About Me

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I have been a stay at home mom since Oct 31st 2006. My children started school in 2008, so I decided it was time for me to go back, too. I have been a full time student for over two years now, and it seems like I am learning about more than just my schoolwork.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Be A Donor

Thanksgiving is coming up, which means it's time for the big soup kitchen/food bank push for donations. These donations help hundreds of families who are struggling in today's economy.
My family has been on both sides of the donation baskets over the years. My dad lost his job back when I was small, and my mom always used to tell me how bags of groceries would magically appear on the front porch. More recently, there have been a couple of times I've had to pick up a box here or there to get my family through the week. I have both served and eaten at a soup kitchen.

Daddy eventually got a great job, and lately God has blessed my little family-now we are able to keep our shelves stocked and even give back to the places that gave to us. But I have learned a lot from our hand-to-mouth days, and I feel compelled to share a few tips and pointers for the next time you feel like donating to your local food bank.

I know all of the old adages, like "Beggars can't be choosers," "Waste not, want not," and "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth," but even the needy have some standards. Please keep these things in mind next time you go shopping.

First and Foremost: CHECK THE DATES
Please don't donate that can of cranberry sauce that's been in your cupboard since last Thanksgiving. Chances are it expired back in June, and I know some people think the dates on the cans are just suggestions, but honestly, if you aren't comfortable eating it, a person in need isn't going to feel comfortable eating it either.
If you aren't comfortable throwing away a seemingly good can of peas, a popular use for expired goods is putting the food in compost piles and recycling the cans. There are so many different uses for aluminum cans, I'm sure you can come up with a craft to do that will decorate your living room or office.

Grandma sent you a care package for your birthday with 3 cans of pickled pigs feet. Her note includes a detailed report of the lady next door who raises the pigs, butchers them, prepares the various meats, then sells them to neighbors and the local general store.
Um. Eww. I know you love Grammy, but pigs feet are definitely an acquired taste (I'm assuming, having never dined on this particular...delicacy.) I'm sure there are some people who love them, but rather than donate the cans to a food bank where some unlucky family will find them in a box, ask around. I'm sure you can find a friend or coworker who enjoys eating pig's piggies.

OK, so the local radio station is collecting cans for a food bank. Everyone who brings in 100 cans gets 2 tickets to see the hottest band EVER. So you hit the store. Over in the clearance section is 50 cans of prunes for 10 cents each. You fill your cart.
I have a feeling that if anyone in need actually wanted prunes, they would be able to afford the $.10 cans themselves. This type of donating defeats the purpose of a food drive. Head over to the regular aisles and pick up some nice cans of soup, fruits, or veggies. Or splurge, and buy some bags of chips, salsa, dip, or name brand cookies and cereal. Think of things that a needy family has to forgo in order to get the basics.

Needy families have kids too. Consider cans of baby food, formula, and 'kid' geared groceries. Goldfish crackers, kool-aid mix, mac & cheese (the fun shaped ones), boxes of cake mix, pudding, chef boyardee, and other 'kid approved' goodies are a great way to give a kid something he or she doesn't usually get to enjoy.
Food allergies are more and more common these days, and it does not discrimiate. Soy and almond milk has replaced cow's milk for many people, and gluten-free has become part of our vocabulary. Throw in some dairy free, nut-free, or other allergy conscious items. I sure don't want to see 'Homeless Bob' with a swollen face because the only thing he had to eat today was a pb & j.

Basic needs, things that fill a shelf and are there in a pinch, are always needed and welcome. Tuna, peanut butter, pasta, rice, salt, oatmeal, and other staples can help a mom pull together a decent meal without having to add a whole lot. You'd be surprised what can be made with a can of ham and some noodles.

Not all places are equipped to handle perishable goods, however. Call ahead to make sure they can accept refrigerated items. If you are giving to a soup kitchen or shelter, offer to donate a portion of a meal--main dishes, side dishes, or desserts--for one day. Give hamburger meat, salad, or ice cream, just to name a few. Be sure to ask how many people they serve for one meal, or how much is needed. Most cooks in a soup kitchen are very good at making a little go a long way. Many places must prepare the food at their facility, so bring the ingredients and let them prepare the food.

I know it makes you feel better when you put a few cans in the box in front of the grocery store, but take a minute and think about what happens to those cans after you get your do-gooder high. Someone has to come and pick up those cans, sort them, fill boxes, and hand them out to families. Many times, donations are used to serve hot meals-which means they have to be opened, prepared, served, and cleaned up after. Make it a family affair and donate a few hours to a local soup kitchen or food bank. If dropping a can of tomato paste in a donation bin makes you feel good, think about how much better you'll feel when you drop 2 hours in a shelter.

Food banks can take that money, and buy the things that they need right away. If their goal is to feed 100 families a full Thanksgiving dinner, and on November 22 they only have 80 boxes of stuffing, they can go out and get those last 20 boxes without having to wait for the public to provide. If a young mom comes in with a specific need-such as baby food or diapers-and it's not available at the shelter, they can go and buy her what she needs. An additional pointer in this respect: Be sure you give directly to the food bank of your choice. Scammers are always trying to get money from unsuspecting people. Either take it to the shelter yourself or mail a check to their main offices. If you aren't comfortable giving money, call and ask if there is anything specific that a food bank needs. They may be able to give you a list of goods that are needed immediately, or used most often.

