Five Minute Friday: Learn

Five-Minute Friday is a weekly pause to write for five minutes.  No stopping, no editing, just writing.  Kate Motaung links it all up at her blog.

This week’s prompt is LEARN.








You’ve heard the saying, those who forget history are doomed to repeat it, right?  Well, I must have forgotten some history along the way, because something that was tough to go through the first time is looming large on our horizon yet again.

Why?!  I ask God.  What purpose to this trial?  I talked to our pastor about it, and we discussed how, when certain areas keep being problematic, it means there’s a lesson in there for us to learn.  I have racked my brain, trying to figure out what I need to learn here.  To trust God?  I thought I did that already.  To let go of the sin of pride and be willing to open up and let others know what’s going on with us?  Okay, I’m telling people.  To be better stewards of what we have?  We’re trying, God – if we’re going wrong, show us where.

What we have learned:  This is making our prayer life stronger.  I’m learning what it means to pray without ceasing.  We’ve learned that only one of us can freak out at a time – we can’t both have meltdowns on the same day, or it would cause a rip in the space-time continuum and be the end of life as we know it.  We’re learning that God’s answers to prayer won’t happen on our timetable, and we’re contemplating the reality that His answers may not look like what we thought/hoped/wished they would.

And we know, deep down, that His promises are true.  No matter what comes of this particular situation, He will never leave us or forsake us.  That, we’ve already learned.

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Book Review: Justified (Mended Hearts, #2)

JustifiedJustified by Varina Denman

Reviewed by Lisa Henson

Radiant Lit Blog Tours

Genre : Contemporary Fiction

Publisher: David C. Cook

Release Date: June 1, 2015


In a small Texas town ruled by gossip, Fawn Blaylock believes others are justified in condemning her untimely pregnancy. Stifled by guilt, she yearns for grace while the local football coach treats her with gentle respect.

Fawn Blaylock grew up a spoiled rich girl, with every advantage in life.  But she’s made a terrible mistake, one that the whole town can clearly see.  She’s damaged goods, deserving of the sideways glances and under-the-breath comments she gets, or so she thinks.  She can’t believe that God could forgive her, and she certainly can’t forgive herself.  Still, she wants what’s best for her unborn son, so maybe she really can believe that Tyler Cruz will change and be a good father and husband.  He said he would – for the fifth time (but who’s counting?).

JohnScott Pickett is the local high school football coach.  Fawn knows him as Coach from her high school days, but now she’s starting to see the man behind the title.  JohnScott helps Fawn out around the ramshackle house she’s renting, and Tyler doesn’t take kindly to another man spending time around “his” woman.

Will Fawn give Tyler yet another chance?  Can she accept God’s forgiveness and forgive herself?  And what about these feelings developing for JohnScott?

This is Varina Denman’s second novel in the Mended Hearts series, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The story is engaging, and as someone who grew up in a small town, I know how small towns can be to those who find themselves outside the established boundaries of good behavior.  Denman captures a conservative small town’s reaction to a “good girl’s” unplanned pregnancy quite well, and my heart just hurt for Fawn at times.  I wanted to reach into the pages of the book and hug her.  Of course, sometimes I wanted to shake her, too, and talk sense to her.  JohnScott is a quiet, solid man, not prone to display his emotions readily.  He’s a steadying influence for Fawn, but what is he really thinking and feeling?  And Tyler Cruz, well, he’s the guy you love to hate.

I found Justified to be a beautiful picture of redemption through love.  It was well written, and the characters were people I felt like I knew.  I want to go read the first book in the series, Jaded, so that I can hear more of Ruthie’s story.  She was pretty well Fawn’s only friend when this book opened, and I liked her a great deal.  There is also a third book in the series, Jilted, that will be coming out in 2016.  I want to read that one as well, to see what characters we may learn more about then.

It’s refreshing to read a book that can tell a good story without resorting to a lot of sex and profanity.  This book does that admirably.  I recommend it for anyone who likes a good love story, with enough tension to keep the plot moving along nicely.

Varina Denman is a native Texan who spent her high school years in a small Texas town. Now she lives near Fort Worth with her husband and her five mostly-grown children.

