Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Book 61

The Hundred Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais held me rapt through the entire trip of the young man's life.  So much so that I completely forgot that it was fiction, it seemed so real to me.  As I finished the book and began to read the acknowledgements, I was perplexed.  I checked the author's name, then the side of the book completely convinced that perhaps he'd mistakenly forgotten to thank the young chef he'd documented.  No-no.  It was fiction.  Wow.  The characters were so well-developed that they seemed real.  The journey was fraught with strife and I had cried at times.  I thought that this young person had overcome so much to grow into the man he'd become.  Perhaps that is the best compliment that a reader can pay a writer.  I forgot it wasn't real.  I hope the movie (released last summer) does it justice.  

Monday, December 15, 2014

Resolution 36

What do you do when you are out and you see something you think would make a good gift?  Or when you are watching T.V. and learn of a restaurant where someone else lives that you might one day go visit and want to try?  Or when you are having a conversation with someone and they give you a good book title or tip?  

I type many of these things into my phone.  In fact, I found some lists in my phone that had good ideas for Christmas.  Glad I found them now and not in JANUARY!  So I decided that I should use the list feature on my computer and compile the ideas in one spot.  Your space may still be on your phone, but I don't love my phone that much.  Your space may be in a desk drawer or on a pad of paper.  Whatever it is, get them into one spot!

Resolution 36:  Collect all of those ideas and put them in one place. 

**Side note:  Post 401.  Seriously, I have had a lot to say.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Book 60

Mr. Miracle, by my favorite author Debbie Macomber, was a fun way to get into the holiday spirit.  Loosely based on the idea from her other successful stories about Mrs. Miracle, someone special comes to help people with life and love.  I cannot wait to watch the movie on the Hallmark Channel.  I have DVR'd it, but know it will probably be Christmas week before I take the time to watch it.  If you are looking for a holiday book/movie to put you in the spirit, check out this story.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Gold, Frankincense & Myrrh

Ten years ago when we welcomed our third child into our family, Hero Daddy and I had a conversation regarding gift giving.  That we had SO MUCH and that there was no way we could continue at that pace for a few reasons.  One reason, we quickly discovered was that tween and teen gifts are pricey.  Another motivator for us was that our budget was going to have to spread wider while our income was being reduced (due to me staying home with our newest babe).  Finally, I loved the idea of tying our gift giving into the meaning of Christmas.  Jesus received three gifts, the boys now receive three gifts.  Gold - something they really want.  Frankincense - something to practical.  Myrrh - something to share.  You might want to know what this could look like.  It usually looks like a Lego set, a box with smaller wrapped gifts to include socks and underwear, hat or gloves, school supplies or kitchen items and a game or movie.

I have done a LOT of research over the last month because I find myself having to explain why we give our kids three gifts and why we give what we give.  I cannot find why I came to the reasons I did.  Frankincense does adorn the body and kept people from smelling at one time.  Myrrh can be mixed with wine and shared.  Of course, they shared it with Jesus while he was on the cross dying which kind of puts a damper on things.  

I guess what I just need to be comfortable with is that we made this decision motivated to do less and to tie it to the meaning of Christmas, Jesus' birth.  Yes, Santa does visit our family; he brings another desired item (once it was an electric blanket that was a huge hit!) and he fills the stocking with treats and practical items.  The Feast of St. Nicholas is also celebrated in our home.  He brings items to help us prepare for Christmas, like holiday pj's, boxers, ornaments or books about the upcoming holiday.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Books 58 & 59

I am happy to tell you that the Harlequin Romance series that I found myself sucked into has finished.  Taming the Takeover Tycoon and Reunited with the Lassiter Bride brought the saga to a conclusion.  Although these books were also written by different authors, the themes of family and living life right were present.  The characters were again very different from the previous stories helping to keep the books fresh.  As part of a series, you might find similar plots, however the authors were successful in keeping me interested.  With the final two books in this series, I find myself to be happily finished with the brainless, but satisfying, romance novels of the Lassiter Dynasty.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Resolution 35

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, every where you go..."

I'll give you that it starts looking like Christmas earlier and earlier each year.  However, now that Thanksgiving has flown on by and December is here, it truly IS beginning to look and sound like Christmas.  I have found that several things keep me sane through the holidays (wine is one of them, but not one I will be discussing in this post) and the first it to create a plan/be organized.

Some people are naturally organized all year long and flow through the holidays un-flustered.  I'd like to think that is me however, then I wake up and discover that I have been napping.  So when it comes to the holidays I make lists, lists and lists.

I list the food I need to buy and the gifts I need to get.  I list the snacks that I have purchased; both appetizer and dessert types.  I list the holiday foods my family wants to eat.  I list the ready-made meals I have in the freezer for those days I just want to be in the moment with my family and not cook.  I make a list of those I need to purchase gifts for and ideas that I have for them.  Then I make decisions and shop online for as many as them as possible.  When I venture out to purchase items that I cannot get online, I take a list so that I don't impulse shop.  If I am hosting an event, I may have three or four lists for that event to complete.  Lists make me feel like I have it all under control, even though I know that may not be true.