I'm sure I missed some things, and I am not affiliated with any particular organization, but I speak from experience. Donating anything shouldn't be about you, it should be about the people you are helping.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Dry As Rain

Somehow, in the midst of everything. I have found the time to read a couple of books. Now, I just have to find the time to write my reviews. I have a few minutes now, so here goes.

Dry As Rain is written by Gina Holmes, and it tells the story of a couple in trouble. Gina's storytelling is refreshing and real, her style of writing leads the reader to visualize the scenes, and even be a part of them.

The story is one we've all heard before. Every day, couples make bad decisions, wrong choices, and lose the ones they love. Eric, the husband, realizes what he did was wrong, and tries to repair the damage. Before he gets a chance to, however, Kyra is in a horrible car accident and loses her memory. She thinks they are still happily married, and does not remember that their relationship is in jeopardy.

Eric is torn, does he let her regain her memory naturally and pretend they are happy, or does he tell her the truth and lose her again? I'll let you read the rest of the story so you can find out how it unfolds. The ending is not what I had expected, but it's perfect for the book. Ms. Holmes makes the story interesting by throwing a couple of unexpected people and events into the mix, but they blend nicely.

At the end of the book, Ms. Holmes includes some discussion questions--good for a book club, or an individual reader. They sure do bring insight and understanding to much of the book, and the reader's personal life.

I will definitely give this book 5 out of 5 stars, and would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good novel to read.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Yet again, school takes priority

I knew that this semester was going to be difficult-since I am taking 5 classes this semester-but holy cow have I been busy. I just wanted to stop by and say hello, and I have a few reviews to post, and other stuff. I'll get to them eventually....

My geology class has been fun. I'm learning all sorts of stuff about our earth that I never would have considered before. It's a video lecture and lab class, so my Monday and Wednesday nights are spent learning about rocks. The video part is confusing to me this semester, and here's why.

I've taken one other video class-Technical Writing-but the instructor was in Holbrook, and I never actually met him. With Geology, the teacher is right in the classroom with me. I catch myself watching a tennis match: look at teacher, look at screen. Occasionally, I forget that I can actually look at the teacher instead of the screen.

I've noticed something funny about the students in the lecture part of this class. I feel as if I am back in Junior high, because the 'boys' sit on one side of the room, and the 'girls' sit on the other. No intermingling at all. It would be funny if it weren't so sad. It gets marginally better in the lab, though, since a girl actually sat at a table with boys this week.

My Internet class is pretty easy--read the book, do the homework, take the tests. Simple.

It's really my 3 AIS classes that are giving me the most grief. The majority of them have to be done on the computer, so I can't really go to the lodge and work like I did last semester. I still get stuff done, but I have to write it down, then type it up. Double the work means less time to actually get it completed.

Despite all of this, or maybe because all of this, I am looking forward to May. To have that stupid little slip of paper is TOTALLY worth all the stress and heartache.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Mothers and Daughters

I try to stagger my posts, so you get a mix of my life and the books I read, but sometimes I find it very hard to do that. And I consider some of the books I read part of my learning process. And part of my life. Like the book I finished reading today, called "Mercy Come Morning" by Lisa Tawn Bergren. I am very blessed to be a part of these reviews. Not only do I get to read great books for free, but sometimes I get them before everyone else. This book isn't set for release for another 5 days, but I have it here in my hand.

This is a story of a mother and daughter, lost to each other, but slowly finding their way back. Charlotte suffers from Alzheimer's, and Krista struggles to find compassion for a mother who seemingly had no compassion for her. Through letters and notes, Krista discovers her mother's past and feelings. This brings understanding and closure to Krista's childhood.

When Charlotte finally goes to Heaven, Krista has a peace that only comes from God. The closure she has with her mother allows her to grow in other relationships. My relationship with my Mom was nothing like the relationship that Krista had with Charlotte, but at the end I can relate to Krista's feelings on losing her Mom. I see a lot of the hardships my Mom faced with ALS in the hardships Charlotte dealt with as an Alzheimer's patient.

Normally I skip past the author's "To the Reader" letter in the back of the book, but for some reason I read this one. I definitely ask that anyone who reads this story finishes it with that letter.

My final grade for this book is a five out of five. I seem to be giving those a lot, but there are a lot of great books out there. If you know someone with Alzheimer's, if you've ever lost a mother, or if you are just interested in a good read, I recommend this book to you.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Stained Glass Hearts

The good people at Thomas Nelson have sent me a new book, Stained Glass Hearts, written by Patsy Clairmont. Mrs. Clairmont is not only a best selling author, but she also speaks at Women of Faith conferences.

