Monday, April 30, 2012

Walmart: Fighting Hunger Contest

Walmart is currently having a wonderful Facebook contest.  They are giving away $1,000,000 to one food bank in the country to help fight hunger in their region.

The Second Harvest food bank in Johnson City, TN, my region's food bank, is currently in second place in the nation.

I would love it if you would cast a vote to help them win this important contest.  All you have to do is click on this link, add the app to your Facebook account and make sure you vote for the Second Harvest food bank in Johnson City, TN.

Thank you so much!

(Psst - voting ends today, April 30, so go vote now!)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Book Review: Stuff Christians Like

Stuff Christians Like by Jon Acuff

(from Amazon)
Sometimes, we fall in love on mission trips even though we know we'll break up when we get back. Sometimes, you have to shot block a friend's prayer because she's asking God to bless an obviously bad dating relationship. Sometimes, you think, 'I wish I had a t-shirt that said 'I direct deposit my tithe' so people wouldn't judge me.' 

Sometimes, the stuff that comes with faith is funny. This is that stuff. Jonathan Acuff's Stuff Christians Like is your field guide to all things Christian. 

In it you'll learn the culinary magic of the crock-pot. Think you've got a Metro worship leader---Use Acuff's checklist. Want to avoid a prayer handholding faux pas? Acuff has you covered. Like a satirical grenade, Acuff brings us the humor and honesty that galvanized more than a million online readers from more than 200 countries in a new portable version. Welcome to the funny side of faith.

My Thoughts:

This book is hilarious.  I have already mentioned it once on here but I thought it was worth a full review.  Based on the super popular blog of the same name, Stuff Christians Like, reminds you of the funny side of attending church.  If you have grown up in church or have been in church for a while, you'll find lots to relate to in Stuff Christians Like.  I found myself laughing and relating through the entire book.

Someone asked me if this book was irreverent.   Not at all.  Jon Acuff is a Christian and does not write anything against Christianity in the book.  (I even suggested his blog to my pastor.)  He just says what all the rest of us are thinking.  He allows us to laugh at routines and practices that we have been doing for years - like shaking hands during church or giving people the "side hug."

I highly recommend this book for good, clean humor.  As a side note, I have the Kindle edition of the book and I think this is a perfect book to have in e-book form.  Since the book is made up of essays or blog posts instead of chapters, it's easy to go to the table of contents and click on the exact essay you want to read again.  It's kind of like having a "best of" list on a blog and clicking on the posts you enjoy the most.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My nemesis

I fight an enemy in my house every day.

It's true.

I have a nemesis.

General Crumb and his cronies - Colonel popcorn and Sergeant Noodle.

And this one...

He's called the Enabler.  I know, I know...he looks awfully cute and innocent with no teeth.  But this is how the day really goes.

General Crumb and I have a battle.  I win...or so I think.  Until the Enabler comes home...and suddenly General Crumb reappears with a vengeance.

No matter how many battles I fight with my nemesis, in the end he always wins.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Book Review: Amish Nanny

Well, believe it or not but the book reviews I post for review sites are not the only books I've read recently.  I have some favorite authors out there that I just had to catch up on.

The Amish Nanny by Mindy Starnes Clark and Leslie Gould

(from Amazon)

Amish-raised Ada Rupp knows it’s time to make a commitment to the faith and join the church, especially if she wants a future with the handsome Amish widower Will Gundy.  

But when she has the chance to travel to Switzerland as the caregiver of a young child, she leaps at the opportunity.

Anxious to learn more about her forebears, Ada enlists the help of a young Mennonite scholar named Daniel, but even as she develops feelings for him, she cannot get Will from her mind—or her heart. At a crossroads, Ada must decide what she is willing to give up from the past in order to embrace her future.

My thoughts:
I love, love, love Mindy Starnes Clark.  She is one of my very favorite authors and I have read every book she has written.  