Justified is available for purchase here from

Note: I received this book as part of the Justified  blog tour from Radiant Lit. I received no compensation for this review and only received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Review copy provided by the publisher for Radiant Lit Blog Tours.

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Book Review: Five Days in Skye (The MacDonald Family Trilogy, #1)


London Tides Cover

Five Days in Skye by Carla Laureano

Reviewed by Lisa Henson

Radiant Lit Blog Tours

Genre: Romance

Publisher: David C. Cook

Date: July 13, 2015
Hospitality consultant Andrea Sullivan has one last chance to snag a high-profile client or she’ll have to kiss her dreams of promotion good-bye. When she’s sent to meet Scottish celebrity chef James MacDonald on the Isle of Skye, she just wants to finish her work as efficiently as possible. Yet her client is not the opportunistic womanizer he portrays himself to be, and her attraction to him soon dredges up memories she’d rather leave buried. For James, renovating the family hotel is a fulfillment of his late father’s dreams. When his hired consultant turns out to be beautiful, intelligent, and completely unimpressed by his public persona, he makes it his mission to win her over. He just never expects to fall under her spell.

Soon, both Andrea and James must face the reality that God may have a far different purpose for their lives—and that five days in Skye will forever change their outlook on life and love.

After losing a high-profile client, Andrea Sullivan is off to the Isle of Skye to try to save her promotion, and maybe her career.  She’s going to meet celebrity chef James “Jamie” MacDonald, and she knows precisely nothing about him.  She’s looking to do her job, score the client, and head back to the States to carry on with her career and her life.

Upon her arrival in London, she has a, shall we say, spirited encounter with a stranger in a pub.  Imagine her chagrin when that stranger turns out to be none other than Mr. MacDonald.  She thinks she knows his type – he’s a womanizer through and through, he must be, with a differnet woman on his arm at every social event.  He’s upset with his brother Ian (mentioned in my review of London Tides) for hiring a consultant without seeking his input on the matter.  They want to get business wrapped up as quickly as possible.  As business unfolds, though, perceptions can – and do – change.

We see another side to Jamie, more than the celebrity pictured with a variety of arm candy by his side.  The hotel that Andrea has come to lend her business acumen to is a project James is undertaking to fulfill a dream of his late father, not just another project or tax write-off.  Andrea is invited into, and welcomed by, Jamie’s family, and we see other facets to her personality as well.  Although there’s an attraction growing between Andrea and Jamie, something in her past is making her push him away, not let him get too close.  What secret does she hide?  Will Jamie be able to make her see that she is deserving of love?

Five days.  That’s not a lot of time, and when Andrea leaves, her departure isn’t what either of them had hoped for.  Is five days time enough for God to work in the hearts of Andrea and Jamie and set them on the path of a lifetime together?  Go grab a copy of Five Days in Skye and find out.  It’s an engaging romance with characters I thoroughly enjoyed, good chemistry, and just a really good read.  I think I read it in two or three days (would have taken less time if I hadn’t had to go to work!).

Carla Laureano is the author of the RITA® award-winning romance Five Days in Skye as well as London Tides and the Celtic fantasy series The Song of Seare (as C. E. Laureano). A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons.

Five Days in Skye is available for purchase through

Note: I received this book as part of the Five Days in Skye blog tour from Radiant Lit.  I received no compensation for this review and only received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Review copy provided by the publisher.


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Book Review: London Tides (The MacDonald Family Trilogy, #2)

London Tides Cover








London Tides by Carla Laureano

Reviewed by Lisa Henson

Radiant Lit Blog Tours

Genre: Romance

Publisher: David C. Cook

Date: June 13, 2015

Irish photojournalist Grace Brennan travels the world’s war zones documenting the helpless and forgotten. After the death of her friend and colleague, Grace is shaken.

She returns to London hoping to rekindle the spark with the only man she ever loved—Scottish businessman Ian MacDonald. But he gave up his championship rowing career and dreams of Olympic gold years ago for Grace … only for her to choose career over him. Will life’s tides bring them back together … or tear them apart for good this time?

