Wednesday, April 30, 2014

National Take Your Child to Work Day 2014

This was the first year Morgan was able to participate in Take Your Child to Work Day and she couldn't have been more excited to go to work with her Dad!  Rich is on his 10 hour days right now at the Road Commission, so she had a long day with him, but seemed to have enjoyed every minute.
They started the day enjoying some donuts and juice for breakfast, then moved on to a tour of the engineering department.
Here Morgan is watching Rich work at his computer.  (I apologize for the picture quality...I took pictures of pictures in a 'scrapbook' that the HR person made of the day.)
 Rich then showed the kids how some of the surveying equipment works. 

The kids got to try it out too!

 Morgan's favorite area...where they make the road signs!
Pretending to drive the forklift.
 Pizza for lunch!  Morgan's Uncle works there too and joined them for lunch. :-)
They had a project planned for the kids.  They each painted a pot.
Morgan's finished pot with some beautiful flowers.
 Morgan also had the chance to ride one of the big trucks!
And sit in a cool chair at a desk :-)

 They also made up nice laminated Road Commission name tags for each of the kids, which Morgan made sure to wear to school the next day. :-)

It was such a neat day for both Morgan and Rich!  They both enjoyed learning about the Road Commission (yes, Rich learned a little too) and spending the time together.  They are already looking forward to participating again next year and having Blake join them too! :-)  I'm kinda wishing there was a "Take Your Spouse to Work Day" just sounds like fun...and I'm feeling a little left out... ;-)


Thursday, April 24, 2014

"The God-First Life" Book Review & GIVEAWAY!! (5/7)

*Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  I was not compensated in any other way.  All opinions are my own.

About The God-First Life:
In The God-First Life: Uncomplicate Your Life, God’s Way (Zondervan, March 25, 2014), pastor Stovall Weems provides readers with a surprisingly simple solution to all of life’s troubles: put God first.

Pastor of Celebration Church in Jacksonville, Fla., Weems focuses on a familiar passage of Scripture found in Matthew 6:33, teaching readers how to “seek first the kingdom of God…and his righteousness.” He shows that by ordering our priorities so that they reflect God’s, we experience a life full of God’s favor, with all of our needs met.

My Review:
I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading The God-First Life!  I felt Pastor Weems did a wonderful job of explaining many things that I think I've always been a little confused about when it comes to being a Christian and following God in everything I do. 
One thing that I felt Pastor Weems cleared up for me was how to go about reading the Bible and getting the most out of it.  I've tried to start the "Read the Bible in a Year" plan on several occasions and failed miserably!  I like how he basically says it isn't a race to finish...just read a chapter at a time and if you miss a day it won't be so overwhelming to catch up!  Reading a chapter at a time will take a little over 3 years to finish, but the main goal is to meditate on what it says in order to help us build our relationship with God.  He also recommends spending about 20 minutes between reading, journaling and praying.  Actually, there was so much good info in that chapter of the book that I can't begin to tell it'll just have to read it for yourself! ;-)
Of course there is much more covered in The God-First Life besides devotional time.  There is everything from tithing to being a servant, being active in the church and the list goes on.  I think this is a wonderful guide and I plan to keep it around and refer back whenever I feel the need! :-)
Buy It!
The God-First Life became available to purchase March 25th.  It is currently $12.03 on for the paperback version.

Congrats to comment #5, My Flower!

One of my readers is going to win their own copy of The God-First Life!
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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Danger and a Blessing

For the last several years we had a large dead ash tree in our yard.  The tree happened to be right outside of the kids' bedroom and each time we'd have strong winds I'd worry if the tree was going to fall on the kids while they slept.  There were a couple occasions I actually moved the kids into my bed and I slept on the couch.  (FYI-those occasions also tended to be times when Rich would have to be gone on a call for downed power lines.)

The tree also had the power line that ran to our house right next to it, so there was no good way for us to take it down without the power company disconnecting the line for us.  We had called the power company a couple years ago and waited for them to come out, but we didn't have anyone show until this last fall.  Thankfully, just before Christmas (and a major ice storm), the tree was taken down!

