Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wednesday Hodgepodge


1. The month of July was named for Roman Emperor Julius Caesar. He's quoted as saying, 'Experience is the teacher of all things." So what has experience taught you lately?

What hasn't experience taught me lately? In fact, my hubby and I were just having this very conversation. It is very true that wisdom comes with age and we are certainly feeling wiser by the day.

2. Where did you last 'roam'? 

We went to visit my aunt and uncle in Massachusetts last month. We had a great time spending time at the beach and just hanging out.

3. Speaking of 'Rome', pasta, can only pick one, which would you choose?

Pizza. Hands down!

4. 'Rome wasn't built in a day', 'All roads lead to Rome', 'When in Rome...' which 'Roman' idiom have you most recently encountered? Explain.

I'm blanking. If I had to pick one, I'd probably go with 'Rome wasn't built in a day.' It's the end of our homeschool year and I need to get my oldest son's transcript done. I have the info but I need to put it into a workable form. That led me to think about all the other projects I have and so I created a "project list." I need to remember it's going to take a bit to complete them all.

5. What's a movie you've seen or a book you've read, that makes you want to book a trip to Italy?

Um....Ratatouille? I honestly can't think of one off the top of my head.

6.  Walt's original Disneyland opened almost sixty years ago, on July 17, 1955  Have you ever been to the California park? How about any of the other Disney parks around the world? What's your favorite amusement park ride or attraction?

I've never been to any. I think that one day I'd like to go but I also am not a huge fan of big crowds so just not sure how that would go either. My boys would love to go to Legoland some day as well. We'll see. As for rids, I have an inner ear issue that makes me get dizzy on spinning things quickly so I'd need to pass on most of them.

7. It's that time of year...when were you last bitten or stung?

Ha! I live in Maine. It's bug "season" right now. I have a few bug bites on me and will until fall when all the bugs die. I have one on my big toe where a mosquito bit me right under my sandal!

8.  Insert your own random thought here. 

I live in Maine. Yesterday we had the second tornado watch in the last three years. Three years ago one (a small one) came through the town I used to live in. It dropped baseball sized hail on our house and did $3,000 worth of damage to my truck (lots of dents and cracked the windshield in two places). It took out a lot of trees but did no other property damage. 

Photo from the 2011 hailstorm/tornado
This is my hubby's hand. He took this photo an hour after the hail had landed. All those white balls on the ground behind him - more hail.

Tornado damage from 2011

Yesterday we had another warning. Definitely rare for our part of the world - thankfully. We had nothing more than some major clouds rolling through and some massive rain. Last I heard there was damage in other parts of the state but I haven't heard if an actual tornado hit. 

{Review} The Perfect Summer DVD

The Perfect Summer follows Jake, a 17-year-old boy from Chicago. He finds himself living in a beach town trading in the city-life for the life of a beach bum. However, it's not the place he wants to be. His mom relocated them after Jake's dad dies. They are now living this his Grandfather whom he knows very little about. Jake finds it a difficult place to fit in especially once he meets the local town bully.

I sat down on Sunday afternoon with my youngest son, age 10, to watch this movie. It was excellent. Both my son and I really enjoyed it. In fact, I just asked him what he thought as he saw me typing up this review. "I really liked it!" was his reply.

The movie features Eric Roberts as the Grandfather. He does well playing the slightly awkward, detached, grandfather who is trying to make up for the mistakes of his past. Jason Castro, of American Idol fame, plays the local surf shop clerk. 

I really enjoyed the movie. I honestly wasn't how it would be when I first watched it. However, it did a great job showing how you can overcome your circumstances. I was glad it was so family friendly. There is some mild violence in the film when Jake is beaten up a time or two by the town bully, but there is no language. And as I mentioned above, my 10 year-old really enjoyed it as well.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. 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.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

{Book Review & Giveaway} Persecuted by Robin Parrish

About The Book: The Question Is Not IF Attempts Will Be Made to Limit Religious Freedoms, But When

The most popular evangelist of his day, John Luther, simply wants to share the Gospel and enjoy a quiet life with his family. He never asked to be at the center of a political controversy, but an ill wind has been blowing through the halls of Congress, and supporters of a new religious-equality bill see Luther's endorsement as critical. But when Luther refuses to lend his support, he unknowingly sets in motion an explosive plan bent on destroying his reputation and undermining everything for which he stands. His once-normal life is turned upside down as he becomes a fugitive left with only one dangerous option--putting everything he holds most dear at risk while he fights to expose the truth. It is a mission that brings him face-to-face with the coming storm of persecution that could threaten the very fabric of our nation's freedoms.

About The Author: Robin Parrish is a journalist who's written about the intersection of faith and pop culture for more than a decade. He's also the author of Offworld and The Dominion Trilogy . Robin and his wife and children live in North Carolina. Visit Robin's

My thoughts:
I get easily annoyed by politics so I try to stay out of that type of discussion as much as possible. I'm pretty conservative though and grow more so each and every day. I really don't think it talks a poly-sci major to see the way things are moving in our country. Frankly, I find it a bit unnerving at times. 

This is one reason I was intrigued by this book's concept. It poses an interesting scenerio. The government is trying to push through a bill called the Faith and Fairness Act. A bill that would make all religions equal. None would be above the other. It would all be fair. It's a nice concept on the surface, but there is a darker side to all of this and the protoganist, John Luther, finds it all out first hand when his seemingly wonderful life is turned upside down. 

