Thursday, December 30, 2010

Book Review - Dandelion Fire by N.D. Wilson

Dandelion Fire

Dandelion Fire, by N.D. Wilson, is the second book in the 100 Cupboards series 100 Cupboards .  This sequel takes the main character, Henry York and his family  through the cupboards and back to their real home, a home only familiar to some.  The story follows Henrietta and Henry's journey through the unfamiliar worlds of Badon Hill, Fitzfaeren and Hylfing. He meets the regimented faeren, encounters the evil Darius again and reunites with family members, familiar and unfamiliar. Things are not what they seem. A gnarled tree is actually a gateway, darkness is actually "light, at rest" and faeren can twist and turn their bodies in unnatural ways.  Henry is on a mission to save Hylfing from the evil witch of Endor, who controls Darius's body and drains the life out of every city in this alternate world.  Henry changes from a young boy, pampered and protected all his life, to a brave young man and leader.

I loved the beginning of this story because Henry's family fought together against Darius. I loved the dialogue Darius delivered before they all went back through the cupboards to prepare for their epic battle.  It challenged me to align my thoughts with the evil Darius to follow what he was trying to express to Henry.  The middle of the story was just too full of strangeness and unfamiliarity. The jumbled word combinations forced me to read so slowly to understand what Wilson was saying, it was difficult for me to imagine a 12 year old not getting bored. I felt like the main character never got a rest, never found anything he could connect to - like he was heading in the right direction, but never knew what would happen or saw anyone or any symbol he knew for most of the book. Some readers may enjoy that aspect, but I felt it lasted too long and made me feel exhausted.

     The last section of the book was the epic battle, which was very well written and I was thrilled to read of his strong male relatives fighting side by side with him. It's not often that an elder male character, let alone two or three,  is given the role of the protector over the main character and for that I give the book  **** 1/2   Four and a half STARS!
Friday, December 24, 2010

One Last, but Meaningful Tradition

Peppermint "Happy Birthday Jesus" cake from scratch! Yum! 

No matter how much I mess it up getting it out of the pan, tearing the edges, patching up the sinkholes in the center, it always ends up perfect! Could that be a reflection of the perfection of Jesus Christ?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Receiving the Greatest Gift, one Moment at a Time.......

With little time due to school and little money due to the recession, it would be easy to be "humbug" this year. Instead of thinking of all the things we didn't do this Christmas, I want to focus on what we DID and how much it meant to me. This has been a wonderful season!

Starting with:
  • setting up the Nativity
  • then the ribbon and lights on the tree 
  • then the decorations (even if it was a week later)
  • Christmas program practice every Tuesday night at church
  • Christmas potluck with everyone at church
  • Teaching Children's Church so everyone could enjoy the program
  • Dustin's first musical concert
  • Josh's awesome concert
  • Wyatt's 2nd grade Christmas play - The Littlest Christmas Tree
  • Dakota's Kindergarten Christmas singing program
  • See's Candy in the mail
  • finding everything they wanted in one trip
  • filling out cards
  • a first ever fancy office Christmas party, overnight in Big Sky,MT
  • the kids' program at church (three of my boys are in it)
  • Grandma and Grandpa coming
  • laying out all the boys' gifts so we can make sure we are giving the right ones to the right kid
  • and wrapping them - just the two of us
  • Watching the boys get all excited with their stockings
  • watching them find the pickel ornament for one more gift (although this does tend to end in a fight!)
  • having the entire day off with the whole family in "lockdown" just hanging out together
Ending with:
In all these activities, each of them represent the greatest gift given ever, Jesus Christ, and I am so excited to celebrate and receive this gift!

What are your special moments this season?

Merry Christmas!
Thursday, December 16, 2010

Just had to see.......

Yesterday, I asked Josh to take out the garbage. It's his usual job and he had a coat on already. I see him barefoot, attempting to make a dash for it and insist he put on shoes. He put on shoes, went out front and took them off, then proceeded to tip-toe out to get the can out on the street, wheel the can back to the house and make two trips with the many bags I handed him that he'd left on the porch. Then he ran back in and beelined for the carpet! Exactly WHY I insisted he wear shoes for this job - I knew he'd walk wet feetprints all over the house.

His reasoning?  He just wanted to see if he how long he could stay out there.  This picture was taken a day later - his prints are frozen into the driveway for now............;^)
Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Stagefright - who me?

