Bout of Books 11 Goals and Progress Updates

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Bout of Books

I’m so super excited for Bout of Books 11 to start tomorrow! This is my goals post and I will be updating it with my progress throughout the week. If I get real ambitious I may do some additional posts with video updates but we shall see. :)


Time Devoted to Reading

I will be reading all week long and as much as humanly possible with four kids.


My Goals

  • I want to read 10 books during the week from the Tyndale Summer Reading Program. I have a large stack of them ready to read and on my kindle as well.
  • ETA on 8/19 – Put up at least one booktube video to get out of my slump. This will require figuring out a new video editing software.


Number of books I’ve read today: Didn’t finish any but worked on one a little bit
Total number of books I’ve read: 0
Books: Reading Life Support by Candace Calvert

Today was a bit difficult. I’m a Minecraft nerd and my friends and I started a new server with a new mod pack which has made it hard to focus on reading. But tomorrow is a new day and I will read more.

Number of books I’ve read today: Didn’t finish any but worked on one a little bit
Total number of books I’ve read: 0
Books: Still reading Life Support by Candace Calvert

Today I homeschooled most of the day and then had to go to the doctor. I had to hurry home to try to feed the kids before Ben had his first football practice. We ended up eating leftover pizza and hurrying out the door so we could make it to the parent meeting. I was hoping to get some reading in at practice but I’m blessed to have three other Christian moms on the team and we sat and chatted. Once I got home I had a horrible headache and just went to sleep.  Tomorrow is a new day!

Skrafty Homeschool Minecraft Review and Giveaway

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SKrafty Reviews and Giveaways


It’s back to school time, and for homeschool families – that means gathering curriculum, planning and finding new ways to inspire kids in their studies. SKrafty Homeschool Minecraft is the perfect way to add the fun and inspiration you need.

This fall, the class line up is spectacular! If you need homeschool math, science, bible, history, language arts or more . . . you are in for a treat. Using some of your favorite homeschool curriculum companies (including Apologia Science, Mystery of History, and A+ Interactive Math) you’ll learn to incorporate Minecraft projects into your family homeschool.

SKrafty Classes

See all the new classes SKrafty has to offer HERE

Find out more about the fully monitored SKrafty Minecraft server where it is safe for your family and children – and get whitelisted for FREE right HERE.

SKrafty is specially designed and the rules are constructed to encourage good sportsmanship – with no griefing allowed, no bad language or ugly talk, and no sharing of outside links to protect your children. See a full list of rules HERE.

What other parents are saying about SKrafty Homeschool Minecraft:

“Since starting Skrafty my son has blossomed. His typing has gotten a lot better. School work is not a chore any more I just give him the list of what needs to be done and he does it. He finds the lessons entertaining and engaging and he loves the activities that go along with them. We are all very grateful for Skrafty.” ~ Cheryl J.

“My son enjoys playing on Skrafty with other kids and I love that it is a safe, moderated Minecraft server! While playing on Skrafty he has learned creative building, developed critical thinking skills, made friends, and learned to be a team player. The classes have been fun and the reading program has encouraged him to read more than ever. Skrafty has been such a blessing to our family!” ~Julie B.

Special needs learning:

“Skrafty has been a huge blessing to our family! My son with dyslexia is not only learning but enjoying learning!!!! His reading and writing have developed more with Skrafty than any other program we have used. The classes are engaging because they are so hands on and truly turn learning into an adventure. I so highly recommend Skrafty!” ~ Caroline D.


What we learned:

We haven’t gotten a chance to do a class yet because of how our summers work but my oldest will be starting it soon so watch for a review of that part of this amazing server. We have, however, been playing on the server for quite awhile. Both my son and I are whitelisted, me longer than him because I wanted to check it out. I’m one of the rare moms who is more addicted to Minecraft than her son. :) When he plays he has to ask me how to make things and do things because I’m like the Minecraft encyclopedia around here.

My husband and I watch many youtube Minecraft videos and have seen lots of mini games played. My son has also seen us watching these and wants to play them but there was no way I was going to let him on an unmoderated server with lots of cussing and such. Then I found Skrafty and saw it was moderated, Christian, and had mini games and other cool server things he had wanted to play with.

I think my favorite thing about the server is that he and I can get on at the same time and play fun mini games together without the junk. That is by far our favorite thing to do. He also loves to jump on and explore the Bible exhibit and other fun things. Skrafty is truly a wonderful thing for our family.


