February 27, 2013

Unbreakable by Nancy Mehl Review & Twitter Party

Standing up for your beliefs is something that is very important to me. I am a firm believer that if we can teach our children to stand with their beliefs at our job as parents will be well done. In Nancy Mehl's Unbreakable this is exactly what Hope Kauffman is learning. Hope is a Mennonite and when community standards start to change Hope must decide if it's more important to adapt to fit better in the world or to continue living by the standards she was raised with. As Hope faces this challenge she has the chance to learn about herself and the strength she keeps inside.
I thoroughly loved this book! It was a wonderful read with a bit of romance, hint of danger, dash of suspense, and a whole lot of Hope. If you enjoy an uplifting book about a girl who will steal your heart than this one is for you!

Celebrate the release of Unbreakable with Nancy Mehl by entering her Kindle Fire Giveaway and RSVPing to the March 5th Author Chat Party on Facebook!

Unbreakable Kindle Fire Giveaway

One fortunate winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • Books one & two in Nancy's Road to Kingdom series (Inescapable and Unbreakable)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 4th. Winner will be announced at the "Unbreakable" Author Chat Party on March 5th. Connect with Nancy, get a sneak peek of her next book, try your hand at the trivia contest, and chat with readers just like you. There will also be gift certificates, books, and fun Mennonite-themed giveaways.

Grab your copy of Unbreakable and join Nancy on the evening of the March 5th for a chance to connect with Nancy and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 5th!

Here Comes the Bride, It's Family Time

With spring comes all the flowers and love of wedding season. There is nothing better than getting together with family to celebrate the joy and love of a new marriage. This year for the perfect gift for the bride check out Chicken Soup's Here Comes the Bride . She'll love the stores of love, laughter, and family based around the proposal, the wedding, and the honeymoon. This book is full of good laughs and is sure to make her day a little brighter!

Slumber Party

February 26, 2013

Humerus, Ulnar, and a Little Pain in the Back

So, I got what we thought was a great toy for E for Valentines. Humerus & Ulnar are is a joke telling bone that is actually quite funny. They are clean anatomy jokes that we enjoyed listening to. The problem started at the fact that although this toy is supposed to be noise activated it was set off at the littlest bump and noise. It was cute but it got a little old. The good news, for me, was that it didn't take long for the batteries to die. Now the kids have adopted it as their dump truck driver. Kinda cute! Although I would suggest this as a perfectly wonderful gag gift or really for anyone else, consider yourself warned that if someone passes the luck to you plan on passing the luck on unless you need another child who won't be quiet. You can thank me later.

February 25, 2013

Starting School - What You Can Do To Help Your Child Succeed

Happy girl with dog
With B starting Kindergarten this fall we are starting a whole new part of our job as parents. Helping your child to do well in school is a job that can bring out the best (and the worst) in parents. Part of helping your child to do well is helping them to learn to deal with their emotions. Sometimes I feel like as a mom I can't help them because I'm not sure how to track our progress. So, for now, I continue to work with each of my kids in teaching them that they are in control of themselves and that they can choose to be happy if they want to. So far so good!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Natural Pain Relief

There is nothing I like better than knowing that I am helping to keep my body safe by using natural medications. Recently I was given the chance to review a natural pain relief cream but I was sorely disappointed in both it's ingredient list (on which I recognized nothing) and it's ability to actually relieve my pain. I often use hot and cold packs to help with my headaches and thought this might be a great way for me to better be able to control them while not being stuck in one place. Unfortunately I was very wrong and will continue to look for a better solution.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

