Thursday, December 31, 2015

What I'm doing differently next year.

FTC disclaimer:  This post may contain affiliate links.

The last two years have been hard.  My world was turned upside down when my mother passed away and then I felt like my life was kicked to the side when I realized how many lies had been told about me in the last several months my mother was alive.  Some of those lies were told to my mother about me.  I hope now that she can see the big picture now that she is gone, she knows what was truth and what really happened.  It's been a tough couple years and I've decided I've had enough of certain things.

Here's what I am doing differently last next year:

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Late December Adoption Update

FTC disclaimer:  This post may contain affiliate links.

Christmas is over, and was definitely a difficult one for me.  This was the second Christmas without my mother, and the second Christmas that family won't have anything to do with me.  Last Christmas I was bracing myself for yet *another* funeral.  That was for a friend from high school and just two days after Christmas.  This year there was no funeral to brace for (thankfully) and it was just getting through Christmas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

"Back" from Staycation.

We are "back" from staycation.  As much as you can be back without going anywhere.  My husband had five days off and we planned on visiting family.  We had made plans a month ago to stay with a family member, but we were the *last* to know that family member's plans changed, and there was still no resolution less than 48 hours before we were to leave, so we declared a Staycation.

I sat down and made a list of everything we might want to do.  The things we didn't get to do were in Pittsburgh as well as watching the new Star Wars movie.  (Not that I cared about that but my husband does!)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Five Favorite Christmas Gifts I ever Gave

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

I have always loved giving.  My husband has been all amused with me this advent season because I am so excited about the things I have picked out for him, I talk him into opening a gift -- or two -- or three early.  (Last night he opened a set of 48 Prismacolor Pencils.  He took a number of art classes in high school and wants to get back into being creative.  Prismacolor pencils were the only brand that his art teacher allowed the students to use.)  I wanted to give him something to encourage his art, and that's what I decided on.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Weight Loss Resolutions and Wireless Weight Loss

FTC disclaimer:  I am part of the U.S. Cellular Better Moments Blogger brigade, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

U.S. Cellular offers a FREE PRINTABLE Parent Child agreement to help you discuss safety of the Internet, cell phone usage, limits, and courtesy with your teen or tween.  You don't even need to be a U.S. Cellular customer to access this, although I have been for 10 years and highly recommend them. 

Long time readers of my blog will remember in May 2013 I attended a fitness camp for people to help them integrate faith into their fitness routine.  All of us were overweight, and it was physically the most demanding five days of my life.  But I'm glad I went.  I made friends, gained two pounds (it was likely muscle as we were doing weight training!  The next week I lost seven pounds) and learned so much.

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Facebook Follow Hack EVERYONE Should Know.

FTC disclaimer:  This post may contain affiliate links.

The other day I received a number of e-mails that said "following".  There were also several that said, "." -- now I don't know about you, but for me, this is just annoying.  I only make a thoughtful comment on a post and my e-mail gets slammed with posts of a punctuation mark?  Personally, I have better things to do than read e-mails that contain as they call it in England, a "full stop".   Usually when I get these, I am excited because it's something I would like to know more about, and I added my two cents and am waiting on others to share their knowledge of the subject.

Friday, December 4, 2015

7 Quick Takes: Planning, Claw Machines, and a Master Illusionist #7QT

FTC disclaimer:  This post may contain affiliate links.

So it's time for the Friday wrap up of my week.   Here's what has happened.

1.  I was at the fruit market last night and got my guinea pig some not so good celery.  The very center inside leaves were still good, and that is his favorite part.  There were three of them for less than the price of one good stalk of celery.  I gave him one last night and he devoured it.  I haven't seen him so happy in a long time.  He was especially bonded with my mother who passed away in February 2014, so it was nice to see him so happy.  I think for the moment he forgot about her and enjoyed his treat.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

5 Favorite Rain Memories

FTC disclaimer:  This post may contain affiliate links.

I'm once again linking up at The Big White Farmhouse to participate in Five Faves.

It's been raining almost non-stop the last few days and I thought I would share my 5 favorite rain memories.  (In no particular order)

1.   Camping circa 1987.  My youth group went camping.  Thankfully there was a pop up trailer we used.  It down poured.  As I recall, everyone (boys and girls) ended up sleeping in the pop up trailer.  We listened to a Tiffany cassette so much that I can't hear I Think We're Alone Now without thinking of my high school youth group leader belting it out at the top of her lungs.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Great Gift Ideas: Toys fromYour Childhood Updated for Today

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

I have been looking around at gift ideas, and darn it, but I wish I had kids (we are trying to adopt), and one of the many reasons is I want an excuse to play with some of these great toys from the past.  I didn't even realize some of these were still made.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Celebrate Small Business Saturday by Shopping Online

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

I love the whole idea of Small Business Saturday.   My parents owned two small businesses when I was growing up, and I love the more recent push to "Shop Small".  I own three home businesses myself.   My blog, I sell on eBay, and I sell $5 Paparazzi jewelry.  What happens when you buy from a small business?  Your money goes to someone who is going to use the profit to go directly towards new winter tires, adoption, the heat bill, groceries, etc.  (I've used my profits in the last few months for all of the above.)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Tips for Holiday Shipping #Zitriom

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.  I received a sample of Zitriom professional packing tape to help facilitate this post.

