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November 13th, 2010

Cheap Cable TV Deals

Life in the country is different than life in a major urban center in many, many ways.  One of those ways is the limited access to utilities.  In the ‘big city’ there are so many options for High Speed Internet and Cable TV Deals, in our neck of the woods we are limited to satellite or dial-up for our internet.  If we wanted any type of television access it would need to be satellite as well.  Our reception here just isn’t good enough to get even the three free peasant-vision channels that are available locally.

While in the city our children do enjoy a variety of programming that they don’t have access too here at home (Kaelynn loves science-oriented shows like “Mythbusters”, and Larry and I like the history channel), they make do with our extensive DVD collection here at home (one per day unless mommy is totally exhausted, which is…often lately!)

Still, in areas with more service it can take some time to compare the offers of various Internet Service Providers and cable television services.  Websites that let you search for deals based on your local area can help you cut the amount of valuable time it takes to research all your options.

November 13th, 2010

Baby Update

Well, in case you haven’t read it on my facebook yet, baby has definitely dropped and boy, it sure does feel funny!  Now that baby is lower I feel so FULL of baby!  I’ll be 37 weeks in two days (November the 15th) and after that if baby decides to arrive early it won’t be classed ‘pre-term labor’ and I should still be able to birth at my grandparents house, though our pool rental isn’t arriving until the 30th at the end of the month.

I’m feeling very tired, and very pregnant, and am definitely excited to meet this new little one – which likely won’t be for another 3+ weeks :).

November 10th, 2010

Green Books Campaign Book Review: College Without High School: A Teenager’s Guide by Blake Boles

collegewithouthighschoolThis review is part of the Green Books campaign.  Today 200 bloggers take a stand to support books printed in an eco-friendly manner by simultaneously publishing reviews of 200 books printed on recycled or FSC-certified paper. By turning a spotlight on books printed using eco- friendly paper, we hope to raise  the awareness of book buyers and encourage everyone to take the environment into  consideration when purchasing books.

The campaign is organized for the second time by Eco-Libris, a green company working to make reading more sustainable. We invite you to join the discussion on “green”books and support books printed in an eco-friendly manner! A full  list of participating blogs and links to their reviews is available on the Eco-Libris website.

The book I’m reviewing for the Green Books Campaign is College Without High School, it is printed on FSC certified paper made from 100% post-consumer waste, is chlorine free and printed with vegetable-based, low-VOC inks – you can’t do much better than that!  The publisher – New Society – also purchases carbon offsets so that they can operate with a carbon-neutral footprint, pretty neat!  Now, onto the review!

College Without High School is written directly to teenagers who long to escape from traditional educational establishments (like high school).  I’m sure that many of us can relate, I certainly can.  Author Blake Boles advocates a highly-motivated form of unschooling (self-directed learning) in which students can craft a plan that both fills their hearts with adventure and helps them to meet the admission requirements of major colleges.

This is a concise volume (less than 200 pages) that provides only a smattering of theory, a handful of examples, but many practical plans to help teens set goals, make plans, and chart a course towards college admission.  By getting right to it, Boles will have teens up and running with their own self-designed educational plan in no time while still providing plenty of recommendations for further reading in his “Reading and Resources” section.

Boles writes from a secular/adventure based worldview, but his easy-to-read writing style will help to inspire teens and reassure parents that it is possible to ‘do college’ without traditional high-school.  The portraits he draws of young people pursuing their dreams while learning to present their achievements in a way that admissions counselors understand is vivid and full of life.

Homeschoolers who don’t necessarily identify with the ‘unschooling’ label that Boles advocates will still find many similarities here between approaches they take with older students who should be pursuing personal interests and passions alongside some academics (like Boles advocates) at these ages.  This isn’t a ‘throw everything to the wind, I’m going on an adventure’ guide, rather it’s well thought out and carefully planned to see students achieve their goals of college.

CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW AT AMAZON.COM!

November 9th, 2010

DVD Review: The Kids Hymnal: Sing-Along DVD

kidshymnalOne of the main areas of Christian parenting that I see people (including myself) struggling with is establishing consistent times of devotion and worship in the lives of their children.  We all want our children to learn to praise the Lord through song, prayer, and study, but this so often falls by the wayside unless we have a consistent, daily plan in place.

Thankfully, resources such as The Kids Hymnal make it SO easy for parents to bring children into worship and praise.  This sing-along DVD includes the full content of the printed version of The Kids Hymnal but with on-screen graphics, lyrics, and sing-along music that all make it easy for children to learn the words to the songs.

The DVD includes a good mix of contemporary praise and choruses, traditional hymns, and some selections based on scripture that are set to song.  My children have quickly found some fast favorites that they ask for by name, and are always excited to put the DVD on to sing and dance to the songs.  My only complaint is that some of the songs are sung at a faster pace than I’d prefer to sing them too – particularly some of the older hymns that I’m used to singing at a more sedate pace.

This is really almost a worship experience in itself on a DVD, all I need to do is pop it on and my children are up and singing their hearts out, waiting for turns to pick the next songs.  They’re always a bit disappointed when it’s time to move on with our day.

