Monday, January 31, 2011

BookSneeze: The Power Based Life

Read all my BookSneeze reviews here:

The Power-Based Life: Realize Your Life's Goals and Dreams by Strengthening Your Body, Mind, and Spirit 
The Power Based Life by Mike Flynt

I was pleasantly surprised by this book.  I expected it to be a boring, self-help book with a lot of mumbo-jumbo about how you can attain any goal by just thinking about it.  But it wasn't!

It is an engaging read, full of real-life examples.  It's well written and keeps your attention.  The book is subtitled: Realize your life's goals and dreams by strengthening your body, mind and spirit.  Mike Flynt knows a lot about realizing life goals.  At age 59, he went back to play his senior year of football at his collegiate alma mater.  Almost 40 years before he had been expelled from the very same school for fighting and never got to complete his football career there.  Now he has.  It took a lot of power - mentally, physically and spiritually for him to go back and fulfill his dream.  He tells about the process in this book.

The book starts out talking about using your power bases - your strengths.  He says "you should celebrate the thing you do well and stop worrying about the way God didn't make you."  Once you find what you do well, there are 11 things you do to grow.  Master the basics - "Find out the most basic things you're supposed to do; then do them over and over and over until you do them perfectly."  Change your attitude by changing your perspective.  Visualize your goals.  Defy your skeptics and believe in yourself - "You have to wonder how much greatness is lying hidden in our society today simply because these men and women of future greatness are surrounded by the negativism of this world."  Be ready to commit to your goal - "Commitment is a lifelong discipline of giving away all that you have for the sake of one awe-inspiring goal."  Know the team you are playing for.  Be yourself and be transparent with others.  Turn your adversities into your advantages.  Be compassionate and merciful with others. Maximize the time that God gave you instead of focusing on the urgent.  Keep your body healthy for a long life.

Each of these power bases is covered in an easy-to-read chapter full of stories and applications.  I would say this is a great book to read for anyone considering a life change or anyone who is ready to follow their dreams.

All quotes came from The Power Based Life by Mike Flynt.

She knows the truth

My 7-year-old daughter has just passed a huge milestone.

She now KNOWS.

Why?  Because 7-year-olds talk at school. Then they come home and ask their mommies if what their friends say is true.  And then their mommies have to figure out on the spot how to respond to their questions.

No, no, we didn't talk about THAT.  Hopefully I have a few years before THAT talk.

We talked about HIM - the SOS - the Secret of Santa - of more accurately the Secret of No Santa.

Julie's belief in Santa is pretty interesting to me.  We never pushed it much when she was little.  She really didn't wholeheartedly believe until she started Kindergarten.  Then, presumably because every other 5-year-old in class believed, she came home a full believer.  Even up to this year, she truly believed.  She got the email from Santa (that mommy set up via a website), she wrote Santa a letter and got one back (also a product of mommy's imagination), she saw all 3 Santa Clause movies - and through it all fully believed that the man in red was bringing her her heart's desire.

All it took was one friend telling her on Friday that Santa wasn't real to plant that doubt in her mind. 

You see, I'm fine with her knowing the truth about Santa, but I don't want the same thoughts to cross her mind about God.  I have been careful over the years not to equate Santa with God.  I've made sure not to tell her that Santa is always watching her.  Only God has that capability.  We've made sure she knew Santa cannot be more than one place at a time (he's just really fast).  Only God has that capability.

Because if she learns that Santa isn't real and he has characteristics of God, will she equate those two in her mind and think that God isn't real?  I don't know. 

Knowing the truth about Santa is actually pretty liberating for me.  I can talk to her more openly about why other kids get bigger and "better" presents for Christmas.  I can tell her about the great deals I got on her gifts (surprisingly, she is very excited about good deals - my child all the way). 

The truth is we had a really good conversation about it.  My goal was to make her come to her own conclusion about the subject and she did.  Her biggest concern was whether she would still get what she asked for.  After assuring her that we had always gotten her the gift she wanted in the past, and that was not likely to change, she seemed fine with the knowledge.  We also discussed how David still believed and how we would keep playing the game for him, and not stop his fantasy until he's ready to.

