Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Have You Tried You Version?

Have you tried You Version?  I finally took a look at it several weeks ago, and I love it!!  A friend told me about it months ago, but I never took the time to check it out.  I recently remembered it, though, and decided to take a look.

Most of you probably know what You Version is, but I'll explain just in case.  You Version is a website ( where you can go to read the Bible, make observations or ask questions of others, bookmark passages and make comments on them, etc.  There are quite a few Bible versions available there, and there are about 20 different Bible reading plans available there too. 

Since I did the Bible in 90 Days (which I'm sorry to say I wasn't very faithful to post about), I've wanted to keep in the habit of reading my Bible every day.  One of the main problems I have with that, though, is forgetting to read until after I've gotten in bed at night.  Or some days I read earlier in the day and don't get finished with the entire passage or chapter or section that I want to read that day.  Many times, I remember that I need to finish reading right after I get in bed. 

When that happens, it's not very likely that I'll get out of bed and finish my reading.  Sometimes Scott is already in bed, and I don't want to turn on the lights and disturb him.  Other times I'm just so tired (ok......or lazy!) that I won't get up and get my Bible and go read it somewhere else. 

I decided to download the You Version app on my cell phone, which I keep beside my bed at night.  Now, if I remember that I need to read my Bible or finish reading it after I'm in bed at night, I just reach over and grab my phone and read!  It's so neat!! 

And because I'm reading it on my cell phone, I can read it anywhere I happen to be without having to try to remember to bring my Bible along.  My son gets allergy shots, so we are at the ENT's office once a week for that.  Sometimes when I'm sitting there waiting, I'll grab my cell phone and read some (or maybe all) of the day's Bible reading.  I've also read it when I've been stuck in the check-out line at the store, or when I've been riding (not driving!) in the car.  I almost always have my cell phone with me, so it's available any time for me to read! 

I picked out a reading plan, so the calendar (there at You Version) tells me exactly what I need to read each day.  If I want to read ahead, that's no problem either.  Once I've read a particular day's reading, it is automatically highlighted on the calendar so that I can easily tell I've already read it. 

The plan I chose to read this time is one in which I should finish reading the Bible in a year.  For this reading, I'm doing a one-year reading since I already did the 90-day reading.  I want to be able to take a little more time and read more slowly and carefully this time since I already read it the "quick-overview" way. 

I don't do a lot of reading on my computer, but if I wanted to, I could do my reading on the computer instead of my cell phone.  I actually prefer to do it on my phone, though, since it is more portable than my computer.  I have more freedom to read whenever and wherever I want to on my phone. 

If you haven't looked at You Version yet, you might want to do that.  I'm really glad I did! 
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Monday, December 20, 2010

Memoir Mondays Week 13

This week's Memoir Mondays questions are, appropriately, about gifts.  I love giving gifts to people--especially when I know I'm giving something that the recipient will love!  That's one reason why I really like to have some idea of what each person would like to receive at Christmas or for his or her birthday, etc.  I don't want the person to know exactly what I'm giving him, but having an idea of what he wants helps me feel like I'm giving him something he will really enjoy while not knowing exactly what he's getting. 

With my kids, getting an idea of what each one wants is not generally a problem!  The problem with them is narrowing down their lists to a reasonable number of gifts that are in a reasonable price range.  This is not an easy job!  I really think my husband and I did a pretty good job this year, though, of finding gifts for our kids that we think they will enjoy that weren't too unreasonably expensive.  We also managed to get a few gifts for each child from his or her "wish list" along with a surprise or two as well. 

As Scott and I were shopping a few weeks ago, we discussed how much easier it was to shop for the kids when they were all small.  Back then, they didn't really care what they got, and they loved whatever we gave them.  When they were all 2 or 3 or 4 years old, we could just walk into the store (or look on the computer), pick out something we thought they would like, and we were done!  Things are, unfortunately, more complicated than that now. 