Extremely affordable classes (between $6.99 – $32.00) make it easy to add creativity and excitement into your education at home. Sign up HERE for live classes or self-paced classes and begin your journey into the world of homeschool Minecraft with SKrafty.

Giveaway Companies – Multiple Winners!

SKrafty Giveaways


Check out all the wonderful companies and prizes you can win for your family homeschool:

3 SKrafty Fall Classes - Value up to $32 each

Mystery of History Volume 1,2, or 3 & Super Supplemental – Value $150

A+ Interactive Math - Family Package for 3 Students – Value $450

Adventures In ChildRearing - Wildlife Adventures bundle- Value $27.99

We Choose Virtues - Homeschool Kit – Value $98.99

Sidetracked Sarah – Crockpot Freezer Meals 3 pack – Value $8.97

Moore Family Films - ABC Say it With Me – Value $15.99

Not Consumed - Back to School 4 Pack – Value $12.50

Teach Them Diligently – Family Pass to 1 Convention – Value $65

Homeschool Adventure Co. – Philippians in 28 Weeks – Value $18.95

Media Angels – Homeschool Moms Rescue Set – Value $9.99

A Journey Through Learning - Math Lapbook - Value$15.00

Dave Ramsey – Financial Peace Jr. – Value $24.95


Enter with 1 entry or enter with them all:

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Planning Tips for the Dinosaur Train (or other Mt. Hood Railway adventure) – Guest Post

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I had gotten free tickets to do the Dinosaur Train up at Mt. Hood and we were so looking forward to going. Unfortunately we had a medical emergency (which I will write about in another post) that made it so we couldn’t go. Thankfully my friend Sarah lives in Portland and has two kids I knew would enjoy it. As an added bonus she is a great writer and blogger so I asked if she would be willing to go and write up a post for me. Here are her thoughts. Enjoy and make sure to check out her info at the bottom. She’s amazing!


Hood River and the drive through the Gorge are both absolutely beautiful. I have lived in the Portland area for almost 15 years and every single time we head east on I-84 (which is an average of twice a year), we ask ourselves why we don’t go more often. 

This means I was excited to have the opportunity to head to Hood River recently for the Dinosaur Train with my husband and two boys (almost 3 and 14 months). I had never been on a Mt. Hood Railroad train, but it is something we have talked about doing several times (particularly as our toddler went through an obsession with Polar Express last Christmas!). 

The train ride portion was approximately 30 minutes of Dinosaur Train music and entertainment, with an out and back leisurely jaunt along the river and through rural Oregon. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the Nature’s Track Adventure Park was actually located at the far end of the railway depot parking lot. The official information said there would be a 90 minute time at the Adventure Park followed by a train ride back to the station. Since the entire train ride was actually on the front end, and participants were free to leave at their discretion. This worked out great with younger kids, as they were finished in less than the 90 minutes allotted. 

Here are my top 5 planning tips for the Dinosaur Train (or other Mt. Hood Railway adventure): 

  • Make sure the kids wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty. Both my boys’ favorites were the stations that included digging and excavating. There were several other non-dirty activities, including pictures with the dinosaurs, a bounce house, magician and a few more activity stations. 
  • Plan to arrive at the Mt. Hood Railroad station at least 30 minutes prior to departure. The official guidelines recommend 45 minutes. We arrived about 35 minutes early and had plenty of time to grab our tickets, browse the station and then board the train. The boys loved having the extra time on board exploring the train prior to departure. 
  • Pack water and sunscreen. It’s hot out in August! 
  • Take cash ($5) for parking and extras. I’ve heard that there is street parking nearby, but there is enough metered parking around that it wasn’t worth spending time hunting (and hiking) with two little ones. There were also dinosaur masks available for purchase, along with a wide variety of souvenirs in the railway depot and Adventure Park gift shop. My kids were young enough that we got away without buying the masks, but for $1 each, I wish they had just been included in the price of the ticket. 
  • Plan for meals before or after your train excursion. Our train departed at 1:00, which meant we arrived at Mt. Hood Railway around 12:20 and boarded at 12:30. We should have planned ahead to arrive in time to eat lunch beforehand. The railroad is just a block from the main downtown Hood River area with a wide variety of restaurant options. We did have snacks packed, and at lunch in Hood River after the train. The snacks on board were for the kiddos only (they loved it, but I was hungry!). 

All in all, the kids loved the experience, and we loved having a good reason to spend a fun family day in Hood River. 

Disclosure: I received four complimentary tickets (2 adult, 2 children) to the Mt. Hood Railway’s Dinosaur Train. I was not compensated in any other way, nor was I required to write a positive review. 

