Thursday, June 23, 2016

Tea Collection Citizen Blue Sale

Tea Collection has this really neat line of children's clothing they release between destinations called Citizen Blue.  It's pieces from past lines that have been customer favorites in new colors or patterns.

This season's Citizen Blue line is a throw back to South Africa with an awesome zebra tee for boys and girls as well as a hot pink giraffe dress.

Today through Sunday all pieces of the new Citizen Blue line are 25% off with code VACATION.

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Check out the classic Tea styling in a throwback with a new twist!

Sale runs June 23rd through 26th only.

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated a small amount if you make a purchase after clicking on one of my links.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Book: Jilted

Lynda Turner has struggled with depression since her husband abandoned her and their young daughter fifteen years ago.

Yet unexpected hope awakens when a local ex-convict shows interest. As long-hidden secrets resurface, Lynda must fight for her emotional stability and for a life where the shadow of shame is replaced by the light of love.

Jilted tells of a woman who has lost the joy of living, a man determined to draw her back toward happiness, and a town that must---once and for all---leave the past where it belongs. It is a gentle reminder that all things can work together for good.

***

This book is the third in a series and I highly recommend reading them in order.  There is some more back story added in this one, but you really need to read the first two to understand it best.  See my review of book one and the summary of book two also on this blog.

Wow, Varina Denman is on my very short list of "authors I will always read".  I am so impressed by the quality of her story telling and the way she makes the characters true to life in all their struggles and triumphs.  

I'm really glad that all the pieces of this three part story were covered at the end.  That's not to say that it all had a happy ending, but at least you weren't left hanging!  

Lynda's story is told in the first book through her daughter's Ruthie's eyes, but you don't really get to know Lynda at all until this book.  I found it fascinating how my perspective changed while reading this story, even throughout the book.

We have a lot of giant windmills near us and I also have long been a big fan of Don Quixote so it was fun to see the part they played in this story.  The cover photo is superb choice for this book.

How to even summarize the story without giving any of it away... Lynda has a lot of choices to make.  Choices in how she reacts to life and things that have happened to her many years ago.  Choices in how she reacts to people currently in her life.  It makes you realize that while you can't control others and what they do or say, you do have a choice in what you do and how you react.  And in many ways that can affect them for good or bad and the cycle goes on.  

That is not to say that those choices are easy, far from it, but making good choices is so important.  Isn't that a life lesson we all want our kids to learn?  Maybe we still need it when we're older, just in different ways.

***

Purchase your own copy and read other reviews.  And don't forget to enter the giveaway!


Jilted Varina Denman


Varina Denman is author of the Mended Hearts series and a native Texan. She spent her high school years in a rural town and now writes stories about the struggles women face in similar small town settings. She and her husband live near Fort Worth, where they enjoy spending time with their five mostly grown children.

I received this book from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Tea Collection Summer Sale

Clothing is seasonal, at least where we live!  Today it was over 100 degrees so you know I've already purchased all my summer wear for the kids.  Clothing companies know that too, so they're clearing out their summer styles to make room for fall.  Now is the best time to stock up for next summer or pick up any last minute items you might be running short on!

Head on over to Tea Collection where their end of season sales are starting now!  Today through Monday take an extra 20% off already marked down items!  Use code EXTRA20.


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The sale runs June 16th through the 20th.

Happy shopping!

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated a small amount if you make a purchase after clicking on one of my links.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

It's The End of the (School) Year As We Know It...

And we feel fine!  Or at least most of us do.  Summer is in some ways a bit crazier with no schedules!


Cory got to go on a cool end of year field trip to our local museum where they learned about the Native Americans that first lived in this area.  His creature above is supposed to be an owl I think.  Then they went canoeing!


Two weeks ago his class put on a play.  It was a story about a boy who wanted to bake a cake for the princess' birthday, but along the way he ran into many troubles so that by the time he got to the castle all he had left was a juicy strawberry, but a guard stopped him because the princess was allergic to strawberries.  So he was very sad and told the princess he was sorry that he didn't have anything to give her, but after he told her the story of his adventures she declared it the best gift ever because it entertained her when all the other presents had been the same typical gold and gems. 