Resolution 35:  Make Some Lists, Check them Twice

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Book 57

While taking a break from Unbroken, I read Rare Bird:  A Memoir of Loss and Love by Anna Whiston-Donaldson.  That may seem a bit unusual that I took a break from a book that had some graphic details about death and life in a POW camp to read a book about a mother who lost a child.  However, her prose is uplifting.  Her tale is horrible:  she sent her kids out to play in the rain.  What happened next strikes fear in a mother's heart.  But more than what happened is how she is surviving, one day at a time.  What is wonderful about her story is her faith, her realness.  Her storytelling creates a feeling of not sitting alone on a couch reading a book, rather of sitting in a cozy kitchen with coffee and treats listening to a dear friend pour her heart out.  

It left me feeling a bit better equipped to help someone else who may find themselves in this horrible place.  It left me feeling a need to work on my faith.  It left me feeling inspired and humbled at the same time.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Resolution 34

It is the hectic time of the year when I take time off from my computer and then feel like I have forgotten to document books that I have read.  Or it could be that I am in the middle of four books and cannot seem to get through any of them before I must return them to the library.  Two of them I am listening to in the car (and have been for the last month).  Three of them I have gotten and had to return to the library before either getting to them or (as is the case currently) getting all the way through them.  My goal, such as it is, is to complete these books prior to starting anymore as I have them all in both book and book-on-disc formats. 

In fact, this started out as a book post, but then I realized it should be a resolution.  Perhaps you've started a thing or two this month or year that you would like to see completed before 2014 draws to an end.  I know that I have more than just the books to finish, but for now, my goal is to finish the books I have started before the end of the year.  

Resolution 34:  Finish What You Have Started

Monday, December 8, 2014

Book 56

Unbroken is coming out in theaters on Christmas Day.  And I am going to see this film with my dad, like I did Monument's Men last February.  Unbroken is the story of a WWII soldier, an Olympian, and his life.  I'm not telling you anything you can't learn from watching the trailer or reading the book jacket when I say he spent time in a POW camp.  I will say that it was a VERY difficult book to read.  I had to put it down and take a break several times because it was hard to read.  What wasn't hard to read about was his faith.  Although I finished this book after the next three books that I will tell you about, I wanted to tell you about it first since I started it first.  

It is a powerful, well-written story about a man of great faith that stumbles and falls and picks himself up again and again.  I love biographies and history, so the fact that I did love this book isn't really a surprise.  It isn't an easy book to read, but it is worth it.  And sometimes when people know that about a book, that it pays off in the end, it helps them through the tough parts.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Few of My Favorite Things...

I was blessed to make a bestie way back last century when I was in high school.  A few years ago she began the "non-Oprah" cost Oprah List of favorite things.  I have joined in the fun mostly because I truly appreciate the ideas that I have gotten and because then I can share the thinks in my world that I think absolutely ROCK.  Here is the 2014 edition:  