     How is it that I can be completely at ease with my classmates discussing Socrates and other deep thinkers, calmly lead the class in a trivia game that focuses on our five books we studied together, but change the subject to my faith and suddenly I have a case of the nerves? I just don't get it. I have plenty of public speaking experience. I have shared my faith with them from the beginning of the semester. I don't start out that way in my presentation but suddenly I find my voice a bit shaky, palms sweaty and hands start to shake. I have no reason for it. I was less nervous completing the challenge for the presentation than telling them about it. 
      I like my classmates, I trust them, and I can discuss deep, difficult topics easily with them. I noticed it's whenever my faith comes up and I'm leading discussion that I get the jitters. It doesn't make sense. I have been leading classes at church for years although I managed to do it alone or with an helper - no pressure there. It's almost a subliminal fear. I don't even feel a hint of fear before or even in the beginning.
     For my presentation, I chose to challenge myself to teach the kids at church with a mentor present and ask for an evaluation. I measured my success on if I went through with it, if the kids learned, and if the mentor said I did a good job. I completed it and was excited to share with my class at school. Here I am telling them about it and all my fears crept up on me again. To try to stifle the jitters halfway through my presentation, I told the group that even thinking about my challenge was making me nervous. I mentioned it later to a classmate, but she said it was a good presentation.

So how do I combat this new subliminal fear that's trying to scare me out of talking about my faith? Is this one of those strongholds that the devil is putting on me because I'm getting braver in sharing?
Thursday, December 9, 2010

Worth Waiting For....

Last week I posted about getting out the nativity sets. After I got those set up, Dakota and I straightened out the branches on the tree, added the lights and the ribbon. I was really getting in touch with the meaning of Christmas as I lovingly wrapped the royal ribbon around it and tried to recall the spiritual symbolism of the tree. I was having my special holiday moment......

Halfway through the task, the rest of the boys got home from school all excited to be surprised that we were decorating. This is when I made my "Mommy Proclamation".  I proclaimed that the adding of the decorations would not take place until the livingroom and bedrooms were clean and that they had just enough time to get it done before I finished preparing the tree. 

Why throw in the cleaning? Was I just being mean? Well, it's a matter of opinion. I noticed lately that the boys aren't lifting a finger without me there enforcing it. I look for any opportunity to motivate them to get-r-done, especially things they are excited about like decorating or Grandma coming over. 

Are you thinking they hopped to it and we got it all done as one big, loving, happy family? Nope! A week went by, remember?  No, they wandered around, lost my fourth spool of ribbon under the coffee table, looked at their messy rooms, played video games and two fights broke  - one out over a toy while cleaning and the second one is still a mystery but Dakota got wacked in the eye with a sweatshirt sleeve so I threw in the towel.

To my surprise last night, exactly 7 days later, Josh walks in the door and says, "I told my friend's mom that we didn't have any decorations on our tree" then followed by, "Hey everybody clean up - let's decorate!" He even insisted I do it with them so I did the "oooh, here's your Baby's First Christmas ornament. Oh, and there's your Baby's Second Christmas ornament....Oh, and here's my favorite one...". It was as if the world was rotating in reverse - everyone got along and cheerfully decorated and even cleaned up the empty boxes afterward.

Score one for Mom this week!
Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Looking Back on Blogs 10 Years from Now

Will our kids hate us when they grow up and read our blogs?

An interesting article :

Mo-om! When the stars of mommy blogs grow up-
Some "mommy bloggers" are questioning the lasting effect their online ramblings might be having on their kids.
 Even if you don't read the link, have you ever taken a moment to answer that question? As parents, our generation grew up able to deny anything that wasn't captured on  a Kodak with a square flash bulb.  Stories told about us have to be verified by relatives but still we can say, "No it wasn't me, it was my cousin." and due to the age of the relative, usually convince them that their memory is going. 

  Next comes the "Mommy's had it and gonna vent" blog trend. I have to admit, it has got the appeal of free therapy. Maybe it spared a few kids from corporal punishment.  Moms sharing with other moms that they are not perfect and have real feelings that are "politically incorrect" to voice in public. I don't follow "strictly negative" parenting blogs, but I do follow one blog designed for moms to anonymously post their parenting flubs and readers sympathize with them and know we've been there too.  
     But I wonder, will these digital records exist forever? If I delete my entire blog in 10 years, will my tech-savvy sons just Google-Extreme my IP address and recover every key stroke? Would they like it or hate it? I took a minute to skim my entire blog and see if I've humiliated them. Well, maybe I did a little - but not enough to make me delete anything. Sometimes they don't use their marbles and goofy stuff happens like crop circles in the grass. Still, as a parent I feel entitled to laugh a little at their foibles as long as they see the humor in it, I only use first names, and use a loving-mother tone. Am I guilty? What if tables were turned? What if they had a "I Was Raised By Aliens" blog?  I suppose I'd be fair game!  Should we follow unwritten guidelines? Should "venters" feel justified? Should I hide the camera so they don't capture MY blooper-moments?

like the time I didn't know it was broken
Friday, December 3, 2010

Lucky are the Boys Whose Dad has a Snowplow...........

