Sunday, October 25, 2015

On this Day

On this day, I am spending my Sunday afternoon catching up on blogs and blogging.  Though mostly the former, less of the latter.  I have neglected them, you know them, my blogger friends that for the most part I have never met.  I haven't been caught up on their lives.  It must be fate because I found out really happy news for one writer (; I have been following her since shortly after her son died and feel that her book speaks such truth about mourning.

I caught up on another friend that posted with such optimism in August about the upcoming homeschooling year and has reached the place that all of us that work in brick and mortar schools have reached.  It can be a lonely place of frustration that we are not further along and perhaps even boredom of certain subjects.  It really shouldn't be lonely, however since many of us have the same truth.

I even read about some scripture to inspire my faith life and has actually given me a plan for Lent (I know, right! it is exciting!).

On this day I say to you, I am not choosing a new area of life to improve each week and will not get very far in my 52 resolutions this year.  I will say that I am still a work in progress, as is my home, and I will continue to work for self-improvement, sharing my growth as I go.  My truth is that there will not be 52 resolutions, but that I enjoy my life each and every day to the fullest.  Having attended a funeral for the father of a young boy on my son's baseball team, isn't that the most important work we can do?

Monday, September 28, 2015

From This Moment On...

When I began blogging nearly four years ago, I gave my children nicknames. I don't need someone "googling" their names and having my thoughts poured out attached to them.  But I was a bit short-sighted.  

College Boy graduated.  But I couldn't give him another name. I said I would one day, but it has been over a year and I haven't. He's still in school and for now, we are sticking with College Boy.  

Teen Boy became Tech Boy nearly a year ago.  I am not sure I have referred to him that way, but I found the post where I so named him:

Now my dear sweet LRHB is nearly 11.  He is nearly as tall as I am.  And he kinda picked a new nickname this summer after watching Secretariat.  He is Big Red. He is nearly done with elementary school, so I guess it is time that his nickname reflect who he is, not who he was.  Sad mommy moment realizing that her baby is so grown.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Watching Dreams Come True

I am trying to get back into Sunday afternoon blogging.  It is the time I usually have to myself and I can write several blogs and post them over the week.  Hopefully, I'll be a bit more regular.

When I last wrote, I was hosting Camp Mom.  My LRHB was playing Little League All-Star baseball.  He's not old enough for the group that you see on TV in August (if you watch ESPN or like that kind of thing).  He will be in two years.  We live in a place where the likelihood of advancing to Pennsylvania lies somewhere between slim and none.  But to go to our Regional Tournament, that would be the next dream come true.  I say the next dream come true because this summer, I had the pleasure of watching my boy's dream come true... his team won the state championship.

My kids have had dreams along the way.  We've had great swim meets and they travelled to compete on a national level.  We've competed at the state level for math, spelling, history and geography.  We've attended competitions for music in other states as well as the state level for both band and vocals.  And my boys have been amazing every time, working hard, trying their best and accepting their outcomes.  You might notice that I use the words "we".  Although these have been THEIR moments, I have been the mini-van/chaperone mom right there cheering them on to their victory.  (I have only accommpanied them once out of state for swimming, but I have watched races on the computer!)  I love them and I hope that these journeys that they have taken are special memories in their hearts.  I am sure that these trials and wins have made them into the hardworking adults that they have become, even if I am unwilling to say to them that they are adults, two of them truly are grown men.

However, as amazing as those experiences were, watching his team win the state championship was a moment that exceeded my expectations.  These young men (realize that I would like to call them boys, but what they have accomplished...) worked six days a week for two to three hours a day for three weeks before undertaking two and half weeks of competitions and practices to achieve their goal.  They gave up biking and swimming and hockey and skating and boarding and vacationing and hanging out with friends because these things could (1) injure the player (2) wear out the player so they would be unable to do their best (3) interfere with practice time.  They built new relationships on their way to achieving their goal.  They were mentally and physically tasked to work hard, to sacrifice, to win. And, they did.  They won the district championship after numerous rain outs and delays on fields that were a good ninety minutes from home, making the drive daily for more than a week.  They won the state championship through the losers bracket.  Their first state game was just 34 hours after finishing the district competition, five to six hours from home with their manager arriving about the fifth inning.  It was not a surprise that they lost that game.  But they turned around and won each next game. Winning, winning and winning each evening after practicing each morning, sleeping in a hotel.  My son caught the final out.  He has the game ball and many nights I find him sleeping with it.  His all-star apparrel is his daily choice of clothing.  And my windows are still painted with "State Champions", "#13" and "GO BIG RED".  There is nothing to prepare a momma for watching her son's dream come true.  It was a priveledge, an honor and  a thrill.

I've watched other dreams come true, I am truly blessed.  I've seen two high school graduations and one college graduation, which are great achievements.  The difference I guess is that it never occurred to me that those moments wouldn't happen.  I am hoping for many more dream like moments in my sons' lives.  And I admit I am probably putting more on this baseball thing than it deserves.  But I lived through the angst and work and worry with my boy.  Getting this win, it was amazing.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Life Just Can't Wait

Life just can't wait for me to sit at a computer.  I do not have a laptop or tablet to type up as I spend two hours a morning at the pool deck or two and a half hours at the baseball diamond.  Although I am no longer by the pool deck in the mornings, as LRHB as traded in his Speedo for his Mako bat, I am now running Camp Mom.  This special place is where I spend my day entertaining a kid that wants to be on the go all the time, but must rest so that he can give it his ALL during All-star baseball.  No sitting lazily by the recreation pool while he squirrels away his time playing until the storms roll in each afternoon.  No time to get caught up on writing or reading as I am playing every board game that we own (I'll let you know in the future my opinions on that particular topic!).  We spend mornings watching a movie, afternoons playing games and eating dinner at 4 to head out for the field where the bugs bite and the rain comes and life is alive with the sounds of baseball.

Movies, believe it or not, is the topic of today's post.  We have watched some incredible films, based on true stories, that are inspiring.  I wanted to share them with you.  I get my films at the Library.  I go on, request them and pick them up.  FREE!

