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Monday, November 30, 2015

I'm Happy For You (Sort Of...Not Really) by Kay Wills Wyma {A FlyBy Review and Giveaway}

Sometimes, over the course of reading a book or watching a TV show, you really connect with the author or TV personality.  You think, "If we ever had the chance to meet, I know we would be fast friends."  That is exactly how I felt reading, I'm Happy for You. 

About I’m Happy For You (Sort Of…Not Really)Our cultural obsession with comparison is undercutting relationships and sapping contentment. With disarming candor and humor, Kay Wills Wyma explores how to trade comparison for compassion and rediscover what life is all about.
It’s easy to get caught in the comparison games we play with our appearances, our kids, and our homes. Kay reminds exhausted families about tried and true remedies from the pressures of competitive living.
In her warm, relatable style, Kay confronts the comparison epidemic raging in our homes, our neighborhoods, and our social-media feeds, offering remedies along the way.
With candor and humor, I’m Happy For You (Sort Of…Not Really) explores the troubling effects of living in an excessively competitive culture—and reveals simple yet effective ways to escape the comparison trap.
 About the AuthorKay Wills Wyma is a blogger, mother of five, and the author of Cleaning House through which she has appeared on The TODAY Show, CNN, Glenn Beck, The New York Times, Focus on the Family, and more. Before becoming a stay-at-home mom, she held positions at the White House, the Staubach Company, and Bank of America. Kay lives in the Dallas area with her husband, Jon, and their family.

OBM says:  I've been dog-earring pages in this book left and right.  It's like Kay Wills Wyma is speaking what is in my head.  Comparison is something I really struggle with, and so many things really spoke to me like, "We measure ourselves against other people who are measuring themselves against other people."  I had never thought of it that way.  And that's just one tidbit-there are so many more.  I'm really trying to be intentional about being happy for other people now.  Removing myself from the equation and making it not a competition, but something I can be glad for them for.  It takes effort, because it's contrary to the default setting of my brain, but it's part of taking every thought captive, and SO necessary for finding contentment.

If you want to read more of Kay Wills Wyma's writings, you can follow her blog.   Kay is blogging about how she has started to #HydrateForTheHolidays, so you want to check that out.  Or follow the MOAT Blog on Facebook or on Twitter.  Go to Amazon to buy I'm Happy For You (Sort Of ...Not Really). 

U.S. and Canada residents can enter below to win a copy of I'm Happy For You (Sort Of...Not Really) below.

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Adore by Chris Tomlin {A FlyBy Review and Giveaway}

I'll let you in on a little secret...this year, I was listening to Christmas music before Thanksgiving, and it was awesome.  Adore by Chris Tomlin is the perfect mix of traditional classics and original Christmas songs.
1. He Shall Reign Forevermore
2. Adore
3. Midnight Clear (Love Song)
4. Noel featuring Lauren Daigle 
5. Hymn Of Joy 
6. Silent Night featuring Kristyn Getty 
7. What Child Is This? featuring Sons & Daughters 
8. It's Christmas
9. A King Like This
10. Bethlehem

11. A Christmas Alleluia featuring Lauren Daigle & Leslie Jordan of All Sons & Daughters 

Chris Tomlin is an American contemporary Christian music artist, worship leader, and songwriter who has sold nearly 30 million records.  Some of his most well-known songs are "How Great Is Our God", "Jesus Messiah", "Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)", "Our God", and "Whom Shall I Fear".  His 2013 album Burning Lights debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, only the fourth Christian album ever to open at No.1.  Throughout his career, Chris has been nominated for 32 Dove Awards (6 of them collaborative efforts) and he has won 19 of them.  
OBM says:  Just today, I was listening to the radio, and "Adore" came on.  I was so excited.  But I have to say our favorite from this album is probably Silent Night.  Kristyn Getty is just enchanting.  And I did NOT know she was the writer of one of my favorite hymns of all times, "In Christ Alone."  What a wonderful collaboration, as are the songs with All Sons and Daughters and Lauren Daigle.  Adore was just what I needed to kick off the Christmas season, and it's living in my car's CD player right now so that whenever our local station isn't satisfying our need for Christmas music, we just "press play" and are transported to Christmas.

