Monday, December 8, 2014

{Review} Susie's Hope DVD

Susie's Hope is a movie that shares the true story behind the law of the same name that was passed in North Caroline seeking harsher punishment for animal abusers. 

Donna Lawrence, a kindhearted woman, only wanted to help the poor neglected dog (yes, a pit-bull) down the street from her house. One afternoon she went to give the dog some food and water. When she turned her back to it, it attacked. She barely survived. 

During her recovery, while walking with a friend in the park, they came across what they thought was a dead puppy (a pit-bull mix) until they saw movement. Little Susie had been beaten (her jaw was broken in two places) and then set on fire for simply licking a child in the home she had lived in. She had third degree burns over sixty percent of her body and her ears were completely burned off.

Donna and her friend, Mona, quickly arranged for Susie to be brought to a local animal shelter. Once there they were told that may be possible to save Susie, however, the cost was potentially prohibitive. However, something told Donna to try to do all she could.

Susie not only lived but thrived under Donna's care. The man responsible for the attack on her was found and tried in court. At the time, however, the law didn't even require jail time for someone who abused an animal. Donna worked to successfully change the that law.

Fair warning, grab some tissues if you plan to watch this film. The attack on Donna, while not graphic, is portrayed very well. The filmmakers also did a great job showing Susie after she was initially found (I'm pretty sure they used a robot, a very good robot). Donna also suffers a miscarriage during the attack and it leaves enough damage that she is unable to have any more children. Her healing from the attack and her miscarriage are done very well also. 

Overall this was a great movie. It does a great job to show just what a small measure of kindness can do. You don't have to set out to change the whole world, but if you can do just one small thing, it can have a big impact on all those around you. 

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.

Writing Update

No fancy title this go round. Just a confession and an update. At the beginning of November I had committed to not only writing a book as part of National Novel Writing Month, but also to blog every day of November as well. Sadly, I met neither goal this year.

I did about 9,000 words for NaNoWriMo, although I started one book and wrote about 2,500 words and then decided I didn't like the theme. So I started a second book and managed about 6,500 words in that one.

My issue this year with NaNoWriMo is that I didn't make it a priority like I had the previous year. I find that as much as I want to write while I'm at home, it just doesn't happen or at least not in any great quantity. The majority of my words written were when I took my laptop and went to various places and sat and wrote for an hour or so. Last year I did that often. This year I did it twice and it showed in my word count. 

I also realized that I like to write so I'm going to work on making it more of a priority this coming year. I still have last year's book to edit and I kind of like the book I started this year so I'd like to finish that one up and see where it goes. I suppose I'm also looking ahead a bit to try to figure out what I want to do when my kids are grown in gone. I have less than 10 years before my youngest will be heading off to college. Yikes!

NaBloPoMo November 2014

I managed a blog post every day for the first week. I tried to jump back in but quickly fizzled out. I don't know why November felt so busy, December is shaping up to be even busier, but it was enough to keep me off-line more than I would have wanted. Although, I do suppose it was a good thing in the end. 

I have some movie reviews upcoming. I also need to get life posts caught up. My boys just finished a production of A Christmas Carol that was awesome, they are wrapping up swim lessons, and we are trying to navigate college plans for my oldest. Needless to say, lots to talk about!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. We celebrate Veteran's Day in the US of A on November 11th. When did you last interact with a member of the armed forces (either currently serving or retired)? Have you ever written a letter to a soldier, bought a meal or coffee for a solider, said an unprompted thank you to a soldier you encountered out and about somewhere? If you're not in the US, comment on a similar holiday in your own country. Just yesterday. We have friends who are retired military and we had Bible study together last night. Aside from that both of my brothers are retired military and my brother-in-law is in the reserves currently, although not currently deployed thankfully. 

I have sent care boxes to soliders overseas. During the first Gulf War I was in college and oftentimes carloads of students would head to the airport - two hours north - to welcome back troops. I had evening classes and I was never able to go. I so wished I had skipped classes to go just once. 

2. You can have fifty pounds of anything at all (except money)...what would you choose? I think, given the time of year, I would want to donate 50 pounds of food to either a local food bank or to some families in need.

