Friday, August 31, 2012

Check It Out!

I am not the most techy person and tend to be a little slow when it comes to new things on my blog but I wanted you to know about this new feature...

Look to the can now sign up to receive my blog updates via email.  How cool is that?  I know this isn't new to most of you...but I just figured it out!  I signed myself up so I would know how it worked.  You will get an email that you will need to verify and click the link that you want to be subscribed and then will get my blog postings via email.

How cool is that????

Now, it doesn't send you an email immediately after I post, but within a day, you should get an email from Sincerely Stacie with my post.

So, if you live on the edge of your seat waiting for my next blog post.....go ahead and sign up so you don't miss a single thing!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

It's Football Season!

I love fall.  Fall means football and pumpkin and sweaters and feeling the crispness in the air.  Our family is psyched for football to start this weekend.  Our high school started play last weekend, but I'm talking about college and professional football now.

My nephew is Offensive Coordinator at Bemidji State and their team kicks off their season on Friday night.  Thankfully, we can watch them through live internet coverage.  My family tends to get a little annoyed while I am watching them play and yelling and shouting at the computer.  It is the one team I really watch and root for.  My nephew calls me their "Super Fan".

Our other favorite college team is, of course, the Iowa Hawkeyes!  It is tough to get to a game, but we sure like watching them on TV.

Finally, the kids and Pat really like watching their favorite NFL teams and players.  The favorite in our house is the Minnesota Vikings.  Pat has been a fan ever since his aunt gave him Vikings pajamas as a kid.  A few years ago, Pat and I took the boys to a Vikings vs Packers game in the dome.   What a fun time that was!

Even though the Vikings are our favorite, Bennett still likes to cheer for the Steelers.
We also like to watch all our local Hawkeye players that have made it big. 
Chad Greenway, Vikings
Tyler Sash, Giants
Shonn Greene, Jets
Adrian Clayborn, Buccaneers
Nate Kaeding, Chargers
Ricky Stanzi, Chiefs
Tony Moeaki, Chiefs
Amari Spievey, Lions
Riley Reiff, Lions
Julian Vandervelde, Eagles
Marvin McNutt, Eagles
Dallas Clark, Buccaneers
Bob Sanders, Chargers
The most fun will come from cheering on our own little football player. 
Bennett will be playing for the 6th grade team. 
We can't wait to cheer him and his teammates on to VICTORY starting in mid-September!
So, let's get ready for some FOOTBALL!!!! 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Book Review: Bared to You by Sylvia Day


By: Sylvia Day

Published:  April 3, 2012


Warning:  The following review is about a book that may not appeal to everyone who reads my blog.

Gideon Cross came into my life like lightning in the darkness...

He was beautiful and brilliant, jagged and white-hot. I was drawn to him as I'd never been to anything or anyone in my life. I craved his touch like a drug, even knowing it would weaken me. I was flawed and damaged, and he opened those cracks in me so easily... 

Gideon knew. He had demons of his own. And we would become the mirrors that reflected each other's most private wounds... and desires. The bonds of his love transformed me, even as I prayed that the torment of our pasts didn't tear us apart... 

I received this book courtesy of Penguin and yes, I read it after I read FIFTY SHADES OF GREY.  I was skeptical because I wasn't really excited about FIFTY SHADES OF GREY and didn't think it deserved all the hype it was getting.  I will have to agree with many other reviewers that BARED TO YOU started out very similar to FIFTY SHADES GREY.  But, I do think that is where the similarities end.  In the beginning, I was frustrated and felt like I was reading the same story, but as I continued on, I became much more involved in Gideon and Eva's relationship and their stories.  I was continually frustrated with Eva's immature running away tactics and found parts to be unrealistic, but this isn't a realistic type of novel.  This isn't the typical relationship found in your neighborhood, but one that is set in NYC, with a billionaire for a boyfriend and two people with devastating pasts that interfere with moving them forward.

Women (and men too) read these type of novels for an escape.  We crave the romance and seduction and if the characters are likable and the story line isn't too predictable, then the author and the reader have succeeded.  This was that kind of novel for me.  Yes, the sex was unrealistic and overtly descriptive, but still, I was wrapped up in the story.  It also wasn't the type of sex that intimidated anyone or was violent, which I appreciated.

