Sunday, December 4, 2016

Amy Grant's Tennessee Christmas Review and CD Giveaway

I have always loved Tennessee.  Probably not for the reasons you think though.  You see, I have never even really been there. Sure, I have driven through many times on the way here and there, but never actually stopped to stay a while.  It is on my bucket list.

So why do I love a place I have never visited?  Get ready!  All because of the song Tennessee Christmas.  

Done laughing?

Seriously, that is why.  From the very first time I heard Amy Grant sing that beautiful Christmas song, my heart has longed to go there.  The tune is sweet and catchy, but the words...well, the words are endearing.  They just make you want to close your eyes and be there.  "Where the love circles around us, like the gifts around the tree."  Yes, I am sappy like that but it really is one of my favorite Christmas songs, and now the title song of Amy's latest Christmas Album, Tennessee Christmas.

It seems fitting that now, just days after terrible wildfires ravaged parts of Tennessee, that we should be reminded of the beautiful place that many hold dear in their hearts!

As for the rest of the Christmas album, well, it is equally as good.  You will recognize a few traditional songs as well as maybe learn a few newer ones, 13 in all for a total of 43 minutes of listening pleasure.  This is not your typical sing-a-long style CD, but rather one alternating from sweet songs like Tennessee Christmas to livelier songs like Christmas For You and Me and a jazzy White Christmas.  All enhanced by Amy Grant's beautiful, soulful, and ever strong voice.

We have enjoyed listening to it- I am sure you will too!  Be sure to check out the To Be Together Audio on YouTube!

Flyby once again has given us the opportunity to let one of our readers win a copy of this CD!  Just leave me your name, a way to contact you, and tell us what your favorite holiday song is!

“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 a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.


Friday, December 2, 2016

A Year Home Update

Sometimes it is hard to believe that almost a year has passed since our hero returned home.  He has been home now for just about the same amount of time he was deployed.  Not sure which one seems longer.

Our year alone was a hard, painful year.  Sometimes it seems like a distant memory and other days it is still as painful as it was when we were in the middle of it all.  Although it was not our first rodeo, it was one that about kicked our backsides.

Deployments are not easy.  They are often not pretty.  If I have one major complaint about deployments, it is that the general public wants to glorify them, wrap them up in a shiny package, and make it all look pretty.

I still look at all those Facebook videos of soldiers coming home and cringe.  Yes, they are beautiful, but they also do not tell the whole story.  The reality is that many come home unnoticed to empty airports.  My husband was one of those heroes.  We were new in town and the one couple we knew graciously drove us to the airport for his late night return, staying in the car so as not to overwhelm him.

He de-boarded the plane minus the uniform, as many do, to not be noticed.  While we waited with a welcome sign that made his homecoming obvious, we got several looks, but not once did anyone in that airport acknowledge our hero or his service.

It made it all seem surreal.  We simply grabbed his bags and headed home.  To a new-to-him house that was empty.  (Our moving truck came a week later)

Despite everything else, we have much to be thankful for-
  • He returned home. Many do not.  A fact we do not take lightly.
  • Days after his return, there were several attacks and fatalities in the area he had just been in.
  • Our transition, while challenging at times, has been fairly smooth.
  • We have been assured there are no more deployments lurking.  

God is faithful.  He provided in our year alone and He has provided in this past year together.  As the holidays draw closer, let me encourage you to find a military family whose spouse is deployed to bless in some small way.  Just a simple acknowledgment of their sacrifice means more than you can ever know.

Bless and be blessed!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Why We Still Love Here to Help Learning

I am blessed by homeschooling.

I am blessed to be able to homeschool.  It is not a blessing I take lightly or for granted.

I am also blessed by curriculum that we use, and curriculum that we review and eventually incorporate into our daily schedule.

Here to Help Learning is one of those curriculums.  The Schoolhouse Review Crew originally reviewed it last summer.  Shortly after that, we put it aside for our summer break, and then picked it back up in September when we started back with formal lessons.

I loved it then, and I love it even more now.

Writing is hard.  Teaching writing can be hard.  Teaching writing to a wiggly, squiggly 9 year old boy can be even harder.  There are a few programs we love for older students, but for younger kids, the choices are more limited.  Trying to find one that fits my kinesthetic learner is even harder.

But we did with Here to Help Learning.

The video based lessons are great for my active boy.  Mrs. Mora's humor keeps him laughing.  Her clear instructions keep him moving forward.  The worksheets engage him, and the sidekick dog entertains him.

More importantly he is learning and WRITING!

Yes, writing!

Like, I have to tell him to come to a stopping point with the warm up exercises or he would write a 5 page paper each time!  And that's just the warm up!

And get this- we do the lessons usually 4 times a week.  And he still looks forward to it.

Little prep for me.  Lot of fun for him!

And he is developing some skills and a love for learning along the way!


Do you have a writing program you love?


Friday, November 25, 2016

The Sewing Room

Ashton's Attic is the brain child and business of my 22 year old daughter, Ashton.  About 6 years ago we lived in Virginia and she had an attic suite all to herself that was rather large.  Because of that space, she stretched out her sewing stuff and began sewing quilts for people.  Ashton's Attic was born and has been growing every since.  Now, each month she turns out custom T- shirt quilts for people across the United States.  From quilts for graduation and birthday gifts, to baby clothes quilts and ones made in memory of a loved one, each quilt is designed, laid out, layered, and quilted by Ashton alone.

As you can imagine, this endeavor can take up a lot of space.  A lot.  And we no longer live in Virginia with a large attic space.  So finding room for her business is often a challenge for Ashton and until lately, she has had her machines and such set up in our furnace/storage room.  Yep, we are nice like that.  Since Ashton is still living at home for a while, we decided to make some changes to our existing space to give her more room and a brighter, more cheerful place to sew.  After all, she is often at her machine 4-8 hours a day.

So the boys and I packed up our school room, relocated ourselves to another space in our living room, and let her do her thing.  It has been a slight adjustment for the boys, but so worth it to see her spread out and sew with joy and the sunlight streaming in.


New space! (And yes, she did move most of her current projects out for the pictures, because of Christmas and all!)

Maybe someday Ashton's Attic will have a storefront space of its own, but for now, we are blessed to have it, and its sweet owner, sewing in our home.  Sometimes the hum of a sewing machine is a glorious thing!