Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Whether or not you are an Inkheart fan, this quote from the plaque on Mo's bookbinding workshop strikes a chord for book-lovers....

Some books should be tasted
some devoured,
but only a few
should be chewed and digested thoroughly. - Cornelia Funke

This not only gives readers freedom to put down those books that only need "tasting" but to revel in the books that were worthy of "digesting".
Yummy book-cake

What books can you fit in those categories?
Just waiting for the Mad Hatter....
Friday, December 23, 2011

Anything is possible

.....You can climb that mountain if you want to!
Start climbing......
     When I started my journey back to college in my (very) late thirties I questioned if I could do it. Could I measure up to all those shiny new 19 year old brains who just stepped off the high school education bus? What I learned my second semester was that older brains have more "synapses". It's a fancy word for brain connections - what does that matter? It means we older students have more previous experiences to connect the new knowledge to. It helps us recall new things we are learning. Like, "Oh, that explanation of the Korean War reminds me    of M*A*S*H!" Connect that to actual accurate history and you have a recall reminder vivid enough to pass exams!
     The other factor is dedication. When the instructor says read chapter 10 before Tuesday - you read ALL of it even if you have to read during your lunch and between classes. Why? Why not fake it? Because the class discussion will be about it and you will have zero input and will have a lot less connections going on in your brain. You probably won't remember what a classmate said as an answer to a question but you will remember what you said - and that's how you will pass your final.

That's how THIS happens:

Undergraduate - Semester Course work
Course Title
Final Grade
GPA Hours
Quality Points
Unseen Universe: Microbes
Multicultural Education
Western Civilization II
Technology and Society

.....and take them along on your journey
     The dedication it took made people look at me funny, like I was crazy. During this semester, along with my husband - we parented four children including sports events, concerts and illnesses stretching 10 days. Sadly, we lost two dear pets and my father. I averaged 20 hrs of work - 4:30pm-1am shift. I toted along a 9 year old twice to class - including a 2 hour essay final (which he will probably never want to endure again!). Add the personal control it took NOT to pick up my fav's from my TBR(to be read) pile, ugh! Enduring is possible if you remember your goal - Mine is to have a career in the school system where I can align our schedules and hopefully  help provide for college, real family vacations and not have to live with them when they are adults!

So if you are out there wondering if you could do it - face a huge challenge or go to college, if your teenager doubts his or her ability -  the answer is in the question "Am I dedicated?"

What challenges are you considering?
Thursday, December 22, 2011

All I want for Christmas is.... Amazon Giftcard

I'm so excited!  I just learned about Amazon's Textbook Buyback. What an awesome way to treat yourself after a gruelling semester!  I forgot to bring one of my books back to the college buyback day and would be stuck with it until the end of next semester in hopes of selling it back - that is IF they didn't switch to a newer edition. A friend at work told me that Amazon buyback prices are better than the schools as long as you don't mind receiving an Amazon gift card instead of cash - what? Mind? Bring it!

So this morning I gave it a shot and the online trade in was so simple and had free shipping pick up. I took a minute to check out their other trade in options for regular books, but it looks like unless you have a boxed set most are only worth a dollar or two.(darn) But, if you are a student they even have an app for you to buy, sell and compare prices of textbooks by scanning in the bar code with their phone. No more wondering if you are getting ripped off in the campus book store!

I can't wait for my giftcard to arrive - I feel like Santa's going to pay me a visit this year, too!

What other great ways are there to swap books? Paperback Swap, Goodreads, any others?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tweaking Traditions......

     Traditions are those events that give us stability. If your Christmas isn't getting off to a great start, all you need is one successful tradition to set it right - say, drinking Eggnog while watching Charlie Brown's Christmas. Sometimes we become blinded by the structure, not realizing that something is really in need of change. For us this year there are two - first is, the tree.
      The years of children forcing ornaments by their loops onto its already aged artificial branches have yielded to what look like pipe cleaners sticking out of any branch three feet and lower. The boys are growing up and it was time to start the "go get the tree" tradition. ie:drive forty-five minutes, tromp through knee deep snow and saw down the nearest best looking pine with a straight trunk.
     I am very excited to have this tradition get started with the boys. So much more fulfilling than "get the tree out of the basement and spend three hours straightening it and THEN be jolly while decorating it." After all - we do live in Montana and should take advantage of its bounty.

Yes, perfect shape from a distance, but....

the "getting" of the tree is the important part!