This is something Dustin has been trying to create at school each year, only to have the other kids stomp it down before the bell rings............A SNOWCAVE!

To my surprise the other evening I saw a dark image in the entrance and when I called Josh to come help with our dog - not only one full grown pre-teen came out of it but TWO.  It must be huge inside and knowing our weather it will still be there in May for them to enjoy.

Let it Snow...Let it Snow...Let it Snow!
Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Keeping Christ in Christmas............

There's a buzz in the air today. The month of December is upon us and it's time to decorate.  I remember a time when we only had a few cheap ornaments from the Pic-N-Save store. Fast forward 20 years and it's time to lug up the boxes. My most favorite decoration of all is the nativity I hinted for a few Christmas's ago. My husband's parents bought it for me and I asked my father-in-law if he would put his saws to work and build me a manger for them. To my surprise he used the old barn wood from our last house. That made it even more special because we are bringing a bit of the boys' memories from their first Christmas's in our old house -  into this house.  And who says the tree should get ALL the lights??

Of course we add the usual bling, red & green, gifts, and our singing Scooby-Doo and Rudolph stockings. But we have one other special little decoration that sums up blending tradition with beliefs without compromising.

I also incorporate a "royal ribbon" around the tree before any bulbs are added to remind us that Jesus was king, willingly born as a baby to save us from our own destruction.

It's time to add a new element to this theme.What interesting ways do you keep Christ in Christmas??
Friday, November 26, 2010

Book Review - Starlighter by Bryan Davis

     Starlighter tells a vivid tale of two groups of people on different planets destined to find each other. One group, The Lost Ones, are slaves on a planet taken over by dragons. The dragons have enslaved them for so many generations that they are unaware that they come from a different planet where humans rule and dragons are considered mythical.

   The story starts out with the character, Jason, defeating Randall, son of the governor, in a sword fighting challenge. Soon after they find themselves running for their lives, fighting talking bears and laser fire. There's upheaval in their country's leadership and Jason has been framed for murder. They rescue Elyssa from prison, gain a new friend, Tibault and continue on the run until they find the entrance to the dragon world. The four of them work to open the portal to the other world to rescue the Lost Ones they've heard tales about.
    Meanwhile, Koren, is a slave in the lost world who possesses the ability to hypnotize dragons with her storytelling. She is working to rescue her friend, Natalla, from her "promotion" by the dragons.  They never know if the dragons are killing their promoted ones or truly setting them free. Koren has a close relationship with the dragon she serves, Arxad, who helps her deceive the other dragons without them thinking he's on her side. Koren has been tested and declared a Starlighter, someone who can see the future and speak with the unhatched dragon prince. When Koren and Natalla escape with the help of Arxad, they run to the mines where Jason's group meets up with them .  The story reaches it's peak intensity here....Do they make it to the safe world? Do they stay in the dragon world and have Jason and Randall protect them?  Will the slaves even believe another world exists or turn them over to the dragons to spare their own lives?
    "Koren, you must gather your wits.  it is imperative that we fly immediately.  If you are found out, I can no longer protect you."
     In the midst of the swirling lights, a dragon's face orbited with them.  She murmured, "Found out?"
     "You are a Starlighter, and you are far more powerful than the one Magnar expected."
     "How..." She licked her dry lips.  Her throat felt parched.  "How do you know?"
     "You made Darksphere brighten and come to life.  The previous Starlighter did the same, but she revealed the humans' origins with only a little detail."
     "You mean, you knew we came from Darksphere?"
     "Of course I knew, but the tale you told differs greatly from Magnar's version."
 "If you are able, you must climb on my back.  I will take you to the Northlands.  There lives someone who might be able to help."
     "The Northlands?" A shot of excitement worked to focus Koren's brain.  "So there really is such a place?  Promoted humans really go there?"
     "There is such a place." Arxad lowered his head. "Now mount quickly."
My first impression was COVER-LOVE! The yellow dragon eyes peering over the redhaired girl, who is peering over a large black egg implore you to start wondering. Her eyes challenge you to ask what is she going to do with this egg? The intensity of the cover is delivered in the story. It winds several story lines together, action, some violence, colorful characters, original ideas and adventure all in one.  I loved reading Koren's moments when the powerful dragons would be mesmerized by her storytelling. Also towards the end of the book the characters suddenly start referring to their Creator, comparing how loving and merciful he was in opposition to being forced to love the dragon prince in it's egg shell. 
  Magnar's growl deepened.  "we will follow you to the ends of Starlight.  You would never have a moment's peace. And when the prince hatches, what will you do?  Will you murder him: or will you, like most humans, consider his life more valuable once you can see him?
    This story had so much going on in the beginning, that I was a little confused when I got to the middle. There were so many characters to follow. However,  I loved the original imagery Bryan Davis put into the story. After reading the scenes where the characters fly on Arxad, I actually dreamt that I was flying on him! Wow!  The third portion of the book is intense and even a little edgy, but riddled with compassion, survival, and personal sacrifice. The last portion of the book mentions the character's belief in her creator and how he loves with mercy as opposed to the dragon prince forcing her to love him.  I would have liked the characters to have mentioned their beliefs earlier on in the story, more as a continuous thread since it has a lot of bearing on the way the story plays out at the end.

