Friday, May 20, 2016

And then there were actual photos!

A friend brought it to my attention that my reviews recently didn't have pictures that were visible, at least not to everyone. I'm so sorry! Two weeks of reviews and personal posts that didn't have images because my instagram images were showing up blank.

If there were any posts you were wanting to read and didn't see the images, go ahead and give it a peek again. There were seven Book Reviews and two ElCloud Photo posts that weren't working previously.

But now, there are actual photos! I apologize. And next time you're reading and wondering why you can't see anything ... please leave a comment! I was so thankful Julieanne took the time to let me know.













Sheepishly,
April E.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Review: Live Fearless Coloring Book by Margaret Feinberg

I'm still adding to my collection of coloring books for myself. Live Fearless by Margaret Feinberg is a beautiful book that I'm looking forward to using more and more!




Live Fearless is a 48 page softcover book, which is rectangular at 8.5x11 inches. I honestly prefer the rectangular coloring books over the square ones. There are 20 coloring pages with corresponding journaling pages, as well as some smaller decorations you can color on the title and copyright pages.





Each coloring sheet has a Bible verse incorporated into the decorations, as well as a corresponding journaling page where you can record prayers, thoughts, or doodle your own picture. I like this feature, as it helps put more focus on the Scriptures, rather than just coloring a picture.



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There are a wide variety of picture styles. Some are quite complex, and some are more simple. Many of them would require coloring in separate sittings. I rarely have time to do a full page all at once, especially on the complex pages. There is a style for everyone in this book! You can view excerpts from Live Fearless at the publisher's website. Left side of the page, scroll down a bit, and there are the pdf links!

I wish there were more pictures in this book, but otherwise, I love everything about it. It makes a nice gift for Mother's Day or a birthday! Margaret Feinberg has 2 other coloring books as well: Live Free and Live Loved, with more to release later this year!

April E.





Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A Peek into an ElCloud Spring

We are enjoying Spring in Kansas at the moment. This week is our first week of summer vacation for most of the kids, and they're taking full advantage of no schoolwork. Steve and I need to discuss some boundaries for their time this summer, especially screen time. Here's a peek into our springtime.


A photo posted by April E (@elcloudapril) on








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I hope your springtime is going well, too. Is school out for your homeschool kids?

April E.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Review: Girls Slimline NLT Bible



When my son received his Boys Slimline Bible, we were very impressed with it. I went ahead and ordered the Girls Slimline Bible, as well. I wasn't sure if my 10 year old daughter would like its bright colors, fuzzy cover, and glittery edges. If she didn't, I thought I would save it for my 5 year old daughter when she was older. But, my ten year old daughter loved the Bible!

The Boys Slimline Bible has a faux leather cover, but the Girls Slimline Bible has a hardcover with a fuzzy cloth feel to it.The pink LOVE has a green edging around the letters, and the back cover says Bold Faith on it. Although my daughter loves this Bible now, I'm not sure she'll love it when she's 12-14. I do wish the cover was more mature like the Guys NLT Slimline Bible.

My daughter was surprisingly excited about the red-letter edition, and the maps in the back of the Bible. My only complaint with this Bible is that the font is a little bit small - though I realize that is necessary in a slimline edition.

I wasn't sure how I would feel about the New Living Translation when I ordered these, but I like it. It's easy to read and understand, without losing the true meaning of the Scriptures. We're very pleased with this Bible and my daughter is loving using it at church!

April E.


Monday, May 16, 2016

Review: Hope Unfolding by Becky Thompson

I have nearly twenty-one years of parenting under my belt. Many more years than Becky Thompson has under her belt. When I started reading Hope Unfolding, I wondered if it was going to be written more for younger moms. I wondered if Becky would have anything to say to me - the imperfect Mom who still struggles to get it right most days, despite those twenty-one years of practicing.

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Fast forward to a couple weeks of scattered reading. I was sitting in the van, while three of my children attended a youth track night. Somehow, I had managed to escape the house without my youngest two. For one hour, I had quiet in that van. I felt guilty for not going down to watch their practice as many parents were doing ... but there was quiet. Who passes that up in a house with seven kids?

