Saturday, December 29, 2007

I'm Not Dead Yet...

It may seem that I've fallen off the face of the planet, but really all that's happened is that I we've been at my in-awe's house this past week. Oh the glory of a week off from work... I had to make those unused sick days come into play before the end of the year or else they would be gone.

We've enjoyed a great week with lots of presents, great food, playtime and football. Can a week get any better? I can't wait to get home to play with some of my new things (like my new coffee pot that grinds the beans, moves it into the filter and then brews it into a thermos, a new pie plate and a new recipe book all about pies. Woo hoo! I can't wait to try some new recipes out and then tell you all about it...)

One thing I've learned this week is that just because your kids can do amazing things, they're still kids at heart. Bickering, frustrations, whining and "Mom! He breathed my air! Make him stop!-No I didn't!" often punctuate the air. Christmas has definitely passed.

Sigh. My work is never done. Say a prayer for me. It may be a long 4-hour drive home today. Hopefully, my kids will live to see tomorrow.

Catch y'all on Monday!

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Fall into Reading 2007 Wrap Up

I don't know what happened. I was completely ready to wrap up this challenge, but then some kids threw me off with their great deeds and I wasn't able to think straight for a while. I don't mind at all though...

Here's my list, but along the way I did manage to review a few. If I did post a review, I'll link to it since you'll have much better details on the posts; otherwise I'll give a quick thought about the few I didn't take the time to review.

1. The Family Tree by Carole Cadwalladr (see review)

2. The Woods by Harlan Coben (see review)

3. The Last Wife of Henry VIII by Carolly Erickson - I enjoyed the aspect of seeing Henry VIII from the view of his last wife, Catherine Parr. The author was able to base the story over the life of Parr, which included all of Henry's previous wives. And yes, Henry is still the same womanizing, selfish man that he proved himself to be through his words and deeds.

4. Thursday Next in first among sequels by Jasper Fforde - I LOVE the quirkiness of Fforde and his series. Play on words, unlikely characters and impossible situations help to charge this storyline. But this is a series that you need to start from the beginning, so I suggest that you pick up The Eyre Affair, settle in for some fun, mind-bending reading and then get ready to pick up the next one at your library!

5. Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles by Margaret George - A very LONG, yet enjoyable read. What a troubled, misplaced queen who never knew the true meaning of home. I didn't know much about Mary Queen of Scots except that she had the unfortunate timing of breathing in the same time as Elizabeth I.

6. The Bible (Psalms - Songs of Solomon) by God - Reading through the Bible has become one of my favorite activities. I don't rush so that I don't miss some things. I don't make myself read everyday so that it doesn't become a chore (although I should because I enjoy it when I do.) But I do feel so much better and much closer to God when I do let his words soak into me. If you haven't read through the Bible, I suggest that you just start. One day you'll be really glad that you did.

7. Out To Canaan by Jan Karon - Although I really like this series, sometimes they are on the calm side when I want action. I just read these when I'm ready for a relaxing read.

8. A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel (see review)

9. A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle (see review)

10. Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh (see review)

11. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffernegger (THE best work of contemporary fiction - see review)

12. The Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Pachett - I loved this book despite the fact that the main character remained selfish and self-centered throughout the beginning to the end. I really wanted to reach in and smack her time and time again, but she did have moments of beauty that were astounding in actions. That's what made me continue with the book - these acts of hope. The other surrounding characters were amazing, interesting and tried their best to make the protagonist into a better person. I'll be picking up another one of her books in the future.

13. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart (see review)

14. Happiness Sold Separately by Lolly Winston (HATED IT! I'm still scrubbing my eyeballs to get the words out of my sight. See review to see why.)

15. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (Corrected - sorry for the misspelling of his last- I was in a hurry!) (see review)

Thanks Katrina for hosting the challenge again. I love that so many are delving into books again. Head on over to Callipidder Days to see what so many others read this fall.

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Why God Invented Blogs or Why I Have My Christmas Present Already

I couldn’t decide which title worked best…

Yesterday morning at the breakfast table, Mr. Right told The Girl and me some awful news about one of his coworkers. While his coworker was at work and everyone in her family of four was out of the house, someone broke into their apartment (which sits on a corner and backs up to trees). Not only did the thieves take the Christmas presents, they had all day to take everything else; they cleaned out their food, clothes, clocks, games, money that had been saved to fix their car - everything, even their last can of Who Hash and the crumb that was too small for a mouse.

His work rallied and they collected $600 for them the first day. Mr. Right was just telling us so that we could make a decision as a family to give something to them as well. We were silent for a moment; then I said, “Let’s give them some money, and I’ll go through the pantry and clean it out. We can always buy more food.”