     This is a great story for an older middle grade reader, a young adult, as well as an adult young at heart. For the Christian reader that enjoys stories of dragons without all the sorcery, this one keeps it to a minimum. It's a clean book, although some strong imagery makes it more appropriate for older kids.

Starlighter is the first in the Dragons of Starlight Series and is available at Amazon here. Be watching for book two Warrior in January 2011!

I give this book **** (four stars!)
Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Takin' One For The Team.....

     So today was one of those parenting conundrum days. Talk about between a rock and a hard place! How in the world could I have worked this out any better? I had a semi-final exam today and a five page paper to turn in. Let's just say I worked pretty hard to prepare. A winter storm blew in with -9 temps and windchills ranging from -20 to  -30. When Wyatt went to bed the night before at 3pm I had a feeling he was not going to school this morning. Okay, so I can't exactly call a sitter for a sick child. Missing both classes today would likely drop my A's to B's because of the high scores riding on them.    I thought about it all night - maybe I could take Wyatt along just to drop off the paper? Could he sit in on my test like Dakota does? Nah, he wasn't well enough. I even had a dream that I lost him in one of the school buildings. It was way too cold and it's a 15 minute walk from my car to the building each way.

*Cue Serious Problem Solvers*
       Well, my husband suggested I keep one of the older boys home to help. So, I pull the mom-card today and had Dustin stay home  as my back-up. (He's old enough to watch a 7 year old). I gave him the opportunity to say no (he hates having make-up work). He said yes, then no, then yes and reasoned that today they were working on a Thanksgiving packet (not critical). So off I went to deliver my paper at 9am in the storm. I got the paper delivered and headed back to check the boys (40 minutes each way) and by then it was a BLIZZARD. I couldn't see when a car or semi would pass me and blow snow up in my windshield and the roads were icy. I made it home but had to talk myself into going back for the exam. I headed back, took the exam, and crept home at a snail's pace to stay on the road. So, yep, today I was a naughty-mommy! I put my education before my son's. Thanks, Dustin for takin' one for the team!  What would you do?
Monday, November 22, 2010

A Fiction Loving Mom's Dream

This is the first year my teenage son, Josh, has woodshop. I assumed he'd be bringing home a wooden tool catch-all or picture frame or something like that. To my amazement, this is what he brought home....

It's a functional bookshelf. The sides pivot and fold in flat. Of course right away he wanted to give it to his Grandma but I called "dibs!" on his first project - especially a bookshelf!  He decided he would keep it first but eventually let me have it. (Grandma gets the  next project)  I have STACKS of books around my bedroom - nary a shelf to be found because I'm waiting for the "just right" one. I wasn't expecting that his first project would be something I really needed, wanted, and loved!  Now if that shop teacher would just teach them to make a full sized three tiered bookshelf with a "old west" motiff....

His Books.....

Friday, November 19, 2010

Grown-Up Luncheables

Lately I've been eating a lot of sausage and crackers with Wasabi and sharing with my littlest sons at lunch. It occurred to me that they should make a Luncheable for grown-ups. I mean we can't always afford to eat at restaurants at lunch but sometimes baloney and crackers just doesn't cut it. It reminded me of a day I was working in the meat deli when a man in motorcycle gear walked up with a bottle of wine and ordered several thick slices of salami and our best cheese cut thick. He was out for a ride with his sweety. I was standing there with my plastic meat-juice covered gloves and hairnet jealously imagining them riding off up a mountain road picking out the perfect spot by the creek.......(sigh) back to meat slicing.....

