Friday, December 10, 2010

Book Review - Choosing to See

Last weekend I downloaded Choosing to See through my kindle app on my IPhone. I have been wanting to read this for a long time and finally caved and downloaded. I could not put it down and ended up attached to my kindle app for the weekend and finished the book by Sunday.

I am not sure what I was expecting the book to be about. For some reason I thought it was more adoption related and less about the death of maria (their 4 year old that passed away in 2008 after an accident). Possibly I might have been less likely to pull the plug and read it if I was under the impression that it centered around Maria's death. But for whatever reason I am so glad I read it.

While death is not something any of us want to think about or dwell on, to see the process of a mother losing her child and standing strong it inspiring. The way mary beth puts her feelings into words is startlingly honest. I felt like I was part of the family and feel like I went a little bit through the circumstances with her. She was able to make me laugh and cry in relatively close quarters. Hearing about a precarious rafting trip in Africa had me doubled over laughing. And many of the parts of their history that I had no clue about both surprised me and encouraged me. Have I mentioned that I am now dying to adopt special needs china after ethiopia? hehe. We will see where God leads.

One of the other interesting parts of the book is how she relates parts of her life to words of SCC's songs. I am not going to lie - there were a few scc albums downloaded to fill in gaps of my scc collection.

The story is told of how SCC and MBC met all the way to birthing children, house fires, adopting three girls from china, losing a child, and the grief and hope built afterwards. The ending is filled with her journal/blog entries to date.

If you have any interest in Adoption, Christian Faith, Music, or SCC I would recommend this book. It encouraged, inspired, entertained and provoked. Pick up a copy for your iphone/kindle/ipad and if you don't prefer paperless I hear they still print books. :)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Interested in earning a MAT degree online?

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of 2tor. All opinions are 100% mine.

I have done most of my computer science degree online with the local community college but I have also researched other avenues.

The USC Rossier School of Education’s MAT@USC offers current educators and aspiring teachers the prestige of earning a Master of Arts in Teaching degree from an elite research university with the convenience and flexibility of studying online.

program information

If you are thinking about enrolling in an online degree program you should consider Rossier. With Rossier you can earn a master of Arts in Teaching degree from an internationally renowned research institution with a 100 year history of educating teachers to be agents of change Rossier is a school of education that has been ranked #22 in the US and #9 among all private universities by US News and World Report. It is an innovative combination of highly interactive online learning with field-based experiences in your local area. There is also a groundbreaking tuition reimbursement program designed exclusively for MAT@USC graduates. The opportunity to learn from distinguished USC faculty recognized for their contributions to modern education. You will receive FULL USC student status and benefits, and participate in commencement ceremonies and free lifetime alumni association memberships.

Some of the advantages of going with USC Rossier are:

  • Highly interactive online learning combined with field based experiences
  • Groundbreaking tuition reimbursement program
  • Accelerated program you can complete in as little as 12 months
  • Opportunity to become part of the elite USC Trojan Family
  • Tuition reimbursement and scholarships
  • MAT@USC Student Blog, where you can hear insights about the program from actual students
  • Rossier and the MAT@USC were awarded by AACTE for innovative use of technology in education
  • Technology Video that introduces the interactivity of the program
  • First cohor of the MAT@USC graduate in MAY

You must be interested now! so click here Click here for more program information 

Visit Sponsor's Site

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Saturday, November 6, 2010

SPOT me!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of SPOT. All opinions are 100% mine.

We got to take SPOT Satellite GPS messenger for a test run when my mom got one this year for her sailing trip. After having a couple incidents out on the sailboat where they were calling Maydays a couple years ago she wanted to be prepared and have a way for people to find them if something went awry.

She set up the device and service to email me a customized message every time she clicked the button on the SPOT. It would tell me that she was all right and her latitude and longitude. There was also an emergency button to click to send me an SOS message with her latitude and longitude.

While this service was meant for safety I found it fun to click the links on her e-mail and watch her progress as she sailed around the gulf and Caribbean. On the other hand, she got quite a few complains from other people she had set to send the e-mails to who felt as if they were being spammed by her check ins.

If you are ever in situations that a cell phone would not reach I definitely recommend getting this product. It is definitely advantageous for a child or elderly relative that you may worry about. But if you do purchase this product, I recommend only adding e-mails for people who you have forewarned and aren't particular about what they get e-mailed. And certainly leave out anyone who will jealously sit behind a desk while you are sailing the islands.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Juniper Springs Recreation Area in Ocala National Forest

CIF RATING **** (4/5)

This was definitely the best camping experience of my life thus far. I have been camping a lot over the past few years and this was my favorite trip hands down. We stayed two nights at Juniper Springs Campgrounds in Ocala National Forest.