Then I turned to The Girl and said, “The Girl, would you mind if I gave them one of your Christmas presents?”

She asked which one (which was an odd question because she doesn’t know what she’s getting – I wrapped them as soon as I bought them). Knowing that the family of four has two teenage boys – I’m pretty sure that they won’t want size 14 jeans, a cute sweater or pair of earrings, I said, “Well, your Grandma Cora and Grandpa Duck sent you some money for Christmas. Would you like to give some of that to them?”

She didn’t even bat an eye as she said, “Give all of it to them.”

I, on the other hand, choked on my sip of coffee and said, “Honey, you don’t have to give it all. You could give half and that would be just fine.”

Looking me straight in the eyes, she replied, “Mom, I am so spoiled.”   Then she continued to eat her cinnamon roll.

And then I started bawling. She definitely is not missing the give in Thanksgiving gene, just like her Daddy…

As an afterthought, she said, “And we don’t even have to tell Grandma Cora or Grandpa Duck because it’s my money and I can give it away and they won’t get their feelings hurt that I gave their present away.” That girl was worried about her grandparents’ feelings in this act of kindness!

“If you tell them, I guarantee that they will be more pleased with what you did with it than whatever you would have bought,” I assured her.

“Mom, I can’t tell them! Then it looks like I’m bragging, and I don’t want that at all.”

And that is why God invented blogs - so that I can do it for her, without her ever knowing… (Grandma Cora and Grandpa Duck – please don’t get your feelings hurt that The Girl knows more about being Christ-like than your girl ever knew.)

Later, when The Boy awoke and was eating his breakfast, he asked why I was packing up a whole bunch of food. Mr. Right explained the situation, and The Boy quickly said, “Can I give them some of my clothes or toys?”

I told him that he was so sweet, but then informed him that the boys were teenagers, that his clothes wouldn’t fit them and they probably play with different kinds of toys. I did tell him about the money that the grandparents sent for Christmas and asked if he would like to give any of it to the family.

He just stared at me like I had grown a second head. Give away money? His money? Was I nuts?

I told him that whatever he decided, whether it was all, half, or none of the money, that we love him no matter what and that God would rather have honesty and cheerfulness over a begrudging heart. Whatever he settled to do would be left up to him to decide.

A minute later as we’re hustling around the kitchen, The Boy says, “Half.”

I look at him and ask, “Are you sure? God wants you to give cheerfully, so make sure you’re heart is happy about it.” 

“My heart is happy about it. I’d like them to have half of it. Can I have a glass of water?”

And just like that I cried again. That is why I have my Christmas present already. I can’t imagine being any happier or more blessed by these two angels than I was at that moment.

Thanks God for this great gift that I want to re-gift time and time again.

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas And I Hope Santa Brings Me One Of These...

(Cue piano bar music)

(In a hushed, calm voice, like one remembering Christmastimes past)

My favorite Christmas song is one that is not usually sung around the Christmas tree. However, it is one that I usually love to sing with full emotions and spirit... with feeling, if you will. I hope that it is one that my children will learn and pass on to their children to come.

No other song that I know of will leave you feeling... well, something, for the special gift-wishing of Christmas. I, too, want this pretty little dolly. I am still hopeful that I will get one this year.

Now, without further adeiu, I give to you Mona Abboud's "Pretty Little Dolly."

May Santa bring you everything your little heart desires too.

(fade to black)

Originally published December 22, 2005

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

RIP, Santa and Friends

These belong to our neighbors down the street.  They expand across several lawns, this year adding two more to the ever-widening display...

I told them it was overkill, but would they listen to me?  Nooooooo...

Now look what they did to the poor neighbor's yard who lives across the street.  

Let us all have a moment of silence.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

WFMW or FIR #10 – A Wrinkle In Time

There's just a few days left before Christmas, and if you're still looking for a great gift for those hard to please tweeners, this gift may just be the answer to your search.

With the success of Harry Potter and the renewed interest of the Chronicles of Narnia, I thought I would read a fantasy book that paved the way to my great love of reading: A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle. What a powerful, capturing author L’Engle was!

How can you go wrong when a story starts as such?: It was a dark and stormy night.

The story surrounds three main characters: 
  • Meg Murry, a volatile and stubborn ninth grade girl who is regarded as a bad-tempered underachiever by both her peers and her teachers; 
  • Charles Wallace Murry, a complete genius at age five – but since he rarely speaks to anyone save his family, most of the town deems him dumb since no one takes the time to understand him; 
  • Calvin O’Keefe, a junior who is unwanted at home, but accepted at school because he excels at basketball. Despite the accolades at school, he feels that he is a pretender because he can’t be who he knows himself to be – except with the Murrays, especially with Meg.

