Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Tea for Two!


These girls love their tea parties!

Would you consider voting for them in this contest, pretty please?
Just click on the picture below!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Why I Like Huggies

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central for Huggies and Target. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

I buy a LOT of diapers.  For a year I had three kids in diapers.  Thankfully now it's "only" two, but that's still a lot of diapers.  One thing I've found in the last 7+ years is that I can depend on Huggies.  The Snug and Dry diapers have a SureFit* design for up to 12 hours of wear with a flexible waistband for extra comfort.  And they don't have that weird chemical fragrance scent associated with a lot of other brands.

I don't usually buy my diapers at Target, but considering my local warehouse membership store just stopped carrying the Snug and Dry diapers it was good timing to check out a new place.  

Pay careful attention to the price per diaper when you shop.  I discovered that buying the medium size box was actually cheaper than buying the large box.  So naturally I bought two (and had to ask a clerk to find the second one in the back).  When I got up to the register they also handed me a $10 gift card because I bought two.  Target often runs this promotion, but it's usually marked on the shelf.  This time it wasn't, but keep an eye out for it and you can get an even better price, actually comparable to the warehouse store.

The other thing I like about Huggies are the Natural Care Wipes.  Once again something I normally buy in bulk.  Wipes are great for multiple uses beyond just cleaning baby's soft skin.  Hand washing, wiping up spills, cleaning just about anything in the car when we're on a road trip.  I've even used them to wipe out my smartphone case when it got wine spilled on it at a wedding this summer.

I love that the Natural Care wipes don't have a strong smell (although the ones in store seem to have more smell than the warehouse store Huggies wipes) and are thick enough to use just one or two on a big job (yet once again the warehouse version is much stronger).

Apparently everyone else was on a wipes run too because the shelves at my Target were looking a little bare this week.  This could be a problem, especially if they are completely out of what you need "right now"!

So you can see that I have four kids and it's not always convenient to run out for diapers when you need them.  Target is launching a new subscription service for automatic shipments of diapers, wipes, and other household items that you might buy on a recurring basis. 

I usually stock up in advance because not even a subscription could help me if my girls have a bad week that requires a lot of diapers!  But I can definitely see how this would come in handy, particularly for things that I don't buy on a bi-weekly basis and might forget about the next time I made a Target run.  Bathroom cleaner anyone?



Check out Huggies on Facebook or Twitter and get your own Target coupon for the next time you need diapers. (Shh, I forgot to use that coupon, would have made my diapers even cheaper!  Oops, guess that's what happens when you're a busy mom!)

What kind of diapers and wipes do you use?  How do you like them?  Have you tried various brands?  Would you give Huggies a try if you haven't before? 


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: 7 Kids is a Lot of Kids


This is the crew we had at our friends' house this past weekend.  In order of age from 7 down to 2.  It was loud and crazy and they all had a blast!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Book: The Mason Jar


What if your old college roommate called, raving about a book someone sent her, calling it the most beautiful book she's ever read? "But," she said, "it's about you." The author is your college ex.
In The Mason Jar, Clayton Fincannon is a Tennessee farm boy raised at the feet of his grandfather. He and his grandfather leave letters for each other in a Mason jar on his grandfather's desk---letters of counsel and affirmation. When Clayton attends college in Southern California, he meets and falls in love with a dark debutante from Colorado. However, when an unmentioned past resurrects in her life and she leaves, Clayton is left with unanswered questions.
Clayton goes on to serve as a missionary in Africa, while he and his grandfather continue their tradition of writing letters. When Clayton returns home five years later to bury his grandfather, he searches for answers pertaining to the loss of the young woman he once loved. Little does Clayton know, the answers await him in the broken Mason jar.
A story about a girl who vanished, a former love who wrote a book about her, and a reunion they never imagined.
Written for the bruised and broken, The Mason Jar is an inspirational romance that brings hope to people who have experienced disappointment in life due to separation from loved ones. With a redemptive ending that encourages us to love again and written in the fresh, romantic tones of Nicholas Sparks, The Mason Jar interweaves the imagery of Thoreau with the adventures and climatic family struggles common to Dances with Wolves, A River Runs Through It, and Legends of the Fall.

***

I'm not even sure where to start with this story.  The premise was interesting, but the execution was awful.  Given that the book has been out for 3 years now there were some major proofreading errors throughout the book that are just inexcusable and jarred me out of the story completely.

The style is nice, and I see the connection to Thoreau with the descriptive language, but in all honesty it feels like it was written as a movie script (which it is to become next year).  The characters dive headlong into a relationship and then there is this unrequited love for 10 years.  Yet the story starts in the present and you go back through the telling to figure out why they are where they are today.  And then when it gets to the present the book is over just like that with no fleshing out of the ending or even an epilogue.  That's quite frustrating to me.

The other thing that really bothered me was it felt like the story was one long cliche.  Grandpa gives good advice in his letters, but it honestly felt very preachy (and not in a religious way) to the reader.  Most people I know do NOT talk like that, even in writing!

Overall I would have to say, give this one a pass.  Maybe see the movie next year depending on reviews, but yes, it was definitely modeled on a Nicholas Sparks style so you may have already seen it.


***

Find your own copy or read other reviews here.


James Russell Lingerfelt is the author of The Mason Jar and writes articles for The Huffington Post. James connects with readers at his blog, Love Story from the Male Perspective, and divides his time between Southern California and his family's ranch in Alabama.