1.  What is the best gift you have ever given?

I remember when Noah (now age 13) was about 6 or 7 and Scott and I gave him a GameBoy for Christmas.  He had been really wanting one, but we hadn't had the money to buy one for him.  Because we didn't want him to be terribly disappointed on Christmas, we had told him ahead of time that he wouldn't be getting the GameBoy.  Then, somehow--I don't remember how--we ended up having some extra money right before Christmas.  We used the unexpected money to buy the GameBoy for him.  When he opened that present on Christmas, he was so thrilled!  I don't even remember what I got that Christmas, but I do will always remember what he got that day.  :)

2.  What is the oddest gift you have ever received? What did you do with it?

I haven't, thankfully, received very many really odd gifts.  I did receive a strange little silver "spoon" of some kind one year from a friend.  I wasn't sure (and still am not sure) what its purpose is.  I don't know if it was meant to be a decoration or what.  For several years, I put it on the shelf with my other Christmas decorations and trinkets.  Then, a year or two ago, I decided to hang it on the Christmas tree.  I figured that other folks who saw it would figure it was supposed to be an ornament and wouldn't know the difference!  (The person who gave it to me lives in a different state, so I don't have to worry about her seeing it on the tree if it's not meant to be there.) 

If you'd like to read some more Memoir Mondays responses, just visit April at Heartfelt Homeschooling.   She will be taking next week off, but the week after that she'll be back with more Memoir Mondays questions. 

I'd love to know what's on your Christmas wish list this year!  I would really like to have some good-smelling soaps and shampoos and lotions from Virginia Soaps & Scents.  I'm trying to get my family members to stop using regular hair and body products that are full of chemicals, etc.  Last year the TOS Homeschool Crew reviewed some products from Virginia Soaps & Scents, so that's how I was introduced to their company. 

I would also love to have a Kindle ebook reader.  I read a lot, and when the kids and I go to a doctor's appointment or somewhere else where we might have to wait for a while, I often bring several books with me.  (I never know which book I might want to read!)  I'd love to have several books on one ebook reader to cut down on all the books I lug around all the time! 

What's at the top of your list this year? 
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Family Board Game Review

Have you ever heard of North Star Games?  I hadn't until a few weeks ago when I received a game from them to review for the TOS Homeschool Crew.  My family and I love to play board games together, so we were really excited about this review, and we have certainly not been disappointed! 

The game we received for review is called Wits and Wagers Family.  I haven't ever seen the original Wits and Wagers game, but if the name of the game is accurate, the original game probably contains some kind of wager-making.  In the family edition, though, there is no gambling element, and the questions are all family friendly too.  The game is perfect for large or small families too, since it can be played by 3 to 10 players. 

Here's how it works.  One person reads a question, and every person (or team) must guess an answer.  The answers are all numbers, so even if you have no idea of the correct answer, you can still guess a number and go for it.  The questions, for example, might be something like:  How many Disney princesses are there?  Or something like:  How many 5th grade students were enrolled in school in the year 1995?  The questions cover a very wide variety of topics, and we really enjoyed hearing the new question each time just because we never had any idea what it might be! 

After the question is read, each person or team guesses at the answer and writes it down on his white board.  Once all answers are written, the white boards are put on the table for everyone to see. The players then place their meeples (the game pieces that you see in the photo below) on the boards with the answers that they think are correct.  Players get points by answering correctly (or being the closest to the correct answer), placing the big meeple on the board with the correct answer, and/or placing the little meeple on the board with the correct answer.  That may be a little confusing since you can't watch a game being played, but it's really an easy game to play, and it's so much fun!!

The thing I personally love the most about this game is that everyone in the family can play it regardless of age.  It's very difficult to find games that the whole family can play together when there are teens as well as younger children in the family.  Usually the younger one ends up feeling left out because games that are interesting to her are too easy (and therefore not much fun) for the older ones.  This game is so much fun for all of us that that's not an issue. 

Everyone in the family can enjoy listening to the fun questions.  My 8-year-old daughter loves writing her answers on the white board and placing her meeples on the answers she thinks are correct (just because she thinks the meeples are so cute).  My teenage son enjoys trying to guess which folks have the closest-to-correct answers to place his meeples on so he can win!  My husband and I just enjoy spending time and having fun with the kids playing a game that we can all enjoy. 