This book is written for creative and artistic people. Every different type of media is covered, from music to poetry to priceless works of art. At the end of each chapter is a section called the Art Gallery, which features different media that corresponds with the message just given.  As with many of the books I review, be prepared to have Google up and waiting. While her descriptions are accurate, you cannot fully comprehend the beauty of Mother and Child without seeing it for yourself. And the music she recommends definitely should be heard.

Patsy's style of writing is colorful, funny, and unapologetic. It doesn't seem as if she hides anything from you. Many of her comments mirror my own thoughts and feelings. It's as if she's read my heart. Well, if she hasn't, than my Heavenly Father sure has.

I would give this book a 5 out of 5 stars. And I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for inspiration.  

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Another Summer Over

August 9th marks the last day of the summer 2011 season. On one hand, I am relieved, but on the other I want it to go on forever. My kids are growing up--I'm not sure if I'm ready for that yet. The stress of my school year is already getting to me, and I still have 2 weeks. OR, you could say I only have two weeks. Books to buy, classes to prepare for, kids to take care of, houses to clean. The list goes on and on.

Despite it all, I look forward to the final reward. Having that silly little piece of paper means so much to me, I don't think I can stand it. Right now, I am not even sure what classes I am taking this semester, I just know there is going to be a lot of them.

For sure, I am taking experimental photography. And I know that I am going to experiment with fiber paper and paints. We'll see what happens.

I wanted to get my darkroom out, there's a few contests and things going on in the next month, and I wanted to turn in some of my work. The problem I am having now is buying the matte board that I need in order to present my pictures well. That stuff is expensive.

Ok, I really need to go research textbook prices now, and I have to get everything ready for the kids' first day of school. **sigh**

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The American Patriot

God's Promises for the American Patriot is my newest book from booksneeze. This is a collection of Bible verses, historical facts, and quotes from the men and women who helped shape our country. Small and compact, this book would be a great gift to anyone who loves our country. It even has a page for someone to write "to, from, and date" on it.

Every turn of the page gives a new topic, with the political and historical facts and quotes on the left, and corresponding Bible verses on the right. Scattered throughout the book are extra little tidbits to help break up the flow. Included on many of the pages are pictures of the historical figures that are discussed.

In a time and country that has forgotten it's roots, this book helps reminds us of the morals and lessons that our founding fathers used to create this great nation.

Overall, I give this book five out of five stars. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a gift for a patriot, historian, soldier, or veteran. This book would also be good for anyone looking for Bible verses that talk about patriotism and love of country.

Monday, July 18, 2011


Claire twirled around, letting her new curls hit her face. At the same time, the loose fabric of her dress hit her legs, making her giggle from the sensations. The house was quiet, she was alone for the first time in months. This was the best day ever.

The hair started to slip, covering her face before finally falling off. The loss of her wig did not deter her movements, however, and Claire spread her arms out and pointed her toes as she twirled. If Annie had been here, Claire would be in bed--in that tight, restricting nightgown with a scarf tied snugly over her smooth head. If Caleb were here, the noise from the TV would be covering the silence and peace she now enjoyed. She laughed out loud, delighted in the fact that her plan had worked.

Annie thought the nurse was coming. Caleb thought Annie was staying this time. The nurses agency had been told that Caleb was going to stay with her. And somehow they all believed it. After Caleb left, kissing her forehead and telling her to behave for Annie, her toes had started to tingle. Then when Annie cursed the nurse for being late and the bus for being on time, the butterflies in her stomach had started dancing.

As soon as Claire heard the bus pull away from the stop, she called her new friend Tyler at the beauty parlor, dialed the local 24-hour pizza place, turned off the radio, and shoved the offending night gown under her bed. Opening the closet, she pulled out her favorite dress and pulled it over her head. Deciding not to overdo it, she quelled the desire to skip down the stairs and slowly made her way to the kitchen. The engine from the pizza delivery truck alerted her to its arrival, and she gave the driver a generous tip when he handed her the Hawaiian Delight. Before he could even pull out of the drive way, Tyler's car pulled up, and he came walking up the drive with suitcases. Claire heard him tell the pizza guy that there was something wrong with his car.

Claire decided that the dining room would be perfect--it hadn't been used since she got sick, no one would notice if things were out of place and the huge buffet had a mirror along the back of it. While the pizza grew cold, Tyler and Claire had their own little makeover session, hiding the Bald Claire. Before her eyes,she was transformed into Blond Beehive Claire, Gray Bun Claire, Brunette Pixie Claire, and a dozen other combinations. Finally, they agreed that Curly Redhead Claire was the perfect choice. In a fit of nostalgia, she also chose the Black Shoulder Length Claire, staring at the ghostly reflection that she had grown up with.

She kissed Tyler, practically shoving him out the door when she remembered her pizza. Turning the oven on, she warmed up the cheesy, greasy, gourmet meal, poured herself a glass of milk, and took her pills. Mouth watering, Claire made her spot at the kitchen table. Place mat, cup, knife, fork, spoon, napkin, and plate. Grinning at her extravagance, she put a piece of pizza on her plate, bowed her head, said a prayer, and devoured the ham and pineapple without even tasting it. The next piece she savored, closing her eyes as the sweetness of the ham mixed with the tartness of the sauce. A nugget of pineapple made her open her eyes in shock and delight, and a moan that only comes from taste buds filled the house. Halfway through the third piece her stomach rebelled, and Claire was reminded why Annie wouldn't let her eat pizza anymore.