  • Glory Road
  • The Greatest Game Ever Played
  • Rudy
  • Invincible
  • Million Dollar Arm
  • Rookie of the Year
  • Eight Below
  • Radio

These movies may not have gotten the same press as movies such as Remember the Titans, Miracle or Hoosiers (which we have watched so many times that we can quote them), but they have the same message of overcoming hardship through perseverance that young people today need to see.  

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Disney Blog Day 5

Day 5 Part 2 Walt Disney World Resort

We arrived at our Wilderness Lodge Resort and found our room ready for us even though we were hours before check-in.  We had chosen a bed with bunks, for my boy and me, and a queen bed, for my parents who were arriving later in the day.  Once we had explored the hotel complex, we decided to have lunch in the fast food joint in our hotel.  The food was better than I expected and the salesperson took the time to explain to me why we should invest in one of their Disney Cups.  {A moment about said Disney Cups:  I don't drink soda anymore and I limit soda for LRHB so I had previously decided that we wouldn't be purchasing these cups.  I changed my mind when I realized that I could give him Powerade and, in the humid Florida weather, realized that would be a good choice for him.  Another factor was that I could get my coffee every morning with this cup and iced tea all day long.  Finally, they had disposable cups that I collected and put in the room.  Each morning I would make a series of trips downstairs and load us up for the day in both empty water bottles and disposable cups.  These are the reasons I purchased the Disney cups and would encourage anyone else to do so as well.}

Since the weather was overcast and rainy, we skipped the pool and boarded the bus for Downtown Disney after lunch.  I know I have mentioned that LRHB is anti-shopping.  However, Downtown Disney has a Lego Store which was the enticement I used to get him to go.  He purchased a Lego set and was entertained by it for the in-between hours (those hours before you leave for the next thing or before bed) for the rest of the trip.  We received notice that my parents were on the way to the resort so we headed back to meet them.  (Ask them about their car service next time you see them! LOL)

We went to the Hoop De Doo Revue for dinner and a show.  This was on mom's bucket list and we all really enjoyed ourselves.  We did the hurry up and rush there (via boat!) to wait and wait.  Since the seating is prearranged, I would encourage you to arrive in time, but not early.  Although there was probably exploring we could have done, not knowing enough about the area, we didn't do any.  We were content, I might mention, to sit and chat about the upcoming days since it was our first time together in three months and we needed a game plan.  The show itself was fun, food was good and LRHB is still laughing about some of the play on words that they included in the show!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Disney Blog Day 5

Debarkation Day

The time has come for us to leave our ship.  We had to put our luggage out the night before.  I thought that they would wait until all of our luggage was outside before they swept it away, however, upon realizing that my pants to wear were still in the bag that I had already placed outside, I found that they gather the bags out as soon as they appear and then deliver it to the underbelly of the ship.  So I dug out the jeans I had worn for pirate night to wear the next day.  

We had to set alarms to drag us from our bed and out the door for breakfast.  Early dinner seating is not a positive on debarkation day as then you have early breakfast seating.  I think it was 6:15.  Following our wonderful breakfast, we gathered our things from the room bidding it farewell and left the ship.  (pause here for sniffing and tear wiping)

The Disney Magical Express whisked us from the port to Disney World.  I caught up on texting and listened to tunes while my boy took a much needed nap.  Now I am going to say something very entitled, so acknowledge that I know it is entitled and recognize that I have given this more than a month of thought and still desire to share this with you:  If you are paying the most to stay in the resort, you should be the first one dropped off.  Seriously, we were the last ones dropped off and we were staying at the most expensive hotel.  It took us an additional thirty minutes (conservative) once on Disney property to reach our resort.  That just doesn't make sense to me.  I know it is snobby, yet, apparently I feel strongly enough about the amount of money I paid to make the comment.

Moving on... Disney Wilderness Lodge is beautiful!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Book # 28

The Fudge Cupcake Murder
by Joanne Fluke

It is time to take a break from the bakery murders because I figured out the murder on page 139 of a 271 page book.  I figured out the motivation behind it before my favorite baker also.  I love returning to characters I know and love so I will continue to read these books.  However, if you are a die hard mystery lover, you may tire of this series.  I will miss Hannah and her family during my break, yet it is time to try some other stories on my list.

ps.  Of course this book has yummy recipes for bakers to try.  I continue to resist!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Disney Blog Day 4

Day 4, Part 2

Upon returning to the ship, we quickly changed and headed for dinner.  We enjoyed a lovely evening of lobster and each other's company.  I found our servers to be warm and each night the assistant server had a "trick" or "activity" to show my boy.  I found the food to be absolutely delicious each time I sat down for a meal.  We had the breakfast buffet, twice, and found it to be unremarkable.  It is a breakfast buffet, standard, nothing to set it apart.  I found the lunch buffet on the island to be less than stellar.  Really, plenty of room for improvement in this area.  The lunch buffet on departure day was fabulous!  I cannot stress enough that each meal that I sat down for, breakfast, lunch and dinner(s) we scrumptious.  

Following dinner, LRHB and I met up with our companions.  The youngsters headed to Kids Club, while we went for a drink.  I had promised my boy that we would do the Aquaduck again tonight because we'd only gotten to ride it once the previous night.  It was super windy so the requirement was in place that two people had to be in the raft.  So much for me doing a couple and letting him ride the night away!  Friends, it is NOT a water slide.  It is a water COASTER with speed and tight turns not to mention the billion steps to get to the top to ride it.  However, we did it eight straight times so that he could say that he had ridden it ten times.  I am so glad that 10 was his magic number!  

A word about his experience in Kids Club.  Had he had a companion his own age perhaps it would have been better.  He is on the cusp of the kids and tween groups and has always related well to older kids, therefore as he was probably one of the oldest kids there, this might have contributed to his less than thrilled opinion of the Kids Club.  It was crazy busy at 8:00 at night with tons of kids!

Again, we skipped the evening show (for the water coaster) and headed off to bed.  We slept well each night on the ship!  

