Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Product Review and GIVEAWAY: yurbuds Sport Earphones


Have you ever had an earphone that falls out while you are running?  Do your earphones hurt your ears after they have been in for awhile?  Then you definitely need to read further.....this is for YOU!  Women, you have been given a new product made just for you and perfect for all your athletic activities. 

Since yurbuds have arrived, they have made an impact on athletes everywhere as the only earphones with patented TwistLock™ technology, guaranteed never to fall out.  These new Inspire for Women yurbuds with the FlexSoft™ comfort fit are specifically designed to fit smaller ears.  These performance fit earphones are sweat and water-resistant, provide exceptional sound and are the perfect training partner for the female athlete. 

These yurbuds are available now at Target for $29.99.  Find them at your local Target or online, HERE. They come in a  variety of colors to please every woman's tastes.  

I was certainly lucky to receive a fitness kit from Mom Select and yurbuds.  My kit included all the fun stuff you see below.  It makes me WANT to workout! They even included a list of songs to help you get your butt in gear including: 
  1. Foo Fighters: The Pretender
  2. Eminem: Lose Yourself
  3. Chris Brown: Beautiful People
  4. David Guetta and Usher: Without You
  5. Nicki Minaj and Rihanna: Fly

I couldn't wait to try them and so I decided to give them my toughest test.  I wore them while doing a marathon cleaning.  When you are running upright on a treadmill it is important to have well-fitting earphones, but while bending over, scrubbing, running back and forth from room to room, I think it is even more important.  Well, let me tell you, these stood up to the test without fail! These earphones fit perfectly in my ear.  After taking a few minutes to figure out how to fit them in, they slipped right into my ear like they were  supposed to be there.  Even if your ears are a different size, there is a smaller size included in the package as well.  The end of the earphones is also silicone so it doesn't collect sweat and you don't have that hard plastic sitting in your ear. The sound quality was also excellent.  I didn't have to have my volume up very high to hear the music even while running water and such.  I am telling you, these would be worth every penny of the $29.99.  I LOVE THEM!  I recommend these for Christmas gifts for all the women in your family!  

The best part is I have a pair of yurbuds Inspire for Women earphones to give away to one of my readers!!! This contest will run through Sunday, November 18th, 2012 at 11:59 PM.  I will choose a winner on Monday, November 19th and mail them out to the winner as soon as I hear from them.  The winner will have 48 hours to respond before I choose another winner.  I will use to choose the winner.  Please fill out the form below to enter the yurbuds giveaway.  One entry per person please.  US residents only please.  

Monday, October 29, 2012

You're A Mom!

Do you ever have days when you feel like no one is appreciating you?

Do you ever have days where you feel like the laundry, dishes, toys, mail, bills, and errands are going to swallow you up?

Well, I do! So, when I am having one of those days, I listen to this song and it instantly brings a smile to my face and a new drive to get through those piles! As the Go Fish Guys say...this song is dedicated to the hardest working people on the planet...and I am proud to be one!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Book Review: The Road to Mercy by Kathy Harris

I am featuring a new Christian Fiction novel.  
If you are struggling with your faith, how to get through some trials and challenges, 
or wondering if God is even hearing your prayers, this book is for you.  
Even though it is a fictional story, the message is real.


By: Kathy Harris

Published:  September 2012


Tragedy, love, & secrets meet on a journey of faith.

Josh Harrison, a contemporary Christian singer, and his wife Bethany face a difficult decision that also tests their faith. A rupture in Beth's carotid artery leaves her on the brink of death even as she's pregnant with their first child. While Dr. Ben Abrams urges her to terminate the pregnancy to save her own life, she and Josh step out on faith and decide to carry the baby to full term. 

During the next few months, Josh struggles with his faith, Beth hides a secret that may destroy their marriage. She also discovers a decades-old connection to Dr. Abrams that could change his life forever.

I am reviewing this book as part of the PUMP UP YOUR BOOK promotional book tour.  I am certainly glad to have found another new author and with a fabulous debut novel.  Harris gripped me in her Prologue and had me wondering almost to the end how that scene connected to the rest of the novel.  Keep reading to find the Prologue at the end of my review.  You will also want to continue reading!