I sell online.  Full time.   It's important I always have good, reliable packing tape on hand at all times. There have been times I have sent my husband to the store at nearly 11 at night because I realized that I was out of packing tape.

It's important, too. that I have quality packing tape.  I need to be sure the tape sticks to the package and it won't come off until the recipient takes it off.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Late November Adoption Update

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

Our last PRIDE (Foster / adoption) class was this week.  I'm going to enjoy having my Wednesday evenings back again, but will certainly miss the friends I made in the class.  We offered to give a ride to a friend and as we were backing out of her driveway, my husband backed right into a black 2015 Jeep Cherokee.  *sigh*   It was raining, it was dark, and the vehicle was extremely camouflaged.

It's been one expense after another later. The furnace, both of our cars, someone else's car, and we need a number of windows replaced, and the one that is most in need of replacement (because it's just boarded up) is a special order.

The boy we wanted to adopt is no longer available. (Long story, and we were anticipating having him here hopefully by Christmas.)  A second boy we were considering is being adopted by another couple.  So right now, we're working towards adoption but with no specific child in mind.

Our PRIDE training is good for three years, so we might take a little more time now and approach the process a little more slowly.  It will give us more time to get the house ready.  Find things we need.  (Maybe I'll come across a great sale on a bed before we need it!)

Bottom line is we're still moving forward but just slower than we had originally planned.

I'm hoping we can get the windows replaced before winter hits.  I don't want to think about how much that will cost.  Then hopefully we can get started on a couple rooms in the house that need updated.  (When I inherited this house, it was totally filled with paneling.)  The house renovations are not cheap by any means.  They are sorely needed though.  So I'll be listing on eBay, selling Paparazzi $5 jewelry, blogging, and entering sweepstakes.  My husband is working extra hours and we're doing all we can to save money.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Are there 7 ways to say I'm Tired?

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

It's time for 7 Quick Takes Friday.  You can visit to read more from other bloggers.

Are there seven ways to say I'm tired?  Maybe I'll just recount my week and then you can come up with the best way to describe it.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Want to help our own first? Here are some ideas!

FTC disclaimer:  This post may contain affiliate links.

Want to help those in the USA before you help others?  Well, remember if you say that you SHOULD be helping.  If you need some ideas, here are a few:

1.  Call a soup kitchen and ask what they need.  Buy it, then stay to help serve a meal.

2.  Take an elderly neighbor who is struggling to make ends grocery shopping.  Give them a gift certificate to the store you are taking them to so they can purchase what they need.

3.  Leave a Thanksgiving basket on a family's doorstep who might not be able to afford a turkey otherwise.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Five Podcasts You Should Give a Try

FTC disclaimer:  This post may contain affiliate links.

I decided to join Ashley over at The Big White Farmhouse and do a Five Fave link up.

Without further ado . . . my Five Fave podcasts.   (Note, these are in Alphabetical order because it's hard to choose which is my favorite.)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Growing up in a Family of Holiday Workers

My husband and I aren't going to get to visit family for Thanksgiving.  To be honest, it's not that big of a deal to me.  Thanksgiving never really was much of a holiday for us.  When I was eight years old, that was the last time my family celebrated.  My mother invited her mom, step-dad, and my dad's mother and step-dad for Thanksgiving.  Dad was the 1970s equivalent of a 911 dispatcher, and he worked nights, but by day he was a volunteer EMT.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

No Shave November and Cancer Awareness

FTC disclaimer:  I am part of the U.S. Cellular Blogger Brigade and this is a sponsored post.  All opinions are my own.

U.S. Cellular offers a FREE PRINTABLE Parent Child agreement to help you discuss safety of the Internet, cell phone usage, limits, and courtesy with your teen or tween.  You don't even need to be a U.S. Cellular customer to access this, although I have been for 10 years and highly recommend them. 

November is a great time to put down your razor and pick up your cell phone to raise awareness for cancer.  With great devices from U.S. Cellular, like the iPhone 5s, it's easy to track charity donations, take selfies of that growing beard, or even use apps to see what you would look like if you added a beard to yourself.  (Not everyone works in a place where they are allowed to grow a beard.  My husband works in food service and is required to shave daily.)  But with an app he can join in on the fun.  Regardless of facial hair or not, you can still use your U.S. Cellular device to promote cancer awareness while on the go.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Book Review: Safe House by Joshua Straub

FTC disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book for review purposes.  All opinions are my own.  This post contains affiliate links.