When a book starts with the sentence, “She shouldn’t be here,” that just makes me want to know more.  When the book that starts with that sentence is London Tides, the follow-up to Carla Laureano’s Five Days in Skye, well, I’m just going to dive right in!

And yes, this is a follow-up novel, but the publisher has requested that this one be reviewed first, so here you go.

I made the acquaintance of Ian MacDonald in Five Days in Skye, and honestly, I thought he was a bit of a jerk.  In London Tides, I got the chance to get to know Ian a little better (and maybe revise her opinion of him?).

Grace Brennan is a combat photographer.  She’s traveled the world, taking photos of conflicts, countries and lives torn apart, the human cost of battle.  It’s a tough gig, and after the death of her friend and colleague, Grace thinks it’s time to put the battlefield behind her.

Ian MacDonald is a successful businessman.  Years ago, he was an Olympic-caliber rower, but he gave that up, walked away from dreams of a gold medal, for Grace Brennan.  She chose her career without even a good-bye and broke Ian’s heart.  And yet now she’s back in London, back in his life.

Can things be as they were between Ian and Grace?  Can they take the second chance?  The chemistry is still there, certainly, and it doesn’t take long for sparks to fly between the two. But the path is not an easy one for Ian and Grace, and both they and the book deal with some challenging issues.  Laureano gracefully handles topics such as rebuilding broken trust, love and loss, post-traumatic stress disorder, and the quest for social justice, and does it while creating characters that I cared very much about what happened to them.

This was a quick read for me – had I had an uninterrupted block of a few hours, I could have read it in one sitting.  (Alas, life intervenes, so it took me a day or three, but still, a quick, engaging read.)  Having read Five Days in Skye, it was nice to learn more about Ian, and it was good to see familiar characters from that book appear in London Tides.  I’ve only recently learned that this series is a trilogy, and I will definitely be reading the third book.

If you like romance, if you like inspirational fiction, if you’re looking for a good summer read, all of the above, grab a copy London Tides and enjoy.

Carla Laureano is the author of the RITA® award-winning romance Five Days in Skye as well as London Tides and the Celtic fantasy series The Song of Seare (as C. E. Laureano). A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons.

London Tides is available for purchase from

Note: I received this book as part of the London Tides blog tour from Radiant Lit. I received no compensation for this review and only received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

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Tuesday at Ten: FAITH

Tuesday at Ten is a weekly link-up at Karen Courcy’s blog, Finding the Grace Within.  There’s a new prompt word each week, and we just write as we’re moved and share what we’ve written.  Check out this week’s link-up here, and join us on Facebook, too!

This week’s word is FAITH.

Faith.  Such a small word, such a big concept.  Merriam-Webster defines it as “strong belief or trust in someone or something” or “belief in the existence of God:  strong religious feelings or beliefs.”  But to those of us who are Christians, faith is something else entirely.


Faith – real, convicting, life-sustaining faith – is something I’ve often struggled with.  Growing up, my mother made sure that she and I made it to church, but my dad didn’t go with us.  I knew he was a Christian, but he grew up in a different denomination and wouldn’t go to the church my mother and I attended.  He read his Bible a lot, and liked to discuss the finer points of some pretty deep theological questions, but I don’t ever remember hearing him talk about seeking God’s will for a situation, or praying for help with a difficult decision.  I don’t doubt that he did those things, I just never saw them.  He was a farmer.  He did a pretty good job at it.  We weren’t rich, but I never lacked for much of anything.  Given the nature of how he earned his livelihood, I’m sure he prayed for the weather to do the right things at the right time, for his crops to grow well, and for the market not to fall.  But I never saw that.  I just saw his hard work and sweat and effort.  So while I grew up in a Christian home, I didn’t grow up in one where our faith was something that was visibly discussed and exercised and lived out.

I made the decision to accept Christ as my Savior when I was eight years old, at a revival in our church.  For me, it was always a more logical thing.  It just made sense to me.  But I never really felt like I had a heart-deep faith that impacted every area of my life.  I was always pretty self-sufficient.  I didn’t seek God’s guidance on college major or graduate degree or profession.  I never really figured on getting married, so when I met someone and it turned serious, God and I never talked about whether marrying this man was the right thing to do.  I didn’t feel Him pulling me in any particular direction on any of that (probably because I wasn’t paying attention), and it never even really occurred to me that God would be interested in, or have an opinion on, what I should do with my life.

