Wednesday, November 19, 2014

It's All Fun and Games Until....

Well, we are having quite the interesting experience in public school this year. If you've been following me at all, then you'll know I've not been too excited about it all along. I've been trying to keep an open mind and I've also been telling myself it's going to get better..... but it has really yet to do so unfortunately. I feel like every week something happens to frustrate me and they are starting to really build up. 

Malachi seems to be having a good time so far though. His favorite subjects are PE and recess (of course!). He seems to be doing well and getting along okay with the other kids. Most of my complaints stem from the fact that there are 23 kids in his classroom and only one poor teacher! I think she seriously needs some help other than us parent volunteers once or twice a week.

Last Friday I got my first call from the school nurse. I'm actually surprised it took this long to happen. =) Apparently Malachi and another kid collided on the playground and Malachi came away with a big bump on his eyebrow bone. It's been quite interesting to watch the progression of colors everyday as it heals. 

I am in no way blaming this one on the school... this was completely an accident caused by rambunctious boys playing. It's almost comical how terrible his eye looks considering it wasn't actually his eye that got hit. I'm almost afraid to take him out in public because of the comments and stares we get! I told him it looks like he was in a UFC fight!

It is now Wednesday of the week following this collision and his eye still looks basically like the one in the fourth picture. Good thing school pictures have already been taken! I was taking daily pictures (obviously) but when I figured out how long it was going to  take to go away I decided to ease up. =)

Anyway... here's hoping to this being the only incident with the nurse this year. =)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Product Reviews: Crazy Cups Single Serve Coffees

Today it is a very cold day in the Pacific Northwest. We aren't too used to below freezing weather here - even most of the winter, but this has been a frigid week with last night in the 20s! Eek!

It's a perfect day to curl up on the couch with a book and a yummy cup of coffee! A fun company contacted me to sample some of their flavored coffee and today seems like a good day to talk about them. 

Crazy Cups produces a HUGE variety of flavored coffees packaged that are Keurig K Cup compatible! They currently have 20 flavors of coffee including  Banana Foster Flambe, Salted Caramel, Death by Chocolate Cinnamon Churro and many, many more!
Crazy Cups coffees each have 13g of pre-ground coffee which is 30% more than k cups for an extra flavorful cup! Also, all flavors are sugar free with zero calories!

In addition to flavored coffees, Crazy Cups also have four yummy hot chocolate flavors and a hot apple cider! Yum! Perfect for the upcoming holidays, right?

An awesome feature of Crazy Cups is that the packaging is recyclable! Ever feel bad that you're filling up the landfills with millions of little plastic single-serve coffee containers (one of the reason I tend to use my reusable one most days!) Crazy Cups Cool, Peel, Recycle technology allows for a more responsible and eco-friendly alternative for those days when you just want to brew yourself a quick cup!

Crazy Cups sent me an awesome sampler of coffees to try out! I have to admit, I don't think flavored coffee is really my thing. I guess I'm a little boring in my half-and-half and coconut sugar each morning. I really enjoyed the yummy hot chocolate flavors though! Each cup of coffee or hot chocolate is full of flavor and is very sweet! You can smell the flavors coming from your cup even before you take your first sip!

Want to win your own sampler of Crazy Cups??? Just download their app and get entered in the giveaway where they're giving a box to a lucky winner every day until the 15th!
Click here to link to the android app! The iPhone app should be launching soon.

Please visit the Crazy Cups website for more information and to view all the yummy products!

Disclosure: I received a free sampler pack of Crazy Cups coffees to test in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received and all thoughts are opinions are strictly my own.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Fall Fun

We are full speed into Fall and it's been busy around here! Malachi is loving school (even though I'm still not too sure about the crazy teacher and even crazier school) and Zach and I are enjoying our solo time together. =)

Zach and I spent a day together with our MOPS group at the local pumpkin patch. So fun to run around with this little man. I feel so blessed that he is finally running around like he should be. I can't even get too mad when he's running away from me!

This particular pumpkin patch has a lot of fun activities for kids. A huge sandbox in the barn is a big hit and so is the water trough and pump. We also saw some little bitty kittens that Zachary was super excited about. We went on a hayride, bought a few tiny pumpkins and went through a hay bale maze in the barn.

Definitely fun to spend time with friends and with Zach!

Malachi was disappointed that we weren't going to go to the pumpkin patch as a family, so Shaun and I decided to take the boys out all together to the other patch in town.

This was Zach's first day with boots and he was excited about that. =) Malachi had a great time walking around and "measuring" pumpkins for the right size (middle picture above). He finally found the one he thought was perfect.