My husband and I are in classes to train us so we can either foster or adopt children. When Family Christian offered me a chance to review Safe House by Joshua Straub I was excited to read this book.

This book was a bit of a slow read for me.  I never, never, never dog ear a book.  This one had so much great information in it, that it was the exception to my rule.  This went along with what I have been learning in class, just in more detail.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Why I don't Budget (and what I do instead)

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

I've been known as a frugal guru among my friends for, oh, about 20 years or more.  But there's one piece of money advice that I hear everywhere that just doesn't work for me.  Having a budget.

Since I graduated college, I have been selling on eBay.  I've been blogging for years.   I recently joined a  direct sales company As anyone who works at home knows, there can be some months you may make thousands, and other months you might make under $20.  (I've had both!)  The financial experts say to budget with your smallest month in mind, but that does NOT work for me.  How can I budget paying $600 of utilities on a $20 budget?  It just can't happen.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

We're Adopting and Ways you can help!

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

Big news!   We're paperwork pregnant!

The bad news is, the house we have been fixing up to make live-able (there was 60 year old carpet plus tons of other stuff that was bad for the lungs or just unsafe).   It's taken all the life insurance money I got from my mother.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Why I donate with eBay for Charity Giving Works -- The Reasons may Surprise You!

FTC disclaimer:  This post may contain affiliate links.

eBay Giving Works program allows you to donate 10% - 100% of your listing's sale to the charity of your choice (provided they are signed up with the program.)

1.   It makes me feel good to help others.

2.  It's an easy way to donate to causes I care about.

3.  It helps my listings stand out.

4.  If there are two identical items people will be more likely to chose your item to purchase.

5.  You don't have to pay eBay fees on the portion you donate.  That means your donation dollar goes further than if you sold the item on eBay and then donated to your favorite charity offline.

6.  Tax deductible giving!

7.  I have a section in my store that is called Partial Proceeds to Charity.

8.  It actually earns me more money!  I know this sounds odd, but I have done experiments in the past with items selling identical items and I almost always had the item sell for MORE than it would have if I had kept all the money myself.  Granted, it's not much more, but if I can make a difference and make a donation and still make about $1 more, I see no reason NOT to use this great feature on eBay!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Late October Adoption Update

FTC disclaimer:  This post may contain affiliate links.

It's been a long month of classes.  So far this month, we have spent five evenings going to classes.  Because of where we live, it takes us as long to get to class and back as it does to sit through class (two hours and three hours depending on where the class is.)  This week, we only have five hours of classes, but they are also my husband's only days off.  One week we had seven hours of classes (and seven hours of travel) in three days time.  Oh, and did I mention we also have homework in addition to getting the house in order and trying to come up with enough money for adoption expenses?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Why your Passwords should be in a Safe Place in case of Death

FTC disclaimer:  Many of my posts contain affiliate links.

In February 2014, my mother passed away.  After that, I started preparing things I never would have thought of in the event of my untimely demise.  My mother had been ill for a long time, and was not very computer savvy,  which made things easier in the online world.

Someone logged her out of every one of her accounts AND passworded her computer the night she passed away.  Yes, I know someone else did this and my mother didn't -- it was passworded AFTER my mother was pronounced dead.

First, the password that was put on Windows was able to be taken off by a computer expert.  The cost of this was about $100.  My mother was a writer and had many unpublished works on her hard drive, so the cost was well worth it as I hope to publish them posthumously.  In fact, my mother made me repeatedly promise I would do so.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Someone tried cheating in a blog giveaway!

FTC disclaimer:  This post may contain affiliate links.

Last week, I arrived in the house late one evening.  My husband and I had been at foster / adoptive parent training and I decided to check my e-mail and a few things online before heading to bed.

I refreshed my blog, and it showed that I had over 4,000 entries to my iTunes giveaway, yet for the one for the Paparazzi bracelet, it had about 20 entries.  I thought to myself, "I thought for sure I had that to show entrants, not entries."  So I went to Giveaway Tools, and amazingly, I did have it to entrants.  During the time my husband and I were at class, over 3800 fake names were used to enter my giveaway -- over 12,000 fake entries.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Seven Quick Takes: Falling while on the floor and more

FTC disclaimer:  This blog post contains affiliate links.