February 24, 2013

Finding the Perfect Office Furniture

I've been spending a lot of time over the last month working on my office space. With the new shop I have been trying really hard to get things organized so I can work quickly and efficiently and we are making some progress. Part of my organization progress has been helped with some new business office furniture.
I now have a great desk that fits my sewing machine and serger, plus a spot for my computer so I can continue to be online as I work. We were also able to get a great old kitchen cupboard from the neighbor's house when they were refinishing that is perfect for my cutting mat and my photo station. It has been amazing the things we have been able to use that we have gotten second hand. With some simple refinishing and adding of shelves, shelf liner, and handles we've gotten some great items.
Unfortunately, second hand doesn't work for everything so E and his friend have been helping my cause by making me a special light fixture so I have plenty of light and a piece of custom office furniture so that I have a cabinet to store all of my products in. I'm still working on getting everything put away and I still have some painting to do but as soon as I get those little tasks finished I'll be posting pictures of my wonderful new organized space. I'm so excited to start working in it full time and being able to move my projects off the couch!

February 23, 2013

Redecorating the Kids' Rooms

This winter I've been working on redecorating the kids' rooms. We've done some major redecorating in the big boy's room (pictures soon) but I have to show you this awesome bed set we got for D first. He has moved up to the big boy bed and needed a quilt that was just his. This awesome set from Beyond Bedding was perfect for the job! I just love the way it matches the curtains (that we already had) and still looks great for a little boy while still allowing him to share the room with his sister.

I loved shopping at Beyond Bedding! They have lots of great options and coordinating pieces. I love that we can match or Lime Funky Zebra bedding with the Funky Zebra and Hot Pink set when baby sister gets old enough to need some. If you're looking for bedding of any size or style make sure to check out Beyond Bedding. With their great selection and awesome prices you won't leave disappointed!

February 22, 2013

A Rainy Day Movie

It's almost spring time but it sure doesn't feel like it up here in Idaho. It's still super cold although the weather has been going crazy on us. One day it is just warm enough to make everything mud and the next it is freezing cold giving us ice and snowing. Needless to say we've been spending our days indoors but after the long winter the kids are getting restless. We've tried lots of things to keep them busy and this last week had the chance to spend some time in the tree house with Rachel and the TreeSchoolers DVD for preschool.

This was a very cute movie and I loved that it was educational. I do think that it would be better for kids in the 5-7 range than the 2-5 like they suggest but I suppose it depends on the child. This particular DVD talked about weather and why the weather does what it does. The lessons were good (if somewhat simple) and the characters were cute. The boys enjoyed watching and have asked for it often since we first watched the TreeSchoolers. If you're looking for some new ways to spend indoor time this might be something to check out!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

February 15, 2013

Why You Should Look At Short Sales When Buying a Home in Las Vegas

This post was sponsored by a las vegas bankruptcy attorney
All opinions are my own.

Many of you know that we bought our home almost two years ago. I love being a home owner! It's so nice to know that our house is ours and I can paint and do other little things whenever I'm ready (watch for some great posts about our bedroom, kitchen, and dining room make overs soon). It's getting to be spring time again which, at least in my area, means that people are starting to house hunt again.
When buying a house there are lots of ways to save money. One great way to save yourself some cash is to look into buying a home listed as a short sale. A short sale is a great way to buy a home for less because it generally means that the current owners either aren't paying their lender or that they owe more than the house is worth and the bank is looking to cash in so it is likely that you will be able to get a good deal.
One of the best things you can do for yourself if you are interested in a short sale is to hire an agent that has short sale experience. They will be able to give you all the information you need about buying a short sale in your area. I know our agent was great when we placed an offer on a short sale. She had worked with the bank before and helped us understand what was happening and kept us up to date on everything.
Other then that buying a short sale really comes down to putting in the right offer at the right time. There will be bumps along the road but the payoff can be great if you get a short sale. However, I'm here to remind you that anyway you buy a home you'll love the sense of accomplishment it gives you. Make sure you find the best home for you and buy in your budget so you don't end up at the other end of a short sale and you'll be very happy with your investment, I know we are!