The second - gift placement. Kids can't help it, they want to shake and count every gift and then compare who got more, who is sure they got the remote control Hummer, etc. In an effort to avoid that and to prevent the cat from tearing off all the paper I started "The Shelf"
And of course, they got binoculars to check tags!

This year the kids and cat are old enough (I think) to handle having gifts actually under the tree to be mauled, shaken, counted, etc. Still a little intervention is needed. I have created the....
.....Numbered Gift Tag tradition!  You bet: count and shake away kids. Assigning a number instead of the actual name will ensure no pouting before Christmas or disappointment in not seeing a certain shape of gift under there for them. There will be equality on Christmas morning!

What traditions have you tweaked?
Thursday, December 15, 2011

If you can't hide it, paint it red

Or in my case -  those who can't draw or paint - there's always symbolism......
     This isn't a good picture but here's my Final Project for my Multicultural Education class. We had a student art show Wednesday night for our final and mine is an "interpretive arrangement".We had a week to come up with something we learned from the course.  It makes sense to the people who took the class but for someone who didn't  here's an explanation:

     The watering can, decorated with flags of different countries and gender identities, is showering the two vases with the aspects of different cultures.The flowers represent people in all their variety of shapes, colors and fragrances.  The drops have tags on them that have symbols and flags from different countries, religions, signs for hearing impaired, signs for man/woman, etc).  I also had a soundtrack of rain showers playing.
     The white flowers (representing white people) have a clear umbrella blocking the droplets (because we often fail to see that we sometimes we think and act like everyone should be like us and focus only on our own culture). Do you notice that all by itself, the white flowers are pretty but look like they are missing something? But the big mixed colored bouquet (representing different ethnicities, religions, abilities, genders and ages) is absorbing the shower-being nourished -and all of the flowers together make a gorgeous, fragrant mix. If I had a larger budget I would have given each student a white flower and have them place it where they thought it should go.
So, what should become of the white flower?

T minus four hours......

Four more hours until my last final!!!!!
Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Early Christmas Gift from Author Lisa Grace

Who doesn't love Angels? Who doesn't love free ebooks?  Who doesn't love to read the book before the movie? 
Lisa Grace is giving away her ebook Angel in the Shadows for the next three days at Amazon to celebrate her movie deal - Congrats Lisa! She is also entering download customers into a drawing to win an Ipad2 as soon as she reaches 10,000 downloads.  If you want to read my review of Angel in the Shadows just click here.

She's already written a sequel

Thanks Lisa ! Loved the book, can't wait for the movie!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I'm dreaming of a white.....

page of a book!  Like the kids excited for their Christmas gifts, I am giddy with the excitement of winter break! To recover from reading Freud and Karl Marx and devouring the TBR (to be read) pile that's been pouting in the corner . 

....On Dasher, On Dancer, On Donner and Blitzen, On Lore , On Johnson , On Noel, On Quinn...Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!
Are you treating yourself this winter break or you anxious to get those traditions underway?  Cookie baking perhaps?
Sunday, December 4, 2011

Symbiotic or Symbolic? be the judge

Even though I received high scores on my paper on Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, I was disappointed that the teacher's aid edited my paper in a way that changed the entire meaning of a main point. I'm sure that all you authors out there experience this when your editor returns your mark-ups. Even though I met with him on it and he stands by his changes - I still stand by my original wording. I decided I'd just put it out there and let the bloggers decide if he was right.

I was discussing the relationship between a character who violently and ruthlessly acquired ivory and rubber in the Congo in exchange for money from England, but more importantly, he received the status and recognition that fed his ego and healed deep emotional wounds he received by the middle class rejecting him. It was more than just a give and take - it was his sustenance. I described this relationship as "symbiotic". Imagine a clown fish in an anemone. He receives shelter in the anemone and in return he feeds it. It may initially sting him, but he will continue to live in it and eventually become immune to the sting.

My TA said I can't use a scientific term when writing about historical literature. He crossed it out and put "symbolic" in its place. I did not MEAN it was symbolic. I could use the term but would have had to add an explanation as to what it symbolized. Isn't it better to just use the descriptive word "symbiotic" and let the reader make the connection? 

Readers - waddayathink?

Friday, December 2, 2011
We're sorry, we seem to be experiencing technical difficulties.......

Pray for me until finals are over!
Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Spirit of Christmas is...Cleanliness...Wha?

