Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pumpkin Carving 2008

Every year we gather up all our pumpkins and search for the coolest designs and get to work. Typically it is Pat and I doing all the work, but the kids love seeing the designs come out on the pumpkins and then the real excitement of lighting them outside.

For me, it is all about creating those traditions and memories for the kids. Very soon, they will be able to do the creating and cutting while we sit back and watch the creations come to life. Until then, we are having fun creating the "magic". This year we chose to support our favorite teams, The Cubs, The Iowa Hawkeyes, as well as doing our name with a bat and the typical halloween fare of a jack-o-lantern, RIP and pirate skull. Tomorrow the kids will continue with our tradition of trick-or-treating around town with cousins and I will stay home and hand out candy! Then everyone comes back here for food, candy trading, and great fellowship!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What I Love

Lately I have been thinking about things that I LOVE! The things that just bring joy to my life. I think it is easy to think about the things we hate (house cleaning, smoking) and spend our time focusing on them. Instead, I thought it would be fun really think about those things I LOVE and try to list them and see if anyone else loves the same things I do! Then on those days when I am feeling down, I can refer to my list and pick something on it to pick me back up!

Things I Love!
My hubby, Pat
My 3 Kids, Patrick, Bennett, and Reagan
My parents
My extended family...too many to mention
Lindt Lindor White Chocolate Truffles
Time all to myself
My blog
My mom's cinnamon rolls
Lemon Meringue Pie
My friend, Tammy and all my other gal pals who each fill a need in my life
Sleeping in
Family photos
Having a bathroom all to myself
Flowers (especially from my hubby)

Who knows, I may have to keep adding to this, but for now, this is what comes to mind. Just writing these things down have brightened my spirits. What do you LOVE?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Review: I Know This Much Is True

On the morning of October 12, 1990, my twin brother Thomas entered the Three Rivers, Connecticut, public library, retreated to one of the rear study carrels, and prayed to God the sacrifice he was about to commit would be deemed acceptable...This is a story of alienation and connection, devastation, and renewal, at once joyous, heartbreaking, poignant, mystical, and powerfully, profoundly human.

This was definitely a difficult book to tackle. It was our book club choice for the month and I was eager to read it because, over the past 10 years since it was published, I have heard many things about it. It was also part of Oprah's Book Club, so it has gotten a lot of publicity, so I figured it must be a great read. The daunting part was that it was 900 pages! That was a huge commitment to read over the month, but it was definitely worth it!

The story was about Dominick and his identical twin, Thomas who was also schizophrenic. The book also takes you through the stories of Dominick and Thomas' childhood with their mother and abusive step-father. Then the story travels through the lives of their grandparents in a "manifesto" that their grandfather wrote to tell of his life. This story explores mental illness, abuse, anger, love, family secrets, power, and even grief. The character Dominick is someone you hate one minute, feel sorry for the next, and then are rooting for by the end. The book travels back and forth from their childhood to the present and eventually back in time to the life of their grandfather. With all the characters and time changes, it is not difficult to stay connected to who the characters are. The book was heavy (literally too...all 900 pages of it) and at times I had to take a break from reading it. I kept thinking, when is Dominick going to get a break? How can all this bad stuff keep happening to one person? I did at one point put it away for a week and read a completely different book, but I am glad I picked it back up. The story made me want to keep coming back to it and as I said, I wanted to root for Dominick. As he travels through therapy you struggle along with him as he deals with his anger, fear and grief. The last page was such a powerful ending to the story, it brought me to tears. I truly enjoyed watching Dominick grow and change in the story and was reminded about the power of forgiveness and moving forward and how that can impact the course of your life. This was a story that I was intimidated by, but am now grateful for the time I spent and for the effect it had on me.

To purchase I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE, click the photo below:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Review: The Safety of Secrets by Delaune Michel

"Now we're just alike." So Begins Fiona and Patricia's friendship that warm autumn morning in first grade in Lake Charles, Louisiana, their bond forged ever closer by Fiona's abusive mother and Patricia's neglectful one. Their relationship is a source of continuity and strength through their move to LA to become actresses; through Fiona's marriage and Patricia's sudden fame. When husband and career pressures exact a toll, the women wonder if their friendship can survive. Then a dark secret from their past emerges, threatening to destroy not only their bond, but all they've worked for as well.
I won this book from and was very anxious to read it. I was not disappointed. It was a quick and enjoyable read. I loved the storyline of a true lifelong friendship. As a mom, I was troubled by how the mothers treated Fiona and Patricia as children, but am glad they had eachother to grow up with. The storyline travels back and forth from childhood to the present. The secret between them isn't revealed until the last part of the book, but I was able to pretty much figure out what it was. Fiona and Patricia have a troubled friendship as adults and I did tend to take Fiona's side most of the time. Secrets are a big part of this story, both in their childhood and as adults. It made me think about secrets and when is it ok to have those secrets and when not and how they can carry on into your adulthood. Everyone has secrets that we have kept from their parents or spouses or family or friends. But, at what point do those secrets affect your relationship with those you love and at what point do those secrets need to come out. I think this book really showed a true-to-life example of how secrets can affect the decisions you make and the reason behind those choices. I loved when Fiona finally let her mother have it. I don't want to say more and spoil the story, but that was something that I felt needed to happen in the story and was glad the author included it. I just think the author really gave a great example of a friendship that has a deep history, has some betrayal, intimacy, and is strong yet fragile. Any woman with a best friend will love this story and identify with the struggle of shared secrets. I would give this story 4 out of 5 stars! I am sending my copy off to my cousin as a surprise and because she is one of my few "lifelong friends".