Our Plumbing Troubles - I Should Have Called Rotorooter

This last month we had another small plumbing problem. It wasn't happening terribly often but for the last two to three months about every other load of laundry that E started (mine were fine for some reason) would overflow the washer. He was determined that it was not because he was filling the washer too full as I suggested (you should see how much crap he tries to wash at once, there's no way it's getting clean) but that it was overflowing because the drain line was clogged.
So what did he do? Instead of going to www.rotorooter.com he went and rented a drain snake and wasted a whole day trying to clean out our mainline drain. It was super frustrating because it made my whole house smell! Plus instead of using his old work shoes he had on his new school shoes while he was working so they were covered in crap too. YUCK!
After it was all done he took the drain snake back, since we were paying by the hour, and then came home to clean up. But when I went down to my laundry room, where he had been working, to try to do laundry the next day there was still crap all over. DOUBLE YUCK! Needless to say I didn't have a chance to clean it up with the kids running around so I had him do it when he got home but by that point we were out of diapers and the kids didn't have sheets for their beds. Ahhh! Sometimes I love having a husband who does fix it chores but sometimes I wish we could just call someone. It would be so nice to have someone just take care of it and clean up the mess so I didn't have to worry. Plumbing problems are the very worst for this because they can be super expensive to fix but it's worth it to have running water and a dry basement I suppose.
For us the whole snake the drain thing didn't work so great anyway. E still puts too big of loads in the washer and it still overflows sometimes. For now I think I'll just stick to doing the laundry myself because I don't have time to spend another two days cleaning my plumbing right now.

This is a sponsored post however, all the points and views are my own

February 14, 2013

Love Finds You in Glacier Bay Alaska by Tricia Goyer and Ocieanna Fleiss

There is something to be said for having something and being grateful for it because you know it is there. It seems all too often we are searching for something that is right under our noses (like the salt as I was cooking dinner tonight). This is Ginny's problem in Love Finds You in Glacier Bay Alaska by Goyer & Fleiss. The story begins as Ginny is just one signature away from achieving the dream she has given up everything for and yet something does not feel right. As she heads to take a break from her problems and figure out what's missing she travels to Glacier Bay.

Upon arrival Ginny finds the friend she went to meet is unavailable but makes a new friend in a box of letters. The story of Ellie and Clay brings Ginny hope as she struggles to make her decisions. These two touching stories are brought into one great book that you won't want to miss. This is a wonderful story of hope, healing, community, and love that will touch your heart. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about both Ginny and Ellie as they struggled to find themselves in a world very different from the one they had planned on living in.

Happy Valentines Day Baby!

February 13, 2013

Food and Love: The True Meaning of Valentines - Day 8

There's just something about the holidays and bringing people to the table together. No wonder we feel so loved during the holiday season! I was blessed with a family that loves to cook (in fact, a few of us make it our job). Mealtimes make great family times and I love that my little family gets to sit down together for dinner almost every night. It's so fun to talk about our days and hear what others have to say. The stories are endless and the time is invaluable! If you want to read some great "around the table" stories you should check out Food and Love by Chicken Soup. This is a wonderful collection for around the table and even has recipes included so you can try your hand at making family time memorable. It's a great gift for any Valentine!

Goat Milk Stuff for the Woman in Your Life - Valentines Day 7

There is nothing better then feeling like a real woman for Valentines. If you're looking for the perfect gift for the woman in your life make sure you check out Goat Milk Stuff. They have a wonderful selection of natural soaps that are sure to please the ladies!
Lately I have been using their Lavender Essential Oil Soap for my baths and I am in love. Using this right before bed helps me sleep better. I know it's because of the Lavender. I've tried straight essential oils before but they are much to strong. This soap is wonderful because it gives me just enough oil to help me relax without their being so much that it makes me sick.

The soap itself is wonderful too. I deal with lots of break outs on my arms during the winter because I am always wrapped in some sort of sweatshirt or blanket. This soap has helped cure and prevent this problem. My arms are soft and smooth just like during the summer (and it's not any warmer out here in Idaho).
I highly recommend Goat Milk Stuff's natural products for your bath needs. You'll love whatever you choose to try!

