Friday, January 27, 2012

DigiScrap: Painting and Halloween

Getting closer with finishing 2009.  All the way up to the end of October now.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

NetGalley: Girls Uncovered

Girls Uncovered: New Research on What America's Sexual Culture Does to young Women by Freda Bush, MD, Joe McIlhaney, Jr. MD and Stan Guthrie

(from Amazon)
Any parent can identify with the feeling that girls growing up in America face a treacherous future; Girls Uncovered unveils the facts. In a follow up to their eye-opening release, Hooked, obstetricians Joe McIlhaney and Freda Bush present stunning scientific research on the development of young girls in America's increasingly reckless sexual culture. They survey the reality of prevalent sexual behaviors and attitudes as well as their psychological, social, physical, and spiritual effects. Despite the harrowing facts revealed by their studies, McIlhaney and Bush give us hope through their expertise as physicians and parents of daughters. Girls Uncovered provides fundamental wisdom and practical advice to help parents, counselors, and church leaders guide young girls safely through the challenges they will face so they can achieve their potential and enjoy full health, hope and happiness.

My Thoughts:

Every parent of a daughter who is going to be a teenager one day needs to read this book!  Girls Uncovered was phenomenal.  In no-nonsense language Bush and McIlhaney tell the truth about STI's (sexually transmitted infections), teenage pregnancy, the social stigma and the psychological effects of teenagers and young adults having casual sex and multiple premarital sex partners.

Although listed in some places as a Christian book, there is no references to the Bible in the book and no references to abstaining from premarital sex because of religious beliefs.  What Girls Uncovered does say is that abstaining from premarital sex is in a teenage girls best interest physically.  

The book is chock full of statistics that tell the real story; how, as Bush and McIlhaney put it, "sex is sexist."  Meaning that most of the bad things that result from casual sex - STI's, teenage pregnancy, bad social stigmas - happen to girls, not to boys.  The premise is that society used to protect our girls but now we, as a society, have done the opposite.  We have sexualized our girls so much in the media that teenagers feel like that are abnormal if they aren't having sex.  Bush and McIlhaney make the claim that we need to work together to remove that image from the media, to tell our girls the truth about what can happen when they have sex (and the true statistics of how often those things happen) and to help keep our young girls covered in society's protection.

I thought this was an excellent book.  It was so honest, it was actually scary reading it as a mother of a soon-to-be preteen daughter.  But I want my daughter to know the truth.  I want her to know that when we tell her to save sex for marriage, we are trying to protect her.  This book is an excellent resource to get that truth across.  It tells story after story of heartbreak when girls didn't know the truth or chose not to believe it.  And, before you ask, no, I'm not going to read it to my 8-year old daughter at this point in her life.  But I am going to buy the actual paper version of this and keep it until she's older and ready to hear it.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

I received a complementary Kindle version of this book from NetGalley.  All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

DigiScrap: Day out with Thomas, Circus Time

Continuing with my goals, here's my latest 4 digital scrapbook pages.

I use Creative Memories' StoryBook Creator software to create my pages (in case you are wondering).  They are having a big sale on the printed books (getting all these digital pages printed out in one big book) and it ends this Thursday.  So I would love to get all my 2009 pages done by then and order a book, but I don't know whether that will happen or not.  I still have Oct, Nov and Dec to go...and there are LOTS of pictures in those months.  Wish me luck...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Blogging for Books: A Sound Among the Trees

A Sound Among the Trees by Susan Meissner

(from Amazon)
A house shrouded in time.
A line of women with a heritage of loss.

As a young bride, Susannah Page was rumored to be a Civil War spy for the North, a traitor to her Virginian roots. Her great-granddaughter Adelaide, the current matriarch of Holly Oak, doesn’t believe that Susannah’s ghost haunts the antebellum mansion looking for a pardon, but rather the house itself bears a grudge toward its tragic past.

When Marielle Bishop marries into the family and is transplanted from the arid west to her husband’s home, it isn’t long before she is led to believe that the house she just settled into brings misfortune to the women who live there.

With Adelaide’s richly peppered superstitions and deep family roots at stake, Marielle must sort out the truth about Susannah Page and Holly Oak— and make peace with the sacrifices she has made for love.   