As a Christian, I found the  Scriptures and numerous prayers in the book to be integral to the telling of the story.  The main characters in the story surround their life and their choices with their faith in God.  So, it is natural to have God be a main character as well.  Even those who aren't convinced in their faith, this book can show them that Prayer, Faith, and Hope can heal those past sins.  Beth has a past that she is sure will destroy her life, her marriage and her faith and the way she reconciles her past sins with her current life is remarkable.  

With Josh's tour and complications, Beth's pregnancy and health issues and Beth's friend and caregiver's budding romance on top of the intriguing Prologue, this book will have you turning the pages quickly.  With its short chapters, you can easily "read just one more".

The book is full of "life-changing" and "thought-provoking" messages that will make you pause and reflect on your own choices.  One of my favorites came from Page 237, "Praise God and you will eventually understand how many ways he should be fully praised."

I think the story was realistic in the way that when life hands us challenges and we continue to be confronted with mishaps and frustrations, we want to give up.  It is natural for us to question God and His motives and whether He is leading us down the right path.  The characters in this story frequently questioned Him and considered choices that could have been detrimental.  Not everything in life, or in this book was tied up in a pretty bow, but the message stood out....If God leads you to it, He will lead you through it.  

If your church group, mom's group or book club is looking for a book with rich discussion, this would be an excellent option.  Possible topics could include medical choices, trust, abortion, grief, friendships, faith, and marriage.  The power of prayer is evident in this story and will remind you that it needs to be part of our everyday life as well . 

This is what got me interested in the book.  Check out the excerpt from the Prologue of the book:

Book Excerpt:

October 10, 1959
Jack Randall jerked his foot from the accelerator and instinctively applied the brakes. His mind raced as his Plymouth Belvedere slowed to a stop. Police cars with lights blazing blocked the intersection that led to his home. The reflection off the wet pavement created an eerie blur, and shadowy figures danced across the sides of the squad cars.
Must be a bad accident. The storm that passed earlier in the night had soaked the black asphalt.
As he watched the policeman walk toward his car, Jack cranked down the driver’s side window. The uniformed officer flashed a bright light in his direction, not quite in his eyes.
“Sorry, sir, no through traffic this morning. A small plane crashed on the Neimann farm.”
Jack’s heart pounded. “Anyone hurt? I need to see if my family is—”
“No one on the ground was hurt, sir. Everyone in the plane was killed. May I see your driver’s license?”
Jack reached into a back pocket for his well-worn wallet. From it he pulled a small piece of paper, which he placed into the gloved hand of the Illinois State Trooper.
“Did the storm bring it down?”
The officer nodded while studying the license. “Lightning took out the engine. It was en route to St. Louis.” His brusque demeanor softened and he returned the paper to Jack. “A family of four. Two kids onboard.”
“Terrible.” Jack tucked the license back inside his wallet.
“You can go home now, Mr. Randall. Hug your kids. Life is short.” The trooper tipped his hat and stepped away from the blue sedan.
Jack punched his pillow down. Sleep would not come. Thoughts of the plane crash crowded his consciousness. His wife lay beside him. His children were safe in their beds. Why did he have such an uneasy feeling? Why did he feel compelled to go to the crash site?
He prayed softly and sat up on the side of the bed. “Lord, what should I do?”
Running his hands through his hair, he stared at the fluorescent green numbers on the clock face. Five thirty.
“Jack?” His wife roused beside him.
“I’m sorry.” He turned to her. “I didn’t mean to wake you, honey.”
“What’s wrong?”
“When I came home this morning, the state police had the intersection blocked. A plane crashed on the Neimann farm. I’m thinking about driving over there.”
“What can you do?” She propped herself on an elbow.
He kissed her on the forehead. “I don’t know. I just have to see if I can help.”
A few minutes later, Jack turned left out of his gravel driveway, his headlights illuminating the heart-shaped leaves of the tall catalpa trees growing in the vacant lot across the street. Pods dangled from the branches like bony fingers, sending a chilling reminder of death through him.
The Neimann farm lay to the southwest, about a mile as the crow flies, toward the small town of Mercy. He had been there last year for an estate sale after old man Neimann passed away. The Neimann children had auctioned off the farm equipment and livestock. Mrs. Neimann continued to live in the house, while the land had been rented to other farmers in the community.
Sunrise streaked the twilight sky by the time Jack approached the turn onto Mercy Road. This narrow strip of asphalt led all the way into town, no more than ten miles past the farm, which was less than a thousand yards beyond the intersection.
He pulled his sedan into the gravel driveway and recognized the face of a friend, Canaan County Deputy Sheriff Harold Chester.
“Hey, buddy. How are you?” Chester said, walking toward him.
“Good, but I heard about the plane crash. Anything I can do?”
Deputy Chester shook his head. “A real shame. Two beautiful kids, maybe five to seven years old.” A tear welled in the deputy’s eye. “Not much older than my kids or yours.”
“Need any help documenting the scene, measurements, anything?”
Chester smiled, brushing moisture from his cheek. “You’re still a law enforcement man at heart, Jack. Gets in your blood, don’t it?” He nodded toward the barn. “We’ve got it done. I’m just waiting for the Feds to come in and do their assessments before we cart off the wreckage. There’s metal all over this farm.”
“Not surprising,” Jack said.
“I’m not sure how the bodies were so intact. Not much trauma, except for the pilot. He had a gash on his head. We’re pretty sure he was the father. He was still inside the plane. The mother and two kids were thrown out.”
“Would you mind if I look around?”
“Not at all. You know not to move anything.”
“Sure. No problem.”
The deputy pointed toward the orange streaks in the awakening horizon. “The main wreckage is about five hundred feet beyond the barn.”
Jack pulled his flannel shirt collar up around his neck and set out toward the deteriorating structure that stood between him and the crash site. The chilly wind chastened him for not wearing a jacket. Thankfully, he had worn his boots. Weeds had taken over the lot. The rain still clung to them, and his pants legs were quickly soaked to the knees. He scowled. If old man Neimann could see the shape this place was in, he would turn in his grave.
Jack noticed the faint odor of decaying cow manure as he walked through the open livestock gate. The old hayfield beyond had grown past the time to harvest, and ragweed stood half a foot higher than the tops of the fescue, alfalfa, and red clover.
He saw the plane wreckage straight ahead. From this distance it mimicked a kind of abstract sculpture someone had dropped onto the field. The wet surface glistened in the early morning light, creating an unnerving glow. As he approached, Jack noticed beads of moisture covering the white, twisted metal.
Four people died in this wreckage.
The distinct odor of burnt wiring filled his nostrils. No doubt lightning had struck the plane. Fortunately, the whole thing didn’t go up in flames. Not that the outcome would have been any different.
There was an unpleasantness in thinking about the bodies now lying in the county morgue. It was a far cry from the destination they must have planned in St. Louis. Lord willing, those four souls had reached an even better place, the throne of their Creator.
Had it not been for such a terrible accident, the beauty of this quiet morning would have been refreshing. He loved the open land. Especially when it stretched further than the eyes could see, like it did on this estate. Old man Neimann had certainly enjoyed a gorgeous piece of nature. Perhaps he was part of the welcoming committee for the…the… Jack realized he didn’t even know the names of those who had died here.
He reached out to touch the squared-off tail section of the plane. Teardrops of moisture clung to his fingers. He wiped his hands on his trousers. There was nothing he could do. He might as well go home to his family.
Turning toward the barn, a piece of trash from the plane caught his attention. A familiar shape out of context. It took a moment for him to process what he was seeing. Something was missing. What was it? Lack of sleep had slowed his cognitive processes, and he strained to put the pieces together.
A bottle. It was a rubber nipple from a baby bottle.
He thought back to what Chet had said. Two children, five and seven years old, had been found. They wouldn’t need a baby bottle. So what was…?
The realization hit him hard. An infant had been onboard. There was another body. Oh, God. Help me find that childHe needs to be with his family, not alone in this field.
Jack scratched his head. Where should he start looking? If only he knew where the other bodies had been located. The mother had likely been holding the child in her arms during the flight. Chet had said she was expelled from the plane, but where had she been found?
He scanned the weeds for a sign. A red kerchief lay east of the wreckage. Perhaps the mother had worn it over her shoulder when burping the baby?
Come on, Jack, you’re grasping at straws. Just walk around the site in a grid. You know the rules, he reminded himself. Search and Rescue 101.
He set out to walk every inch of soil in the field. It took more than thirty ever-widening circles before he reached the fence line. When he approached the final turn, he debated what he should do. No doubt he had scoured the entire field. Perhaps it was time to call in assistance.
Then he heard a sound.
He stopped to listen.
Only the low chirping of birds filled his ears. Must have been a barn cat.
Wait! He heard it again. It was coming from that haystack, and it sounded like…a baby.
Jack sprinted toward the loose mound of hay. How could a child have survived such a horrendous crash? What would he find? Walking closer, he saw what appeared to be a newborn. The baby was dressed in bright blue and lay motionless in a crater of grey-green straw.
Energy drained from Jack’s body. Had he arrived too late? When he touched the infant, he knew he hadn’t. The child’s soft, pale skin felt moist and warm. Jack gently picked up the sole survivor of the crash and held him to his chest, shielding him from the cold wind.
Panic replaced relief. The baby needed immediate medical attention. He could have internal injuries, complications from exposure, or even shock.
Lack of sleep had begun to take its toll, and Jack operated on remote power. He traversed the uneven terrain back to his car as fast as he could without jostling the fragile life cradled in his arms. If Chet was still there, he could drive them to the hospital in the squad car. If not, he would find a way to secure the baby in the front seat of his Belvedere.
When Jack passed through the gate, he saw the deputy’s green Bel Air, but no sign of Harold Chester. “Chet! Chet! I need help!”
A few minutes later, Jack watched Harold Chester’s right foot hover close to the floorboard of the police cruiser. His other leg jiggled nervously, as if peeved that it had no particular task in this special mission. They had decided to take the baby to Mercy Hospital. Although a small facility, it was the closest to the farm.
Despite the upset and commotion that had come into his world today, the infant lay quietly in Jack’s lap, swaddled in Chet’s olive green jacket. The siren screamed, making conversation impossible. Jack cupped the baby’s ears between his hands and tried to focus on the narrow road ahead.
A patchwork of color blurred in his peripheral vision as they sped past white clapboard farmhouses and red barns with silver silos. He imagined farmers interrupting their chores and wives peering from porches to investigate the early morning disturbance. They would soon be the talk of the neighborhood. In fact, the party lines were probably already buzzing.
When Chet pulled into the hospital parking lot and stopped, Jack jumped out of the car and ran to the hospital entrance. Because the deputy had radioed ahead, a group of doctors and nurses met him at the door. As he transferred the baby into the arms of a nurse, the infant opened his blue eyes and held Jack’s gaze—for what seemed like a lifetime.
Three days later, Pastor Sam Lewis caught Jack’s shoulder and spun him around. “I heard about the rescue. Good work, brother.” He reached to shake Jack’s hand.
Jack smiled and thanked the reverend. People had made over him like he was some kind of hero. But he had done what any other man would do. “Right place at the right time,” he said. “That child is fortunate to be alive.”
“Blessed, I would say.” The reverend nodded. “In fact, I believe God has plans for that young man.”