I rarely look at the negativity at Christmas. I try to focus on the real meaning of giving to loved ones, spending time together and reminding my kids what it's all about. I try to keep the marketing angle from ruining our special holiday. That's why - I cannot believe Walmart. If starting off the Christmas season before Thanksgiving was bad enough, their newest hourly radio ad really got me going.

It goes something like this, "Think Santa isn't judging how clean your house is this year? Think again. He's got that white-glove test.....stock up on Clorox wipes and paper towels."

                                                    Errrr, excuuuuuse me - Jesus was born in a BARN!

Monday, November 21, 2011

School Apps Rock!

Some of my kids are fantastic about getting their schoolwork done and turned in, others have some sort of portal they send their half-completed work into called "Idontknow". This place of Idontknow must be overflowing with assignments, half-finished posters, and reminders about school picture day.

Then comes the privileges - parties, sleepovers, Saturdays spent at friends' houses. Those privileges I look back at and think, "Why, oh why, did I let him go do all that when all this work was being marked as missing at school?" It's really hard to keep in contact with busy teachers that have tiny windows of time to talk to parents and align your time with theirs. After awhile, I feel like I'm just annoying the teachers asking if his work is turned in.


After a major computer crash and near report card-less quarter last year, the school built an entirely new system for students and parents. I can now sign in  - even on a cell phone - and look at all four of my boys' progress, future assignments and ultimately know on the spot if they are up to date or just fudging that, "Um, yeah, all my work is done - can I go now?". I LOVE THIS APP!

.....because inquiring mom's want to know...............

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Brawl of the Wild this Saturday

MSU Bobcats are #1 in the Nation
Congratulations Bobcats!! Can't wait to see you beat the Griz this weekend and once again become State Champs!!!!!!!

Friday, November 11, 2011


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Somebody needs to invent.......

a peanut butter and jelly maker! We are up to 6 PB&J's per day (including mine) around here. Even though I had the kids making their own lunches, they seem to be having "emergencies" every morning (just remembered a homework assignment - no time to pack lunch, etc) So here I am, getting that "didn't I do this yesterday?" feeling on a daily basis. I think this calls for an appliance. I want to stick in a loaf of bread, jar of jelly and jar of peanut butter, push a button and "ding" out pops six sammys! And just because we love PB&J's so much.....This one's for Josh - who was this guy for Halloween:

Now tell me you won't be singing THAT all day!............Peanut Butter Jell-AY....Peanut Butter Jell-AY.............Peanut Butter Jell-AY

Friday, November 4, 2011

Anyone care to discuss....

The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad????  I am writing a lengthy paper on it and just can't put my finger on a topic relating it to European history.  Circa 1902 - some may know it by the movie starring Marlon Brando.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Join Susan Kaye Quinn's Virtual Launch Party Today!

Open your mind and grab a copy of Open Minds by Susan Kaye Quinn. This is the first book of a trilogy.

Since it is just now available today, I haven't read it, but her synopsis has me hooked. Visit Susan's website at and join her party. She'll even let you read the first chapter. Oh, and you might want to wear a metal helmet lined with

Also, check her out on Goodreads. Come on, you know you have to add this to your TBR pile!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Your reluctant reader won't pass this up....

I have to give the credit to my once reluctant, now engaged, reader and oldest son, Josh for getting his brother into Brian Selznick's Wonderous world of Invention. Thanks to Josh for picking this book, his younger brother has now experienced that excitement of loving a story and completing an entire novel for the first time. What's so fascinating about this book is that it's 533 pages but only 1/5 of the book is text, the rest is told through images. So his month long assignment-crammed into four days-to read a 100 page novel felt like he read a Stephen King sized book without all the brain-ache. This book was on of Al's pick's on the Today Show Book Club and is soon to be a 3-Dmovie directed by Martin Scorsese (link to trailer) .

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

 (Goodreads description and link)
Orphan Hugo Cabret lives in a wall. His secret home is etched out in the crevices of a busy Paris train station. Part-time clock keeper, part-time thief, he leads a life of quiet routine until he gets involved with an eccentric, bookish young girl and an angry old man who runs a toy booth in the station. The Invention of Hugo Cabret unfolds its cryptic, magical story in a format that blends elements of picture book, novel, graphic novel, and film. Caldecott Honor-winning author-illustrator Brian Selznick has fashioned an intricate puzzle story that binds the reader like a mesmerist's spell.
On behalf of my two boys, I give this book Photobucket 5 stars!

