Friday, July 18, 2014

Answering Your Kids' Toughest Questions {A Book Review}

Prior to reading Answering Your Kids' Toughest Questions by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson, I had heard about another book previously written by them, Give Them Grace. As most of you know, I am not at the point in my life to be answering Mason's tough questions since he is only 8.5 months old. However, from seeing friends raise children, I have seen and learned that the time passes quickly and it will not be long before our little fella will be asking tough questions and Matt and I will need to try to answer them. 

I really love Answering Your Kids' Toughest Questions and think that it is well written. The first thing that I discovered and loved about the book is that Jessica, the main author, tells upfront that she does not have all of the answers. She is honest about how hard it can be to answer your kids' tough questions about life, death an all in between. 

In each section of Answering Your Kids' Toughest Questions, a difficult question is presented such as: What is Sin? Who is Satan? What is Hell? Why do People get Divorced? and many more questions. The authors give scripture to support answers to the questions. There is a section of each chapter where answers are provided for Preschool age children, age 5-10 and 11 and beyond. I LOVE that component of the book because it will help me as a parent to be aware of what my child may be able to understand. 

Lastly, I love that the book points to the parent and explains the importance of being aware of these situations before the questions may be asked especially related to death. Don't wait until a death occurs in the family to talk about it with your children. Talk about it when you are able. Also, don't take the book word for word. Your 6 year old may be better able to understand the preschool type explanation and your 5 year old may be a bit more mature, etc. 

This book is an excellent resource for parents, grandparents, etc to talk to their children about tough situations. 

**I received this book for free from Bethany House in exchange for this review.**

Mason: Week 37 {Photos}

Day 253: Finally got to meet his buddy, Charlie!

Da 254: Mom, I got this bottle. No worries!

Day 255: This kid wants to climb on everything and stand up too!

Day 256: Smiling/laughing boy! 

Day 257: Riding on Uncle David's Harley. 

Day 258: Welcome to our crazy! 

Day 259: Mason wanted to make a goatee for himself like the one his PawPaw has. 

Mason: Week 36 {Photos}

Day 246: The day this kid learned to stand up in his crib! 

Day 247: First time in the swimming pool!

Day 248: First Baseball game! 

Day 249: Loves the pool! 

Day 250: Shenanigans with Daddy! 

Day 251: Deciding what he wanted for breakfast at the Egg & I. 

Day 252: Climbing on the suitcase. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Fire & Smoke: A Pitmaster's Secrets {A Cookbook Review}

I have really been enjoying the cookbook, Fire & Smoke: A Pitmaster's Secrets by the Chris Lilly. It has a ton of amazing BBQ recipes. It has everything from your BBQ standards like ribs and chicken to crazy things like a whole chapter on BBQed drinks. There is a terrific chapter at the beginning of the book where the author talks about all of the different types of BBQ pits and smokers that are available.

Since receiving the Fire & Smoke: A Pitmaster's Secrets I have cooked chicken thighs on my charcoal BBQ grill. Up until now I had always cooked them and hoped they came out well. This time I was able to use the author's chicken thigh recipe and really dig into cooking them well. The recipe gave directions on such things as how to arrange my coals, wood recommendations for adding a smoked flavor, and time for cooking. I ended up using my own spice rub, but the one the author provided in the book looked tasty. There are many other amazing recipes in this cookbook that I am anxiously waiting to try. It also has given my wife a christmas present idea. Hey honey, want to by a smoker...?

You can read more info about Chris Lilly here. We will be dining in his restaurant at the next chance we get! 

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review. 

Odyssey Adventure Club -- Family, Community, and a Free Episode of Adventures in Odyssey

More good things coming from Odyssey Adventure Club. You can still join for $5 a month through the end of July! Don't miss out of this incredible deal. This club is such a fun resource for kids!

