Monday, August 30, 2010

God Is So Good


Do you remember this song from your Bible School/Sunday School days?

God  is so good!
God is so good!
God is so good,
He's so good
to
me!

That song popped into my head the other day and I thought what a perfect way to start and/or end your day by singing this song.  God has been good to me and I need to remember that every day.

I found this verse in Genesis 33:11, that says it all:

God has been very good to me. The Message

God has been gracious to me.  NIV




Sometimes it can be hard to find the good in life.  Life can be hectic.  Life can be stressful.  But, stop and thank God for the good that He gave you today!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Things I Love - Life: Beautiful Magazine

Things I Love.....

This is my feature where I get to share something that I just love.  Since you are my friends, I like sharing things I love with others.  It could be anything from a new product, food, recipe, song, image, to a person and everything in between.  This will be something I am completely doing on my own, without pressure or compensation from a company, author, PR/Marketing firm, friend, business owner, etc.  This will just be something that makes me happy and I want to share it with you.  Enjoy some love!

Today's love is.....





I came across LIFE: BEAUTIFUL while I was looking for magazines to take on our vacation.  I immediately fell in love with it and subscribed to it.  Even when I am trying to decrease my magazine subscriptions, I just found I didn't want to miss the next issue. 

LIFE: BEAUTIFUL is a national, inter-denominational, Christian lifestyle magazine that celebrates an active, integrated faith. Built on a foundation of biblical teaching and encouragement for spiritual growth,
LIFE: BEAUTIFUL offers relevant information and community for Christian women.
The pages of LIFE: BEAUTIFUL showcase everyday experiences and activities, such as parenting, cooking, decorating, teaching, working, volunteering, resting, traveling and offering hospitality—all of which can be used to share the joy of the Lord.

Regular contributors to the magazine include Joyce Meyer, Dr. James Dobson, Gary Smalley, Janet Parshall, Honnie Korngold, Holly McClure, Ellie Kay, and Dr. Valerie Saxion. 

If you would like to get more information on LIFE: BEAUTIFUL or to subscribe, go to http://www.lifebeautifulmagazine.com/.  Subscriptions are $18.95 for one year.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Review and Giveaway: The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven by Kevin Malarkey and Alex Malarkey

In 2004, Kevin Malarkey and his six-year-old son, Alex, suffered an horrific car accident. The impact from the crash paralyzed Alex—and medically sp ...more In 2004, Kevin Malarkey and his six-year-old son, Alex, suffered an horrific car accident. The impact from the crash paralyzed Alex—and medically speaking, it was unlikely that he could survive. “I think Alex has gone to be with Jesus,” a friend told the stricken dad. But two months later, Alex awoke from a coma with an incredible story to share. Of events at the accident scene and in the hospital while he was unconscious. Of the angels that took him through the gates of heaven itself. Of the unearthly music that sounded just terrible to a six-year-old. And, most amazing of all . . . Of meeting and talking to Jesus. The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven is the true story of an ordinary boy’s most extraordinary journey. As you see heaven and earth through Alex’s eyes, you’ll come away with new insights on miracles, life beyond this world, and the power of a father’s love.

I received this book to review and was anxious to read it.  I have to admit, I had never heard of Alex Malarkey before reading this book.  But, the title definately intrigued me.  As a Christian and believer that Jesus is my Savior, I found this book extremely powerful.  But, I don't think you have to be a believer to enjoy this book.  Alex's story is for anyone:  Christian or non-Christian, believer or non-believer, someone who has lost a loved one or not, those in the grief process, those who like true stories, and those who want to learn more about Jesus and/or Heaven.  Alex's story will reinforce the beliefs of Christians or just might make an unbeliever believe. 

The story is a very easy read, beginning with the accident that almost took the lives of Alex and his dad, Kevin.  The story is broken up into chapters, but inside those chapters are quotes from Kevin, Alex, Beth(Alex's mom), and others involved in their lives after the accident.  Each chapter ends with Alex's thoughts about his journey to Heaven.  I liked how I wasn't just getting Kevin, the dad's, perspective, but many others to reinforce what was happening to Alex and their family.

I can't imagine what this family has been through the past nearly 6 years.  There lives were turned upside down, but their attitude remains hopeful, gracious, and loving.  I'm not sure I would have been able to put complete trust in God as they did throughout this whole process.

I appreciated the photos in the book, as well, that gave a better understanding of Alex's injuries and their situation.  It helped tell the story of the accident as well as putting a face to the family.

