Monday, March 29, 2010

A Good Idea

Live simply.  Love generously.  Serve faithfully.  Speak truthfully.  Pray daily.  Leave everything else to God.  Unknown

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Review: Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

From the author of the smash-hit bestseller Firefly Lane and True Colors comes a powerful, heartbreaking novel that illuminates the intricate mother-daughter bond and explores the enduring links between the present and the past.

Meredith and Nina Whitson are as different as sisters can be. One stayed at home to raise her children and manage the family apple orchard: the other followed a dream and traveled the world to become a famous photojournalist. But when their beloved father falls ill, Meredith and Nina find themselves together again, standing alongside their cold, disapproving mother, Anya, who even now, offers no comfort to her daughters. As children, the only connection between them was the Russian fairy tale Anya sometimes told the girls at night. On his deathbed, their father extracts a promise from the women in his life: the fairy tale will be told one last time - and all the way to the end. Thus begins an unexpected journey into the truth of Anya's life in war-torn Leningrad, more than five decades ago. Alternating between the past and present, Meredith and Nina will finally hear the singular, harrowing story of their mother's life, and what they learn is a secret so terrible and terrifying that it will shake the very foundation of their family and change who they believe they are.

Kristin Hannah has done it again. This book was truly amazing and held a story (a fairy tale) within a story. This book was on my mind constantly and I was frustrated when I couldn't read it every second. There was so much heartache in this story and yet there was also so much hope and promise. I was identifying with Meredith in so many places in the story. Meredith was constantly doing what she thought others expected or needed her to do and never doing what she wanted to do. I was so pleased with how each of the characters in the story struggled, reacted, changed, and grew. I can't say how many times I cried while reading this book. I became so wrapped up in the fairy tale story inside the story, that I, like Nina and Meredith, got frustrated when that part of it ended and moved back into the present time. I wanted to get to the end of the fairy tale story. During that fairy tale story, I could feel Anya's pain as a mother. The choices she was making for her children were heart wreching. As a mother, I couldn't imagine making those choices and yet feeling the pain as she did.

Some of my favorite quotes from the story...

Meredith: I don't know what's going to happen. I think maybe love can just....dissolve.

Mother: No, it does not

Meredith: So how do---

Mother: You hang on. Until your hands are bleeding, and still you do not let go.
Why was that? Why had Meredith been so ready to bypass her own happiness? She'd thought there would be time to unwind those choices, that if she put her children first for nineteen years, she could then shift course and be the one who mattered. As easy as changing lanes while driving. But it hadn't been like that, not for her anyway. She'd lost too much of herself in parenthood to simply go back to who she'd been before.

I think this is Hannah's best yet and I recommend that you run out and get it right away. Snuggle in with a blanket and some won't want to put it down.  I gave this 5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Best Mom Ever

Today I have a cold that has kicked me in the head.  I am exhausted, stuffed up, and can't get rid of my headache.  We had a early dismissal at school today and I felt guilty because I was just laying around and not doing anything with the kids.  Then, all of a sudden, our 8-year-old, Bennett came over to me, gave me a big hug and said, "You're the best Mom ever!"  Not feeling like the best-mom-ever, I replied, "Why?"  Bennett said, "Because you're MY mom!"  Now that just melted my heart and sent the tears gushing out of my eyes!  He said, "I love you, Mom."  I said, "I love you more!"  And then he said, "Yeah, you're probably right."

Nothing compares to being a mom.  Nothing compares to the love you feel for your child.  And nothing compares to that feeling when they melt your heart!  I love you, Benny!

I've Been Lucky Lately

Lately I have been a lucky lady and have won a few things from other bloggers.  So, to give them a little thanks, I will share what I have won with you.

I won this great box from the Australian company Fiona Kate from the blog Does Mommy Love it?.  It also came with letters, so I labeled it with Reagan and will keep her special drawings and mementos in it.

From Julie at Booking Mama I won 2 books called Wherever Nina Lies by Lynn Weingarten and Crazy Aunt Purl's Home Is Where the Wine Is:  Making the Most of What You Got One Stitch (and Cocktail!) At A Time by Laurie Perry

From Wendy at Iowa Moms I won The Complete First Season of Southland DVDs.