As I grew older, when problems hit, my first impulse wasn’t to pray.  My first thought was, wow, what can *I* do to fix this?  (Note:  Intelligence does not give one the ability to “fix” everything, but that didn’t stop me from trying.)  When new jobs came along, I didn’t ask God if that was where He wanted me.  I looked at the salary, the benefits, and tried to figure out if that was the best I could do, if that would meet our family’s needs.  Oh, sure, if I was looking for a job because I’d lost a job, I prayed a lot about that – asked God to open up a door quick, but I never gave much thought to whether the next door that opened was the one He had in mind for me.  I did what seemed best to me, and any praying I did about any of it was along the lines of, “God, please help me out of this mess,” and then I’d blindly charge ahead with what I figured should be done without waiting for His answer.  (I’m telling you, “It seemed like a good idea at the time” is going to be my epitaph.)

But as I’ve grown older, life has changed.  The man I married when I was young fell in love with someone else.  We went our separate ways, and I found myself a single mom to a preschool boy.  I was miserable in a lot of ways, and in my foolishness, I turned away from the faith I’d grown up with.  I quit going to church.  I dabbled in things, religion-wise, that my mother would most assuredly not have approved of.  And then the wheel turned, and things changed, and I realized that was a foolish pursuit.  It hit me hard that I needed to ask God’s forgiveness and go back to the beliefs of my childhood.

I got married again.  Gave birth to my second son.  Financial miseries stemming from my first marriage were ongoing.  Lost a house.  Lost a job.  But even though there were challenges aplenty, we weren’t overwhelmed.  Things were scary, things were difficult, and I learned that it’s not true that God won’t give us more than we can handle.  My whole life, I had handled things, or tried to.  God let a bunch of stuff come into my life that I couldn’t handle, waiting to see if I would give it to Him.  And to a large degree, I did, although my control-freak tendencies made it (and continue to make it) hard for me to let go and be completely hands off.

Fast forward to now.  If you’ve read my blog for a bit, you know that last year was not great from a financial standpoint.  (Seems like our issues are always about the money.  I find that highly ironic, given that my dad was frugal to the extreme.  But that’s  another thought for another day.)

A couple of months ago, I felt like we needed to check out a church closer to our home.  The one we’d attended since we moved here is a lovely church, and we didn’t feel compelled to leave it so much as we felt like we couldn’t really get connected, couldn’t really meet needs (or even know about them) when just about all logistics allowed us to do was make it to church on Sunday mornings.  So we made our first visit to the new church the first Sunday in January.  The pastor spoke on tithing.  (We’ve had a couple people tell us since that they figured we might run off when that was the very first topic we heard talked about!  LOL  Nah, takes more to run us off than that.)  He challenged the congregation to tithe – the full tithe – for three months.  And I felt that that was something we really needed to do.

Now, we’d worked our way up to doing okay with giving most of the time.  Not always the ten percent the Bible refers to, and we struggled with staying consistent with it when life happened and we felt like we just couldn’t do it one week or another.  But this challenge hit me hard.  From a worldly  perspective, it’s crazy to even consider giving ten percent of our income each month when we’re still playing catch-up from my stint of unemployment, when we can’t be sure of being in the black until the next paycheck, when we’re working on a loan modification to keep our house (which we prayed about before we bought it, but again, another topic for another day).  But God’s economics and doing God’s will often don’t make sense from the world’s perspective.  We thought, can we afford to do this?  Well, no.  But can we afford not to do this, if it’s what God wants us to do?  Well, no.  So we’ve prayed.  We’ve had people bring up the subject of tithing, unbidden, and tell us what a difference it makes to them.  And who walks up to the new people in church and brings up the subject of money?!  No one, unless it’s God prompting them to do so.