I have dog-earred so many pages in this book.  I am sure I will be returning to it often.  This is also a great book for someone who is going through a rough time.  It is full of truths and scripture to reflect on and remind us that God is always there for us.  It amazed me how this family was so full of gratitude even after this catastrophic event that happened to them.  You can really find the good in anything that happens in our life, but you have to be WILLING to look for it. 

Alex traveled to Heaven after the accident and his accounts of Heaven are amazing.  He is able to tell about it to give you a picture in your mind, but also not tell you too much that takes away the awe inspiring beauty of it. There is also talk of the devil and demons in this book.  It was eye opening for me to realize that demons are constantly trying to invade my life and change my thoughts and decisions.  I am much more aware of of those moments in my life where they could be creeping in and infecting my decisions. 

Alex Malarkey is wise beyond his years.  He has gone through more pain and suffering that most people go through in their lifetime.  Alex's story is an inspiration and one that can be reflected on again, and again.  Thanks to Alex and his dad, Kevin, for sharing their story with us.  There are several people in my life that I plan to share this story with.  If you would like to learn more about Alex and his story, check out http://www.prayforalex.com/.  The book was released in July 2010 and is available for purchase.  I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.


Thanks to Keri, at D.C. Jacobson and Associates, I have a copy of this book to giveaway.  If you would like a copy of this book, all you need to do is leave me a comment with your email address so I can contact you.  This contest is open through Sunday, September 12, 2010 at 11:59 PM.  I will choose a winner on Monday, September 13, 2010. 

I was provided with a copy of this book to review and one to giveaway.  This review is my honest opinion and I was not compensated in any other way for this review.  I would not agree to review or give my opinion on anything that either myself or my family could not benefit from. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A New Feature: Tell The Truth Thursday - Crayons

Tell The Truth Thursday

This is a new feature that I am doing along with several other blogs called Tell The Truth Thursday.  We have to truthfully all answer the same question.  Who knows? You might just learn something new about me and if you asked yourself the same question, you might just learn something about yourself.  Today's question would even make an excellent supper table discussion with your family.

If you were a crayon, what color would you be?

Who doesn't love getting a box of new crayons?  I buy the kids new crayons sometimes because I want them, not because we need them.  I LOVE opening a box of new crayons and looking at the rainbow of colors, smelling them, and using them for the first time.  I have always loved to color.  Being the only kid at home growing up, that was something I could do by myself to pass the time.  I remember filling up many, many coloring books.  In fact, I may have to do some coloring with my daughter this weekend.  Coloring is a great way to "destress".  It makes me feel calm, it slows me down, it makes me smile, and it's fun!



So......if I were a color, I would be............................

Purple Mountain's Majesty

I remember seeing this color once and thinking how much I loved it.  Purple has always been my favorite color and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the mountains.  If my husband and I become millionaires, we are buying a second home in the Colorado Mountains.  It is my dream!  So, there is no doubt, that I would be Purple Mountain's Majesty!

Thanks to http://theredheadriter.blogspot.com/ for creating this fun question!


Monday, August 23, 2010

Review and Giveaway: Bryton Pick

The Bryton Pick is a stylish, convenient and discreet way of flossing your teeth.  It is designed to be used daily, even if on the go, to remove food debris and plaque from between teeth after meals and snacks.  The Bryton Pick is reusable for up to 30 days.  If you have braces, this is also a great solution for removing food from your teeth!

I have been using it for the last week after meals, and before bed.  It takes a few tries to get used to using this tool in place of dental floss.  But, it does work quite well.  For the first time it helps to use it in front of the mirror.

I never used to be much of a flosser, but am now much more aware when food is in my teeth and it drives me nuts.  I have been carrying floss with me in my purse, but this Bryton Pick is much more convenient and easier to use when I am on the go.  It is so slim and comes with it's own envelope that it easily slips into a pocket, of your jeans, a billfold, or a pocket in your purse. 

So, even though I will likely continue to use floss at home, I love the Bryton Pick for use when away from home.  It works great after eating popcorn at the movies!

To learn more about using the Bryton Pick, watch this short video or check out http://www.brytonpick.com/.



Bryton Pick is available at: Meijer Stores, A&P, Pathmark, Winn Dixie, C&S, Kinney Drugs, Save Mart, CVS.com, Drugstore.com, Pearson Dental Supply & Others. You can ask your local pharmacy or food store manager to order BrytonPick for you.


