Sunday, December 30, 2012

Final Book Post 2012

64 books read in 2012!

I've always loved reading!  For many years, though, the only reading I did was on vacation or to my children.  And I've always read to the boys, since they were infants.  Two years ago, I decided that I would get back into reading and made that a resolution.  I accomplished that resolution, however, I really only read one genre, mostly one author.  Having accomplished that and learning of so many other books out there, I decided to branch out.  I cut back on the amount of time I purposelessly spent on the computer.  I cut back on some of the TV shows I watched and I devoted that time to reading.  I wrote down title after title after title and ordered book after book after book from my library.  This year, I've read 64 books.  I find that to be amazing!  And I still have a long list of books!  I am hoping to achieve the goal I kinda set last year for the upcoming year:  a book a week, or 52 books during the year.  Care to join me on my reading adventure in 2013?  Share some titles with me as I will continue to do with you.

The final 3 books I read in 2012 were romance novels, and contained short & sweet Christmas stories.  I read Glad Tidings by Debbie Macomber which I thoroughly enjoyed, of course. I also read Christmas Getaway and Christmas Weddings both featuring various authors.  The latter was so-so but the former was entertaining.

Friday, December 28, 2012

52 Weeks, 52 Resolutions, 1 Mom

I did it!  52 weeks, 52 resolutions, 1 mom.  I am a part of just 8% of the population that keeps their resolutions.

For week 52, contemplate, pray, meditate on where you want to be next year.  That's what I am doing!

A few of my favorite things...

Think the tune, give me grace.

Cookies and candies and fro yo and truffles,
Pudding and stuffing both made with cornbread,
Broccoli casserole, smashed potatoes,
These are a few of my favorite things...

Rich egg casserole filled up with bacon,
pineapple pudding and cinnamon rolls,
appetizer parties and coffee with cream
These are a few of my favorite things...

When its Christmas, I start cooking,
I start eating too,
I simply remember my favorite things and
then I eeeeeaaaaatttttt them up.

Friday, December 21, 2012


Top 12 List 2012

1.      The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma – changed how I thought about reading to my emerging reader and inspired me to start a book club with my son’s friends.

2.      Pampered Chef Mix and Chop – I was sold initially on how well it breaks down ground meat (beef, turkey, sausage) when you are cooking it.  But the possibilities are endless!  Mixing meatloaf, chopping chicken for chicken salad, making guacamole!  It is a favorite kitchen tool.

3.      My Keurig Coffee Maker.  I am so much richer this year as I am not handing over dollar after dollar to Starbucks to get my morning going.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my Starbucks, but now that I’m headed quickly to 50, that morning java has gone from enjoyable to mandatory!

4.      Bracelets by Give Jewelry - What started as a traveling surfer's promise to a child in an orphanage in Bali Indonesia became an international movement.  Please don't forget about us!  It was the plea of an older child as the surfer was leaving for the airport after an extended stay.  "Don't worry; I won't," came the answer, steady and sure.  And he didn't. And he hasn't.

I’ve given these bracelets as birthday and graduation gifts this year.  My favorite style is the charm bracelet but there are some many choices, something for everyone.  1 bracelet – 1 child – 1 week of nutritious food 

5.      Momastery – It is a blog where Love wins and We Can Do Hard Things.  It’s a place to go to love and be loved.  A safe haven.  Read this: and then click the link at the top Momastery which will give you the whole picture. Women need this place.

6.      Emerald Natural Walnuts & Almonds in 100 calorie packs.  Yummy on the go.

7.      Skweet Sport Bottle Wash – An all natural and non-toxic way to clean and deodorize sports bottles without the soapy after-taste.  Necessary for college students that may not even have a sink in their room.

8.      . - Renewing a love for the Saints, artist Ann Burt paints Retablos.  Retablos are small devotional paintings of the Saints or other Holy Images.  Got one for my Goddaughter for her confirmation; not only did she like it, but her mother messaged me also that it was beautiful. 

9.      Arbonne  Feeling Fit Kit – The 30 day fitness challenge helped me to lose 6 lbs and 1.5 inches from my waist and hips.  I’ve managed to keep it off for more than 6 months.