What about you?  Do your children still believe?  What age did you learn the truth about Santa?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Our (almost) free dinner at Chick-Fil-A

Just had to tell you about our awesome meal last Friday night.  I was taking a meal to a family at church whose mom had had surgery, so, obviously I didn't want to cook for my brood as well. Instead, we all went to deliver the meal, then stopped at Chick-fil-a for dinner. 

I decided before we left home that I was going to get us as free of a meal as possible.  So I looked through our handy, dandy Chick-fil-a calendars that I purchased in December ($6 each) and cut out all the coupons.  In case you aren't aware, you can use CFA coupons anytime during the year, not just in the time-frame it has listed on the coupon.  AND, as I found out on Friday, you can also use expired coupons.  I just LOVE Chick-fil-a!!!

So here are the coupons I used:

FREE 8-piece chicken nuggets (for kids to split)
FREE medium lemonade (for one kid)
FREE medium lemonade (for the other kid)
FREE large Fries (for kids to split)
(These 4 coupons fed my kids.  Then they ran off to play in the large, super kid-friendly play area.  Yay!  Burn off energy time!)

FREE Spicy chicken sandwich (for my honey)
FREE grilled chicken salad (for me)
FREE large Fries (to split)
FREE large Coke (for him)
FREE water for me (because tap water is always free - no coupon needed)

So there you have it.  I used 8 coupons, saved $18.15 and only spent $1.81 for us to eat (darn tax).  And since there are still many more coupons to use from the calendar, I definitely got my $12 worth out of it.  Maybe I should have bought more than two...

Review: Elizabeth, the Golden Age

Elizabeth: The Golden Age

I thought it would be a good idea after my Hobbies revelation to discuss my latest read.  The book, Elizabeth, the Golden Age, is based on the movie of the same name and follows Queen Elizabeth I of England during the height of her reign.  The story starts out in 1585.  It shows Queen Elizabeth's wisdom and grace as an attempted assassination takes places and as the threat of war with Spain looms over her.

It was very interesting because instead of just seeing the affairs of state that a ruler had to deal with, you see her personal life as well - her friends, her loves, her sorrows.  You get insight into why she never married, why she is the "Virgin Queen." 

Every little girl's dream is to be a Princess.  But after reading this book, you probably will never really want to be a Queen.  Elizabeth was always leery of getting too close to people because she never knew who loved her for her and who loved her for her status.  As a result, she was lonely most of her life.

Even though the book is fiction, there are many accurate historical points in there that I never realized.  I didn't realize the division that religion caused in Europe.  After Henry VIII (who was Queen Elizabeth's father) abandoned Catholicism and created the Church of England, Catholics were brutally treated in England.  They were tortured, interrogated and branded as traitors.  In fact the whole war with Spain during Elizabeth's reign was over religion.  The Catholic King of Spain wanted to bring the heathen English back to the "true religion" of Catholicism.  Even now there is a law in England that if any royal marries a Papist (someone who is of the Catholic faith), they give up all rights to the throne!  Wow, that's harsh!  No wonder the Puritans left to gain religious freedom. 

Overall, it was a great read.  It was easy to read and I finished the novel very quickly.  It was interesting and makes me want to see the movie (it's in my Netflix queue).  It also makes me very appreciative for the country I live in and governmental system we're under.  It may not be perfect and I may not approve of all the people in charge, but it's better than a monarchy.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What I've Learned Wednesday: Comments

I told you one of my goals this year is to learn about blogging for a business and how to generate more readers.  And I also told you how I failed miserably last week - the first week of my blog schedule - by not learning anything about blogging!!

Well, it's a new week and I learned something!!

This is probably pretty basic, but I have to start small. 
Kristen over at We are THAT Family talks about generating comments on your blog.  Between her post and the wonderful blogger comments that were left, 

I have learned...

1) To get more comments, I have to leave more comments. (It's the whole "be a friend to get a friend" approach.)  

