Monday, November 30, 2009

Clear Off Your Shelves Wrap Up

I participated in a Clear Off Your Shelves Challenge started by from October 1-November 30, 2009. My goal was to make a dent in the 67 books on my to read bookshelf at home. Along with reading review books and my book club books. I needed to read something that had been on my shelf and been wanting to read for at least 6 months. I set my goal at 20% of the books I read would be for the challenge. Here is how I did:
Loving Frank by Nancy Horan (for book club)
Seduce Me by Carly Phillips (for book club)
New Moon Twilight #2 by Stephanie Meyer (Challenge Book)
Dirty Little Angels by Chris Tusa (Review book)
So I read 1 book off my shelf out of 4.....25%. So, I met my goal, but am still disappointed that I have 66 more books on my shelf waiting to be read. I just wish life didn't get in the way of my reading. Oh well. The books are patient and loyal and will still be there, when I have some free time to read them. Thanks for creating the challenge!

Review: Dirty Little Angels by Chris Tusa

Dirty Little Angels by Chris Tusa
Set in the slums of New Orleans, among clusters of crack houses and abandoned buildings, Dirty Little Angels is the story of sixteen year old Hailey Trosclair. When the Trosclair family suffers a string of financial hardships and a miscarriage, Hailey finds herself looking to God to save her family. When her prayers go unanswered, Hailey puts her faith in Moses Watkins, a failed preacher and ex-con. Fascinated by Moses's lopsided view of religion, Hailey, and her brother Cyrus, begin spending time down at an abandoned bank that Moses plans to convert into a drive-through church. Gradually, though, Moses's twisted religious beliefs become increasingly more violent, and Hailey and Cyrus soon find themselves trapped in a world of danger and fear from which there may be no escape.
I was contacted by Mr. Tusa who sent me an e-copy of his book. He contacted me through If you would like to read more about Mr. Tusa, you can find his website at This book can be purchased on for $12.44.
This book came out in March 2009 and is set in New Orleans. The story is told from the 16 year-old daughter, Hailey's perspective. There is a lot of dialogue in the story and is very character driven. This makes it a quick and easy read. But the dynamics of the story do not make it "easy" to read. The story revolves around Hailey's very dysfunctional family....a depressed mother, an out-of-work/alcoholic/cheating father, and a older brother who is a drug user and following the "wrong path". The story reminded me a lot of The Glass Castle or Change Me Into Zeus' Daughter, both being stories that have lots of struggles between family members. As a mom, it was frustrating for me to see how the mother in the story was ignoring her family and their needs, as was the father. Just when I thought Hailey was getting somewhere with her mom, there would be another setback. There was plenty of drama in the story to keep me reading and interested in what would happen next. I wish the writer would have taken the story further....I hated to leave Hailey where it ended. My heart ached for her. The writer was able to shock and surprise me. It was not a predictable story. I think Mr. Tusa has a great talent for writing and making the reader visualize his characters and scenes. I wish him luck in his future writings. I gave this 4 out of 5 stars.

Mondays Matter: Week 48

Taken from the book Every Monday Matters: 52 Ways To Make A Difference by Matthew Emerzian and Kelly Bozza
-54 million or more people ages 5 and older have a non-institutionalizing disability.
-25 million disabled are of an employable age.
-78% want to be employed, but only 33% have a job.
-Disabilities are more often caused by accidents, illnesses, or late-emerging effects of genetics than by congenital disorders.
-Not all severe disabilities can be detected by the human eye.
-Over 15% of the cars parked in a handicapped parking space are parked illegally.
1. Show respect to the disabled today.
2. Don't park in a handicapped parking space or use handicapped plates or placards illegally. Designated parking for the handicapped is a necessity.
3. Don't use handicapped bathroom stalls unless you're handicapped. A handicapped person's need to use the restroom may be just as urgent as yours, and the handicapped one is the only one they are able to use.
4. When you see a handicapped license plate, slow down and show consideration rather than tailgating or honking.
5. Open a door, roll a wheelchair up or down an incline, carry shopping bags, or offer an arm in challenging weather conditions or on uneven walkways.
The majority of people with disabilities want to be totally integrated into all aspects of society. No one plans to get a disability, it just happens, every day to someone. One day it could be you. With more awareness, respect and helpfulness, you can make someone's life a little bit easier.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

"Blessed" On This Thanksgiving

I love Martina McBride and I heard her song "Blessed" again the other day and I realized how it says just what I am feeling at this time of year. So, I wanted to share the lyrics with you. May you be blessed this Thanksgiving and share your blessing with others as Christmas approaches!