This game would make a wonderful Christmas present for kids or adults of just about any age.  It is available at most Target and Borders stores as well as specialty stores, or you can look for it online.  I looked several places online and found it for less than $20. 

If you'd like to see how the other Crew members liked the game and how it worked in their families, you can do that here

Do you have a favorite game that you and your family like to play?  If so, please leave me a comment telling me what it is.  I'd love to check it out!
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hand of Fate Book Review

I recently read Hand of Fate by Lis Wiehl with April Henry.  This novel was different from the type of reading I generally do, but it was interesting for the most part.  The main character, Jim Fate, dies while on the air on his popular and controversial political radio show.  A group of friends calling themselves the Triple Threat Club become involved with his murder investigation.  The ladies in this club have a distinct set of skills as they include an FBI agent, a federal prosecutor, and a journalist.  They use these skills to uncover a surprising conclusion at the end of the book.

Overall I found the book to be entertaining.  I'm not sure, though, if I would be interested in reading more books by the same author unless the other books had  significantly different plots and characters.  I did feel that the characters were interesting, but they could have used more depth to make them seem more realistic.  Jim Fate was the most interesting character.  Learning about him second-hand was a little bit out of the ordinary--which I enjoyed.

My main thought on this book is that the book was almost predictable but not quite!  The ending wasn't actually easy to guess until the book was almost over.  Other parts of the plot, however, felt a little cliche' on occasion.  Some of the conversations felt like soap operas and "teenage talk."  In short, the book was interesting and written pretty well, but it just wasn't quite what I'm personally interested in. 


NOTE:  This book was given to me free in exchange for writing this review.  The opinions expressed in this review are my own honest opinions.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Memoir Mondays Week 12

This past week has been so busy!  I finished my Christmas shopping and even got almost everything wrapped.   I'm so relieved to have that done!  After Christmas I'll have to tell you about the things I got for my kiddos this year.  I came across some good deals and some really fun things that I think they will love.  My kids don't usually read my blog, but you know they would somehow end up reading it today if I told what I got for them.  (How do kids just know when to do things like that!?)

Now, on a totally different subject is this week's Memoir Mondays topic.  Well, actually it's topics since the two questions aren't always related.  The first question asks if I ever had roommates or companions and to tell about them and the things I learned from living with others. 

My answer is that I did not ever have roommates or companions.  When I went to college, I commuted since I didn't have the money to stay in the dorm.  I paid my own way through college, and I just didn't want to take out lots of huge loans just so I could live on-campus.  There was never really another time in my life where there was a possibility of having a roommate since I got married before I finished college and never really lived on my own.

I did learn a lesson when I first got married, though!  Looking back, it's kind of funny.  At the time, though, it wasn't funny at all!  My husband is not a morning person at all!  I had never spent a lot of time with him first thing in the morning until we got married, so I didn't really quite understand the depth of his "I'm-not-a-morning-person"  condition. 

I remember one morning after we had been married for about two weeks.  We were both in the bathroom brushing our teeth and getting ready to leave the house for school/work.  He was not talking or smiling and was acting really, well, miserable and yucky.  I began to wonder if he was sorry that he had married me and if he was miserable with me.  Over the next few days, I worried more and more about it because he always seemed so miserable around me!  (During this particular time, we both worked full time and went to college full time.  We both also took night classes.  Because of that, we mostly only saw each other in the mornings for several months right after we got married.) 

One day, I broke down crying and just asked him if he wished he hadn't married me and if he was miserable thinking of spending the rest of his life with me.  He burst out laughing!  While I was a little relieved, I was also very confused!  Then, once he explained how he's just "not himself" in the mornings, I felt so much better!  I remember the total relief I felt and how happy it made me to know that it was just a big misunderstanding.  What a lesson I learned that day!!

The second Memoir Mondays question asks if I had a favorite tv or radio show as a child or youth.  I watched waaaaay too much tv growing up.   I watched either The Three Stooges or The Little Rascals every morning before school while we got dressed.  I remember watching the Brady Bunch in the afternoons after school.  We also watched M*A*S*H (usually with our dad), Love Boat, Star Trek, Fantasy Island, I Dream of Jeannie, Andy Griffith, and more, I'm sure.  In fact, there are a few I remember but can't remember the names of the shows.