That makes perfect sense to me and I will try very hard this week to follow that principle.
2) To get more comments, I have to talk about a hot topic, one that a lot of people have different opinions on. 

Ooooo, that one is more difficult.  Most of the time I'm pretty surface-level on here and don't go deep or write about controversial subjects.  So...I don't plan to change that anytime soon.  I'll just put that idea on the backburner for now.

3) To get more comments, I can ask the readers a question, or ask their opinion on a subject.

That one I have done.  And it does generate more comments.  But I probably need to do it more.  So, I will try this week as well to ask YOU more questions.

Well, that's it for my first lesson learned:  Be a bloggy friend, ask great questions, and possibly find a hot topic to discuss.

What about you?  What spurs you to comment the most? 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

All About Me: My Hobbies

I have had many hobbies over the years that have come and gone, but a few have stood the test of time.

1) Playing piano - I started piano lessons at age 5 in Kindergarten and took lessons for the next 10 years.  When I first started, my parents said I had to play for 5 years and after that I could choose to quit.  If asked during those first 5 years, I would probably have said I wanted to quit.  But there was something almost magical that seemed to happen that 5th year - I got good.  I got good enough that it was finally fun.  I could play songs that sounded like real music. Then I started playing famous pieces like Fur Elise and the Moonlight Sonata.  And piano became an escape for me, a way to relieve stress.

After I grew up, my mom (who also plays) got a grand piano and passed on to me the upright piano I learned to play on.  It's beautiful - a Mason & Hamlin built in 1897 and in our family since the late 40's or early 50's.  My mom learned to play on it, I learned to play on it (as well as my brother and sister) and now my daughter is learning to play on it. 

I don't get to play as much as I'd like these days, but I still love pulling out my favorite music and getting lost in it for 30 or 40 minutes.

2)  Reading - I think ever since I was born, I've loved books.  I learned to read at age 4 and ever since, have been devouring books, magazines and more recently blogs.  Reading provides a source of new knowledge, an escape (hmm, is that a theme?), and a way to connect with others.  Ever discuss a good book with someone?  There's just that connection you get from pouring over the same words and sometimes discovering different meanings in them.  In college, as an engineering major, I wasn't required to take more than freshman English, but I couldn't pass up the Intro to Fiction class.  I'm not too fond of writing essays, but I've always loved reading books and discussing them.

These days, I have a pile of "to-be-read" books next to my bed - some fiction, some non-fiction.  I also have a wish list full of books on Amazon to buy for my Kindle.  I hope that as long as I live, I will always love to read and to learn.

What about you?  What hobbies do you have that have stood the test of time in your life?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Julie's Sewing Skills

Growing up my mom could sew anything.  At least that's how it felt.  If we needed new Barbie clothes, mom could make them.  Cabbage Patch kid duds - those too.  And I remember her making a large amount of our Sunday dresses as well.

Well, guess what?  I never inherited those genes.

I tried my hand at sewing back in my middle school days and all I remember is getting frustrated, crying and having the hardest time making a simple apron.  So I stuck to cross-stitching and other less frustrating, more logical pursuits.

My daughter is different.  She started sewing with Grandma not too long ago after Grandma made her a mountain of clothes for her American Girl doll (the Cabbage Patch kid of today). 

Then Grandma surprised her for Christmas and got her her very own sewing machine!!  Julie has been begging to use it but since I didn't inherit those genes and have no idea how to operate a sewing machine (OK, I have a slight inkling how it operates, but no skill), we hadn't gotten it out yet.

Last Saturday that changed.  We drove to Grandma's for a lesson.

And when we left, Natalie (her American Girl doll) was one skirt richer.

Now, she'll have to start teaching me!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Snow Again

It snowed...


School's closed...


Just thought I'd leave you with a picture of how Julie entertained herself last week when school was out.
It remains to be seen what today will bring.
(In case you can't tell, that's 2 card tables next to each other with the addition of all the couch cushions and the end of the cushionless couch.  One mega, tent/fort thing.)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Review: Amazon Kindle

(I was supposed to write about things I've learned about blogging yesterday, but, you see, I haven't had the chance to learn anything.  So, I didn't have anything to write.  Already - in week 1 my January goals have flopped.  Guess I'll try anew next week.)