Eva and Gideon have a mutual respect and love for each other and both have devastating histories that would mess up anyone's life.  Together, they find ways to cope and learn from each other which is normal....the limos, gifts, apartments, and parties aren't normal, but play into the reader's fantasies.  

The drama of Eva's roommate and best friend Cary is also an added benefit to the story.  Day's descriptions of the characters and the situations are very clear and each of them are likable and you easily root for them.  Aside from Gideon and Eva's relationship, I am also just as interested in learning more about Cary and what is ahead for him in the next novel.

If you have joined in on the craze of these types of romance novels, then BARED TO YOU is not one to miss.  It's sequel REFLECTED IN YOU comes out October 2, 2012, and I am planning to get a copy! (Incidentally I haven't read the rest of the FIFTY SHADES OF GREY series.)  Day's writing embodies both the physical aspect as well as the emotional part of relationships which makes it all the more captivating.  

Sylvia Day is a bestselling author of numerous novels and uses several pen names.  For more on her life and novels visit her website at

I was provided a copy of BARED TO YOU in order to complete this review.  I was not compensated in any other way.  This review is my honest opinion.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Book Review: Beyond the Chore Chart: Chores, Kids, and the Secret to a Happy Mom by Kimberly Eddy

Chores, Kids and The Secret of a Happy Mom

By:  Kimberly Eddy

Published: March 5, 2012


Have you tried to get your children to help out around the house?
Do you stress out over the state of their messy rooms?
Do your children ignore your carefully crafted chore chart?
Is it easier for you to just do the job yourself?
Do your children view helping out around the house as punishment?

Then, Beyond the Chore Chart: Chores, Kids, and the Secret to a Happy Mom is just for you!

When it comes to books on chores, we moms need something that would go beyond just hanging up an age appropriate chore chart up on the wall, and assuming everyone would catch on and start helping out. There’s a process to getting your helpers to really help you out, and in this book I share my own tricks of the trade, getting your little helpers to become big helpers!

Learn the secret to getting your kids to help you with household chores, without yelling at your kids.
Why training your children step by step to do each job prevents frustration for you and them.
How to teach your children, at different ages, to help with chores.
Ways to make helping around the house fun.

I purchased this on my Kindle for $1.99 and it is still currently at that price HERE. Kimberly Eddy is also known as Joyful Momma and her blog is titled Adventures in Mothering at  She is a homeschooling mom with a large family and like all moms, she can't do it all.  Eddy has many wonderful tips on how to start with your toddlers and work your way up to teenagers and teaching them how to help out around the house.  I no longer have toddlers and have been requiring chores for many years, but this book was still quite helpful to me in my approach to the chores with my 7, 11 and 12 year olds.

I had several "lightbulb" moments while reading this book.  Here are a few that might be helpful to you as well:

  1. "Chores are not about lightening your load as a mother.  Chores are about training our children." It isn't that I was actually thinking of it that way, but did give me a different perspective in my approach with their chores.  What chores are life-skills that they will need to know later on in life?
  2. "Hey, you want some help with that? Let me show you a trick that helps me...." Rather than taking offense when I try to assist them with a task, this approach will make things more laid back.
  3. "...having our work noticed makes us feel more encourages the next time we do it..." I know when I have spent all day cleaning or making a delicious meal, I expect it to be noticed and praised and I need to be better about praising the kids after a job well-done.
All in all, this book was just an excellent reminder for how we approach chores in our home and our attitudes about it.  If we make them fun, do them together, and remind ourselves we are growing our children into capable adults, then doing a few chores won't be so bad.  

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Scenes From Our Week - Week 47

School began for us.  The kids had a full week....except for Reagan who started getting sick on Wednesday, ran a fever Wednesday night and stayed home on Thursday. I think allergies turned into a nasty cold.  

Patrick - 7th Grade

Bennett - 6th Grade

Reagan - 2nd Grade

Because we are a large (in square miles) district, this year we have all 3 kids in 3 different school buildings.  It made open house night interesting and will keep us very busy with all their activities.  It was already a week of adjusting to no more family meals.  Patrick has Cross-Country practice after school until 6pm and Bennett goes to practice at 6pm for football.  The boys don't even see each other until 8pm.  So, I am making several suppers and trying to keep everyone happy. With this schedule it at least makes the week go by fast.

