Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunday Snippets 8.31.14

On Sundays, I like to share snippets from our life here in small town Iowa.  
As we get into the school year, our lives get busier. 
It seems there is always something going on.  
I'd love to hear snippets from your life as well.
Find joy in the snippets of your daily life!

We have had an office in our home since 2008. My husband used it on days he wanted to work from home. It was a huge help when his office in downtown Cedar Rapids was flooded during the flood of 2008. But, now that his office is in our small town, he was hardly ever using it. So, I decided it would be helpful if I actually had an office. We cleaned it out and I got it all set up for me. I am so excited. I have been more productive and love being able to sit at a desk rather than on the couch with my computer. 

On Sunday we participated in a Bags (Corn Hole) Tournament. 
Pat and I were partners and Patrick and Bennett were partners.  
The boys were pretty thrilled that they placed better than we did, 
receiving 3rd place. We got 4th. 

Reagan has been BEGGING to make cupcakes and finally,
 Sunday afternoon we made them. 
Strawberry cake with pink and purple icing. YUM!

Cross Country season kicked off on Tuesday.  
Patrick's (in the blue) 1st high school meet and he rocked it, 
finishing with his fastest time ever. 
His official time was 21.29 for a 5K. 
The race was ran with all the high school boys together 
rather than a Varsity race and a JV race. I think he did awesome!

Have you heard of a Lemon Drop Melon?
I hadn't either but saw them at Hy-Vee this week. 
I love trying new fruit and thought the kids might like it.
It was sweet with a bit of tart.
Bennett said it reminded him of a Granny Smith apple.
I thought it was like a Honeydew Melon with tart.
It is smaller than a cantalope and was $2.50.

Also this week I treated myself to a pedicure and lunch at Panera. 
A friend of mine is in school to be a nail technician, 
so I "sacrificed" to be one of her customers.
Then I headed to Panera with my book and had a delicious lunch.
Their new flatbread sandwiches are quite tasty. 
I had their southwestern flat bread with summer corn chowder. 
I'm anxious to try out their other flatbreads.

I live in a small town of 700, so we have to drive nearly thirty minutes - hour to get to a fancy cupcake shop. The popular one in Eastern Iowa is Scratch Cupcakery. They have locations in Cedar Falls, Waterloo, West Des Moines and Coralville. The cool thing is they also have a Cupcake Truck that travels to small towns for a scheduled 2 hour visit. 
They offer 10 different cupcakes for $2 each or $22/dozen.
I stood in line for just 15 minutes to get 6 cupcakes. Totally worth it! They sold out of all of the 500 cupcakes they brought in 56 minutes! I hope they come back soon!

From top to bottom, left to right:
O Happy Day, Wedding Day, Raspberry Love, 
Chocolicious, Cookies and Cream, and Molten Caramel

Saturday was the neighboring towns Sauerkraut Days. 
It kicked off with a 5K at 7:30 AM. Patrick ran and I ran/walked with my friend, Therese. 
Patrick had another best time, finishing at 20:59, 
cutting off 30 seconds from his previous best time on Tuesday. 
Let's just say, Therese and I were a tad....bit behind him. 

Then it was time to get ready for the parade. Gotta love small town parades!
Patrick marching with the band, above.

It isn't a small town Iowa parade without tractors.  
My Sister-in-Law, Kelly and her son Matt

My husband's brother, Steve driving his Oliver in the parade.

After the parade we had all the free hot dogs and sauerkraut we wanted,
plus some delicious peach pie. 

In the afternoon, Patrick was in his final Sheltered Reality performance.
This has been an amazing group to be a part of the last three years, but
due to a busy high school activity schedule, we had to let it go.
But, we will never forget our time with Sheltered Reality and how you can
"Take a Chance"
"Never Give Up"
and do
"Whatever It Takes"
in any situation.
If you are in the Midwest, you may have a Sheltered Reality group near you. 
Check out their website and schedule, HERE and find a show near you. 
In fact, they are at the Minnesota State Fair today!
They are amazing! 