I was reading Hope Unfolding. I thought I'd make some progress on the book so I could check off that review from my never-ending to-do list. And right there in that van, I found that Becky did have something to say to this older mom. Instead of the older women teaching the younger, the younger woman was reminding and blessing this older woman. I sat there, fighting tears ... wiping a few away that managed to escape ... reading and praying. It was a blessed hour.

Becky writes in an engaging, story-telling manner. She lays out here thoughts in a very conversational way, then the chapter shifts and she tells you a story. Sometimes you aren't sure where that story is going, until she comes to the end of the story and suddenly she relates that story to her previous paragraphs and wraps up the chapter nicely. Most of the stories are from her own personal life, the lessons God has taught her, and the way she sees Him working in her life.

Each chapter ends with a few application questions, some lines where you can briefly record your thoughts about those questions, a prayer, and a closing thought. That last thought is like a benediction to carry you forward into life. A blessing to take with you as you clean up spilled chocolate milk, break up an argument, or clean the toilet. A reminder to mull over until you come back to read the next chapter.

These chapters are a little longer and meatier than some recent books I've read for moms. I often had to set the book aside without finishing a chapter, but it was easy to pick up later and keep reading. It wasn't so complicated that I had to backtrack to figure out what was being discussed in the chapter.

Hope Unfolding is a "you are not alone" book. It's a "been there, done that, let's do it together" book. It's a "let me give you a hand, or a hug" book. It's a "have you prayed about that?" book. In other words, it is encouraging for mothers. It lets us know we aren't alone in our struggles, reminds us of our purpose, and points us back to God - the author and perfecter of our faith.

Hope Unfolding would be an encouraging baby shower gift for the mom who has had her second or third child. It would be a good gift for a friend who is struggling, or a Mother's Day gift. If no one else buys it for you and you just need some encouragement in life, buy it for yourself. Hope Unfolding is "grace-filled truth for the Momma's heart".

April E.



Review: Boys Slimline NLT Bible from Tyndale

My 12 year old son really liked the looks of this Guys Slimline NLT Bible when it arrived. It has a faux leather style cover, with a blue chevron/arrow pattern that is decorative but still manly and mature. It is perfect for junior high boys ready to move away from a children's Bible.

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I have to confess that I have a love for Study Bibles and have bought them for my children in the past. However, they prefer a smaller, thinner Bible that is easier to take with them to church. Honestly, I use a slimline at church much of the time, as well. I still use my Study Bibles at home and when attending an in-depth group Bible Study.



My son loves the simplicity of this Bible. It really is perfect for 6th grade and up. It does have red-letter text for Jesus' quotes, as well as maps in the back for reference. The table of Contents comes in both order of appearance, as well as an alphabetic version for quick location by page number.

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I love this colorful inset with the Bible verse in white. It is a good challenge to the Bible owner and makes an attractive inner cover.

The New Living Translation is easily read and stays true to the meaning of the original text. I like how it re-words verses to make them more clearly understood to children. I haven't read anything that concerns me regarding its translations. It is close enough to the NIV that it won't be hard to follow along when the Pastor is reading from the NIV.

I like the Boys Slimline Bible, but more importantly, my son likes it and will enjoy using it.

April E.



Friday, May 13, 2016

Review: Busy, Busy! boardbook by Eileen Spinelli

Busy, Busy! is another adorable boardbook by Eileen Spinelli. This book looks at many different animals and what keeps them busy. The illustrations by Elina Ellis are bright and fun!


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You already know I love board books, and reading to my toddlers. Busy, Busy! is especially fun to read to busy toddlers and preschoolers. Each page is full of colorful details to discuss and enjoy.

Eileen Spinelli has written a rhyming text that flows well. This book has two short lines per page, four per two-page spread. One year-old children may not sit through all the words, but two and three year-olds will love it. The final message is that even though Moms are busy, they're never too busy for their children. It's a perfect reminder for children, and parents!

This book is not overtly Christian. Its message will resonate with parents of any faith or background. I am sure it will be a favorite in many homes!

April E.