So why can't we be spontaneous and mature in our tastes? Why can't we plunk down $2.99 and walk away with a plastic-wrapped container of Lavash Crackers, proscuitto, brie cheese and sliced apples?  Or better yet - the double serving Date Pack?  Two sets of crackers, fine meats and cheeses and grapes?  Just sayin'........
Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Librarians Hold the Powa'

They need to make a superhero cape with a big "L" on it for librarians!  Last year I was trying to help my nephew get into reading by suggesting the Hunger Games series and his mom even ordered a set. I showed her all the great website elements thinking that plus the edgy writing might get his attention.  No-go, he's just not that into any book at this time.

So, I convinced her to send them to me because I really wanted to read them and hoped that my older son would too.  I showed him the website and trailer and he's borrowed them a time or two.

Fast forward 6 months and my 13 year old, Josh, announces, "Mom, I really need to read the Hunger Games." I'm wondering if it was assigned at school so I ask, "Why?"  He replies with enthusiasm, "Because my librarian says they are so good!"

See, they got the POWA' !  I can talk about it, show him interractive websites, keep the books on the TOP of my coveted book stack but if SHE says they are good then they must be! Go superhero librarian! I can't wait for the day I get the power.......
Monday, November 15, 2010

Coupon Savvy - the New Spiritual Gifting?

     Recently, a visiting pastor was teaching about spiritual gifting. Many of us think we just don't have it. Some are certain of their gift and use it wisely and some are still figuring out what it might be.  He was using a bit of humor comparing "BIG" gifts like healing to "little" gifts like ADMINISTRATION and of course we all had a good laugh about that. No gift is small!  However, some gifts can be very UNIQUE. Tonight I recognized the most unusual gift  - the gift of "coupon savvy".

     What? You think I just made that up?  How in the world could shopping with coupons further the kingdom of Christ?  Well, it took me awhile to figure it out, but this lady spent over 6 hours in our store tonight shopping with coupons and coupon doublers. She'd go get 12 cans of pepper and go through the self-check out machines and buy three at a time. This is no easy task. Just last week they disabled the coupon function in the machines and it now requires the assistant to hand type it in. This young mom is deaf so it would be difficult to explain to her that the machines were the WORST place to use massive coupons. Finally she started coming to my line...again...and again....and again. The self-check assistant left at 9:30 so I started helping her then and she didn't finish until 11:45pm.  I think she may have been through 10 times and heard that she started before I did at 6pm.
      I was nice to her every time, but I'll admit I was tired and even more tired from processing the coupons. I was thinking all kinds of thoughts like, "Well, these are hard times and she's doing her part to help her family - maybe she doesn't have a great income with her hearing difficulties." and, "Okay, now we're just taking advantage of the store and I'm going to get written up for abusing the coupon policy because a few items rang up as free" so I started having my manager oversee a little. I'd give myself the ol' self-talk about how I should be supportive of her and question why negativity was creeping up. Then halfway through the evening, she whispers, "It's for the food bank, but the drinks are for me!"

     Can you imagine if more people were as efficient, patient, persistent and determined to help those in need what the food banks would be like?  I consider myself blessed to have her stocking the shelves of our valley's food bank. If I ever end up there I'll think about her and how she gave an entire night away from her little kids to scour the aisles and face the possible scorn of the checkers! 

What unique spiritual gift might you have?
Thursday, November 11, 2010

Book Review: Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

This apocalyptic young-adult novel is the first in the series called Last Survivors. It's a story about Miranda Day, her two brothers Matt and Jonny and her mother experiencing a modern day astronomical catastrophe. An asteroid is projected to strike the moon. While everyone is excited to witness the impact, crater and dust cloud, what they really witness when the asteroid strikes is the moon shifting closer to earth - so close it looms over the planet. The gravitational shift changes tides and weather patterns, causing multiple volcano eruptions, loss of communication and the breakdown of civilization around the world.

Susan Beth Pfeffer takes you on a daily journey through the eyes of Miranda as she struggles to maintain her sanity and fight for her survival.  She transforms the characters from average self-gratifying Americans to compassionate, loving, people focused on the survival of their family.