I get kissed by the sun each morning
Put my feet on a hardwood floor
I get to hear my children laughing
Down the hall through theBedroom door
Sometimes I sit on myFront porch swing
Just soaking up the day
I think to myself, I think to myself
This world is a beautiful place

I have been blessed
And I feel like I've found my way
I thank God for all I've been given
At the end of every day
I have been blessed
With so much more than I deserve
To be here with the ones that love me
To love them so much it hurts
I have been blessed

Across a crowded room,
I know you know what I'm thinking
By the way I look at you
And when we're lying in the quiet and
No words have to be said
I think to myself, I think to myself
This love is a beautiful gift
I have been blessed
And I feel like I've found my way
I thank God for all I've been given
At the end of every day
I have been blessed
With so much more than I deserve
To be here with the ones that love me
To love them so much it hurts
I have been blessed

When I'm singing my kids to sleep
When I feel you holding me
I know
I have been blessed
And I feel like I've found my way
I thank God for all I've been given
At the end of every day
I have been blessed
With so much more than I deserve
To be here with the ones that love me
To love them so much it hurts
I have been blessed

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mondays Matter: Week 47

Taken from the book Every Monday Matters: 52 Ways To Make A Difference by Matthew Emerzian and Kelly Bozza.
-Meditation and prayer shift brain activity from the stress-prone right frontal cortex to the calmer left frontal cortex.
-Slowing the breathing rate to 6 breaths per minute synchronizes breathing with cardiovascular rhythms resulting in enhanced cardiac health.
-Physiological benefits of prayer and meditation include anit-aging, deep rest, decreased blood pressure, high skin resistance, and easier breathing.
-Psychological benefits include increased brain-wave coherence, greater creativity, decreased anxiety and depression, improved learning and memory, and increased happiness and emotional stability.
1. Fnd a quiet place to be still.
2. Take deep breaths to help you relax.
3. Meditate or pray.
4. With a clearer mind, journal your own thoughts and insights.
5. Make meditation or prayer a part of your daily life.
I have definately found that when I am anxious, stressed, depressed, nervous, or worried, when I begin to pray about it and give my worries and concerns to God, I can physically and emotionally feel the weight lifted off of me. I begin to feel a peace over me and I can let go. Are there some things that you need to "let go" of? Find a quiet spot (mine is usually in my bathroom) and let breathing and stillness begin.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Saying Grace

Nearly every Wednesday after school we offer a program at our church called "After School Jams". Children preschool-6th grade come after school and have a snack, sing songs and learn about Jesus and how much he loves each one of them. Yesterday I was responsible for the lesson and I decided to incorporate Thanksgiving with saying grace. I had the preschool-1st grade group and we talked about the kind of prayers we say before our meals and before bedtime. Then we talked about how before Jesus fed the 5000 with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, he said Thanks to God. Then each of the kids told the group something they were thankful that God gave to them. The kids completed the lesson with a foam craft that said "Let us thank the Lord for his many blessings". I reminded them that Thanksgiving is an excellent time to think about God and his many gifts that he has given us and to share that with our families. This lesson really got me thinking about my many, many blessings. The Lord has provided me with so much love throughout my life and I just don't thank Him enough for that. I am also sad to admit that we don't always thank God before each meal or even before we go to bed. It is usually one of the kids that reminds me. I get into the mechanics of getting the food on the table and getting everyone food on their plate and milk in their glass and usually by the time I sit down everyone is already eating. So, I am going to try to consciously stop and take a minute to thank God for our food and as I am laying in bed, thank God for the blessings he gave me this day.