These three characters join together with some mysterious, immortal characters (Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which) to save Mr. Murry, a scientist who has gone missing. (Town rumors indicate that he left Mrs. Murray - a gorgeous, loving, brilliant scientist in her own right - for another woman, but the all know the rumor to be false on every count.) They must tesseract, or travel through space and time through the fifth dimension, to Camazotz to save Mr. Murray who has been imprisoned by an evil disembodied brain with powerful telepathic abilities, which the frightened inhabitants of Camazotz call "IT".

This story is neither a tale where superheroes save the day, nor is it completely science fiction, although it shares elements of both. The travelers must rely on their individual and collective strengths, delving deep within themselves to find answers that will save everyone from the evil powers of IT.

I forgot what a wonderfully mind-stretching story it is. I distinctly remember the first time I read it: there was a part where the group was traveling through time and space and they kids go through a two-dimensional time/place. I recall feeling that my heart was squished just like Meg’s; my heart had the heavy, strained beat like the characters had, and I could barely breath for the pressure that I felt at becoming two dimensional in my mind.

As an adult, I loved reading the religious overtones in the book. On several occasions, scriptures were quoted in context to the story and when the children are asked to name other who fight darkness Jesus is the first to be named, among many others who were artists, leaders, teachers and philosophers. Ultimately, it is the story of individuals fighting evil so that goodness can prevail.

Another bonus is that this book starts another series, so if I can get The Girl to start on it, I’ll have a future gift-giving selection in line. So if you’re looking for another gift to give or just another series to reacquaint yourself as an adult, let me heartily recommend A Wrinkle In Time. There’s a reason it’s a classic.

Now head on over to Shannon's for some other great Christmas ideas!  (And Merry Christmas to you all!)

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

FIR #9 - Gift From The Sea

When I won Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea from Barb at A Chelsea Morning, I had no idea what a treasure it would be. It presented so many challenges to me as a person, as a woman, as a mom, as a child of God.

Who would have thought that a book written 50 years ago regarding one woman’s discoveries among the shells would be so apropos today? Although she wrote this book for her own dealings with life, her words touch deep the soul of any woman, no matter her stage of life. That a middle-aged woman in the 50’s could strike a chord with women of every stage of life shows what a talent Lindbergh really was.

Lindbergh’s timeless eloquence was laced with intellectual candor, profound insights and pools of concern and compassion that ran the depth of her soul. She touched on several issues that she struggled with in her lifetime: busy-ness or multiplicity, losing self in the giving to others, having peace in solitude, relationships, marriage, empty nests, contentment. Seeing life through the treasures of her found shells, Lindbergh correlated the discoveries to her daily life, reminding herself to treasure them to the fullest.

Excerpts from Gift From The Sea:

“The world today does not understand, in either man or woman, the need to be alone.” – Chapter 3

“But it is the marriage relationship in which the changing pattern is shown up most clearly because it is the deepest one and the most arduous to maintain; and because, somehow, we mistakenly feel that failure to maintain its exact original pattern is a tragedy.” – Chapter 4

“(In the middle years of marriage) the bonds of marriage are formed. For marriage, which is always spoken of as a bond, becomes actually, in this stage, many bonds, many strands, of different texture and strength, making up a web that is taut and firm. The web is fashioned of love. Yes, but many kinds of love: romantic love first, then a slow-growing devotion and, playing through these, a constant rippling companionship. It is made of loyalties, and interdependencies, and shared experiences. It is woven of memories of meetings and conflicts; of triumphs and disappointments. It is a web of communication, a common language too; a knowledge of likes and dislikes, of habits and reactions, both physical and mental. It is a web of instincts and intuitions, and known and unknown exchanges. The web of marriage is made by propinquity, in the day-to-day6 living side by side, looking outward and working outward in the same direction. It is woven in space and in tome of the substance of life itself.” – Chapter 5

“Woman must come of age by herself. This is the essence of “coming of age” – to learn to stand alone. She must learn not to depend on another, not to feel she must prove her strength by competing with another.” – Chapter 6

“For relationships too must be like islands. One must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits – islands, surrounded and interrupted by the se, continually visited and abandoned by the tides. One must accept the security of the wingèd life, of ebb and flow, of intermittency.
” – Chapter 6

With so much to be gleaned from this hidden treasure, I can see why Barb reads it faithfully every year. We forget too often how to live life; it’s nice to have a gentle reminder nudging us to look back towards our Creator, to see the beauty that surrounds us in the here and now and to live with a content heart. I, too, will be picking this book up again and again in the years to come.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Following His Dream

This story is about a guy, a guy like most of us - an everyday Joe who is questioning his life's purpose, measuring himself to others and never believing in his abilities or his worth.