I was so excited in October when I received an Amazon Kindle for my birthday.

Kindle Wireless Reading Device, Wi-Fi, Graphite, 6" Display with New E Ink Pearl Technology

There is a lot of new hype/advertising for e-readers out there so I thought I'd start out Review Thursday with my feelings about the Amazon Kindle.

As with any new technology, it has its upsides and its downsides.  I love the fact that it's so portable.  I can literally take 100's of books with me just by carrying the one devise.  The Kindle I got ($139) can connect wirelessly to any WiFi system.  So if I am in a place with WiFi (including my home), I can very easily download a new book to read.  There is a Kindle that is 3G, meaning you can connect to Amazon and download new books from anywhere (works like a smartphone does).  It is $189.

There are TONS of e-books that are free on Amazon.  All of the classics are free all the time.  Newer books tend to be free on occasion, as in they are free for one day and if you catch it, you can push one little button on Amazon and they are yours on your device forever.  I've gotten lots of books this way because free is good!  Most of the other books are reasonably priced - a little lower than the paperback version of the book.  If there is a book that is not offered in Kindle version, you can request it to be.  If Amazon gets enough requests about a book, they will then offer it in e-book format.

As I said above, the Kindle allows you to very easily buy and download new books on the spot - way TOO easily in my opinion.  When you set up your Kindle, you connect it to your Amazon account in order to buy books for it.  When you look at a book in the Kindle store (on the device), the default button that is highlighted is the "Buy" button.  When you click it, there is no doublechecking, no window that pops up to say "Are you sure you want to buy this?"  IT IS BOUGHT.  Right then and you have the book.  On the upside, you get your book immediately.  Your payment information is already on Amazon so you don't have to enter in a credit card number or anything.  On the downside, it's way too easy to accidentally buy a book.  Since the "Buy" button is automatically highlighted when you go to look at a book, if you hit that "Enter" button one too many times you've bought it.  If your child is playing with your Kindle and looks at a book and accidentally hits "Enter", that book is bought, on your device and forever yours.  It's for that reason only that I will not get my daughter a Kindle.  (And I have searched all over the Kindle and all over Amazon's site and can't find any way to change this to make it doublecheck before buying.)

The Kindle differs from other e-readers in that it is not backlit.  They did that so it would look more like a book - white background, black text - and so it would be easier on your eyes.  The reason our eyes get so tired from looking at screens - computers, TV's, video games, etc - is because of the light coming into the screens out at us.  The Kindle does not have that.  On the plus side, that makes it easier on your eyes.  On the downside, you cannot read in the dark without an additional light (which Amazon will sell to you for an additional $14.99). 

Other drawbacks:
- You can only buy books from Amazon.  They need to come out with a universal file type like they did with mp3's so you can buy books from multiple places and read them on any device.
- You can't let your sister borrow the wonderful book you've just finished reading, even if she has a Kindle.
- You can "bookmark" pages, but it's still harder to go back and find things in the book. 

I've told you the pluses and minuses that I've found, but overall, I really like my Kindle.  I bought a cute sleeve for it to protect it in my purse.  It's great for waiting rooms and piano lessons and is just plain handy to have around.  I would highly recommend it to you.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

All About Me: My Best Feature

I know it may sound like I'm bragging, but we all need to brag on ourselves once in a while.  Usually when I look in the mirror I see all the things wrong with me, everything I want to change.  So I thought it would be good to start out this series with what I like about me - My Best Feature.

Can you tell? 

I love my smile.  That's my best feature.  I had crooked teeth as a kid, braces as a teenager and now I have a great smile that I am proud of.

What about you?  What do you consider YOUR best feature?

Monday, January 17, 2011

January Goal Checkup

Alright, I've gone out on a limb and told you my New Years Goals.

Since we are now halfway through January, it's time for a checkup (to my credit, it took about 10 days to make the goals, so it's only been 5 days since then).