10. Katie – The new Katie Couric show is really good.  Okay, so I don’t watch all of every episode, but I love how she bounces from topic to topic both within a show and from day to day.  It makes me smile.

11. Ghiradelli Dark and Orange Filled Chocolate Bar – I can actually stop after just one square and be so very happy (sure I wish I could eat it all in one sitting, but at $4 a bar…)

12. Blogging – I love it.  I love sharing my thoughts and ideas and the books I’ve read.  I never thought of myself as a writer before (and some would say I still shouldn’t!  LOL)

Top 12 Books

I wanted to fill my top 12 list with books, but stuck with the one that has impacted my day to day life.  However, here are the 12 ten books I would recommend from 2012 (and I read more than 60 this year!)

1.      Bloom by Kelle Hampton (memoir)

2.      Left to Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza (memoir)

3.      I Will Carry You by Angie Smith (memoir)

4.      Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers (Historical Romance)

5.      The Girls from Ames Jeffrey Zaslow (nf, memoir-ish)

6.      Bossypants Tina Fey (memoir)

7.      Muriel’s War:  An American Heiress in the Nazi Resistance (biography) by Sheila Eisenberg

8.      The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (fiction)

9.      Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jaime Ford (fiction)

10. Cedar Cove Series by Debbie Macomber (romance)

11. Stephanie Plum Series by Janet Evanovich (mystery)

12. A Dog Named Christmas by Greg Kincaid (fiction, xmas)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

51...51...52 NOT YET!!

Although the week is almost over, I resolved on Monday to finish my Christmas shopping this week.  And ship off the gifts.  Shopping accomplished needs to be compared to checklist, but I'm awful close!  Gifts, shipped off prior to blizzard attacking me.

On another note, this holiday season I am embracing the BE IN THE MOMENT to the fullest.  Others might say I'm embracing it to the CRAZIEST!  That would be because FIRST, I gave Teen Boy permission to have a New Year's Eve Party and invite the band from school.  Yes, that's right, the ENTIRE BAND, some 90 kiddos.  No sex, drugs or rock and roll!  OOOOPS, I mean no sex, drugs or Al-Co-Hol... rock and roll permitted and encouraged.  I am not that mom that is going to pop champagne for all to share at midnight.  I had a friend in high school, LJ, and I spent the night at her house for a New Year's Eve party.  Her mom was the "cool mom" that gave us a toast at midnight of Asti Spumanti.  Just typing that brings up stomach bile these many, many, many, many years later.  It probably wasn't the Asti as much as the drinks we'd concocted all evening long in her basement.  Not really a good memory for me... moving on...

SECOND, I agreed to have the LRHB's school holiday party at my house last night.  I invited the entire class, all 27 sweeties.  I mean, the LRHB was so bummed that we had a snow day on the last day prior to holiday break.  I'd say it was the most poorly received snow day that I've EVER seen in my parenting life!  Now teen boy takes exams in January!   So I got permission from the class teacher to host it here and emailed out an invitation to parents to bring their kiddos by for their holiday party!  Their teacher came and they had the best time so it was worth the two hours of crazy.  Only 21 classmates were able to make it and we had several moms stay to help, so it really went great. 

However, there is a bit of CRAZY going on in this household and I am EMBRACING IT!

I got a text from my Turquoise friend that her grandbaby was visiting.  I hadn't met this sweet boy born a month ago, so I dropped all I was doing this afternoon and dashed over to hold that piece of heaven for nearly two hours!  I love my baby snuggles.  Wonder what I was supposed to do today?  I guess I'll remember tomorrow. 

Grab yourself some crazy and enjoy while I ponder 52.

Reading Promise Update

I’m a bit behind on my Reading Promise Book Club updates so forgive me for that.  In November, we met to discuss From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler written by E.L. Konigsburg and watch the movie based on the book, The Hideaways.  This group does love their books for the details that they provide.  “Way more details than a movie” commented one young reader.  “I like picturing it in my mind” responded another.  Our group were horrified by the idea that running away would make anything better, much to the delight of their parents.  They found the movie a bit lacking as it failed to hold their attention at times, but gushed enthusiastically about the book.  When my older boys were younger, we were able to watch the movie version with Lauren Bacall with the same title as the book, however my library no longer carries it and I found it on for a mere $180.  Ha!