Malachi and I carved his pumpkin a little too early.... it was rotting by the time Halloween arrived.... but we had fun doing it.

Malachi also went to the pumpkin patch with his school and his dad. Unfortunately, his dad broke his phone and he doesn't have the pictures from that day, but we DO have a good one of the giant pumpkin they carved together.

And last but not least - Halloween! My boys went as a cowboy and a pirate this year. Zach wore Malachi's old pirate costume. My mom made  both the costumes.

Malachi had a terrible runny nose, but he was super excited. I had to work, so all my pictures are secondhand from my mom and husband. Love these silly boys. =)

Friday, October 31, 2014

Book Review: The Daughter of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky

Book Details:
Title:  The Daughter of Highland Hall 
Series:  Edwardian Brides #2
Author: Carrie Turansky
2014, Waterbrook Press
ISBN: 9781601424983
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction

Book Summary:
Eighteen-year-old Katherine Ramsey travels to London with her family to make her debut into society and hopefully find her future husband. Her overbearing aunt insists she must secure a proposal from a wealthy young man who is in line to inherit his father’s title and estate. But Katherine questions her aunt’s plans when she gets to know Jonathan Foster, a handsome medical student and strong Christian who is determined to protect the poor and vulnerable in London’s East End.

When a family scandal puts a damper on Katherine’s hopes for the season, she has time to volunteer with Jonathan, caring for children in one of London’s poorest areas, and romance blossoms. Katherine’s faith grows and she begins to envision a different future with Jonathan. But when Katherine’s work in the East End puts her in danger, Jonathan distances himself from Katherine to protect her. A wealthy suitor reappears, and Katherine must choose which path to follow. 

My Review:
I read the first book in this series The Governess of Highland Hall. This book picks up right after that, but I think it could easily be read as a stand-alone book. There are definitely references to the past book and a tiny bit of the continuing story of Julia Foster and Sir William Ramsey, but I do not think it would make the reader confused.

This was a pretty good story set in London England during the Season in the early 1900’s. Katherine Ramsey is coming out for her debut Season in London and is trying to find a suitable husband. She is looking for a wealthy man with a title, of course. Her aunt takes her to her presentation to the Queen and to all the high society parties.

Jonathan Foster is finishing up his medical training and is trying to make a decision for his future. Does he go back to India to continue in the missionary work of his parents, or does he make is own way and work at the local hospital or the free clinic in the East End. The more he works with the poor in the East End, the more he feels pulled there. Katherine starts volunteering with Jonathan at the clinic and grows to love the work.

There is also an interesting side story going on about Katherine’s lady’s maid Lydia and her sister Helen. Helen has run off from the family farm to London with a man! Lydia is extremely worried for her and Katherine and Jonathon offer to help her find her sister. They come to find her living in a very unsavory place and have to work together to get her out of her situation.

The budding romance between Katherine and Jonathan was very genuine, I thought. It wasn’t forced or contrived and I felt like it moved at a moderate pace. There were the usual misunderstandings, but what relationship isn’t?

I felt like this was a pretty good read. It was interesting to read about places like the East End and their conditions and also about the opposite side of society like the presentation to the royal family.

Additional Book Info:
More Info
Author Bio

Disclosure: I was provided with a free copy of this book free of charge by Blogging for Books for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are strictly my own.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Book Review: A Love Undone by Cindy Woodsmall

Book Details
Title: A Love Undone
Author: Cindy Woodsmall
2014, Waterbrook Press
ISBN: 9780307730008
Genre:  Christian Fiction

Book Summary
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?

My Review
I always enjoy these Amish stories by Cindy Woodsmall and this one was no exception. Sometimes I feel that Amish fiction is very much in a box. Authors tend to write the same story over and over, but I usually feel like these are a little different and tackle different issues.

This story is about Jolene Keim and Andy Fisher. We met Andy briefly in the novella Dawn of Christmas. Andy is a “grass widower”, a man whose wife has left him – and the Amish faith – but according to the Amish ways, he is still bound to her in marriage and cannot divorce or marry another. He seems to have been fairly content or resigned to this role of raising his young son along until he meets Jolene.

Jolene gave up her dreams of a family of her own as the oldest of about 5 children and their parents die in a freak accident. She takes on raising her siblings alone…. but when she meets Andy she thinks she might have another chance at love. Andy challenges her to face her fears and become a better person despite the things that have happened to her in her past.

I was a little frustrated with their growing relationship and the fact that Jolene had a hard time accepting Andy’s situation even after she found out the truth about it, but honestly – relationships are complicated and messy.  Overall though, this was a good book. It tackles some of the interesting points in the Amish lifestyle, but makes you feel like the people are realistic.