Friday, May 15, 2015

Book #27

The Marcelli Bride
by Susan Mallery

The next romantic tale involving my friends, the Marcellis, began with a long stretch in the plot line.  The characters were true to themselves and it was fun to watch the heroine come into her own.  Another questionable plot turn came at the end when we needed our hero to save his love.  I had partially predicted the story line, but even I didn't expect such a faux pas by some of the characters that led to the concluding scenes.  I think that writers that don't have to stretch reality so far tend to tell better stories.  I was invested in the characters from the previous three stories so I wanted resolution and, in spite of the gross exaggerations, I enjoyed the story.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Disney Blog Day 4

Castaway Cay.  Disney's private island.  This was the part of the vacation that I had been awaiting.  If I could have spent two days here, I would have been in heaven!  

We walked from the ship to the beach area and picked up our snorkel equipment.  After claiming a chair and slathering ourselves in sunscreen, we headed to the snorkel area.  It took a bit for LRHB to get used to the equipment, but then the world below the surface opened up to him and he loved it.  WE loved it.  We snorkeled about 75-90 minutes before returning to the shore.  He ran of to play with his admirers while I read (what else did you think I was going to do!).  After a mediocre lunch (that's actually a generous assessment), we explored some other areas of beach one.  We never made it to beach two!  Eventually, we headed back in for another long snorkeling session.  When we returned, people were packing it in for the day.  I discovered that the beach would close in about 35 minutes and that we had a bit more than an hour to be back on board.  Fabulous!  We moved our stuff and took advantage of the empty beach.  He tried to stand on flat floaties and inner tubes.  He floated while I watched, laughed and encouraged, all with my toes in the water!  Every five minutes they would announce how much longer until the beach closed.  At 4:24 pm, they announced five more minutes.  A minute later, they closed the beach!  What!  This is now commonly referred to around the house as when we got "kicked off the beach".  We were the only ones there and I guess they wanted us to go.  BTW, we were not in danger of missing the ship because we were on board a mere 8 minutes later.  

Monday, May 11, 2015

Book #26

The Lemon Meringue Pie Murder
by Joanne Fluke

I enjoy Hannah, the main character of these mysteries.  She has weight issues, strong family connections and lives in a fictional small town with small town values (to include everyone being in everyone's business).  I cannot wait each tale to discover how she ends up involved in solving the mysteries since she contends each time that she is NOT going to be involved.  Although I had my suspicions and put together the motive for the murder in this story, I hadn't connected all of the dots to discover the murderer.  Once again the story was laced with yummy treats, however, I have managed not to bake any.  Yet.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Disney Blog Day 3

Day 3, Part 2

Over breakfast, the LRHB had told me that he didn't feel good at dinner the night before.  When I questioned him, I discovered that he had picked up on the awkwardness.  I made the decision to make other dinner arrangements and spent some time during the day explaining to the front desk why I needed to switch tables.  When I arrived at dinner, I learned that they had not received my request, but they were more than happy to make it happen for me.  We received a table for two and began our second night ordering from every course.  When it came time for dessert, we nearly couldn't do it!  The prime rib, seafood, salads and appetizers nearly did us in!  

We joined our FL friends for the Pirate Party on deck!  Her boys were Kindergartners and thought my boy walked on water; he loved their hero worship!  It made for a fun time!  Then the two of us went back to our room, changed into our bathing suits and hit the Aquaduck, a water coaster!  Unfortunately, we didn't realize that it was closing and only got one ride.  We decided to make time for it again the next day and headed to bed, watching basketball from the comfort of our bed!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Book #25

The Atonement Child
Francine Rivers

I chose this book because I thought that it had come up on a classic romances list.  However, after reading this book, I went back and researched how this came to be on my Nook.  Let me be clear, it is NOT a classic romantic story.  I discovered that Atonement  was the book that came up on the 'classic romances' search and Atonement Child came up on the library search with Atonement.  Because Atonement Child is by an author whom I have read and enjoyed, I checked it out.  It is not a classic romance, however it is a powerful tale of faith, grace and being a follower (not a fan) of God.  It led me to prayer and soul searching about a emotional topic.  God and I are still at odds, but I am working on it.  

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Disney Blog Day 3

We awoke in Nassau to a beautiful, sunny day.  After hitting the breakfast buffet, we were headed for a harbor tour.  I must add that I turned my head for just a moment at the buffet and when I turned back, the eggs, sausages and bacon piled on his plate would have been enough to feed our family of five.  Almost. 

LRHB wanted to say that he'd been to a foreign country and just being in port was not enough for him.  After researching our shore excursion options, we settled on a harbor cruise that gave some history of the area, but didn't require a lot of walking/bus riding.  For much of this trip, I was letting him drive our plans and was happy with his decision.  The boat ride was fun!  We got some history of the area, but it was so little that I remember none of it.  I do remember the large estates that were pointed out to us as well as the information she gave us on Atlantis.  We met a family from right up the highway from us and discussed hockey with them and a young newlywed couple!  Once back on land, the muggy heat was getting to my boy.  I just wanted to stop and look at the vendors that were set up right outside the port entrance; he complained and complained and complained.  I managed to make a couple purchases and though one of them was for him, it still didn't appease his crankiness.  He did stop for a picture and begrudgingly took a couple pictures of me.  However, once on board, the complaining continued.  I issued an ultimatum:  go play.  Swim, play basketball or mini-golf, get lunch or check yourself into the kids club.  I announced I was going my own way and he was not invited.  He was quite unsure of this turn of events, but I convinced him that I wasn't mad; I just think we needed some time apart.

I headed to the dining room serving lunch.  I ordered a cold seafood appetizer and carrot soup.  Both were wonderful!  None of the main dishes caught my eye so I ordered the mango soup also.  I think they thought I was crazy, but I loved every bite.  I finished up with dessert, of course.  The entire time I enjoyed the peace and quiet of being alone and the book on my Nook.  I changed into swim gear and headed for the pool.  Finding the boy playing basketball, I convinced him to come eat and showed him where I would be for the rest of the afternoon.  After he ate, he had reserved some time in the sports simulator, then he spent the rest of the afternoon swimming, water sliding and playing with our new friends.  