Our holiday read was A Dog Named Christmas written by Greg Kincaid.  Our family did this one backwards:  last year we watched the movie and this year we read the book.  It is a great family tale and I highly recommend it!  The other three families (yes, we had another one join our group!) thoroughly enjoyed the story and the kids loved watching the movie tonight, snuggled under fleece blankets and cuddled up with stuffed animal friends.  One thought the cougar scene was too detailed in the  book and liked it better in the movie. The rest thought the book was better, of course.  We’re choosing a favorite for next month, Matilda by Roald Dahl.  Many have seen the movie, but not read the book. 
It's that time of year to consider your resolutions for 2013.  Make a resolution in 2013 to read to your children if you aren't currently doing it.  Older children, younger children, it doesn't make a difference... they love a good story!  If having a movie to watch afterwards makes it better, then go for it!  There are so many!  Scholastic makes picture books into videos as does Reading Rainbow.  Just order up the books from the library and the accompanying DVD and you are in book heaven!  Also, my blogging & Reading Promise buddy Mrs. Hartman provided me with the following link to help me find books made into movies:

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I Can't

  • The news from December 14, 2012 came over my cell phone.  I quickly logged onto my computer and discovered the horror.
  • I was crying and I threw up.  Then I pulled myself together and headed to work.  I squelched the urge to run to LRHB's classroom and pull him close; fearful that I would lose my grasp and break down in front of sweet kiddos who didn't know.  I shared the news quietly with those that had been supporting students without access to the outside world.  I loved on my kiddos.  I smiled my smile to share joy in each moment of safety and happiness.  Inside, my heart was weeping for those families, those babies.
  • I shut out the world all weekend.  I didn't read, didn't Facebook, didn't blog or read blogs.  I sheltered myself from their pain, selfishly loving my boys and the daughter of my heart and being in the moment with all of them.
  • I surfaced on FB yesterday and in my blogs today.  So I've cried.  And cried.  And I've been out of the moment with LRHB.   Many beautiful things were written and here are links to a couple of the best: and and and this one which I'm sure you've read:
  • As we endure a snow day that no one wanted on the day that was supposed to be the last day before break filled with parties and finals, I am now done with this tragedy.  I've read, written and cried.  I'm done.  I will pray, taking a page from Glennon's book with my own 26 day prayer cycle.  I will stay out of the political discussion.  I will love my children and thank God for every day He gives me with them.  But, I'm done with the rest. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Spreading the Word...

As I stand on my corner each morning and afternoon, I do different things to entertain myself during the 20-25 minutes I am sometimes there waiting to cross kiddos and parents.  I pray the Rosary.  At least I now know to only do five decades as opposed to the seven I was doing last winter, however, I still haven't memorized the mysteries so I usually dedicate each decade to someone or someones instead.  (Is it worth mentioning I also haven't memorized The Apostles Creed or Hail Holy Queen?  If I'm mentioning what I haven't memorized, I should throw out there that I now say the Oh My Jesus prayer that I didn't remember needing to pray and wasn't praying last winter during my swim laps.  Growth!)  I like praying the Rosary in the morning to start my day off right or in the afternoon to refocus my energies before the afternoon and evening crazies.  I now sing Christmas Carols on my corner.  Since the weather became frightfully cold this week, no one has their windows down; therefore they cannot hear me.  I do wonder though if they are wondering why my lips are moving.  Either of these activities bring me peace during what is sometimes a frustrating time.  Today, however, my energies were focused on what I would tell people if I could about driving through a school zone.  I mean it drives me CRAZY!  There is very little stopping at the STOP sign.  Many yield right on through it, through my crosswalk and around the corner.  Some even do that WHILE I AM IN THE CROSSWALK.  I watch people speed right through the school zone.  Many will hit their brakes and slow from the 45 to a 35, but few slow all the way down.  And so, below is the essay I wrote (and rewrote) this morning while working my corner (see the funny way I refer to my job!):