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Final Days of Giving

So, my final days of giving were days spent with friends and family. On Friday I spent the evening with my friend Tammy having a girls night out. We had such a great time, but fortunately I was more of the receiver because Tammy treated me for my recent birthday. But, while we were out, I bought a couple shirts and a dress for my kids and a birthday present for my hubby. Saturday we headed up for my nephew's wedding where I helped to watch my niece's 3 children while they were all getting ready for the wedding. Then my husband videotaped the wedding and I took some candid shots. Then Sunday was my great-nieces baptism. Since my sister (the grandma) had gotten sick overnight, I took photos and then helped at the house getting all the food ready. Of course gifts were given and lots of hugs and smiles and everyone had a great time. We even took a detour on the way home to watch my husband's nephew play soccer and win! So, it was a fabulous weekend. Unfortunately, whatever my sister got, several of the rest of us got as well. At least 10 of us have gotten a virus and we have been down and out since Sunday including myself and 2 kids. So, the giving even spread to the sharing of this nasty virus. Anyway, hopefully we will all be on the mend soon, and the giving that was done in the last 10 days will help me realize that I can be a giver every day in some small way if I just look for those opportunities!

The Secret Life of Bees

I read this book quite awhile ago and truly enjoyed the book. Then on Friday, I went to the movie. WOW! If you loved the book, you will truly love the movie. Usually my typical line is "The book is always better than the movie", but this time I think both were equally fabulous. The actors for the movie were well chosen for the roles they played. Numerous scenes in the movie were powerful enough to resort me to sobbing (sorry Tammy for sniffling through the whole movie). I was just drawn into the book in a whole new way and was very impressed with how the movie followed the book. Dakota Fanning is brilliant and many of her scenes were amazing. So, put this movie on your "Must Watch" list and if you haven't read that book, that needs to be on your "Must Read" list too!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Still Giving: Days 5, 6, and 7

On Tuesday I spent the afternoon with my family and husband's family watching our nephew play football. On Wednesday, I did the same thing I do every Wednesday. I attend a Bible Study called BSF (Bible Study Fellowship). Every Wednesday morning I go early and watch a few children while the leaders pray before we get started. I truly enjoy attending this Bible Study and if you would like to learn more about this international organization go to and find a class near you! I then got a haircut and gave my stylist a bigger tip than I usually do. Today was a crazy day for me. I was trying to get stuff done here at home and then run into town as I had to buy some gifts, groceries, and clothing. We have a wedding and a baptism this weekend in our family and had to make sure we all have proper attire. So, my son got new shoes, and the kids got new clothes. Then tonight I made a big meal for the family including fried chicken, mashed potatoes, squash, corn, and cantalope! This weekend we have a lot going on, and know there will be a lot of giving going on. I am helping to watch my great nieces and great nephew during the pre wedding/wedding festivities, we are video taping the wedding, we of course are giving gifts at both the wedding and the baptism, and of course, all the special family moments that will be shared will be the best part of giving!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Giving days 3 and 4

How's the giving going for you? Is it easier than you thought? Yesterday we went to church, so it was easy to write a check and give to the church. We also had friends over in the afternoon, sharing food and fellowship with eachother.

This summer I was in charge of our Vacation Bible School at our church. I didn't want to do the usual crafts that we do every year and spend the money on things that sit around and get thrown away after a few days. So, I combined our mission project into our craft project. I bought enough fleece for the kids to make 15 fleece blankets. I got them all trimmed and cut and ready to go, so all the kids had to do was tie them. I left 1 blanket undone for the older kids to do from start to finish. So, during our craft/mission time that week, the kids tied 15 blankets. The blankets were then to be given to our church members who were hospitalized, home bound, in a nursing home, or maybe just needed their spirit lifted. The preschool children who were too young to tie blankets, made cards to go with the blankets. So, after VBS, we have handed out 8-10 blankets to members of our church and all have been so appreciative of them. The children have been able to be a part of the delivery of the blankets and see the enjoyment of those who have received them. So, today, since we didn't have school, myself and another mom took our kids to deliver a blanket to a man who has been in ICU off an on for months following a stroke and is now in a nursing home. We took him the blanket and we were able to chat with him a bit. I hope it will lift his spirits and, of course, I hope we are instilling the giving spirit to our children!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

my giving days 1 and 2

I have begun the 10 DAY GIVE!