Oh my, these years are going by so fast.  Trying to cherish all the moments.

Bennett was having a little fun posing before heading off to football practice.

This may not be a big deal to most of you, but for us it was.  Patrick ate the WHOLE BURGER at Culver's. Patrick is a picky eater and has trouble with aversions to certain foods.  So, this was pretty exciting and he sure enjoyed his ice cream after eating this burger!

We had a nice, relaxing weekend.  
I loved this sunset because it looks like we have mountains off to the west.  Hey, I can dream a little, right???

I spent a lot of time on my porch reading, listening to music, chatting with friends, and relaxing.  
I know those days and weekends are very limited and I am soaking up every moment of it.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Book Review: The Last Letter by Kathleen Shoop


By:  Kathleen Shoop

Published:  April 27, 2011


Katherine wouldn’t have believed it if she hadn’t found the letter...

Katherine Arthur's mother arrives on her doorstep, dying, forcing her to relive a past she wanted to forget. When Katherine was young, the Arthur family had been affluent city dwellers until shame sent them running for the prairie, into the unknown. Taking her family, including young Katherine, to live off the land was the last thing Jeanie Arthur had wanted, but she would do her best to make a go of it. For Jeanie's husband Frank it had been a world of opportunity. Dreaming, lazy Frank. But, it was a society of uncertainty—a domain of natural disasters, temptation, hatred, even death. 

Ten-year-old Katherine had loved her mother fiercely, put her trust in her completely, but when there was no other choice, and Jeanie resorted to extreme measures on the prairie to save her family, she tore Katherine’s world apart. Now, seventeen years later, and far from the homestead, Katherine has found the truth – she has discovered the last letter. After years of anger, can Katherine find it in her heart to understand why her mother made the decisions that changed them all? Can she forgive and finally begin to heal before it’s too late?

I purchased this on my Kindle for $.99 and even at the current price on Amazon of $2.99, I encourage you to get it as well.  If you are a lover of historical fiction (late 1800's) and family drama, this is a book for you.  

I was a bit confused as I began the story because it jumps back and forth from Katherine's life as a child on the Dakota Praire with her mother Jeanie as the main character to other chapters with Katherine as an adult in Des Moines.  This is one instance where it would have been helpful to have the hard copy so it was easier to look back and remind myself of characters and their role in the story.  But, as I read on, it became easier.

It is hard to believe all the bad things that can happen in one family and you almost want to say, geesh, can't anything go right for them, but it is part of the way of life on the Prairie during that time.  Nothing was taken for granted and life in a sod dugout was NOT fancy or easy.  I cringed many times reading about their use of chamber pots, dirt and snakes falling from the "ceiling" and burning buffalo chips for warmth.  But, the research Shoop did to make this story real must be praised.  When I found out at the end of the story, part of her story was based on the book THE CHILDREN'S BLIZZARD by David Laskin I was even more intrigued.  That has been sitting on my self for a couple years and it just got bumped up on my to-read list.

You never had to try to imagine characters or what items or places looked like because the author gave such vivid descriptions of everything down to the clodhoppers, to the beautiful Lutie, to the flowers on the prairie, to the storms that rolled in.  I could see it all play out in my mind.

With this story being the second I had read with a "loser" for a husband, it really got my blood boiling.  I loved the lectures Jeanie both gave and wanted to give to her husband Frank but she got it right on when she said to him, "You are a man who acts as a ten-year-old."  I cheered out loud for Jeanie and cried for her at many other points in the story.  Jeanie went from living a plush, fancy life to a sad, hopeless life in a sod dugout with a husband who disappointed her day in and day out.  I may not have agreed with all of Jeanie's choices in the story, but I ended the book with a great respect for her and for her now grown daughter, Katherine.  The book reminded me of the great importance of forgiveness and lifting that burden and anger from your soul.  

