Wordless Wednesday: #BostonStrong

BostonStrong

I laced up, and took on some asphalt yesterday. There were memories. There were tears. I thought of my brave friends who ran last year, as well as those who will never run again. I remembered the First Responders, how the USA stood united, and that the brave Boston citizens & runners vowed to run again. I remembered that we are stronger together, and that love always wins. I am not the fastest runner, and will probably never qualify to run the Boston Marathon. However, I vow to keep running, and sharing love.

Lessons Learned from the Lunar Eclipse

Yes, I am one of the crazies who woke up to stare into the night sky. Superkiddo was quite miffed that we didn’t allow him to stay awake all night to witness this event.
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This is what I know for sure:

  • 2AM is NOT the time to try to figure out my new camera. I am not a photographer.  I am willing to bet that the professionals took spectacular photos of this incredible event. What I managed to get may just win a “What on Earth Were You Doing” award…

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  • I may very well be the craziest person in my subdivision. All of the sane people were asleep.

 

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  • When you are crazy enough to stand outside for something like this, every breeze through the shrubbery sounds exactly like a horde of serial killers. My giant dogs weren’t interested in the moon, hanging out outside, or standing watch with me. They were pretty useless.

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  • The vast expanse of the universe is brilliantly beyond our comprehension. There is so much more to life that what we find to argue over, or worry about. Did you notice the tiny planet that kept peeking out at us? It seemed to say, “you aren’t alone. There’s more to know.” Did you wonder what views were possible from other planets?

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  • When you live with 2 space geeks, your best attempts to capture a “super cool” event are appreciated. My blurry pics received the stamp of approval from the Bald Genius and Superkiddo.  That’s enough for me.

My next quest will be to find enough caffeine to get through today. I wish you a wonderful Tuesday.

Until next time,
xoxo

#Review: Secretly Smitten #Christian #Fiction

smitten

Secretly Smitten is a delightful, intriguing collection of novellas by authors (and real-life friends) Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, and Denise Hunter. Each of the four stories could stand alone, but their characters and plots blend perfectly together into a charming visit to the fictional town of Smitten, Vermont.

Love Between the Lines is our introduction into the lives of our main characters, Tess, Zoe, Anna, and Clare. Tess locates military tags in her grandmother’s attic, and questions of long-lost love erupt. Who is the mystery man, and what is his connection to her family? Can Tess  remove her focus from her grandmother’s life long enough to find her own story?

Make Me a Match follows Zoe’s dream to open a matchmaking business. She has big plans to help others find love, but is surprised to find herself getting matched to one of the town’s hottest new residents, William.

Knit One, Love Two is Anna’s story. She is the divorced mother of the 3 Thomas sisters. A secret creeps up, and the past challenges her capacity to love. She isn’t looking for a relationship, but will she accept the gift that God seems to offer her through Michael?

Love Blooms is the final installment, and focuses on Clare. She decides to help a mystery man, Ethan, whom she encounters at her nursery, and finds herself in need of his help. Can she trust him to care for her business, and her love?

Small town charm, family history, and cupid’s arrow collide in Smitten. This collection is a refreshing offering of clean, uplifting, suspenseful fiction, and would be a wonderful addition to your library.

Reviewed byI received this product from Harper Collins Christian Publishing for the purpose of facilitating a BookLook Blogger review. The views written about this product are my own, and were not influenced by any other factors.

Wordless Wednesday: Mantle Letters

faithThe 5 simple letters of this mantle sign spelled out a gentle reminder of what we should all hear.

Life can throw various curve balls and sucker punches, and there are times when we may feel that we cannot move forward, achieve our goals, or handle anything else. Those are the precise moments when we have to listen to the still, small voice within are hearts whispering, “you can.”

Fear tells us that we aren’t worthy, it will never work, and our past mistakes outweigh our potential. Faith tells us we are victorious, to never give up, and nothing is impossible.  We have to decide which voice will be accepted as the truth for our lives.

What will you believe about yourself, and your circumstances today?

Spring Feet

I am writing this short post from one of my favorite chairs. Why a short post? I am focusing on recharging today before I tackle a mountain of deadlines.
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Have you taken a look at your feet? Spring is here, and we can finally shed those clunky, warm boots. That means that it is time to take care of the toes.
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I have been training for a race, so you know that my feet have taken a beating. I vote that we give our feet some TLC. If you have kept your tootsies under wraps all winter, the time has come to pamper your feet. Before you pull out the sandals, you might want to remember to remove Old Man Winter from your heels. :)

Moms often forget to take moments to get pampered. We have to remember that when we relax and recharge, that we are better equipped to handle all of our daily challenges, and be champions for our families.