Sarah Parsons helps female entrepreneurs and creatives get out of their own way, so they can run their businesses, not the other way around. A project manager, problem solver and simplifier, Sarah can be found at (when she’s not on train adventures with her boys, that is.)


Annie’s Stories by Cindy Thomson – Book Review

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 Annie’s Stories is an Ellis Island novel by Cindy Thomson. Cindy’s Ellis Island series tells the stories of various immigrants to the US in the early 1900s. In this novel we hear the story of Annie, a Irish lass saved from the Magdalene Laundries after her father dies. She goes to the US as a housekeeper for Mrs. Hawkins of Hawkins House, a boarding house for young ladies. Annie feels despondent and hopeless since her father’s death and her only source of joy is her father’s stories that he left for her. She finds out some awesome secrets about her father though as she tries to publish these stores, as well as more about her past.

I loved this story! A large part of it is about her getting a copy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which was contemporaneous with the setting of the story. She learns much from Dorothy and that little story and since I love the stories from Oz it made this novel so much more endearing to me. Not only that, but Cindy has a way of writing characters that are totally believable. There is a sweet love story in the novel and the characters were so simple with it that it made it extra sweet. I truly loved this book!

Bout of Books 11 – What Am I Thinking?!

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Bout of Books

I have debate for that last five Bout of Books about whether to do it or not. In the past its either been at a bad time or I forgot about it until it was too late (that’s been most of the time). But it seems as though the stars have aligned and I can do it this time. I’m so excited!!!!! It will be the perfect way to finish the Tyndale Summer Reading Program with a BANG!

So you may be asking what in the world is Bout of Books, here is their blurb about it:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 18th and runs through Sunday, August 24th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 11 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

I will be posting a goal and update post soon so stay tuned for that and if you are up for it join in the fun!!

August’s Kindle Fire HDX Giveaway or $229 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

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It’s time for August’s $229 Kindle Giveaway Hosted by I Am A Reader.

Enter to win 1 of 2 great prizes both valued at $229. Winner’s choice of a Kindle Fire HDX or $229 Amazon Gift Card or $229 Paypal Cash!

The first prize is available via the rafflecopter below. The 2nd is available only to those share this giveaway. You can find info on how to enter the 2nd giveaway in the rafflecopter.

August Kindle 2014


Win a Kindle Fire HDX, Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash ($229 value)

The winner will have the option of receiving a 7″ Kindle Fire HDX (US Only – $229 Value)


Or $229 Gift Card (International)


Or $229 in Paypal Cash (International)


Sponsor List

I Am A Reader
Feed Your Reader
Author Kimber Leigh Wheaton
Author Inger Iversen
Candace’s Book Blog
I Love to Read and Review Books :)
{A Leisure Moment} A Casual Conversation about Our Love for Literature
J.L. Weil
Kelly Walker
Talia Jager, Author
Jessabella Reads
Laurie Treacy, Author
Claudia Burgoa
When I Grow Up I Wanna Write A Kids Book
Kimber’s Life
More Than a Review
Lori’s Reading Corner
Author Ann Swann
Dana Masting
Bonnie Blythe Pure Romance
Bella Street Weird Romance
Morgan K Wyatt
Njkinny’s World of Books & Stuff
Reviews from a Bookworm
Jenn’s Book Reviews and Giveaways
Me and Reading
Words Wit and Wisdom
Marie D. Jones
Good Choice Reading
A & E Kirk, Author
Margo Bond Collins
Christian Bookmobile
Biscuit & Books BOOKTUBE
Illusio & Baqer
Bound 4 Escape
Helen Smith (author)
Gin’s Book Notes
Author FA Michaels
Author Steven Brown
Against Idleness & Mischief
Rayna Noire
Author Deb Atwood
Laurie Here
Danielle @ Coffee and Characters
Author A. Wrighton
Chelsea Author Promotions
Author Lynda Raymond
LeahSay’s View


Sign up to sponsor the next Kindle Giveaway here:


Giveaway Details

1 winner will receive their choice of a Kindle Fire 7″ HDX (US Only – $229 value), $229 Amazon Gift Card or $229 in Paypal Cash (International).

There is a second separate giveaway for bloggers who post this giveaway on their blog. See details in the rafflecopter on how to enter to win the 2nd Kindle Fire HDX 7″, $229 Amazon Gift Card or $229 in Paypal Cash.