Patrick with Steve the founder of Sheltered Reality

Ok, this was kind of a full week, but these were truly just snippets from our life.
There is always something going on, and next week will be just as busy.
Tune in next Sunday for more snippets from our life.
You never know what you might see.

Remember to find the joy in your daily snippets!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Children's Book Review: If You Were Me and Lived In....India....Turkey By Carole P Roman

If you are familiar with my blog at all, you know I love Carole Roman's books.  I have reviewed several of her books, but my favorites are this series that teaches children about cultures and countries around the world.


By: Carole P Roman

Published: January 30, 2014

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

By reading this book, you can introduce your child to unique tidbits about India. Through the words and pictures your child will learn about the places to visit, the food to eat, the games to play and even the types of clothes they wear.

I had never heard of the Holi celebration and it reminded me of the "5K Color Runs"  that we do here. It makes me wonder if someone got the idea from a Holi celebration while visiting India.

As in everyone of Roman's books you will be sure to find vivid illustrations and information interesting to both parent and child.  A glossary at the end will help you learn and pronounce Indian terms.


By: Carole P Roman

Published: November 29, 2013

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

I found that I really knew very little about Turkey when reading this book. The unique placement of Istanbul will be an excellent fact for your child to know.

I wish the United States had a Children's Day to celebrate and teach children about our government and culture the way the children do in Turkey. Maybe you could host a Children's Day Celebration in your own community or neighborhood.

Through historical facts, cultural tidbits, and accurate illustrations, Roman's books will teach and engage your children in conversations about other cultures and countries.

Carole P Roman
Award winning author Carole P. Roman is a former teacher turned businesswoman. She has successfully run a family business with her husband that employs close to five hundred people. Her most favorite job is being grandmother to her many grandchildren. Roman has two wonderful sons and hit the jackpot in the daughter-in-law department. She currently lives on Long Island with her husband. For more on Carole P. Roman visit her website, HERE.

If you would like to purchase these books, click the photos below:

To see other great children's book reviews and bookish posts, check out Booking Mama's Kid Konnection every Saturday. I will be linking up this post.  To see other great kid's book features, click HERE

I was sent these books for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. I was not compensated in any way for this review. If you choose to purchase these books, I may receive a small commission without you paying a cent more for your purchase.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Beast - How We Keep Our Kids Outside and Active

We have always had a basketball hoop for our kids.
All three of our kids play basketball.
I even like to go out and shoot some hoops every now and then.

We had a basic hoop that we got at Wal-Mart 
for several years, but just didn't hold up well.

We knew we needed to get a solid, long-term hoop.

has been one of our all-time best purchases.

You can easily adjust the height of the hoop.
You can dunk and the rim bounces back.
It doesn't blow over in our driveway every time it storms or is windy.

I have to say, it was tough to bite off the $1,100.00, but
once we got it, I realized how much better of a system it is.
It is totally worth it and I see it is an investment in our kids.
It isn't a toy that will get boring.
It isn't a technology that will be old in a couple years.
Basketball hoops stand the test of time and keep our kids active.

Need a way to get your kids outside practicing their shots?
Need to get your kids to stop playing 
basketball video games and playing the real thing?
Ever played H-O-R-S-E with your kids?

I highly recommend you get your family this Spalding "The Beast" Portable Basketball Hoop - 60" Glass Backboard and find out who can be the champion of
H-O-R-S-E in your house.

We purchased our basketball hoop through Amazon with free delivery.
If you'd like to see more about this hoop, click HERE.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Book Review: The Gifted By Daphne Michaels

How to live the life of your dreams

By: Daphne Michaels

Published: May 25, 2014

Publisher: Daphne Michaels Books

Non-Fiction/Personal Development

I am participating in the book tour for THE GIFTED, hosted by PUMP UP YOUR BOOK. For other stops on the tour, click HERE. Various other bloggers will offer author interviews, book excerpts, giveaways, and of course, reviews.