photo courtesy of Pump Up Your Book
Kathy Harris is an author by way of a "divine detour" into the Nashville entertainment business.  After graduating with a communications degree from Southern Illinois University, she moved to Nashville, Tennessee to work with a well-known gospel music quartet.  A few months later, The Oak Ridge Boys began their transition into country music and Kathy had the opportunity to help build an entertainment empire from the ground up. After becoming a book agent, and then writing and ghost writing stories and columns, she wrote her first Christian non-fiction "Walk on Water".  Later she had devotions and stories published in popular publications.  Kathy is married and lives near Nashville with their two Shiloh shepherd dogs.  More about Kathy can be found at her website  

Follow Kathy on Twitter, HERE.
Like Kathy on Facebook, HERE.
Purchase THE ROAD TO MERCY at Amazon, HERE.

This review is my honest opinion.  I was provided a copy of the book thanks to Pump Up Your Book and Abingdon Press.  I was not compensated in any other way for this review.  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Book Review: Reflected in You by Sylvia Day

A Cross Fire Novel

By: Sylvia Day

Published: October 2, 2012


Warning: The following review may not appeal to everyone who reads my blog.

Gideon Cross. As beautiful and flawless on the outside as he was damaged and tormented on the inside. He was a bright, scorching flame that singed me with the darkest of pleasures. I couldn't stay away. I didn't want to. He was my addiction... my every desire... mine.

My past was as violent as his, and I was just as broken. We’d never work. It was too hard, too painful... except when it was perfect. Those moments when the driving hunger and desperate love were the most exquisite insanity. We were bound by our need. And our passion would take us beyond our limits to the sweetest, sharpest edge of obsession.