From Jody at Iowa Geek and Family Rambling I won the book The Yellow House by Patricia Falvey and a tote bag and book titled Taking Back Your Parenting Power System by Susan Epstein.

Thanks to all my fellow bloggers for the great prizes that I received.  Now I better get busy reading all these great books! :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

No Worries

The last several days I have spent a considerable amount of time worrying about something.  I finally decided to discuss it with my husband and I did feel a little better getting it off my shoulders.  But, I still worried.  Then I realized how silly I was being.  Of course, I needed to go to God with my worries.  So, I slipped away and prayed to God about my worries.  I prayed that he would take the stress off of my shoulders, I prayed about how I would like to see the end result, but most importantly I prayed for God's will.  I wanted Him to know that no matter what, His plan is in full-force and not even I can stop that.  So, even though I knew what I wanted to happenI was prepared for whatever God had in His plan for me.  I knew that if "he was going to bring me to it, he would bring me through it".  I felt so much relief and peace after that prayer.  I felt lighter.  I am such a worry-wart and have tried to be better at it, but somethings really get me all worked up.  Thankfully, God's plan and my plan were the same...this time....and I no longer need to worry.  Fortunately, this lesson has taught me and reminded me that I need to go to God with my worries first and foremost.  He is here for me at anytime, for any reason and He will listen to me.  So what have you been worrying about?  Stop right now and go to Him with your worries.  Let him shoulder your worries for you. 

Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring Is Here!

Spring arrived on Saturday, but in our area, we awoke to 2 inches of snow on the ground.  Thankfully it was gone by Sunday and the temperatures have warmed back up again today and the sun is shining!

The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created Spring.  Bern Williams

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Review: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Berlin 1942

When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance.

But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.

This was our book club read for the month and I have also been wanting to read this story for awhile.  I am still a little speechless after finishing this book. I am just not sure how to word my thoughts. I was literally laying in bed after finishing the book and realized that I was holding my breath.  You will definately need a few moments to take in the story once you have finished it. 

The stories of 2 boys during the Holocaust was brilliantly written. To describe the horrific images through a nieve child's eyes made it seem even more real than it already was. I don't want to spoil any part of the book for the future reader, but I will say, this is a must read, a quick read, a powerful story, and one that needs to be shared. I will share it with my children.....when I think they are ready for it.  I also plan to try and watch the movie version this weekend and I will let you know what I thought of that as well.  I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

58 Hours

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was able to spend the weekend getting away from my husband and 3 children and spending it with my mom, my aunt (mom's sister) and cousin.  The 4 of us started this getaway last year as a way to celebrate my mom's 70th birthday.  We had so much fun we decided it needed to be an annual event.  So, as my mom's birthday came around this year, up north we went.  We meet in Minneapolis because it is about halfway for each of us to get there.  I leave Friday morning, head north and pick up my mom, and arrive early afternoon at the hotel.  This year, first on the list of things to-do was a foot massage from RELAXING MASSAGE at the Mall of America.  Then, of course, we had to do some shopping!  We headed out for a yummy supper at a Mongolion grill.  Then it was back to the hotel for a mean game of Scrabble!  This is one of our favorite things to do together!   Saturday morning we headed out to the Como Zoo Conservatory in St. Paul.  My mom had heard about their gardens.  Each season they have a garden specific to that season.  We caught the last week of the winter garden.  The scent of the flowers when we opened the door to enter the garden was just amazing.  I can't describe it in words, but the freesia and the stargazer lilies just filled us with their aroma!  Enjoy the photos of the winter garden.

My mom, me, my cousin Melanie, and my aunt Susie.

The rest of the day was spent eating fabulous gourmet pizza, delicious ice cream, and numerous games of Bananagrams!  We spent the evening in downtown Minneapolis.  Unfortunately the weekend had to end, and after sleeping in a little bit on Sunday and a quick trip to the Mall of America we all headed back to our homes.  The best part of being away for 3 days is arriving home to the best hugs from your kids.  So after 58 hours of fun and laughter, I am feeling refreshed and ready to tackle a new week, a new season, and very soon, a hectic schedule of soccer, flag football, dance, and gardening.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Week Earlier

Last year I posted on March 22, that I had several crocus in bloom.  Much to my surprise today when I looked out into my flower bed, they were blooming today...a full week earlier!  May Spring be arriving soon in your neck of the woods!