"I Love You B"

February 12, 2013

Today I Declare War on Apathy

1. Lack of feeling or emotion
2. Lack of interest or concern

It's midterms week at the Kerr house and what are we dealing with? Apathy. Such a horrible opponent! There is nothing worse than an apathetic student when you are trying to teach, tutor, or simply paying for a college degree.
Recently I have been following a series of Facebook posts by a dear friend on this subject. She is a Middle School history teacher in our area who is struggling with apathy in her classroom. Here's what she had to say:

Jan 9 - 
Today I declare war on apathy. I am tired of being around youth who just don't care. I'm not sure what to load into my arsenal as I head into this war, I might even pull out the angry voice.

I'm locking and loading now: Arsenal list: Anger, compassion, Constant follow-up, Rewards, Punishments, Demands, Leniency, Vision!!!! Lots of opposites, but all may be necessary.

Jan 10 -
Day 2 of war on apathy: Weapon: one on one attention
Success rate: 7/9 success in task completion, but unclear if the kids actually care.
Remaining student's behavior- generally good, until the end of the day. Then general behavior pretty much flew out the window.

Jan 11 - 
Day 3: angry voice... Whole 6th hour class immediately on task... Me hating it :( .

Jan 20 - 
War on apathy... I actually filled in zeroes for all the missing work. I'm hoping they all panic and get in gear.

Jan 26 - 

Good news: my war on apathy has encouraged at least 10 students to raise their grade out of the D/F range. It doesn't seem like much, but it's a beginning. I have at least 5 more that I think are working on a recovery plan.

Feb 7 - 
War on Apathy part 43: EVEN MORE creativity in the classroom. If you would like to join me in my war, you can help by donating to my art supply in the classroom by going to: http://www.dickblick.com/ara/lists/2930/home


Art in the classroom is a great way to help fight apathy! We all know that kids are way more involved, and learn a lot more, when there are projects involved. This great teacher wants to help her kids bring history to life by creating their own life sized museum. I know the kids are going to love it!
To help fund the project our wonderful teacher has set up an account through Art Room Aid. This is a great place for teachers of any age or subject. People can then donate by either adding to a gift card amount or buying specific things on their wish list to help them keep art in the classroom.

Today, help me help this history teacher! Simply visit her wish list and donate to the cause (every dollar makes a difference). Her wish list includes things like scissors, markers, paint and clay that students can use for this project and may others. The children will thank you!

Jewelry That You Can Afford - Valentines Day 6

Another HUGE part of Valentines seems to be jewelry. This tends to be a tough topic for E and I because E would love to buy me jewelry but I simply don't wear it, never have. In fact, it took quite a while to get used to wearing my wedding ring (the only piece of jewelry I've worn in the five years we've been married). For those of you who do take part in this aspect of Valentine madness you need to check out Shadora. They have beautiful pieces at prices you really can afford. Won't your loved one be surprised at the great items you can get them without breaking the bank!
Dazzling Crystal Heart Rhodium-Plated Fashion Pendant
List Price: $109.99
Shadora's PRICE $7.99

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

February 11, 2013

The Perfect Dress - Valentines Day 5

I love having new clothes to wear when I'm out and about and now that I'm loosing some baby weight I'm enjoying shopping again. Recently I had the chance to try out this beautiful Openwork Cardigan from OASAP and I love it! This skirt I'm wearing it with is one of my very favorites, I've had it since middle school, and I love that it fits me again. I used to have a pink shirt with a big fur collar that I wore with it but I've found that it doesn't work so great to nurse in. Now I can wear it again though with this fun sweater! The lace in the back is beautiful and it's very easy for me to wear as a mom too.
I love OASAP and all their great fashions! Make sure you go check out their winter clearance for some great finds just in time for Valentines! Your valentine is sure to love whatever you choose from the great fashion line at OASAP. They add new styles almost every day but you'll want to grab them fast as the quantities are very limited! Go check it out!