This is the second novel of in the Crossfire Trilogy.  You can read my review of the first in the trilogy, BARED TO YOU, HERE.  These first two books have spent weeks in the Top 10 books sold on Amazon.  This trilogy, as well as the erotic romance genre, has become extremely popular.  The third book, ENTWINED WITH YOU, is scheduled for release on May 7, 2013.

REFLECTED IN YOU picks up rights where the first one left off.  Gideon and Eva are still early in their relationship and continue to spend their days and nights wrapped up in each other's lives.  But, in this novel, the past continues to be more of a problem for their relationship.  There is still a lot of passion and hot love scenes, but this time, jealousy, anger, and control raise their ugly heads.  Eva's best friend, Cary, also makes more of a presence in this story.  His life quickly becomes entangled with Gideon and Eva's and the results are life changing.  Other characters are more involved as well, including Eva's father and mother.

I have to admit, that I began to get frustrated while reading this one.  Each chapter seemed to have the same pattern of sex, fight, get jealous, fight, have more sex, etc, etc.  I continued to get frustrated with Gideon and his manipulations and with Eva and her immaturity.  But, as I read on...the pieces started falling into place and suddenly the whole story made sense.  Did I feel it drug out a little too long? Yes.  But, the last several chapters really grabbed my attention.  

Again, this is a fantasy type of story.  The jealousy, anger, and infatuation we can relate to, but the private planes, homes, private drivers, and New York City life, maybe not.  That is what makes these stories so likable.  We can escape into the emotions, the sexual chemistry, and the fancy lifestyle of these characters and maybe even realize our lives aren't so dull after all.  

Sadly, I will now have to wait a long 6 1/2 months for the conclusion to Gideon and Eva's story.  Luckily, I have plenty to read until then.  

For more on Sylvia Day check out her website  

Follow her on Facebook, HERE.

Follow her on Twitter, HERE

I received a copy of this book from Penguin.  This review is my honest opinion.  I was not compensated in any other way for this review.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

So, I Needed A New Challenge

The month of October is flying by for me.  Is it for you?  October is always crazy for us, but this year it has been especially busy.  Three kids in three different sports/activities with three different schedules, a trip for me, a birthday for me and my husband, subbing, a weekend getaway, and in  

After completing the 5 Week Exercise Challenge with Peak313, I have totally slacked off.  In the beginning of October I had a cold, it left, then came back along with taking my voice.  I got my voice back and got rid of the cold and now it is back again, with a vengence.  I think it is all these weather changes...cold, rainy, warm, dry...Iowa weather needs to make up its mind!  Excuses.....excuses.....excuses......

So, to get back on track, I have joined a new challenge thanks to my blogging friend, Jenni.  If you need a swift kick in the pants like I do....sign up HERE.


I have decided to commit to 30 miles of running/walking in November.  It may not sound like a lot to most people, but it is more than I would probably do if I didn't commit.  When I looked at our November calendar and realistically thought about what I could commit to, this was it.  Plus, the more I can push myself to complete the 30 miles is all the more miles to counteract all that delicious food I will be eating this month!

If you just need something to be accountable for, join me.  We can be each others fitness buddy!

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Little Monday Inspiration

There is an expression among even the most advanced runners that getting your shoes on is the hardest part of any workout.

Kathrine Switzer

Isn't that the truth?  I have found that if I wear my workout clothes to bed (or at least some of them) it is much easier for me to hop on that treadmill in the morning.Having my shoes out, so I nearly need to trip over them helps too!  The point is, whatever you need to do to make sure you get started, do it. Once you start it's all downhill from there!
photo courtesy of
Kathrine Switzer is best known for becoming the first woman officially enter and run the Boston Marathon in 1967 under the name K.V. Switzer.  Even after a race official tried to remove her, she finished the race.  After much convincing, women were officially allowed to enter and compete in the Boston Marathon, five years later, in 1972.  Switzer was the women's winner of the Boston Marathon in 1974. Switzer continues to support women's athletics and running today.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Book Review: The Happiness Project By Gretchen Rubin


By: Gretchen Rubin

Published: December 29, 2009


Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon in the unlikeliest of places: a city bus. "The days are long, but the years are short," she realized. "Time is passing, and I'm not focusing enough on the things that really matter." In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project.

In this lively and compelling account of that year, Rubin carves out her place alongside the authors of bestselling memoirs such as "Julie and Julia," "The Year of Living Biblically," and "Eat, Pray, Love." With humor and insight, she chronicles her adventures during the twelve months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier.