If I could tell you one thing to share with your neighbors this holiday season or perhaps to choose as a New Year's Resolution, I would ask you to SLOW DOWN, especially in my school zone.  Yes, it drives me crazy when you yield the stop, however, if you are going SLOW enough, you see me in my crosswalk and actually stop.  Yes, it drives me crazy when you park on the far side of the street and cross illegally setting a poor example to the school kids, however, if drivers are driving SLOWLY, even you rule-breakers would be safe.  Yes, it drives me crazy that you drive up the wrong side of the road because the line is so long leading to the school, but if you do it SLOWLY (and you don't usually do it slowly), then it would be safer for those people crossing illegally OR more importantly, safer for those driving down the road towards you.  Yes, it drives me crazy that the people stopped at the stop sign think they have the right to turn left in front of those waiting to turn left from the main thoroughfare and those that are going straight on the main thoroughfare, however, if those on the main road were going SLOWLY then there wouldn't be a near miss collision EVERYDAY.  Yes, it drives me crazy that VERY FEW people seem to know that the entire street is has a speed limit of 25 mph and that the school zone is 20 mph, therefore, there should not be such a marked acceleration in speed when turning the corner (in either direction, but there is!). That is why I am asking you to resolve and to spread the word, in 2013 DRIVE SLOWLY.  I promise you, if you think you are late, you probably are, but speeding through the zone just means you get to the back of the line faster... cause there is ALWAYS a line.  I promise you, if you think that speeding in the school zone is necessary, the hefty ticket, points on your license and increase in insurance should convince you otherwise.  And I promise you, 80% of those speeding through my school zone are parents coming or leaving the school.  The other 19% are neighbors and maybe 1% are teens.  Maybe, cause usually they do slow way down.  Workers slow way down - I guess cause the name on the side of their vehicles makes it easy to write them up.  I can do that you know... write you up.  Take your plate number, fill out a form and turn it into the police.  But that's not what I want.  What I want is a safer world, for our kids.  To teach our kids that safety comes not just by buckling in, but by going slowly.

Happy 2013 from your Friendly Neighborhood Crossing Guard!

PS.  Turning right out of the school and going around the block is faster LEFT TURN FOLKS! 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Books 60 &61

More Than Words, Stories from the Heart featured my favorite author Debbie Macomber which is why I got it without knowing anything about it. I HIGHLY recommend this book. It has three stories each featuring someone involved with an organization that is truly out there helping people. The story by my girl, Debbie, wasn't even a romance. I loved it as it featured characters I'd met in her Blossom Street series and the organization Teens Living with Cancer. Ironically, it was the only organization I didn't know, however, I've filed it away; I'm in the high school all the time and one day it will unfortunately be a useful piece of information to pass on. The other two organizations I was familiar with as they focus on healthier eating for young people, something my show Top Chef is always getting involved with, and Memory Box Artist Program, which I learned of when my friend's baby died. This was a quick read and during the holidays when we're in the spirit of giving, these stories remind of us groups that help all year long.

Mistletoe Wishes features three holiday romances in one book by three authors I didn't know.  But I took a gamble and thoroughly enjoyed reading these simple (unrealistic) stories about love and the holidays.  Were they tough on the brain?  No way!  A little more smut than I like? Perhaps, but I could skip on by the part where she massaged his... (you get the point).  Did they end happily ever after?  YES!  So if you're looking for a brainless read, go for it.  It was perfect in front of a fire on a snowy day!

Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!

I've spent most of the day under an afghan knitted by my mom, listening to/watching football, in front of a fire while the first appearance of snow this fall covers the ground.  I read and ate.  And ate and read.  My boys surrounded me coming and going.  Games.  Reading with LRHB.  All is calm, all is bright.  It has been a lovely day.  The rat race will begin anew tomorrow, but for today, we kept it at bay.