He says to bring in the whole tithe, test Him.  We’ve never consistently given our whole tithe.  But you can’t outgive God, right?  I’ve been over that before, and I’m being challenged to believe it.  We’re testing, and right now, that’s just about the biggest leap of faith I’ve ever taken.  And I’m learning that faith isn’t just saying you believe and having your backside in a seat at church on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights.  Faith is scary.  Faith is hard.  Living out your faith often makes people question whether you’re doing the right thing, or whether you’ve just gone right off your rocker.  And right now, in the midst of this challenge, I hope my faith is growing just a little bit stronger as we give back to God what is His and wait on Him to meet our needs.


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A new year, a new conviction

Not a resolution, but something God has laid on my heart.  Really out of left field (and doesn’t it seem like He often gets our attention from a direction we don’t expect?).

Lately I’ve been doing product reviews, thinking perhaps that would be a way to earn a little extra income for the family.  Lately, too, I’ve had the opportunity to read blogs written by Godly ladies who are inspiring me with their words and their faith.  And it came to me that product reviews aren’t the direction I need to take.  That’s not what I want my blog to be devoted to.  Whatever God may bless me with, it won’t be through me promoting other people’s stuff.

Now don’t misunderstand.  I have nothing against blogs who focus solely or heavily on reviewing things.  There are a bunch of bloggers out there who do product reviews and who do it very well, and I’m thankful for those blogs.  They’re fun to read, they can help me make decisions on whether it’s worth it to try a particular product, and I wish them all the continued success in the world.

But me?  That’s not the path I need to go down.  Not right now, maybe not ever.  That’s not why I started this blog, and it’s not why I’m going to continue with this blog.  Whatever God lays on my heart to share, I want whoever reads my ramblings in my little corner of the blogosphere to read them without feeling like I’m trying to sell something.  And if one person is blessed by what I write, if I make one person think about something in a new way, if I help one person through a dark time, then I will consider that all the success I need.  I may never know what impact my words have, and I may feel like I’m talking to myself a lot of the time, but that’s okay, too.  God can use my goings-on as He sees fit, and whether I know the outcome isn’t what’s important.

So.  No more product reviews except for finishing the couple I’ve already committed to (although I may talk about the reopening of my little Etsy shop on occasion, but that’s a labor of love!).  I’ll still write about books I like, whether I get them for free to review or whether I find them on my own.  But no more of these reviews where I’m trying to earn money by doing it.

New year, new conviction, and I’m going to listen to that small voice.  Hope y’all come along for the ride.  :-)

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Book Review: Jack Templar Monster Hunter, and what do you do for a reluctant reader?

Jeff Gunhus had a son who was a reluctant reader.  Much like my own Thing One, he was a lot more interested in all things electronic (although I suspect Mr. Gunhus’ son wasn’t having quite as challenging of a time in school as Thing One has on occasion).  So what did he do to encourage his reluctant reader to pick up a book more joyfully?  Wrote a book pretty much guaranteed to draw him in.  That book was Jack Templar Monster Hunter.

Jack Templar BookJack “Smith” is a not-quite-14-year-old boy.  He’s being raised by his Aunt Sophie, since his mom died when he was born and his dad,  a soldier in some “special branch” of the Army, had been killed when Jack was younger.  We meet him the day before his 14th birthday, when he’s starting to notice strange things happening.  He’s stronger, faster – and then there’s the creepy guy who tells him that his change has begun.  What change?

That same day, Jack learns that he is not Jack Smith, but Jack Templar, descended from a long line of monster hunters – monster-hunting royalty, if you will.  Tomorrow is his 14th birthday, the day he comes into his powers, and that means he’s now fair game.  The monsters will be coming – for him.  He’s always known about monsters in a general sense, sure.  Who doesn’t?  But he’s about to get to know them better.  Much, much better (and way more than he wants).

The story takes place in one day, and a lot happens in that one day.  There are more turns (left, right, and otherwise) than the Indy 500, and at times I wasn’t sure that good *would* win out (and who says it does?  Read it for yourself and find out!).  I read a lot of young adult books, and I like Jack Templar.  (His nose-picking friend T-Rex, however, wasn’t my favorite.)  I read books for enjoyment, and I enjoyed this one enough that I want to get the next couple of books in the series to see where things go.