Rubin didn't have the option to uproot herself, nor did she really want to; instead she focused on improving her life as it was. Each month she tackled a new set of resolutions: give proofs of love, ask for help, find more fun, keep a gratitude notebook, forget about results. She immersed herself in principles set forth by all manner of experts, from Epicurus to Thoreau to Oprah to Martin Seligman to the Dalai Lama to see what worked for her--and what didn't.

Her conclusions are sometimes surprising--she finds that money can buy happiness, when spent wisely; that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness; that "treating" yourself can make you feel worse; that venting bad feelings doesn't relieve them; that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference--and they range from the practical to the profound.

Written with charm and wit, "The Happiness Project" is illuminating yet entertaining, thought-provoking yet compulsively readable. Gretchen Rubin's passion for her subject jumps off the page, and reading just a few chapters of this book will inspire you to start your own happiness project.

This book sat on my "to read" shelf for months patiently waiting until I saw a one minute video sent through Rubin's email newsletter.  I immediately went to my shelf, grabbed the book and started reading it.  I kept a highlighter attached to the book because there was so much I wanted to remember.  

It isn't that I feel unhappy or unsatisfied in my life, but I was hoping that this would point me towards some sort of direction.  THE HAPPINESS PROJECT would be an excellent book to read anytime, but especially as a way to start off the new year.  If you are looking for a book to help you in setting your goals and resolutions for 2013, I suggest starting it soon so January 1st, you can start implementing your plan.  Each chapter is broken up by months and focuses then on specific tasks to conquer for that month.  By setting goals and then breaking them up into manageable tasks to accomplish each month you are able really get a handle on improving your attitude, your motivation, and your life.

Rubin not only focuses on improving your life but those who are around you on a daily basis.  That saying "If Mom isn't happy, then no one is happy" is so true.  I know from experience, that if I start the day crabby, the whole house is crabby.  This book really forces you to dig deep and by making new choices and improving your life, those in your circle (work, home, friends, family) will notice a difference.  Some of my favorite passages from the book include:

  • The days are long, but the years are short
  • Each member of a family picks up and reflects everyone else's emotions - but of  course I could change no one actions but my own.
  • One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy.  One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.
  • Give thanks: for the ordinary and the extraordinary.
  • It takes at least 5 positive marital actions to offset one critical or destructive action.  When one couple's interactions are usually loving and kind, it's much easier to disregard the occasional unpleasant exchange.

I could have written many other passages, but these were my top 5.  Each of them are so simple and yet so profound, at least to me.

Rubin ends her book with ways to create your own Happiness Project along with pages of helpful tips for every facet of your life.  There is also an excellent discussion guide at the end if you choose to read this with your book club.  You can also sign up to receive daily emails from Rubin that include happiness quotes and tips for managing your life.  These emails really boost my day.

If you are looking for something to get you back in charge of your life, this book is most definitely for you.  Rubin has also come out with her next book HAPPIER AT HOME.  I have yet to pick this up, but it is on my list.  

For more on Gretchen Rubin, you can check out her website and sign up for her daily emails HERE.

Follow her on Twitter HERE

Like her on Facebook HERE

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Perfect Halloween Treat

Every year I purchase a few of these coupon books to hand out to family and other children around halloween.  Who doesn't love a FROSTY??? They are the perfect treat and a great way to give to others while also giving back to a much needed organization.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Scenes From Our Week

Since October started, it has been quite hectic around here.  I turned 40, left for a trip to California, subbed at school, went on a field trip with Reagan, attended a wonderful Surprise party hosted by my husband, cheered on our son, Patrick at the Middle School State Cross Country meet in Des Moines, attended a 60th birthday party, and watched our other son Bennett play football.  Needless to say, I have spent this week trying to catch up with emails, chores, regular mail, and here on my blog.  Please enjoy some of the photos from our last 2 weeks and stay tuned for a more specific post on my trip to California!

Patrick warming up at the state Cross Country Meet.
The 3A 7th Grade Boys ready to start the race.

The finish!  He got 39th place out of 65 boys and earned a medal on this tough course!

A fire in our small town on October 3rd destroyed a bar/restaurant.  

Our girl weekend begins! 

Grapes in El Dorado County Wine Country in California

Just one of the amazing views we saw in California.

In front of one of the many vineyards we saw in California.