The wood chips the tree removal company left for us from the tree.

Well, since Christmas time, the tree has been in pieces...large our front yard.  Rich spent an afternoon over Christmas break chopping it, but there was still a lot left.  Finally, on Good Friday, my parents came over with their log splitter and chainsaws and helped us get all the wood cut up.  (We're extremely grateful for my parents offer to help.  I would have never imagined how much work there was in that one tree...especially if it had to be choppe by hand!)

The wood all stacked.
After 3-4 hours of splitting wood, we had a huge pile!  Rich took a truckload to his grandma to use next winter in her wood furnace and we spent Saturday afternoon stacking the rest of it around our chicken coop and cleaning up the twigs/sawdust/etc.
Where the tree was after it was all cleaned up.  There is one large chunk that we left that someone asked for.  Morgan and my mom actually counted 44 rings on that chunk and 59 on another.  I'm not sure how old that makes the tree, but I'm guessing closer to 59 years?

My dad thinks we may have enough to heat our house for a whole winter, which would be great if we had a wood stove!  LOL!  We're apprehensive about a wood stove because we don't know the first thing about installing one....and it would need to be in our wet basement, which I'm thinking would rust out the wood stove.  It's also where I store our canned goods and I don't want them getting hot, so we'd need a way to separate them so the canned goods could still stay cool.  It'd definitely be a bit to figure out, but would be a huge blessing if we can make it work....fuel oil is expensive! ;-)

So our potentially dangerous tree turned into a potential blessing of heating our house.  I'm sure the wood will still be a blessing for someone else if we're unable to use it. :-)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Our Easter 2014

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter!  Ours was quite busy, but very nice.

We started Holy Week by talking about what Palm Sunday was about and doing a little craft.  Morgan was sick, so we didn't make it to church that day and I wanted to make sure the kids knew what it was all about.  They also watched a couple of their 'Jesus' movies and we started a Holy Week devotion from FaithGateway Family.

Palm branches made from the kids' hand cutouts.

We continued the devotions throughout the week and did a few more crafts.  (After doing the craft Palm Sunday, they just assumed that they were going to do a craft every day, so I didn't think it'd hurt to plan a some more!)
Jesus ascending into heaven craft.

Jelly Bean Poem that the kids made and handed out to friends.

Easter Lilies made from a cutout of the kids' hands.  We also discussed the symbolism of the Easter lily.

On Maundy Thursday my parents' church hosted a 'Seder Meal'.  Their Pastor wanted to do it to show us some of the Jewish customs that would be typical of Passover.  Never being to a Seder meal before, I have to say it was very interesting!!  I won't go into detail, but I have to tell you about Blake!  In our church the children have never taken communion, so when Blake saw the grape juice, he asked "Is that Jesus' blood?"  I thought it was pretty good for him to make the connection.  He then proceeded, throughout the duration of the 2 hour meal, to spill 'Jesus' blood' twice!  LOL!  It wasn't so funny for me at the time, but I could laugh about it after we left...and when he said he brought home one of the tiny plastic cups so he could always remember how he spilled them. ;-)

We had intentions of making it to the Good Friday service, but I'll tell you about that day another time, so we'll skip to Saturday.  We finished our devotions that day and went through our Resurrection Eggs.  The kids still love doing that every year! :-)

Sunday, the kids woke up and I went and threw the breakfast casserole in the oven right away so it would be baking while the kids looked at their baskets and hunted for eggs.

What the Easter Bunny brought this year.
Two very excited little ones!

The casserole was done at the perfect time for us to put together our Resurrection Rolls and throw them in the oven!  Unfortunately, Jesus (the marshmallow) never left the tomb (the crescent roll)...I'm assuming it's because my marshmallows were old.  :-/  The little mistake gave us a good laugh and the rolls still tasted amazing as usual!

We got ready for church after enjoying breakfast.  (I somehow missed the annual picture of the kids together in their Easter outfits...I only remembered when they got into their pajamas that night.)  Our church switched things up a bit this year and had an Easter egg hunt along with a carnival!  There were bounce houses, balloon animals, cotton candy, games that they won prizes at and even a little magic show.  I only know all that because the kids excitedly told me everything about it!  And from what I hear Jesus was still at the center of the celebration, which is awesome! :-) Rich said he enjoyed the service and I spent the morning in the nursery...which was pretty much packed!

