Let’s All Be Brave

Living Life with Everything You Have

by Annie F Downs


She had me at ” Some people live for an adrenaline rush, I live for a sugar rush.” after reading that line I knew this was going to be a fun book to read and one I could relate to. I’m not a risk taker or adrenaline girl. Me I’m happy sitting on the bench holding everyone’s things while they ride the wild and wacky roller coaster. I would like to be a little bit more brave. I’m also not a big reader in this genre. Lets just say I’m so glad I took the leap.

Annie Downs is a captivating writer and she really pours out her heart and soul into Let’s All Be Brave. She is not a take the risk brave person but she tries. She sits down and writes a book that you can read like your all chatting over tea and best friends just helping each other out. I really can’t say enough great things about this book! I know it will be one I recommend to friends and hope that they read also!

I was provided a free copy of Let’s All Be Brave, however the free book in no way influenced my review. 

The American Catholic Almanac

A Daily Reader of Patriots, Saints, Rogues, and Ordinary People Who Changed the United States

by Brian Burch and Emily Stimpson

published by Crown Publishing


I LOVE this book! I can not say enough about this wonderful gem of a book! Each days readings is short and sweet but packed full of information. I have learned so much already about Catholics who have shaped and changed the United States, many who I didn’t know were Catholic.

The American Catholic Almanac is a great addition to your daily mass readings. After reading and reflecting on the daily mass readings then you can read the daily page in the Almanac.  I know this has been a wonderful way for me to end my mass readings each day.  It is just a fun tidbit of historical reading about some great Catholics who paved the way in the world. I know it has nothing to do with daily mass readings, but it is still a fun way to end my daily readings. Since it is a daily reader by the time you finish the book you can start over again. This book is great since you can pick it up any time and start reading it right away.

The American Catholic Almanac is a perfect gift giving book. Whether you give it to someone who is going through the RCIA or someone who is a born and raised cradle Catholic. They will love this book so much! The Catholic Almanac is also a wonderful gift for high school confirmation also!

thank you Blogging for books for allowing me to review this wonderful book. While I received the book for free it no way influenced my review. 

Never Ever Give Up Q and A with Eric Rees

I read Never Ever Give Up and it has stayed with me more than any other book I’ve  read this book is such a heartbreaking read but Jessie Ree’s is a true hero. Her faith, strength and Never Ever Give Up spirit is contagious and one you will be happy to carry with you from the moment you close the book and on.


Because this is one of my favorite books in 2014 ( and beyond) I wanted to share with you a little Q and A with the author and her father Eric Rees



Q:  Never Ever Give Up is immensely personal. Why is it important to share your daughter’s story? I had three goals for sharing Jessie’s story; increase awareness of childhood cancer, give people facing personal hurdles in life hope and to create a wave of compassion through personal acts of kindness.

Q: Jessie had a strong faith in God. How did she draw strength from her relationship with God during her treatment?    Jessie did have an amazing faith in God which inspires me daily. She would pray for herself, listen to worship music during treatments and do her nightly devotions with her mommy. She drew her strength from Phil. 4:13 and asked God daily for support.

Q: How did your experiences with Jessie’s illness strengthen or challenge your faith?   During Jessie’s fight it strengthened my faith as I depended on God to give me the wisdom, strength and peace to walk with Jessie and the family. I truly thought He would heal her physically. Unfortunately, God choose Heaven as a means of healing which challenged my trust in Him for months. Now, Heaven has never been more real to me and I can’t wait to spend time in eternity with Jessie and my Heavenly Father.

Q:  Do you have advice for other Christians who may be questioning God’s plan?  I don’t know if I would call it “advice” but I would let them know they are not alone in their feelings. I questioned God many times and still do. I don’t question His love for me or Jessie. I questioned His choice in using Heaven as a healing agent. But now that time has past, I see His plan. Jessie was an Angel sent to Earth with a message (Never Ever Give Up) and a mission (childhood cancer). How else can you explain how one twelve year old girl, fighting cancer, choose to give to other kids and started a global movement of compassion that has raised millions of dollars to “care” for children/families fighting cancer around the world. My only answer is, God had a plan! In addition, I would encourage them to realize God’s plans don’t always match up to our own plans but He is still a loving and caring God. Faith in God is all about “believing” in our hearts and heads that God loves us no matter what and when we fully depend on Him, He will show us the way.