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 For a limited time, you can listen to a new episode of Adventures in Odyssey for FREE! Album 58, The Ties that Bind, will be available this fall for digital download and CD purchase, but if you join the Odyssey Adventures Club, you can listen to the full album now! Guess what? The $5 special held last month was extended through the end of July, too, so you can join in the fun for only $5! Here's what part one is about (which you can listen to for free HERE):
It’s a time of surprises as Wooton becomes the celebrity guest at Comic-Connellsville and Whit finds himself in conflict over the upcoming “Let’s Get Together Festival” in Odyssey. Plus, hear an interview with writer-director Paul McCusker about the entire 14-part series.
Album 58 was inspired by Focus on the Family’s The Family Project, a 12-session small group experience that explores the theological, philosophical, and cultural underpinnings of the traditional family, and combines that information with inspiring stories and practical tools to help 21st-century families thrive. One way families can carry out God's design for families is by serving their community—right where God has planted them, being His hands and feet together. Want to serve your community with your family, maybe make a day of out it? Here are some fantastic ideas from some Adventures in Odyssey bloggers and club members:
  • Make scarves through the year and deliver them to your local homeless shelter at the start of winter, or regularly donate food to your local food bank. —Shirley 
  • Our family likes to help with Meals on Wheels. We also do reenactments of the Civil War and WWII to help educate people on history. I like to show my kids that we should be servers and givers by taking meals to people who need them (i.e. baby just born, someone died, someone had surgery, etc.). —Erin 
  • We have been visiting a nursing home with friends once a month. The kids just sing and then we fellowship, but the ladies love it! —Lisa 
  • We make lap blankets for nursing home residents and take the time to visit with them. We also collect food for the local food pantry. —Donna 
  • We make blessing bags to give to the homeless when we encounter them. We also donate clothes and food to a local shelter. —Amy 
  • Our MOPs (Mothers of Prechoolers) group supports our local Pregnancy Support Services with donations, gifts, and notes. We also supports the Durham Rescue Mission, which helps people break free from addictions and restore families. —Melissa 
  • We live in a very rural area. Our church serves two of the poorest zip codes in the state, and about a decade ago, they started operating a food pantry out of a closet. It has expanded since then, so we now use the closet for storage, but the pantry is basically a classroom. The kids and I serve over there a lot. My 17-year-old and I go to Care & Share (50 miles away) to get food to bring back to the pantry. All of us help unload and stock shelves. On pantry days, everyone can get involved with helping people go through the line, playing with the kids, carrying boxes out to cars, etc. There are so many hungry folks, especially in the summer when school breakfasts and lunches aren't available, and helping a bit to put food on some tables is such a blessing for us all. —Debra 
  • We pack food bags each month for the homeless and needy through a thrift store that offers an outreach to the community. We also help clean our church and our Sunday school. —Michele 
  • We work through our AHG troop to do several service activities a year. My girls just recently made bracelets they are selling, which 100% of the profits goes to Hope House in Africa to help young girls. —Sarah 
  • Our church works with a homeless shelter in downtown Atlanta. We cook food ahead of time, and when our schedules allow we ride down with the group to serve the food. My son always reminds me when we haven't been for awhile, so it's something he looks forward to. —Maria 
  • We do lots of random acts of kindnesses within our community: pay for others' meals, leave change at a vending machine, hand out Gatorade/granola bars to people on the side of the road asking for food. We also love to support Mobile Loaves and Fishes. —Kathryn
Did that provide some ideas to give your family service activity the kick-start it needs? What other ideas do you have for serving your community? Share in the comments!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Get to Know Jesus by Nancy I. Sanders {A Book Review}

When it was time for my most recent book review with BookLook Bloggers, this book, Get to Know Jesus, by Nancy I. Sanders caught my eye. Get to know Jesus is a book in a series of biographies for kids written by Nancy I. Sanders. This book is obviously a little too high level for my 8 1/2 month old but I knew that I would like reading it and if I enjoyed it, I would want to share it with Mason when the time was right. 

I'm SO glad I decided to review this book and I now want to buy all books in the series. Nancy did a great job of making these books fun and relatable as well as super informative. The brightly colored pages were HUGE for me while reading the book and I think they will keep children engaged, too. 

I loved the details that Nancy put into the books and the fact that the books are based on scripture and to me, accurate interpretation of those scriptures broken down to where a child can understand. I liked the little blurbs Nancy put throughout the book defining certain words, pointing out a specific biblical characters,  and giving reference to more scripture for each story. 

In my opinion, this was an excellent book and I know Mason will enjoy it when he is a bit older. The price is great, too. Moms and Dads, check these out for your little ones! 

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers  book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255  : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, July 7, 2014

A few photos from recent days...

Someone was happy happy wearing his "I love my GiGI" onesie. 

This kid loves to play. He can be so content just laying on the floor with a few items. Today, he had a whole bucket-full. 

Y'all, I remember when I could lay him this way in his crib and he was only half the width. Look at him now! 

Jen took these pictures for us when she was keeping Mason while Matt and I were on a date. 

Just wrestling with Curious George

This look just seems a little mischievous. 

Oh, you know, just reading a little Francine Rivers. 

Our new collage. The top left is my Mother's Day gift from Mason, top right is one of Mason's 2 month pictures, middle left is Matt's Father's Day picture, middle right is Mason's 6 month picture, and bottom is our anniversary picture from this year. 

Story time! 

After story time, we met Dad for a quick lunch at Dairy Queen. Mason ate his applesauce and then, he wanted my ice cream. It became downright comical. 

Mason LOVES watermelon. 

Quick breakfast date with my boys!

Mason finished his summer reading program. Each child had to read or be read 50 books. Matt and I read them to Mason and Mason got a fun prize! A bag and an awesome new book. 

Now that Mason is sitting up really well, we decided me might should try sitting him up in the bathtub. He looks so big!! 

My Aunt Celie sent Mason this precious outfit and he looks so sweet in it! 

Mason also decided it was high time he stood all the way up by himself. He has been pulling to his knees for about 10 days but on 7/2, he decided to just come all the way up! 

We love a little FaceTime with GiGi. 

That's all for now! We are off in Montgomery with family and there will be many more pictures when we return.