If you would like to try the Bryton Pick, leave me a comment with your email address.  This giveaway will end on Sunday, September 5, 2010 at 11:59 PM.  I will draw a winner on Monday, September 6, 2010 using Random.org

Thought for the Day

Some people go through life trying to find out what the world holds for them only to find out too late that it's what they bring to the world that really counts. 
L.M. Montgomery

Are you waiting for the world to hand you that "piece of the pie" or are you out there slicing it yourself?  Are you waiting for a job offer to come to you or are you making calls and networking and getting your name out there?  Are you laying in bed waiting for someone to feel sorry for you or are you changing your attitiude, jumping out of bed and saying, "I'm going to make this a great day"? 

Are you trying to make changes in your life and making sure those changes benefit others or are you only looking out for yourself?  What kind of contribution are you making to the world today? What contribution are you making to your family, your community, your employer today?  Are you giving them your best effort or just getting by?

I know I don't give my best effort to my family or to others every day.  But, I have truly tried to make changes toward my attitude, my time, my efforts, and my relationships.  It is a work in progess, but I want my "footprint" on the world to be beneficial and giving, not so much taking.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Things I Love - My ipod and Playlist

Things I Love....

This is my feature where I get to share something that I just love. Since you are my friends, I like sharing things I love with others. It could be anything from a new product, food, recipe, song, image, to a person and everything in between. This will be something I am completely doing on my own, without pressure or compensation from a company, author, PR/Marketing firm, friend, business owner, etc. This will just be something that makes me happy and I want to share it with you. Enjoy some love!


Today's love is.................


My ipod and My Playlist

For those of you who already have an ipod, Zune, or some sort of MP3 player, you know how fantastic they are.  I especially love to listen to mine when I am walking or cleaning the house.  My husband listens to his every night as he falls asleep and when he mows the lawn or works outside.  I also like listening to my ipod when I need some quiet time. That is the joy of playlists.  I have playlists for parties, for when I am in a 80's mood, for my country mood, when I need inspirational, or when I need some romantic love songs!  But, today, as I was cleaning my house, I was actually happy!  If you knew me, you would know that I HATE cleaning, but having my playlist can make even housecleaning fun.  So, today I want to share some favorites from my playlist.  I love looking at other people's playslists because they may have a song I had forgotten about.  So from me to you, my "Get My Butt In Gear" playlist:

"All I Want to Do" Sugarland
"American Woman" Lenny Kravitz
"Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" KT Tunstall
"Dancing Queen" ABBA
"Footloose" Kenny Loggins
"Free" Brooke White
"Hang on Sloopy" The McCoys
"I'm Only Me When I'm With You" Taylor Swift
"(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" The Rolling Stones
"I Gotta Feeling" Black Eyed Peas
"Little Willy" Sweet
"Outside My Window" Sarah Buxton
"Poker Face" Lady GaGa
"So What" Pink
"SuperGirl" Saving Jane
"Sweet Caroline" Neil Diamond
"This Cat's On A Hot Tin Roof" The Brian Setzer Orchestra
"Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" Wham!
"Wipe Out" Beach Boys
"You're the One That I Want" Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta




Life Math

May your joys be added, your sorrows subtracted, your friends multiplied, and your enemies divided.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bittersweet

After 82 days of summer, today started day one of a new school year.  Those 82 days of summer went by so fast.  I am frustrated because there was so much that I still wanted to do with the kids, for myself, for our home, and they didn't get done.  But, I am so blessed because of the things we did get to do in those 82 days, including our vacation that you can see in previous posts.


Today was also bittersweet because I sent our youngest, our little girl, to kindergarten.  All week I have been working myself up over it and every time I thought about it, I started getting teary.  My dear husband decided to spend the day with me so I wasn't home alone all day, possibly crying.  Once this morning got here, we were busy with the hustle and bustle of getting 3 kids ready for school.   We got breakfast eaten, mandatory photos taken and everyone out the door in plenty of time.  We walked our daughter to school because the boys have to go earlier than she does.  A couple times on the walk, I had some tears come out, but she was so excited, I couldn't let her see my sadness.  I know this is such an important step for her, and she never looked back! There wasn't one tear, not one hesitation, just maybe a lingering squeeze in my hand, and then off she went.  So, after a few more quick photos, we left.  I had a fun day hanging out with my hubby, which we NEVER get to do.  We ran errands, had a long lunch, and some ice cream. 