On Friday, I came home from work and discovered NEW CHRISTMAS LIGHTS hanging from our home (and they WORK!) and the tree put up in my family room.  We've taken turns all weekend long decorating it and decorating the home.  It does look a bit like Christmas around here!  Not as much as some years, but I'm okay with that.  This week, I am going to make a list of all the things I want to do with my family during the holiday break.  It may be work (clean out the top of closets) or fun (go look at Christmas lights with cocoa in cups with tops) or inspirational (a college graduation) or devotional (a Christmas pageant).  But if it isn't written down, it won't get done.  And it might not all get done, but the first step in accomplishing a goal as I have discovered this year is writing it down.  I'm also going to have the boys make a list.  I know College Boy will list finish his MCAT prep class, but hopefully something fun as well.  I know that Teen Boy will list sleep, but hopefully he'll include the name of a novel he wants to read for fun and get away from his computer.  LRHB will probably list Risk.  UGH.  And Xbox.  Double UGH.  And playing football... better! I'll let you know the highlights and lowlights and if my predictions are on track.  Take some time and make a list before the Holidays pass you by!  Resolution 50. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Or not.  I'm not sure what happened to last weekend and decorating for Christmas, but it didn't happen.  Not a bit.  So I think the plan will be for the big boys to put the tree up tomorrow afternoon and hopefully a nice Friday evening at home will result in a decorated house.  Note to boys...

I love the holiday season and the only thing keeping me sane without my beautiful Christmas all around is being present in the moment.  Sure, when College Boy went to pick up Teen Boy from swim practice the other night so I could put LRHB down early due to a late night the night before, I could have gotten some things out and started.  However, I started reading to LRHB when CB left and I was still reading when they got back 45 minutes later.  I loved every moment of it and didn't think to myself that I should have used the time "better".  As far as being "present", I was and it was wonderful.

Let me be clear, I have insane moments as well.  I came home from Lowe's with cute light up Candy Canes to put in the back yard to add to the holiday decorations that seem to grow each year in our BACKYARDS (that are in a big group together).  There I was in the dark, hammering in stakes and attaching lights and pulling out extension cords.  I was tired, cold and (probably- I don't remember for sure but it makes sense) hungry, but in this exhaustive state I thought, before I finish, I should plug these in and make sure they work.  No.  They don't work!  THEY DON'T WORK AT ALL!  In disgust, I left the stakes in the ground, the extension cord circling our patio and the lights themselves in a pile in front of the back door.  UGH!  Teen Boy packed it all up for me after confirming my original diagnosis.  Sweet boy.

Last weekend, I decided to do an impromptu cooking weekend.  Oh, THAT is why no decorating got done.  Step 1 - decide on recipes.  Step 2 - shop (3 different stores).  Step 3 - prepare for cooking (LOL - that didn't really happen, well it sorta happened, I printed the recipes and gathered most of the ingredients in one place, but not into organized stations).  Step 4 - Cook.  We prepped 26 meals on Sunday Sweet LM and I; I did two others the day before also.  My freezer is filled with wonderful meals many of which College Boy requested.  I just have to remember to THAW them!  So I asked Hero Daddy last night what he wanted tonight for dinner.  He, of course, listed a meal I didn't make.  So I took him out and showed him the plethora of choices!  He was impressed.  Still not thrilled that he couldn't have spaghetti and meatballs, but he found something else.

What prompted the cooking day was an intensified work schedule.  Now that I can sub in our building, I was booked in a vacancy spot for this entire week, afternoons.  By the end of Monday, I was booked ALL DAY the rest of the week.  And by last night, I am now booked EVERY AFTERNOON for the rest of the year as I was hired to fill the vacancy spot.  But afternoons were already crazy, so meals are essential for sanity.  It was time well spent.

Additionally, LRHB and I did spend Saturday evening preparing for Advent with our sister family in Fusion.  We enjoyed a meal and created Advent wreaths (that's right, non-crafty me was cornered into being crafty!) and shared fellowship.  It was such a wonderful evening with a lovely family and just the perfect way to start Advent.  Perhaps, we'll actually light it and pray one night this week.

Finally, today is the Feast of St. Nicholas.  I have tried to share this with my boys each year as a way to tie the Christmas season to our faith.  And I have gifts for the two big boys, but with working, I didn't manage to get the book ON St. Nick for my LRHB.  So, I am now going to scrounge around for an appropriate St. Nick gift (in our house they are gifts to help us celebrate the season) and give myself a break.

Resolution 49:  Prepare the home for Christmas
(I went back and did have  2 resolution 47's so I am skipping right along to 49... just three more left!)