Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Guilt Free Week!

"Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent."Eleanor Roosevelt

I found this quote recently and it has been good for me to read it lately. I have been struggling with my relationship with someone and how they have made me feel. I have been upset and it has monopolized a lot of my mind lately. What I have realized is that I am LETTING this person get to me, I am LETTING this person hurt me, and I am LETTING this person affect my attitude. Well NO MORE!

Early on in our relationship, my husband taught me that I am the only person that can make myself feel guilty. That has helped me on numerous occasions. That on top of the quote from Eleanor Roosevelt is something I am going to say in my mind all week. And if this helps me, there may be someone else out there that could benefit from this too.

May you have a guilt free week!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Mondays Matter: Week 17



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

DONATE YOUR ORGANS

Over 97,000 people are in need of one or more organs.

77 people receive organ transplants every day.

There is no age limit on who can donate.

Most family members are not aware of one another's willingness to be a donor, even if it is indicated on their driver's license.

ACTION STEPS

1. Delare on your driver's license your wish to donate tissue and organs.

2. Carry a donor card in your wallet.

3. Sign up on your states donor registry today.

4. Inform your family, loved ones, and physician of your decision.

I remember getting my driver's license when I was 16 and the lady asking me if I wanted to be an organ donor. I never gave it a second thought, I said yes right away. I can't imagine someone in my own family needing a kidney, a lung, or even a heart and waiting day after day for one to arrive. Now, I realize that someone has to die to get that organ, but if it was me, I would want to be able to save someone else the pain my family is going through after losing me. I have known people who have donated their organs and others who could have and didn't. It is a personal choice, but for me, I can't imagine not giving. Every day, 18 people die waiting for a transplant. Everyday, new treatments, surgeries, and medical knowledge is developed. Who knows what kind of transplants will be available years from now, so please make your wishes known to your family, on your driver's license and/or by a national registry. You could save a life by donating a heart, a lung, a kidney, or even allowing someone to see again by donating your cornea. This could be your final and most significant gift on earth. What a legacy to leave behind!

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Moving Billboard



So, less than a month ago, we purchased a 2009 VW Routan. So far, I have loved it! Until today....a friend and I were coming back from our neighboring town and all of a sudden I noticed the RPMs were high and I couldn't get the van to go over 40mph. After a phone call to the dealership, the service manager told me it had gone into "limp home" mode which prevents me from doing more harm to the engine by keeping it at a low rate of speed. They asked me to drive it in to the dealership. Mind you I was 15 miles from home, had to take my friend home b/c it was close to when school got out and needed to pick up our kids, then drive another 30+ miles to the dealership...at 30 mph....all on back roads. I was NOT thrilled. Fortunately, my husband was able to meet me and we switched vehicles and he drove the rest of the way to the dealership. They were able to fix the problem but wanted to keep it to figure out why it happened in the first place. So, now, I am driving a "moving billboard". Tomorrow our kids have soccer and then my daughter and I have to drive 2 hours north in order to host a shower for my nephew's wife-to-be. So, I will be driving a white passat plastered with Volkswagon of CR and websites and phone numbers all over the car. I guess I should be grateful that I have something to drive, but I will be a little embarassed.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Review: Here on Earth by Alice Hoffman


After nineteen years in California, March Murray returns to the small Massachusetts town where she grew up. For all this time, March has been avoiding her own troubled history, but when she encounters, Hollis - the boy she loved so desperately, the man who has never forgotten her - the past collides with the present as their reckless love is reignited. This dark romantic tale asks whether it is possible to survive a love that consumes you. The answers that March Murry discovers are both heartbreaking and wise, as complex as they are devastating - for in heaven and in our dreams, love is simple and glorious. But it is something altogether different here on earth...
This book was our book club read. Our group was divided with a few loving it and the rest thinking it was just ok. I was one of the few who loved it. Alice Hoffman's writing draws you in from the very first page. She writes in a way that she can describe a scene without saying the words. It is easy to see why she is one of author, Jodi Picoult's favorite writers. You can truly escape in her stories. Even though this story was depressing, sad, dark, cryptic, and frankly, without much hope for the characters, I still was riveted until the very last page. I could feel myself being drawn into the characters so much that when they were scared, I could feel my own chest tightening. Hoffman describes the feelings of power and control so well, from both perspectives, you can feel yourself right in the situation.
I had so many pages and quotes marked from this book, I just want to share a few with you:
Is this how fates are made and futures cast? An idle choice, a windy day, a dog that can't mind his own business? Some people know the exact moment they lost everything. They can look back and see it plain as day and for the life of them can't understand why they didn't spot the situation as it was happening.
Among men and women, those in love do not always announce themselves, with declarations and vows. but they are the ones who weep when you're gone. Who miss you every single night, especially when the sky is so deep and beautiful, and the ground so very cold.
All over town tonight, the wind will drive women from their beds. They'll think of their first true love and search through their jewelry boxes for trinkets - gold lockets, ticket stubs, strands of hair. March would be one of those women, but instead she's here, on the road where there were once so many foxes. If truth be told, she's been here all this time, in their dark and windy place, like a ghost trapped inside the location of her memory.
Even though this book dealt with circumstances that most people would find sick or disgraceful, I found the story to be very believable. The subject matters were haunting and even though you didn't want to think about what you were reading, you couldn't stop turning the pages. I am curious to read other Hoffman novels and see more of her writings. I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars, but also realize this story isn't for everyone.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mondays Matter: Week 16