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feet5Wherever life may take you today, and whatever the challenges may be, remind yourself that you are worth “you time.” Now take those pretty feet out, and conquer the world.

#Kohl’s #Disney #MagicAtPlay $50 #Giveaway

Superkiddo is a Disney fanatic, and is almost daily growing out of his clothing. I am so excited to talk about kids clothing today, and I think that you will relate and get excited, too. Why? 1) Because Kohl’s has a fantastic selection of Disney character clothing for growing boys and girls. 2) When you check out the awesome review of this clothing line by Money Saving Parent, you can enter to win a $50 Kohl’s giftcard!

 

Disney and Kohl's

Hot Diggity Dog!

Check out this magical clothing line from Kohl’s!

boys Disney clothing at Kohl's
magic at play

Thanks to Kohl’s and Money Saving Parent we get to offer you a chance to try this collection of clothing “on for size!” One lucky reader will win a $50 gift card for Kohl’s and then can show their Disney Side.

Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. All terms and conditions are stated in the Rafflecopter form, but please review these few: You must be 18+ to enter. This is valid for US addresses only. Leave your address, and you’ll get your gift card that much faster if you are selected as the winner. This contest is not endorsed, or affilated with, Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. HURRY: This giveaway runs from April 7- 14, 2014.

See the Rafflecopter here

Would you like Money Saving Parent to do a review, or host a giveaway for you? Contact us! We would love to hear from you.

#ad The Coobie Store #Discount

We may not talk about it often, but we should. Whether you are dealing with abundance, or very little, a stylish, comfortable bra should always be a priority. Far too often we find that stylish bras aren’t very comfortable or supportive, and support bras aren’t very stylish. What’s a girl to do?

Coobie Seamless Bras promise to be ultra comfortable and versatile without sacrificing style. These affordable, stylish bras are seamless, one-size (comfortably fits 32A through 36D), available in 7+ styles, and 50+ fashion colors and patterns. There is a full-figure version available, and it fits up to a size 42D.

The Coobie line was created for everyday life, and with every woman in mind. The bras are perfect for yoga and Pilates. New and nursing moms will find them comfortable, functional, and stylish. There are even selections for sleepwear. Coobie Seamless Bras also has a large following of mastectomy patients that love the soft comfort and pad pocket to insert a form. You could say that they have something for all of us.

I am so excited that I get to share a discount code with all of you!

Save 25% on any order of $40 or more at www.shopcoobie.com
Promotion code: USFG25

 

 

My receipt of free product is for the purpose of facilitating a review of Coobie Seamless Bras. The opinions expressed in my reviews are always my own. Many thanks to US Family Guide and the Coobie Store.

Are You Using the Correct Car Seat?

safety

We have to put safety first.  When should you turn your rear-facing seat into a forward-facing seat? When should your elementary child ride without a seat? Is the answer a specific age? Do you change based upon height or weight? Or do you adjust your child’s safety seat according to your own preferences, or the advice of well-meaning relatives? Too often, far too many parents overlook the current regulations for the safety of children in motor vehicles. How do we know the appropriate times to change our car seats?

Rear-facing seats:

Whether you purchase a 3-in-1 convertible seat, or an infant only seat, all children from birth until 12 months should be in a rear-facing seat, or until they reach the maximum weight or height for the seat. See the weight and height recommendations, and the manufacturers’ instructions, in your owner’s manual. Recommendations are also usually printed on a label affixed to the seat.

Forward-facing seats:

This one is probably the biggest point of contention and confusion for parents and caregivers. Ages 2-12 can be in the back seat of the vehicle, in a forward-facing seat. You just gasped, didn’t you. 12? TWELVE? Yes. Again, the factors involved are the child’s height and weight.  When your child outgrows the forward-facing harnessed seat, it is time for a booster seat.  He or she should be in this seat until they can sit properly with a seat belt.

How should the seat belt fit? The shoulder belt should be snug from the should, and across the chest. It should not cross the neck or face. The lap belt should fit snugly across the upper thighs, and never across the stomach.