Check out Brian Selznick's other books we've been collecting.....

The Robot King

Just in time for Halloween stories
Houdini - wow!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

We've been Boo-ed!

A new activity has kicked off the fall season with the kids - Booing!  It's like Trick-or-Treating in reverse. While I was at work the family heard a knock, opened the door to see not a person but a poem with some candy attached:

Here's the link
BOO Sign/Poem - Ghost SilhouetteThe poem explains how you go to a neighbor's house, leave the treat with the poem and ring the bell and hide. If they hang the We've been Booed! sign then the rest of the neighborhood knows they've already received a Booing and could possibly be Booing next.

The kids are having a lot of fun with it and maybe it's not such a bad thing to practice giving rather than just Trick-or-Treating. Just think what you could do with this poem if you reworded it to reflect the giving spirit of Jesus just around the corner at Christmas rather than Halloween spirits...............

The air is cool, the season Fall
Soon Halloween will come to all
The spooks are after things to do
In fact, a spook brought this to you
"BOO" is a shield from witching hour
Just hang it up and watch its power
On your front door is where it hangs
It wards off spooks and bats with fangs
The treats that came with crypted note
Are yours to keep, enjoy them both
The power comes when friends like you
Will copy this and make it two
Then others here among our friends
Will give warm fuzzies that do not end
We'll all have smiles upon our faces
No one will know who "Boo"ed whose places
And don't forget a nifty treat,
Like something cute or something sweet
Please join the fun, let's really hear it
And spread some "BOO"s and Halloween Spirit
Saturday, October 22, 2011

Book Review: To Stand With Angels by Caitlynn J. Gabriel

Before there were Cowboys and Aliens, there were Cowboys and Demons.....

The first thing I thought at the end of Cowboys and Aliens was that they must have read this book before they wrote that movie!

I'm so excited to share with you a fantastic book released in 2010, "To Stand With Angels" by Caitlynn J. Gabriel.  This book a mystical thriller and romance set in the lat 1800's old west town of Laramie, Wyoming.  This story has it all: Good vs. Evil, Angels and Demons, Cowboys and Romance!

Caitlynn J. Gabriel laces it all together with a myriad of descriptive words that transport the reader right in to the story.  The story starts off with a bang. The characters reveal their personalities and admit their past sins. Next, the story builds up to an intense battle between good and evil, all along revealing a story, within a story, within a story.   The story continues to escalate, shock-and-awe you with twists, turns, colors and imagery.  I enjoyed this story so much, it gave me goosebumps AND warm-fuzzies. It's not going on my "must-reads" shelf , but my "must-read-again" shelf!

I hope all my readers will grab a copy - it's a fabulous read!  Be watching for the sequel, "At the Devil's Right Hand".

I give To Stand With Angels
5 Stars!

Available at Eternal Press and
Thursday, October 20, 2011

Goodreads Reading Challenge

So all you hardcore are your reading challenges going? Anyone reach their goals early? Anyone wondering  what they were thinking posting 100 books for the challenge? I posted 50 for the year and read about 20 by July. I was thinking," yeah, so Goodreads is bugging me that I'm behind, but I'm doing great - surely 50 by Thanksgiving.."Then came the return of the school year and it's nothing but textbooks and The Communist Manifesto while the shining stars of my TBR pile are taunting me.

2011 Reading Challenge

2011 Reading Challenge
Montanamarynotmartha has read 20 books toward a goal of 50 books.
Please tell me someone else out there is behind by half and dying to catch up.....

If you don't know what Goodreads is and are a lover of all things book-ish.....we gotta talk! I will happily introduce you to your newest addiction.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Word of the Day - Urban Dictionary

If you are a parent and sometimes wonder if there's an underlying meaning behind a t-shirt logo, an abbreviation in a text or can't figure out a slang word used by a hipster, then the Urban Dictionary is your friend. It's written by anyone, hence the bad spelling. Be warned, not all definitions are for young eyes but when you have kids, sometimes you just gotta know. I hopped on the webpage the other morning to look up a weird T-shirt saying I saw at work and the word of the day was just too funny.......

Think this guy...
Urban Dictionary
October 10, 2011 Urban Word of the Day
noun: A man of any age that shirks adult responsabilities.
If you want to see a hilarious video example of a manolescent and his awesome mom, go here, (but maybe cover your ears because his music is a bit vulgar.)