Ends 8/31/14


Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the participating authors & bloggers. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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When I Fall in Love by Susan May Warren – Book Review

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 When I Fall in Love is the third book in the Christiansen Family series, however, this is one of those series where you don’t really have to have read all the others for it to make sense or be enjoyable. This novel follows the story of Grace Christiansen as well as having a side plot involving Eden getting married and Owen and Casper and another female character. As you can see you will get to enjoy many of your favorites from the family. To thank Grace for catering her brother’s wedding the family buys her a trip to Hawaii for a culinary school/vacation. Grace, however, has never left Deep Haven and has no desire to. But she finally is convinced to give it a try. She ends up having Maxwell Sharpe, who played hockey with Owen and Jace, be her friend on the vacation. They begin to fall in love but Maxwell has sworn off dating and the thought of getting married. So what happens when he is confronted with that fear as he falls for Grace. And can Grace let go of her fears and fully trust God?

This book is another fantastic one from Susan May Warren. I would daresay she is the best romantic Christian author out there right now. Her books aren’t too sappy and really deal with a lot of tough heart issues. They help bring you closer to the Lord while leaving you with a fabulous story. I highly recommend you add this book to your summer reading. It would make a great vacation book.

Read other Litfuse Blogger’s opinions here.

I received a free copy of this product from Litfuse in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

The Trail: A Tale about Discovering God’s Will by Ed Underwood – Book Review

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 The Trail: A Tale of Discovering God’s Will is a story used to teach how to discover God’s will. It is written by Ed Underwood who is a pastor. The story follows a couple who is needing to find God’s will in a decision. They are trying to decide whether to take a new job and move or stay where they are. The wife wants to seek God’s will and is a bit more flighty about it if that makes sense and the husband is the practical pros and cons type. They have married friends who went on a journey with an old pastor out in the woods on a backpacking trip to learn about how to discover God’s will for their lives and they suggest it to this couple.

They end up going on a journey with Sam. Sam is a old firefighter who used to fight fires out in the mountains until he went to seminary. He takes them on an epic journey and teaches them along the way about eight principles to discovering God’s will. In the end they end up helping him figure out some stuff in his life as well.

I was a bit worried about this book at first because a lot of books about discovering God’s will are a bit silly in my opinion. But the principles in this book are just good, solid Christian life principles. And really that’s what walking in God’s will is all about. As we follow Him and do what His word says He will lead us in His will. I would recommend this book for sure.

I received a free copy of this product from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Win a KitchenAid Mixer in Susan May Warren’s Hawaiian Chef Showdown!

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Susan May Warren‘s newest book in the Christiansen Family Collection, When I Fall In Love,  has won over readers’ and critics’ hearts alike. With critical reviews like, “. . . an exquisite romance. Profoundly touching on the topic of facing fears, this book is a true gem,” and more than 60 five-star reviews at Amazon, When I Fall in Love is sure to please.

Susan has teamed up with some amazing food bloggers for a fun food challenge and a KitchenAid Mixer giveaway!


One grand prize winner will receive:

Grab your aprons and wire whisks and buzz on over to the When I Fall in Love website to learn more and enter the Hawaiian Chef Showdown! Susan is challenging you to make a Hawaiian-inspired dish using coconut, mango, or one of the other ingredients mentioned in the book. You’ll get extra points for creating your own recipe—plus she might share it on the When I Fall in Love site! Or if you’re not up for an adventure in the kitchen just click one of the icons below for easy entry.

Hurry, the giveaway ends on August 10th. All winners will be announced August 13th at Susan’s blog.

Don’t miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit Susan’s blog on the 13th to see if you won!

Heroes of the Bible Devotional by Joshua Cooley – Book Review

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 Heroes of the Bible Devotions: 90 Devotions to Help You Become a Hero of God! is a devotional geared at tween boys, of which I have one and let me say the minute he saw this book he has wanted to get his hands on it. The cover art is perfect for a boy of this age as it is like a graphic novel. But let’s not leave out the girls. There are great girl heros in this devotional as well so I’m sure many tween girls would enjoy it as well.

The devotional is divided into sections for each hero with several days of devotions for each one so that you can really get a feel for that Bible character. Each day includes something that a true hero for God does, a hero’s tale, a section called decoding the message, and a battle plan. The hero’s tale is the meat that talks about the verse and about the hero they are looking at. The section called decoding the message is a section that helps your young person apply this to his life. And finally the battle plan gives you something to do such as memorize a verse. There are also gospel connections sprinkled throughout which I love. The gospel is the most important thing and I love that he ties it back to that. I truly can’t recommend this book enough. It is fabulous!