At Bible Study Fellowship ( they handed out a lesson talking about giving thanks at mealtimes with your children. So, if you haven't started saying grace with your children at mealtime, here are some examples to try:

Come Lord Jesus
Be our guest
Let these gifts
To us be blessed

For fruit and milk,
For bread and meat,
For all our food so good to eat
we thank you, God

Thank you, God
For food so good
Please help me do
The things I should.

Our children also like to throw in extra things like Thank you, God, for my brothers, or for my teachers, or for my mom and dad. I think the more personal you make it, the more likely your family will be to start this new tradition. If it just comes from memory it gets to the point where it is just words and has no meaning. But, the above prayers are a good place to start and a way to get comfortable praying if you haven't ever prayed before. Saying grace at the table acknowledges that all things come from God and gives God a seat at your table. What an excellent way to bring calm to your meal. If you haven't ever said "grace" please try it at your next meal. Fold your hands or hold hands around the table and thank God for all he has provided for your family.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Do you want this cute pillow?

My friend Wendy at has an awesome giveaway. She makes these amazing pillows that you can put your child's name on. I think they are super cute and wanted to tell you all about them. You can win one by going to her blog and leaving a comment there...

A thought for the day..............

I saw this today and it really was something I needed to hear. So maybe it will be helpful for you to hear as well.

Every guilt-driven "yes" means a "no" to something important in my life.

For example: A "yes" to a committee means a "no" to a night home with my kids. A "yes" to preparing for a event means a "no" to a good nights sleep the night before.

So, think about the "yes" answers in your life and what "no" answers will come from it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Review and Giveaway: Build A Bear Workshop

Build-A-Bear Workshop has turned into Santa's Workshop this month and the elves are busily getting all your gift requests ready for Christmas. By going to your local Build-A-Bear Workshop or to you can find an array of gift options for anyone on your list. For the first time in select stores, Build-A-Bear is offering "Gifts on the Go", an array of customized furry friends that are stuffed, dressed and conveniently packaged in gift sets ranging in price from $15 to $40. Online shopping is easy and fun at with a whole new look. Shoppers can go through the Amazing Gift-O-Mate "Gift Generator" process that helps them identify the perfect gift based on the individual's character traits.

This season the elves are following the trends as well as keeping tradition in mind. Frosty the Snowman as well as Holly and Hal Moose are back along with new friends, Lil' Robot Hal, Alvin of The Chipmunks, Winter Hugs Bear, Polar Bear, Lil' Chocolate Cub Dressed as as boy Elf , and Brown Sugar Bear Dresssed as a Girl Elf. There are also numerous other ways to make your gift more personal for the sports fan, Star Wars fan, your little Princess, soldier, or even baby's first Christmas. To see all the great gift options available go to your nearest Build-A-Bear Workshop or go to Holly and Hal will be in a one-hour animated television special that will premiere on ABC Family during Thanksgiving week, Tuesday, Nov. 24 at 7PM ET/PT (with an encore presentation Sunday, Nov. 28 at 10AM ET/PT). The Holly and Hal Moose: Our Uplifting Christmas Adventure will be released on DVD on Nov. 25.

Build-A-Bear sent me the CUTEST Frosty the Snowman. Our daughter was so excited and has played and cuddled with him every day since we took him out of the box. This cute and cuddly snowman comes with a removable broom and pipe. By tipping his hat, you can find some magic....he lights up and makes a sound! Frosty, as shown, retails for $30. Frosty is available for a limited time and only while supplies last. But, thanks to my friends at Build-A-Bear Workshop, I have another Frosty the Snowman to giveaway to one of you!
To enter: Go to and look through their "friends" and then come back and leave me a comment telling me which "friend" is your favorite. Leave me an email address to contact you. This contest is open until 11:59 PM on Monday, December 7th. will choose the winner on Tuesday, December 8th. I will send it out right away, so you will be sure to have it in plenty of time to give for Christmas!
Build-A-Bear sent me two Frosty the Snowmen, one for me to keep and one to giveaway to a lucky reader, a $60 value.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mondays Matter: Week 46

Taken from the book Every Monday Matters: 52 Ways To Make A Difference by Matthew Emerzian and Kelly Bozza


-20 billion pounds of clothing and textiles are thrown away every year - an average of 68 pounds per person.

