Monday, October 31, 2011


Can you guess what they all are?

Swagbucks Codes all Day!!

Do you use Swagbucks?

No??  Why not?

Swagbucks is a search engine that allows you to earn points, called Swagbucks.  When you have earned enough points, you can trade them in for great prizes, like Amazon gift cards.

Don't believe me?  So far my husband and I have earned over $250 in Amazon gift cards in just the last 6 months.  We will be using that nice little chunk of change to help buy some Christmas gifts this year.

If you haven't joined, today is a great day to join!
If you already swag with us, check out this announcement from the folks at Swagbucks.

This week will be a can't miss at Swagbucks, as they run not one but TWO big days of codes! It all starts on Halloween Monday, with a series of Trick-or-Treat code hunts throughout the day. Then, on Thursday, it's another Swag Code Extravaganza - 60 Swag Bucks worth of codes being released throughout the day, plus special promotions, announcements and more! Be sure to go to the Swagbucks Blog at 7am Pacific Time Monday to join in the fun!

Start your Swagbucks journey today!!

Search & Win

Friday, October 21, 2011

Book Review: Growing up Amish

Growing up Amish, a memoir by Ira Wagler

One clear night at age 17, Ira Wagler packs a bag and leaves his Old Order Amish settlement to strike out in the "English" world.  In this memoir, Ira paints a vivid picture of life growing up as an Amish boy and as an Amish man.  The book chronicles Ira's decade long confusion as to whether to remain Amish or leave the church.  It culminates in his ultimate decision at age 26 to leave the order for good.

My Thoughts:

The description of this book just fascinated me.  Amish life is very much idealized in modern-day literature and film.  To find out from someone in that community what life is really like is like seeing into someone's secret hideaway.  Ira's down-to-earth writing reveals that Amish life is not always peaceful and serene.  Not everyone in that world is content with their lot in life.  In fact, in these memoirs, Ira is anything but content.  He struggles with the guilt of not continuing the Amish life as well as not really knowing how to live outside of the Amish community.

The writing is so real and in your face that you feel as if you are there in the situation.  It has almost a raw quality to it that just draws out the emotion of the author and lets the reader feel what he is feeling.  As a reader, your heart just breaks during Ira's struggles.  You want him to overcome, whether it's in finally embracing the Amish church or whether it's learning to live outside of it.  You just want him to succeed in life.  But then you realize that this is someone's real life and not a novel.  Heartaches happen, confusion happens.  But after 10 years of living between two worlds, clarity happens and Ira chooses his path.

I thought this was an excellent book.  It was well-written and engaging.  I would like to know what happened to Ira after the end of the book.  I feel like I need to know that he went on be happy, that he realized he made the right choice.  So, Ira, if you ever read this, feel free to comment and let us know that you are happy.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

I received a complementary Kindle version of this book for review by NetGalley.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Blogging for Books Review: The Scroll

The Scroll by Grant Jeffrey and Alton Gansky

Dr. David Chambers was a leading archeologist in the field of Biblical History when he walked away from it all.  After losing his faith and breaking up with his fiancee, David is ready to find a new research focus.  This is until Jewish friend and mentor, Abram Ben-Judah, offers him the dig of a lifetime, if only he'll return to his former field of expertise, the Bible.

My Thoughts:

I am kind of wishy-washy on this book.  Parts of it were great - exciting, informative, something new that's never been written about - while other parts just moved very slowly.  The story went from intense action scenes to a month-long gaps.  It just seemed kind of unbalanced to me.

I did enjoy the characters.  The authors did not portray every Christian as a perfect, goody-two-shoes kind of person.  They portrayed them as real, flawed people with real baggage and real issues to work through.  I thought that was one of the best aspects of the book.

There was a lot of Biblical Historical explanations in the book, which is great for readers who aren't that familiar with Biblical History.  I thought they were woven into the storyline pretty well. 

One of the overall themes of the book is the secrecy with which this dig had to take place.  I understand the politics involved, but I thought the security and espionage aspect of the story were a little overly dramatic.  It just didn't seem to all fit in the story well to me.

Overall, The Scroll is an easy-read with solid characters; however, I felt the story flow was somewhat lacking.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

I received a complimentary copy of this book to review from the Blogging for Books program.  The opinions are my own.

Monday, October 17, 2011

First Ever Girl Scout Camping Trip

I did it!!