Daphne Michaels, an author, speaker, and license psychotherapist, believes that we were all born with nine gifts.  In her book THE GIFTED, she helps us recognize these nine gifts and how to use them to our greatest potential. In explaining each of these gifts, Michaels uses metaphors to help us picture the effect of these gifts on our lives.  Surprisingly, not all of these nine gifts are positive. For example, the gift of disharmony is present in our lives. How we focus on the pieces of disharmony in conjunction with the other eight gifts in our lives will lead us to true harmony and personal growth.

As part of the gift of stillness, one piece of that is true rest. Not just sleeping, but resting while we are awake. This is something I have noticed, even before reading this book. By adding rest into my day, I have more energy and am more focused. Taking time out of  your day for true rest helps the other gifts come forward and renews your spirit.  Rest can include a brief nap, meditation, prayer, sitting silently listening to music or to nature, or reading a book.  I have found this to be an important piece of my day and certainly notice when I don't make time for it.

In THE GIFTED, you will find many other ways that you can transform your life. For those looking for some direction or guidance, THE GIFTED can help them find what lies ahead. No matter if you are 18 or 88 or somewhere in between, THE GIFTED can help you realize those opportunities that are out there waiting for you. You may just find out who you want to become.

THE GIFTED: How to Live the Life of Your Dreams is just the first in Daphne Michaels series of books.  Yet to come include, THE GIFT OF YOUR DREAMS, THE GIFT OF CHARISMA, THE GIFT OF CREATIVITY, and THE GIFT OF NEW SUNRISES.

Daphne Michaels - source
Daphne Michaels is an author, speaker and licensed psychotherapist whose institute has helped hundreds of women and men transform their lives through the "gifts" every human being is born with. Daphne began her own journey of transformation at a young age, pursued it fearlessly, and later studied formally in the fields of social science, human services and integral psychology. THE GIFTED: How to Live the Life of Your Dreams launches both Daphne Michaels Books and THE GIFTED series, whose goal it is to share with the widest audience possible the principles that guide the Daphne Michaels Institute. For more on Daphne Michaels, visit her website at You can also find Michaels on Facebook, HERE and Twitter, HERE

If you would like to purchase a copy of THE GIFTED: How to Live the Life of Your Dreams, click the photo below:

I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for a review. This review is my honest opinion. I was not compensated in any way for this review. If you choose to purchase this book through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting reviews.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Book Review: Skygods By Sarah Latchaw and a Giveaway

Hydraulic #2

By: Sarah Latchaw

Published: August 26, 2014

Publisher: Omnific Publishing


The much anticipated second book in the HYDRAULIC series, SKYGODS appears on bookshelves today. To see my review of HYDRAULIC LEVEL FIVE and interview with the author, Sarah Latchaw, click HERE.

Just like in HYDRAULIC LEVEL FIVE where whitewater rafting terms are used, skydiving metaphors are used when discussing Kaye and Samuel's life. Each chapter begins with a skydiving term and then moves into the story within a story. Samuel a best-selling author is trying to write the real story of Samuel and Kaye's relationship. The reader learns the history of Samuel and Kaye's relationship while experiencing the highs and lows of their current life. 

SKYGODS is the second book in the HYDRAULIC series.  Even though this book can obviously stand on its own, I do believe the reader will understand the history and dynamics of Kaye and Samuel's relationship much better if HYDRAULIC LEVEL FIVE is read first. 

We pick up right where we left hanging in HYDRAULIC LEVEL FIVE with Samuel and Kaye finding their way back to each other after seven years of being divorced. Each one is treading lightly and realizing they have much to learn about each other's past and present. Samuel is currently on tour for his first movie premiere based on his best-selling book that will likely lead to many more movies.  Kaye is noticing the building pressure of Samuel's multiple appearances and interviews and wonders how much more he can handle before he hits the breaking point.  