But this one just didn't do it for me.  I thought it was long and drawn out and I got bored halfway into the book.  Clark is known for her awesome mysteries with twists; however, the mystery in this book was kind of piddly and minor. I kept waiting for someone to be not who they appeared to be but that didn't happen.  Also, I was a little annoyed that the book was called the Amish Nanny when the main character doesn't become a nanny until 40% into the book (benefit of reading the Kindle version), and then she was only a nanny for a very short amount of time.  

My overall thought is that this book let me down.  I was anticipating another intense, fast-paced mystery and the Amish Nanny just didn't deliver.

3 out of 5 stars

Friday, April 20, 2012

Things I have Learned Since Becoming a Mom

I've been a mom now for almost 9 years.  There is still a lot I don't know about raising kids (Hey, who can know it all??), but I have learned some things.  Here is are some of my most important pieces of wisdom to pass on to any other moms out there.

  • Do you know what prize you get when you deliver a child naturally?  It's called a baby.  You get the same prize if you have an epidural or a C-section.  
  • Likewise, both breast milk and formula result in the same thing - a fed baby.
  • If you decide to stay home with your children, someone will think you are lazy/spoiled/ungrateful.  If you decide to go back to work after having your children, someone will think you are lazy/spoiled/ungrateful.  Do what works for your family.
  • The dishes will never be done.  While you are in the process of emptying the dishwasher and filling it back up again and running it and washing the big pots and pans by hand...someone will be dirtying up more dishes.  It will never end.
  • The laundry will never be done...especially if you have a little boy.  See above explanation and insert "clothes" for "dishes" and "washer" for "dishwasher."
  • Siblings will fight - no matter what gender they are or how old they are or how much they love each other.
  • It's important to eat with your family together at the table as much as you can.  Ask your kids about their day.  Ask your husband about his day.  Talk!  What's NOT important is how fancy your meal is.  Healthy food - important; fancy and time-consuming food - not important.
  • There is an unseen button on your toilet.  When you sit down on it, it buzzes your children's brains and makes them "need" you for something.
  • Every mother will have an opinion about one or all the above points and most likely it will be a different opinion than mine and a different opinion than yours.  That's OK.  Just remember - YOU are child's mother.  YOU are who God chose to raise that child.  YOU get to choose what is best for your child (with your husband's input as well, of course).
Those are just a few things I have thought of.  I'd love to hear your input.  What important things have you learned as a mom?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Life Lessons

I knew it had to come at some time.

That time in the life of a mom that you have to talk about certain things with your kids.  Things you don't think you'd ever have to say.

Things about...

the toilet...
and how much toilet paper to use...
and how if it looks like it might be clogged, really we shouldn't use that toilet...
and really we should tell mommy and daddy before that toilet overflows...

Let's just say we've had to plunge a toilet 4 times in the last 2 weeks.

And I'd really like to stop the plunging right there.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

March Reading List

I'm reading 24 books this year.  Want to join me?  See the whole list here.

The two books on my "March Reading List" were Different Children, Different Needs by Charles Boyd and Face of Betrayal  by Liz Wiehl.
The main purpose of this book is to discover what personality type you are and what type your child(ren) is.  Using that information, you can better parent them to help them thrive.  Boyd uses the DISC method of personality testing.  With each personality type, he has chapters on what to expect from that type of person - both the parent and the child.  The book was informative, although a little boring.  And some of the examples were outdated.  The version of the book I was reading also had a smaller font and small margins.  It made it hard to read.  In short, read the book if you are really having a hard time with personality clashes in your household.  Otherwise, you can probably pass.

I decided to add Hand of Fate to my list as well.  Both it and Face of Betrayal are in the Triple Threat Club series by Liz Wiehl.  (I have reviewed the third and fourth books in the series as well.)  I loved these books. In Face of Betrayal, a senate intern has gone missing during her Christmas break back home in Portland, Oregon.  Thankfully, the newly formed Triple Threat Club is on the case.  From FBI agent, Nicole Hedge and federal prosecutor, Allison Pierce to their new resource, crime reporter, Cassidy Shaw, the Triple Threat Club must figure out where the intern is and what has happened to her.  As in any good crime novel, the ending will surprise you.  This book is well written and keeps you on the edge of your seat.

