Saturday, May 23, 2015

Channing O'Banning in 2 Adventures

I received these books free in exchange for my review as a Tommy Mommy. All opinions are my own.

Channing O'Banning is a 4th grade girl with an artistic flair. From the colored pencil in her ponytail to the sketchbook usually in her hand, she manages to incorporate art into her whole day. Angela Spady brings us this delightful new character and her friends in Channing O'Banning and the RainForest Rescue and Channing O'Banning and the Turquoise Trail. These short chapter books (around 100 pages each) contain fun stories your readers are sure to love.

In the first book, Chan and her friends Cooper and Maddy find a new student in their midst. Marco has caught the attention of Maddy and Channing O'Banning is feeling left out. She begins to blame all of her issues on Marco so she's MORTIFIED when he winds up joining her family on a trip to Costa Rica. Once Chan relaxes, she realizes she can learn a lot from Marco and he's a nice guy. This trip encourages Channing to come home and take on a new mission! See a sample from this book.

In book two, Cooper, Maddy, and Channing are trying to unearth something cool they stumbled across on the playground. At first, Channing O'Banning thinks the dig is boring but when she begins to study fossils and Native American culture, she finds it interesting. A surprise trip to the American West helps Channing O'Banning forget a recent embarrassment and gives her all the information she needs for a class project. Take a peek at this book.

Apple really enjoyed these books, but they were super quick reads for her. I'm encouraging Speedy to read them (even though the main character is a girl). I read both books and the stories are original and engaging. These books briefly mention Biblical principles. Although the mentions are brief, the overall themes of both books are Christian values.

Would you like to win your own copies of these books? Enter via the easy Giveaway Tools widget.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Love/ Hate

I have a bit of a love/ hate relationship with makeup. I wore lots of it in high school but not properly. Then I went on a makeup hiatus. I decided it was too much trouble and very rarely wore any unless it was a special occasion. Next, I worked at a business where my co-workers firmly encouraged wearing makeup. Every day. They showed me some techniques and fueled a need to wear it every work day. After a few years of that I felt compelled to wear it if I even stepped out of the house. Finally, after many years at home with my kids, I can go out without wearing makeup, but I feel weird and exposed (at least for a little while).

I want makeup and dressing up to be a fun experience. Looking our best can make us feel good about ourselves! Finding a makeup product that is in my budget and helps me achieve that is a double bonus.

CoverGirl  graciously sent me these two products to try (free!).

The Intensify Me! Liquid Eyeliner has a paddle shaped tip for a beautiful line every time. I'm not so good with eyeliner so I was nervous, but it works great! I didn't end up with black streaks all over my face so I count that as a win. While this isn't a product I will use every day, it is one I can pull out for those special times when I want to feel a little more dressed up.

The real star of this review is The Super Sizer by Lashblast. I've used the same brand of mascara most of my life but that has now changed! The Super Sizer is has a unique applier that you twirl as you apply for maximum effect. It really does super size my lashes! I have been wearing this pretty much every day and I'm still impressed with the results.

These CoverGirl products have me more on the love side with my makeup! Thanks for the freebies CoverGirl!

{I was sent these products for free with no obligation to review them. These opinions are my own.}

Pang of Guilt

All the pictures are on Facebook. My newsfeed is dripping with photos of awards ceremonies, field day, presentations, and graduations. I rejoice with those that are rejoicing over the accomplishments of their children but a small pang of guilt is deep down. Are my children missing out on something important? Am I ruining their lives by homeschooling them? Will they ever feel worthy without the certificates and plastic trophies? 

I let that narrative run amuck for a day or two. It's been awhile since I felt like my kids were missing out on anything big by getting their education at home. Perhaps I feel it more strongly this year as Apple "graduates" elementary school and moves on to 6th grade. Then I realize even that is laughable. I didn't leave elementary until after 6th grade. Our middle school was 7th & 8th only. Now one local school system is thinking of going back to K-8th schools. The point is it is subjective. In my eyes, finishing each grade is a huge accomplishment that we should celebrate and we will. I did break down and buy her a little card to congratulate her. 

So if you are feeling the public school yearning, be of good cheer. Your kids are getting tons from homeschool and you won't regret it in the end. If you want, you can print them certificates or have trophies made or even buy a .97 card to congratulate them. If you are considering homeschool and feel deep concern over missing these activities, look for a local homeschool co-op. They often have field days and some groups organize graduations and end of the year ceremonies. 
Our school year is coming to a close (but we will be doing some work through the summer!). Are you finished with school yet?

Friday, May 15, 2015

Fresh Pearls

For the last couple of weeks the weather has been perfect for throwing open the doors and airing out the house. The breeze has left my home smelling fresh and clean. Now it is hot. The Tennessee humidity is kicking in and the air is running. I struggle in the hottest part of the summer and coldest part of the winter because I feel like my house is too closed up....and smelly. Come on, we all recognize the "kid smells" that come with raising a family.

Thankfully, I received a new product called Renuzit Pearl Scents. These little jars pack some big freshness! We tried Blue Sky Breeze. I really thought this would be one of those products that smells really strong for a day or two and then fades away. I've been so surprised! I've used it about 2 weeks and the scent has not diminished. It also isn't an overwhelming smell. Somehow I seem to get sporadic waves of fragrance at random times. I don't know how these little liquidy balls do it but they work!