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

The Mason Jar James Russell Lingerfelt

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Book: A Love Undone

A Love Undone


A husband and son abandoned to forge a path alone.
A young woman who sacrificed her dreams.
How will the God of grace and hope help them find their way?


At nineteen years old, Old Order Amish Jolene Keim was on the brink of happily-ever-after when everything changed, stealing the future she expected and burdening her with an unbearable decision. For the next ten years, Jolene throws herself into family life—and then she meets Andy Fisher. The horse trainer and father to a sweet nine year-old challenges her and holds up a mirror to issues Jolene has been unwilling to face.

Andy is cautious about his deepening friendship with Jolene, but he believes she knows the truth about him – that he is a grass widower. As a man whose wife has abandoned him six years past, he is unable to divorce or remarry according to the Amish ways. Andy has wrestled with God concerning his reality, and he had found peace with the solitary future facing him…until he met Jolene.

As Andy and Jolene find themselves confronted by difficult choices, will they trust in God's guidance—or will the allure of their deepening friendship only lead to further temptation?

***

Book arrived in the mail today.

***


If you would like to read the first chapter of A Love Undone, go HERE.



Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times and CBA best-selling author who has written fifteen (and counting!) works of fiction and one of nonfiction. She and her dearest Old Order Amish friend, Miriam Flaud, coauthored the nonfiction, Plain Wisdom: An Invitation into an Amish Home and the Hearts of Two Women. Cindy’s been featured on ABC Nightline and the front page of the Wall Street Journal, and has worked with National Geographic on a documentary concerning Amish life. In June of 2013, the Wall Street Journal listed Cindy as one of the top three Amish fiction writers.

She’s won Fiction Book of the Year, Reviewer’s Choice Awards, Inspirational Reader’s Choice Contest, as well as one of Crossings’ Best Books of the Year. She’s been a finalist for the prestigious Christy, Rita, and Carol Awards, Christian Book of the Year, and Christian Retailers Choice Awards.

Cindy and her husband reside near the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains in their now empty nest. (Since that last line sounds sad and bare, I thought I’d add an “epilogue” of sorts. Our two oldest sons are married and live only a couple of miles from my empty nest, and below are my three adorable grandchildren! ♥)

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Park Time


It's still crazy hot here for October, as in, we should have left our AC units in for another week at least!  But it makes for great park days!

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Book: The Sea House

Scotland, 1860.

Reverend Alexander Ferguson, naive and newly-ordained, takes up his new parish, a poor, isolated patch on the Hebridean island of Harris. His time on the island will irrevocably change the course of his life, but the white house on the edge of the dunes keeps its silence long after Alexander departs. It will be more than a century before the Sea House reluctantly gives up its secrets.

Ruth and Michael buy the grand but dilapidated building and begin to turn it into a home for the family they hope to have. Their dreams are marred by a shocking discovery. The tiny bones of a baby are buried beneath the house; the child's fragile legs are fused together --- a mermaid child. Who buried the bones? And why? Ruth needs to solve the mystery of her new home --- but the answers to her questions may lie in her own past.

Based on a real nineteenth-century letter to The Times in which a Scottish clergyman claimed to have seen a mermaid, The Sea House is an epic, sweeping tale of loss and love, hope and redemption, and how we heal ourselves with the stories we tell.

***

This is not your typical Christian fiction that I normally review.  I might consider it nominally Christian, but mostly it's just a really good book!  I love reading stories that are set in places I'm not familiar with, especially when the author does such a good job of setting the scene.  The UK English is a little hard sometimes as there are words that I'm not familiar with, but in some ways it definitely adds to the feel of the story.  I didn't even realize until reading this one that most "regency romances" set in England don't use "proper" English at all.

The Sea House jumps easily between the history of Alexander (and his maid Moira) and the present as Ruth discovers it by reading his journals. The story unfolds from these three points of view and it's fascinating to see how their stories intertwine even over 100 years apart.

This is not to say that it's a happy read, but life isn't always happy and neither was it a depressing read.  It's just a captivating story.  I highly recommend it!  (minor language warning)

***

Purchase your own copy or read other reviews here.


Elisabeth Gifford grew up in a vicarage in the industrial Midlands. She studied French literature and world religions at Leeds University. She is the author of The House of Hope: A Story of God's Love and Provision for the Abandoned Orphans of China and has written articles for The Times and the Independent. She has a Diploma in Creative Writing from Oxford OUDCE and an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway College. She is married with three children. They live in Kingston on Thames but spend as much time as possible in the Hebrides.


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


Elisabeth Gifford The Sea House

My Daddy's Birthday!

It was my Dad's birthday last week and this year I arranged something a little different.


I got a permit and on Friday my brother and I drove him up to the top of the world, bump bump, the whole way. 


Up to a place he used to work a lot and hunt with my brother too.


It was the most gorgeous fall day, but not quite color in the trees yet.


We didn't see any animals other than one hawk although Mara kept a close eye out.


There was this random boot in one of the logged areas.  Cracked me up!




Birthday man gets a milkshake on the way home courtesy of the 59er Diner.  Best milkshakes around and that's some serious whipped cream and sprinkles on top!


The next day we all gathered for a birthday dinner and Dad's favorite pineapple upside down cake!



I think Papa was telling Joy he was going to steal some of her dessert and she wasn't having it!


Happy Birthday Daddy!