Then one day, his passion outgrew his fears as he stepped onto a stage, a platform that took him to a place beyond his self-imposed prison.  

Watch the faces of the judges as this man walks out on the stage. You can almost see what they're thinking as they pre-judge this guy based on his looks and the fact that he's a cell phone salesman.

Maybe this guy stopped believing in what people told him for so many years and ultimately started listening to his passion...

Believe (Click link)

Now what can you do if you stopped listening to the nay-sayers and started to believe in yourself?


Friday, December 14, 2007

Blondes On Ice

As a trucker stops for a red light, a blonde catches up. She jumps out of her car, runs up to his truck, and knocks on the door.

The trucker lowers the window, and she says "Hi, my name is Heather and you are losing some of your load." The trucker ignores her and proceeds down the street.

When the truck stops for another red light, the girl catches up again. She jumps out of her car, runs up and knocks on the door.

Again, the trucker lowers the window. As if they've never spoken, the blonde says brightly, "Hi my name is Heather, and you are losing some of your load!"

Shaking his head, the trucker ignores her again and continues down the street. At the third red light, the same thing happens again.

All out of breath , the blonde gets out of her car, runs up, knocks on the truck door. The trucker lowers the window. Again she says "Hi, my name is Heather, and you are losing some of your load."

When the light turns green the trucker revs up and races to the next light. When he stops this time, he hurriedly gets out of the truck, and runs back to the blonde. He knocks on her window, and as she lowers it, he says...

"Hi, my name is Kevin, its winter in MISSOURI and I'm driving the SALT TRUCK!"
Have a great weekend!


Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Switch

The other night as I was falling into bed, half dead to the world, Mr. Right said out of the blue, "I think we should switch up our marriage."

Screech!!!   Suddenly sleep didn't seem so close to coming as I swiveled my head and emoted a Tim Allen "Huuunh?"  In a matter of nanoseconds, these questions entered my mind.

What on earth does this man mean?  Switch up our marriage?  That's as confusing as the Presidential Primaries...  

Switch what?  Aren't we just fine and dandy in our marriage?  I don't know what he means, but I'm not going through that whole "find someone who will love me despite my many faults" process.  That's just pain waiting to happen.

As I was trying to get my brain to wrap around what he had just said, Mr. Right clarified, "Shalee, would you switch sides of the bed with me?  I can't play with your hair as you fall asleep while I'm on the laptop if you're on the right.  If you're on the left, then my hand is free to touch you while I work."

Sigh.  That man is too good to me.  And I really have to stop jumping to conclusions before that man finishes his half of the conversation.   Let me say for the record that the left is my new favorite side of the bed.  I did fall asleep to my man brushing his fingers through my hair.

Now, if only someone could clarify the Presidential hopefuls words as easily...

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

WFMW - Red Box and Free Movie

Is it Wednesday already?  Man, the kids are out of school for one day and I lose all sense of time.  I feel like it should be Thursday or something...

Anyway,  I have to share with you my movie rental places.  These are my top four places to get movies.

Library - because they're free and I'm cheap frugal.  I've been able to get pretty new releases from there and they're not just for the kids.

Friends - We're blessed to have lots of friends who buy movies.  We're even more blessed that they share.

Netflix - If I had my way, I'd be back on Netflix in a flash.  (But since we said we would cut down in areas and it's an extra, it had to go.)  I love the whole idea of having the movie delivered to your door and then you return it when you feel like returning it.  We were on the four at a time plan and my lands, we had so many choices.  And I would get in my que and rearrange the selections all the time.  It's the first thing coming back when we're back in the "I can spend that" mode.  

Red Box - You know those red boxes that take up lots of space at McDonalds (and some Wal-Marts, too).  They are movie rental boxes and it only costs $1 (plus tax) to rent from them.  For the LONGEST time I wanted to rent from it, but I was too chicken to go up to it and figure it out in front of anybody.  But one day, some mother was up there and I grabbed my card, ran up to her, gulped and said (really fast, I should add), "I'vewantedtorentfromit,butI'veneverdoneit. CanIwatchyoudoitsothatIknowwhattodo?"  

She looked at me for one second and then busted out laughing.  "Honey, I know how you feel.  Let me show you how easy this is and you'll be here all the time."  So she walked me through step by step (which are very few) and within five minutes I had a new movie for $1.  Now I can whiz through the process in a two minutes and walk out the door.