She refused to let that ruin her day, however, and after cleaning herself and the kitchen of any evidence, she filled the bathtub with hot water, bubbles, oil, salts, and every bath additive she could find. The scents made her sneeze, but sinking into the tub made her feel better than she had in months.

Claire had no idea how long she soaked for, but when she got out, she was hungry again. Deciding to play it safe, she made herself some soup and toast. Looking out the kitchen window, she decided to eat on the back patio. The canned soup tasted the same, mild, bland, and watery. After the pizza, the toast reminded her of cardboard. The neighbor's cat enjoyed the soup, the woodpeckers carried the toast back to their nests, and Claire enjoyed the fresh air and sunshine. When she started to feel drained, Claire made her way to the couch that had been her mother's, sank into the soft floral cushions, and drifted off.

The sound of the kids across the street woke her, and she saw the sinking sun squeeze out the last few rays. When she stood up, Claire realized that the phone hadn't rung at all. No one called to check up on her--she understood that Caleb and Annie had needed this break as much as she had. Standing in the living room, Claire decided she was lonely. Knowing there was only two people who wouldn't tell on her, she made some phone calls, put on her Curly Redhead Claire, crept out the back door into the alley way, and met the cab driver two houses down.

The looks on Marty and Eva's faces were a combination of worry and elation. Marty's hug made her laugh, and Eva's hands on her face made her cry. They talked for hours: gardens, grand babies, life, art, and memories; avoiding hospitals, doctors, and the 'C' word. Eva made dinner--a homemade stew that tasted nothing like the canned broth Claire was used to--and fresh bread that melted in her mouth. Not only was it delicious, but she kept it down. After Claire helped with the dishes, Eva gave her a jar of stew and they drove her home. She made them promise to say they had come to see her when Annie asked about the stew, and they swore to keep her secret.

Claire climbed the stairs and stood in front of her closet. Not wanting the day to end,before she took off her dress she remembered the day and twirled.

Finally, Claire hung up her dress, hid the wigs in her sock drawer, pulled the nightgown from underneath the bed, took her pills, and crawled into bed, a small smile on her lips.

The next morning Annie complained about the nurses car leaving an oil stain on the front drive, scolded Claire for the mess in the bath tub, called and thanked Eva for the visit and the stew, and turned the radio back on. Caleb slammed the front door when he came over, shooed the birds out of the back yard, and kept sniffing the air in the kitchen, claiming he smelled pineapple.

Amid the chaos, Claire thought of her Independence day--and smiled. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Reading with a Friend

I'm a little more than halfway through my newest book from Waterbrook Multnomah, but already I know exactly how I feel about it, and I have to share. :)

When the Hurt Runs Deep is written by Kay Arthur. This is a book on "Healing and Hope for Life's Desperate Moments". What I like about this book is that the author actually talks to you, not at you or over you. She shares words of encouragement from her own personal experiences, from others experiences, and from the Bible that I know would help many people through dark times.

In quite a few of my reviews I tell you to grab your Bible and a highlighter and start marking important parts of the book. This time, the AUTHOR tells you to mark up your book. "Write in the margins" she says. Circle the important words, highlight the ones that touch your heart.

There are a total of 18 chapters in this book, but each one is short and to the point. Scattered throughout the book (with a complete list at the end) are Healing Truths; little quotes that are meant to bring home the point the author is trying to make. Mrs. Arthur also includes multiple Bible stories that tell of someone overcoming hurt and desperation.

The back of the book should definitely not be ignored. The final Post Script includes some titles for additional reading, the Practical Helps are full of advice for people struggling with deep pain and scars. Also, the Study Guide (individual or small group) helps the reader to explore deeper the healing process and Bible stories that Mrs. Arthur uses in the chapter.

Not only would I recommend this book to a friend, but I would BUY this book as a gift for many people. It seemed like every turn of the page brought to mind someone who would benefit from the words within. In fact, I would have to give this book a 10 out of 5 stars (not a typo!).

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Know Your Enemies

Ok, so "enemies" is a bit too strong of a word, but if you've ever had a debate with someone who doubts God, my latest book from booksneeze.com is definitely a help.

Why God Won't Go Away is written by Alister McGrath. Mr. (Prof.?) McGrath is a former atheist, who has a special interest in dialoging and critiquing popular atheist authors and proponents of the "New Atheism" movement.

This book is divided into three parts. Part one, titled What is the New Atheism gives information on some background and four major players of the movement. There are reviews of a few of these four authors books. It also touches briefly on the definition of atheism.

Engaging the New Atheism is part two, and it is divided into three sections. Each section touches briefly on the arguments that modern atheists give against religion. The author offers rebuttals to these arguments and also gives some more critiques on atheist books. 