One main theme kept me coming back for more and that was building inner strength in the time of physical weakness.  Each character was pushed beyond their physical limitations, yet persevered under the worst-imaginable circumstances. The characters even comment each others' maturity, evident when she stars referring to her younger brother as Jon.  I really loved the journal-style presentation of the story because Miranda could share her true feelings without repercussions. Excerpts:
Sept 6:Seeing all those cans and boxes and bags of food made me mad, like why are we starving ourselves when we still have food?  When the food runs out, we'll probably die, so what difference does it make if that's November or January or March? Why not eat while we can?
That's when I saw the bag of chocolate chips.  I'd forgotten all about them, how I'd thrown them into my shopping cart on Crazy Shopping Day. I went  a little crazy.  There was food in the pantry that Mom wasn't letting us eat and there was chocolate, real chocolate, in the house and Mom was hoarding it because it has no nutritional value and if we're only eating a little bit every day, we're better off with spinach.  And they were MY d*** chocolate chips.  I ripped open the bag and poured them down my throat.
Nov30:I told Mom I wanted to go for a walk and she said, "Well, why don't you? You've been spending entirely too much time indoors." I love her but I could throttle her.
Feb 7:Mom's birthday.  Christmas, when Mom had shared her candy with us, I ate 2 of the 4 pieces I took, and saved the other 2.  So Mom's birthday present was 2 pieces of candy.  Jon let her beat him in chess.  And Matt walked to and from the staircase 3 times.  She said it was the best birthday she'd ever had.
Once again, I was unaware this was a series so the ending came as a surprise and a delight. Especially for being a series, Pfeffer writes a beautiful ending, keeping the reader wondering how it will end until the very last sentence.  This book is an inexpensive, quick read that will satisfy your need for more, knowing it's book one in the Last Survivor series. Find it here along with books two and three. I cannot wait to see what else she has written.

I rate this book **** (4 stars)!
Monday, November 8, 2010

That's Entertainment?

Boys are weird! Why is it that they find great pleasure in pelting each other with things?  Okay, once my friend and I did raid all the grapes in her garden and throw them at each other, but there wasn't an element of pain involved. Just spontaneous chucking, laughing and stickiness.

Maybe that's why I just rolled my eyes when I looked out back to see my sons and their friend splatting each other with the leftover, frost-ruined tomatoes from our now-rotting garden. I think what amazed me the most is that it wasn't just my kids that thought it was fun, but a neighbor was right there with them. Later Dustin told me that  the tomato fight was the most fun ever!

It didn't stop there. I wish I had a picture of the big welt on Dustin's nose when I saw him Sunday morning. We're talking Rudolph here!  The boys orchestrated a sleep-over that somehow ended up at our house - something I usually avoid when I'm working that night. However, I love this boy and he's fun to have around. I got home at midnight to the sounds of "girl-squeels" and floor thumping. I let it go while I was winding down, but at 1am went in to tell them they needed some sleep. I walk in and they are hunkered down with Nerf guns and goggles. I figured, it was just nerf pellets, no biggie. At breakfast I hear tales of, "well, crayons hurt when you shoot them out a Nerf gun," and even better - the Rudolph nose story. Oh they escalated to pellet guns! I told them the usual, "You could put your eye out!", but the did me one better, "No, Mom, we wore goggles!"
Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Firelight by Sophie Jordan book review

This is the book I could NOT put down!  Sophie Jordan tells the tale of Jacinda, a beautiful dragon in human form, and her conflicted life. Jacinda wants to be free to fly in her Draki form, but brings trouble to her pride when she does. Her risk allows hunters to discover her, bringing them too close to the pride's home. Because of the punishment that awaits her, her mother whisks her and her sister away to live in the desert, a location that will wither and kill her inner Draki self. Jacinda is immediately thrown into a constant struggle with her powerful inner instincts being smothered, her desire to make her mother and sister happy, and her newfound love.  Soon after, Cassian, the mate chosen for her by her pride, finds her and forces her to choose between human life and Draki life, and untimately between her new love, Will, and him.

Sophie Jordan is now on my list for favorite authors. I learned of her new release, Firelight, from Book Crazy's book review blog and am forever grateful!  The number one thing Sophie Jordan did to make this book irresistable was write it so that the reader IS the character. You have to sample it to see what I mean. Here's an excerpt:
"Is it in there?"  I'm it. I bristle, skin contracting, quivering like the plucked bow of a violin.  My wings start to vibrate with hot emotion, shooting lancing pain through the injured membrane and deep into my back.  I wince, forcing myself to relax.   He swims closer.  Smoke puffls from my nose.  I don't want it to happen.  It just...does.  I usually have more power over it, but fear robs me of my control. Draki instincts take over.  My heart pounds in my chest as he draws closer.  I know the precise moment he sees me.  He freezes, stills in the water, sinking low, his lips brushing the waterline.  We stare at each other.   It will happen now.  He will call the others.  They will swarm on me like hungry predators.  Remembering Dad, I try not to shake.  I'm sure he didn't tremble, didn't cower at the end.  And I have something, a defense Dad didn't have.  Fire.
This story wraps family loyaly, self-preservation, and smoldering romance all between pages 1 and 326. The characters draw you right into what they are thinking and feeling. Immediately you will love them, each with their own faults and good hearts. The only drawback (and plus) is that it's a trilogy. The end is a cliffhanger! Ack! She got me!  You have got to see the trailer for this. Also if you like her book, she writes paranormal romances under the name Sharie Kohler.