There are a couple of things that you need to know about Red Box, though.
  1. You must use your credit card to rent the movie.  It's how they keep track of movies and late payment.  After a certain amount of time, if the movie hasn't been returned, your credit card is charged for the movie.  If you're just late, the card is charged $1/day.
  2. You have the movie until 9 PM the following day.  
  3. Once I went in for Ratatouille and I couldn't find it on the listing, even though the advertisement on the box showed it was due out the day before.  To prevent the rental of movies that are not available, the Red Box system removes them from the touch screen.  So the movie may be out for the public, but that particular box is out of them.
  4. Red Box has on-line rentals too.  If you want to know if a Red Box has a movie available, you select your movie and find the available boxes that have them.  You can PRE-PAY for your movie and the Red Box at the place you select will RESERVE the movie for you.  Woo hoo!  No more driving to a box to find out that a movie is unavailable!
  5. When you sign up on-line, Red Box will email you a free movie rental code to be used at any Red Box.  You will checkout with your credit card as usual, but when you finish your process, you put in the special code and it will give you a free rental.  
For some other great ideas, head to Shannon's place.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ice Ice Baby

(And unlike Antique Mommy, I totally know what Ice Ice Baby means.  Hey, I'm a proud product of the 80's.  I know I borrowed it from her, but it totally fits.)

School has been cancelled for us today.  We've just had our first official ice storm for the season.  (yay)  Lines are down across the state, heavy ice has broken many trees and the roads are the same as you would find in an ice rink.  (Too bad we don't drive a Zamboni.)  But on the up side of this little inconvenience, I don't have to go to work either since I drew the straw to stay home today.  (YAY!!)  I get to pretend to be a SAHM.

As I was laying awake in bed this morning at an entirely too early hour, I was thinking about how blessed we are, especially in the wake of an emergency such as this one.
  • I awoke in a warm, comfy bed.
  • Warm air was circulating the room.
  • The new roof was keeping out all the cold elements.
  • The kids were still snuggled in deep sleep in their beds.  (They don't even realize what is going on in their innocence.  All they prayed for was a day off of school.)
  • There was blissful silence all around me.  (no wrecks outside our door - of course it was four something in the morning...)
  • The cat wasn't crawling all over me.  (Okay, that last one would be blessing any day, but I just had to throw it in there.)
All the above and my feet haven't even touched the floor yet!  

When they did, I had the blessing of a warm house and the money to pay for the bill to come, lots of good food in my pantry/fridge/freezer that will sustain us for weeks if need be, clothes that will keep us warm throughout the day and all the appliances that keep our place running smoothly - working washing machine, a great microwave for hot chocolate, a great oven for baking and coffee maker that keeps me awake enough to write this post.

Sometimes (okay, MOST of the time) I take all these things for granted.  But today, for this moment, it's really good to remember where they came from and to whom I am grateful.

Thanks God... for everything.

Now for the real dilemma:

Aside from reading, watching a movie and baking, what do you suggest that I do with the kids during this little "holiday"?  I'd totally love to avoid the whole I'm bored scenario (which they shouldn't pull because if they do, they'll have to do push ups.  Look - I'm a mom and a gunny sergeant.)  Throw out your ideas.  We may be here a few days and I need all the help I can get!

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Monday, December 10, 2007

FIR #8 - The Woods

I love Harlan Coben. I've read all of stand-alone novels and a few of his Myron Bolitar series. He's a fantastic mystery writer with a witty sense of humor who knows how to captivate the reader, creating brilliant twisty-turns in thrilling stories. Sometimes far-fetched or stretching but always tantalizing with "what is going on" moments, his tales create a must-read feeling - just to know what will happen next. So it is with The Woods, Coben's latest foray into the world of whodunits.

In The Woods, Paul Copeland is the Essex County, New Jersey prosecuter. He is in the middle of an ugly rape case when he gets the call from NY detectives; it seems they believe Copeland can help them with the details of an unsolved murder, a murder that may relate to the brutal slaying of Copeland's sister 20 years ago.

Twenty years ago at an idealic summer camp, four teenagers were brutally murdered, including Copeland's sister Camille. The serial killer is behind bars, and Copeland is just now getting on with his life, learning to raise his six year old daughter alone after his wife's death from cancer. Lucy Gold, a professor at a nearby college and Copeland's ex-girlfriend from camp days, begins receiving a journal in a creative writing class from one of her students that recreated - in vivid details - the night of those murders. Who could be writing the journal? How could they know about that night? Why after 20 years are the memories resurfacing now?

As is typical with Coben novels, much is thrown at you, and for the most part, it's catchable. There are twists throughout the book, down to the last page, and all of the loose ends are resolved. One of the things that I love about this particular novel is that the ending is left to your imagination. Coben writes the ending in such a way that you the reader determine the outcome of the book.  Even though the ending is complete in essentials, he gives you everything and lets you decide the fate. It's been a month since I've read the book, and I'm still thinking about what I think the characters did after the final words were read.