Mr. Gunhus’ reluctant reader was hooked.  When I received a copy of this book for review, I was really hoping that Thing One would give it a try.  I figured if he’d get started on it, the story would pull him in and he might actually – gasp! – enjoy a book!  Alas, my reluctant reader did not take to Jack Templar like the author’s son.  He wouldn’t even give it a try.

Why does he not like to read, you ask?  Honestly, I don’t know.  He’s seen the behavior modeled – I read, his dad reads, Brian reads.  He’s asked me before why I like reading so much, and I’ve tried to explain it to him, to no avail.  I think we have more books in our house than anything else, and every spare section of wall has a bookcase on it.  I’ve read to him since he was very young, and he always enjoyed having me read to him.  He’s got an excellent vocabulary, and he’s a good reader – it’s not that he *can’t* do it.  It’s just not his thing like it was (and still is) mine.  He prefers his adventures to be on the screen with a video game, rather than in his own internal landscape.  So I can’t tell you that this was a raging success for us and that my unwilling reader grabbed this book and never put it down (or even finished it in fits and spurts).

Thing Two LOVES to read (and, like with Thing One, we’ve read to him since he was too small to even hold up a book), so we started reading Jack Templar together when older brother wasn’t interested.  I think the monsters were just a little too much for him – he’s only 5, and we didn’t get much past the intermission (where Jack warns the reader, yet again, that reading the book is putting him or her in grave danger, and precautions must be taken).

Jack Templar Monster Hunter Review

When he’s a bit older, we’ll give it another shot, though.

Don’t let my experience (or Thing Two’s grumpy face) dissuade you, though.  If you’ve read my blog at all, you know my kids are just weird sometimes.  LOL  This is a book with good guys, bad guys, monsters, weapons, fighting, friendship, loyalty, and maybe even a small smackerel of romance.  I think it would be an enjoyable read for most middle-school kids (and if your kids have to get Reading Counts points like mine does, have them ask their English teacher how many points it would be worth – more than a few, I’d think!).  I’m certainly going to look up the rest of the series, even if my kids won’t.

I received a free copy of this book for review from  All opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone, and I don’t recommend things that I don’t think my readers would benefit from or enjoy.

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An update and a lot of praise!

Rejoice in Hope

Wow, it’s been a while since my last substantive post, hasn’t it?  2014 certainly brought many opportunities for me to learn how to “pray without ceasing”.  While I may not have welcomed the events, being more mindful of talking to my Lord can only be a good thing.

I can only blame my lack of blogging lately on the fact that I’m now gainfully employed.  Woo hoo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I loved the flexibility of being at home, but I never did find a way to make it pay the bills (or even come close, if I’m honest), and with the boys home in the summer, doing work from home became much more challenging.  My hat is off to the moms who find ways to balance work and home from home, and who find ways to make whatever financial contribution their families need without having to take a job outside the home.  I had a really hard time with that balance, and I found myself pushing work back into what should have been family time.  Me, I was very thankful to return to the workforce, both to get bills paid and to focus on work when it’s work time and home when it’s home time.

I interviewed for my current position the early part of September, and I started September 29.  Let me just say, I love love love love my new job.  I enjoy what I’m doing (I’m a court reporter for a State agency), and I really like my co-workers.  I feel like I’ve been there for ages, not just a few months!  I told Brian I thought this was the first job I’d had in a long time where I like both my co-workers AND the work I’m doing!  It would be nice if it paid a little more, but as long as we get the bills covered, we’ll call it good.  I am beyond thankful for this opportunity that God has opened up for me.

Thing One survived his first round of middle school mid-terms.  His inclusion/study skills teacher is a gem, and he wouldn’t be making it without her and without his study skills class.  I know he wanted to give band a try, and I’d love that, but he *needs* the study skills class right now.  He’s enjoying Christmas break and Xbox time, and he is most definitely not looking forward to going back to school in a week.

Thing Two has lost his first tooth (at FIVE!!!!  How did that happen?!)