February 7, 2013

A New Choice for Your Laundry

Baby Laundry Purex
This week I have been having a amazingly hard time getting things done. It seems like just when I get one task accomplished there are five more that need to be done. One of those tasks this week is laundry. I've had my washing machine going since first thing Monday morning and it still hasn't stopped. The even worse news is that I haven't had time to fold any laundry yet, since I can't do it while the kids are awake because it turns into an even bigger disaster, so all of my laundry is clean, but piled on my basement couch. At least, thanks to the new Purex Triple Action baby detergent I used, it smells nice. Someday maybe I'll be done potty training kids and have some help that can fold more than the socks and my laundry will be caught up. Until then, I'll use wonderful smelling laundry detergent and enjoy the nice smell it puts throughout my house.

Is It Your Body or Your Mind Speaking?

You have probably figured out by now that I am a woman of faith. I firmly believe that God is in control and that we, as humans, have spirits with full power over our physical bodies. Lots of people have tried to prove otherwise to me but it just doesn't work. Thinks like biorhythms and horoscopes are just another way that men try to control each other. It's all quite silly really. Why should we spend all of our time worried about what might go wrong? I much prefer to enjoy the good moments! I also love knowing that I can change my future. The decision is mine and I can do what I want with my life. This feature of humanity really is a gift from God!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

February 6, 2013

Safe in His Arms by Colleen Coble

There's nothing better than a good strong cowboy to defend you just when you think you've got it covered. Margaret finds just that kind of cowboy in Colleen Coble's Safe in His Arms. This wonderful novel about a born rancher who isn't quite the heir her father wanted and an the new foreman, Daniel, the ex-thief who just might be out to take away her inheritance. I wan't sure who to root for as the excitement began but I was sure thankful for this intriguing read as I spent sleepless nights with the new baby. This is an amazing book that you won't want to miss. Perfect for anyone teen, or older, who likes a good cowboy romance and an outlaw to boot!

My Laundry Man

February 4, 2013

The Perfect Children's Gifts

I'm always on the hunt for fun children's toys. Lately E has been yelling at me because I keep finding great deals on lots of fun things for baby F and I can't help myself. We have lots of trucks and legos for the boys not many dolls or pretend play toys for little girls. Mostly I want to find her a great baby doll so I can start making clothes for her to dress it in. I've been debating, should I get her a rag doll first or if I should just go straight into the hard faced dolls. Does anyone have a suggestion about what worked best for your daughter? I don't want anyone to get hurt with a hard faced doll but I also want something that is going to last a while. I'd love to hear what you think!

Valentines Food for a Diet - Valentines Day 4

I've always thought it was silly that we all make New Years resolutions, many of us to loose weight, and then the next big holiday is Valentines when we eat as much chocolate as possible. This year, because I am working on loosing weight, I have been working to find some fun foods to celebrate with that won't kill my weight loss just when it's going so well. Here's what I've come up with so far! As you can see we're going to have lots of fun for Valentines, and I'll still be able to meet my daily goals.

valentines heart eggs
These fun Eggs will be the perfect breakfast.
Photos from Yeowzers

Valentine breakfast eggs in bread
Source: craft-craft.net via Vicky on Pinterest
These awesome eggs and toast are another great breakfast idea!

Valentine Heart Hot Dogs

Source: totallypinteresting.com via Jessica on Pinterest
These fun Hot Dog Snacks are going to make the perfect lunch for me and the boys!

Valentine heart grilled cheese

Source: totallypinteresting.com via Ronnie on Pinterest
For dinner I'm thinking these fun heart sandwiches would be fun (since my kids love grilled cheese and tuna).

Valentine heart spaghetti

Source: mynameissnickerdoodle.com via Sharon on Pinterest
Another fun option would be spaghetti with these fun hearts. 