You can check out Adore on Facebook or Chris Tomlin on Twitter.

If you'd like a chance to WIN this album, just enter below.  But if you want to know for sure that it's yours, hop on over to iTunes and buy Adore.

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30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 30

I'm super thankful that today I get to post not one, but two giveaways!  What a wonderful blessing this time of year.  And I'm thankful that I finally got my daughter's small 16th birthday celebration pulled together.  She had a big, joint party with her BFF on the volleyball team with all the team members, but that left out two of Mimi's friends.  So I have had the best of intentions of organizing this trip to the pottery painting place for, well, 6 weeks now.  And today it finally came together.  Yay!
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Sunday, November 29, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness- Day 29

I'm thankful for a 10 year old who loves to decorate the Christmas tree.  It seems in this busy season of life, there is never time for anything, even getting the tree done.  But she took it upon herself to decorate the tree once I had it up.  She loves the ornaments, and I love to watch her unwrap each one from the tissue paper and exclaim over it some fond memory or thing she loves about it.  It's awesome that she is really into this right now, and I'm very thankful for her drive and passion.
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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 24

I'm super thankful today for the unexpected blessing of an equity check from our mortgage company (extra funds after the loan payoff) and for today marking the LAST payment related to that house-the power bill-being paid.  Happy bonus!  God is faithful all the time.  Now, off to pay some more bills ;).
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Monday, November 23, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 23

I'm thankful I got the chance to shoot my kids today.  Tee-hee.  That sounds wrong!  Taking their photo has become somewhat of an ordeal with varying schedules for each and their just general getting-older-and-less-happy-to-pose-for-Mom's-camera stage in life, but we got it done, even with the girls both feeling under the weather.  It was COLD-43 degrees-but they were troopers.  There *might* have been some Starbucks bribery involved.  I won't show the finished product that I'm using for Christmas this year, but here's a different one from the same shoot. (You might have to click on it to see it better).

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Sunday, November 22, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 22

I'm thankful for our neighbors.  We have great neighbors.  I know not everyone can say that, but I can.  Today, Sari spent all day with 2 of her BFFs (sisters) who live 2 houses down.  She is doing a praise dance class at their church, and they are performing it Christmas Eve.  She couldn't be more excited.  She's down at their house a TON, and it will be hard when we move, as having friends in the neighborhood is something she has really grown to treasure.

And the little boy next door?  He's just a cutie-patootie!

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Saturday, November 21, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 21

SPLASH!  I'm thankful for Splash.  Splash is an event that takes place on college campuses across the country where, for one day, the college students get to teach classes to high schoolers about any topic they want.  The high schoolers then sign up for the Splash event, and enroll in specific class that interest them.  In the past two weeks, my kids have taken classes on Chinese yo-yo, martial arts, water conservation, trolley problems (ethical dilemmas), and more at both Duke (2 weeks ago) and UNC today.  It's a great chance for them to experience a college campus, broaden their horizons (Wet and Wild wasn't quite what TJ thought it would be, but he's quoted the water stats from it numerous times), and sometimes even made new friends, as many homeschoolers do these events.  It's also allowed me to watch them go through the class choices and wisely discern which ones hold worldviews contrary to our own and then, without any prompting form me, not take those classes.  Baby steps into the real, unfiltered world they will live in very soon.  So I'm thankful for the colleges that give of their resources and the college students who give of their time to make Splash possible.

(These pictures are NOT mine-they are from the Splash UNC website and taken in the Spring session-TJ was too young for that one. Mimi took a cake decorating class.)