The third part, Where does the New Atheism go from Here?, tells the reader what is going on now in the movement, and what the future holds for the members of this movement.

At the back of the book, the author offers titles for Further Reading, an Index, and Notes that correlate to the chapters.

Before you start reading this book, be sure to have a highlighter or pen to make notes. Mr. McGrath does his research, and has many informed arguments for the reasons people give to not believe in God.

Overall, I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars, and I would recommend it for the library of anyone who debates about God.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Financial Aid

It's no secret that I would not be in school if it weren't for the Pell Grants I have been getting. They have given me the means to buy books, register for classes, and buy the supplies I need.

I am forever grateful to whoever funds the Pell Grants, I don't know if it's taxpayers, or special funding, or whatever. But it can be quite frustrating trying to get everything organized and being patient while everything is being processed.

That being said, I turned my information in back in MARCH, and I am still waiting to hear back from the school. Classes start in a little over a month. I don't know if I will get into the classes I need to this semester. I guess I am learning patience this summer.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Women in Faith

I am not a fan of women's lib, feminism, or any of that stuff. I am for personal development, however, and occasionally find myself reading books I normally wouldn't. I picked this book to review from Waterbrook Multnomah on a whim.

Now, I can't really classify this book as women's lib, but Secrets of the Vine for Women sure is about personal development. Apparently it is a shoot-off of a previous book entitled, Secrets of the Vine, written by the author's husband, Bruce Wilkinson.

Having never read the original book, I have no basis of comparison, but Mrs. Wilkinson sure thinks that you have read the first one. This book is full of references to Mr. Wilkinson's book, which can make it hard to understand if you've never read it. Also, be sure to have your bible handy, as this entire book is based on John 15, but only includes a few verses from this chapter.

I do like how the author includes other bible verses to back up her statements, and the story at the beginning of each chapter helps keep the reader interested. There is a chart at the back of the book that is very helpful, and the Appendix is a good way to judge your relationship with the Father.

Also at the end of the book is a short study guide, with questions that go along with each chapter. I almost got more information out of the study guide than I did the whole book. Overall, I give this book a 3.5 out of 4 stars. It was a quick read, which accounts for the .5 in the score. I really don't know if I would recommend this book to a friend or not...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Billy Graham

So, he was a little before my time, but I've heard a lot of good things about the Reverend Billy Graham, and I have read a couple of his books, and heard a few of his sermons. When I got my newest book from booksneeze.com, the title (Billy Graham in Quotes) gave me an idea of what to expect, and it sure delivered.

This book is literally hundreds of quotes from Billy's books, sermons, and other writings, all compiled by his son, Franklin, and a colleague, Donna Lee Toney. Each quote is divided into topics--including Addiction, Testimony, Encouragement, and Joy, just to name a few. The first thing you read when you turn to a chapter, is a bible verse that correlates with each topic. Then, a list of quotes that have come from Rev. Graham.

Now, this is not the type of book you sit down and read cover to cover. This is the kind of reference book that goes on your shelf, that you pull out when you need inspiration, guidance, and comfort.

The forward was written by Franklin Graham, and the introduction was written by the Reverend himself. The notes at the back of the book tell you where the quote came from, and can satisfy anyone's curiosity.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for inspiration. I'm sure a high schooler looking for  that perfect quote to go with a book report would be able to find something in this book. I'll give it 5 out of 5 stars. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

It's the End of the World As we Know it...

Every couple of years or so, someone comes out with an "end of the world" book or series of books. This time it is The Seraph Seal by Leonard Sweet and Lori Wagner.  Set in 2048, it is the story of the 'chosen eight' and the paths each person chose.

Let me start with the cons. The authors apparently like acronyms. Ever heard the saying "too much of a good thing"? I could not keep track of all of the different organizations and places that the authors labeled with random letters. The book also had a tendency to bounce between people and personal stories. At one point, I stopped trying to remember who each person was. The ending seemed rushed and not well thought out, and was definitely not what I was expecting.

At the end of the book, the authors include an "Alphabet of the Apocalypse". In the beginning of the book, Mr Sweet calls this a type of guide to understanding the realities of Apocalyptic elements. However, it seems as if there is a blurred sense of reality. And what I expected to be a type of glossary turned into a confusing list of words.

Now for the pros. It was a quick read, and I found myself connecting with the main character. The element of suspense was enough to keep me interested.

If someone is interested in end of days type fiction, I would recommend this book to them. If anyone else asked me about this book, I probably would not.

I give it a 2 out of 5 stars.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Big Plans

Although summer break started 2 weeks ago, it finally feels like summertime at the Hudspeth house. We are back from our trip to Phoenix, I have decided to let God take care of my kidney problems, and the kids are at church camp.

There have been some big developments in the White Mountains this past week, the most important one by far being the Wallow fire in Alpine. The smoke is merely annoying at our house, I can only imagine how bad it is in Alpine and the surrounding areas. Poor Mike has to work over in that area today (not really close to the fire, but close enough that the smoke is bothering him).