3. When did you last receive an invitation in the 'real' mail? What was it for and did you attend? When it comes to RSVP-ing, are you an 'early responder' or a 'last minute, barely-under-the-wire' kind of guest? I'm guessing it was for my brother-in-law's wedding last fall. I think. I honestly can't remember. We obviously did attend that one. As for RSVP-ing...I always want to be an "early responder" but I tend to be "where-on-earth-did-I-put-that" responder. 

4. What's something you really don't like to waste? Time. That's one of my biggest pet peeves actually. 

5. Cheers, Friends, MASH, Seinfeld...of the ones listed, your favorite long-running sitcom? I'm going to have to go with Friends. I think that's one of the only ones I actually watched all the way through. 

6. What decision are you glad you made? To marry my hubby. Best decision ever. 

7. In this month of 'Thanksgiving' what is one thing that's different today than it was a year ago that you're grateful for? Gosh, this ones is hard. I really can't think of anything. I'm sure there is something but it's just not popping in my head at the moment. 

8. Insert your own random thought here.

This photo is of my Great-Uncle Walter. I never met him in person, but I grew up hearing stories about him. He fought in World War II and was shot down and died. He was buried in Belgium. He was my grandmother's brother. I'm so glad I have photos and stories of him to share with my boys. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

{Review} When Calls the Heart: Change of Heart DVD

When Calls the Heart: Change of Heart continues the story that started with the first movie, The Dance and was followed up by Second Chances. Elizabeth and Jack are exploring their new relationship when Jack's request for orders, which he asked for months before when he was unhappy in Coal Valley, comes through. He must now leave to fulfill his new duties. Elizabeth must deal with his leaving all the while entertaining her younger sister, Julia, who arrives for a surprise visit.

Julia views the way of life in Coal Valley as simply fun and almost as if it's all just stories from a dime novel. She doesn't take the seriousness of life in the frontier town to heart and soon finds herself in trouble, dragging Elizabeth along with her.

Abigail, the owner of the new bakery in town and a friend to Elizabeth, finds herself at continued odds with the owner of the mine. A man who may not be all that innocent in the tragedy that caused a number of miners to lose their lives not that long before, including Abigail's own husband and son.

Once again I found myself drawn in to this story. Michael London, Jr. does a fantastic job with these films and I found this one as enjoyable as the first two. I look forward to seeing more of them and perhaps I should pick up the book series and read those as well. Janette Oke, the author of the books these movies are based on, is a wonderful author.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Weekly Wrap Up: The Short Week

Weekly Wrap-Up

It's been one of those weeks that we've just powered through. I'm glad we have a good rhythm this year for our school. It's helping to get some days out of the way before the winter doldrums hit us! Although, last week and this week I ended giving the boys Friday off. Last week I made them help me clean out our greenhouse and this week, we just had a lot of errands to do and house cleaning to do.

Monday morning was pretty routine. We did our usual work here at home. In the afternoon we had our bi-monthly art class and then a 4H meeting. Art class is always nice as many of us moms are able to sit in a side room and visit while the kids have class.

After art we had our bi-monthly 4H meeting. I run a local club. This is only our second year. Our focus last year was on GPS/GIS. This year we added Adventure & Challenge and Arts & Crafts to that focus. Our plan is to do an art project each month and then an Adventure or GPS outing on the second meeting of the month if the weather plays nice.

Working on their luminaries

This week was an art project week. We made decoupage fall luminaries and thankful tree paintings. I found both ideas on Pinterest. They turned out pretty cute actually. The hardest part was finding fake leaves that would work for the luminaries. 

The luminary doesn't have a great link, but these is the photo showing the supplies and really, it's pretty easy to make. I also found battery operated flickering tea lights at the local dollar store so everyone had one for their luminary. 

I created my own thankful tree printable. I just used a free winter tree image on line, copied it to MS Word, added the word "thankful" and printed it out. I had the kids paint "leaves" on it using Q-tips. I love how they came out.

Monday evening I attended a homeschool mom encouragement workshop. It was excellent. I talked about it earlier this week. 

Tuesday, as always, was our busy day. My oldest son is still taking his college readiness class. I have to share that I am so pleased with well he is doing. He really seems to like it. He's struggling a bit with math still, but he just told me this week that he's finally beginning to understand it. I've seen such a large amount of growth in him. I'm very glad we opted to try this class out.