This book is worth a read and Shoop's newest novel AFTER THE FOG sounds intriguing as well.   Check out Kathleen Shoop on her website, HERE.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Review: 100 Days to Christmas 2012

Last year, Jennifer of ListPlanIt created this amazing planner to help you get ready for Christmas by getting you started 100 days before Christmas.  She takes you through all the Fall activites and holidays and then breaks all the planning up in to manageable parts so you aren't trying to do it all the week before Christmas.  How many of you have been shopping for gifts, making cookies, and sending your cards all in that last week????  Well, thanks to Jen, for just $5 you can get control over your Christmas season.  All you need to do is click HERE and then wait for the slide of the 100 DAYS TO CHRISTMAS eBook to come up and click on it.  If you are a list-maker like I am, this is the planner for you!!!!  I loved using the Christmas planner last year, I'm a ListPlanIt member and use her lists and calendars daily.

We are just 4 months away from Christmas and starting on September 16th, 100 DAYS TO CHRISTMAS 2012 will take you step by step through planning for your Halloween costumes, planning your Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas card mailing, gift giving, and budgeting for the holidays and SO MUCH MORE.  After using this planner everyone will want to know your secret for staying calm through the Christmas frenzy.

As much as I love Christmas, I also love the Fall season.  I appreciate that the planner also focuses on planning and preparing for that much loved time of year.  I already have my calendar marked to decorate for Halloween on September 30, which is the 86th day.

If you are on PINTEREST, you should definitely be following Jen HERE, and all of her boards.  Jen is frequently "pinning" awesome holiday ideas from Christmas card layouts to Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas crafts, to hundreds of recipes.  She does all the research for us, we just have to "repin" them.

You can also follow along on the 100 DAYS TO CHRISTMAS Facebook page HERE for daily ideas and to be part of the community.

What I really love about this planner is that Jen puts the thought in your mind way before you would have thought of it yourself.  Day 91 she already has you thinking about your Christmas Cards and on days 90 and 89 making your lists and gathering addresses for sending it out.  How much more relieved will you be if this is done in September rather than scrambling around at the last minute in December?!?!

Even if you don't do everything in this planner, you will be able to pick and choose from the parts that make the most sense to you and your family.  The extra lists and websites included are extremely helpful and ones you can use for a long time.  You can choose to leave the eBook on your computer, print the whole thing and put into a binder, or print out just the pages you need.  For $20, you can even purchase a hard copy already placed into a binder for you with arrival by September 16, 2012.  It really doesn't get much easier than that.

Don't delay in getting this planner.  September 16, 2012, could be the start of a whole new Christmas for you and your family.  Click HERE and get yours today for only $5.  For the price of your morning coffee and muffin you can get your Christmas planning under control.  Check it out today!

I received a copy of 100 Days to Christmas 2012 in order to facilitate this review.  I was not compensated in any other way. This review is my honest opinion.  I am an affiliate of ListPlanIt and can receive a small compensation for purchases made through links on this blog.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Guest Book Review: Last of the Seals by Greg Messel


By: Greg Messel

Published: April 23, 2012


This is a featured guest review by my husband, Pat. After seeing the book in my stash, he thought the book sounded interesting and so I offered the review to him.  

Mystery, romance and baseball in 1957 San Francisco.  Sam Slater is a lifetime minor league baseball player for the San Francisco Seals.  The Seals have just one more season left as San Francisco is about to become a major league city.  Sam has come to the end of his baseball career and is going to join the private detective agency of his best friend.  When Sam's partner inadvertently sees something he shouldn't have, he is brutally murdered.  Sam must go it alone to find out why.  Along the way he is swept off of his feet by a beautiful, Elvis-obsessed, TWA stewardess named Amelia Ryan.  Sam and Amelia try to unravel the mystery together.  On dark and foggy San Francisco nights, trouble is lurking just around the next corner. 

When my wife asked me if I'd be interested in reading and reviewing this book, it didn't take much for me to say 'yes' - even though I'm not usually much of a reader of fiction books. 

Last of the Seals tells the story of Sam Slater, who is finishing his last days as a veteran minor league pitcher in 1957 for the San Francisco Seals - a team beloved by the city - but is being scuttled to make way for the Major League's Giants, who are moving in from New York next season.