First Lost Tooth

It was a bottom tooth, and kind of hard to get a good picture of the spot where it went missing.  He’s become quite the reader, and it’s a challenge to find good books for him.  Books that are designed for his age group he dismisses as too babyish, and we’ve moved on to some of Thing One’s books – right now, we’re working our way through the Origami Yoda books.  If you’ve got suggestions for a 5-year-old who’s an advanced reader, please share!  He’s being tested for gifted at school.  I’m not really sure you can determine at age 5 if he’s truly gifted, or just bright and more advanced than his peers.  But if they test him and that gets him resources that keep him from being bored (and keeps him out of trouble – a bored Thing Two is a mess waiting to happen!), then I’m all for it.

Brian is still working at the zoo.  He’s still good at it, and he enjoys it.  It’s nice for us to both have jobs we like.  Today is his birthday.  As he says, he’s now nine-twentieths of a century old.  :-)

So yeah, there have been some challenges this year, to put it mildly.  But we’re healthy, we’ve got a roof over our heads and clothes on our backs and food on the table, and as I look back at 2014, I have to pause and give God thanks for all the many ways He’s blessed us.  Not financially – out of work for eight months can’t be called a financial blessing in ANY way!  But being blessed doesn’t equate to being financially well off.  He’s kept us in our house, He’s kept us healthy, we haven’t needed any major vehicle repair, we have family and friends who’ve prayed for us and encouraged us and helped us wherever they could.  And most of all, He sent His only Son to live among us and give his life for us so that we could receive the best gift of all, eternal life.  Compared to that glory that is to come, the troubles we deal with here are small potatoes.

Ready to see what 2015 has in store, and wishing everyone a peaceful and Happy New Year!


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Product Review: Valentia Even Glow Serum, Vitamin C 20%

Valentia Even Glow Serum Review


I recently had an opportunity to review Even Glow Serum from Valentia Skin Care.  I’d heard a lot about how Vitamin C products are supposed to benefit your skin, prevent signs of aging, make your skin brighter, etc., but I’d never tried it for myself.  I’m not getting any younger, and my skin has started to get some darker patches as I’ve gotten older, so I figured I’d give it a go.  I will own that I was a bit skeptical, as I’ve generally been of the opinion that as long as my face is clean and moisturized, that will be sufficient, so I didn’t go into this expecting great things.

The serum has a pleasant citrus fragrance.  I only needed three or four drops to cover my face and neck, so the bottle will last a while.  It didn’t feel tacky or sticky when I applied it, and I let it dry before using my moisturizer, like the instructions said.

I’ve been using it for somewhere between three and four weeks now.  It hasn’t made me look twenty years younger, nor did I expect it to.  However, I’ve noticed that the texture of my skin feels smoother (I don’t ever wear makeup, so that’s not attributable to foundation or powder), and my blotchy age patches are less noticeable now than they previously were.  I don’t know for sure that I’ll always use the Vitamin C serum – I’m not necessarily that dedicated to adding extra steps to my face care routine.  But I have been pleased with the Even Glow Serum, and if you’re looking to make your skin feel a little smoother and have a more even tone, I think this is worth your money and your time.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers, and all opinions are mine and mine alone.

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Book Review: The Magical Jump of Smallfridge

Magical Jump Review

I had an opportunity to read and review The Magical Jump of Smallfridge.  I thought Thing Two might enjoy it, being as how he really likes to read.

The Magical Jump of Smallfridge tells the story of a little boy with a big imagination! Smallfridge likes to jump on his bed, and he likes to jump high.  One night he jumps so high, he goes all the way into outer space!  He visits the moon, stops by some different planets, and even has dinner while he’s in space.  He has adventures around the galaxy before landing gently in his own bed for a good night’s sleep.

The story is told with a sense of childlike wonder, and the illustrations are bright and colorful, a perfect accompaniment to the text.  The one distraction I found were a couple of references that I didn’t understand, the Canadarm and ringette.  Apparently those are Canadian things, and I’m a U.S. reader, so that explains why those things didn’t ring a bell with me.

I read the book with Thing Two.  He’s 5, and he’s a crazy good reader.  He didn’t like it as much as I’d hoped.  I think he thought it was too easy for him. I enjoyed reading it with him, though, and I think my grandniece and grandnephew, who are a little bit younger, would like it.  I’d recommend it for reading with pre-readers or beginning readers.

I did receive a free copy of this book to read from Tomoson in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone.

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