We may be on break, but I am still waiting for my financial aid status for next semester. I would like to register for fall classes, but cannot until I know my status. I have never been very good at waiting.

For a while, we were contemplating moving the kids to a new school, but have decided to stick with the one we know: the teachers and students and families that they have grown up with.

I've got housework to do, books to read, and crafts to finish. Oh, and work on Tuesdays. But it is definitely worth it all.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Daddy Dates

Ok, yes. This book was written for men. But don't let the title fool you, Mommy's can learn a lot from this book, too. Written by Greg Wright, father of four girls (and only girls), Daddy Dates chronicles his revelation, implementation, successes, and failures of his unique parenting style.

Greg has a style of writing that will have the reader rolling in his chair with laughter one moment, then shedding tears the next. You can't help but envision his anecdotes in stunning clarity with his attention to detail.

The life lessons and insights are things I think every parent, no matter the gender, could benefit from learning.  In fact, I think every married couple, parents or not, would benefit from some if his lessons.

At the end of the book, Greg includes a personality test created by Dr. John Trent, and a cheat sheet for Dad's who need help in the creative dating department. Each chapter is short and to the point. This makes it an easy read for any person. Catch chapter 1 before bedtime, chapter 2 while you're brushing your teeth, and chapter 20 after dinner.

I would definitely recommend this book to friends, and I give it a 5 out of 5 in the stars department.

(By the way, I got this book from booksneeze.com)


I got this book from WaterBrook Multnomah, free for posting a review.

This is actually two stories in one, "Now Boarding at Gate 10" and "In the Event of a Water Landing".

Both novellas take place during a summer. One girl heads to her hometown with her family for a reunion, and the other girl takes a trip with friends to a summer home.

During their trips, the girls learn a thing or two about themselves, their friends, relationships, and God.

The stories are mostly geared to the teen/young adult readers, and apparently both girls have starred in numerous books written by the author. What I like about this one is that it is not imperative that you read the entire series before reading this book. The author made this book stand alone on it's own.

The lessons that each girl learns are important ones for any pre-teen or teenager to learn. I would definitely recommend this book to other young girls. Overall I give it a 5 out of 5.

The End of an Era

Although there is still a week left of school, most of my classes have finished.

And it looks like my beautiful 4.0 is gone.

It's not definite yet. I'm still waiting on grades for two of my classes, but at last count, I had a 3.47 in my English class, and I don't know if my instructor rounds up. A 3.5 and up constitutes an "A" in his class. And my Ten Key class is kind of up to me at this point, if I want an "A" or a "B".

At first I was kind of upset. I have made it this far--5 semesters--with a 4.0. I worked very hard for that grade. VERY hard. OK, I still am kind of upset.

But I am still doing alright. One bad grade is not going to make me fail. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

God's Little Princess

I decided to be unselfish this time around when I picked my newest book from booksneeze.com. I got How to be God's Little Princess by Sheila Walsh. The subheading says, "Royal Tips for Manners, Etiquette, and True Beauty".

Can you guess who I got it for?

I decided to let her provide most of the meat for this review. I read it, don't get me wrong, but who better to review a book for little girls, than a little girl?

Before I gave her the book, I flipped through it and jotted down my initial impressions. First and foremost, as most parents know, getting a kid to listen to you is like asking a fly to sit still. Ain't happening. My hope is that this book drills into her brain the things that go in one ear and out the other.

That's always a plus in my book.

There's no appropriate age listed on the book, and my daughter is 8, which I would say is the youngest age for this book. There's some comments about clothing (never let your bra strap show) that are obviously meant for older girls, but I bet even 40-year-old's would get something out of this book.

There are fun crafts, recipes, project ideas, games, quizzes, even a list of websites that the proper princess should frequent. Chapters cover important topics for every pre-queen, such as wardrobe, accessories, poise, dining, party planning, manners, and many more. Bible verses that correlate with the chapter's topic are sprinkled throughout the book. The overall message is God's love.

I would definitely recommend this book to any girl or woman in need of some positive reading. There is nothing wrong with it, in my opinion. In fact, I would probably offer it up for loan, but I have a feeling a little girl would be very upset with me...

Less than a Month

There is less than a month left of school, and I am at that point where I get overwhelmed EVERY semester. What I really want to do right now is to curl up with a good book and zone out, but alas, I have homework that needs to be turned in. So I procrastinate by talking to you, of course. Actually, I think I am going to go for a run.

Be right back...

I love how a run can energize you. Since I don't drink coffee, I think I need to do that more often.

OK, time to get this over with so I can get back to English 109. It doesn't help that I have a lot of things on my plate right now. Easter is over, which removes the weight that the Elk's Lodge egg hunt and the Easter play at church put on my shoulders. I have completed my proofreading class, and I am one test and two assignments away from completing my math class. I am going to be cutting it close with my English assignments, but I will pull through. Photography is almost done, as well. Just a couple more nights in the darkroom, and my portfolio will be complete.