The navigation is fairly straightforward, with four menu’s that divide the songs up into their numerical order (Songs 1 – 20, 21-40, 41-60, and 61-80).  The songs are then listed by the song number and name so it’s easy to navigate to the one you’d like to hear.  Each song features one of an assortment of animated backgrounds – nothing too fancy here, there seems to be a selection of 6-7 backgrounds and they vary from song to song.

The DVD is a stand-alone product, while it’s designed to co-ordinate with the other Kids Hymnal products, it is easily the most comprehensive because it includes both the lyrics and the music!  If I could only pick one Kids Hymnal product to buy, this would be it.  Of course, I do have the printed hymnals on the way as well (nothing to make a girl feel all grown up like having her ‘own’ hymnal!).  If you don’t have the hymnal itself, you’ll want to hang onto the case for easy reference because all of the songs are listed on the back of the cover.

Oh!  Have to go!  My seven-year-old just asked to put on the DVD so they can sing some songs!

CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW AT CHRISTIANBOOK.COM OR AMAZON.COM!

November 8th, 2010

Book Review: The Mayan Apocalypse by Mark Hitchcock and Alton Gansky

mayanapocalypseWith the year 2012 approaching the hype surrounding the Mayan prophecies surrounding the end of the world in December of that year is escalating.    Despite being wealthy and intelligent, oil executive Andrew Morgan is drawn deeply into these prophecies of destruction following the loss of his family.  Lisa Campbell on the other hand is a Christian reporter who remains skeptical of the theories at best.

Lisa’s work to uncover the motivation of those funding the 2012 movement leads her into ongoing contact with Morgan, and despite their conflicting beliefs they are drawn into a caring relationship with one another.

Author Mark Hitchcock is the author of the non-fiction title 2012, the Bible, and the End of the World, and his extensive research into the subject forms the backbone of The Mayan Apocalypse.  That functional backbone is however delivered in large chunks of background exposition rather than being smoothly spread out throughout the course of the novel.  The 2012 details and ‘evidence’ are then rather difficult to remember, being delivered mainly in a single chunk in the novel’s early portions.

A sixteen-month gap also results in a loss of cohesion of the storyline around 2/3 of the way through.  While this can be handled effectively it seems like major questions that were driving the story up until that point were just left behind and as a reader I had to wait for some time to find out what had happened regarding certain situations. .  Some final events in the story also seemed somewhat ‘tagged on’ rather than having inherent meaning in and of themselves.

Still, I found the romance between Lisa and Andrew to be sweet and appropriate.  The first portions of the story were also exciting and filled with a certain amount of suspense. Finally, The Mayan Apocalypse left me interested in reading Hithcock’s non-fiction work regarding the subject because it’s apparent that he’s done his research on this potentially confusing topic, the novel just doesn’t quite manage to pull off the degree of flow I’d normally expect in a work of fiction.

CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW AT CHRISTIANBOOK.COM OR AMAZON.COM!

November 7th, 2010

Book Review: Love Has a Face by Michelle Perry

lovehasafaceMichelle Perry’s true-life story is both inspiring and moving, not to mention convicting.  Born without a leg and surviving many surgeries in her early years, she went on to embrace the love of Jesus and seek to live out that love through her own life.  Her journey eventually led her to Sudan in Africa where she currently lives amongst, ministers, evangelizes, and loves, a group of children and their communities as she seeks to spread the love of Christ.

Reading about life in the Sudan is deeply touching, and I was moved to tears by reading of Perry’s experiences caring for the ‘least of these’ that she finds in need of prayer and attention there.  Love Has a Face isn’t chronologically arranged, but is presented more in the form of vignettes or snapshots and jumps forwards and backwards through time as Perry reflects upon her journey and experiences.

Readers uncomfortable with charismatic expressions and experiences of faith may find some of Perry’s writing off-putting as she speaks of seeing visions, encountering Jesus face to face, watching God heal through prayer, and more.  Though I’m not charismatic, I found the sharing of her personal faith-walk inspiring, though it differs from my own.

Perry calls each reader to delve more deeply into love with their Savior and work wherever god has placed them to spread that love abroad amongst those they are called to work with.  Her faith-building story certainly reminds us that God is still very actively at work in the world around us.

CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW AT CHRISTIANBOOK.COM OR AMAZON.COM!

November 3rd, 2010

Book Review: Ten Big Toes and a Prince’s Nose by Nancy Gow, Illustrated by Stephen Costanza

tenbigtoesWritten in rhyme, Ten Big Toes and a Prince’s Nose is the story of a beautiful princess with unusually large feet, and a witty prince with an unusually large nose.  Having both faced rejection from potential spouses throughout their lives, both are blessed with a parent who encourages them to stay true to who they are.  When at last they meet each other, it’s love, even when their unusual traits are revealed to one another.

This is a great story with a lovely fairy-tale type theme that encourages self-acceptance and also the acceptance of others who may have unique traits and characteristics.  What really make it stand out are the incredibly luscious illustrations.  Rendered in richly saturated jewel tones, Stephen Costanza’s artwork has a feathery, soft-focus feeling that lends itself well to the fairy-tale setting.

CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW AT AMAZON.COM!