Comfortably sitting by the pool enjoying both the warmth of the sun and the cool of the breeze, I was content to read the afternoon away.  When another mom was looking for a chair, I offered up LRHB's since he was done eating and unlikely to sit in it again.  Little did I know, my cruise soul mate was sitting down next to me!  We discussed motherhood, sports, college days and kids.  We shared common values and a passion for wine.  The afternoon flew by in the companionship of my new friend!  We agreed to meet up again after dinner for the Pirate Party.  By this time, her boys and mine were having adventures together in the pool.  We really wished we could have been table mates!  

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Resolution #10

Mix up your Exercise Routine

I challenge those of you who do the same classes or the same activity to find something new to do.  It could be as simple as what I did:  I got off the treadmill and heading into the woods.

I have been walking for the last several months.  I walk at school on the playground or in the testing areas.  I walk on the treadmill at the gym, rocking out to the tunes on my iPod.  I admit, I am content with my routine, my habits.

A few weeks ago, LRHB was invited to go on a hike with a friend.  The deer in headlights look caught me off guard.  He loves being outside.  He loves being with this friend.  He is in good shape because he is a duel sport kid.  However, we don't hike so he was afraid he wouldn't be able to keep up.  Then the hike turned into a bike ride which he did and loved, but also had great anxiety about undertaking.  

So I have moved my walking routine outside to the many trails in our area and I am dragging the kid along with me.  First, I don't think I should be hiking by myself; this is what I use to convince him to go with me.  He's such a good boy that he wants to keep his momma safe.  Next, I think it is a good way to broaden his training; you don't much running in baseball or swimming (not that we are running, but you get the point).  Finally, we have gotten into a rut about being together; it is usually filled with me listing the chores/homework that needs to get done and him complaining about it as we rush off to another of his activities.  We use this hiking time to talk, really talk, to each other.

Perhaps the monotony of your exercise routine could use a little spicing up, as mine did.  The added bonus of shared time with the kid is like finding an extra chocolate at the back of the kitchen drawer.

Book #24

Deja Dead
Kathy Reichs

I had been meaning to read a book by Kathy Reichs because she is the inspiration for one of my favorite shows, "Bones".  The reason that I finally checked her first book out was to fulfill the 2015 Reading Challenge.  First, I had to read a popular author's first book; additionally I had to read a book that inspired a television show.  Check, check.  I liked it.  I'll admit that some of the gruesome details I skimmed.  And some of the science was not my cup of tea.  But she is a likable character, a strong female with just enough softness to make her believable.  If you like murder mysteries, than you might want to try this one out for yourself.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Disney Blog Day 2

Disney Blog Day 2, part 2

After finishing our wonderful meal, we headed to our room to change and head to the pool.  I managed to grab a chair nearby and Reilly attempted to swim laps in a very crowded pool.  We both enjoyed our afternoon returning to our room only to participate in the mandatory lifeboat drill and get ready for dinner.  Somewhere in there, Reilly found the basketball court and enjoyed some hoops.  We also perused the events of the day in our daily guide, skirted the launch party enjoying it from an upper deck and watched dolphins diving in the waters off the side of the ship as we set sail.

Dinner was awkward.  I commend Disney, honestly, for trying.  They took three young men of similar age, travelling with three mothers and put them at a table for six.  I get it.  The kids, moms or both COULD have hit it off.  Not so much with this group.  First, we were seated across from each other.  Now my boy is good at a restaurant, but we had arrived last and it seemed everyone was ready to order.  First boy ordered from the children's menu.  My boy figured out what he wanted, but didn't realize that he could additionally order soup, salad and/or an appetizer.  The next young man ordered from the "light menu", (brown rice, grilled chicken, broccoli).  Now the moms' turn:  Mom #1 asked many questions about the sauces and the alcohol in the sauces and about not having any sauces with alcohol anywhere near her food.  Mom #2 actually ordered what LRHB ordered.  I ordered an appetizer, a soup for Reilly and then my dinner.  I didn't order the glass of wine for fear of offending Mom #1.  Mom #1 and son, who had been speaking English up to this point, launched into a lengthy conversation, in French.  Um, rude much?  Finally the food arrived:  LRHB ordered snapper with scallops.  To his disappointment there was only ONE scallop.  "Mom, mom, mom.  The menu said scallopS, not scallop."  I told him to talk to the waiter; of course the waiter graciously fixed this for him by delivering an additional 5 scallops for him to enjoy!  

After dinner, we went to the Sports Bar, which is open to all ages until 9 p.m.  We watched some of the March Madness tourney and headed to bed.  LRHB didn't want to see any stage shows and I didn't care enough to either go without him or force him to go.  Our bed was turned down and I read while he drifted off to sleep.  We were officially having a good time, but I had decided to talk to someone regarding our dinner seating.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Disney Blog Day 2

Can you tell I am taking a class again?  Low and behold it has been nearly two weeks since I last posted!

Disney Vacation Day 2

The next morning we took advantage of the Starbucks in the airport for breakfast.  We didn't want to overdo it at the hotel since we'd be having lunch on the ship!  We boarded the Disney Magical Express at the airport for a comfortable ride to the port.  A video reminded us of what we would need for checking in when we arrived, of all the amenities we would enjoy once on board and all of the things to do.  I was very happy to have chosen one of the earliest times to check-in/board the ship; the terminal was crowded with people trying to get their children registered for the kids clubs or trying to be photographed with Sailor Mickey & Sailor Minnie.  Once they announced our boarding group, probably the 4th or 5th to board, we tried to skip on by the photographer, but the staff use those pictures on the ship to recognize you.  A quick wander about to locate where our room is and the easiest way to reach it, a fast (no line) check-in of Reilly into the Kids Club for future use and off we went to the buffet lunch.  Cracked crab claws, peel and eat shrimp and luscious cream of mushroom soup awaited us; we finished with a chocolate mousse and carrot cake which we shared.  Then we shared another set.  

More to  come...

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Disney Blog Day 1

Disney Vacation Day 1

It was wonderful!  I cannot possibly recount our trip in just one blog so I will be posting a series of blogs about it.