I have so many thoughts running through my brain that I feel like the starting line at a marathon. I was considering taking a summer course (I only have 25 more credits left before I'm done) but I am going to use the next few months to do the things I have been neglecting. Knitting, sewing, and crochet projects that are waiting to be done, housework that keeps getting put off, and book reading that I am dying to do.

But wait. I have surgery coming up. (Nothing serious, just a kidney stone.) Houses to clean. (Get's me gas money for my little car.) Girl Scout events to participate in. (Those I am looking forward to!)

The kids have church camp the beginning of June. They're already remembering last year and all the fun they had. I am very blessed to be able to give them that experience. I'm sure we will be having a VBS as well. While they are learning about God, I will be with the other girl scouts at our sleepover--I gave Emma the choice, and she picked church camp. Rob's birthday is at the end of June. He either wants to go bowling or go to the pool, he can't decide. Four days before that, I will be 'celebrating' (I use that term loosely) the 3 year anniversary of my Mom's journey to heaven.

July looks promising, however. The 4th is the only event in my calendar at the moment. There will be a girl scout event at some point, but we haven't decided on that yet.

August begins another school year. My hope is to get enough girls in the White Mountain Lakes area to start our own troop out there. There are a lot of families who aren't involved in that sort of thing simply because of where we live. I need at least 4 more girls (5 for a troop, counting Emma) to get us started out there.

So. Twenty-five credits left, then I will have an AA in Applied Sciences, Administrative Information Services. Let's hope financial aid holds out one more year, and then I'll be done.

Enough whining. Time for homework. I'll have a couple new reviews coming out soon, too.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Couples Who Pray

Time for my latest installment of booksneeze.com review. My new book is called Couples Who Pray, written by Squire Rushnell and Louise DuArt.

This dynamic duo travels the country, sharing their stories and the stories of many other couples. Many of these stories are in the book, which is divided into three sections. The first two chapters are devoted to the benefits of intimate prayer, the third, fourth, and fifth chapters give detail to taking the challenge, and the last 5 cover different factors that cmay come into play when completeing the challenge.

What is the challenge? Forty days of intimate prayer between spouses. Taking five minutes a day to pray with each other. Of course, the idea is that after 40 days, you just keep going. As the back cover claims, "WARNING: This book will change your marriage!" Please note, for the purposes of this blog, I am just reviewing the book, not the challenge itself.

The personal stories are enlightening and give a real world insight to the solutions that help repair many a marriage.The questionnaires at the back of the book, which are available online, are a tool that each person uses to gauge the change brought about by the challenge. The second appendix is a list of bible verses that apply to different situations couples face.

Overall, I give this book a 4 out of 5. It has definitely convinced us that daily prayer as a couple is important.  

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lady in Waiting

My latest book from WaterBrook is the the story of a modern day woman and her link to the past. This book could be considered a historical fiction, because of the character Jane Grey, but this Jane plays a minor role in the story.

This is actually two stories in one. I have never really liked the back and forth style of these types of fiction. I guess I am easily confused. I also don't really like the historical fiction, I prefer to have the facts. So, although the basic style and genre of the book are not my thing, the story was a pretty good read. There's an element of suspense, as well as understanding of the characters actions.There's really not much else to say about it. I would suggest you check it out of your local library before you purchase it.

Overall, I give this book 3.5 stars.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Because of my religious background, this book jumped out at me from the booksneeze website. Another volume of the Ancient Practices Series, The Sacred Meal by Nora Gallagher gives insight into the Last Supper.

This is something I have struggled with in my faith journey. A lot of my concerns were discussed in this book, but it still left me wondering. Most of the other books in this series discuss the history behind the practice they are writing about. This one seems to be mostly one woman's experiences with Holy Communion.

Which might be a downside to this book, but the author says in the introduction that it is going to mostly be her story. So the reader is warned, but that does not necessarily make it right.

The study guide at the back of the book is small, but helps the reader to understand what the intent of the book was. It also gives a lot of insight into the audiences experiences and beliefs regarding Communion.

I would recommend this book to someone who is looking for a quick read with emphasis on the Bread and Wine. I would not recommend it to someone who is looking for the history of the Last Supper in the Church. It was not what I expected, but there is plenty of good information in these pages, and there are some very inspirational stories that are worth reading. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Change Your Mind

My English class makes me feel like a prospector looking for gold. Every once in a while there is a shiny nugget, but usually it's just a big pile of dirt.

It seems as if many of my classmates just cannot process what the instructor is trying to teach. Either that, or my teacher is used to instructing elementary school children. Half of our allotted class time is spent walking student's through each assignment, as if none of us can complete them on our own.

Now, my Mama taught me to only speak nice of people, but this class drives me absolutely batty. I am very glad that this is my last required ENL course.

This is funny to me, because back in high school, English was one of my favorite subjects. On the other end of the spectrum, math was a deal breaker for me. And now, Math 103 is actually pretty easy.

My life has flip flopped. What I once thought was normal is strangely unfamiliar to me. It makes me wonder why I struggled so much in high school. Why was it so hard for me to concentrate in my sophomore math class? And now, why is it so hard for me to concentrate in this class?