Me overlooking Emerald Bay at Lake Tahoe

Reagan at Bloomsbury Farms

Jumping on the bouncy pillow.  I think every yard needs one of these!

At my Surprise 40th Birthday Party!

My life is blessed because of these friends!

The guy who made it all husband!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Book Spotlight: Better Than Chocolate by Sheila Roberts


It’s mid-morning. Breakfast is over (a nice, nutritious one), and little Sheila is sitting at her computer, writing away.  Where was I going with this scene? Do I need this scene? This needs to be better. I can’t think.
I know what I need: some chocolate to help me think. I’ll just step over to my office closet where I hide my stash and have a little Lindor chocolate truffle ball. Wait a minute. The bag is gone. Who ate my last white chocolate truffle ball? Has my husband discovered my stash? Oooh, if he’s raided my chocolate he’s in big trouble.
Oh,wait. I ate the last one yesterday. Well, never mind. Get back to work.
Okay, back to that pesky scene. Type, type, type. Yuck. This is pathetic. Who would read this? I don’t want to read it and I’m the one writing it. I need chocolate!
I know. I’ll make myself a latte with chocolate syrup in it. Off to the kitchen I go. Wait, where’s the chocolate syrup? We can’t be out. Oh, yes. I’m on deadline. I haven’t gotten to the store. There is no chocolate syrup. All right, then, hot chocolate. Do I have any hot chocolate mix left?
Oh, no. I’m out of that, too. Cocoa powder. I’ll pull out the cocoa powder and make hot chocolate the old-fashioned way. Where the heck is the cocoa powder? Gone, all gone. Noooo.
Okay, don’t anyone panic. There must be something in this house.
Chocolate chips! I’ll have some chocolate chips. And add some raisins to make the treat doubly healthful. Raisins are good for me – lots of iron. Chocolate is good for me, too. It’s good for my skin, good for my heart, and it boosts my mood. And right now my mood definitely needs boosting!
I find six whole chocolate chips left at the bottom of the glass jar where I keep them. Only six. What’s with that? Who’s been in the baking supplies? Oh, yeah. Me, the last time I went on a chocolate rampage.
Well, these will have to do. I snort the six chips (forget the raisins – we’re out anyway) and get back to work. The scene still stinks. Well, write it anyway. Type, type, type.
This is so not working. I need more inspiration so I call my neighbor. “Can I borrow a cup of chocolate?”
“I’d love to help you,” she says, “but I ate the last chocolate chips in the house.”
My neighbor and I decide we need to run to the store.
At the store it’s time to stock up: M & M’s, more truffles, chocolate chips, cocoa mix, cocoa powder, baking chocolate, and oh, yes, let’s stop by the Starbucks and get a nice latte with plenty of chocolate in it. Aaaah. Now, maybe I can go home and fix that scene.
Back at the typewriter, popping M & M’s the words begin to flow. Why did I think this scene was so bad? It’s great now. Life is great! Hmmm. Is the scene really better or did my chocolate hit fix alter my mood?
Sometimes, a writer never knows for sure. One thing I do know for sure though, chocolate keeps me going!


By:  Sheila Roberts

Published:  September 25, 2012

Sweet Dreams Chocolate Company has been in the Sterling family for generations, ever since Great-Grandma Rose literally dreamed up her first fabulous recipe. But now it looks as if they’re about to lose Sweet Dreams to the bank—and that would be a disaster, not only for the family but for the town of Icicle Falls, Washington. Can Samantha, the oldest daughter and new head of the company, come up with a way to save it?
After Samantha does some brainstorming with her mother and sisters, inspiration strikes. They’ll have a chocolate festival! Time’s running out, but the Sterling women are determined and the town’s behind them, so everything’s bound to go smoothly .
Or not. Events seem to be conspiring against Samantha, and her mother’s attempts to help aren’t helping. To make matters worse, the fate of her company is in the hands of her archenemy, Blake Preston, the bank manager with the football-hero good looks. It’s enough to drive her to chocolate. But Blake’s also enough to convince her that (believe it or not) there’s something even better than chocolate.