I am grateful for the routine that school brings to our home.  I am grateful that I will have ENTIRE days to myself.  I am grateful that during those days, I will answer to NO ONE ELSE.  Those 7 hours will be mine to do as I see fit.  That hasn't happened in over 10 years.  I am looking forward to the possibilities those days hold.  Of course, I will still be subbing at the school.  I'm even doing a 6 week stint during a maternity leave.  But, over the course of the next 8 months, I can make myself a bit of a priority and that I am looking forward to.  For ten years, I couldn't schedule anything without checking first what was going on with the kids, what my husband's schedule was, what was going on at school, etc.  Now, for 7 hours, I get to make my own schedule (for the most part).  I'm almost giddy over the thoughts of watching movies, reading books, catching up on organizing photos, organizing closets, blogging, getting groceries and running errands by myself, baking, baking, and more baking, etc.  Of course, I will still have to cook and clean and pay bills, but once all that is done, the time is allllllll mine!  I plan to continue to volunteer my time by leading storytime once a month at our local library, help run an afterschool program at our church once a week, attend BSF (Bible Study Fellowship), and continue writing the newsletter for our local senior center.  So, it looks like I will have plenty to keep me busy until summer rolls around again! Stay tuned to see what I do with it!

May all of you have a safe and successful school year.  Make sure to show your appreciation for all those who spend the day with your kids: your school administrators, teachers, associates, bus drivers, cooks, and support staff. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Summer Afternoons

Summer Afternoon - Summer afternoon....the two most beautiful words in the English language.
Henry James

My summer afternoons are officially over.  The kids go back to school tomorrow, so today, we are soaking up this summer afternoon.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Vacation Part 3 - Final

After leaving Gettysburg we headed to our condo that we rented for our final part of our trip.  We rented a condo near the Seven Springs Ski Resort near Somerset, PA.  It is south of Pittsburgh about 1 1/2 hrs.  Our condo was very reasonably priced and we were right across from the pool and basketball courts which was convenient.  But, I wasn't very impressed with the condo itself.  The carpet was full of huge stains, several light bulbs were burned out, and there was not enough silverware for one meal.  This was advertised as being big enough to sleep 8 so I thought there should be enough dishes to go around as well.  There is only 5 in our family.  Also, getting ready for bed, we find that the sleeper sofa to sleep 1 of our kids was broken.  There were 2 beds upstairs, so I still can't figure out where the sleeps 8 was supposed to be, because there was only 1 sleeper sofa.  So our daughter slept in a sleeping bag that we had packed during the whole stay.  So, if I had to say it, I definately would not stay there or again or recommend it to anyone.  It was adequate for our stay and allowed us to have a house with a kitchen and actually cook some meals, which we needed.  The outdoor pool was nice, but due to weather and a party that was held there, we only got in it twice.

Since we ran out of time the day before, we headed back east a little bit to visit Shanksville, PA and the site of the Flight 93 plane crash on September 11, 2001.  Pat and I have visited Ground Zero in NYC and wanted to be sure to visit here too.  The site has been taken over by the National Park Service and is staffed by park rangers available to answer questions.  The memorial is in a metal shed (for lack of better words) and has plaques discussing the events on September 11, 2001, binders with phone calls, 911 calls, and cockpit conversations, as well as different items left behind as memorials.  The memorial site is under construction with plans for completion is 2014.  I would like to go back and see the finished site.  As you see from my photos, we were probably a couple football fields away from the crash site.  But, still very powerful to think about all the happened that day. 

The rest of the day and the next were relaxing days at the condo.  Another perk from the condo was having a washer and dryer.  After being gone almost 2 weeks, we had some serious laundry.  It was nice to catch up on it a bit before we headed home.  That afternoon we headed north to Pittsburgh for a Pirates game.  Tickets were super easy to get and very reasonable.  PNC Park is such a beautiful ballpark, it is a shame that more locals don't go to the games.  Our tickets were $27 a piece and we had excellent seats.  We also attended the game on a Thursday, and every one who comes to the game gets a T-shirt.  So, that was a nice treat.  Kids got Adult Small and Adults got XL.  It was a great game and the Pirates beat the Rockies 5-1 which we loved since the Rockies had beat the Cubs earlier that week.  Before the game we walked along the river.  They have a very nice riverwalk with a great view of the city and all the bridges. 

