Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Beside Still Waters Book Review

Ever since I was a little girl, I have had a fascination with the Amish lifestyle.  It is amazing to me that people can still keep the ways of long ago, without sucumbing to the pleasures (and frustrations) of modern life.  I know that I am way too addicted to the internet to ever give it up, but it still amazes me that there are people who happily do without.

I have enjoyed several books (such as Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult) and movies (such as ), so I was excited when I was given the opportunity to read Beside Still Waters by Tricia Goyer

The novel follows the life of a young Amish girl, 19 year old, Marianna Sommer who like most young adults thinks that she knows the way her life is headed.  She is prepared to follow the traditions of her Amish Community.  She looks forward to being Baptized in her Church,  marrying a good Amish boy, Aaron Zook, and settling down in the same community that she has always lived in to raise a family.  Then unexpectedly, her father makes an announcement that will rock her world and force her to question all that she has known.

Marianna and her family make the trek from Indiana to Montana and find a new Amish Community that is not as strict as the one they have come from.  Suddenly Marianna is faced with questions and doubts that she has never had before. Should she keep the ways that she has always known?  Will she find a way to be true to both her family and her faith?  Further complicating matters is her budding friendship with Ben Stone, a young man outside of her community.  I found myself rooting for Marianna to keep her traditions, while at the same time wanting her to forget everything to be with Ben.  It was almost as if I was struggling to make the decisions along with Marianna!

Although I had never read a book by Tricia Goyer prior to this, I must say that I have found a new favorite writer to follow, an am looking forward to reading more!  The characters were so deep, compelling, and real.   Beside Still Waters is a rich and emotional tale of coming of age, of finding your faith, and your place in the world as you grow up and begin to live your own life away from your family. 

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of the Beside Still Waters Campaign and received a copy of the book and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


I am a big believer in having my kids keep journals.  I believe that the more you practice writing (just like any other skill) the better you get at it.  Luke (age 5) has been drawing journals for almost two years, but is really starting to take off with writing in them as you can see below:

Sorry for the bad picture, but it says "He has fire."  As you can see, he still writes a lot of capitals (which is a skill we are working on, but he has just started adding periods to the end of his sentences.  He noticed as we were reading that sentences had periods at the end of them, and he asked why.  Ever since then he has become fascinated with periods!

This page says "He had long nails."

My older boys often use journals to respond to books they are reading as well as to write stories or about their day.  They also write math journals as responses to multi-step math problems.

Do your kiddos use journals? If so, in what ways?

Fabulous Finds at the Target Dollar Spot

I found some fabulous things at the Target Dollar Spot (one of my favorite places for affordable learning supplies) today and I will be sharing the activities with you soon!  The best part of the deal is that all of the above only cost me $2.00 out of pocket because I had a $5 gift card from this amazing Target deal on q-tips I had bought.  Love saving money on supplies!

Have you gotten any great deals lately?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ten Time Saving Tips For Busy Moms

When people hear that I have 6 boys, the question that I hear the most (well... maybe next to "Do you know what causes that?) is how do you manage?  Then when they hear all of the things I do... a member of the city council, finishing up my Master's Degree, etc. they want to know where do I find the time.  Here are a few of my time saving tips that have really helped me to do it all (or at least  fake it! LOL!)

1. My iphone!  Really, my iphone has come to function as a second brain (and boy do I need one!).  I put everything in there from due dates for assignments, to shopping lists, to doctor appointments, you name it!  Here are some of the uses I have found, and I am sure you can find some more!