So far, nothing that I have given is earth shattering or huge on any level...but I haven't really gone anywhere to do anything big. Yesterday, I took time to sit down and play my daughter's favorite game, Cariboo with her. Tonight, we were treated to a visit from a praying mantis in our driveway. The mantis "Manny" we called him is an amazing insect. We watched him for quite a long time! So, I shared him with my neighbors kids as well. I called and invited them to come over and see "Manny" which turned into a mini football game and an hour of enjoyment by all! So, here is a photo of our praying mantis and the football game! Thanks Em for sharing in our day! Tonight we also had a visit from my sister-in-law and niece and I made apple crisp for them to enjoy! So, giving on a small level, but I still have 8 days left...who knows what is to come!

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Give Begins

A week or so ago, I signed up to participate in the 10-Day Give being sponsored by a Christian blog. I thought it was a great idea and wanted encourage others I know to do the same. I want to be a part of making other's lives better, but with everything going on in my life, sometimes I just ignore those opportunities. So, this is my chance to make sure I give of myself at least once a day to someone, anyone, whether I know them or not. There are numerous chances in any one day to accomplish this. You can start by looking in your own home, at your workplace, at the store, on your drive home, in your neighborhood, in your community, or even in the world.

You could give money, your time, your expertise, a token of appreciation, or even a smile. It could be taking someone out to lunch, buying a coffee for the person behind you in the starbucks drive through, it could be babysitting for an overworked mom, it can be as simple as giving your precious time to your child, or an elderly neighbor. There are no rules, no judges, and no right or wrong ways of doing it. Will you join me and give whatever you can? It’s only for 10 days, and maybe it will become a habit.

So starting today, I am going to give something to a different person, each day until October 19th, 2008. It doesn’t matter what the gift is, how much it costs, who it is given to, or how it is given. The point is to just to give - on purpose. I hope you'll join me! I will try to let you know what I have been doing each day! Feel free to share with me what you are doing!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Review: Every Freaking Day with Rachell Ray by Elizabeth Hilts

This book is an unauthorized parody of Rachael Ray who is well known for her cooking and travel shows on the Food Network, and her daytime talk show, as well as her magazine "Every Day with Rachael Ray".
I recently won this book and since I am a subscriber to the real Every Day magazine and watch her shows once in awhile, I wanted to read it right away. I read this book in an hour, but it was an enjoyable hour. I was very impressed with the way Hilts was able to mimic so much of Rachael Ray's style in her magazine and put it into the book...with a twist. Some of my favorites from the book were: 1- The Big Deal Kitchen Fix. They showed before and after photos of a kitchen with basically dirty dishes, poor lighting, clutter and then an after photo with a new sparkling kitchen with all items put neatly away and a new rug on the floor!
2- The Burgers of the Month. She listed a breakfast burger with eggs, bacon, and a burger on 2 powdered donuts, or the Thanksgiving burger with ground turkey, stuffing, cranberries, and gravy on corn bread.
So, obviously Elizabeth Hilts has a great sense of humor and a creative flair. Hopefully the real Rachael Ray is laughing along as well. It was an enjoyable, humorous, quick and easy read. I plan to donate my copy to our local library so others can enjoy it as well! Thanks to for sending me this copy!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

36 is here!

So, I turned 36 on Friday. Where did I think I would be at 36 when I was 18 and dreaming about my future. I know I imagined I would be married and a mom. I know at 18 I imagined that I would be married to someone different than who I am now...and that's a good thing. I was a senior in high school and dreaming of going off to college. I knew I wanted to be a social worker. After I went off to college, so much of my life changed. I did become a social worker, but didn't get married until I was 26. I was a mom at age 27 1/2 and no longer a social worker. This is my last year of being a complete stay-at-home mom. Our youngest will go to preschool next year. Now 18 years later I am thinking about what my future will hold. What do I want to be when I grow up? What do I want to do with my time when the kids are in school? Who am I if I am not "just a mom"? It isn't that I haven't thought about things I could do, but just which of those are the best fit for me. Being a mom has been my best fit. No matter what career I dreamed about or what college classes I took, all I ever wanted to be was a mom. How can I do anything to top that? How can I ever get that same fulfillment from any other job choice out there? So, as I move through my 36th year, I will look for those small opportunities that may step in front of me. I will cherish those mom moments because I know before I am ready, those hugs and kisses each morning and night will soon be "see ya mom" as they run out the door. But, most of all I will be grateful for the fact that I have the ability to choose what to do with my life and take which ever path is leading me forward!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Giveaway: Hannah's Dream

Booking Mama is giving away 3 signed copies of Hannah's Dream by Diane Hammond. You can read her review and a chat with the author here I really think this sounds like a fabulous book and thought you might too! If you fell in love with the elephant in the book Water for Elephants then this book is for you. Just leave a comment on her blog to be entered to win.