My Thoughts:

Wow!  This book totally drew me in.  I didn't realize until I was done with the book that I have read another book by this author.  As with the Shape of Mercy, this book was excellent!

The writing switches each chapter from elderly Adelaide's point of view to new bride Marielle's.  Both women, in their own way, wrestle with the haunting of the house - whether a haunting by ghosts or memories, neither can decide.

Adelaide feels her house, Holly Oak, has a grudge against any women born to its family, a grudge held over from Civil War times.  Marielle feels the house has an unnatural pull to the memories of its dead, former inhabitants, one of whom is her new husband's first wife and the mother of his children.

It takes the discovery of letters written during the Civil War to clear up the mystery enshrouded in Holly Oak.  One third of the book is taken up by these letters written from young Susannah Page (transplanted southerner) to her cousin in Maine during the first 3 years of the Civil War.  These letters are beautifully written and weave a story all their own, in ways connected with that of Adelaide and Marielle and in ways separate.  When I got to that part of the story, I literally could not put the book down.  It was that intriguing.  In beautiful imagery, these letters show the ugliness and unfairness of war, that no matter which side of the conflict you are on, no one really wins.  The victory only comes in the healing of a country and a family after the war is done.

I highly recommend this book.

I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

I received a complementary Kindle version of this book to review by the Blogging for Books program.  All opinions are my own.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

24 Books I Plan to read in 2012

One of my favorite bloggers is Money Saving Mom.  Not only does she tell us about deals in stores and online, but she also has excellent posts on setting goals.

One of her goals is to read 24 books in 2012.
I decided this would be an excellent thing for me to do as well.
While I normally do read a lot, I still have loads of books at my house that I have never read.

So, my reading goal for the year is to read one fiction book and one non-fiction book each month that I already own.  I will still be reading and doing book reviews for Booksneeze, Blogging for Books, NetGalley and Tyndale throughout the year.  But I am going to make reading my books a priority too.

Here's "the list":

January - Crazy Love by Chan
               Unlocked by Kingsbury
               Read reviews here.

February - Simplify Your Time by Ramsland
                 While We're Far Apart by Austin
                 Read reviews here.

March - Different Children, Different Needs by Boyd
             Face of Betrayal by Wiehl
             Read reviews here.

April - Love Life for Every Married Couple by Wheat
           Her Mother's Hope by Rivers
           Read reviews here.

May - The Power of a Praying Parent - OMartian
           On Every Side - Kingsbury
           Read reviews here.

June - Bringing up Boys - Dobson
          Rebecca - du Maurier
          Read reviews here.

July - Life Management for Busy Women - George
         Never Let You Go by Healy
         Reading these books was postponed.  Look for them in next year's list.

August - Too Busy Not to Pray by Hybels
              Betrayal in Paris by Fell
              Read reviews here.

September - Sacred Parenting by Thomas
                    Sadie's Song by Hall

October - Rocking the Roles by Hendricks
                Where the River Ends by Martin

November - Captivating by Eldredge
                    Burn by Healy

December - Wild at Heart by Eldredge
                   No One You Know by Richmond

I really wanted to put Mere Christianity by CS Lewis on there but it's an intense book.  I don't think I can just sit down and read it all at once.  So instead, I'm going to try to read one chapter a month.  Even at that, I won't finish it in a year.  But that's OK.  I think I'll need to think about each chapter for a while before I move on.

So there you have it.  My 2012 goals may not be that intense, but I am going to be adding to them with things like this little by little.  And now that I've posted this out there in cyberspace for all to see, then I'll be more likely to do it :).

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Booksneeze: This Thing of Ours

This Thing of Ours: How Faith Saved My Mafia Marriage by Cammy Franzese
(from the back cover)
A match made on a movie set and a lavish Beverly Hills wedding.  The beginning of Camille Franzese's story takes on the shade of an exotic fairy tale.  But a closer look at her marriage to mafia capo Michael Franzese exposes more than a decade of anguish endured in the shadows of her husband's crimes.  The fear of arrest, the prison sentences, the house raids from federal agents - Camille lived through it all, not knowing whether her family could remain unbroken amid the turmoil and uncertainty that accompanied her husband's life of crime.  Discover how Camille's devotion to her marriage and her faith in God's larger plan led to deliverance from devastation.  Hers is a story of choices, consequences, and the prayers that hold us up when everything around us is falling down.