1.  My husband and I are in foster parent / adoption training.  We had three nights of classes this week totaling seven hours.  Because of the rural area we live in, we spent the same amount of time in the car traveling to the classes this week.  Fourteen hours in three days.  We had a two hour class on how to give medicine to children.  There were three hours on laws regarding foster parenting and adoption, and a two hour first aid class.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Simple Ways to Show Support to your Friend who Blogs

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

I think everyone has a friend who blogs.  You might read their blog but never mention it to them.  It's great when people are supportive of those of us who blog.  Not sure how to be supportive, here's some tips:

  • Mention their blog posts to them in person.  Sometimes it feels to bloggers they are writing to an anonymous world. Let them know you are reading their posts.
  • Comment on their blog posts.  It's always great to get a friendly comment on a post.  Sometimes a blog post can take hours to write and then it's just crickets from the Internet.  See one you like?  Comment.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Book Review: Called for Life by Kent and Amber Brantly

FTC disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.   All opinions are my own.  This post may contain affiliate links.

I think the whole world was watching when Kent Brantly stepped out of an ambulance to be admitted to Emory Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.  The headlines read that Ebola had reached American soil. Many people prayed for him, and many more were terrified about what it would mean to have someone in America with Ebola.  I'm not a prepper, but I decided to do my annual winter food shopping trip a little earlier than usual.  You never know.  I had been watching the situation in Africa unfold, and I didn't know might happen.

But behind the prayers, fear, and apprehension, there were people.  Two of those people were Kent and Amber Brantly.  Where there are people, there are stories -- true accounts of what they experienced.   This is the book I am sure they never dreamed of writing and wish they didn't have the story that is told in these pages.

Dr. Brantly was a medical missionary in Liberia.  I think that would have to be one of the toughest jobs in the best of times, and I read through this book and envisioned all the death and disease among the people he cared for, I wondered how he could go on.  I have heard that sometimes courage is just not giving up, and I have to say Dr. Brantly is one of the most courageous people I have ever encountered through the pages of a book.  Disease, death, fear of the foreigners who were trying to help, and not enough medical supplies -- or workers took their toll on everyone, but thankfully not all workers contracted Ebola.

The scene I remember most from this book is the workers at the hospital decided to remove the body of an Ebola victim while the body was still at its most contagious.  The reason was a relative of hers was in a bed near hers.  When Dr. Brantly states in the book he thought as he was doing it -- "This is the most dangerous thing I have ever done."  It shows his courage and compassion.  I can't imagine ever being in a room of Ebola patients, let alone moving a body when it was most likely to give others the infection -- for the mental well being of another dying person.

Amber Brantly was in the United States for a wedding when her husband contracted the disease.  Yet, her anguish of her husband likely dying on the other side of the world and her not being able to ever see him again, hold his hand, or even bury him.  The two accounts weave together to create an unforgettable book.

I can't say I enjoyed this book because of the subject matter, but I found it facinating.  I didn't want to put it down.  I highly recommend this!

You can purchase the book here:

Friday, October 9, 2015

Our First Snowfall Family Tradition

FTC disclaimer:  This post may contain affiliate links.

I was probably about five years old the first time I remember this tradition.  It was the middle of the night.  My mother woke me up, and told me to go to the living room and look outside.  It was snowing.  To a five year old, it has been a long time since it has snowed, and I was at the age I loved it.  The moment was magical.  My mother made some popcorn and hot chocolate and we ate and watched it snow.

Every year after that popcorn and hot chocolate became our first snowfall family tradition.  If it snowed earlier that day and was just a cold rain by the time we got home from school and work, we still celebrated the first snowfall.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Some Wounds Time Never Heals

FTC disclosure:   This post may contain affiliate links.

Photo courtesy Kelley Bittner Photography
October 7th.   Just another day in the life for most people, but on this day in 2006, I will never forget seeing my dad alive for the last time.  I held his hand, told him I loved him, and sang "Found a Peanut" to him.  (He used to sing that incessantly when I was little, and it was my turn!)  It was before I had a cell phone, most people didn't at that time, and my mother was talking to her sister.   I knew the moment my dad passed away.  I recount the story in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Messages From Heaven so I won't go into the story here, but when Mom got off the phone, there was a message for me to call Dad's nursing home.

Time doesn't heal all wounds.  It's a nice cliche.  I think this last year has been the worst with missing my dad since he passed away.  I have cried many an evening and have said, "I wish I could talk to Dad."   I got married -- a lifelong dream of mine -- and I had to settle for a photo of my father being walked down the aisle.  No matter how close the friend is who gave me away "on behalf of her parents", it's not the same as having Dad there.   Dad was big as life and twice as loud.  I can only imagine how loud he would have laughed at the master illusionist we had as our wedding entertainment instead of dancing.