  • Calendar - This is where I keep track of appointments, meetings, etc.
  • Apps - Whether it is for keeping a to-do list, counting calories, or keeping track of grocery prices and coupons, it is safe to say there is an app for that!
  • Notes - When all else fails, I write myself a note - things like my kiddos's shoe sizes (which seem to change every other day) to the type of ink I need for my printer have found there way here.
  • Camera - I often will snap a pic of a price I want to remember, a project I want to re-create, or an item I want to put on my Christmas list.  The other day I had a pricing issue at Office Depot and I just ran back and snapped a pic of the price and the cashier fixed it for me! 
  • Business Apps. Many stores and businesses are jumping on the bandwagon to make life easier with apps that save you time. 
With Starbucks Card Mobile App you can use select smartphone devices to pay for your Starbucks purchases, allowing you to experience the fastest way to pay at nearly 9,000 locations in the U.S., including 6,800 company-operated stores, more than 1,000 Starbucks locations in U.S. Target stores and nearly 1,000 Starbucks locations in Safeway stores. By offering the fastest way to pay in stores, Starbucks is making your morning coffee run even more convenient, giving you more time to get on with your busy day!

Love you Starbucks!

Starbucks for Android™ and the Starbucks Card Mobile App for BlackBerry®, iPhone® or iPod® Touch have five core features:

1. Pay with your phone: Enjoy the fastest, more convenient way to pay at nearly 9,000 Starbucks locations. Just download the app, enter your Starbucks Card number, scan and go.

2. Manage your card account: Access your Starbucks Card balance directly from your phone.

3. Reload your card balance: Use your smartphone to reload your Starbucks Card using any major credit card.
4. Check your My Starbucks Rewards status: Find out how close you are to earning your next free drink.

5. Find nearby Starbucks stores: Save time by finding a Starbucks store near you.

2. Home Sweet Home. - Not just the saying, but everything in our house has a "home" or place where it belongs.  And... as long as my kiddos and hubby (love you guys!) follow the rules and put the things back in their "homes" I save a ton of time searching for things that I need.

3. Multi-task when runnung errands. - I try to arrange all of my errands to get done on one day of the week.  Especially because we live in a rural area and are about 30 minutes from town, I try to schedule appointments for the same day.  While I am out I try to grab groceries, go the post office, etc. 

4. Separate Laundry Baskets By Child.  Each of my kiddos has their own laundry basket and designated laundry day.  It makes life much easier to put away items for one kid in one place at a time.  I also use lingerie bags for socks.  The kids each have a bag and that is where their socks go - makes for easier pairings and less lost socks in the infamous dryer black hole!

5. Quick and Easy Breakfasts.  When we make pancakes or French Toast on the weekend, we will often cook up some extras and freeze them.  The boys can grab some out of the freezer and pop them in the microwave when they want something different instead of cereal or oatmeal. If I want a smoothie in the morning, I will put all the ingredients into the blender in the fridge the night before when I have more time and no morning chaos as my hubby heads off to work.

6. Meal Planning.  We plan meals a week ahead and post the menu on the fridge.  That way if I am out and about (i.e. at one of the many sports practices for my kiddos) my hubby or older boys can start dinner cooking before I get home.

7. Delegate.  All successful managers delegate work, and a household manager (MOM) is no different.  Whenever possible I put my kiddos to work helping out around the house.  It helps them feel good about helping the family and it saves me time.  Then I have extra time for doing fun things with them!

8. Mail Sorting. We have a three draw plastic thingy that I bought at Wal-Mart that sits on a counter by my front door.  When the mail comes, whoever took it out sorts it into the 3 drawers - "Bills" "Mom & Dad" or "Kids".

9. Stockpiling - I try to keep a stockpile of items we use on hand at all times  (i.e. shampoo, dish detergent, etc.)- that way I don't have to make any last minute runs to the store for needed items.

10. Color coding - With 6 boys it is often hard to remember what thing belonged to what child (i.e. cups, hangers, etc.).  We use color coding (each boy has a specific color) to help everyone keep track of their own items.

I hope some of these tips help you save some time, and I would love to hear any of your ideas!

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Starbucks blogging program, for a gift card worth $30. For more information on how you can participate, click here

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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Lowercase Alphabet Color by Number Pages

To download these color by number pages, simply head over here then follow the directions to download the entire file or individual letters.

If you'd like to re-use these coloring pages over and over without reprinting, simply slide them into a page protectors and have your child(ren) use dry-erase crayons to color.