Friday we headed over to the Seven Springs Resort and bought day passes for all of us to take in the activities.  We did the alpine slide several times (way fun), mini golf, and bowling.  They also offered rock climbing, paddle boats, and mountain biking. 

Saturday and Sunday were our driving days heading back home.  We stayed in Hammond, IN at the Courtyard by Marriott.  Another great hotel with free hot breakfast.  There is also a Cracker Barrel next door.  This was our second Cracker Barrel stop during the trip and one of our favorites.  We also don't have Cracker Barrels around home, so they were a treat. 

Our friends loaned up their license plate game.  It is made by Melissa and Doug and was such a neat way to play the game.  It is a wooden board and you flip over the license plates, that are attached with elastic bands, each time you find a license plate.  In our first day on the trip we only had 16 left to find.  By the time we arrived home, we had only 3 license plates we never saw:  Hawaii, North Dakota, and Mississippi.  It kept the kids engaged and helped with their learning of the states and their locations. 

We arrived home on Sunday afternoon after a much needed stop at Target for some groceries to get us started for the week.  We had such a wonderful time and know they kids have many memories.  We are already planning future vacations and places we'd like to see another time that we missed out on.  If you've never been to the great state of Pennsylvania, I suggest you put it on your list!

Thanks for letting me share our vacation with you!  Enjoy the photos!

Vacation Part 3 on PhotoPeach

Vacation Part 2

While in Philadelphia, we knew that even though we were close to Washington DC and New York City, we just couldn't fit those stops into our intinerary.  But, we could go to the Atlantic Ocean.  We chose Belmar, NJ as it was "family friendly" and a straight shot over from Philadelphia.  It took only an hour to get there, but we did have to park several blocks away from the ocean.  It was a busy place that day!  The adults have to have a beach pass which cost $7 a piece, to get on the beach.  This was the kids first time in the ocean as was a highlight from the trip.  The waves were pretty high that day and the kids and their dad had a lot of fun riding them out. 

Saturday morning we tried out our first Dunkin Donuts.  Boy do we wish we had one of those in Iowa.  We loved it.  The highlight was talking with the highlight was talking with the "men's group" that meets there every morning for coffee and donuts.  They enjoyed hearing about our life in Iowa and what we were going to see in the great state of Pennsylvania as well as sharing stories about their lives with us.  But, if anyone is reading this from Dunkin Donuts, we would sure love to have you out here in Iowa!  We then took the kids to a local playground and visited the King of Prussia mall which is the second largest mall in america.  The rest of the evening was spent swimming and treating ourselves to ice cream from the local Dairy Queen!

On Sunday we checked out of our hotel and headed to Hershey, PA.  We went to Hershey's Chocolate World and took the free tour of the "factory".  It is a musical ride through a make up factory that tells the history of the Hershey company and how the chocolate is made.  Our daughter loved it so much we took it twice.  At Chocolate World you can also watch an IMAX movie and make your own Hershey's chocolate bar (for $14.95).  We opted not to do either one of those, but did spend a considerable amount of money in the Hershey gift shop.  :-)  We did take the trolley tour through town and is something I definately recommend.  The guides are in period dress and one plays different characters throughout the tour.  They tell the story of the Milton Hershey and his many many struggles with producing chocolate.  The Hershey story is very inspirational as there were many times he could have given up, but never did.  Since Hershey and his wife couldn't have children, they started the Hershey School for orphaned boys and the students live at the school.  A$60 million endowment was left to the school.  The school now serves girls as well and kids who are underpriviledged or couldn't afford school.  I could tell this community was very proud of their Hershey roots and will be a Hershey candy supporter for life.  Gee....isn't that honorable of me!  :-) Mmmmmmm!

We stayed in Mechanicsburg, PA at the Hampton Inn because it was considerably cheaper than staying in Hershey.  To stay at the Hershey Lodge for 2 nights and go to Hershey Park would have cost our family over $800.  But, to stay 1/2 away for 2 nights and pay to get into the park was just under $500, a HUGE savings!  The Hampton Inn was very nice and had an outdoor pool which was a nice change from the indoor pools at other hotels.  The only down side was the smoking area was in the pool area.  Not a good choice for kids to be around smokers.  There was a very nice free, hot breakfast each morning as well.