Q: Where did Jessie come up with the idea of creating JoyJars? Why did she do this, instead of focusing

on herself? Jessie came up with the idea after she started treatment and learned there were lots of children that couldn’t leave the hospital. She just had a burden for them and wanted to help them. The name actually came from taking her middle name “joy” and adding it to “jars”. She choose to spread joy because she knew life was about giving not getting.

Q: How did making the JoyJars, not only help others, but also begin helping your family? JoyJars gave Jessie a sense of purpose during her fight with cancer. She loved filling each one and sending them out to kids. She really loved seeing pictures of kids holding her JoyJars on Facebook. Our entire family helped Jessie with JoyJars and today we still stuff “joy” as a family in her honor.

Q: Over 80,000 JoyJars have been distributed internationally. How have you accomplished so much in such a small time frame? We are actually nearing 100,000 JoyJars in all 50 states and 28 countries. We just received a request from Lima, Peru. Social media has been the best channel of communication for us. Jessie simply just started at Children’s Hospital of Orange County and it grew week by week. We now partner with over 275 children’s hospitals and 175 Ronald McDonald Houses.


If you haven’t read Never Ever Give Up yet, then run to your local library or bookstore and grab a copy! If you would like to help out the Never Ever Give Up foundation hop on over and see what you can do. You can also help with their Joy Jars mission and help put a little joy in a child’s life.



by Lorie Ann Glover


I wanted to love this book, the cover captivated me and I thought this book sounds really good. However it’s almost like it started off in the middle of a story. You get bits and pieces of the back story and love interest between Sarah and Mr Haddings. However it was choppy and I just thought it was OK. It is a quick read and while I won’t read it again I’m not upset I read it. The ending was a “What it’s over, are you serious?” but not in a No I can’t believe it’s over I’m so sad kinda way.

I was provided a free copy of Hit for my honest opinion. The free book in no way influenced my review.

3 Little : Woodland Ornaments, Birds and Almond smelling floors!

I love and miss not posting 3 Little Things so it’s back and hopefully I can remember to type these up on Thursday evenings. This one is a short but sweet one since I’m off to the school.

1: The cutest little Owl decorations: We have had the same ornaments for over 14+ years, there is nothing wrong with them but I’m kinda tired of them. While at Lowes with the hubby last weekend, the girls and I saw all their new ornaments. So we are changing up the tree, we are doing Woodland Animals Christmas tree. Since the ornaments are anywhere from 7 to 9 bucks I figure I’ll pick up a pack or so each week and spread out the expense. I can’t wait to see our super cute tree.


{source Lowes: $8.97}

2: Method Floor Cleaner: I love the way it cleans the wood floors and the almond smell is so light and nice. It is about 5 bucks but last a long long time. I have to sweep up to 3 times a day and I mop about 2 to 3 times a week. 2 dogs and 2 kids means lots of floor use and Method helps keep them looking nice and new.

wood floor

{source: Lowes $4.98}

3: Birds on the bird feeder: I love looking out my kitchen window while cooking or hand washing the dishes and seeing all the activity at the bird feeder. Sometimes in the morning right after the sun has come up I like to stand at the big french door that leads outside, sipping my hot tea, watch them eat and take lots of pictures!



{not the best picture, I didn’t have time to edit it}

Now I’m off to the kid’s school to help hang poster and get kids excited about the Scholastic Book Fair! I LOVE book fair time! Oh and on a very happy note its midterm time, I am about half way through college and I got my midterm grades: College Algebra 89% and CRJU 100%! I’m getting my Early Childhood Degree and it was highly suggested that we also take CRJU Family Violence class it is such a sad class but very informative. That being said I hope I never ever have to use anything I’ve learned in this class!

linking up to Momadvice for her wonderful, fun weekly linky 3 Little Things

Everyday Confetti: Your Year-Round Guide to Celebrating Holidays and Special Occasions

by Karen Ehman and Glynnis Whitwer


A fun and practical resource for women who want creative ideas and recipes to celebrate everything from Christmas and Thanksgiving to birthdays and life’s milestones.

 This book is a gem of a book. It has fun easy ideas to make and do with your family. It also  is a great little book full of yummy recipes. Everyday Confetti would be a wonderful gift to give a new first time mom, or even an old been at it for many years mom like me. :) 

I liked that they ideas in Everyday Confetti were fun and festive as well as inexpensive to make. I love the birthday ideas that I’m going to implement this year for both my girls. . I’m going to make and frame an acronym poem with their names, decorate our dining room table for the birthday week with a clear tablecloth and pictures of the birthday kid underneath. Last but not least get a plate and decorate it for each birthday kid, I have a feeling these will be used for other special days as well. Those ideas are great, simple and fun to make. Plus you don’t have to travel all over creation finding all the items. Most can be found at the local craft store or super store.