A very good read for those who love Amish fiction!

Additional Resources

Disclosure: I was provided with a free copy of this book free of charge by Blogging for Books for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are strictly my own.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Projects, Cleaning and Pinterest

I have been making an attempt to actually use some of my Pinterest pins. There are SO many - does anyone else ever feel overwhelmed by the gazillions of ideas out there? Truth is, I could probably live to a hundred and not use all my pins, but that doesn't seem to keep me from finding more!

One I decided a couple months ago that I was going to do was to make a pumpkin out of canning rings for Fall. Check! Done!

Cute right? This one is sitting next to my TV in the living room, but I made another one with the wide mouth lids for my dining room table. LOVE!

On a more unpleasant note, I ended up with an unexpected day off from work today. Malachi got sick last night.... very sick... several times. Very strange because there was no fever and he seemed almost normal today, but last night was not fun. I  washed A LOT of laundry today, sheets, mattress covers (he started in my bed and moved to his own.....) pillow cases, pajamas... you get the picture. So I decided to hunt down one of my pins buried in a Cleaning/Household Ideas board for washing pillows (I had two different methods pinned, of course, so I picked the simplest one). Amazing!

This is seriously TMI, but I couldn't believe the difference. The original blogger suggested doing this every 2-3 months - I just might had to attempt that after seeing these results. These are my pillows.

Kind of incredible the difference right? I'm looking forward to sleeping on these pillows tonight. Malachi's got done today too, but I'm going to do my husband's and any other pillows I can find sometime this week.

And lastly... I have about a MILLION recipes pinned. Many, many of them are pumpkin related. I could obviously make these any time of the year, but for some reason I can only do it when it's cold outside. =) Tonight I made these copycat Starbucks pumpkin scones....

Granted, mine do not have the yummy frosting on them yet (although that was also provided in the recipe), but they are still super yummy. I think if I make them again (or I should say when) I will definitely put more spices than called for in them, but other than that they definitely satisfied my pumpkin craving for the day. 

I felt like a accomplished a lot today AND marked a few things off my Pinterest To-Do list as well!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Smooth Mornings

Who doesn't want their mornings to be as simple as possible? Probably everyone, but it's especially nice for people like me who are not morning people at all. If it were up to me, I'd probably lay around it bed until 10am everyday (maybe its a good thing its not up to me!) When I actually DO make it out of bed (at 7:30 if I'm lucky, not 10), I'm really not too awake for awhile.... and if I worked the night before until 11:30pm... I'm probably really not with it.

Sooo... I've tried to make our mornings to school as easy as possible. I make Malachi's lunch the night before and stick the whole packed thing in the refrigerator. The only thing I add is a frozen tube of yogurt as we walk out the door (amazingly I've never forgotten this).

One of my favorite time savers was part of a project I started back before summer ended. I wasn't quite sure how I was going to do it or if it was really going to be worth it, but it turned out great! (I originally got this idea from TheGunnySack blog)

I had purchased this 6 cubbie hanging shelf at Target for about $6.99, I think. They had a nicer, sturdier looking one, but it cost more, so I didn't get it. I wasn't sure if I'd want the 6th shelf eventually, so I have temporarily pinned it up with a super fancy binder clip... I know... really amazing right? Honestly, I think I could use the last shelf for Sunday morning church clothes, but then it starts getting down around his shoes...... so I"m thinking of just officially tacking up the  bottom shelf.

My mom is amazing and made the little hanging days of the week tags for me. I think she printed on the fabric with her printer (using the tutorial from the originally blog post, I think) and then she sewed them to the blue background. They are nice kinda thick, so they don't get bent up. 

I wasn't sure how I was going to attach them, but I finally just decided to take the old needle and thread and tack the corners. They are easily removable if I ever wanted to do something else with it (or possibly get the nicer hanging shelf and move the labels over to that one).

Anyway... it is great!!! So worth the effort! On Sunday, I just look at the weather report for the week and make sure he had the right clothes. I put everything in the cubbie for that day including socks and underwear. When the weather was nice and he was wearing shorts, I'd even put his sneakers in the Friday cubbie, so he'd remember he needed them for P.E. that day and couldn't wear sandals. He just gets up in the morning and puts on those clothes for the day. I don't have to worry about if he's matching, wearing something weather appropriate or if there are enough clean pants for the week... it's all done! Hooray!

Now... if I could just talk my husband into dropping him off at school in the morning, so I don't have to do it, my mornings would be about as good as they could get. =)