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Sunday, November 15, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 15

I'm thankful for an offhanded remark my Precept teacher jokingly made about one of her sons being her favorite child because he was the one who called every week.  Those tongue-in-cheek words were a great reminder to ME that I need to be better at reaching out to my mom and family.  I'm such an introvert that I'm comfortable going extended periods of time without actually speaking with people, but that doesn't mean they aren't constantly in my thoughts and prayers.  Unfortunately, they don't know that, lol.  Every since my teacher's comment, I have made an effort to give my mom a call and "check in" with her.  I'm so blessed that my mother is still here-her mother died at a young age-and I want her to know she is important to me.
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Saturday, November 14, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness- Day 14

I'm thankful my man is back in town.  He was, ironically, in Orlando for a conference, but he got home around noon today.  We've had a lazy "welcome home" afternoon full of watching Mr. Holmes-good, but really slow, and snacking, and then a turkey dinner since turkey is yummy and on sale right now.  It's great to have him home again.
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30 Days of Thankfulness- Day 13

Today, I'm thankful for George Washington.  Okay, that's kind of tongue-in-cheek, although he was an amazing guy.  But today I got to teach in the elementary class of our other co-op...a history one.  And although I taught on the Civil War, and Beth and I did fun games and interactive lesson  activities and read a book, etc., when it came time to do review, one little boy answered  an enthusiastic "George Washington" to everything.  He and his 6 siblings were adopted from Asia...Latvia or Ukraine or something like that...just last year, so it's amazing how well they already interact and do so well in English, which is NOT their native tongue...but clearly sometimes it gets to be a bit much for this little guy and good ole' George is his default answer.  It was awesome.  I'm thankful for his family answering God's call for adoption of this large sibling group, and I'm thankful for the G.W. chuckle.
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Thursday, November 12, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness- Day 12

I'm thankful for our co-op.  Joining a co-op was a big deal for us.  I tend to be a rogue.  I like to set my own schedule.  A co-op means I'm on someone else's schedule.  But after a year of being in this co-op, it's truly become "our people."  It's HUGE...500 people from 100 families, but God centered, and accommodates all ages from babies to seniors with Bibles studies for moms.  Tonight, we had our family night, and I loved the opportunity to share the hard work my students put into their portrait projects for the Portraiture class I co-taught.  Their work looked amazing.  I'm so proud of my middle-schoolers.

Other groups gave presentations, and I had a great time sitting next to my friend Beth.  I thought her daughters were going to have to separate us, LOL.  I'm so thankful God led us to this co-op and our new friends.
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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness- Day 11

I'm thankful for a few new photography online groups I've joined in the past year.  They really challenge me to expand my horizons and become a better photographer.  Plus, they are both groups that are super supportive of their members and really make helping everyone become a better photographer a priority.  I learn something new everyday, and I'm truly thankful for them.
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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness- Day 10

I'm thankful for my husband's job.  Not only does it provide for us, it also is the reason we now call NC home.  While, like any job, it has its moments of frustrating-ness, he is surrounded be kindred spirits and he really excels at what he does.  Plus, he gets to travel to lots of fun places, and sometimes I get to tag along, like when I went to Edinburgh with him this summer.  So I'm very thankful for his job and the company he works for.
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Monday, November 9, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness- Day 9

I have some really awesome teens.  I'm thankful for the young adults they are becoming.  I find daily that I truly enjoy their company more and more.  We laugh and laugh together.  We watch nerdy TV shows.  We play games.  I'm blessed to watch them as they mature and figure out God's calling on their life.  Another mom at church told me how awesome TJ is to work with in the preschool class and how much the kids love him.  In addition to working with the toddlers at church, Mimi is volunteering with her friend to watch kids whose parents attend an ESL class, which lets her practice her Japanese as well.  They are thrilled to have her help.