For Book Trailer and Sophie Jordan's website: click here
Friday, October 29, 2010

Can't wait to get SLIMED!

     Halloween means different things to different people.  For families that prefer to avoid the darkness that has been attached to the day but still love costumes - Harvest Parties were created. Sometimes they can pale in comparison to the trick-or-treading and Halloween Parties, but that can be changed.....
      Here's my take on it - I CAN'T WAIT for Sunday's harvest party!  I am looking forward to our whole family working together and playing together. Our usual family activity day - cranked up 10 notches. We are having a BASH at our church and the whole community is invited.
     15 families are setting up game booths, and mine has been rumored to be the one to beat if you want to win the gift card for best booth.  I'm pushing the boundaries with the staff and sneaking in 4 gallons of SLIME for the kids to dig glow-in-the-dark rubber bugs out of after they do my put-put golf game. (thanks Angie for suggesting that!) I made slime posterboards with glow in the dark paint,blacklights to get the glow, buckets with fake slime splilling out and a message that "Sin is Toxic - Let God Take the Slimy Sin out of Your Life", along with a verse about God purifying his followers. This has all been tested on my boys and they are loving it. I cannot wait to don my "toxic waste cleanup" outfit and get all slimed up with the kids Sunday night!
Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Shopping Spree in Barnes and Noble! Thanks Book Review Bloggers for all the great suggestions!

Okay, so I've been MIA lately - too much schoolwork!  However, my hubby has taken the boys to do some  winterizing at their grandparent's home and I stayed behind because of school and work. Of course there's a few blocks of time in between that will be minus four little voices, questions and quarrels so I took advantage of my birthday giftcard and went to town!

Firelight, Reckless, Life as we Knew it, Scumble & Dandelion Fire

I just want to say a big THANK YOU to all the book reviewers out there that tempt me and make me cave when I'm in B&N and find just one more book I'm dying to read!  Thanks Cleverly Inked, Bibliophilic Book Blog, Book Crazy, Book Buff, Bookanistas, The OWL, YA Highway, Reading Teen, Milk & Cookies, Shannon Whitney Messenger, Roots in Myth and all the other great book bloggers out there! And thanks, Angie, for the giftcard!
It's 11:30, homework's done And now, I'm off to live my dream.... I'm going back to bed to read all afternoon in my pj's until my night-shift starts at work!

....I read the first 5 or so chapters of each one - guess which one I couldn't (and still can't ) put down?
Friday, October 22, 2010

Just jump! least in my imagination I would feel ike this!

It's the funniest feeling - to be told I have to schedule a mid-term grade review with my instructor. I was like, what? Do I need to bring my mom?  Wait a minute - I'm the grown up here. It's just me, my instructor and the truth of how I'm performing in class.  This is the moment my question will be answered, "After twenty years away from school, do I have what it takes to be on equal footing with today's high school graduates?" I assume many adults ask that question over and over, some let it defeat them. All those new freshman have been taught way more than we were in high school. It's just progress. I would hope that my kids will know more when they graduate than I did so I should be happy for them. Of course those feelings of inferiority are still there and I had to just set them aside and act as if I was confident until the semester ended.

 So, if you are thinking about returning to school, listen to what my instructor said and answer the question for yourself - does age take you down a notch in your education? Does life experience account for anything in a formal education setting?

She gave me a 100% on the hardest paper we have so far and said she rarely grades that high and only gave out two like it in her two classes. She said I totally got the book's meaning and assignment of interpreting it. She also said my oral presentation about the impacts on food packaging in our landfill had the best visual element she'd seen in either class. She loved it. My other instructor in Energy and Sustainability, a 3rd year level class, just lists scores and mine was at 94%. Am I saying this to toot my horn? NO! I am sharing this to back up what my friend (who just got her second degree) told me - "Just jump in and it will all come back to you." Even she started out with just one class. So go ahead, fill out that FAFSA - to get your financial aid and apply for school if it's in your dreams. Don't look back and wish you had - you can do it!
Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What does this mean?