Can your child outgrow the height and weight for the rear-facing seat before 2 years of age? Yes. Are some 2-year-old children smaller the recommended height and weight for forward-facing seats? Definitely. You can always check with your personal pediatrician and local resources for the best decisions for your safety.  If you would like to confirm that your current seats are installed correctly, you can check here for a listing of available resources in your state. You can also visit Safercar.gov to review additional safety advice, as well as the latest lists of recalled car seats. Current recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics can be found by visiting HealthyChildren.org.

 

Book Blast & GIVEAWAY: Blue Butterfly #NewRelease #Fiction

Many thanks to WNL Book Tours for the opportunity to review, and support the blast, for this new release. See below for your opportunity to enter to win a free mobi or Kindle copy.

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About the Book:

There have been five black ballerinas that have made a noticeable mark in the world of ballet. Five that have fought to have the world see their talent rather than the color of their skin. Each has graced the stage as soloist and/or principal dancer. Precious Blue Johnson is set to become one of them. Precious Blue Johnson, young, country and naive, from Lutts County, Georgia, is traveling to the energizing city of New York to search for her birth father and perhaps make history by becoming the first black ballerina. Her simple mocha skin and thick lips will put her in the center of a movement, expose secrets and unlock the past as she steps onto the stage as the Blue Butterfly. She will be guided by the vivacious and wise Ms. Ann and fall in love with the alluring Ray Silvers. Ray brings the whole package. Enchanting eyes, a bright future as a doctor, and a willingness to love completely. To Precious, he is perfect. Except Ray’s package includes his deadly past. Will their love survive the one person who could end it all: his drug-addicted mother?

Paperback: 314 pages

Publisher: L.B. Publishing (March 3, 2014)

ISBN-10: 0984896759

ISBN-13: 978-0984896752

Book Title: Blue Butterfly

Genre: Christian Fiction,  Age Group 18+

About the Author

bluebutterfly-author

Clean Fiction novelist Marian L. Thomas is a dynamic story-teller with five engaging and dramatic novels to her credit. Her books have been seen on national television stations and featured in print magazines and newspapers. She has also been a guest on many broadcast and online radio stations. Her titles, My Father’s Colors and Strings of Color both received the USA Best Book Finalist Award. What makes her books unique? Mrs. Thomas is a pioneer for clean fiction for contemporary female readers. She refuses to lace her work with explicit sexual themes or profanity. Ms. Thomas’ books are rich with ever-intriguing themes of race, family strife, love, courage, friendship and forgiveness. And yet her tales, which seem to pre-stage current tabloid headlines, are spelled out in ways that suit the delicate moral tastes of both the Christian Fiction reader and the Clean Fiction book reader. Ms. Thomas resides in a suburb of Georgia with her husband, family and dear friends.

Email: info@marianlthomas.com
Website: www.marianlthomas.com
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/1kO44gv
Twitter: @MarianLThomas01

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Available now on Amazon!

Chapter 1 Sneak Peek:

They say on the night that I was born June 30, 1969, the fringes of the moon could be seen peeking out through the thin layers of the clouds. They say that the rain had done come down so hard it felt like something was tearing away at your soul, drop by drop. They say my mama was laying in the birthing room screaming because I was ripping her life away from her. They say that the doctors wanted to cut away at her tummy, but she had done plain-out refused. She was an ebullient woman, with the heart of an unbreakable but beautiful stallion.

I ain’t never seen the woman with eyes so blue they felt like they could reach down into the pit of your core and tell you about yourself. I ain’t never seen the warmth of her smile or the way she could soothe my daddy with her kind-hearted words. People talk under their breath about her. Talk about how long her silky blond hair was or how thin and soft her frame was. I do alls I can when I hear them whispering about the woman who gave her life so I could dance in the rain on a hot summer day.

Just before she took her last breath they say that she stared into my eyes and smiled because I done come into the world with what she thought was the better part of her. The one feature that my daddy loved the most.

She was the one who placed the weight of my name upon me. Precious Blue Johnson, but everyone around here in Lutts County, Georgia, fixed my name at Precious.

My dear, sweet Daddy is a tall, well-stocked-around-the-tummy man. I heard that back in his heyday he sported a nicely trimmed frame of six feet, two inches. That his hair used to be slicked back so perfectly there wasn’t a black woman in Lutts County that wasn’t dying to give it a coat or two of sweet brown sugar with the very tips of their hard-worked fingers.