-1.5 billion pairs of unworn or barely worn shoes are lying in closets.

-Over 35 million people live in poverty and have limited money to purchase new clothes.

-On average, 3 million men, women and children are homeless at some point each year.

-50% of all homeless women and children are fleeing domestic violence, usually with only the clothes on their backs.

-Clothing donations to qualified charitable organizations are tax deductible.


1. Contact a local shelter or organization that receives clothing donations and ask about any specific clothing needs.

2. Look through your closet, kids' closet, or husband's closet for clothing, coats, shoes, suits, blankets, pillows, purses, briefcases, umbrellas, and scarves that are in good condition, and that you haven't used in a year or more.

3. Organize a clothing drive at work, school, your place of worship, or in your neighborhood.

4. Wash or dry-clean items. Don't donate items that are stained or torn.

5. Fold and pack clothing in boxes, attach appropriate labels, then deliver them.

6. Consider giving directly to a homeless person.

Donating clothing is one of the easiest ways to affect someone's life in a very tangible and significant way. Also, just look in your own family or friend circle. Is there someone that you could passs on your children's clothing to? I truly appreciate the clothing we get for the kids from my sister-in-law and a girlfriend. This helps us save money and then we continue the cycle by passing on the clothes we have outgrown to my niece's children, and my friend's children. You can help someone stay warm, wear shoes without holes, dress porperly for a job interview, or wear a new outfit for school. Look in your phone book for homeless shelters, call your local United Way, contact your church or school, and find out if there are families who could use a donation of clothing. Then go through your closets and drop them off. With cold weather coming, winter coats are going to be in high demand. Please consider dropping off a winter coat to an organization today. Do you really need all those clothes filling up your closet? Millions of other people do.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Review: Itza Bitza

Thanks to Mom Select for sending me the children's computer game, Itza Bitza to try and review for them.
Itza Bitza is a product started at Microsoft Corporation. It was designed and developed by experts in children's reading, cognitive science, computer technology, and game design. It was made possible by a love for children and a drive to delight them while helping them grow. Learning to read it one of the most important skills our children need. Itza Bitza provides simple short-chunk text that meets the needs of children. It is a game that brings your child's reading and drawings to life.
My 4-year-old daughter, Reagan was eager to try playing the game. Since then she has asked to play it quite frequently. She loves drawing her own parts of the story and seeing them come to life. There are choices all along the way. She can draw her own house and sun, host a party, get her mail from the mailbox, go camping, etc. As she moves along, she opens up new categories of play, so each time she plays is different. My daughter is already a reader, but if a child needs to know what the directions are, they just move the mouse to the words and they are read for them.
I highly recommend this computer game for your child ages 4 and up. It can be found at for $12.49. A great gift idea for your preschooler who will be getting ready for Kindergarten!
Mom Select provided me with 1 copy of the Itza Bitza game to test and review for them which I am able to keep. I was not paid for this review.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Mondays Matter: Week 45

Taken from the book Every Monday Matters: 52 Ways To Make A Difference by Matthew Emerzian and Kelly Bozza
-Over 500,000 children are in foster care and their average ages is 10.
-The average length of stay for all children currently in foster care is 2.4 years.
-14% of the children in foster care have been there for more than 5 years.
-Over 51,000 children are adopted annually through the foster care system.
1. Find a foster care facility near you. Contact them and ask how you can help.
2. Sign up as a volunteer and get your family and friends involved.
3. Be prepared. Volunteers at a foster care facility can be involved in everything from outside physical activities to arts and crafts.
4. Become a foster parent or adopt a child.
Our community has 2 families, that I know of, that have been foster parents and then adopted those same children. These are both families who have already raised their children and are starting over again. I am in awe of both of these families for the love they have shown to the children. Unfortunately, foster children often come from parents/homes where they were mistreated, abused, malnourished, and may even have special needs. To take on these struggles just astounds me and I have seen great changes in these kids since they first came to our community as foster kids. So, to add to the Action Steps above....thank a foster parent/adoptive parent today. Let them know you appreciate them, pray for them and the children, and offer support. These kids now have opportunities they never would have had in their original homes. These kids now have a chance. Foster parenting may not be for you, but for these kids, I am certainly glad they have this community to now be a part of, and a home where they can build happy memories.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Energizer Giveaway!