Kaye is busy with her own clients as part of her PR firm in Colorado. Part of her stress-relieving measures include skydiving. When one of her dives goes wrong, she realizes that her behavior really affects those she loves. But is she willing to give up the thrill of adventure for Samuel?

As Samuel ends up depending on Kaye more and more, Kaye realizes there is something more going on with Samuel than just the stress of a celebrity lifestyle. When she learns deep hidden secrets from his past, she wonders if she can really love him enough to overcome it.

I am not someone who typically reads romance novels, but SKYGODS is much more than romance. There are multiple layers to Kaye and Samuel's relationship and a history that keeps their story interesting and provocative. This is no fluffy romance but one with tension, love, fear, drama, laughter, and passion.  The celebrity angle also keeps the reader fascinated by the many people it takes to make and keep someone a "star" and in the spotlight. 

Fans of Latchaw's writing will also find her beautifully detailed settings in Colorado mixed in with the harsh contrast of New York and Boston city life. The friends and family prominent in HYDRAULIC LEVEL FIVE return again in SKYGODS offering strong characteristics and opinions while bringing more depth to Kaye and Samuel's story. 

Latchaw is a gifted storyteller, giving the reader a perfect description of a situation, a person or a place. She places you in the moment right along with the characters either with her descriptive words or by using metaphors to explain the feelings in the moment.

"I felt my body settle into wet, slimy grass. 
Several shadows hulked over me mercifully 
blocking the heavy gray sky from my light-sensitive eyes."  Page 33

"My bones had been broken not seven years, but twenty-seven. 
Mom left me for her gardens and squished heart. 
Dad left me for his new young thing. 
Samuel left me for his demons...
But I'd been so busy hunkering down against the next break,
 I never let those bones heal. 
Like a little girl, I was so wrapped up in my fears, 
I'd forgotten the fears of others...namely, Samuel's." Page 176-177

The dark and difficult moments of mental illness are brought to a glaring reality. Latchaw paints an brutally honest portrayal of both the one suffering and the loved ones who try to help. Readers will find themselves wanting to tell Kaye to run away and yet understand why she can't possibly give up. 

The end of SKYGODS leaves the reader expecting more to come in Kaye and Samuel's story. The reader can be hopeful for an ending full of happiness, trust, and love.  

Sarah Latchaw - photo provided by Omnific Publishing
Sarah Latchaw was raised in eastern Iowa and appreciates beauty in mud-splattered gravel roads and fields. She also loves to explore far-away places, thanks to countless family minivan trips across the States. This passion for finding stories led to college adventures in many different countries, and each place’s story rests in the back of her mind and in her photo albums.

Sarah received her BA from Wartburg College in public relations and media, and entered the workforce, ready to climb the ladder. However, when researching MBA applications evoked feelings of dread, with the loving support of her husband, she pursued a career in creative writing and was awarded her MA from Iowa State University.

These days, Sarah wakes every morning thrilled to cuddle her small children, show them the world, then capture that world and shape it into stories on paper. She is not thrilled when she wakes to her cats smothering her face. She and her family reside in Des Moines, Iowa—one of the best places to live and work.

For more on Sarah Latchaw and to read an excerpt from SKYGODS, visit her website, You can also find Sarah on Facebook, HERE and Twitter, HERE

These giveaways are no longer available. Thanks to all who entered. 

Now for the best part, as part of the blog tour for SKYGODS, Omnific Publishing is offering a giveaway of several items related to the HYDRAULIC series including signed books. To enter this giveaway, click the link to the rafflecopter form and follow the instructions:

I also have the privilege to give away TWO ebooks of SKYGODS. If you would like to enter to win an ebook of SKYGODS, fill out the form below.  You may enter only once. The contest will end at 11:59 on Tuesday, September 2, 2014. I will choose TWO winners on Wednesday, September 3, 2014 using and will contact them by the email address provided. The winners will have 48 hours to contact me or I will choose a new winner. The ebooks will be provided by Omnific Publishing after I pass on the contact information to them. I am not responsible for undelivered prizes but will do my best to make sure they are delivered. 