Monday Attitude Check


You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds, and to put on the new self.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

No Husbands/No Kids Allowed

In 20 hours I will be hitting the road for a weekend getaway WITHOUT my husband OR my children!  This is the 2nd Annual weekend with my mom, my aunt (mom's sister) and her daughter.  No husbands allowed and no kids allowed.  I can't wait!  We had such a fabulous time last year that I have been looking forward to this weekend all winter long.  We meet in Minneapolis, get foot and leg massages from our "friend" Ricky, do some shopping, eat, and play LOTS of Scrabble.  On Saturday we plan to attend the Winter Garden Show at the Como Zoo Conservatory.  I am hoping to fit in an IKEA visit as well.  The sun is shining, the air is getting warmer, and I am knocking stuff off my To-Do list! I come!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Who Doesn't Love Martina McBride

One of my favorite music artists is Martina McBride.  She is a country artist and I have loved her from the beginning.  I think she is amazing woman who takes her role of mom seriously and is a devoted wife as well.  Anytime I see her on TV, she is always positive and has that beautiful smile.  I can relate to her music and I feel like if we lived in the same community, we'd be friends.  I love reading her status updates on Facebook that include funny moments from home or on tour or just day to day "mom issues".

I have never had the chance to see Martina in concert, but you could!  Martina is giving all my readers a FIVE DOLLAR DISCOUNT on each ticket to see her SunnyD Shine All Night Tour. Just go to, find your closest show and when you are checking out, enter the code "MOMS" (without the quotation marks) to get your discount.

Check out one of the many Martina Moments....her video for "Wrong Baby Wrong".

Go to to see if Martina is coming to a concert arena near you!  You won't be disappointed! For more on Martina, go to

 Thanks to Mom Select and Martina McBride for this offer.  I have been given a free 1-year membership to the Martina McBride Fan Club for this post.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

THE VIEW This Week

Coming up this week on THE VIEW:

Today on THE VIEW will be guests, Andy Garcia and his daughter Dominik Garcia-Lorido (“City Island”).  The ladies will also be discussing the book Flow:  The Cultural Story of Menstruation with authors Elissa Stein and Susan Kim.  This sounds like a great read.  I look forward to hearing about the book and even plan to pick it up at my next opportunity. 

On Wednesday, March 10, the guests will be Forest Whitaker (“Our Family Wedding”) and Jesse Ventura (author, American Conspiracies).

On Thursday, March 11, Sir Elton John will be sitting with the ladies at the table and participating in “Hot Topics”  Guest,  Eric McCormack (“Who Is Clark Rockefeller?”), will also be interviewed.

On Friday, March 12, Co- Host Kate Gosselin is back and will join the ladies.  Also “The View: Fashion Friday”  returns with designer Carolina Herrera.

Sounds like a great week ahead with lots to talk about.  Be sure to tune in!

I am a participant in a Mom Central campaign for ABC Daytime and will receive a tote bag or other The View branded items to facilitate my review.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Review: The Lovely Bones Movie

Last night I was finally able to see the movie The Lovely Bones.  I posted a review of the book The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold here

This is not the type of movie that I can say was a "great" movie because of the subject matter.  This is a very disturbing story and was as hard to read as it was to watch unravel on the big screen.  Also, I am usually very disappointed by the movie after reading the book.  My only exception to that was the movie version of The Secret Life of Bees, which I loved.  But, I wasn't that disappointed with this adaptation of the book.  Of course, I realize that not every storyline and scene from the book can be placed in the movie and I think the correct scenes were edited out of the story.  Some of the timing of events were also different in the movie from the book, but the main storyline, succession of events, and ending to the story remained the same, which I appreciated. 

I absolutely adored the young woman who played, Susie, the daughter who was murdered.  Saoirse Ronan is just lovely and I thought her portrayal of Susie was exactly how i imagined her. 