However, this book reflects the first time when Coben's creation seems formulaic and plain.  Another concept that bothered me is that the protagonist's young daughter and recently-deceased wife held no importance in the story.  Copeland didn't seem to care about his family like a new widower probably would, often leaving his daughter (who was very much in need of a spanking or, at the very least, a come to Jesus meeting) in the possession of his sister-in-law for long periods of time, without ever wondering about her.  Also, the Russian/KGB angle also seemed contrived and unnecessary. Still, Coben has the knack for making the improbable plausible and having fun with even the most far-fetched scenarios.

Despite that last paragraph, I still recommend The Woods since formulaic to Coben is so much more creative, memorable and just plain better that most other mystery writers of any age. When you're reading Coben, you just can't go wrong.  The man has a gift for which I'm thankful he will share.

Reading list and previous reviews for the Reading Challenge:

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Sunday, December 09, 2007


Here are the randomly generated integers for the I Love You More giveaway.

True Random Number Service
Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

11 19 14

Timestamp: 2007-12-09 20:46:09 UTC

Congrats to the winners: Stephanie, Needanap2 and I know you can hear me!  Please email your addresses to me so that I can have these sweet books on their way to you.


Friday, December 07, 2007

You’re Never Too Old

You’re never too old…
My mom called me yesterday to ask for a small bit of information for Christmas. She was short; she was crisp. She was mad. And I could tell from the word “Hello.” (Actually I knew she was mad awhile ago when my dad called me. I could hear her in the background, but she wouldn’t get on the phone to talk with me – a sure sign that something was wrong.)

I asked what she was thinking, knowing that whatever I was going to hear wasn’t going to be easy. She told me that she was mad at me because I’m too busy – too busy to call when someone has surgery, too busy to call to catch up with the family, too busy to ask about them and their concerns. Just too busy for them.

Here’s the hard thing: She was right, although I would rephrase it. I wouldn’t say too busy; I would say too forgetful. Too often I’m wrapped up in my own concerns, my own immediate family, my own scheduled life. I forget to care for or reach out to those who aren’t in front of me.
  • I think two weeks out from someone’s birthday that I need to send a card and then it’s a week after the event that remember that I never followed through. 
  • I hear of a prayer need and I pray for them, but I do a horrible job of following up. (Case in point: ever since my mom has had bladder problems and also the need to sell/rent house, it has been prayed for on a daily basis, but I haven’t called to ask how the prayers are being answered. And she can’t hear my prayers 1,000 miles away.)
  • Often when I awake at zero dark thirty with a mind zooming, I think that I need to call about this or that, talk to so-and-so, take care of xyz, but I can’t do it at that moment because most people will slap me if I call at that awful hour or the store I need will not be open for another 4 hours. By the time I’m getting ready for work, I’ve already forgotten what it was that I was going to do. (And please don’t tell me keep a list. I usually lose that too. Seriously, I don’t know how I keep my job which requires me to be a fantastic organizer!)
  • Heck, I usually can’t remember why I walked into a room half the time. I know I went in there for something…
But one thing I haven’t forgotten to do is to say “I’m sorry.”


I’m sorry I’ve hurt your feelings. I’m sorry I’m so selfish and self-centered. I’m sorry you think I don’t care about you or the family by my lack of actions. I do care. I just don’t always show or tell you as much as I should. I’ll strive to be better about it starting now.

I do appreciate your telling me how you feel. I’d rather hear your disappointment than your silence any day. It’s good to know that I can still learn a lesson about what it means to be a family.

Love (no really!),



Thursday, December 06, 2007

Christmas Carols for the Psychologically Challenged

Don't forget about the GIVEAWAY that is going on until Saturday, December 8th.  You can read about it here.

I had a great little laugh over these.  Maybe you will too...

Christmas Carols for the Psychologically Challenged

  1. Schizophrenia - Do You Hear What I Hear, the Voices, the Voices?
  2. Amnesia - I Don't Remember If I'll Be Home for Christmas
  3. Narcissistic - Hark the Herald Angels Sing About Me
  4. Manic - Deck The Halls and Walls and House and Lawn and Streets andStores and Office and Town and Cars and Buses and Trucks and Treesand Fire Hydrants and...........
  5. Multiple Personality Disorder - We Three Queens Disoriented Are
  6. Paranoid - Santa Claus Is Coming to Get Us
  7. Borderline Personality Disorder - You Better Watch Out, You Better Not Shout, I'm Gonna Cry, and I'll Not Tell You Why
  8. Full Personality Disorder - Thoughts of Roasting You On an Open Fire
  9. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, JingleBells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, JingleBells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells
  10. Agoraphobia - I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day But Wouldn't Leave My House
  11. Senile Dementia - Walking In a Winter Wonderland Miles from MyHouse in My Slippers and Robe
  12. Oppositional Defiant Disorder - I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus SoI Burned Down the House
  13. Social Anxiety Disorder - Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas While I Sit Here and Hyperventilate
  14. Attention Deficit Disorder - We Wish You......Hey Look!! It's Snowing!!!