We left from there and drove 2 hours to my sister's for Easter dinner.  The kids enjoyed another Easter egg hunt, shooting each other with Nerf guns and we all celebrated my niece's birthday as well.

We finally made it home about 6:30 and enjoyed some quality family time playing a game Morgan got in her Easter basket, "Farkle Around".  I didn't realize how competitive our family is!  LOL!  It was a BLAST though! :-)  The kids also spent a little time watching a new movie before bed.

And that's about it for our Easter this year!  I hope everyone had a blessed Easter as well! :-)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Amazing Spider-man 2 Review & GIVEAWAY! (4/30) #Spiderman

*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.
A new Spiderman movie: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is on it's way to theaters this May!  I know my kids are huge fans of anything 'superhero' and I can imagine they'd love to see it.  What's great about superheros is they tend to model some great traits, which is what The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Discussion Guide helps parents talk about with their kids to go along with watching this movie!
About Spiderman:
We've always known that Spider-Man's most important battle has been within himself: the struggle between the ordinary obligations of Peter Parker and the extraordinary responsibilities of Spider-Man. But in The Amazing Spider-Man 2™, Peter Parker finds that a greater conflict lies ahead.

About the Family Discussion Guide:
The discussion guide for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a great resource for families to discuss a range of important themes that include the relationship between personal choices and destiny, living a life that counts, sacrificing yourself in service to others, and the nature of power. This guide will help parents start (or continue) conversations with their children that will inspire them to think outside themselves and challenge them to live lives that matter. The conversations that will result from using this guide will reveal that even the most explosive summer blockbuster can leave lasting, positive impacts on its young viewers.

My Review:

I jumped at the opportunity to review The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Discussion Guide!  Although the kids have never thought of Spiderman as their favorite superhero (Blake's favorite is the Hulk and Morgan's favorite is Iron Man), they both know and like Spiderman.  They also watched the trailer with me and were all smiles after seeing how exciting it looked! :-)
The guide contains 6 discussions in all.  Each discussion starts with a Bible verse relating to the discussion topic and then talks a little bit about an event, or the characters, in Spider-Man 2 as an example for the topic.  After the reading portion, there are then 3 discussion questions.  I think the guide is set up wonderfully, held my children's interest and made them think a little more deeply about some very important topics!
I have to say that I think this guide came at a great time being that it is Holy Week.  One thing that the kids and I had talked about, outside of this guide and as a part of Holy Week, was service and sacrifice....and then sacrifice happened to be a topic in the guide!  The guide talked about how Spider-man, as a superhero, risks his life to save others, or how he is willing to sacrifice himself.  It was neat to be able to discuss Spider-Man/superheros and then go further and talk about the sacrifice Jesus made for us and how we'll be celebrating that very soon! :-)
The Spiderman that Blake (age 6) was inspire to draw as we went through the discussions.


Congrats to comment #6, Alexis AKA MOM!

One of my readers is going to win an AMAZING SPIDERMAN 2 Prize Pack!! (Includes a t-shirt, paper mask and phone case.)

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

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Open to U.S. and Canadian residents 18 years and older. Giveaway will end Wednesday, April 30th, 2014 at 11:59 EST. Winner will be chosen shortly after and contacted via e-mail. (Winner must not have won within the last month in order to share the prizes with more readers.) The winner will have 48 hours to respond otherwise I will have to choose a new winner.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Spring Break 2014

Well, I went into the kids' Spring Break thinking how nice it would be not to have to run the kids to and from school and our days would generally just have a more relaxed feel...I guess we may have had a couple days like that, but the rest of the time filled up quick!