Cory was a narrator and the kid on the left was the main character.  Then there were another group of students on the left that were a chorus of sorts.  They had created hand drawn backdrops and when the scene changed they took one down off the white board with more underneath.  It was about 15 minutes long and pretty impressive for 3rd grade!


Last week was Noah's end of the year presentation at his school.  After the tragedy of how the school year started we have been so amazingly blessed by his school.  It's been a perfect fit and we will miss it when he goes off to public school for first grade with his brother next year.


Their project for the last quarter of the year was all about honey bees and why they are in decline.  Noah's poster talks about the different kinds of bees (worker, drone, queen) and he made a bee out of clay.


The class together put on a presentation about what things are affecting the honey bee populations.


This is Noah and his friend's dramatization of the bees dying after they come to a tree that's been sprayed with insecticides.  Note the yellow bees already dead on the floor at their feet.

It was very cute, but also really great to see kids at such a young age involved and asking questions that even scientists aren't able to fully answer yet.

And now I have a newly minted 4th and 1st grader in the house, plus two girls ready to start preschool in the fall.  The baby stage is well and fully behind me!

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

On Weekends with Friends in Idaho

You know you're a parent when you spend a weekend with friends and out of 100 photos you end up with 2 that have any adults in them!  Sorry friends, but at least our kids are cute!


After I got over my fear of the girls being outside with no fences or boundaries (and they kind of learned where to stay) they had a blast.  So nice to have fun things in the neighbors yard that you are allowed to play on!


Boys building things...


They have a really cool dirt bike track at the park in town, right near the playground and the neighbor also loaned us bikes for the boys.


The lake on the way home.  I could live with a view like this often!


The girls also spent as much time as possible driving this jeep around... heaven help me in 12 years!



As mentioned, what happens when you get two dads together who love science and nerdy things?


Dry ice of course!
 

with soap.


 And then we went to Silverwood on Memorial Day and the weather was perfect!


And we didn't lose anyone for more than a minute and we all had fun... except when we were scared of the rides!


The girls first ever real rides!  They loved the airplane!


Not so much this frog hopper which I made them watch our friends go on first and they still wanted to ride... I didn't take a picture after they started screaming when it was falling and bouncing!


Two 9 year olds, an 8 year old, two 6 year olds, and two 4 year olds.  Wheee!


 Brian went on this Panic Plunge three times and the last time their girls went with him!  The younger one was not so happy with her choice!


In the meantime I took Cory on the Sky Rider and he would have been okay, but they put us on, took us to the top and stopped for another car to load and he freaked out over the height.  Bummer.


Noah also got his freak out moment earlier when Brian took him and Cory on the wooden roller coaster and it was a bit much for him!

Then we rode the 101 year old train, more everyone's speed.


The last time I was at Silverwood this train was the ONLY ride they had here!


Official train robbery in progress!


I remembered it being a bit more "authentic", but perhaps that's my 7ish year old memory, although the kids sure weren't scared this time either.


They said they would "blow up" the train because we all had pictures of them, but their "dynamite" fell into the well and just blew water all over the train instead.


Through the "fairy woods" it really was a nice train ride.


Then promised dessert, what a motley crew!


When you are six and eat caramel apples...


We have made this visit twice and hopefully we can make it more of an annual event.  We miss our friends and the kids get along so well.  Thanks for being such great hosts!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Book: Her One and Only

After ten years in the NFL, super star Gray Fowler is accustomed to obsessive fans.

But when Gray starts receiving death threats from a stalker, his team hires an executive protection agency to guard him until the culprit is caught. Dealing with bodyguards 24/7 is a headache, especially when one of them is a young, beautiful woman. How can a female half his size possibly protect him better than he can protect himself?

Dru Porter is a former Marine, an expert markswoman, and a black belt---none of which saved her from disaster on her last assignment. In order to rebuild her tarnished reputation, she's determined to find Gray's stalker and, since relationships between agents and clients are forbidden, avoid a romantic attachment between herself and the rugged football player with the mysterious past.

Yet every secret that leads Dru closer to the stalker also draws her closer to Gray. As the danger escalates, they'll survive only if they can learn to trust their lives---and their hearts---to one another.

***

Hmmm, well, that last sentence above feels a bit misleading to me, the book wasn't nearly the edge of your seat thriller that the first one in this series was, yet I really wanted to know who the stalker was and what would happen!