Hershey Park was the highlight of the trip for the kids.  Our middle son had no fear and was eager to try all the roller coasters including the newest, Farenheit, with a 90 degree ride up and 97 degree drop down.  Each of their rides are coded with a different type of candy that is related to your child's height.  So, it was easy to see which rides your kids were able to do.  There were plenty of rides for our youngest as well as our oldest, including us too.  I appreciated the pride the ride workers took in their job.  Safety was definately a priority there and if a child was close to being to small or too big for a ride, they were immediately measured and removed if they didn't meet the qualifications.  We spent 11 hours there, but unfortunately, we didn't get to go into the Boardwalk, which is their waterpark.  It was huge and could have spent one entire day just in the waterpark.  Something to keep in mind if you visit there.  It cost our family just over $200 to get into the park even using discount coupons that we got at KFC.  The meals in the park were the usual amusement park fare and a little pricey.  You can leave the park to picnic, but it would have been pretty time consuming to walk back to our vehicle just to eat.  We opted to eat in the park.  We were all super exhausted that night, but it was a fabulous day!

On Tuesday we left and headed to Gettysburg, PA.  We went to the Visitor Center and watched the movie, saw the Cyclorama, toured their museum, and took a battlefield tour on a bus.  This got a little long for our kids, but was still very interesting.  It is amazing that the battlefields and monuments are still so well taken care of.  The tour guide was excellent in making us feel like we were there during the civil war.  I know once the kids learn about the civil war and the battles, they will remember this tour and hopefully find the material easier to remember.

Enjoy the photos:

Vacation Part 2 on PhotoPeach

Our Vacation Part 1

Our family chose to head east this year for our family vacation.  We spent 2 weeks away from home, which was the longest we have ever spent away.  It was a wonderful time and made many memories.

Our first night was in Canton, OH, staying at the Fairfield Inn by Marriott.  It was clean and they served a good (free) breakfast to start our day.  We spent the next morning at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  If you are even minor football fans I highly recommend this tour.  You are able to take a self-guided tour and spend as much time in any area you would like.  We were fascinated by the early football uniforms (see photo) and all the records that have been made over the years.  At the end, there is a game room of sorts where you can practice throwing the football, play any number of football related games, trivia games, referee type games, etc.  Plus you can eat "game day food" in their cafeteria.  We could have spent all day here, but instead spent about 4 hours which I would think would be a minimum.  Of course there is a gift shop as well, with all kinds of NFL related items for young and old.

We then headed to Punxsutawney, PA to meet Phil.  We are fans of the movie "Groundhog Day" and thought it woud be fun to stop there.  We ate at Lily's Cafe, which was a quaint down-home restaurant with a bakery next door.  We visited "Phil" at the town library, which is where he lives.  There are several Phil statues throughout town in various costumes.  We then stopped at Gobbler's Knob where the February 2nd ceremony is held each year.  The kids enjoyed reenacting the ceremony and announcing whether Phil saw his shadow or not.

We then stopped by my Uncle Dewey's and Aunt Win's home which was just south of Punxsutawney.  It has been at least 12 years since I have seen him and he has never met my husband or children.  We enjoyed catching up and sharing stories.  We then headed to Bedford, PA to stay the night.  We stayed in the Best Western Bedford Inn and it was more like a "motel" with outside entrances to each room.  I was nervous that the rooms wouldn't be clean, but was pleasantly surprised.  The rooms were very clean even though it looked a little old on the outside.  There was also a breakfast buffet that was free and another good start for our morning.  At $82, this was our cheapest night stay and well worth it.

Day three we realized how much we dislike paying tolls.  There are no toll roads in Iowa and aren't used to these.  We were quite suprised how much money we were handing over as well headed across the country.

We opted to stay in a suburb of Philadelphia called Warminster.  It was farther away from downtown, but offered much cheaper hotels.  We chose the Holiday Inn Express.  It is only about 1 1/2 years old and we were very pleased with it.  The staff were helpful and pleasant.  We stayed here 5 nights and were well taken care of.  Since we were so far from downtown, we took the train downtown and the train station in Warminster was just minutes from the hotel.  It cost our family of five, $28 to to take the train round trip and about 45 minutes.  It was much easier than driving and trying to find parking and paying for parking.  Plus the kids got to experience a big city train.  Unfortunately it was quite busy on the ride back home and we had to stand for a good share of the trip.

In downtown Philadelphia we toured the US Mint.  No cameras or video cameras are allowed inside.  We enjoyed the mint tour and found out my dad could be called a numismatist or a coin collector.  We purchased a set of 2010 coins for him for his birthday from the gift shop.