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

WFMW - An Endearing Children's Book

Since I didn't realize that this week's WFMW was a cooking, you're getting something that will nourish your mind as well as all the great links to nourish your body.

I know Boomama just did a giveaway for this sweet little book, but I wanted to put my two cents in as well.

A few weeks ago, I was sent a copy of I Love You More by Laura Duksta. To my complete delight and surprise, I fell in love with this charming flip book - a book that tells the story of love from a parent's point of view and then from the child's viewpoint.

My first thoughts about the book as I was reading it was that this sweet book is a cross between the classic Guess How Much I Love You and What Mommies Do Best/What Daddies Do Best. (In Guess How Much I Love You, the two rabbits try to best each other in love and in What Mommies Do Best/What Daddies Do Best, each page details how a the mothers love their children and then you flip the book to see how the fathers show the same kind of love.) Duksta was able to render a tender, fun story using these two combined techniques, but still she made it an original all her own.

I liked the flow of words and feeling of unconditional full love that I Love You More reflects to the readers. Both sides show the unlimited depths of each to the other, but they are reflected in the terminology that is appropriate for the viewpoints. I mean, to be told by a child that I am loved more than a lollipop is big love indeed, especially considering the love of candy that we've seen around this house after Halloween!

No children's picture book can make it on it's own. The illustrations play a huge factor in the making or breaking of a story. Fortunately for I Love You More, it had Karen Keesler on its side. Keesler created beautiful renderings that accurately portray the thoughts of the characters and she does it with color and lines and a soft style. And I have to say that I love the creativity that plays out on the "back" or flip side of the book. It had me chuckling when I turned the book over to start the child's version of love.

So if you're looking for a unique treasure to share with your child this year, I highly recommend I Love You More as a Christmas, a birthday or a "Just Because" gift.  (Although I put "child", I don't want you to read toddler to 7 year old.  This book would be a wonderful way to show your love to a son or daughter of any age.)

And as an added bonus, I asked if I could give a book away and they gave me THREE!  Woo hoo!

So leave a comment for me on this post, and I'll do a that handy-dandy random drawing thingie for three on Saturday, December 8th.  Please make sure that you leave a way for me to contact you in case you are one of the lucky ducks who will get a book.  You may be able to cross one Christmas gift off your list!

Head on over to Shannon's for some other fantastic ideas.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I May Look 12, But There's Not Enough Money In The World To Make Me Go Back To Junior High.

Some things should never be repeated.
  • a bad poodle perm
  • chicken pox
  • middle school
High school for me, I'd do over in a second.  But there's something about the junior high that makes me think that God is giving us a real dose of hell in terms that we can understand.  I think it's a little something called hormones and power trips...

The Girl had her first official dose of "Queen Bee" syndrome on Friday night.  The middle school had their quarterly party night, which really is a lot of fun and heavily chaperoned.  They have sports in the gym, arts and crafts in the art room, board games in the library and music playing in the cafeteria (along with enough junk food to keep them going for the next millennium.)  

While she and a group of friends were in the cafeteria, another girl came up and started teasing The Girl about liking a boy... incessantly.  The Girl, who if you know her, held her own for a while, but after a long duration, she couldn't take it anymore. (Plus at 11, she is just not interested in boys yet.  She likes them fine as people, but when asked if she likes anyone, she actually shutters as if someone just gave her cooties.)  She was a less annoying version of Moaning Myrtle in the bathroom.  She cried for a while, and then, like her mother, she didn't want to come out due to her cry-induced puffy face.  When she finally did, she found that her concession stand food had been thrown away. 

It was just one of those nights for her.

But afterwards, she spent the night at a friend's house where she had cookie dough, talk time and her first introduction to Wii.  God knew just what to do to give her a pick-me-up.

Now I want to tell you a couple of things that I'm truly thankful for in The Girl's situation.

First, you notice that The Girl spent the night at a friend's house after the party, right?  We didn't find out that night that anything had happened at all.  It was Saturday morning that we first heard the news.  A friend of The Girl called to see how The Girl was doing.  Of course we were baffled by the question, so we asked why wouldn't The Girl be okay, and the friend told us without dramatics and without fanfare what had happened.  She was a great friend.

We were prepared for when The Girl came home from the friend's house.  The crying that happened later when we asked about the party wasn't chucked up to not enough sleep or hormones.