Day 1:  We flew to Florida and arrived late in the evening the night before our cruise was to set sail.  After purchasing my plane tickets on Southwest Airlines, an offer to stay at the Hilton located right in the airport came up.  When I considered the prices of other hotels nearby, the cost of getting to and from them (as some of their shuttles don't run 24 hours) and how tired we would be when we arrived, I decided that I would splurge on the Hilton.  Plus the offer was less than 50% of the going rate.  It was WORTH every penny.  I was at the hotel BEFORE getting to the luggage carousel.  The employees were lovely, the food in the restaurant (late night snacks of soup, calamari and caramelized goat cheese) delicious and the server was very accommodating.  The room and bed were comfortable and clean.  I would stay here again in a heartbeat.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Book #23

The Seductive One
by Susan Mallery

This is the next installment in her Marcelli Family series and originally the final story.  It tells the story of the remaining twin who loves the vineyards and has a past with the bad boy next door, so to speak.  The strong sense that we all need family comes into play once again as it does so many times in Susan's books.  I am so glad it wasn't the final story as their are two remaining siblings who need to find love.  Apparently, my desire to know their tales was shared by her readers who pressured her into expanding her trilogy.  

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Book #22

Barefoot Season
by Susan Mallery

My final Spring Break read was also by Susan Mallery.  Unable to continue in the Marcelli Family series, I began another series Blackberry Island.  What I discovered about the Blackberry Island series is that although the stories take place in the same location, the people are going to be unrelated making it easy to read one now and the rest in June, when I will have more reading time.

I liked this first book in the series very much.  Characters that I felt were authentic dealt with real life problems.  Rather than focusing on the romance, this story focused on the relationship of the two heroines and their efforts to overcome differences and problems.

Updated title 7/14/15

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Book #21

The Blueberry Muffin Murder
by Joanne Fluke

Another enticing mystery from my newest favorite author.  I actually did predict the murderer in this book making it no less entertaining.  Hannah's recipes sound amazing.  I have found a nice cup of cocoa goes a long way to preventing the need to get baking!  I love that she has such a great relationship with her sister and I look forward to reading more of these books to find out which path of love Hannah ventures down.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Books #19 & 20

The Sparkling One
The Sassy One
by Susan Mallery

This is my Spring Break reading.  Another series from one of my favorites, Susan Mallery.  These are the first two books in the Marcelli Family Series and I am just in love with the ladies in this family.  I cannot wait to read the remaining three books, however since they were not available to download onto my Nook prior to my vacation, it may be summer before I have time to complete this series.

Let's be clear, these are romance novels fraught with deception, heartache, love, sex and fun.  In this series, there is also a LARGE, LOUD family that I would love to visit because they are fascinating yet real, and they live at a winery.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Book # 18

Not a Fan
by Kyle Idleman

16/50 2015 Reading Challenge:  A book recommended by a friend

Powerful.  If I had to describe this book in one word, that is the word I would use.  It wasn't an easy book, but it was an easy read.  He puts his ideas into place using examples and scripture.  He isn't out to make you feel bad about your relationship with God, but he is pointing out the differences in relationships with God.  Fan?  Follower?  Which are you?  Read the book and discover for yourself.

I used this book as my preparation for Lent.  I found that I generally tend to be a fan, but long to be a follower.  I found that I am on the journey from fan to follower.  I read much of this book over as I pondered what the author was saying.  I prayed quite a bit about what I was reading and how it would impact my life.  Without saying too much more, I will tell you that it has already helped me and one of my children to love more generously, and through that love, to accept and forgive.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Resolution #9

Resolution #9 Preparing for Lent

This is a resolution that I give myself every year.  I don't want the Lenten season to rush by without being purposeful.  I want to set time aside for preparing myself for my God's greatest gift.  

So the LRHB and I had a discussion on our way to practice.  I said that I thought we needed to do more family prayer.  He said that we have tried that before and it didn't work.  I felt we should try it again, however he thought he should go without during the Lenten season instead.  He didn't want to give up soda, as he knew that we were going on vacation and he would be able to drink all he wanted on our cruise ship.  He didn't want to give up candy, because Valentine's Day had just happened and he had counted out pieces of candy to put in his lunch box for a couple weeks.  He didn't want to give up T.V. because of March Madness.  I proposed that he give up desserts because I don't make them very often.  He agreed until he remembered what his brothers told him about dining on the cruise.  In the end, he decided more prayer time would be an appropriate choice.  

As we were reading before bed that evening, I noticed he had his Rosary out on his nightstand.  I inquired why it was there and my heart swelled to hear his response.  "It is here to help me to remember to pray to God every night."  (No, praying to God is not a part of our normal routine.  I don't know how that slipped through the cracks, but don't beat me up.  I am doing the best I can!)  During the Lenten season, some nights I would come in and find his eyes closed and his lips moving.  When he'd finished, he open his eyes and announce his prayer of choice.  Some nights, he'd ask me if I wanted to join him.

Yesterday was Easter.  I asked him last night if he was going to put it away.  "Not yet," was his response.  

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happiness is...

I may not have discovered it until Friday afternoon around four, however, all of my loves came home for Easter.  Tech Boy (formerly Teen Boy) picked up College Boy and College Girl**  and they rolled in around 11 pm.  I was surprised LRHB didn't come flying out of his room, but his Spring schedule is wearing him out!

Our weekend was filled with spending time together in the kitchen, watching LRHB play baseball, watching basketball, studying, reading, playing video games and participating in Easter Mass.  My heart loves the people, their generosity when it comes to spending time with "the boy" (as LRHB is called), their support of his sport, their willingness to help.  College Boy actually apologized for not helping more.  He had a big test he was preparing to take so the fact he came home was gift enough.  Plus he peeled five pounds of potatoes.  

I was truly blessed this Easter, by my Lord, by my children and by my husband who fried the turkey.  I hope you were able to stop and count your blessings this Easter.

**One day we might have another name for her, but for now this fits.  If I already named her in the past, OOPS!  Anyway, she and College Boy have been together two years now and we love her.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Resolution #8

Resolution #8 Strive for Five

I know that many of my resolutions this winter have been about eating right, that is because at my physical in January I found out that I am pre-diabetic.  A completely preventable disease if I lose weight.  I have a love/hate relationship with my weight as many of us do.  I know that I am an emotional eater.  I tend to be comfortable with myself and I am basically a happy person which negates motivation to change.  Through the years I have gained and lost weight with pregnancies, medications and a poor exercise regiment.  I have worked out, then not.  I have joined Weight Watchers and been successful.  I have made changes on and off again.