They also have some wonderful ideas for making Christmas and Easter even more special than they already are.  I have a few that I’m so doing this coming Christmas from the Christmas Story Cookies (because kids (and adults) are never too old for cookies!) and I LOVE their idea of the 3 gifts of Christmas. They listed some great ideas for Easter as well and I think I’ll be adding the supplies for making Hope bracelets to my craft store run list, this spring.

They have many fun days that are not as big as Christmas, Thanksgiving and Birthdays that are still fun to celebrate like Johnny Appleseed day which I did lots of fun activities when I was a Pre-K teacher. They listed August 9th as Book Lovers Day. This sounds like a really fun day where you plan activities around a favorite book of yours. I might have to do this as a great end of summer activity this year with my girls. I wonder which book they would pick?

Of course what is a celebration with out food! The authors include some great recipes in Everyday Confetti, some that I’ve made before like Hashbrown Casserole, oh how I LOVE hashbrown casserole. They also wrote many other recipes I have bookmarked so I can try them out. Everything from Pumpkin Spice Coffee Syrup and Pumpkin Creme Brulee (oh my stars, doesn’t that sound so yummy!). I also want to try out their recipe for Spanish Rice, Layered Cornbread Salad and Cheesy Enchiladas. I also want to make the Oven Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Apples, and try out their Oatmeal Dinner Rolls. 

All and all Everyday Confetti is a book just about everyone will love! I’m so glad I was able to add it to my book collection and know I will be reading it over and over with each new season and month. Everyday Confetti is available now so grab a copy off Amazon for $9.99 (I’m not affiliated so I get no kick backs if you click and buy from the link).

The Pumpkin Patch Parable

When I was a Pre-K teacher we always had a little center set up the week leading up to Halloween or as we called it Pumpkin Day. Since so many little ones are scared of the costumes we declared it pumpkin day. We had fun stuff planned and they loved all the fun centers and activities. Here is some of the fun you could do at home (or in a classroom)

by Liz Curtis Higgs

illustrated by Nancy Munger


This charming story for children illustrates how a loving farmer can turn a simple pumpkin into a simply glorious sight. In the same way, God’s transforming love can fill each of our hearts with joy and light.

Dramatic Play –  Garden Center: with garden tools, pretend plants, plastic fruit and vegetables and a basket so they can garden. If your really adventurous and your weather is mild in the winter, have soil, pumpkin seeds and little peat pots and have them plant a pumpkin seed.

Sensory Table –  Pumpkin Rice Transfer: dye rice Orange, add tiny orange cups or pumpkin candy holder, and a spoon. Have kids spoon rice into containers.

                              Pumpkin Pie Play dough: make up a batch of pumpkin pie play dough (recipe to follow) for the children to play with. If you want to add mini pie pans, rolling pins and they can make pies.

Gross Motor: Plant the Seed Bean Bag Toss: grab a brown or black small trash can and some rolled up socks to be the pumpkin seeds, Have children take turns getting the seeds inside the dirt hole.

Art: Hand Print Pumpkin Patch: paint each child’s hand (one or two at a time)to make hand print pumpkins. Paint the inside  palms orange and the middle 2 fingers brown up to the knuckles. have them press onto yellow paper set aside to dry cut out around the yellow so some light shines around the pumpkins. Staple or tape the classroom ” Our Light Shines for Jesus” bulletin board.

pumpkin patch parable mural

{picture from when I wrote up a post for Totally Tots}

        Paper Plate Pumpkins: have the area set up with small paper plates,  Pumpkin Pie scented Orange paint( w/ some glue mixed in), tissue paper squares and Torn Paper. Have LO make pumpkins with mixed mediums.