I won't go through each one individually, just the ones I've worked on.  And I hope to do this at the beginning of every month to keep me on track this year.

Personal Growth
- Blog - I decided to keep me motivated and always with something to write, I would come up with a blog schedule.  As you have seen if you read my blog much, I am not very consistent.  So I thought I'd start small with 3 scheduled days a week - all in the middle of the week.  Then, if it goes well, I'll schedule the other 2 days.  So here's what I've got so far.

Tues - All About Me (You may be groaning right now because, really, do you want to know ALL about me??  But, in order for me to remember what I was like at this time in my life, I thought I'd include this.)

Wed - What I'm Learning - One of my goals in blogging this year is to learn more about blogging for a business.  In my mind that means reading other blogs that talk about it, learning the basics of HTML to update my blog and make it the coolest, and figuring out how to bring traffic over here.  Since I'm one of those people who learns best when I write things down, I thought I'd write it down on here and share my new knowledge with you.

Thurs - Product or Book Review - I'll let you in one what I've been reading recently as well as my favorite products. 

If you have any ideas about what you'd like to see on here, please feel free to let me know.

Physical Health
Exercise - It's official!  I have signed my contest contract at the Art of Weightlifting.  I am entered into the New Years contest.  My task is to consistently workout over the next 8 weeks using only workouts from the Art of Weightlifting as well as to keep a daily food journal on my profile page on the site. I have to show improvement in my diet and that I am trying to eat healthier.  Also involved are 3 update pictures - one now, one in the middle of Feb and one at the end. (By the way, you, too, can join the site for $9.95 a month and get Taylor Ryan as your online personal trainer as well - I get NO kickbacks from this.  I just think it's awesome!)

Marriage and Family Life
Family - We have started nightly Bible readings with the kids.  I found an online Bible Reading plan for children that sticks with age appropriate material (no Judges 19 for them) but gets them through the Bible in a year.  Both of my children have the Adventure Bible in the NIrV (New International Readers Version), which is an easier to read version of the Bible, one on a 3rd grade level.  (One that in Genesis 4 starts out with "Adam made love to his wife, Eve."  Yeah, good thing I was reading that night instead of Julie and gracefully skipped over that verse.  That would have sparked LOTS of questions!)

We're still working on getting our monthly date night on the calendar as well as scheduling our dates with the kids.

Growth -  I had a goal to limit screen time and came up with this great idea of DSi hours.  The kids could play their new DSi's every day form 4:45 - 5:30, if they have done their homework and Julie has practiced piano.  It would give them an incentive to finish homework early and it would give me a chance to make dinner in peace.  It was going great...for the 2 days they were in school last week.  Then they were out of school for 4 days for bad weather and all that kind of flew out the window.  But it's back on this week - nice weather, in school, DSi hours.

We're still coming up with ideas on teaching Julie to respect her parents more.  If you have any, I'd love to hear them.

- We have gone through and made a more detailed budget for our Disney trip in May.  After doing that and adding up the numbers - We already have enough saved for our whole trip!!!
- Our money per paycheck that we were saving for our Disney vacation will now start going in a Disney Cruise fund.
- We have been steadily putting money from each paycheck into our Roth IRA's.  They are no where near fully funded but they are better than they were a year ago!

Well, it's not perfect yet, but we have made some progress.  Look for my first All About Me post tomorrow.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Wanna Win $500?

The better question is "Who Doesn't?"

Of course you want to win $500.  Just go here and register for  When you get there enter their Valentine's Day gift contest by telling your favorite gift ideas for Valentine's Day.  One winner will get $500 and one will get a $100 Amazon gift card - both excellent prizes.

So enter away!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

My New Years Goals

I've kind of dreaded this post.  You see, if I write my goals for all the blogosphere to see, then I really have to follow through with it.  But then again, that's why I DO want to write it - accountability.

I'm not usually one for resolutions, but goals I like.  In fact, I'm a very goal-oriented person.  I really like Money Saving Mom's ideas on goals.  She took each area of her life and made goals for the year.  She also provided links to helpful worksheets on setting goals.  I took all this to heart, printed out some worksheets and together with Tim, made some goals for the year.  Some are broad, some are specific.  My plan is to update you on these goals once a month.