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

SUPPORT NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH

Over 3.4 million burglaries occur annually.

60% or more of residential burglaries occur during daylight hours.

Approximately 32% of all burglaries are by unlawful entry with no force: the robbers enter through an open door or window.

July has the greatest number of burglaries; February, the least.

ACTION STEPS:

1. Get to know your neighbors.

2. Organize a community watch program to protect your neighborhood. Get information from your local law enforcement agency.

3. Post a Neighborhood Watch sign in a visible window of your home and encourage neighbors to do the same.

4. Ask neighbors to be observant and report suspicious or unusual activities.

5. Let your neighbors know when you'll be out of town and leave a contact number where you can be reached.

6. Make your home safer by installing an alarm system, placing rods in the frames of sliding doors and windows, leaving outdoor lights (CFLs) on at night, setting indoor lamps with timers, and adopting a dog.

My husband jokingly calls me the neighborhood watch program. When we lived in the city, I kept a watchful eye out our front window. Mostly because I was home alone with 2 young children and there had been some burglaries in our neighborhood. Now that we live in a small town and on a dead end street I still keep a watchful eye out. Some may call it being nosy, but I am familiar with the vehicles that come down our dead end street. When I see a strange van or car come down the street, I take notice and watch where they are going. Sometimes they turn around and leave and then I make a mental note of that vehicle in case I see it again down our way. I live in an area that people frequently are not home during the day, and I want to help keep our little neighborhood safe. I would want my neighbors to do the same for me. I know all my neighbors very well and when we go on vacation we let them know, so they can keep watch over our home. A safe neighborhood is created when the people who live in the community look out for one another and their property. Keeping a watchful eye, noting unusual activities and vehicles, and talking with neighbors help create a crime free and safe community to live, work, and play.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

9 Years Already!






Nine years ago today, I became a mom! I gave birth to our son Patrick and will never forget that feeling when the nurse put him in my arms for the first time. Patrick is such a funny, bright, and unique kid. I love how he has his dad's sense of humor, and my musical talent. He is skinny like his dad was as a kid and a reader like I was. Time has flown and I can't imagine in 9 more years we will be getting ready for his high school graduation! This 9 went too fast and I know the next 9 will go even faster! I guess I better hold on and enjoy the ride!
I want you to learn a little more about Patrick and who knows, I might even learn something!







PATRICK: 9 YEARS OLD




What is your favorite TV show? Sponge Bob and Sports like college football


What is your favorite movie? This is hard, I've seen a lot of movies. Bedtime Stories, High School Musical 3, and The Final Season


What is your favorite book? Again a tough one, Magic Treehouse Series


Who is your best friend? Brody


If you could take a trip, where would you like to visit? Florida because it is hot there.


What are you really good at? Basketball, being a friend, Math


What is your favorite thing about school? Recess


If you could do whatever you wanted for a whole day, what would that day look like? Play outside, play basketball, have a big breakfast, watch movies, and play video games


What do you want to be when you grow up? A basketball player, The President of the USA, or a teacher.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Review: True Colors by Kristin Hannah