In Hand of Fate, controversial radio talk show host, Jim Fate, receives a lethal package addressed to him and dies in his studio during his show.  A personal friend of one of the Triple Threat, can they figure out who killed him and why?  Once again Wiehl writes a riveting crime novel with a cool twist at the end.

My conclusion - read them both, my friend, and enjoy.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Links I'm Loving Right Now

Lots of stuff going on...not a lot blogworthy.

Thought I'd give out some linky love:

Fun new app - Wikits is coming to the Web
Awesome post about what Easter really means - Better me than you

E-book that makes me laugh - Stuff Christians Like

Friday, April 6, 2012

Blogging for Books: The Daughter's Walk

The Daughter's Walk by Jane Kirkpatrick

In 1896 Helga Etsby accepts a wager form wealthy fashion sponsors in New York City.  She is to walk across the country, from Spokane, WA to NYC, wearing and promoting the new "reform dress" - a dress that is worn, scandalously, above the ankles instead of below.  She has 7 months to walk the 7000 miles and if she does so, she will receive $10,000, enough to save the family farm from foreclosure.

In a choice that will change their lives forever, Helga decides that her 18 year old daughter, Clara, will accompany her on the walk.

Tragedy strikes while they are walking across the country.  The resulting backlash forms a rift between Clara and her family; one that puts her in exile for over 20 years.

My Thoughts:

Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres.  I enjoy learning about life in the past while still having the benefit of fiction to ensure a happy ending.  This book did not deliver that.

I did enjoy all the details of turn of the century life in this book - how much things cost, the clothes they wore, etc.  I was interesting to think that Clara was born almost exactly 100 years before I was.  I also liked the strong women portrayed during the walk across the country.  Helga and Clara did something most people today couldn't do.

What I did not enjoy was the fact that these women could not seem to catch a break the entire book long.  Helga becomes broken and depressed while Clara becomes independent and stubborn to the point of alienating those around her.  I know the book is based on true events, but it's also fiction.  I think the author could have made some of the things in Clara's life work out happily.

In terms of actual writing style, I enjoyed the writing of the first section, the walk, better than the rest of the book.  However, the author uses some terminology that a modern reader doesn't know, such as what a railroad trestle is.  A bit more explanation would have been helpful.

I thought the second section of the book, the exile, was downright boring.  There were a lot of details about the fur industry - trapping, auctions, manufacturing - that really just didn't hold my attention.  The personal details of Clara's life during this time were very frustrating.

I did not enjoy this book and cannot give it a good recommendation.

I give this book 2 stars out of 5.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Good Things: Part 3

Several weeks ago we had some really good things happen and some really unexpected things.  You can read about good things with my health and good things with David's teeth.

Our "New" Van
We got a "new" van.

Actually there's a little more to the story than that.  We weren't planning to get a new van.  I loved our old Honda Odyssey van. The trusty thing was 11 years old and had 155,000 miles on it.  We were planning to drive that thing for at least 50,000 more until it died.  But that death was going to come sooner than later.

We got the kill code.  Yup, the "check engine" light came on.  I took it in to get it checked out, thinking we might have a couple hundred dollars worth of fixing to do.  But instead, we were told that the the code that came up was the kill code - new transmission needed.  $4500 for a new transmission ($1500 for a rebuilt one), on a van that was worth about $2000.

So...we decided it was time to look at getting another van.  We don't usually buy new vehicles and this was no exception.  But we did find an awesome used van - another Odyssey, 2009, 37,000 miles.

And it had some features that we weren't necessarily looking for, but they are, oh, so nice!
DVD player, backup camera, automatic liftgate and a sunroof.