The two younger boys and I hung out at the pool again for a couple hours. Poor kids though. This week they asked if they could swim when they didn't have lessons. They had opted not to bring any schoolwork to the pool and to finish it later. The instructors don't mind if they swim as long as they don't interrupt the lessons going on.

Well, for my youngest son, this worked out fine. He had his lesson first, forty minutes, and then was able to pretty much swim for another hour while other lessons were going on. However, my middle son also opted to get in the pool at 9:15. His lesson didn't start until 10:30 though and he swam for the entire time before that. He's in a higher level so most of his lesson is working on endurance and stroke. The poor kid was so tired and really struggled to keep up. Lesson learned. No swimming for the entire time before his lesson next week!

My youngest getting a chance to jump in the pool at the end of his lesson. 

I start my day really early on Tuesdays as well. I get up at 4:30, have my quiet time, and then go to the gym for a 5:30 class. It's a strength training class. I try to do that twice a week along with my Zumba. It makes for a long day though.

Tuesday nights my hubby and I also attend a Bible study so it also makes for a late night. We have been doing a survey of the Bible. It's been excellent and, while I'm usually pretty tired by the time we get there, it's very much worth it every time.

Wednesday is our nice quiet day at home. We have music lessons in the morning. This week they were later than usual because our teacher had car trouble. I honestly can't remember what else we did on Wednesday other than lessons and karate that evening. I am working to have more days like this!

Thursday is another early start day for me. Although, I have to admit that this week when my alarm went off at 4:30, I rolled over, reset it to 6:30, and went back to sleep. I was just so tired I could just barely open my eyes. I had even gone to bed early the night before! I just needed the sleep I guess.

My oldest spends the first two hours of the each Thursday at math lab which is part of his college readiness class. He was the only one there this week. He also uses it to work on any other homework he may have for the other classes he takes as part of that course. His brothers and I did the weekly grocery shopping and then just parked in the local grocery store lot - way at the back - and did the rest of our book work for school. One of the best perks of homeschooling.

One reason I wanted them to get as much done as they could then was that we also had our bi-monthly Spanish class today. I knew that by the time we got home, we'd all be too tired to want to do much else. I like our Spanish teacher. She's a young mom fluent in the language. She used to teach high school Spanish. She will be leaving for the mission field next year with her husband and son so this will be our last year using a tutor.

As soon as I got home, I had the boys quickly unload the truck and I hopped back in and headed downtown to meet my hubby for lunch! I mid-week date! We rarely get to do this since I babysit a two-year-old. However, I haven't had him for a couple weeks as his mom is out of work for awhile. I miss having him around, but I have a lot of flexibility in my schedule these days.

I did get to spend a few hours with him this afternoon though. His mom had a follow-up appointment for the surgery she had last week so I watched him for them while they went to that. It was so nice having him back in the house for a little bit.

Thursday evening I have been going to a Titus 2 women's Bible study. I talked about that this week as well. I also plan to share weekly about the things we're learning. We are actually over a month in. It's all been excellent so far.

Friday, as I mentioned, was a day off for the boys. The younger boys still had their play practice but that was it. We all had a nice quiet morning. The younger boys are in a homeschool production of A Christmas Carol. My middle son will be Bob Cratchit and my youngest will be both in the group of carolers and the poulterer - the gentleman that sells Scrooge the big turkey at the end of the story. I think they are both really enjoying themselves.

After play practice I decided it was finally time to finish outfitting them for the colder months. I had checked earlier this week, after we had already had our first snow, and realized I had no snow pants for my youngest, neither boy had snow boots that fit, and both had sneakers that had seen much better days. Off we went to see about remedying the situation.

I started at a local thrift store and not only found snow pants for my youngest, but I also picked him up a much needed pair of work boots. I ending up also picking up an absolutely gorgeous long coat for my middle son to wear in the play. It was a very pricey coat but I paid only $11 for it. Such a great score!

We then headed for the local box store and bought sneakers for both, snow boots for both, and work boots for my middle son. Phew! Hopefully their feet won't grow that much this year and these will last more than a season!

This was one of my more relaxed weeks and for that I am very thankful.