We also learned that there are some things about which The Girl will not talk.  She refused to tell us what happened other than "I just didn't have a good time at the party."  Thank you God for the good friend who called!  Now I know to be more observant and watchful if there are things that The Girl will not tell me.  (This portion really came as a surprise to me.  We have a great relationship where she tells me everything, or so I thought.)

We had a very leading conversation where we talked about how others may try to make her feel badly for several reasons: insecurity, loneliness, anger, power, jealousy or a myriad of other reasons.  We also gave example after example about how we (the parents) allowed others to have control over us with words and how we had to learned not to give that kind of control over to anyone.  Then we had story after story about how we were so much happier with ourselves and life after we learned that hard lesson.  We also put a plug in for her to be extra nice to the girl who was teasing her come Monday.  She really liked the "kindness would be like heaps of burning coals on her head" scripture.

I'm so glad that The Girl went through this ordeal now, though.  She was surrounded by great friends who stuck up for her and encouraged her to let it go, she has caring friends who reached out to her after the fact, and she learned a valuable lesson that sticks and stones may break her bones, but middle school can suck - but only if she lets it.

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Monday, December 03, 2007

Tis The Season To Spread Some Humor

It's been too long since I last posted about my dealings with IT - too, too long. I have to make sure that we're keeping our IT department in business, so I too do my part to give them things to do.

Last week, out of the blue, I could not get my Calendar in Outlook to work properly. It would open so that I could view it, but I could not open a new or previously created appointment. When you're the conference call organizer and the RVP Executive Assistant, this exemption potentially could lead to some trouble on my end.  
Everyone knows that I can get into enough trouble on my own; I don't need any additional help.

So I did what any good worker bee would do; I passed it on to others who have the know-how to fix it. Only I did it in my own special way - as usual.

Problem Description - [(Shalee) -- 11/29/07 10:57 AM]

Not only is it not sending me my reminders, when I try to open the Calendar, it shuts itself down quicker than a typical man in an emotional conversation. Basically, it's turning its back on me and ignoring my requests of opening previously scheduled appointments, and it refuses to make itself available when I need it.

Hmph. I'm so not letting it get on or past first base when it's acting like this. And they say women are moody...

Can you please talk some sense into the Calendar and make it do my bidding? Because really, I am the Queen and I prefer that the Calendar remember just who is in control.

I'm happy to say that I've had several immediate calls in regards to this work request - all from men. My favorite response came from the our regional IT guy who called me from his doctor's office. He had taken time off to have something looked at when my request came over the wire. He had to call me to tell me that he was laughing so hard his sides hurt. He just wanted to be the first to respond. (He wasn't, the slacker!)

My second favorite response was from our IT guy's boss who works across the country from me. There's no telling how he saw it, but he singled me out to make sure that someone was on my request.  

Hey, maybe I am the Queen after all.

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

How Good Is It? I’m Posting On A Saturday If That Tells You Anything.

The Girl has been listening to Christmas since before Thanksgiving. I don’t know about you, but there’s only so much Christmas music a girl can take, especially I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, Silver Bells, and Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Don’t get me wrong!  I like these songs, and I sing along with them for a while. But one of the things that bothers me greatly about the 24/7 Christmas music is that most of it doesn’t have much to do with the reason for the celebration in the first place. It’s all about Santa, snow, romance, animals… Where are the songs that sing about the greatest gift of all – Christ? The stations will throw one or two in occasionally – What Child Is This? or O Holy Night, but not enough to make me want to listen to them all the time.

So when I was blessed enough to receive one of the new Michael W. Smith Christmas CD, It’s A Wonderful Christmas, I threw it in the CD player when The Girl and The Boy were in the same room and behaving rather nicely to each other (a sure sign that Christmas is coming soon), and oh my lands  -  it’s fantastic! It’s simply a lovely, gorgeous natural mood enhancer around the Christmas season – perfect for decorating a tree, relaxing for moment with your favorite Christmas drink and for reflecting on Christ in Christmas.

The music is beautiful and inspiring, and as usual, Mr. Smith incorporated the voices of children in some of the songs. My kids take notice and appreciate it when they hear a performer who understands and delights in the special qualities of young voices. The songs have such great qualities of sounds to them; they are meant to be heard by many. And the songs don’t cram Jesus down anyone’s throat, but they’re not afraid to mention his name.

My favorite one? That song would have to be the duet he sings with Mandisa, Christmas Day. I think their voices blend eloquently, producing a stunning sound.

So what I’m trying to tell you is that this CD,It’s A Wonderful Christmas, would make a perfect addition to any Christmas CD collection. Maybe while you’re out picking up gifts for your family, you’ll consider getting this CD for yourself. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed at all.

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