However, I do not want to invite disease, which is what my current weight is doing.  I want to be healthier, be more active and weigh less.  I am done with Challenges.  I am just on board with being a healthy eater and helping my family to be healthy eaters.  I have made changes already (portion control, just one plate) and another instrumental change I have made is Strive for Five.  When I eat FIVE servings of fruits and vegetables, I feel better, eat less junk and successfully lose weight.  Down 14 pounds this year already.  It is not cheap to do it, but junk food isn't cheap either (my downfall is chocolate, but good chocolate, no cheap chocolate for me).  And it takes time.  If I put in the time now, I will hopefully have more time later.  

Friday, March 13, 2015

Book #17

Eleanor & Park
by Rainbow Rowell

15/50 2015 Reading Challenge:  A book set in high school

I wish I had taken a note as to where I had gotten the recommendation for this story.  It is in the young adult genre and takes place in a high school that sounds like every other high school with its problems that get overlooked.  The characters do not become the high school prom queen and king, however do grow in their relationship and friendships.  It made me think of other popular YA books of recent years, The Fault in Our Stars and The Spectacular Now.  Following in their footsteps, this film has been picked up for development into a movie.  I had a hard time putting it down, but I am not sure I liked how it ended.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Book #16

by Cheryl Strayed

13 & 14/50 2015 Book Challenge:  A book that became a movie, A book you started, but never finished

It took me months, but I finally finished this book.  I started listening to it in the car last fall, but then I had to return it to the library.  Then I got it out again, but still failed to finish it.  Now that College Boy has a car and I don't have to fetch him, I don't have as much time in the car to listen.  The other thing cutting into my listening to books in the car time is that my husband has made several of the last trips with me for different sporting events.  In the past, he was content to just let me and LRHB go.  I love that he is spending this time with us!  Finally, I checked out the real deal and finished the book.  Actually, I checked out the electronic version, but it wasn't the audio book.  

I wanted to see the movie; in fact I still do.  The book is a true story about a woman who walked the Pacific Coast Trail.  It is the west coast version of the Appalachian Trail.  I mean, I admire her gumption, but geez she was kinda an idiot.  My dad saw the movie and he is a really nice guy.  But he thought she was a COMPLETE idiot.  Which is why I am only willing to pay Redbox prices to see the movie.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Resolution #7

Resolution #7:  An act of charity

Each year about this time, my family-based religious education program at our church has a day of charity.  They ask that it be something that we can do as a family and for it to be age appropriate.  And this year's act was no-less a gift even though we benefit from it as well. 

LRHB and I put together a shopping list for a full-day of cooking with my friend Sweet LM.  You may or may not remember that she lost her daughter a few years ago; she is expecting a daughter next month!  She wanted to get meals prepared and put up in the freezer so that when the last few weeks of pregnancy get to be too much and for after the baby comes.  I wanted to get meals put up before baseball season overtakes my life.  Our act was to do all of the shopping, deliver everything to her home and cook there so that her darling husband could help her.  Our act was to also prepare a bonus meal for her so that she would have an extra.  Our act is to also gift a few of these meals to others that could use a night off from cooking for various reasons.  Yes, I now have a freezer full of meals.  I also have four gifts to share, and the knowledge that my friend also has a freezer full.  And she didn't have to do the two-three hours of prep.  My guy helped with the 45 minutes of grocery list prep.  He also helped prepare the four meals we are gifting to others.  We did it together and it filled my heart.

What acts of charity do you perform as a family?

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Reading Promise: The Neverending Story

This was a book I was first introduced to by my husband in the movie format.  And I honestly didn't get the enchantment of it the first time I watched it.  However, having watched it with my children through the years, although it falls under fantasy which isn't usually my genre, I have grown to love it.  

We got together to watch it last night and the girls commented afterwards that they didn't love it.  I reassured them that I didn't love it the first time I watched it, but that it is a story, a movie that stands the test of time.  The book wasn't my favorite either, but perhaps I should take my own advice and give it another try down the road.  It may grow on me.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Book #15

Plum Pie
by P.G. Wodehouse

Adult Book Challenge 8/8
12/50 2015 Reading Challenge:  A Book of Short Stories

I had forgotten about this author until I went searching for a book of short stories to fulfill my reading challenge.  I actually read some of his books when I was in college on the recommendation of a fellow on whom I was crushing.  He is long gone, but he did introduce me to a comedic writer that I once again enjoyed.

The timing of the short stories book was perfect as when I had some down time from my online book study I could pick it up and whip through a story or two.  Then I could pick it up a week later and read a bit more without completely losing the story line.  The short stories also had even shorter bits between them.  But alas, sometimes I didn't get the humor of those so I skipped many of those.  P.G. Wodehouse is probably best known for his Jeeves tales.  Unfortunately, there was only one such story in the book.  Nevertheless, I did enjoy it. 

This fulfills my Adult Book Challenge commitment.  I have printed the form and will be turning it in for my prizes.  

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Book #14

Brain Rules:  Updated and Expanded
by John Medina

Adult Book Challenge 7/8

This is the book that I read for my book study course and I really liked it.  I'll admit that the science details hurt my brain and I had to reread those parts to truly understand it.  But the outcomes that can come from knowing this information are endless.  By reading this book, I have already changed some of the methods I use for teaching my students.  I am applying the knowledge to my personal life as well which can help me be healthier now and in the future.  I recommend reading this book and if you have a Nook, I can share it with you.  I am glad that I actually purchased the book for this study because it is the type of book that I can see myself rereading to make sure that I have put into production everything I thought of while reading it.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Where did February Go? Resolution #6

I've missed you!  I've been cheating on you by writing on another site, commenting on what others had to say!  

Resolution #6  Grow Yourself

At some time this year, stretch yourself.  Grow.  Try something new or different.  I took a book study and it consumed my time during the month of February.  In addition to the weekly reading, I had to answer questions then respond to what others had posted.