Earlier this year I entered a contest where I won a $500 jewelry gift card.  I had to take a photo of a piece of jewelry that is special and tell the story behind it.  My dad's class ring which he lost when he was fighting a fire in the early 1960s which was returned to him in the mid 2000s was the subject of my entry.  I bought my husband's and my wedding rings with that gift card.  It was like Dad gave us a wedding gift.  But I still wish he would have been at my wedding.

Although, as I mentioned in the post I wrote entitled Our Slice of Eternity, it felt like we were in the midst of a great cloud of witnesses.  Some who went before us, some who will come after we are gone.  I could see my parents' grave from where we got married, and it felt as if their love was present that day.   But I still wish I could have had Dad walk me down the aisle.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Keeping Your Child Safe This Halloween

FTC disclaimer:  This is a sponsored post.  All opinions are my own.

U.S. Cellular offers a FREE PRINTABLE Parent Child agreement to help you discuss safety of the Internet, cell phone usage, limits, and courtesy with your teen or tween.  You don't even need to be a U.S. Cellular customer to access this, although I have been for 10 years and highly recommend them. 

One aspect  of safety that is on everyone's mind this month is Halloween.  That means Trick or Treat for younger kids!  I remember how fun it was when I was growing up even if I never got any chocolate treats.  Everyone gave out hard candies because there were so many trick or treaters.  But it was fun to go door to door asking for candy.  For older kids this month means Halloween parties -- and sometimes mischief, but hopefully less mischief than my friends got into when we were growing up because now with cell phones you can check in on your children easier than our parents could -- especially since 47% of parents have a child with a cell phone and the average age for the first cell phone is 12.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

4 Ways to Reach a Small Financial Goal

FTC disclosure:  This post may contain affiliate links.

I often hear people say, "I would like _____ but can't afford it".   I have never been one to think that finances should stand in the way of a goal if there is something you honestly want / need.  I am not saying to go into debt, but I am saying GET CREATIVE.

Here are some things I have done:

1.  Find a way to make do without the item, at least temporarily.   Right now I have my eye on a Samsung Wireless Monochrome Printer (SL-M2020W/XAA)  at $127 and with me having an eBay business, it seems like it's a reasonable want/need, right?   Well, here is my plan.  I am going to keep an eye on this and see if it goes down in price (that's one thing an Amazon wish list is great for!)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

What sold on eBay videos

I have long been a fan of the "What sold on eBay" videos.  I decided to do one myself.   I'm going to post it here, but be sure and go follow me on youtube to see more of these in the future.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Blog Tour: The Finishing School by Valerie Woerner

FTC disclosure:  I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

I've always loved non-fiction books, especially those in the self-help and how to genre.  I have read hundreds of them, and when I heard there was a book by someone who also had my same passion for non-fiction, and she wrote a book about it, I was excited to read it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

How To Monitor Teen Drivers on the Road When You Aren't With Them

FTC disclosure:  This is a sponsored post by U.S. Cellular.  All opinions are my own.

U.S. Cellular offers a FREE PRINTABLE Parent Child agreement to help you discuss safety of the Internet, cell phone usage, limits, and courtesy with your teen or tween.  You don't even need to be a U.S. Cellular customer to access this, although I have been for 10 years and highly recommend them. 

I don't have kids yet -- but we are hoping to adopt.  We'll likely adopt an older child, so I'm already thinking ahead to my (not yet with me) child driving in a few years.  It's a lot to grasp on many levels. But I am glad that my phone provider has a service called U.S Cellular's Vehicle Monitoring System. The moment a child of mine has a driver's license I'm going to sign up for this.

So why would I feel so strongly about it?

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Non-Prepper's Guide to Prepping for Winter

FTC disclaimer:  This post may contain affiliate links.

I live in West Virginia.  As far back as I can remember, we always prepped for winter, although we used to call it "stocking up".  We didn't go all out, but made sure we had enough no matter what the winter might bring.  Some of our worst winter situations were:

Being stuck in the house for 19 days straight.  
Losing electric (and heat) during Hurricane Sandy and us being hit with a blizzard.
Losing power (and heat) when the wind chill was sixty below zero.
Water pipes froze and we had no water for almost 2 weeks.

Even in the best case scenario, I don't like dragging a bunch of groceries in the house when it's cold, snowing, and icy, so I always do some prepping for winter.

Friday, August 28, 2015

High School Memories

The building was added on to after I attended school here.
Yesterday my husband and I went to the building where I attended high school to return some chairs we borrowed for our wedding.  I hadn't been there in almost twenty years.  A converted farm house into a Christian school, it holds so many memories for me.  We had 16 students in our school, all the girls being in high school.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Adoption (non) update

It's been a week since we got the news every prospective adoptive parent fears -- and so far we haven't heard anything more.  The agency isn't sure what is going on, and of course we're just as clueless.