Over the first weekend of the break, we really didn't have a lot going on.  We had a couple movie nights, which the kids absolutely love to do!  We made it to church Sunday and spent a lot of time cleaning.  Rich is working at least 20 hours of overtime a week, but he makes sure to have Sundays off and he worked around the yard a bit.  I cleaned out our I can fill my sister's attic (baby stuff!!) ;-)

Monday was fairly uneventful.  Morgan had her dance class and got a call from a good friend.  The friend had just moved and invited Morgan over.  I ended up talking to her mom and the friend hadn't actually asked her mom first.  They hadn't settled in yet, so we made plans to have the friend over here instead on Tuesday.   I also got a call from a friend of Blake's mom for a play date, so we made arrangements to meet on Wednesday.

Tuesday we picked up Morgan's friend and I did some baking while she was here.  We took the friend home mid-afternoon and grabbed some groceries.  (I'm trying to get used to getting's one of the things Rich usually does...he works near a store that has better prices than our town...but I hate to ask when he's working so much!)  A little while later my mom stopped by to get Morgan so she could spend the night at my mom's with my nieces.  Blake wasn't sure he wanted to go.  He was having a lot of congestion issues, and generally not feeling well, so he stayed home.  

Wednesday, I worked at getting some things done first thing, then Blake and I headed to my parents' to work on Baby Shower favors with a niece that was excited to help with them.  We also picked up Morgan and came home to do a little cleaning before Blake's friend came for the playdate.  The mom called and asked us to their place instead, so we went over there after waking Morgan up...all that playing with her friend and the cousins wore her right out!  We stayed for about an hour and a half, then made our way to Rich's parents' to celebrate my brother-in-law's birthday.  We stayed there until about 8:30 before heading home.  Rich had gone there straight from work and was going to be leaving after us.  I got a call from him around 9:00 that the brakes weren't working on the car.  He had made it to a gas station to get brake fluid and was taking the back roads home and stopping to add fluid every once in a while....*sigh*

Thursday, after making some plans, we got up super early to take the car to the mechanic, then run to Rich's grandma's to borrow her car.  If it had been one day later that there were car issues, we could have done without a second vehicle, but I needed the truck that day!!  We came home and I called the mechanic to let them know we dropped the car off and what was going on with it.  Then I called the doctor for Blake.  We went to Blake's appointment later in the morning.  Apparently the lingering congestion issue was seasonal allergies (which was new news to us) and the ear ache he had started the day before was an ear infection. We left there and went straight to Morgan's dance studio for a dance clinic day...she was there from 11:30 to 5:00.  (The teacher was making up for all the missed dance classes during the long, snowy winter.)  Blake then had a buddy over for a couple hours while his sister was gone.  After picking Morgan up, we grabbed Blake's new meds and settled in after a long couple days!

Friday, we had hoped to have Morgan's best friend over, but she ended up going to a cabin with her grandparents for the week and wasn't we worked in yard instead.  Did you know that when you live on a gravel road that has had a super snowy winter your yard gets FULL of stones?  The snow plow threw stones at least 20 feet into our yard....over...and over...and over again!  I raked stones for HOURS...about 6 hours total between Friday and Saturday.  I was able to fill in some holes in the driveway with them, so that was nice.  Plus the lawnmower shouldn't be hitting as many this summer.  I just hope my blistered hands understood what they were sacrificing for.  ;-)  The kids helped pick up sticks and hold the shovel for me to rake stones into.  The car had been fixed that day too, so we were able to grab it when Rich came home that night.

Saturday was mostly raking stones, but we were able to return Rich's grandma's car too after Rich got out of work.  Plus the kids were ready for another movie night....had to make the most of it over Spring Break, right?

Sunday Morgan ended up sick.  She had said she had a stomach ache the night before, but she does that fairly often and it's usually nothing.  When I made pancakes in the morning and she was done after only 2 (this girl usually eats 4 or 5 and is still asking for more), I knew something was really wrong.  She had a slight fever and later in the afternoon ended up throwing up.  Needless to say, she got an extra day off for Spring Break on Monday.  At least Blake was better....hopefully he manages to avoid what she had.