After reading a Sheila Roberts' book, you are sure to feel good about life, love and friendships.  Her books are inspiring and perfect for curling up on the couch with.  Early this year, I read and reviewed Roberts' book, ON STRIKE FOR CHRISTMAS and highly recommend it for women who are fed up with all the exhausting details of preparing for the holidays.  It will put you in the right frame of mind and keep you laughing.  See my review HERE.

photo courtesy of

Sheila Roberts lives in the Pacific Northwest. She's happily married and has three children. Her books have been printed in several different languages and have been chosen for book clubs such as Doubleday as well as for Readers Digest Condensed books. Her best-selling novel ON STRIKE FOR CHRISTMAS was made into a movie and appeared on the Lifetime Movie Network. Her novel ANGEL LANE was named one of Amazon’s Top Ten Romances for 2009. When she's not making public appearances or playing with her friends, she can be found writing about those things near and dear to women's hearts: family, friends, and chocolate.

Sheila Roberts will be traveling to promote her book throughout Washington state during the months of October and November.  For more information, check out her website,

To read an excerpt from the book BETTER THAN CHOCOLATE, click HERE.

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Book Review: Wonder By R.J. Palacio


By: R.J. Palacio

Published: February 14, 2012


I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?

A lot of times, the cover alone is what draws me to a book.  That was the case for this book.  I purchased it at our school Scholastic book sale because the cover and synopsis intrigued me.  I have boys that are 11 and 12 and I work at our middle school/high school, so I am familiar with how cruel kids can be.  I wanted to see how the author tackled this delicate subject and how realistic she portrayed the classmates.  This is Palacio's first novel and I will be watching for future ones from her.  

This story broke my heart and as a mom, I tried to imagine myself in the mom's position.  Would I have been brave enough to send him "like a lamb to slaughter" as his dad said, or decide it was time he was in the "real world"?  For many years, Auggie was protected by his family on outings and his face was only shown when necessary.  He wore an astronaut helmet, a hat, or kept his hair long to hide himself from the public.  When others saw him, their expressions ranged from shock to horror.  The doctor himself fainted when Auggie was born.  This type of facial deformation is beyond my imagination and reading stories like this make me appreciate that we were blessed with healthy children.  Auggie is a bright and witty child quick with a one-liner and once he had the chance to be himself, others fell in love with him.  But, do we give kids like Auggie that chance?  One of my favorite lines from Auggie in the book is when he is meeting some students from his new school and one of the asks why he hasn't gotten plastic surgery.  Auggie replied, "This is after surgery!".  This was the perfect way to lighten the mood and show Auggie's true personality.  

The book is told through short chapters and in parts told from each character's perspective.  The story flows quickly and gives you everyone's perspective which I appreciated.  I think my favorite section was from Auggie's teenage sister, Via (short for Olivia).  Via has always been Auggie's biggest fan, but as she begins high school she wants to be known as Olivia, not as Auggie's sister.  I appreciated how honest the author showed Olivia's fears and desires to have a life separate from Auggie, as well as the changes that happen to friends once high school begins.  

 How often do we judge others by their appearance?  My sister-in-law sees this every day in her work with the homeless.  I know I have been guilty of looking first at the appearance of someone before approaching them.  In the book, Auggie wonders what the world would be like if we all wore masks and got to know each other before we knew what we looked like.  Wouldn't this be a fun experiment to try?!

In the story, Jack was one of the children chosen by the Principal to welcome Auggie to the new school.  Not all of the chosen kids took their job as seriously as Jack did and really did like Auggie.  Unfortunately, he makes a mistake in the story and hurts Auggie deeply.  Again, I felt like Jack was any number of kids I know, struggling between being in the "cool" crowd and being "real".  Adults have a hard enough time struggling with making the right choices and Jack really came through.  I want my kids to be like Jack.

This book was filled with solid, moral lessons.  I will be having my boys read this and should be required reading for all middle school kids AND parents, in my opinion.  The story of Auggie is a lesson in itself, but how he relates to our reality is what really opened my eyes.  There will always be jerks in the world, people who don't get it and never will, but as long as the number of good people outweigh the number of bad, the good will always win.  At least, I am hoping that is the kind of world I am living in.

"Wherever you are, whenever you can, try to act kinder than is necessary." Page 301

R.J. Palacio
R. J. PALACIO lives in NYC with her husband, two sons, and two dogs. For more than twenty years, she was an art director and graphic designer, designing book jackets for other people while waiting for the perfect time in her life to start writing her own novel. But one day several years ago, a chance encounter with an extraordinary child in front of an ice cream store made R. J. realize that the perfect time to write that novel had finally come. Wonder is her first novel. She did not design the cover, but she sure does love it. Check out her website at

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