Today, TJ held the door for a woman in the rain, and she was really, visibly impressed and thanked him heartily. I love that.  I'm thankful that they are so enjoyable and stable given the high level of crazy they live with on a daily basis.  God has truly blessed me, and I am thankful.
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Faith of Our Fathers {A FlyBy Review}

Pure Flix Entertainment, the company behind God's Not Dead, Do Your Believe, and Woodlawn, have a new movie on out DVD just in time for Veteran's Day.  Faith of Our Fathers premiered in theaters this past July, and stars Stephen Baldwin, Si Robertson, Candace Cameron Bure, and Rebecca St. James.  I got the chance to watch it last night.

About the movie:John Paul and Wayne are two young men in search of their fathers.  Problem is...their fathers have been dead for 25 years.  Eddie and Steven are two young men in search of their sons...whom they've never met.  In 1969, Eddie and Steven are with their squad deep in the jungle of Vietnam on a five-day mission to retrieve fallen comrades.  They write letters to their wives, often mentioning their love for their sons, one, who is an infant and one yet to be born.  In 1994, John Paul and Wayne go on a five day road trip to the Vietnam Wall in Washington DC to see their fathers' names.  Along the way, reading those letters, they begin to get an understanding of who their fathers were and how they died.  Trials and mishaps, both funny and sad, complicate the road trip for the boys.  The horrors of war and the testing of faith manifest themselves for the young men in Vietnam.  Ultimately, in parallel stories - 25 years apart - the fathers and sons are bound together forever.  

OBM says:  I was especially drawn to this film because my father served in Vietnam.  While he did come home alive, he definitely was changed by his experiences over there.  I was intrigued by this story of two men who were seeking to understand their fathers and their experiences in the war.  While some parts of the story are a bit of a stretch to believe,  (that could probably be said of almost every movie, if the truth be told), it was just as described-both funny and sad.  I enjoyed watching Faith of our Fathers, and I will likely allow my children to watch it with me next time.  It does carry a PG-13 rating for brief war violence.

You can visit Faith of Our Fathers on Facebook or Twitter.  U.S. and Canada residents can enter below to win a copy of Faith of Our Fathers for yourself!.

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Sunday, November 8, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 8

I'm thankful for Precepts Bible studies.  Just about a decade ago, I began my journey with inductive Bible study...using God's Word to study God's Word.  Knowing God for myself-what He says in His word and what it means- is priceless.  There is always an excuse for why not to do it in this busy stage of parenthood, but honestly, there is nothing more valuable I could do with my time.  I'm a better wife, mother, friend, sister, mentor, person, Christ follower for the time I spend in His word.  I'm also SO much more capable of discerning those who accurately handle God's Word and those who don't because I know what it says for myself.  It's worth every second and then some.  So today, I'm thankful for Precept and Kay Arthur and her obedience to God's call on her life.  I look forward to years and years and years more of study that I might know Him.
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Saturday, November 7, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 7

I'm thankful for our first friends in NC, the Red family (names have been changed to protect the innocent, lol).  We met them when we were looking for a rental house, and we have been friends ever since.  We spent tonight at their house celebrating the husband C's birthday, because he thinks my kids are cool because they love to play games.  We played The Resistance and One Night Ultimate Werewolf (which even has a free app to talk you through the game)...oh my goodness, so fun!  A made pizza for dinner, and even made one with a cauliflower crust that I ate a piece of (if you know me, you may be picking you jaw up off the floor right now).  I'll explain the reason for that in another thankful day soon.

Anyway, I'm super thankful that God perfectly orchestrated our meeting and becoming friends, and that Sari loves their girls and their girls love Sari, and that they homeschool too, and that she's just as odd as I am, and that they like to play games too.
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Friday, November 6, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 6

Today, I'm thankful for Landry Academy.  I'm not getting paid to say that, and as far as I can see, they do not have a referral program, so this is a totally unsolicited plug, but I'm thankful for them nonetheless, LOL.