Right next door to the mint is the Christ Church Burial Ground where you can see the graves of many early heroes including signers of the Declaration of Independence and Benjamin Franklin and his family.

We then spent the rest of our time inside the Independence visitor center.  I recommend getting tickets ahead of time online for your tour of Independence Hall as the tours fill up quickly and are often sold out.  We toured Independence Hall and saw where the Declaration of Indepence and constituion were signed.  We also saw the Liberty Bell.  You could easily spend an entire day here and maybe multiple days depending on your interest in history.  Be prepared for expensive food.  Our lunch in downtown Philadelphia was $45 at a deli!  YIKES!

The next we crossed the Deleware River and headed into New Jersey to visit the USS New Jersey in Canton.  We arrived in the afternoon and it wasn't too busy, but there were no tour guides available as they only work in the mornings.  We took a self-guided audio tour which was just fine.  The kids and I listened to the kids' version and my husband listened to the adult version.  Each area was numbered and as you got to that area you punched in the number to hear the information.  The kids really enjoyed the tour.  Thankfully the ship was air conditioned as it was quite hot outside.

Enjoy the photos:

Vacation Part 1 on PhotoPeach


Monday, August 16, 2010

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fun Fact For Ya!

Did you know...............

A female kangaroo that has recently become a mother holds a reserve embryo inside of her after her first baby has crawled into her pouch.  This embryo is an "emergency backup" baby, that will develop should the first one die prematurely.

Isn't that fascinating?  All of God's creatures have such amazing attributes, abilities, features, and skills.  I am always in awe of how He created each one of us and all the amazing animals in our world.  Who knows why He gave that special ability to kangaroos, but He obviously knew what He was doing.

As a parent, would you want this ability?  What happens if you don't need that embryo?  Wouldn't that be a huge right-to-life debate if we had that ability as humans?!?  God definately knew what he was doing there.  I don't think I would want an "emergency backup" plan.  I will just take the plan God has for me!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Thought for the Day

Every now and then, go away and have a little relaxation, for when you come back to work, your judgment will be surer.
Leonardo Da Vinci

We certainly did that!  Our family went away for two splendid weeks of fun and relaxation.  Even though I am now digging myself out of piles of mail, bills, laundry and all the "stuff" that needs to be put away, I am so glad, because I have refreshed my mind and body and ready to start the new week!

Review: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Lawyer Atticus Finch defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee's classic, Puliter Prize-winning novel, a black man charged with the rape of a white woman. Through the eyes of Atticus's children, Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with rich humor and unanswering honesty the irrationality of adult attitudes toward race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s.

Somehow I went through my high school and college years without ever reading this book. With the recent publicity about this book, I decided now was the time to read it. I packed it and took it along on our 2 week vacation and finished it the day we got home!


I'm not sure I would have appreciated it as much if I had read it sooner in life. As a parent, I saw myself looking at this book much differently than I would have as a student. I was moved by Atticus' parenting style and how he showed love to his children and his friends and his community. I loved Scout's innocence. She said the things that as adults we wish we could ask or say. Unfortunately, I don't think our country and the people in it have changed much with their prejudices. They may not be as blatant as they are in this story, but the same thoughts are still there. I am still amazed when I still hear the word "colored people" or when I was asked just a couple weeks ago, why do you want to go to Philadelphia, it's all black people down there?!?
This was a definately a book that makes you stop and think about your life and how you treat those around you. I am grateful I took the time to read this classic. I am anxious to see the movie version as well.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Last Two Weeks

My family and I have been vacationing for the last two weeks.  We have been driving over 2 thousand miles and seen many sites and made many, many memories.  As I sit in our final hotel room, I am grateful for the chance to give our children these memories.  But, I am sooooo ready to be back in my own home and in my own bed.  I am tired of eating out, I am tired of using public restrooms, and I am tired of not having all my "stuff".  So, as we drive our last 5 hours tomorrow, I am going to go back through our memories and appreciate every moment, but be ever so grateful to also be back home!

Stay tuned for more trip details coming soon!

Monday, August 2, 2010

It's Monday




Wake up this morning and rejoice that you can make a fresh start to the day, to the week, and to the month.  It is the first Monday of August, a new week and nothing has happened yet to goof it up.  You have been given another chance.  Rejoice, put a smile on your face, and start your week off with a spring in your step!