Sam is forced to begin his detective work early when his best friend, and future partner is killed delivering incriminating photos to a client.  During this time, Sam meets (and courts) the beautiful Amelia, a stewardess who welcomes Sam's advances.  These two - separated only by Amelia's weekly flight schedule - together begin to search for the killer.  Along the way, they are both put in dangerous situations and they're led to solve another murder where their efforts put them on a trail that even the police couldn't find.  

One of the author's best qualities is the way he weaves historical facts with his own fictional accounts.  His time growing up in the San Francisco area also gives him the opportunity to share with the reader a great deal of local history, local geography and a sense for the unusual weather that is unique to the area.  In this regard, he doesn't disappoint. 

The book is an easy read with fairly short chapters, which makes it easy to pick up and read - even for a just few pages at a time. 

One of the strengths of the book is the relatively few main characters, and the author does a great job of giving the reader a great idea who Sam Slater really is - from his time in WWII, up to the present time in 1957.  He also gives you a glimpse of life in 1957.  Most notable to me was the glamorous  life of the stewardess (and the high physical standards required to make the cut for the job), and the prevalence of smoking - even among the athletes. 

Where I think the author let me down was that I didn't get to see the relationship of Sam and Amelia fully develop.  Perhaps this is coming later in the trilogy, but the passion these two had for each other created an interest to see when they would finally succumb to their strong desires, or maybe this was of a more subtle example of life in the 1950s.  Another situation that wasn't fully explored was the strange behavior of Mrs. Ted Steele toward Amelia.  Either way, these questions certainly make me want to read Deadly Plunge, due out in 2013 to hopefully find some answers.  

Greg Messel
photo courtesy of http://
Greg Messell has spent most of his life living in the Pacific Northwest.  He has been married to Carol for over 40 years and has 3 children and 10 grandchildren.  Greg has always loved writing and spent many years working in the newspaper business.  LAST OF THE SEALS is his fourth novel and the first of a mystery trilogy set in San Francisco in the 1950's.  The second installment of the trilogy and his fifth novel is DEADLY PLUNGE and will be published in 2013.  For more on Greg Messel and his other books, check out

Thanks to Pump Up Your Book for sending a copy of this book for review.  Neither my husband or I were compensated in any other way for this review.  This review is my husband's honest opinion.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Scenes From Our Week - Week 46

Summer is over for us as I post this.  Tomorrow the kids go back to school and we start the routine all over again.  I think we are all ready for the change, but still sad to say good-bye to summer.  There were things we didn't get done, but hopefully can still fit some of them in on upcoming weekends.  

We closed the summer out with a birthday party for my dad.  He turned 80 today and we wanted to invite his and my mom's siblings, their families, and close friends to celebrate with all of us.  
We had delicious food, lots of laughs and good memories were made.  

Dad with his Korean War Medals framed.

80 candles - Make a wish Dad!

Reagan looked so funny riding around on this tiny trike.

My sisters and I with my parents.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Frappuccino At Home

I LOVE treating myself to a Starbucks Coffe.  In the colder months, I get either a caramel latte or a white chocolate mocha.  Only in the last couple summers have I started to enjoy the Frappuccinos.  I wasn't sure I would like a cold coffee, but I certainly do.  Unfortunately, I live a half hour away from a Starbucks and don't go into town everyday.  I've been wanting a simple way to make my own Frappuccino treat at home.  In our latest DASH magazine they featured homemade recipes for iced coffees and this one fit me perfectly.

(Adapted from DASH Magazine for my own tastes)

1 Cup Strong Brewed Coffee, chilled (I just save some from our morning batch and put it in the fridge)
3/4 Cup Milk (I use 1%)
1 T  jarred fudge sauce or caramel sauce depending on the flavor you want.
2 T Sugar
6 Ice Cubes (Can use more if have room)
Canned Whipped Cream (spray on top of coffee)
Chocolate Sprinkles (sprinkle on top of the whipped cream)

I use my Magic Bullet and pour everything in and blend.  It fits into the bullet perfectly and then fits into my Starbucks cup so I can pretend I'm at Starbucks....even if the kids are fighting with each other in the background!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Review: Back 2 School Survival Guide By The Confident Mom

Susan from The Confident Mom has done it again!  She has found a way to make going back to school much easier and more organized.  I wish I would have had all these ideas when my kids were younger.  If you have child going off to a new school, or going off to Kindergarten, I highly recommend this Back 2 School Guide.  This is also great if you are just looking to be more organized in your daily routine with your kids.  Using the guidelines Susan has put into place, your morning and evening routine should run quite smoothly.