This is the fourth and final book in the Porter Family series and we only briefly meet Dru in the other three books so it was really a new read to delve into her story.  I think this could be a stand alone book, but it was nice to have the history of the other novels as well, especially as this one adds what is almost a postscript to the first novel.  Funny because I accidentally read these out of order, 2, 3, 1, and then 4.

I have really liked this whole series and it was kind of fun to have just read book one and then book four and see Ms. Wade's storytelling skills just grow.  The plot twist felt much more realistic and the characters had a bit more human flaws, which made them that much more relatable.

Dru was your anti-feminine, feminist protagonist and seeing Gray through her eyes made him the stereotypical male sportsman.  But watching them learn to see past first impressions was a good reminder to see beyond a person's facade as well.

I'll be waiting for Becky's next books!

***

Read other reviews or purchase your own copy.

Becky Wade is a native of California who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and now lives in Dallas. A favorite among readers of Christian contemporary romance, Becky has won a Carol Award, an Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, and an INSPY Award.

I received this book from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Book: Until Then

Growing up with a distant mother and absentee father, Michelle's childhood has been far from idyllic. Her only attention comes from her partying friends and the guys who are more than happy to give her the affection she longs for. But when one party goes wrong, Michelle's grandparents hatch a plan to get her out of Chicago and away from her so-called friends.

College plans are low on Michelle's priority list, especially with no money to pay for it, until her grandparents offer to foot the bill for her entire tuition. There's just one catch. Michelle must choose between three schools - all hours away from Chicago and all Christian colleges.

Michelle's reluctant choice leads her to an unfamiliar place, where she's faced with new relationships and unexpected decisions that could change her life and her heart forever.


***

This book is the sequel to Goodbye, Magnolia, although I would really call it more of a companion book.  It tells the same story as Magnolia, but from Michelle's point of view rather than Maggie's.  We don't really find out that much about Michelle in the first novel other than that she and Maggie have a pretty rocky relationship.  I was prepared to really dislike Michelle since I didn't like her from Maggie's point of view!

However... wow.  Krista has done an amazing job of creating a real character that I can relate to and helping me understand her motivations.  This is a story that isn't afraid to tackle the hard issues head on rather than gloss over them.  It makes for a great ending that leaves you satisfied rather than feeling like this would never happen in real life.

I loved reading the parallel storyline and seeing things from an entirely different perspective.  I have to believe that takes a lot of talent to be able to write that way!  It changed the way I saw all the characters in the stories and I'm actually tempted to ask if there will be a third from one of the characters that features more prominently in this book than the first.

I really can't say much about this story without giving too much away.  I highly recommend reading them in order, in quick succession. Michelle makes life choices and deals with the consequences.  The people she chooses to allow in her life affect her, as they do for us too.  And sometimes things happen that our really out of our control that we have to deal with, but how we choose to deal with them may make all the difference.

There is one caveat to this book, it deals with some mature themes without trivializing them, but it is not really suitable to younger readers.  It's essentially rated PG-13.  Honestly though, I felt like it was done very well and the story would not have been the same without it.  Real life is messy, but dealing with it head on is often way better than not facing it. (yes, that has two meanings, both in the story and out)

Krista is a newer author to having books published, but I am a fan and can't wait to read what she comes up with next!

***

Buy a Kindle version here, also the first book is free for the next 2 days so you can get both!

Paperback version is here.  And don't forget to enter to win one below.

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KRISTA NOORMAN is the author of the young adult novel, The Truth About Drew, and the Cornerstone contemporary Christian romance series. Most of her life has been spent scribbling away in journals, while documenting her every day life, but it wasn't until she took part in National Novel Writing Month that she found her true calling and turned her pen to fiction.

Krista studied music education at Cornerstone University. After college, she turned to her love of photography and spent nearly a decade running her own wedding photography business. She is constantly inspired by books and movies, enjoys beautiful instagram feeds, and loves a great cup of coffee. Krista makes her home in a small town in western Michigan with her husband and their two children.

She writes about life, family, faith and whatever else comes to mind at bykrista.com.

Krista sent me a copy of her book to review.  All opinions are my own.