Additional Book suggestions:

  1. My Happy Pumpkin by Crystal Bowman
  2. P is for Pumpkin: God’s Harvest Alphabet by Kathy Jo Wargin
  3. The Pumpkin Gospel by Mary Manz Simon

Bible Verse that correlates with the Bible Story“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6

The Handbook for Today’s Catholic Children

by Francine M O’Connor
The Handbook for Today’s Catholic Children helps explain the basic beliefs of the Catholic faith at a level children can understand. Intended for grades 3 and up but I think if the teacher or parent read the story to the younger children they would understand the stories written in this booklet with very few questions.
This booklet might be little but is full of many wonderful stories. Uses simple line drawings, modern-day incidents along with easy-to-read text to teach children the basics of their Catholic faith.  The Handbook for Today’s Catholic Children includes fifteen short chapters with a prayer at the end of each one. What does this little booklet teach your child:
  • Intimacy with God
  • The Mysteries of God
  • The Trinity
  • Grace
  • The Church
  • Mary
  • The Bible
  • Sin and Forgiveness
  • The  Seven Sacraments
  • The Communion of Saints
  • The Ten Commandments
  • The Two Great Commandments
  • Rules of the Church
  • The Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy
  • Evangelization and Discipleship
I think this handbook could come in handy in so many different ways: from a teacher’s point you could help use this in your classroom during religion class. A religious education teacher could plan 15 lessons around this handbook. A parent could use this when needed a quick go to resource to help explain something about the Catholic faith to their child. This could  also be a great little booklet to give to a child at their communion.
I love that this handbook is written for children and uses real life experiences that helps them better understand and grasp the lesson to be learned. Sometimes it is easier to learn about something when you use a real life incident. I also love that each chapter includes a prayer at the end. Sometimes children find putting words into prayer hard. This little handbook helps them end each lesson with a simple prayer that they can use at that moment and later down the road.
I would recommend Handbook for Today’s Catholic Children to parents and teachers. Thank you Tiber river for sending me this book.
You can purchase this book here.

Just Saying { 90 Devotions for tween girls}

Write ‘Em, Draw “Em, Hide ‘Em in your Heart

by Carol McAdams Moore

just saying

Just Saying is not a typical devotional that I’ve looked through and bought. This one is interactive, it has the young girls really thinking and journaling what they have read in the bible. Carol includes prompts to get the juices flowing. While it is marketed for girls ages 8-12 I really thing even girls through 8th grade would enjoy this. It would be a great family time where you could read the scripture for that day and then set your girls off to journal, then you could discuss what they thought or discuss then journal. Just Saying is a great devotional and it also is a wonderful keepsake.

Each devotional is a 2 page spread and  is short, sweet, and created just for girls. The devotional includes relevant topics, quotes, scripture, doodles, journal prompts, list, puzzles, quizzes, fill in prayers and so much more. Each of these help your girls really explore the bible more in-depth and applying what the bible says into their day-to-day life.  Just Saying has girls following Jesus footsteps and helps them become closer to God.

thank you blogging for books and zondervankidz for sending us this sweet devotional for review. We are enjoying it very much!

The Feasts

How the Church Year Forms Us as Catholics

by Cardinal Donald Wuerl and Mike Aquilina


The Feasts is a wonderful book for cradle Catholics, new Catholics, RCIA candidates and non Catholics who ask you so many questions about the Catholic faith and our liturgical calendar. This book explores the history, traditions and meanings behind holidays both favorite and long forgotten. This book is book 3 in a series, book 1: The Mass and book 2: The Church are both just as wonderful and a gold mine of information. You will want to have the whole trilogy, or as my girls pointed out it’s 3 books just like the trinity is 3. :)

The first 5 chapters gets into the feasts from where they began to the reasons behind them. Chapter 3 The Feasts that Jesus kept was one of my favorites. Chapter 4 and 5 are about the history behind how the calendar got developed and terms of the times, this is great for historical buffs and people who really enjoy history of the biblical times.  Chapter 6 is devoted to Sunday and really makes you see Mass in a whole new light.

After chapter 6 they get more into feasts, from Easter, Christmas, Pentecost, Epiphany to Divine Mercy, Blessed Virgin Mary and All Saints-Other Saints and Souls. They also have chapters on Holy Angels, Feasts of the Church Fasts, and the Sacred Paschal Triduum. I love that the Season of Advent has its own chapter that is separate from Christmas. I do wish they had put that right before Christmas (chapter 8, instead of making it chapter 20. No biggie though)

My husband and I went through RCIA as a married couple with a 3-year-old. I had never been baptized, I attended a Methodist church for many years in my 20’s but never got baptized. I was baptized while holding our 3-year-old daughter (who is now a 14-year-old). I learned many things about the Catholic Church and Faith in RCIA however I learned more reading these 3 books. I really think these 3 books need to be required reading for all RCIA candidates!  I know I will still get this one (as well as the other 2) down and read through them. I plan to read this one at the start of each feast or a few days before. This book is a real treasure and I’m so happy to have it on my bookshelf.

Thank you Blogging for Books and Image books for sending me The Feasts for review.