Beautiful on the Mountain by Jeannie Light – Book Review

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 Beautiful on the Mountain is the true story of Jeannie Light and her years of ministry to the people of Graves Hill in the rural mountains of Virginia. Jeannie had to leave her role as manager of a plantation in Virginia and living in a mansion with very little worries when her husband divorced her. She had been given some land in the mountains as part of the divorce settlement, but little did she know that they would want her to reopen the church and how God would lead her.

This is a beautiful story that inspires you to rely on God and His Word and love others with the love of Christ. Jeannie beautifully retells the stories of her time. I really enjoyed this book and was encouraged to obey the Lord and begin to look for ways to love and serve others. If you enjoyed books such as the Mitford series and Christy you will really enjoy this true story.


All for a Sister by Allison Pittman – Book Review

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 All for a Sister is the third in a series about the 20s from Allison Pittman. I love these time period and have really enjoyed these books but this one is by far the best yet. The writing is so much better and the story line so diverse. Celeste has it all and is rising as a starlit in Hollywood. Dana, however, has been in prison for most of her life due to being unfairly imprisoned. But why did Celeste’s mom give half of the home to Dana when she died? What do the two girls have in common?

This is a story of two girls learning about themselves and the lies and secrets that have created their lives. It goes back and forth in time and also to Celeste’s mom’s death bed confession. It is beautifully written and very intriguing. I highly recommend it.


If I Had Lunch with C.S. Lewis by Alister McGrath – Book Review

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 I love C.S. Lewis. I have loved him since high school and I even took a class on him in college. He fascinates me and his writing is amazing. So I was really excited to see this book on the Tyndale Summer Reading Program. Alister McGrath, the author, has written a fabulous biography on C.S. Lewis as well. This book is imagining that we have some lunches with C.S. Lewis and talk about some of the major themes of his life and work. The author does not make it cheesy by pretending to create dialogue, instead he shares what C.S. Lewis would have thought on such topics as faith, education, suffering, literature, and heaven. He shares from C.S. Lewis’ writings on these topics and brings further insights as a man who has studied Lewis thoroughly.

I loved this book. I think it’s a great introduction to Lewis and his thoughts and works. It truly made me want to read many of his books and feel more confident in them because I kind of have an overview of them now. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to start reading Lewis or any fan of Lewis. It’s fabulous!


The Antelope in the Living Room by Melanie Shankle – Book Review

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 Melanie Shankle, the author of The Sparkly Green Earrings, has done it again! If you have never read any Melanie Shankle, blogger at Big Mama, you are missing out. She is hilarious but also packs in some great nuggets of truth. This newest book is about marriage. It’s a fabulous look at the messy parts of marriage and what we can learn from them with lots and lots of humor thrown in. I was laughing out loud constantly and occasionally with tears. My hubby kept giving me weird glances. If you haven’t read any of Melanie’s work this is a great book to start with.


Life Support by Candace Calvert – Book Review

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 Life Support by Candace Calvert is the third book in the Grace Medical series. Candace Calvert is a former ER nurse and brings that knowledge into her books. This story follows Lauren Barclay who is a ER nurse. She has recently moved back to Houston to keep an eye on her troubled sister. This brings her closer to PA Eli Landry who has caused turmoil in her family and in her heart. Can she help her sister and guard her heart from Eli? Or does God have other plans?

This is a good quick Christian romance read. It would make a great beach book or just casual reading. As normal, Candace brings the ER and hospital to life since she’s lived it.

 


The Auschwitz Escape by Joel C. Rosenberg – Book Review

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 Oh how I love Joel C. Rosenberg! He is by far my favorite male Christian author. His fiction books are always epic and big reads with lots of character development and action. The Auschwitz Escape did not disappoint on this front. This was his first foray into historical fiction and he did a fabulous job. This novel is about the death camp Auschwitz during World War 2. It is a fabulous story of the underground following one man in particular but with lots of other side characters. Jacob Weisz is the main character and we follow him from before the threats on the Jews to ending up in camp and trying to escape, as the title would suggest.

This book gives us a great picture of the atrocities that were happening and really makes you think about what you would do as a Christian in similar circumstances. So many true Christians died for trying to help save the Jews. Joel C. Rosenburg’s writing is so well done that you can picture the death camps and smell the stench of the burning bodies. I highly recommend this book. It will change your outlook on life and history.


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.

Updates

Monday
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.

Tuesday
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!

Wednesday
Number of books I’ve read today: Worked on two different ones
Total number of books I’ve read: 0
Books: Still reading Life Support by Candace Calvert and While the World Watched by Carolyn Maull McKinstry and Denise George

I got quite a bit more reading in yesterday. I feel like I’m gaining momentum but need to really up the pace tomorrow.

Thursday
Number of books I’ve read today: Working on one
Total number of books I’ve read: 0
Books: Still reading Life Support by Candace Calvert and While the World Watched by Carolyn Maull McKinstry and Denise George

I didn’t get much done today as my headache was super bad by the time I had time to read. This headache is really getting in the way of bout of books.

Friday
Number of books I’ve read today: 1
Total number of books I’ve read: 1
Books: Finished Life Support by Candace Calvert, started The Auschwitz Escape by Joel C. Rosenberg

My headache was worse today than it has been so far. But I found laying down and reading was the best way to deal with it so that’s what I did. Finally finished one book.

Saturday
Number of books I’ve read today: Worked on reading The Auschwitz Escape by Joel C. Rosenburg
Total number of books I’ve read: 1
Books: Finished Life Support by Candace Calvert, reading The Auschwitz Escape

Today was a busy day but I did get some reading in. I am obviously not going to make my goal of 10 books but I at least want to finish two. Here’s too tomorrow…the last day!

Sunday
Number of books I’ve read today: 1
Total number of books I’ve read: 2
Books: Finished Life Support by Candace Calvert and The Auschwitz Escape by Joel C. Rosenburg

I made it! I finished two books and learned a ton about how a read a thon works. I’ll be posting a wrap up soon.


Skrafty Homeschool Minecraft Review and Giveaway

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SKrafty Reviews and Giveaways

Welcome!

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.

Affordable:

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:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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!

dinosaur-train

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 sarahparsons.me (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!