I started this book on a Thursday morning and had it finished by Saturday morning. I would have had it finished sooner, but there was a holiday in between. It was a page turner that had me guessing all the way to the end. It was impossible to predict the ending.

This book was written based on a movie by the same name that is coming out on July 18th. I'll be hoping it comes to a theater near me. I'd love to watch it.

If you like thrillers and, in particular political thrillers, then I think you'd enjoy this book. You can view a sample on the author's website

Would you like to win your own copy? Please leave a message below (if you are reading this on Facebook, you can leave a message there), telling me the title of a recent book you really enjoyed. I'll pick a random winner on August 25th. Please be sure to read the fine print below regarding the contest. 

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Homeschool Recordkeeping

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

Our past year of homeschooling has been the best yet in terms of organizing and staying on task. I have a couple things that I've done differently that have really helped in that area. I know many people are wrapping up their school year and looking ahead to the fall so I wanted to share.

Probably the biggest thing I've done over the past year and a half is use Scholaric for my recordkeeping and planning. I honestly love this program and I'm so thankful to whoever shared about it for me to see all those months ago. It seriously revolutionized my homeschool and how much time I spend on planning. (I do not get anything for sharing about Scholaric. I just love the program.)

A few quick points on why I love Scholaric:
  • Online program. I've been known to be driving with my hubby and pull it up on my phone to reorganize something so it would be ready for the next day. Simple and easy.
  • Inexpensive. It starts out at $3 a month for one child and maxes out at $7 a month for five or more children. It's worth every cent.
  • Easy to use. I do recommend spending some time in the "Help" section. Once you learn some of the neat tricks to using the program, it's really easy to set up and schedule.
  • Checklists. I used to spend hours every night creating daily checklists for my boys. Seriously! Now, I simply make sure everything that is scheduled is correct and print it out. Done. Daily checklists. So easy.

Image courtesy of jscreationzs /

The other thing I did this past year is create a file in Excel called "Outside Record." It really isn't just about things we did outside our homeschool, but it was a way for me to track all the things we do that pertain to school but don't quite fit in to a nice category in my planning.

The file had a number of spreadsheets. The first one was simply called "Field Trips." On this sheet I just listed the date, where we went, and the focus of that trip. Was it for fine arts or Maine studies?

The next three spreadsheets were the list of books my boys read - one for each of them. I would record the date they finished the book, the title and the author. 

On the next spreadsheet I recorded all the books I read out loud to them. This is something I try to do each day. And yes, I include all my boys, even the 17 year old.

Next I have a spreadsheet that lists all the audio books we listen to. We live in rural Maine and I don't mind driving so I'm up for road trips when they come up. I like listening to audio books and it's a great way to get in some learning while heading to a field trip or even a doctor's appointment. One of my favorite places to get free audio books is LibriVox. These are public domain books read by volunteers. We've downloaded quite a few and only had one reader we just couldn't listen to. Overall we've had a great experience with the service.

The last spreadsheet is for all outside activities or classes. For example, my boys take art classes throughout the year. That is recorded. My two youngest take martial art lessons. That is recorded. Piano lessons. Spanish lessons. Youth Group. 4-H. Swim lessons. Tennis lessons. Well, I'm sure you get the picture. I record the date, what the activity is, where it is held, and the focus of that activity. For example, swim lessons, tennis lessons and martial arts all fall under PE.

I did well keeping all of this updated which is going to save me some time while putting together records for my oldest son who will be graduating next year. I just wish I had thought of it all sooner.

If anyone would like to see what I mean by the spreadsheets I use, please let me know and I would be happy to share a sample file with you.

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. July is National Anti-Boredom Month. When was the last time you were bored? What's your go-to cure for boredom? I do not get bored easily. I have a long list of projects to do. However, on the very rare occasion when I have nothing on my to do list, I'll either read a book or play some games on my phone or Kindle. 

2. What's the last thing you made a reservation for? I made reservations for a hotel stay out of state. We'll be traveling south to bury my husband's grandmother who passed away a few months ago. She was in her late 90s.

3. What's one thing on your summer 'bucket list'? Any plans to make it happen? I haven't written out an actual list, but I'm really hoping for plenty of beach time and day hikes. My boys and I have started geocaching so I'd like to spend some time on that hobby as well.

4. What's your favorite summertime sip? Water. Amazingly enough - for all those that know me really well - I have finally stopped drinking Diet Mt. Dew. It's been my go to drink now for well over 20 years. I've always stopped drinking it (or severely limited it) when I was pregnant, but as of the end of May, I'm pretty sure I'm done. So I'm sticking to either regular water or SoBe Life Water if I want something with flavor.

5. What do you find is the best way to handle another person's hostility and hopefully ease the tension? Either sympathy or laughter.

6. Your favorite film set in summer? Good question! I really can't think of one off the top of my head. Most of the movies I love take place over a year. 

7. What word are you using too much lately? Really? I know. I need to stop.

8. Insert your own random thought here. I'm very proud of my hubby. He's been taking control of his health and has been working on losing weight. It's making it easier for me to do the same. Of course, he's on the fast track - like most men he can drop the pounds quickly when he sets his mind to it. He's now down an entire pant size. We're both exercising and making changes in our diet.