We fell in love with a specific boy, and that's why we started the adoption process when we did.  But now it's looking like we won't be able to adopt him.

People have asked me specifics, but it's like I told someone, "In the even things do work out and we are able to adopt him, it's his story and he should have the ability to share it or not share it, whatever he chooses."   I don't feel I can make that decision for him.

Friday, August 14, 2015

We've started Adoption Paperwork!

I've been a bit quiet this week, but I've been super busy.  We started paperwork this week to potentially adopt a child!

Classes start in October.  We've been remodeling our home for a while, and it's a wreck with everything everywhere.  (For a while we moved our living room into the office, etc.)  We have lots of work to do, because the house isn't quite ready to pass the home study yet (that will be pricey in and of itself.)  Plus, we're pursuing a private adoption, and that is pricey as well.

Next week we get fingerprinted, and I have an inch of paperwork we need to fill out.

Exciting times!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Making the Most of Your iPhone at Summer Events, Fairs, and Festivals

FTC disclaimer:  This is a sponsored post from U.S. Cellular.  All opinions are my own.

U.S. Cellular offers a FREE PRINTABLE Parent Child agreement to help you discuss safety of the Internet, cell phone usage, limits, and courtesy with your teen or tween.  You don't even need to be a U.S. Cellular customer to access this, although I have been for 10 years and highly recommend them. 

In addition to back to school month, many fairs and festivals are happening this month.  There's so many fun things at them -- from the food (cotton candy!)  to the music, to the events (demolition derby anyone?)

Monday, August 3, 2015

Adoption Book Review: At Any Cost by Mike and Haley Jones

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains Affiliate Links.  I received a copy of the book for free from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

A quick scroll through my Facebook feed shows numbers of smiling children.  However, there's quite a few who don't look like their parents.  Many of my friends have adopted, both from the United States and overseas.  I've celebrated on this side of the world when they would post that papers were signed and they were now the proud parents of a child they had prayed for, raised money to bring home, and most importantly loved before the child even knew the parents existed.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

I love to travel and U.S. Cellular Keeps Me Connected

FTC disclaimer:  This is a sponsored post from U.S. Cellular.  All opinions are my own.

U.S. Cellular offers a FREE PRINTABLE Parent Child agreement to help you discuss safety of the Internet, cell phone usage, limits, and courtesy with your teen or tween.  You don't even need to be a U.S. Cellular customer to access this, although I have been for 10 years and highly recommend them. 

I love to travel.  When I was growing up, my mother used to tell me my room had more maps hanging on the walls than the school did.  I'd sit and study maps for hours dreaming of places I'd never been, wondering what life would be like there, and eventually getting interested in penpals because I wanted to learn about other places.  I read every book about places our library had.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Sexual Abuse, Victim Blaming, and Josh Duggar

When my husband showed me the news story about Josh Duggar, I was not surprised.   What I was surprised about is that the media finally picked up on it.  How I knew this years ago I'm not sure, but I did.  I remember references to Jim Bob talking about "sin in the camp".  Anyone who didn't see something like this coming had their head in the sand if for no other reason that one in four girls and one in six boys are abused sexually.  When you have nineteen children, statistics say there will be some in your family who will be sexually abused.

There are some things that are bothering me about this, and things I have heard very few people mention.   Where are the victims?

First off, let's ask who the victims are.  This is not normal behavior for a teenager.   I can't help but wonder if Josh learned this behavior from a predator himself.  If so, this is something that has not been mentioned.  Still, he is responsible for his behavior.

Where are Josh's victims?  I'll tell you where they are -- having one of the most painful things that has ever happened to them all over the place.  Can you imagine the looks his sisters are getting when they go to the grocery store?   When they go to church?  When they pick up diapers for their children?  No person of sexual abuse needs to have their story plastered all over the media.  It doesn't need to be covered up, but if everyone wouldn't have said 'sisters' their identity would have been protected and they could have processed their pain in private like most victims of sexual abuse.

Another concern I have is the purity culture in which the Duggars are in.  Sometimes this is victim blaming.  I was in college in the 1990s when the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye gained popularity.  This is when I saw the rise of purity culture among mainstream Christians, and learned about victim blaming.   There was a girl I was friends with who was sexually assaulted one night.  When she told a Christian worker about it, this girl was told that she needed to be held accountable with her actions around men.   I don't see that someone who is a victim of sexual abuse should be held accountable for what someone did to her.

I had another friend who was sexually abused before she was a teenager.  I remember her telling me that it was her fault and that no man would ever marry her because she was "used".

What is done to you is NOT your fault   If you are reading this, and this is the first time you have heard this, PLEASE believe me.  You may have physically enjoyed the way the abuse felt.  It is still not your fault.  It may have been the most heinous hour of your life.  It is still not your fault.  You may have been wearing a bikini or a burqua.  It is still not your fault. You may have been drunk.  I am not sure about other states, but if you are drunk in West Virginia, anything that is done to you is considered sexual abuse and it is not your fault.