I also spent a day taking classes.  And I've attended four sessions so I will be prepared to administer our state test to a small group of students.  I basically spent the entire month growing my brain.  If you want to know about the book study I took, tune back in on Tuesday when I post about it under books read!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Book 13

The Wedding Party
by Robyn Carr

Adult Book Challenge 6/8
11/50 2015 Book Challenge:  a book with a love triangle

I just LOVED Robyn Carr's Virgin River series, so I am slowly trying out some of her other books.  As my husband worked odd hours this week, I had extra reading time and took advantage (though  my sleep suffered) to read this fun tale.  It had many of the elements I love in a book:  family, love, good triumphing over evil, happy ending(s).  I will mention that unlike her Virgin River series, this story didn't contain R rated sex scenes.  

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Book 12

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder
by Joanne Fluke

5/9 Adult Reading Challenge
10/50 2015 Reading Challenge:  a book you can read in a day

I am finding it hard to believe that I have read a dozen books in January!  Of course, I was super motivated to read the Disney book prior to reaching 60 days out from my trip so I could make my Fastpass+ reservations.  And I was sick at the beginning of the month which gave me plenty of excuses (I mean time) to read.  You might remember I read a mystery earlier this month about a baker who solves crimes that I thoroughly enjoyed.  I borrowed the first book in the series to read because the Hallmark Channel is making it into a movie!  And then maybe they will make it into a series!  I can only hope.  I will say that the author has improved over time, however I did enjoy it AND I read it in a day.  

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Book #11

The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World
by Bob Sehlinger and Len Testa

4/8 Adult Reading Challenge
9/50 2015 Reading Challenge:  A non-fiction book, A book with more than 500 pages (923), A book with nonhuman characters (Mickey Mouse), A book with magic (The Magic Kingdom), A book published this year

I am going to Disney World this year with the LRHB.  Now, don't be thinking you can rob my home whilst I am gone, as we are not all going on this trip which is the only reason I am mentioning it.  Well, not the only reason.  I mention it because I read most of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2015 in preparation for our trip.  I didn't read the chapters about Universal Studios, the Disney Water Parks (those I did skim even though we have no intention of going to them), shopping, the spa or a significant part of "Where to Stay"(because I already booked my room).  I did read many more than the 500 page requirement and I got so many helpful tips.  I am looking forward to this trip and even got up at midnight to book my fast-passes!  I would TOTALLY recommend this book if you are undertaking a trip to THE WORLD.  Great, great tips and information.  One note, don't read the restaurant section on an empty stomach.  Just saying!  

Monday, January 26, 2015

Resolution #5

Resolution #5 - Drink a glass of water when you wake

I am sure that if I googled drinking water, I would get several article links for you to read about why you should drink water.  However, I also believe that if you googled the inverse, you'd get articles to support that theory.  So today I am just saying, drink a glass of water when you wake up.  Chances are you wake up dehydrated.  Chances are that if you fill your tummy with water, you will fill more full after eating the proper sized breakfast.  Chances are, it won't hurt to do it.  

This is the next thing I am imposing on the LRHB.  He's been so fond of my measuring out his food (NOT), that I am sure that he will love this new household policy, too.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Book #10

The Perfect Christmas
by Debbie Macomber

3/8 Adult Reading Challenge
3/50 2015 Book Challenge:  A book set during Christmas

I read this book several years ago.  I called it cute and brainless with a happy ending.  True.  And I loved having a little bit more Christmas in January!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Book #9

Cream Puff Murder
by Joanne Fluke

2/8 Adult Reading Challenge
2/50 2015 Book Challenge:  A mystery or thriller

I loved this book.  I am going to be checking out more of this gal's books!  I loved the characters, it was G-rated, the mystery was just barely horrifying (the bad girl went down!) and the relationships were sweet.  There were fabulous recipes that I would be inclined to try if I wasn't eliminating sweets from my world right now for that fabulous spring break trip I am taking.  In fact, having looked over my 2015 challenge, if I check out a book with a color in the title (is lime a color?  cherry?  peach!), I can cross another one off my to-do list!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Resolution #3 & #4

Resolutions 3 & 4 - Measure Your Food, Just One Plate

I have trouble with portion control.  I think that servings apply to other people.  I look at what I eat and I think, "My diet isn't that bad, why does my weight keep going up?"  Yes, one reason is I exercise in spurts (a few weeks here, a few weeks several months later, etc.).  However, a big reason is that I don't exercise control when it comes to measuring out food.  And if I do manage to put an appropriate amount on my plate, then I proceed to fill up my plate again.

I am sure that somewhere in my past, either or both of these have been resolutions.  However, that doesn't mean I shouldn't try again.  And I am making EVERYONE in the house adhere to the measuring your food rules, and two of us are sticking to just one plate.  A growing boy is entitled to two servings (measured servings), right?  It takes time, measuring out things to the proper amounts for each and every meal, each and every day.  But I would like to think a healthier version of me is worth it.  

I'm worth it, I'm worth it, I'm worth it!  Are you?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Book Club

Book Club, inspired by A Reading Promise by Alice Ouzma

A few years ago, as my son was an emerging reading and I was looking forward to those evenings when we would read to ourselves side-by-side each night, I read Alice Ouzma's book.  I decided then that I would continue to read to him, perhaps not thousands of nights consecutively like her father did, nevertheless, I would continue reading aloud to him.  I got up on my soapbox and gathered friends together to join us.  That was two-and-one half years ago.  Our group has solidified into 4 families, 5 children and just one boy, my son.  I no longer attempt discuss the books analytically as we did that first summer, although they are far more capable of sustaining those conversations now than they were then.  Our children watch the movie that tells the story of the book we have read.  The moms indulge in conversation, wine and sisterhood.  We are true to each other, encouraging, non-judging, and it has become a place of solace for me.  I love that my son has these young ladies as friends.  I pray that our group can continue for many more years.

This month, we read a classic, The Secret Garden.  