The Grey sisters have always been close. After their mother's death, the girls banded toether, becoming best friends. Their stern, disapproving father cares less about his children than about his reputation. To Henry Grey, appearances are everything, and years later, he still demands that his daughters reflect his standing in the community. Winona, the oldest needs her father's approval most of all. An overweight bookworm who never felt at home on the sprawling horse ranch that has been in her family for three generations, she knows that she doesn't have the qualities her father values. But as the best lawyer in town, she's determined to someday find a way to prove her worth to him. Aurora, the middle sister, is the family peacemaker. She brokers every dispute and tries to keep them all happy, even as she hides her own secret pain. Vivi Ann is the undisputed star of the family. A stunningly beautiful dreamer with a heart as big as the ocean in front of her house, she is adored by all who know her. Everything comes easily for Vivi Ann, until a stranger comes to town....In a matter of moments, everything will change. The Grey sisters will be pitted against one another in ways that none could have imagined. Loyalties will be tested and secrets revealed, and a terrible, shocking crime will shatter both their family and their beloved town.
I was looking forward to reading this, especially after recently reading Firefly Lane and loving it. I am one of 3 sisters and so was interested in the sister part of the story. I completely identified with Aurora in the story as the peacemaker and the one who is "always there" to help and "bridge the gap". The theme of forgiveness was strong throughout the whole novel and the author showed how difficult that can be, but how necessary it is to keep families together. I thought it was realistic that the sisters would go weeks or even months apart and then an event brings them back together. I liked Aurora's quote, "We're sisters. I just wanted to remind you. No matter what happens, what choices we make, we stick together."
Other themes presented in the story are alcoholism, depression, rivalry, anger, love, passion, and murder. I enjoyed the suspense of the book and the storyline kept me reading until the very last page. I also liked the storyline involving Vivi Ann's son and I thought it was an accurate account of how teens react to pressures of high school and that "left out" feeling.
The author's descriptions of the characters made it easy for me to picture each one in my mind and feel like I knew them. Her descriptions of the Washington coast were also beautiful and makes me want to visit the area myself.
I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars and would recommend it for book clubs as it would encourage great discussions about family relationships and forgiveness.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Mondays Matters: Week 15



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

RIDESHARE

Only 10.2% of workers rideshare. 52.5 cents/mile is the average cost to drive a car due to fuel, maintenance, tires, depreciation, and insurance. 34% of roads are in poor or mediocre condition due to heavy usage and lack of proper repairs.

ACTION STEPS

1. Find a rideshare partner. Ask a co-worker, fellow student, or friend.

2. Check with your company or school to see if there is an organized rideshare program.

3. Follow these guidelines: Meet new rideshare partners before your first commute. Discuss preferences like seating arrangements, music, eating, cell phone usage, and smoking. Set up a probationary period to try out the arrangement. Provide information about your rideshare partner to someone else in case of emergency. create an equitable driving and cost arrangement. Be punctual.

4. Do something meaningful with the $2,520 you save!

Since I don't work, I can't really speak personally to this idea. Although I have combined shopping trips with a friend so we both didn't need to drive. A few miles from our home, there is an area where several people park their cars, so I assume they are ridesharing to work. Since I live 30 minutes from the city, I do try to combine my shopping trips into as few days as possible. If I am already going in for something I get all my errands done in that day so I don't have to go back. No, it isn't ridesharing, but I am trying to reduce the amount of trips I make.

Rideshare reduces gasoline usage, vehicle wear, traffic sress, pollution, and dependency on foreign oil. Who knows, you may even make a new friend or two!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I Admit It! I'm Addicted!



Admitting your addiction is half the problem, right? But the other part of the problem is I don't want help for my addiction. I have mentioned before that I joined Facebook and love that I have reconnected with old friends and have found that it is a much easier way to stay connected with family members. Then, I found out that you can play Scrabble on Facebook. How cool is that? So, usually at any given time, I have up to 4 games going. It is great because you can play a word, and then come back hours or even days later and your turn will be waiting for you. If you and the other players are both on Facebook at the same time, you can play in "real time", but you don't have to be.

I love the excitement of logging into Facebook and finding someone has requested I play with them, or that it is my turn. I love the thrill of getting a great word or lots of points. I think my record right now for the highest point word is 64 points for the word "roomies". I love getting a Q on a TL square or using the Z with the TW.

I am in a regular game with my cousin, Melanie who lives in Minnesota. It has been so fun and I believe we are on game #10. She imagines us in our 80's playing game #3856! I certainly hope so! I also play with Melanie and her mom, my friend Tammy, and my neighbor Emily. I am always open to new games and players.

My husband will frequently walk in the room and see me on Facebook Scrabble and just shake his head. He is not a scrabble fan and doesn't get the excitement of it. I was raised to play scrabble with my mom and her sisters. If you remember a few weeks ago when I traveled to Minnesota with my mom, aunt and cousin Melanie....what did we do at night in the hotel....play scrabble! So, it is in my blood. I love it, can't get enough of it, and am fully addicted. I admit it!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Mondays Matter: Week 14