Please know you are not used.   You are not damaged property, and there will be someone who loves you enough out there to understand what happened to you and will want to marry you.   Please know that forgiveness doesn't mean you have to put yourself in a situation to be hurt again.  There are people who have hurt me, but I don't dwell on it.   I may not speak to them, but that doesn't mean that I brood over the wrongs they did to me.  Forgiveness if for yourself only so you can move on, and if you can't forgive right away, it means you are processing your pain and that can also be a great thing.   Forgiveness is a process and happens as healing comes.  Don't let anyone push you, and don't let anyone define your journey for you.  Your experience is as unique as you are.

If you have never talked about your abuse, I encourage you to tell someone.  Here are some numbers that may be helpful:  Please be careful clicking links if you live with your abuser and your abuser might see your internet history.

RAINN (Rape and Incest National Network) 1-800-656-HOPE  (4673)

My local area:

Garrett County Maryland:
The Dove Center  301-334-9000

North Central West Virginia
Rape and Domestic Violence Information Center 304-292-5100

Monday, July 13, 2015

Why Back To School Sales Should Interest you -- Even if you don't have School Aged Children

I don't have children, school aged or otherwise, but I'm really looking forward to the school supply sales.  Why?  Well, for one reason I'm an office supply junkie.  The other reason is because I love bargains.  So why should you be interested in back to school sales?

1.   Christmas.   What do you need at Christmas time?   Tape.  Scissors.  More tape because you misplaced that last roll.  Pens.  These things don't expire, so the perfect time to buy them is at Back to School.   Also, sales on fun notebooks, pencils, etc. make good gifts to children.  I know when I was in school, it was near mid-year that I needed new notebooks.  My parents never bought extra, so they had to pay full price.  If you are making a gift of notebooks, don't use the cheap notebooks, but the ones that are fun.  Also, Crayola items are often on sale and these make great stocking stuffers.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

An Interesting Observation on Marriage Advice

I've been married under two months.  I don't think that makes me an expert on marriage by any stretch of the imagination.  I do, however, want to talk about marriage advice that was given us and give a few suggestions if you are giving advice to newlyweds or those soon to be married.

Friday, July 3, 2015

The Land of the Living

I woke this morning with an old Christian song going through my head, "It's time to get back to the land of the living".   While the song actually talks about is forgiveness, but I keep thinking about "The Land of the Living".

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Book Review: 7 Secrets to an Awesome Marriage Review

FTC disclaimer:  I received an advanced reading copy of this book to facilitate my review.  This post does contain affiliate links.  All opinions are my own.

I've been married for about five weeks.  Some people are probably wondering why I feel qualified to review a book on marriage.  A fact that has surprised several friends recently is I am no stranger to reading books on marriage.  I heard a speaker in high school say we should read up on subjects that interest us and that are important to us.  I've always wanted to get married, so I started reading books on marriage at that time.  After all, your marriage is your most important human relationship.  I know a number of people would say that is incorrect and your most important human relationship should be your child.  I disagree, because I feel like a child will thrive more if he knows both parents love each other.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Why I wish Family Christian's Reading Program Existed 30 years ago!

FTC disclaimer:   This is a sponsored post by Family Christian.  It contains affiliate links.  All opinions are my own.

I always loved to read.  I always hated in first grade we had to circle all vowels and color all pictures on our worksheets every day before we could go to the reading nook and read.  There was this girl, who also shared my first name who was quicker at that, and she got to go to the reading corner more often.  I'd look on with envy as she was there with an open book when I had to color pictures.  To make matters even worse, she had a cooler last name than I did because it came before mine in the alphabet.  She got to read, and she was Jennifer "1".  Add in the fact that my last name was Short, there was no way I wanted to go by Jennifer 2 Short.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Judging -- When you don't know the whole story.

We go to a church in our closest city when we are able.  It's a little over two hours away and it gives us a lot of discussion time being in the car that long.  We often discuss what the homily or youth group was focused on.  Even though we are adults, we are welcome in the youth group as we have a good relationship not only with this church but many of the teens.

One of the many topics we discussed recently was how there are so many different ways of judging others.  There's the obvious "What you are doing is a sin" way of judging others, but sometimes we can be judging just because we don't know the whole story.

An example of this is some years back I had hundreds of McDonalds monopoly pieces that were winners for free food.  I had sent away for a lot of game pieces, and had way too many.  I gave a huge amount to a local church to give to those who might not be able to afford lunch otherwise.  If someone were to see a family each one with a meal that costs about $5 and you suspected they were on welfare, would your first thought be that they got it free or that they shouldn't be allowed to eat there because they should save their money.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Basics of Winning Sweepstakes and Contests

FTC disclaimer:  Most of my blog posts do contain affiliate links.