I thought the images of the "in-between" and heaven were interesting and beautiful.  One of profound images was all the ships in glass bottles crashing in the ocean while the dad was smashing them in the house.  A very powerful scene. 

I appreciated that the movie left out the graphic images of the murder and left that to viewer's imagination.  If you read the book, you were well aware of the horriffic end to Susie's life. 

I gave the novel 3 out of 5 stars and I would give the same rating for the movie as well.  It is not a feel good movie, but if you enjoyed the book, I think you will enjoy the movie as well.

Monday Attitude Check

It is another Monday, another start to the week.  It may not be sunny where you live and you may have a lot on your plate this week, but I want to give you something to kick-start your week.

MARK 10:49
Cheer up!  Get to your feet! Jesus is calling you. NCV

Put a smile on your face, determination in your mind and put one foot in front of the other.  Off you go on another full week!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A New Adventure

I have embarked on a new adventure the last couple weeks.....Substitute Teaching.  Back in November I took a class to get a Substitute License.  In Iowa, if you have a Bachelor's Degree, you are allowed to Substitute Teach at the Middle School/High School level after taking this required course and completing a few other steps to the process.  I received my license at the end of January and have Substituted twice and have 3 more dates scheduled. 

I was completely nervous on my first day, not sure how the 8th graders would perceive me, how I would handle "classroom management" issues, and teach so the kids would think I was knowledgable in the particular subject.  My first day I didn't have to worry about that because they just had a worksheet to complete on their own.  Plus, on my first day, I had the pleasure of teaching my nephew who acted like it was cool (at least in front of me) that his aunt was his teacher that day.  He even popped in a checked on me my second day! My second day I was responsible for teaching 7th grade Geography.  Actually teaching on the Geography of Europe.  Yikes!  I had to label maps and lecture from a power point.  Gulp!  But, by the end of the day, I was in my groove AND I was exhausted.  I have a whole new appreciation for teachers who stand on their feet all day and who talk all day.  I couldn't wait to put my feet up and snuggle under a blanket that night!

Subbing days ahead of me include 8th grade math and high school Spanish.  I am looking forward to these challenges, to step out of my comfort zone, and to even learn something new along with the students.  On my first day, I heard from the students as they walked into the classroom, "Oh good, you're not the screw-ball lady".  My goal is to NOT be one of those "screw-ball" substitute teachers!

Monday, March 1, 2010

The View This Week

As I mentioned on Friday, I have been chosen as an official THE VIEW Ambassador. So, each week I will let you know what is coming up on THE VIEW regarding Hot Topics and guests they will be chatting with.

Today was mostly a day of Hot Topics including the earthquake in Chile, different celebrity "mishaps", and the fact that President Obama is still smoking. I agreed with Elizabeth when she said that stopping smoking is probably not the best thing to tackle when you are beginning the most stressful job in the country. Something that my husband and I were discussing was that we bet the cigarette companies are dying to know which brand he smokes...what a great marketing tool that would be for them. Ha ha!

Coming up in the next few days...

Tuesday: Robert Pattinson makes his first VIEW appearance. Many know him from the TWILIGHT movies. His next movie is REMEMBER ME. Governor Mitt Romney also makes his first-ever VIEW appearance.

Wednesday: The best in "VIEW TUBE" with backstage antics and celebrity exit interviews.

Thursday: Celebrity guest Co-Host will be Valerie Bertinelli and one of many guests will be Oscar nominee, Abigail Breslin.

Friday: THE VIEW'S "Road to the Oscars" episode with "Fashion Friday" celebrating The History of Oscar Fashions. Hosts of “At the Movies” Michael Phillips and Tony Scott will also be on set to unveil their 2010 Oscar predictions.

So, as you can see, it is a jam-packed week on THE VIEW. For more information, check out

I am a participant in a Mom Central campaign for ABC Daytime and will receive a tote bag or other The View branded items to facilitate my review.

Rainbow Brite CD Winners

Winners of the Rainbow Brite CDs are Kathleen and Tina. I will be contacting you to send those out!