The odors are gone and my living room has a slight hint of outdoors freshness. I wouldn't leave these sitting within reach of very small children. You shouldn't leave anything like this in reach of kids anyhow but I think the colorful orbs would be hard to resist. I'm thankful my kids are finally to the age where I feel safe with items like this and even an occasional lit candle.

Renuzit Pearl Scents come in 5 fragrances:

*Blue Sky Breeze
*Sparkling Rain
*Fresh Lavender and Eucalyptus
*Chamomile and Jasmine
*Seductive Pineapple

I have 3 coupons to giveaway! 3 winners will be randomly selected to receive 1 coupon each. Enter via the Giveaway Tools widget for your chance to try this new product.

I received this product free for the purpose of review from Purex Insiders. All opinions are my own.

Make Your Reservation

I was very excited to review the second book in Hillary Manton Lodge's Two Blue Doors series. Reservations for Two takes us back to the story of Juliette that began in A Table by the Window. Now she is in the midst of opening a restaurant with her brother Nico, and she is still trying to discover the history of the mysterious picture she found in her late grandmother's things. She takes off on a trip to France and Italy to find more information about her grandmother's past and to attend a special party for her Nonno.

Juliette's beau Neil joins her in Europe. Juliette lives in Portland, and Neil lives in Memphis. They haven't quite figured out how to make their long distance relationship work, but they have a strong connection. Soon enough the trip has ended and Juliette finds herself back in Portland, busy with the restaurant, without Neil, and very worried about her mother who is battling cancer. Her life is full of stress but she feels blessed by her close family, roommate and pastry chef Clementine, and her grandmother's dog Gigi.

Juliette takes a trip to Memphis in this book. I'm very familiar with Memphis and close to the area so I thought this would be a nice twist. While I enjoyed some of the familiar things of my region that were mentioned, I wasn't so thrilled with the line:

"But I wasn't ignorant; I knew Tennessee culture meant you went to church on Sunday morning, and if you didn't you were probably a godless heathen."

I'm pretty thick skinned and don't get offended often. In fact, I feel like we live in a world of over-offendedness. So I won't say this statement really offended me, but I do feel like it was harsh. This is a fictional book and meant to be taken as such, but when the author is writing about the Peabody Hotel and the humidity of the south and Corky's BBQ, then this statement feels like a true reflection of how the author thinks. I'd just like to say bless her heart.

I enjoyed this book but not as much as book 1 in the series. I don't like to leave things unfinished and this book felt like it ended abruptly, so I will for sure be looking to read book 3. If you are looking for an easy summertime read that is a gentle romance with some recipes thrown in, this is a book you will enjoy.

I received this book free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Budget Battle

It's been awhile since I did a budget battle update. I'm happy to report we are on target. We are right where we hoped to be at this point in the year. We even have some very exciting things happening, but I'm not ready to share here just yet. We've been able to stay on budget, take a lovely trip to St. Louis, and a few day trips.

I have fallen behind on writing down everything. It is hard to remember to write down every penny spent and every purchase when paying with cash. I hope to improve on that because I want to have a really solid idea of where we went over or under to help prepare our budget for 2016.

I think the biggest change for us has been awareness. We are so aware that we want to get our debt completely paid off that we've been very conservative with groceries and purchases. At the same time, allowing ourselves a budget for clothing, homeschool, and trips has given us the freedom to buy things we need and do things we want without feeling guilty about it. In the past, I've tended to lock down all spending and that just hasn't been successful for our family.

Now that we are approaching the halfway mark of 2015, how is your budget going? Do you have any great tips or experiences to share?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Bully

I received a free copy of this book from Tommy Nelson in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

I am sad that Nancy Rue's Mean Girl Makeover Trilogy has come to an end. In the final book, Sorry I'm Not Sorry, big bully Kylie has a rude awakening. Kylie finds that her deception is no longer working and the adults in her life are ready for her to make a change. While her parents are still trying to defend their princess, Kylie decides she can fake her way through the school's punishments so she can regain her position as a cheerleader by the end of the summer.

When she finds out her punishments include regular meetings with Lydia, the mentor of the Tori's Tribelet and creator of the anti-bullying campaign, and working at a children's arts and drama camp for the summer, she isn't sure she is going to make it after all. While she has a rocky start to her assignments, over time Kylie begins to soften and take a different look at life. She is shocked when the girls she has bullied in the past begin to treat her with some kindness. Kylie finds that working with the little girls in her dance class gives her a new perspective.

I love that my Apple loves these books. They aren't just about bullying. While they do show some methods for dealing with bullies and the cause and effect of some bullying behavior, they also show tween girls a better way to deal with one another. It isn't always about bullying with girls of this age, a lot of the angst is the drama. We try to adopt a drama free environment around our home, but it can be a struggle.

If you are looking for a good read for your tween girl, I recommend this series. It is set on middle school girls, but I enjoyed reading each book almost as much as Apple did. I've got a copy of Sorry I'm Not Sorry to giveaway! Enter via the Giveaway Tools widget.

See my reviews of So Not Okay and You Can't Sit With Us.