This is this blog's most popular post, and I've revised it slightly since it originally published in July 2010.

I love to enter sweepstakes, contests, and giveaways. I think it's no secret I get slightly annoyed when I mention something I've won and I get the comment, "You're so lucky" or "I've never met anyone as lucky as you."  While luck has a bit to do with it, I see sweepstakes as just a numbers game.  Contests rely on skill and therefore there is no luck involved.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Tips For Keeping Your Kids Safe Online

FTC disclaimer:  This is a sponsored post from U.S. Cellular.  All opinions are my own.

U.S. Cellular offers a FREE PRINTABLE Parent Child agreement to help you discuss safety of the Internet, cell phone usage, limits, and courtesy with your teen or tween.  You don't even need to be a U.S. Cellular customer to access this, although I have been for 10 years and highly recommend them. 

Did you know that June is Internet Safety Month?  (Personally I think every month should be Internet Safety Month, but this is a good time to remind everyone about the cautions of social media in our lives.)

The Pew Research Center found that 74% of teens 12-17 access the Internet on a Smart Phone, tablet, or other mobile device, at least on occasion.  I remember when the big safety suggestion was having one computer in the house and having it in a public area.  That's not realistic these days to help safeguard your kids, so one of the most important things is not giving them a Smart Phone until they show enough maturity to use it properly.   But this is also a little difficult because there are so many things for children to access -- TV shows, magazines, music, videos, and even books.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Who's The New Kid by Heidi Bond Book Review

FTC disclaimer:   I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions are my own.  Many of my blog posts also contain affiliate links.

So why did a newlywed of less than three weeks and someone who is not a mom sign up for a blog tour of  book written by a mom who helped her child fight obesity?  It's obvious that I am not reading this to try and help my child -- but the subject interested me.  I was the one in school who was overweight.  I remember one time a teacher said we could write our nicknames on our papers we turned in.  Mine was handed back with "Use your real name."  Evidently, it was acceptable to use "Bubba" but not "Short, Fat, and Ugly".  As an adult, I now see why my teacher said that, but at the time I thought, "That's just my name."

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Our Slice of Eternity

Most of my posts contain affiliate links where I get a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you when you purchase something through a link.  Thank you for starting your shopping here at Books, Bargains, Blessings.

On my wedding day many, many thoughts went through my head.   One of my favorite moments of the day was when we asked all our guests to join us for a group photo by the crosses at the church we got married in. This isthe church I grew up in, and looking at the charter membership, I think there are more charter members who have passed on than are still on this earth.   My memories from this church are dear.  I remember a lady named Dean stringing Christmas lights around her feet, plugging them in, and asking, "What hymn am I?"  (Answer:  Let the Lower Lights be Burning.)  I remember her husband, Bob, one time saying we needed to sing a new to us hymn and somehow picking something more suited to a toddler Sunday School class.  I never laughed so hard in church in my life.  Dean and I could't even sit up straight we were laughing so hard.  Then there was our precious Gayle.  She invited me to church in 1986, and passed away a few years later.  Who knew that when she invited me to that church, I would someday get married in it?  When I learned she passed away, I was helping with VBS that week (Anyone remember JoyTrek space themed VBS?)  It was the closing program, and my friend Shelly got up and sand "Friends" by Michael W. Smith and said Gayle had passed away.  I can remember feeling responsible for my 5th and 6th graders but just wanting to run out and scream "Why God?"  I remember the care in picking out a sympathy card for her family.  It was the first time I ever had to send a sympathy card to a friend's family.

In addition to friends and family from that church, from where we had the group photo I could see my parents' grave.  

Something about that moment gave me chills.   We are here.   Yet we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.  

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside
 every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with 
patience the race that is set before us  Hebrews 12:1 KJV

My mother had a story in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Messages from Heaven: 101 Miraculous Stories of Signs from Beyond, Amazing Connections, and Love that Doesn't Die.  In her story she talked about how she made a bit of the journey to the afterlife with her uncle.  I'm not one for what I call "Heaven Tourism" stories, but I remembered what she said about seeing people she knew who had gone before and seeing those she knew would come after her.  I thought of this.

Somehow the cloud of witnesses almost felt tangible on that day.  We are just one small slice of enternity.   The Bible says the average person lives 70 years.  That's a drop in the bucket of time.  No matter how long we live on this earth, it's never long enough.  My husband's grandfather passed away at age 99, yet it still didn't feel long enough as his goal was to live to 100.

We have a small slice of eternity to make a difference.   Let's use it wisely, and remember those who came before us.