sculptures along the path.
 The kids being silly. :-)
 I found this to be quite creative!  The dinosaur had a tree fall on it, but the sign says "Freak Meteor Strike".
 After going through the whole path, we went out front so the kids could get a picture with the sculpture of Jesus.  The man who created the amazing sculptures was a Christian and there were little things that stood out to show his faith. :-)
 The trip to Alpena is about 4 hours.  We actually stopped at the Dino Gardens just before Alpena, but hadn't eaten the whole drive, nor at the gardens, and were pretty much starving by the time we got through all the sculptures.  A quick trip to McDonald's filled us up, then on to the NOAA Great Lakes Heritage Center.  We purchased tickets to take The Legends of Thunder Bay Shipwreck Tour through Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.  (LOTS of words to say that we bought tickets to ride a glass bottom boat to see shipwrecks while we were at a shipwreck museum-LOL!)
 
We had a BLAST at the museum!  The kids were able to see, hear and feel what it might have been like to be on a sinking ship.  That was probably their favorite thing.  Here they are steering the sinking ship.
 This is them standing in front of the sinking ship :-)
 Of course there was a lot more information on the ships that were at the bottom of the bay, plus several artifacts that had been retrieved.  Honestly, I think we all enjoyed the museum (that was free) more than the boat tour (that was $30 per adult and $10 per child.)  BUT, the boat ride was still neat!
 
 We boarded the boat at 4:00 and were on our way.
 We mostly saw a lot of boards/planks from boats, but we were able to see an anchor...hopefully you can make it out in the picture.
 And this was some sort of gear, I believe...they told us on the tour, but it's been a month... ;-)
 After the tour, we checked out the souvenir shop, where the kids got smashed pennies and my mom got Morgan a snorkel, and went one last round through the museum.  We then took a little stroll through Alpena, did some wine tasting, then had dinner before checking into the hotel.
 
This is what the kids were waiting for!  They obviously had a blast the whole day, but there is something about being able to hang out in a pool!
 Morgan even got to try out her new snorkel.
The kids spent as much time as we let them in the pool at night and again in the morning.  We finished up the trip by stopping at a few wine and pop (for the kids) tasting places on the way home.  It was a pretty awesome trip for a little guy's birthday.  I'm very thankful to my parents for giving Blake (and Morgan) the experience!
These are the pops the kids tasted at one of the wineries.  Rich wasn't able to go with us, so we bought one of each flavor so we can have a 'pop tasting' as a family.  I thought it was neat that each of the drinks is named after one of the sunken ships in Thunder Bay and there is a little bit of information about each on the label!
 
*******
Blake's birthday party came a few weeks later.  He wanted a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle theme, so that's what we did!  It was pretty fun coming up with a few things to give him the theme.
 
The kids and I made he cake decorations with Perler Beads.  (It's a chocolate zucchini cake.)


We also had pizza for the meal...had to be pizza if it was going to be a TMNT theme! ;-)
 
Morgan got him some TMNT gifts, but he also received a sling shot, Legos, Dinosaurs, a rocket and clothes.
Rich and I stuck to the TMNT theme with the wrapping paper and card.  Of course we grabbed some TMNT plates and napkins too.  (Okay, so I wasn't as creative as I thought...it was mostly the cake toppers-lol!)

*********

I always try to make the kids' actual birthday as special as possible, being that it's 'their' day.  It's tricky with Blake because as long as he has his toys, he's happy and doesn't care to do much else-LOL!

I like to decorate the white board for the kid's birthdays.  It's pretty much the first thing they see when they come from their room.
Blake's birthday panCAKEs.  Of course he chose green icing.  (His favorite characters are TMNT and Hulk...plus he LOVES dinosaurs, so it's only natural that green be his favorite color.)

We left home shortly after breakfast and went school supply shopping.  Then it was on to Barnes & Noble for Blake's Kid Club Birthday treat, followed by McDonald's to use his gift card he gets for his birthday each year from the bank.
We then went to the south end of town to catch the trolley.  We tried to catch it last year, but it took off on us just as we were getting out of the truck and it was the last tour of the day.  We went early this time and caught it with 3 minutes to spare!
The look of the trolley is super cool, but the history of the town was even neater!  I look forward to taking the trolley tour again next summer.  Can't beat the $.10 fare to ride either!
I thought these two might get bored, but they even thought it was cool.  Morgan loved that there is a house that has a world record for being the narrowest and Blake couldn't get over the train going to Canada goes through a tunnel under the river.  The little guy talked my ear off about it-LOL!
After that we stopped in the Maritime Center to watch some fish in the river.  (There is a camera in the water that's connected to a screen inside.)  Then took a short walk on the River Walk....
...and did some duck watching.  (See his bottom sticking up out of the water?)
 And then it was time to go home.  We made the new TMNT Mac & Cheese for Blake for dinner.  (Plus a Zucchini bake for Rich and I.)  Then he opened a few more gifts, including a Bug Catcher, a Boy Craft book and the movie Meet the Robinsons...we hadn't seen it yet and it had a Dino in it!  Plus it was free through Disney Movie Rewards, so I couldn't beat the price. ;-)

We then had a movie night with the new movie and enjoyed some popcorn along with it.  It was a pretty awesome day! :-)
 
********
As much as I don't like seeing Blake grow up, I'm loving the memories we're making along the way.  And I think this birthday was pretty memorable!  :-)
 


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