Each school year brings new anxieties, busier schedules, and more homework.  If you have more than one child then all that is multiplied.  As a mom of a 7th, 6th and 2nd grader, our mornings AND evenings are crazy.  The Back 2 School Survival Guide has multiple tips for keeping your schedules stress-free, organized, and helps you plan ahead.

This 80-Page eBook plus printables easily downloads right to your computer.  You can print off all the calendars and planning sheets right from the page they are mentioned or at the end of the book.  The pages are super cute and fun to hang up.  The ones I printed off right away were the meal planning pages, the family meeting agenda, and the school notes.

The mom is usually the epicenter of the home and the schedule.  If you are organized and ready for school, then it will make it that much easier for your kids to adapt to their new routine.  I know when I haven't taken the time to plan and get things ready, our home is much more chaotic.

Planning Ahead + Being Organized = Much Calmer Household

For $14, you can download this book immediately to your computer.  In our community, school begins on Monday and I bet most of you are getting in the back-to-school mode as well.  If you are looking for help with getting those bedtimes adjusted, easing your morning routine, planning for lunches or evening family meals, or getting those homework battles under control.....this Back 2 School Survival Guide is for you.

Click HERE to get yours RIGHT NOW!!!

I was provided with a copy of this eBook for review.  I was not compensated in any other way for this review.  I am an affiliate of The Confident Mom and clicking on links and making a purchase may result in me receiving payment.  

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Scenes From Our Week - Week 45

This was a busy week with catching up from vacation and getting ready for school.  We purchased school supplies  sorted through the kids' drawers and closets and bought new clothing.  We also did a lot of Olympics watching since we had missed out on it the first week.

The boys had another Sheltered Reality performance in a near-by town.  Our two friends Mary and her sister, Barb were both called up to play along.  What a fun night!

Barb and Mary were awesome and good sports about playing along!

During one of the songs, they use bouncy balls in place of the sticks.  This was the boys' first time trying it out at a performance and they did a great job.  It definitely takes skill to bounce a ball on the drum and catch it with one hand, use a stick with the other and keep on the beat!

This is our last week before school starts on the 20th.  I have a few fun things left up my sleeve, but the week will fly by.  We will be spending the weekend with my family for my dad's 80th birthday.  I am looking forward to some great family time and celebrating!

Scenes From Our Week - Week 44

After a week of being gone, it seems like it takes another week to catch up at home.  So, yes, this post is a week behind.  We had a great vacation starting off with a Cubs vs Pirates game in Chicago and then moving on to total relaxation at our cousin's cabin on Lake Vermillion in Minnesota.  As soon as we leave there, I am counting the days until we can go back again.  It is one of my favorite weeks in the whole year!  Thanks for being wonderful hosts Melanie and Mike!

We made a quick stop by the United Center for this photo opp.

We stopped at Clarke's before the game for some appetizers.  
It was right next to our PARK WHIZ parking spot.  
If you have to go to an event, that is the way to park.  It was smooth, cheap and close to Wrigley!

Time for the Cub vs Pirates game!

After attending a Pirates game in Pittsburgh a couple summers ago, I have a mild obsession with Pirate 1st baseman Garrett Jones.   

We had awesome seats.

Even though the Cubs lost, it was exciting to see this player, called up from AAA just that day, get his first hit during the 8th inning on the Pirates pitcher who had so far had a no-hitter.  Pretty exciting day for him!

Mike and Pat headed out for an early morning fishing excursion.

Pat caught the one and only walleye.

Reagan tried fishing for crawfish off the dock.


Water Skiing!

Daddy/Daughter Boat Ride

Such an amazing view with a full moon over the lake!

Pat learned how to play Cribbage

Me, Jena and Melanie - My niece, Jena got to come along this year!


Jena and I

My nephew's wife joined us too - Adult Boat Ride!

Rocking coloring

Jensen and Bennett Kayaking

Our final boat ride that ended up getting us all a little wet!

The seas were a bit angry, my friend.  We had to turn around and come back.

But, we got this great view after we got back.