Well that was the gist of our break.  I think the only way to actually have a relaxing break would probably be to leave home for a while.  Hopefully one day!  All-in-all, it was really a good Spring Break though.  The kids got to spend time with friends outside of school.  We got some yardwork done and the attic cleaned up.   We know why Blake always seems sick...poor little guy. :-(  Plus we know that of all the things that can go wrong with the car in the future, that one replaced brake line is not going to be one of them! ;-)

Monday, April 7, 2014

"My Name is Paul" DVD Review

*Disclosure:  The following was sent to me in exchange for my honest review.  I was not compensated in any way.
About My Name is Paul:
There are two sides to every story.
Paul blinded by hate and intent on destruction is determined to find and kill Peter, the enemy of his Leader. However, a terrible accident and a miraculous discovery take him off course and on a road of self-discovery where he learns to live and love the Way.

My Review:
My Name is Paul is such a powerful movie!  It's amazing to see how God takes someone with such hatred in his heart, and makes not only a Christian, but a leader of 'The Way'!  It's kinda like a futuristic story story of the Apostle Paul , which I think is neat!  So much has changed over the last couple thousand years, and will continue to change, but the message remains the same.  We have a loving Father in Heaven who shows us grace, forgives us, no matter what our sins are.  If God can forgive Paul, and use him to do great things, then He will forgive anyone who comes to Him.  Awesome! :-)
Due to intensity of the movie, and the violence, I would not recommend that young children watch this.  For those of us who have a hard time watching violent movies, I will say that they barely show anything.  Most of what happens, the viewer just assumes happened.  There is also humor mixed in, as some characters/scenes are mostly there just to be funny and lighten the mood of the movie.
Buy It!:
My Name is Paul releases April 8th and can currently be pre-ordered on for $6.96!!  The movie's running time is 80 minutes and has the Dove “Family-Approved” Seal for ages 12+.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

A Winning Design!

The local library held a bookmark design contest for March being reading month.  The kids were to draw a favorite character from a book and enter their design in their age division.   Each class at school was also able to enter, as long as the teacher wanted to, and one winner would be chosen from that class as well.  (Morgan's class did it, so she was able to enter twice!)   Anyway, Blake had the winning bookmark design for his age division!!
The prize was that his design would be made into bookmarks that anyone can pick up at the library.  We got the call that he won on Wednesday but it was going to be a few days before the bookmarks would be made up...we checked in Friday and they were done!
 Morgan had drawn 'The Cat in the Hat' for her age division entry, so Blake went with a 'Thing'.  He drew it and then he seemed to be done, so I asked if he wanted to write anything on it, like maybe "Reading is Fun!" or "Reading is a Fun 'Thing'".  That little guy immediately said "Reading is a Fun Thing To".  Apparently I'm kinda slow and didn't know why he stopped at 'to', so, kinda confused, I said how about "Reading is a Fun Thing to Do"....then it hit me, he meant 'Thing 2'!  LOL!  That made so much more sense!  Anyway, this is how it came out:
I never thought to get pictures of Morgan's designs before she turned them in.  I don't think they'll be getting them back now. :-/  Morgan was able to grab her best friend's winning bookmark and another that had drawn an 'American Girl', though.  They all did such a great job and, most importantly, they had a lot of fun creating them! :-)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

March Art Session 2014

Blake had more fun in with art this past month!  He even had the opportunity to have a friend come along, which made it that much more exciting! :-)
The first week's project was an adorable penguin.
Then they made an awesome tree frog.
The third week is always a clay project.  The kids were given basic guidelines and then they were able to get as creative as they wanted!  The kids were to think 'Spring' and Blake chose to make a bee. :-)
I just think this final project is so neat!  Blake created his own sock designs for the clothesline.  (One set has dragons and the other has crocodiles.)  He also wanted his clothespins brown and had to color them!  (They started off blue.)  He looked out the window to see what the clouds looked like outside to create the clouds in the sky.  Both Morgan and Rich thought the clouds looked like a dragon...with the sun being the belly :-)

 We're hoping to make it to another art session this year, but it may not be until fall.  We'll have to wait and see how this Spring goes.  (Potential jury duty is putting a bit of a damper on making plans this month.)  Another art studio close to us started up kids classes, so we hope to check that one out very soon too! :-) 

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