Friday, January 16, 2015

Book 8

Tulle Little, Tulle Late
by Kimberly Llewellyn

1/8 Adult Reading Challenge
1/50 2015 Reading Challenge:  A book by an author you have never read

This book puts me in mind of Sex and the City.  Character caught up in clothing, single and looking for love, career oriented-ish, with great gal pals there for you no matter what.  Add in some family drama, quirky characters and SEX and you have this story.  I'm not saying I didn't enjoy it, however, I am not choosing to order more of this author from the library.  Cute title, fun gal, too much sex and too much contrived drama.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Book Challenge 2015

Someone posted the above link to a reading challenge for 2015.  The gauntlet was thrown down and I not only picked it up, I am shaking it above my head!  I will do this!!  Why?  I am really not sure.  It is 50 books.  Last year I only read 61, now I am devoting 50 of them to what... non-fiction and memoirs and mysteries?  Oh wait, I read those.  Audible sigh of relief.  Wait, a PLAY?  A GRAPHIC NOVEL?  What is that, anyway?  Ugh.  Why did I agree to do this and is it too late to back out?  There is no money, just pride riding on this and by darn, I am going to stick it out.  Look out readers, I will have some interesting tales to review this year!

In the meantime, I am taking suggestions on plays, graphic novels (or at least an explanation) and "a book with bad reviews" that someone thought was good.  The rest of them I think I can muddle through.  Additionally, our local library does an Adult reading challenge so I will be attempting to read 8 books in the next 8 weeks.   YIKES!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Resolution #2

Resolution # 2 - De-Clutter the Kitchen

I mean, everyone means to de-clutter their home.  Some people are natural at it and others have to work at it.  I fall somewhere in the middle.  I am all in for "when it doubt, throw it out", but there are times I get caught up in the "hold onto it" movement for sentimental or practical reasons.  I find, I am getting better at clearing out as I age.  

Someone on FB posted a link to a de-clutter calendar for January.
Ideally, you spend 15 minutes a day and at the end of the month, the KITCHEN will be done.  I am assuming that we will progress through the home.  This is new to me.  However, I am IN.  I am giving this a try.  It being the 12th of the month, however, I am a bit behind.  I printed the calendar and instead of following it day by day, I am crossing off the ones I complete, saving the longer, more difficult, time-intensive tasks for later in the month (see day 2).  

I do pledge that the de-clutter theme will only be ONE resolution a month, but one I will have to keep on working on throughout the month.

I am happy to say that I finally have put all of the pictures back on shelves and walls.  I am unhappy to report I have 5 boxes of stuff piled on a table (no longer in my bedroom) that I must figure out.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Book #7

by Suzanne Collins

This story finished the Hunger Games trilogy.  They split this last book into two movies so I read just over half of the book in early December prior to going to see part one.  Then at the end of the year, I finished it.  I like the books, I like the movies, and I think they have meshed the story telling well.  I have a feeling I may be picking this book up again next fall to refresh my mind before seeing the final installment.  If you haven't gotten into the Hunger Games movement, I cannot recommend it enough.  I originally went to keep my middle one company; he'd read the books.  However, then I was hooked!  Next fall, get the books and read them.  Get the first movies and watch them.  Then, pay the big bucks and watch the finale in the theater.  I truly believe you will not regret it.

*** This is just one of 3 books that I had started during 2014, but will finish in 2015

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Books 5 & 6

Home at Last
by Nora Roberts

I hadn't read my old friend Nora for some time, but I was reminded of why I enjoy her tales.  She has good characters, interesting stories and ties them up neatly at the end (some authors just rush through that part).  This book was made up of two previously released stories, Song of the West and Unfinished Business.

As I am writing up these books that I have already read this year, I am guessing I probably actually read a couple of these as 2014 expired.  I was ill, down for the count and had nothing else to do, but read, read, read.  So if you are wondering how I have managed to read so many books already this year, this might be your answer.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Books 3 & 4

A Country Christmas
by Debbie Macomber

This book features two stories of Debbie's from the past.  Both are told with Debbie's usual well developed characters and romance.  As they both come from two different series, it was great to visit with "old friends".  The previous books were Return to Promise and Buffalo Valley.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Book #1 & 2

The Christmas Wedding Ring and Yours for Christmas 
by Susan Mallery

Both tales are filled with Christmas and romance and happy endings, of course.  Yours for Christmas is part of her Fools Gold Series making it especially delightful.

This year I am going to continue to title my Book Posts with what number for the year it is that I have read and I am going to use green to write about the book.  Additionally, I am going to list the title and author at the top of the post to make it easier to find a specific book or author.  Finally, if it is related to a movie, I am going to add that to the labels so if you are looking for book/movie combinations, they will be accessible with a simple sort.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Resolution #1

Resolution #1 - Put everything back

It is terrible really what happens to my bedroom during the holiday season.  All that stuff that I just don't want to deal with all year long and ends up in boxes or piles or bags, it is in my room.  Piled on stuff.  Cluttering up my world.  Then, because of the moved in clutter, I allow other clutter to happen.  Not folded clothing and folded clothing piles up.  Don't know where to put that new gift, pile in mom's room.  Don't know where to put the replaced items? Pile in mom's room.  

The Christmas items have been stowed away, however, everything hasn't been put back where it came from.  I mean, in order to put things back they must:

  1. Have a place to go
  2. Have a clean place to go
None of that exists right now.  Sort of.  So this week I am devoted to putting everything back.  And those boxes filled with things?  Can we say "Resolution #2...".

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

2014 A Year in Summary

Another year has finished.  A year of growth, change, resolutions and books.  I didn't hit 52 resolutions this year.  I didn't read as many books this year.  I didn't become thin and in amazing shape this year.

I did work full time this year.  I did volunteer for organizations that I want to support.  I did continue to grow relationships, support my children and stay married to my husband.  These far outweigh the "didn'ts" of the first paragraph.

I finished the year celebrating Christmas with my parents in my home.  It was wonderful.  I finished the year sick with a lung infection.  Although not wonderful, at least I had the time to rest to recover.  I finished the year watching my sons be heroes, saving the life of a family friend.  A moment of wonder, horror and pride.

Resolution #36 of 2014 - What comes next year?
Books - 61 read, 4 more in progress