We watched lots of cartoons on Saturday mornings--the good ones that don't come on much any more.  We loved Tweetie Bird, Donald Duck, Bugs Bunny, Road Runner, and all those "oldies but goodies" that came on back then.   Today's cartoons just don't compare!

I would love to hear what your favorite tv show was while you were growing up.  Also, you might want to visit April at Heartfelt Homeschooling to see what she and other participants had to say.
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Monday, December 6, 2010

Memoir Mondays Week 11

It seems like the weeks are flying by!  It's just a few weeks until Christmas, and I haven't even started my Christmas shopping.  (No, I'm not kidding.  I really haven't bought one single Christmas present.)  I probably mentioned in an earlier post that we always put up our Christmas decorations the day after Thanksgiving, so the living room is decorated (the only room in the house that we decorate) and the tree is up.  There are no presents under it, though.  Right now, the only things under the tree are our two cats.  They enjoy napping under the warm glowing lights (when they aren't busy knocking ornaments off the tree and batting them around on the floor!). 

The week 11 Memoir Mondays questions, along with my answers, are below.  If you'd like to read the hosting blog and see her answers or those of other participants, just click here

1. What was winter like where you grew up? What kinds of activities did you and your family do during the winter?

Having lived in the South all of my life, we've never had really cold winters.  I do remember a few winters when it snowed and when we had a few really cold "snaps" for a few days or even weeks, but overall our winters are very mild.  Because of the mild winters here, our winter activites really didn't differ all that much from the activities we did the rest of the year.  We were still able to go outside most days and ride our bicycles, play at the park that was across the street from where we grew up, and most of the year there was still yard work to be done since the grass didn't really die.  (Unfortunately that means the ants don't die either.  We get to deal with those year-round here in the South.)  I wish I had some really fun winter activities to tell you about, but I really don't!

2. What is the best piece of advice you ever received and why?

One of the best pieces of marriage advice I got was to let the little things remain little things.  So many married couples get their feelings hurt over every little comment or action.  I try, though I often fail, to let the little things remain little and not get upset about them.  It sounds easy, but it's really not.  It is great advice, though, and it is worth trying to follow it!  Even if I fail half the time, that's still half the number of problems it would have otherwise been.  :) 

One of the best pieces of parenting advice I got was to be consistent.  Even having been a mom for 15 years now, that's a hard one for me!  My kids behave so much better when I am consistent with their discipline and consequences, but I have to admit that being consistent is hard work! 

Another good piece of parenting advice is to teach first-time obedience.  That's another really hard one!  My motto is, "Delayed obedience is disobedience."  In fact, for homeschooling families, it is especially important that the kids learn first-time obedience if you don't want all day every day to be spent begging and threatening and trying to find ways to get the kids to do their school work.  I'm certainly not the best at teaching (or requiring) first-time obedience, but I give it a good effort!  (I guess that really goes back to being consistent.) 

I would love to hear the best piece of advice you've ever received!  Please leave me a comment telling me about it.  You may also want to visit Heartfelt Homeschooling to link your own Memoir Mondays post to her blog. 

Have a wonderful week!

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Friday, December 3, 2010

Five Question Friday

Today I thought I would participate in Five Question Friday, hosted by My Little Life.  This week's questions are about the holidays, and I thought it might be fun to share a little bit about my family's traditions. 