This semester, two of my kids have taken online classes through Landry.  It hasn't been totally smooth sailing, as adjusting to someone who isn't "mom" has taken some getting used to.  But it has been worth it.  Mimi is taking Japanese with Landry.  Learning Japanese was her passion, and, as foreign languages go, it's not the easiest one to come by.  When I saw that Landry offered it, that was really what cemented the deal for us to give them a try.

But they also offer cool programming classes and art and design classes that I just can't teach at home.  Things that will give my kids a chance to experiment with the subject areas that God has gifted them in, and I think is calling them to, without them ever having to step foot on a college campus.  And because Landry deeply discounts advanced purchases of "generic semesters" (which can later be applied to any class you want), each of these classes cost me about $57 a semester-WAY cheaper than anything local.

Mimi came in last night and asked to take a programming class with her design teacher next semester because she likes the teacher so much.  She already has a design class picked out for NEXT fall too.

I mention this because I truly am thankful for them and the blessing they have been to us this year, but also as a "head's-up" because we purchased our initial semesters on a Black Friday sale.  Typically, the semesters are for 18 months out, so you really have to be thinking ahead, but that's what gives you the $57 price instead of the current $390.  BIG difference!  And the great news is they have a tremendous resale value, so if you try them and it isn't for you, you won't lose out, you can just resell your remaining generic semesters.  But I bet you won't, because who doesn't want to learn how to program using Minecraft?
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Thursday, November 5, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 5

Volleyball.  I'm thankful for volleyball.  Those are words I never dreamed I'd be saying.  But this year, my girlie decided she wanted to play volleyball.  She made the team, and I became their resident paparazzi ;).  I grew to love those girls and they were so kind to my daughter.  I love the sweet friendships that she has made.

Next year, Sari wants to join the Middle School team too.  At least that will make my life easier :).

Beyond Mimi's friendships, I've made several new friends within the volleyball team parents, and we even have an invite for Thanksgiving, which we are all super excited about.

Who knew volleyball would be such a blessing to our family?  God did, obviously, and I'm so thankful for His plan.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 4

I'm super thankful for FALL.  I love fall.  I love seasons.  I missed seasons while we lived in FL.  And I love having them now that we are in NC.  I love being able to share the change of seasons with my kiddos.  The heat of summer makes me appreciate the cool of fall.  The cold of winter makes me appreciate the warmth of spring.

But the colors of fall?  I've missed those so much.  It's a shallow thing to be thankful for, I know.  But God created such a beautiful world for us to enjoy, and seeing the leaves change colors is something I have really missed.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 3

This boy.  He makes me laugh.  Right now we are sitting here, past bed time, watching The Flash, which he has sucked me into watching with him ;).  I'm thankful for him and the laughter he brings to our family and his obsession with working the word potato into every conversation.
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30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 2

My son got a JOB!  It's a huge deal, really.  The older he has gotten, the more "special" his special needs have made him.  For him, the process of finding a job is not the same as it is for the rest of the "normal" population.  He's been working with a job coach for at least 9 months, and it has been a slow process to try out different job experiences and explore his strengths and weaknesses.  He was stymied for a while with a job coach he didn't click with, but as soon as he got his new coach, the job fell into place too.  He hasn't actually started yet, but he's done all the paperwork, and he's ready when they are.

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30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 1

WE SOLD OUR HOUSE!!!!  One year and eleven month to the day, and we finally sold our house in Florida.  God is good, all the time.  He met our needs every day of the past year and eleven months.  And He kept us fully relying on Him.  But with a daughter needing vision therapy and a son needing braces and another daughter getting ready to drive, we were about to be spread even more thin.  And God provided again.  I'm so happy to not be paying for two of everything, but most of all, I'm happy that we finally have both feet in the same state-not straddling the line unable to fully commit to being HERE.  There's still ambiguity as to what exactly the future holds, but I'm happy that that chapter is closed and a new one can begin.
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