While we were not happy about suddenly finding ourselves with the choice between a huge car repair and an unwanted car payment, we are VERY excited about getting a cool new ride!

That was the end of our eventful week.  There are always exciting things happening to us, but that week they seemed to occur boom, boom, boom.  So they seemed even more exciting.  Thanks for letting me share them with you.

I'd love to hear some exciting things happening in your life!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Pennies for Minutes

It's Spring Break at our house!


That means sleeping in, playing outside, reading books and...
screen time.

Yes, for my kids, they LUV their screen time - TV, Netflix on the tablet, XBOX, DSi and computer games.

I knew I had to somehow limit our screen time this week, so I racked my brain trying to come up with a good system and this is what I came up with.

Two cups and 8 pennies.

Each child has a cup that starts out with 4 pennies every day.  Each penny is worth 30 minutes of screen time.  They can choose when to spend their pennies during the day, but a few rules apply:

  1. You must play something for 15 minutes after using a penny before you can use another penny.
  2. You cannot save pennies for the next day - use it or lose it (not that I think that's going to be a problem).
  3. Screen time applies to anything with a screen.  So no trying to sneak in something I didn't specifically state on the list above.
For the most part the kids are excited about the new system.  Of course this kind of thing brings out the imagination in David.  He tries to think of ways to get around it and earn more screen time.

"Can I add pennies from my piggy bank?"

"Can we add more pennies on our birthday?"

So, we'll see if this system lasts but for now, it works for us.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Booksneeze: Eyes of Justice

Eyes of Justice by Lis Wiehl and April Henry

(From the back of the book)
The Triple Threat Club has solved intense murder mysteries before…but this time it’s personal.
Cassidy, Allison, and Nicole fight for justice every day—Cassidy as a crime reporter, Nicole as an FBI agent, and Allison as a federal prosecutor. Together they’re a Triple Threat to be reckoned with.
But when a ruthless murderer kills one of their number—and the authorities seem intent on keeping them out of the investigation of the crime—their desire for justice goes into overdrive. They find an unexpected ally in a quirky private investigator named Ophelia whose methods confound the wise.
Yet just when it seems police have the killer in custody and justice is within sight, he somehow strikes again. Not knowing whom to trust, the team engage in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with the killer. Nothing can be taken at face value…and nothing will ever be the same.
A riveting Triple Threat mystery that will leave readers shocked and satisfied.
My Thoughts:
The Triple Threat Club is at is again.  This is the fourth book in the series by Wiehl and Henry.  You can see my review of Heart of Ice, book three in the series, here.
I love Wiehl and Henry's strong female characters and I love how they have such different roles in solving crimes.  The authors do a great job of taking you behind the scenes and showing you what really happens in the FBI, the federal prosecutor's office and the local TV studio.  They also do a great job of transporting you to Portland, Oregon and giving you a feel for life there.
What I didn't love was the authors killing off one of the main characters!!  Oh, it made for some good fiction because, as a reader, you don't really expect the main character to die.  In fact, it took half of the book to convince me that she was really dead.  But as a romantic, I didn't really want it to be true.  It made it harder that we didn't know where that character was spiritually when she died.
True to Triple Threat Club novels, the plot was great, and there was enough suspense and surprise to keep the reader turning pages until the end (or clicking Kindle buttons, in my case).  I didn't really like their choice of killer though.  Guess that's just personal preference.
Nevertheless, I thought Eyes of Justice was still a great read.  It still kept me up at night reading until the very end.  When Wiehl and Henry kill off one character, they bring in another to take her place.  Presumably so that the series can go on.
If you have read the other Triple Threat novels, you should definitely read this one too.  If you haven't read novels 1 through 3, I would go and read at least one those first before you read this one.
I look forward to seeing what Wiehl and Henry do with another novel and a new Triple Threat Club cast.
I give the book 5 out of 5 stars.
I received a complimentary Kindle version of this book to review from Booksneeze.  All opinions are my own.