Valentines Heart Scone with Berries

Source: joandsue.blogspot.com via Jo and Sue on Pinterest
For dessert I'm going to splurge on these scones. They look awesome and I'm about ready for a fun sweet treat!

February 3, 2013

Finding the Perfect Flower: A Kate and Leopold Moment - Valentines Day 3

Just in case you hadn't figured it out yet I tend to be a little late on the movie scene. Mostly this is because there are so many other things I would rather be doing but every once in a while I do have to take a movie day. I do enjoy a good love story every once in a while however and recently we rented a few movies from the local library. One of the ones we picked up was Kate and Leopold. This happened to be a big hit because I love romantic comedies and E loves time travel movies. The reason I bring this up is because it talks a lot about learning how to show someone you care about them in traditional ways. Being the traditionalist that I am (no thanks to my father who is also a very traditional person) I was very impressed with Leopold's knowledge of dating. Today I share his advice about flower options, since we all know a flower is a very traditional gift on Valentines Day. Here is the exchange between Leopold and Charlie as they get ready for their respective dates:

Leopold: Did you assemble a bouquet for Patrice?
Charlie, grabbing a pre-made bouquet: I'll just get one of these. But look, you just can't tell a woman she's gracefully serene!
Leopold: No, no, no, this will not do.
Charlie: Why? What is wrong with this one?
Leopold: The orange lily implies extreme hatred, the lavendar and begonia danger and suspicion, respectively. Every flower has a meaning, Charles. Might I suggest the amaryllis, which declares the recipient a most splendid beauty.
(Kate and Leopold, Dir. James Mangold, 2001, PG-13)

The gift of a flower can bring a huge smile to someone's face but, as Leopold reminds us, make sure you know what you are giving. Here's a brief list of flowers, and what they say for your reference. If you're looking at flowers that aren't listed here there are many places to find their meaning, or ask your friendly florist and they can probably tell you too.

Amaryllis - splendid beauty
Apple Blossom - promise
Aster - patience
Baby's Breath - festivity
Calla Lily - magnificence and beauty 
Carnation - pride, beauty, gratitude
Daffodil - regard, charity, rebirth, eternal life
Daisy - innocence, purity
Gladiolus - strength of character, faithfulness, honor
Heather - admiration, solitude
Hyacinth - playfulness
Hydrangea - heartfelt emotion
Iris - wisdom, complements, faith, hope, passion, purity, inspiration
Lilac - youthful innocence, first love 
Lily - purity, refined beauty, virginity, passion, sweetness
Marigold - desire for riches
Orange Blossom - fertility
Orchid - delicate beauty
Pansy - loving thoughts
Rose - friendship, love, unity, purity
Snapdragon - presumptuous
Sunflower - adoration
Sweetpea - shyness
Tulip - caring, royalty, forgiveness, faithfullness

February 2, 2013

Ducky Love - A Valentines Game for Families: Valentines Day 2

I love Valentines Day because it gives us a good excuse to show others how much we care. One way we are sharing the true meaning of Valentines at our house this year is through little acts of Ducky Love. I found these cute little ducks through a local co-op they are about 1.5" tall and are the perfect size for this game. Playing is simple, I started by doing something kind for one of my family members. I can't tell you how excited this particular member of the family was to find this little duck. Then their job was to do something kind for someone else and leave the duck for them.
The boys are having lots of fun helping our little duck do nice things for others. It has been a great way to encourage sharing and kind deeds at the Kerr house. In fact, I'm already looking for ducks for other holidays so we can continue this game year round. We are having so much fun doing little things for each other!
It's easy to play, simply find a little friend (any animal will do) to help your family share the love. Here are some ideas to get your family started:

  • Make the bed
  • Do the dishes
  • Clean up the laundry
  • Put away the toys
  • Fold the socks
  • Set the table
  • Give a hug
  • Share a toy

This is just to get you started. Remember kind deeds are good for all and you're never to old to share the love so get started today and then come back and let me know your favorite piece of ducky love between now and Valentines!