Personal Growth:
Spiritual - reinstitute a daily time to read the Bible and pray.  This includes time when I do my BSF homework.

Blog- Make a blog schedule.  Learn more about blogging for a business.

Mommy jobs- Come up with solutions for chores I don't like: cleaning, coming up with dinner ideas, discipline of children

Physical Health:
Exercise - Start AND FINISH challenge on the art of weightlifting site (my online personal trainer).

Food - Add a new veggie every 2 months (gotta start small here). Eat more whole grains and less white grains.

Marriage and Family Life:
Marriage - Have once a month date nights.  Have once a month date lunches.

Family - Have devotionals at breakfast or dinner.  Assist kids with nightly Bible reading.  Have Family Night 2x a month (games or movie).  Have once a month date with a child (switch children every month).

Children Goals:
Growth - Eat more veggies. Daily time with God. Reading with David.  Working on respect with Julie.  Limit screen time.  

- Fully pay for Disney trip with cash.
- Begin saving for Disney cruise.
- Fully fund Roth IRA.
- Up our amount in our emergency fund.
- Give to missions through our church.
I'll update you on January tomorrow.  Help me be accountable for keeping these.

What about you?  What are some of your goals for the year?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Happy Noon Years

So since I was "so three weeks ago" yesterday, thought I'd jump ahead in time and be "so 12 days ago" today.

Happy New Years!!

Our local mall had a cute little event for the kids this year at noon on Dec 31.  It was "Happy Noon Years."  It started at 11 with singing, a little magic and a little comedy.  Then they counted down to noon and made lots of noise.

We had some wonderful friends in for the holiday and we all enjoyed it.  (Although, as you can see David had had enough by noon.)  Julie, for the first time ever, stayed up til midnight to ring in the new year with us.  She was SOOO tired but just stubborn enough to keep herself awake.  That's my child :).

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Christmas Cheer

So, um, yeah, I know Christmas was "so three weeks ago," but I'm going to tell you about it now anyway. Why? Mainly because I want to and also because this blog is a scrapbook of sorts and I'd like to record events that happen to us. So here goes our "so three weeks ago" Christmas:

Christmas starts for us on Christmas Eve. We exchange gifts with Tim's extended family. We have two adorable ones on that side.
Our nephew, Chase - his first Christmas!
 Our cousin, Karson - his second Christmas.
As you can see, David is very excited about his new grill.  Now he can be like Daddy.
Boy she's growing up so much.  What a little lady!

Next up is Christmas at our house on Christmas morning.  
It's stockings,

Our DSi's from Santa (look he brought me one too!)

and of course, our mess!

Then onto Tim's sister's house for brunch and, what else? more presents!
Chase takes a little nap.

David is very excited about unwrapping all those gifts behind him.
 A yoda alarm clock!!!  Alright!!
 Silly Bands - now she has over a 100 of them.
 The long anticipated pillow pet.  She begged for one for months!  And has slept with it every night since then.
 Yay! More video games.
 Dance Central for the Kinect!  So excited about that game!

Then it was home for a nap, shower and some relaxing (between opening up new toys for the kids).  Last on our agenda was going to my parents house for Christmas with my side of the family.

This is my nephew, Nathan - he's the strong silent type.
 One of Julie's favorite gifts - her own sewing machine.
 There's me, handing out gifts.
 My neice, Kaylie, and her daddy - doing what Daddy's do, getting stuff out of packages.
 David's new 3 level car garage - way cool!
 My other nephew, Micah.  His mommy and grandpa are having lots of fun with his new track.

We thought that was it for the night - home, bed, relaxing...then we looked ALL the snow.  And we couldn't get our van out.  So...we ALL spent the night at my parent's house - all 13 of us.  Good thing they have a big house!  It turned out to be a lot of fun.  The kids had a big slumber party downstairs in the den and the parents played 8-handed pinochle.  We finally got the van out on the 26th and made it home. Yay!