Our first night we arrived to a friendly park ranger at the ranger station who even helped us out with our surprise to my fiance that his mom was showing up later that night. She let us know that we needed to keep our food in our cars because there was a black bear in the area named Teddy who was hanging around the campsites as of late. The picture showed us a large bear and we were quick to agree.

We set up in the rain but got it done before dark and when we couldn't get our campfire lit we decided to just scurry away in our tent until either our friends arrived or the morning came, even though it was only about 8pm. Fortunately our friends showed up and helped us with the fire. Rain went through the night but by morning we were dry. We had enough room at our site to set up two large tents and one food screened in canopy with plenty of extra room in addition to that for our cars, campfire, and plenty of room for Chrissy (our dog) to run around in. Each site has a picnic table, fire ring, and lantern post, but no electricity.

We decided to head over to JNB Horse Haven Farm for a ride, after breakfast at Jake's place. Both of which I recommend. JNB was the best horseback riding experience I have had in a long time and even though these horses are all rescued from abusive situations were better behaved than most trail horses I have riden over the past 15 years since I rode regularly. Not only are my fiance and I planned to go back for a longer ride on our honeymoon but we were all talking about taking a group up there for a day ride sometime. Heck part of me wants to see what I can do to help them in more ways. Heck part of me wants to open a horse trail place here in Sarasota.

We came back and decided to hit the springs. The ranger had directed us to take the boardwalk to the springs, which was a beautiful walk, though much much longer than simply driving over to the parking lot for the springs which was right behind the ranger station after all. En route we saw a turtle laying eggs, a beautiful bridge with some little springs under it, beautiful walks, beautiful trees, beautiful springs, and a few spiders. I recommend this if you have the time to take the nice way to the springs, otherwise just drive right behind the ranger station to the parking lot. The springs are amazing, but freezing. When you first get in it is like knives stabbing your skin it is so shocking, though once you are in for a few minutes your skin goes numb and it is exhilirating.

One of the best parts of the weekend was running into Teddy. You can see one of my pictures here of when we found Teddy between our campsite and the bathrooms. We probably got much closer than was safe within 10 feet of him but for the most part he didn't seem to interested in us, moreso on the garbage he had claimed from the dumpster. They said he hasn't been aggressive to anyone yet and I am just glad that I got to experience that, photograph that, and not get mauled.

Altogether I would rate this as one of the best camping trips I have ever taken. I can't wait to go back to Juniper Springs one hot summer day and jump in the spring.

Myakka State Park

CIF RATING *** (3/5)

I love camping at Myakka though my one complaint would be the main camp area is too close together and too crowded. But I love the bird canopy walk, you can see the towers there in the pictures above as well as the suspension bridge that you can walk across. I love the trails, and the lake and the dam, and all of the neat little places that you can go in Myakka. Pretty standard as far as camping facilities, and again too close together in the main campsite, but during the day there are plenty of places to go and plenty of things to do out here. Make sure you take the ferry ride at least once. You are bound to come upon tons of gators, and usually some baby gators too.

Hontoon Island State Park

CIF RATING - **** (4/5)

This was an amazing weekend and short of the spiders and ticks I would rate this very highly in my ratings of campsites. While hiking the spider webs made it very difficult to get through the paths and seeing as the spiders were much larger than our fists and some bigger than our faces it was a daunting experience. I also ended up with a tick lodged into my rear end which did not make for a pleasant experience, as well as the lyme tests I had to receive after, though that is a danger for all camping, I have camped for years and never had a tick experience before.

The cabins were comfortable and clean. We especially enjoyed the screened in deck where we stayed up late talking, laughing, and playing board games. The picnic area was standard. The ferry we took over was just a moment or two and the people there were all very helpful. They even gave us a cart ride with all of our stuff over to our campsite.

Hiking was amazing, short of the 30 foot spider webs draped in front of us. Though be aware that the trails are much longer than you think and you can easily get lost in the multiple loops and paths the trails could take. The first day that we tried to find the historical monument we got lost, did not bring enough water for the 30 minute hike that turned into a three hour hike and we got lost. In the end we were dragging, not sure if we would ever make it back, and kept having to stop and lay down to get our bearings. So please bring plenty of water even if you think you are only taking a 20 minute hike. We found the right trail the next day but it turned into just a trail with a sign at the end saying "this is the end of the trail". The ground was full of shells which the native americans discarded in their fishing trades but there was actually nothing to see other than the floor of the trail became shelly at a certain point.

The trails are beautiful curving next to the water and then going deep into the island with tall trees towering over you. Primarily the wildlife we saw was birds and spiders though we were sure hoping to see a bear or two that never happened.

I highly recommend this state park and definitely the cabins to anyone interested in a nice weekend.
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