Me, the inside-loving mom who hasn't been camping in probably 25 years, braved the great outdoors and went with Julie and the Girl Scouts on a weekend camping trip.  I even slept in a cold, platform tent.  Well, "sleep" might be too strong of a word.  I stayed there in a sleeping bag on a cot anyway - didn't get much sleep.

I do have to admit that camp life moves at a much slower pace than I am used to.  Breakfast on Saturday took 2 hours to make.  We were STARVING by the time it was ready.  Then there was time for a fun, but windy Girl Scout Investiger ceremony.  The only problem with that is that it there were candles involved...and it was windy.  Candles and wind do not mix well.  But never fear, the ceremony continued despite the wind.  Then it was time for lunch.  Wait?  I thought we just had breakfast?  It did kind of feel that way.

But roasting hotdogs over the fire for lunch and topping it off with free Juicy Juice (thanks to a sampling event that I qualified for as a member of the Juicy Juice Bunch panel).  I left for a few hours in the afternoon to attend a good friend's baby shower.  While I was gone, there was pocketknife safety training.  Right after that, two girls cut their fingers.  The knives were then put away.  Guess they need to repeat that class.

I came back in time for Hobo packs for dinner, along with more free Juicy Juice.  By that time, lack of sleep was catching up to both of us and we packed up and headed home.  Julie absolutely loved it and claims that she wants to camp "forever."  I'm just glad that I survived. 

I am a happy Juicy Juice Bunch panel member.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wash your hands!

Wash your hands!  Did you wash your hands?  OK, time for everyone to wash hands.

Do those words come out of your mouth multiple times a day?  They do from mine.  I come from a family full of allergies and asthma.  I, myself, have allergies and asthma and both of my kids have asthma.  So, for us, a common cold usually turns into bronchitis or a sinus infection.  And, believe me, those are no fun.  Since I have no desire to be sick for 2 weeks or to have sick kids to take care of, we take precautions in our family to minimize our germ exposure.

What practices do we employ?

1)  Wash, wash, wash.  Obviously we've taught our kids to wash their hands after going to the bathroom (although David has to be reminded of that frequently - he is a 6 year old boy, you know).  We also send everyone to the bathroom to wash before dinner nightly and before lunch on the weekends.  (Lunch during the week is at school for the kids and at work for Tim.  I don't know if they wash there.  Hopefully they do.  I wash here.)  But not only do we send them to wash, we teach them to wash.  We have taken the time to teach them about all the nooks and crannies in their hands that they need to wash - in between their fingers, all the way up to their wrists, fingernails, etc.  I firmly believe that a little time spent up front teaching your children the right way to do something really pays off in the long run.

I also have my kids wash their hands when they get home from school and church.  They are around so many other children in both of those places that I just know they are full of germs.

2)  Shots.  First of all, let me say that I'm whole-heartedly in agreement with vaccines.  I know there are a lot of people out there against them and that's fine.  You're welcome to your opinion; but for my family, vaccines are the way to go.  In 2007 my dad got the whooping cough from traveling internationally.  He got sick and was fully contagious during a week that we spent at the beach with him.  Tim and I both tested positive for being exposed to the virus, so we know our family had the potential to get it.  We immediately got booster DTaP shots and didn't get sick.  Our children also stayed healthy because they had been vaccinated against the whooping cough (pertussis) as babies.  David was just 2 at the time.  Since we are very prone to catching things that are going around, I'm fully convinced that if my kids had not been vaccinated, they would have caught pertussis. And pertussis in children that young is very serious, potentially deadly.  For that experience alone, I am an advocate of vaccinations.

Not only do we vaccinate for the "big" things, we vaccinate yearly for the flu.  Luckily, my children are able to take the flu mist and they don't have to endure the shot.  They complain about the bad taste after the mist, but it sure beats the pain of the shot (I would know since I get the shot every year).  Even my husband gets the flu vaccine even though he hardly ever gets sick.  He just loves us that much!

3)  Last but not least, we take daily vitamins.  I have to admit I get the name brand Flintstones ones because they taste better and I know there won't be any fights about taking them.  I also get the immune fighting version that had extra vitamin C.  I don't know if the vitamins really help them stay healthy, but I don't think they hurt either.

Sickness is bound to happen, but anything I can do to slow it down at my house is worth it! 

What about you?  How do you combat germs and viruses?

“I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Lysol blogging program, for a gift card worth $40. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”