Taken from the book Every Monday Matters: 52 Ways To Make A Difference by Matthew Emerzian and Kelly Bozza
Create, Support, and Appreciate Art
93 % of people believe the arts are vital to a well-rounded education.
Regardless, only 29% of schools have been able to maintain time and funding for art programs.
Children spend more time at their lockers than in art classes.
Art promotes individuality, bolsters self-confidence, and improves overall academic performance.
Students who take 4 years of arts and music in high school average 100 points higher on their SATs than students who took only a half a year or less.
ACTION STEPS
1. Create an original piece of art today. If you don't know where to start, visit your local craft store and ask for help.
2. Sign up for an art class with a friend.
3. Visit a local museum, art gallery, or sculpture garden.
4. Volunteer to support an art activity at a local school or senior citizen program.
5. Communicate with your school-district administrators or national legislators by either writing a letter of appreciation for current funding or to request funding for the arts.
My kids love craft projects and we mostly focus on this during the summer. But at Christmas we always make our own gingerbread house, we carve original pumpkins at halloween, and we make our own valentines for family members, just to name a few. Frequently my kids can be seen at the table drawing and coloring on scratch paper, recreating super heroes, coming up with a menu for their own restaurant, or drawing family members. I am not the most creative person, but I encourage my kids to spend time in their own creative box and I proudly hang their works of art! We also frequently attend musical and theatre productions at the high school and our oldest child takes piano lessons.
Sit down with your family and take time to be a kid again. It can be as basic as opening a coloring book and coloring with your child. It is a great stress reliever! Just as there are many ways to express art, there are also many ways you can support and appreciate it.

Chocolate Banana Raisin Muffins


When you have leftover bananas laying around, sometimes banana bread or banana bars just don't sound good. So, these muffins are a nice change and are a perfect little snack.



Chocolate Banana Raisin Muffins

2 ripe bananas

1 egg, beaten

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I have used 1 cup white, 1/2 whole wheat)

1 cup sugar

6 T unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup raisins

Spray mini muffin pan with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Blend bananas until smooth in mixing bowl. Add egg and oil. Blend. In bowl combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cocoa. Add to the banana mixture and stir until moistened. Stir in raisins. Spoon about 1 tablespoon (I use a mini cookie scoop) of batter into each muffin pan cup. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Cool muffins slightly before removing from pan. Using my mini muffin pan, this recipe makes approximately 36 muffins.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A Chilly Morning!











This morning was spent outside bundled up in our "orange" to cheer on our favorite soccer team, The Vipers. It was our first game of the season and it a was windy and cold 47 degrees. During the game the sun came out and did warm it up a tad. The kids had fun. The dads stood behind their wives and chatted. The moms sat in chairs bundled up with blankets, chatting and cheering for our kids. The kids got some exercise and had a blast. What a great way to spend a Saturday morning!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Review: Look Both Way: A Midnight Twins Novel by Jacquelyn Mitchard



I received an ARC of this book and it is available in stores today. This is a Young Readers Book recommended for ages 12 and up.

From the back of the book: One twin has the power to see into the future, one to see deep into the past. Mally and Merry Brynn thought that with the death of David Jellico, their nightmarish visions of the future and past were gone for good. Now, Merry's only worries revolve around cheer tryouts, and Mally has slipped back into her homebody, tom-boy ways. Then a cheerleader lands in the hospital. And a mysterious, beautiful mountain lion is maimed. When they begin to suspect their friend Eden's involvement in both events, Merry and Mally are catapulted back into a world of visions that they do not yet understand. And this time, they must race to prevent the people they love most from unspeakable tragedy.

This is the second in the Midnight Twins series and I have not read the first one, which I think would have been helpful to understanding the characters more. I found the book very confusing in the beginning and hard to keep the characters straight. But, once I got into a third of the way into the story, it was easier. I tried to imagine myself as a teenager reading this book and think that teen girls would love this story. The author does an excellent job of keeping it current with the teens communicating through texting and with Mallory playing soccer. I also thought her descriptions of their first kisses and feelings of "love" were quite accurate and believable. The story involves the American Indian legend of a "shape shifter" and I found it quite interesting, but again, did make it confusing at times. As a mom, I enjoyed the storyline of Campbell (the mom) and her decisions for her and her family's future. The writing was very descriptive and I could easily imagine the Ridgeline wilderness and imagine myself skiing through the woods as Mallory did. I love the Pow Wow and all the stories and intricate details to describe the clothing and traditions and the Cree Indians. Although the storyline ends sadly for some characters, for others I think it sparks a new beginning and easily will flow into a new adventure for a possible third novel in the series. The "white lion" is still out there.

Again, I think teen girls would enjoy the story, but I do recommend reading the first in the series titled The Midnight Twins. I would give this 3.5 stars. Thanks to Penguin Group and Jacquelyn Mitchard for the opportunity to read this story.