1.  Swiftwick socks.  My #3 son had the smelliest feet around.  I mean horrible, awful!  I asked at the shoe place what I could do.  He suggested the Swiftwick socks and they are worth EVERY penny (and they are a lot of pennies at $13 a pair).  NO MORE STINKY BOY FEET!  And I've had stinky boy feet, but these feet were in a category of their own!
2. Tazo Tea.  I'll admit that the thing I like best is that I can get it in K-cups for my Keurig in two of my favorite flavors (peppermint and chamomile).  But I love making the Iced Passion tea and mixing in some Crystal Light lemonade to replicate the Starbucks version of Passion tea lemonade.  And the Wild Orange... yummy!
3.  Mighty Mug - My husband got me this insulated cup for Christmas last year at Bed, Bath & Beyond.  Put it down and try to knock it over.  Adheres to most surfaces making spilled hot coffee a thing of the past when I am in the classroom!
4. Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen in spray and a stick.  First, it works.  He gets 10 minutes at break time and I can reapply and send him off.  NO SUNBURN for us this summer.  He likes using the stick on his face, I like using the spray.  And it smells really good!
5. HOMEOLOGY All Purpose Cleaner - Made by Gold Canyon Candle Company, I LOVE the smell!  It is plant-based cleaning infused with essential oils.  No amonia, no phosphates, no dyes, no chlorine and non-toxic. **This is a cut and paste from last year because now my HUSBAND loves this stuff and actually will wipe down the counters with it!**
6. Lindor Orange Dark Truffles.  You know the orange that you hit on the counter and it breaks into pieces and it is orange flavored chocolate?  Or remember the Orange Mocha you used to be able to get at Starbucks many years ago?  Like those, only SO MUCH BETTER.  It says it is a holiday flavor so I might need to stock up!
7. Dawn. Yes, I mean the dish soap.  It takes grease stains out of clothing the FIRST TIME.  I keep a bottle by the sink and by the washer.  I'm not even sure I use a stain stick anymore cause I just put the Dawn on it.  
8. Jamberry Nails.  I had to triple check that I didn't put these on the list last year because when I gave them to my nieces, they LOVED them.  Fun, easy to use and did I say FUN!  They are nail wraps that you put on with a hair dryer.  I've given them as gifts and they are a unique way to show holiday spirit, team spirit or your inner WOW.  You can Google it to find a representative in your area or message me and I'll send you my cousin's contact info.
9.  Faith Moves by Loyola Press.  This was a gift given to us and I got more use out of it than I thought I would!  
Faith Moves is a practical and fun, spiral-bound booklet that provides opportunities for parents to have faith conversations with their children, followed by a game or an activity to drive the message home. Designed for kids of all ages, Faith Moves is ideal for busy families who want to live out their faith. Perfect for family night, car rides, waiting in line, or mealtime.
10.  L.L. Bean Flannel Sheets.  This gal doesn't live in sunny California and last week's zero temps made me so glad I had put the flannels on the bed already.  My college boys leave the flannel bottom sheet on year round; they love how soft it is.  They come in extra long for college dorm rooms!  I've had department store flannel and I cannot go back.  L.L. Bean flannel sheets are the softest and durable holding up to lots of washing.
11.  L.L. Bean Backpacks and Lunch boxes.  Yes, the initial outlay of cash is more substantial than a backpack from Wal-mart or Target.  And I will own up that I have boys that don't need a new one to meet whatever the current fashion trend is.  HOWEVER, I have BOYS who are HARD on things and our BACKPACK AND MATCHING LUNCH BOX lasted 4 school years.  FOUR.  Pretty sure that comes down to about $15 a year for a backpack and a lunch box.  If you decide to order the lunchbox, there are two; get the flip-top one, as it is substantially bigger.
12.  Shutterfly.  I make things and then I wait for the coupon.  Cause there is always a coupon or a deal happening pretty regularly.  Then I give my mother-in-law (and my mom) Wall Art with pictures of the grandkids.  And they LOVE it.  
13. The Reading Promise by Alice Ouzma.  This book made me rethink reading with my emergent reader and 3 years later his book club, formed after reading this book and sharing its message with friends, is still going strong.  The book is coming out in theaters in 2015.  It is an amazing story.
14.  This is Where I Leave You.  I didn't see the movie cause I don't go to movies very often.  However, the book was LAUGH OUT LOUD funny.  Need something to cheer you up?  Believe that Laughter is the BEST Medicine?  Then invest in this story.

A Rant from a MOM

I was so proud of myself... I was early.  I am generally screeching in right on time, even for things I am excited to do.  However, on Wednesday night, the night before Thanksgiving, I was early to pick up my boy.  He was scheduled to get off at midnight.  Since he'd pulled a 10 hour shift and had a scant 14 hours before he had to be back at work on Thanksgiving (don't get me started... oh wait, this is related to my rant!!), I had decided to save him the 75 minute trip home (and back).  I mean, I just have to make some sides cause Hero Daddy is making the turkey.  Text:  where should I park?  where do you come out?  I can't believe there are people in tents here camping out.  Over the next 20 minutes I get this:  we're a bit behind.  park anywhere.  I come out the front.

I had a blanket, book, and an iPod.  I mean, if everyone on staff is in there working, how much longer could they possibly be?  Now, if I had to do over again, I would.  My son being able to be with us on Thanksgiving and not fall asleep behind the wheel of his car is a priority for this mom.  And everyone claims that they think it is terrible that people shop on Thanksgiving, but they won't tell that to their neighbor, cousin, aunt, friend.  After all, there are plenty of others who work that day:  doctors, firefighters, 7-11 employees.  How much longer could they be setting up the store?  You know how you send a message to retailers that they shouldn't be open on Thanksgiving Day?  DON'T GO!  If no one showed up, they would say that maybe it was a MISTAKE to take this day from families.  If no one showed up, they would be LOSING MONEY because they have to pay time and a half.  If no one showed up, maybe next year they would rethink OPENING ON THANKSGIVING DAY!  But people show up.  Not me.  Never me.  I don't do those sales.  I get it is fun for some people like it is fun for me to watch football on Thanksgiving Day.  I get that it is a fact of life.  And I could live with it except for what happened next.

The store did precious little in sales that afternoon and evening, but couldn't set-up earlier.  They scheduled all but one employee to work 9 pm-midnight to set-up the store.  This isn't the first year that they have to set-up for Thanksgiving & Black Friday.  How much longer could they possibly be?  I actually don't know the answer to that question.  All I know is that after I had been waiting 3 HOURS, my son said to his supervisor that he had to go.  He said that he'd worked more than 12 hours and his mom had been waiting in the parking lot for three hours.  Yep.  So they could set up a store and have their employees work on Thanksgiving Day.   If you want your employees to work 8-10 hours on Thanksgiving Day, you probably should figure out a way that doesn't have them working 3-4 hours, prior to their scheduled shift time, setting up the store.  Just saying.

My son likes working at his store.  But we are sweating his time off for a week at Christmas and he is already worried about getting time off for a family trip next year at Thanksgiving.  If he has learned one thing, it is that he doesn't want a career in retail.  I'll take it.