His shoulders hang now sometimes, but that wasn’t always the case. No, it be said that when Charles Johnson used to walk down these dirt-filled roads, his shoulders stood towering with an air of confidence that one could breathe in from a mile away.

Once upon a time, it be rumored that his hazel brown eyes were fixed on singing his way out of Lutts County. They still talk about this fact in the rooms of their barely-able-to-stand homes, where they figure can’t nobody hear them but God. Whispering under the dim lights about how it is such a shame that he wasted his talent on a white woman.

There are nights when I would wonder what his voice must have sounded like. I would hear him humming sometimes, but I ain’t never heard the sound of butter flowing from his lips.

That’s what they say he sounded like.

Book tour, and giveaway sponsored by WNL Book Tours.

Enter the Giveaway HERE

3 Steps to Simpler Living

technothurs

Remember the days when kids played outside, with toys, and didn’t go berserk without a media device? Well, I do. My childhood consisted of dolls, play dough, easy bake oven disasters (I’m only a slightly better baker now), and giggle sessions with friends. We had an Atari (whoa…how old AM I?), but I wasn’t consumed with a need to play it.

Let’s fast forward to today. I was minding my own business, running errands, and I ended up in line behind a small family. The mom was juggling grocery items, and trying to keep track of all of her little kids, when the tallest of the bunch asked to play a game on mommy’s phone. The mom was clearly trying to just get through the line, without losing her kids, and just get done with this portion of her day. She asked the taller kid to wait. Did the kid wait patiently? NO! This kid morphed into the most annoying character from my favorite childhood movie. She started screaming, “I can’t wait! I want it NOW!” Ohhhh, man…

Animated image courtesy of GifSoup. No copyright infringement intended.

I was embarrassed for the mom. We have all been there: little kids can only take so much, and at the least convenient public moment, they can lose their ever-loving minds. I was also sad for the kid. There were so many colors, objects, and opportunities for imagination and passing time around us, but she couldn’t see them. Her world of fun, or passing time, was wrapped up in a tiny mobile device.

I am not writing this to shame a parent, or even the tantrum throwing child. We, all of us, helped to create a generation of kids who would rather stare at a screen than spend time using their imaginations. I decided to fight back. Some people think that it is ridiculous, and over the top. I say that I am shaping my kid’s brain for the rest of his life.

What am I doing? TechNOThursday. Yep.  We stalled out for a few weeks, thanks to illnesses and school breaks, but we are back to it. The Bald Genius has a techie job, so it isn’t feasible to turn off all of his phones every evening.  We picked 1, JUST ONE, evening per week to institute no technical devices.  We already have a no phones, ipods, or e-readers at the table rule, but I wanted to be sure that we placed more emphasis upon intentional human interaction than on devices. It may seem silly to some, but it was a decision that I felt was necessary for my family. I am not against technology, but I am not impressed with the increasing number of tech addicted kids.

What can we all do to lead simpler, intentional lives?

  1. Turn off, or put away, mobile devices. If you panic, or immediately object, you may very well be addicted to your devices. Clearly, if you are on call, on duty, in the middle of a work cycle, you wouldn’t do this. Think of a time, when you would normally spend moments at home, and not truly need your phone. Dinner? Homework time? When your spouse enters from work? Pick an evening, afternoon, or entire day (if you dare), and intentionally turn your focus away from your phone and other devices.
  2. Spend time with your family. Here’s a hint: if your family is speaking to you, and your eyes are on your phone, you AREN’T spending time with them. Model intentional conversation to your kids.
  3. Find ways to enjoy life — without a screen. How does that life look? It can be whatever you make it. Take the family outside, get active, find adventures to do together. Have you ever created an obstacle course in the backyard? Have the kids learned to ride their bikes without training wheels? What about a family board game night? Do your teens know how to properly wash, and care for the car that they expect the rights to drive? Find ways to enjoy your family, and teach valuable lessons to your household, without staring at a device.

What we do today affects our tomorrow. I believe that we can help our families become aware of how we interact with each other, and to value face to face communication. I dare to think that we can again see our children enjoying playing with toys, running outside, riding their bikes, and preferring these activities over staring at a screen. Technology definitely  has its place, and many innovations make our lives better. However, I think that we can all benefit from a few moments of simplicity, and taking the time to just enjoy life.

How often to catch yourself checking your devices? Have you ever spent an entire evening, meal, or day, without looking at your phone? Are you looking for ways to make life simpler for your family? I would love to hear your stories.

 

Until next time,
xoxo

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