1. What's on the top of your holiday wish list and why?!
To be honest, I'm so blessed to have the things I need and even most of the things I want that I don't really have a lot of things on my wish list.  One thing that is on my list, though, is a set of those really big wind chimes that make such beautiful low tones when the wind blows them.  I have wanted some for years, but I've never bought myself any because they are so expensive!  I just hate to spend that much money on something that I really don't have to have.  I want the windchimes to hang on my front porch so that, when the kids and I are outside enjoying the nice weather, we can also enjoy the beautiful chiming sounds.  :) 
2. What is your favorite Christmas gift from the past?
One of my favorite Christmas gifts from the last few years was my Bosch mixer.  I had been trying to use my old mixer (a hand mixer) to make my homemade bread, and the poor little thing just wasn't able to do the job.  I didn't want to try to hand-knead the bread either or I knew I'd never take the time to make it.  I loved the Bosch mixer, and I still love it!  My favorite just-for-fun gift is the beautiful ring that my husband gave me last Christmas.  I had a plain gold wedding band to go along with my engagement ring, and I had wanted a gold band with diamonds in it.  Last Christmas, Scott gave me just the very ring I had been wanting!  Since we've been married for almost 20 years, I think I waited long enough for it, don't you?  :)
3. If you had life to do over, what would you be when you grow up?
I would be the same thing that I am right now--a wife and homeschooling mom!  There are some things I might re-do here and there, but thankfully the "big" things are things that I would do the same way even if I could do it all over again.  I would marry the same man and have the same children.  I would live in the same place.  I might homeschool a bit differently if I could start that over again since I now know what "works" for us and what we really learn a lot from and what we enjoy.  Instead of spending the first few years trying things out, I'd start right from the beginning doing what we do now.  In fact, I enjoy homeschooling the kids so much that I would probably start from the beginning years again just to have more years teaching them! 
4. When do you put up your tree?
As a child, I don't think we had a particular time that we put the Christmas tree up.  Since I've had my own home, though, my husband and children and I have always put up our tree the day after Thanksgiving. 
5. What is your favorite Holiday?
My favorite holiday is actually Thanksgiving.  I love Christmas because I love the decorations and lights.  I also love celebrating Jesus' birth.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, though, because we always get together with family and just enjoy being together and eating together without all the fuss over presents. 
I would love for you to leave a comment telling what your favorite holiday is and why! 

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Lost Island Smugglers

Lost Island Smugglers by Max Elliot Anderson

This book seems like it would be appropriate for middle to upper elementary school ages.  The truth is though, that I love to read children's books even as an adult, so it could be enjoyed by older kids, teens, or adults as well.  Sometimes it is difficult to find good books for my son to read, so I'm happy to say that this book would definitely appeal to boys as well as girls.  Anyone who likes a story full of adventure and excitement would find it enjoyable. 
As a mom, I liked the author’s emphasis on friendship and family. I thought the author did readers a good service by showing that kids with good family lives should be thankful for it rather than embarrassed by it. I also felt that the author included mention of the main character’s faith in God in a way that was real and didn’t seem imposed into the story in an out-of-place fashion.

I admit that as an adult I probably didn’t find the story as exciting or adventurous as a younger person is likely to, but it is still a good book with a real plot and with some thought-provoking ideas. I asked my nephew, a sixth grader, to read it and he enjoyed it very much. When asked if he would be interested in reading more books in this series and/or by this author, he answered that he would definitely like to. He is an avid reader, like myself, and his endorsement, in my mind, is enough to suggest that most readers his age would enjoy this book.

There were some qualities in the supporting characters which I didn’t particularly like, but in thinking this over, I realized that there are less-than-admirable qualities in those we will meet all of our lives. We can’t pretend those things don’t exist, but we can learn from them. As much as we might like to hide out and escape negative influences, this can’t always happen, so I accepted the characters and discussed those qualities with my nephew. I found that he had more feelings on the topic than I anticipated and we both learned something from the conversation.

There are many books that I feel a child should read, many more that I feel a child should never read, and there are books like this one, which I feel are perfectly acceptable entertainment. I enjoyed this book and can definitely recommend it to other families as a fun book! 

This book is the first in The Sam Cooper Adventure Series.  The author, Max Elliot Anderson, has a website  as well as a Books for Boys Blog that you might like to visit for more information.  You might find it interesting to know that Mr. Anderson was a reluctant reader as a child, so his books are written from the perspective of someone who knows from experience that boys (and girls too) need appealing books to read so that they can develop a love of reading.  My nephew, who read this book as well, and my son are both "readers," but I know that that is not the case for many boys.  If you have a reluctant reader in your family, you just might want to give this series a try! 
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Note:  I received this book for free in exchange for posting this review.  The opinions in this review are my own honest opinions.