November 1st, 2010

Book Review: The Hug by Lesley Simpson, Illustrated by Yayo

The Hug is one of those retro books that hold great appeal for parents of my generation.  Simply looking at the cover is enough to bring to mind warm fuzzy, whimsical feelings of early elementary school (the original released in 1985).  The Hug has now been re-released as a board book with revised text and illustrations for 2010.
The Hug is a being that has gone through the trials of identity crisis.  He hasn’t always wanted to be a hug.  He’s tried being a soother (but didn’t like the slobber), a tire swing (but got dizzy), and a toilet seat (but was afraid of the flush).  However, when he finds a friend (a dog in this version) who is feeling glum, he administers a hug and realizes the fulfillment in his calling of spreading warm, fuzzy love!  He then proceeds to hug everything in order to get back in practice, since his first attempt was a bit wobbly from lack of use.
Parents like me will be hard-pressed to resist checking out this new, revised version.  The illustrations are softer and more colorful, but they are still very friendly and whimsical.  This is a cute book for young children about the value of sharing hugs presented in a playful way.  Oh, the memories.

thehugThe Hug is one of those retro books that hold great appeal for parents of my generation.  Simply looking at the cover is enough to bring to mind warm fuzzy, whimsical feelings of early elementary school (the original released in 1985).  The Hug has now been re-released as a board book with revised text and illustrations for 2010.

The Hug is a being that has gone through the trials of identity crisis.  He hasn’t always wanted to be a hug.  He’s tried being a soother (but didn’t like the slobber), a tire swing (but got dizzy), and a toilet seat (but was afraid of the flush).  However, when he finds a friend (a dog in this version) who is feeling glum, he administers a hug and realizes the fulfillment in his calling of spreading warm, fuzzy love!  He then proceeds to hug everything in order to get back in practice, since his first attempt was a bit wobbly from lack of use.

Parents like me will be hard-pressed to resist checking out this new, revised version.  The illustrations are softer and more colorful, but they are still very friendly and whimsical.  This is a cute book for young children about the value of sharing hugs presented in a playful way.  Oh, the memories.

CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW AT AMAZON.COM!

November 1st, 2010

Book Review: Valley of the Shadow by Tom Pawlik

Valley_CoverBuilding upon the story begun in Vanish, Tom Pawlik surprised me by coming up with much more to write set in the otherworldly setting he so eerily created there.  Vanish worked well as a stand-alone novel, and I wasn’t sure what else could be added to the work that he completed there, but Valley of the Shadow proved to be even better written and more compelling than the original.

Characters from the original novel (reading it first is recommended) meet again in the land ‘in-between’ spaces to struggle for the soul of one who is trapped between eternal destinies.  Physical danger in the land of the living is juxtaposed against a stunning fight in the spiritual.

The pace is very fast, and Pawlik somehow avoids the clumsiness of the prose that Vanish opened with; it’s straight into the action, straight into the fray.  If you liked the premise but were a bit turned-off by the writing (as I was), you should find Valley of the Shadow far more readable, and therefore, more enjoyable!

CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW AT CHRISTIANBOOK OR AMAZON.COM!

November 1st, 2010

CFBA Tour: The Mayan Apocalypse by Mark Hitchcock and Alton Gansky

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Mayan Apocalypse Harvest House Publishers(September 1, 2010)

by Mark Hitchcock & Alton Gansky
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Mark Hitchcock is the author of more than 17 books related to end-time Bible prophecy, including the bestselling 2012, the Bible, and the End of the World. He earned a ThM and PhD from Dallas Theological Seminary and is the senior pastor of Faith Bible Church in Edmond, Oklahoma. He has worked as an adjunct professor at DTS and has served as a contributing editor for the Left Behind Prophecy Club for five years.


Alton Gansky is the author of 30 books—24 of them novels, including the Angel Award winner Terminal Justice and Christie Award finalist A Ship Possessed. A frequent speaker at writing conferences, he holds BA and MA degrees in biblical studies. Alton and his wife reside in Southern California.
ABOUT THE BOOK

On the heels of Mark Hitchcock’s prophecy bestseller 2012, the Bible, and the End of the World comes a suspenseful novel (coauthored with bestselling novelist Alton Gansky) about the supposed expiration date of planet earth—December 21, 2012.
Andrew Morgan is a wealthy oil executive in search of the meaning of life. In his quest for answers he encounters the ancient Mayan predictions that the world will end in 2012. That the claims seem supported by math and astronomy drives him to check on them. Then he meets Lisa Campbell, an attractive Christian journalist also researching the Mayan calendar. When he learns that she is a Christian, he quickly dismisses what she has to say.

As the time draws closer to December 21, 2012, a meteorite impact in Arizona, a volcanic eruption, and the threat of an asteroid on a collision-course with earth escalate fears. Are these indicators of a global apocalypse? Will anyone survive? Does Lisa’s Christian faith have the answers after all? Or has fate destined everyone to a holocaust from which there is no escape?

Watch the book trailer:

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Mayan Apocalypse, go HERE.

Welcome!

Jennifer. Follower of Yeshua. Wife of one man. Homeschooling mother of 5.