Energizer has generously given me another opportunity to giveaway one of their products. Energizer has answered the call for an improved battery from their value-conscious consumers. Energizer introduces their new and improved Energizer Rechargeable AA Battery. Consumers will see the benefits in increased charge cycles and longer charge retention while holding capacity at a high rate - all without an increase in price.

The improved Rechargeable AA now can be charged up to 500 times, up to 150 more charging cycles than previous Energizer 2450mAh Rechargeable AA. It will hold more charge at 6 months than previous Energizer Rechargeable AA. These improvemvents make the new Energizer Rechargeable AA Battery ideal for high drain devices like digital cameras and for low drain devices, such as remotes and flashlights.
I absolutely love my Energizer Rechargeable batteries. I use them in my digital camera as well as in my daughter's Leapster. They are a cinch to charge up and replace in no time. An now, with the new compact charger, it will make it much easier for me to take the charger and batteries along when traveling. I also like that the charger will charge both AA and AAA batteries.

If you would like more information about Energizer and their battery chargers, go

So, now on to the giveaway. I have one Energizer AA/AAA Compact Charger and 4 AA Energizer Rechargeable Batteries to giveaway to one lucky winner! This is an awesome deal! The charger has an MSRP value of $22.99 and the batteries have an MSRP of 11.99. So this is a nearly $36.00 value. With Christmas approaching this would be great for your cameras, hand held games, or that GPS that you will use to travel. All you have to do is leave a comment telling me how you would use your new batteries and charger. Be sure to leave me an email address. The contest will close at 11:59PM on Monday, November 30th. I will use to choose the winner on Tuesday, December 1st.
Thanks to Energizer for providing me with product for myself as well as the giveaway.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Mondays Matter: Week 44

Taken from the book Every Monday Matters: 52 Ways To Make A Difference by Matthew Emerzian and Kelly Bozza
-One of the fastest growing robbery crimes is identity theft by stealing mail.
-With password protection, more than one level of authentication, increased online security, and 100% protection in case of fraud, online bill pay is much safter than putting a check in the mailbox.
-Internet use and electronic account monitoring is the fastest way to detect fraud and decrease losses from identity theft.
-Banking information can be accessed via the Internet anytime, anywhere.
-Paying bills online saves the average consumer $6 in stamps and 4 hours of time each month.
-18.5 million trees would be saved annually if consumers viewed and payed bills online.
1. Go to your bank's website, click on "online banking" and follow the instructions to set up online bill pay.
2. Print out statements, view transactions, check balances, pay bills, transfer funds, and look for other financial information at your convenience.
3. Stop receiving bank statements and bills in the mail by signing up for online delivery.
4. If you're not able to connect online, then set up automatic payments over the phone. You may still receive a statement, but your payments will be automatically deducted from your bank account.
This is one idea that I am a little conflicted with. Both of my parents worked for the US Postal Service. This agency is feeling the effects of people communicating and doing their business solely online. For that reason, I don't do everything online. I still send letters, birthday cards, and bills in the mail. I do use online banking to be able to access our account, but don't pay my all our bills that way. Everyone has to do what is comfortable for them. Online bill paying is more cost-effective, more environmentally friendly, quicker, safer, and more convenient. But, you have to choose what method you are most comfortable with. Maybe starting with a few monthly bills and see how you like it. Next time you get a statement, check and see if they offer online bill pay.