If you would like to purchase a paperback or ebook copy of SKYGODS, click the photo below:

I was provided an ebook copy of this book in exchange for a review. This review is my honest opinion. I was not compensated in any way for this review. If you choose to purchase this book through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting reviews

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Little Monday Inspiration

A flower does not think of competing 
with the flower next to it, it just blooms.
Sensei Ogui, Japanese Buddhist Priest

  • We live in a world full of competition. 
  • We want our kids to be the superstar in sports. 
  • We want our kids to get the best grades.
  • We want to have the best house on the street.
  • We want to be skinnier.
  • We want to be prettier.
  • We wish we had long blonde hair.
  • We wish we had gotten the promotion at work.
  • We are jealous of this couple's marriage.
  • We are envious of the car our neighbor drives.

I could go on and on with how we try to compare ourselves to others. I am guilty of it on a regular basis. Our society of wants and gotta-have-its only encourage us to constantly compare ourselves to others.

Today, I want you to stop shooting yourself in the foot. I want to you look at the good things happening in your life. I want you to be grateful for everything you have. We all have difficulties, struggles, hopes and dreams. What your friend has or doesn't have shouldn't make any difference in how you feel.

Only you can create your own happiness. 
Your happiness shouldn't be based on other people.

Stop comparing yourself, your life, your dreams with someone else 
and start loving YOUR life.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday Snippets 8.24.14

On Sundays, I like to share snippets from our life here in small town Iowa.  
Our kids are active. 
We are involved in our community. 
It seems there is always something going on.  
I'd love to hear snippets from your life as well!

Sadly, we only took one trip to Orange Leaf this summer 
and it was right before school started. 
It is one of our kids' favorites places to go. 
My favorites are the cheesecake, brownie batter, and raspberry flavors.

Our first day of school was this week.  
As I was driving home from taking two of the kids to school,
I saw a Mom and Dad with a stroller 
and holding their son's hand as they walked to school.  
I immediately thought of this day, not too long ago...
ok, it was 8 years ago. 
But, in my mind, it was just yesterday.
We too, used to walk the boys to school on that first day. 
Talking about all the things they are looking forward to.
Answering their many questions.
Waiting and watching them walk in line into the building.
I began to tear up. Much like I did 8 years ago. 
Patrick going to first grade, Bennett going to kindergarten.  

Gretchen Rubin says it best - 
"The days are long, but the years are short." 

And now I have this..................................

There is no more walking with a stroller and holding hands. 
Patrick walked on his own and began 9th grade....a HIGH SCHOOL.
I dropped Reagan off at the bus stop 
where she rushed out to see her friends 
with barely a glance in my direction. 
Off to begin her 4th grade year. 
I gave Bennett a ride to the school as he was running a bit behind, 
yes, on the first day. 
Did I mention we had a 2-hour delay for fog????
Bennett is looking forward to being an 8th grader.

This mom is PROUD.
This mom is HAPPY.
This mom is SAD.
This mom is JOYFUL.
This mom is MISSING THEM.
This mom LOVES these kids and is cherishing the moments, big and small.

Pat decided to take Patrick out for some 
highway and gravel road driving this week. 
I'm glad Pat is willing to do the training in this area.
I don't know how my parents were always so calm with me!

Reagan's teacher sent this photo from the first day of school.
How sweet of her to do that for each one of the kids in the class!
This made my day!

Reagan received the most adorable book from her cousin, Elise this week.
Elise's mom, Melanie, and I are first cousins and are extremely close.
They live in Minnesota so we don't get to see them very often.
After Reagan sent a card she had painted,
Elise sent this book.
It brought me to tears.
Such a sweet little story of their friendship.

I hope you are also reflecting on the snippets of joy from your week. 
Thanks for sharing in mine!