Bozeman is like the Berkley, CA of Montana. There are medical professionals, outfitters and college-folk.   People wear sandals rain or snow. Dreadlocks and tie-dye are somewhat popular. Eco-anything rules.When you pull up to the Co-Op there are huge signs asking, "Did you remember to bring your bags?".  Even the local Town and Country grocery will even put your groceries in a box instead of - "gasp!", a PLASTIC bag. I live in a suburb of Bozeman, so within a few miles of our home things are more "corporate" when it comes to shopping. Still, I find these to be endearing qualities of the most amazing city and do my best to roll with it.

Bozeman is also a pedestrian town. Bike, hike, walk, longboard, anything with wheels and no gas is king. I've even seen this a few times...

So, now you have an idea what the locals are like - can anyone tell me just what THIS is supposed to mean? It's right by the college.....
To make it more confusing - across the street (lower right of the pict) the arrows are placed 10 feet prior to the intersection. I'm thinking, "Does this mean if you plan to get hit by a car - by all means do it where the paramedics won't get smucked too?"  Any guesses??
Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Fantastical Field Guide

The Guide (eeek!) Don't take it outside the circle!
Thank you Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi for creating the wonderful world of Spiderwick!  At first I was really creeped out by the movie, but this summer Dakota and I read all the books in the series and he just dove into them. He now chatters away talking about boggarts and goblins and the horrible Mulgarath.  I found a little foam circle and gave it to him for a "seeing stone" so he can see the goblins when he looks through it like Jared does in the book and sure enough he runs around with it all the time. His big brother, Dustin, even did him the favor of glueing it to his eyebrow!


Not only has it uncapped his wellspring of imagination, he has also created his own Fieldguide from the website. Each day we'd print a different section and he'd do the activity or paint the picture, but then he started making his own drawings and writing in it like Aurthur Spiderwick. I bound it for him and he's been looking forward to sharing it during "show and tell" at school today. Even the big brothers are getting a kick out of it and feeding into his imaginative stories with the brownie, Thimbletack.

His birthday is just around the corner and he requested a Spiderwick Birthday. Well, they don't sell much with Spiderwick (which is one thing I love about it - forces him to create instead of buy), so we ordered the pop up Spiderwick board game and McDonald's Spiderwick figurines for him.....and of course an official eyepiece!

What books or series of books have encouraged you or your little ones to take it to the next level and make it "real" for you? Twilight? Harry Potter? Lord of the Rings?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Wisdom between the slices....

Around the age of 5 1/2 I encourage my sons to start learning to make sandwiches. We go through a season of gloppy messes and crumbs everywhere until eventually they get the hang of it. Once they are part way through first grade I start having them make their own sandwich and pack their own lunch. I don't just make them dig through the cabinets until they find something edible, but leave them a bucket of options and coach them along until it's done. If we are in a time crunch I may just jump in, pack it and get them out the door.
Sometimes I feel a little bad for not pampering them a little before they leave for the day, I mean, what if it's the last time I see them? But then again, if I'm sick or unavailable I can rest easy that they know what to do and won't starve. I imagine if I always did it for them I'd have a 17 year old showing up at school one day, without lunch money,  bugging everyone for a bite of their lunch because his mommy didn't fill his lunch box that morning.....

One of my older sons, Dustin, was commenting yesterday that his friend was complaining that he didn't like what his mom had packed him that day and Dustin replied, "Well why don't you pack your OWN lunch?!"   That's my boy!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hat's off to me?

Hats are "in".

Hat's are all the rage.

The cat looks great in a hat.

So my question is, "Why do I have to take my hat off in class?"

I mean, is it an exercise in humility for everyone to see my hair looking like I just got out of bed?  Here in Montana, a hat is crucial. On any given day you could be rained on, snowed on, sunburned, or windswept. Not to mention the below-zero temps. 

I decided to look into it. The Bible says in the Old Testament that women should cover their hair and men should not. The reasons were more to prevent other men from lusting after their wife.

Customs and courtesies of the military mandate that everyone take off their hat in the presence of a superior.

When I was a kid, the boys had to remove their hats indoors, but the girls didn't. (although if you tried to keep it on, surely someone would yank it off your head just to get a laugh - up through 12th grade)

I posted before about leaving my hat on in the cafeteria of  my son's intermediate school and the vice principal asking me to remove it.

My classmates in college wear hats in class - male and female alike.

I found one article on the web that discusses hat etiquette: Andy

I don't care about fashion or if people think I look good or bad in a hat. I don't care about what people think about me in public buildings in a hat, but school's a little different. I'd like to know, what's "correct" historically in the US, what's polite to my instructor, what sets a good example.  Have things changed in the 2000's? Even though I feel like I'm being rude, should I just do what I want and  be comfy in my hat whenever I feel like it?

Hat anyone?