My Thoughts:

I was very excited about reading this book.  It's not every day you get to find out how things really work in the mafia.  Well, unfortunately, if that's what you are looking for, this book will disappoint.  Despite the subtitle of this book, Franzese's husband was on his way out of the mafia by the time they married.  In fact, he left for prison less than a year after their wedding and from that point on, he was no longer a mafia man.

Her story is more about her life during the two four-year stints her husband spent in prison and what she learned.  There are two overwhelming themes throughout the book.  One is that you must stand by your choices no matter the consequences.  So you married a former mafia boss and didn't know it.  Too bad - it was your choice to marry him without researching how he got his money.  You must stand by your choice whether you like the consequences or not.

The other theme is that you must cover every part of your life in prayer, whether things are going well or not.  Cammy learned to rely on God when she was raising 3 kids with a husband in prison.  She had to continually rely on him when her husband got home and they adjusted to life together again.  She relies on him today to help her learn to relate to her grown children.

So while this isn't a book about life in the mafia, it is a book about forgiveness and commitment.  My only complaint is that the author tends to go off on rabbit trails at time and can be hard to follow. 

I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars.

I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book to review by Booksneeze.  The opinions are my own.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

My swagbucks Christmas solution

This is my wonderful husband with his one and only Christmas present.  Contrary to popular Facebook belief, this is not a toaster.  It is an Asus EEE Pad Transformer Prime, in other words a tablet computer running the Android operating system.  

He has wanted it for a while.  
But tablets are SOOO expensive.
What's our solution?

Thankfully in August, Swagbucks opened up it's website so that each person can have an account instead of just one per household.  With Tim and I working together, we were able to earn $300 worth of Amazon credit from Swagbucks in just 5 months.  We used that to buy Christmas presents, which freed up Christmas money to buy Tim the one gift he really wanted.

So, do I recommend Swagbucks?  
You betchya!

And this week, Swagbucks is making Friday the 13th a lucky day.   It's Swag Code Extravaganza Day, which means more opportunities to get reward points towards free stuff! It starts at 7am Eastern Time - throughout the day there will be 8 different Swag Codes, and if you can get them all, you'll have an extra 60 Swag Bucks in your account.

See you there!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Just to prove I did it

Well, week one went without a hitch, according to my 2012 goals.

I (obviously) wrote a blog post - the one about the goals :).

And I did...wait for it...6 scrapbook pages!!!
They are from way back in 2009, so they really needed to be done.
Oddly enough, when I started blogging, I stopped cropping...hmmm, wonder if that's related....

Anyhoo, I'm back at it.  I'm hoping to get the rest of my 2009 album done this month.  I'm up to about August, so, we'll see if it happens.  I'm optimistic :).

Here's the proof:

And I'm already on top of things for this week.  I've done 2 pages so far and hope to do more tonight.

Do you scrapbook?  If so, how far behind are you (please say "a lot" so I feel better)?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

2012 Goals

When I opened up my Google Reader this week, I was met with every blogger I know (well, almost everyone) posting their 2012 goals for the year.  So I figured, what the heck, I'll join the crowd.

Last year I posted some pretty lofty goals in everything from personal growth to finances.  Even though I did accomplish most of those goals, I've decided to set lower expectations for myself this year.  Maybe "lower" isn't the right word.  Maybe "more realistic" is better terminology.

Between my busy schedule (and, therefore, my high stress level) and my abdominal pain that won't go away, I just can't handle too much right now.  I might make some more goals for myself in a couple of months when I (hopefully) get this pain thing figured out.  But for now, this will be enough.

So, ta-da!  Here are my goals:
1) Write one blog post a week.
2)  Finish one 2-page scrapbook layout a week.

Yup, that's it.  Pretty big goals, huh?

OK, all you perfect women out there with the spotless houses, up-to-date scrapbooks and loads of energy, you can stop laughing at me now.  If I accomplish those 2 goals all year long, I will feel good.

And, since this is the first week in January and this is a blog post, then I have my first week 50% done.  Yay, me!!!  Now, to do that layout....