Maybe it isn't me. Maybe it wasn't me. Is it possible that I am not computing what the instructor is saying because of the instructor. Could it just be my teachers? Or am I just trying to put the blame on someone else? There is a song that I love, called Change Your Mind. One of the lines is, "if you want to be somebody else, change your mind." I think this is happening to me...

I wrote this in class, between the repetition and redundancy (see what I did there?) The above onomatopoeia was because I answered a question, only to have my instructor tell me I was wrong, then 'correct' me by repeating EXACTLY WHAT I JUST FINISHED SAYING!!!!!!! I think this class is going to make me crazy.

I cannot stand this class!!!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Latest Musings

I seem to have hit a wall full of writer's block. It may have something to do with my super busy schedule, which has been put on hold this week by a sick little boy. Stomach bugs are not good. But I have been having a hard time writing lately.

It's getting easier for  me to review a book, then it is to write about my life. Don't get me wrong, I love reviewing the books, and my church's library has grown since I signed up with booksneeze. Free books are always good. But my writings are becoming less and less personal.

My desire to learn is unstoppable, though. Since starting school, I have taught myself to knit and crochet, and my next adventure into self-teaching is music. I want to be able to read music. All my books from booksneeze are doing a wonderful job of teaching me more about God, Jesus, and Christianity. My internship has taught me the basics of a cash register, something I would not have been able to navigate around 2 months ago.

Along with all of these things, I find school and work breaking me out of my shell. My shyness is still there, but having to greet customers at the store, and talk to fellow classmates, I find it easier to speak up. Which is great. Hopefully it will help me overcome my aversion to conflict, as well.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Jesus Inquest

My latest book from booksneeze.com is called The Jesus Inquest, written by Charles Foster. If you decide to pick up this book, be prepared with your Bible, a dictionary, some bookmarks, and possibly Google. There are big words, lots of cross referencing, and some things you might want to do research on yourself.

Charles Foster delves into the historical accuracy regarding the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Instead of finding a knowledgeable atheist to debate with, he decides to research what others have said, and present the case against the Resurrection himself. Then, he turns around and presents the case for the Resurrection. Basically, Mr. Foster is talking to himself. I don't know if this is because he can't find anyone worth debating, or if he is scared to debate with an actual person, but it may have been more interesting if there had been another person to argue the other side. 

The way the author presents this debate is very interesting. He separates the Resurrection into eight chapters, and each chapter is divided into two: "X", the atheist in the debate, presents his side first, then "Y", the Christian, follows up with a rebuttal. Each argument is divided up into smaller sections of the overall theme of the chapter, so when you get around to "Y's" point of view, you may have to flip back to "X's" comment on that particular subject.

This outline means that "Y" is constantly trying to play catch-up to "X", and there is no deviation from this. Which can be quite tiring.

Besides flipping from one point of view to the other, you also have the footnotes to reference. All 632 of them...

Overall, I would recommend this book to someone interested in the historical and archeological aspects of the Bible, but from a faith perspective, it's not very enlightening. Umm, I'll say 3 out of 5 stars, and I probably won't recommend it to any of my friends, unless they are looking for something scientific. 

Monday, January 24, 2011


(I know, it was almost 2 weeks ago. Life has been busy, bear with me!)

I have visions of someone with a white sheet and slide projector in my living room. But, surprisingly, I did not take very many pictures this weekend. I have a few: our view from the hotel room, a couple of casino shots, but most of the weekend was spent at the Lodge in Bullhead City and the River walk. Our first night was spent in Bullhead City, practicing for the competition the following day. Well, Mike and his fellow officers practiced. I sat at the bar and drank really strong...Shirley Temples...all night long. Apparently the bartenders there had no idea of the proper grenadine to sprite ratio required to make a delicious ST.

After their practice was over, they all came back over to the bar and we hung out for a bit. Eventually, we all headed back across the border and walked around the casinos for a bit. I went up to bed, and realized just how much the casino owners don't want you in your room. No free wi-fi here. If I want to use my laptop upstairs in our room? $12 a day. Downstairs in Starbucks? Free. Except I'd already gotten my pj's on. So, no computer. I decided to turn on the tv, and the remote didn't work. GREAT. I was tired, so I just went to bed. Mike decided to stay downstairs for a bit, and I have no idea when he came back to the room, at least after midnight. Somehow he can survive off of 2 hours of sleep. I don't get it.

The next morning we were up bright and early, and back over in AZ. The officers got ready to compete, and while I waited for them to be done, I sat in our 'green room' and did homework. Two homework assignments later, they came out, very proud of themselves. Before we got the results, there was some free time before the banquet, so we wandered around Laughlin for a few hours. I don't know if it's just me, but once you've been in one casino, you've been in them all. I got bored really quick.

Finally, it was time to head back to the lodge. Our dinner choices were salmon or pork. I loaded up on allergy pills and got the stuffed pork, which was pretty good. Then we got to the important part. Four of our eight officers got Champion for their positions, Mike included! Yay!!! First and second place teams get to move on to the State competitions. We got 3rd place by two tenths of a point. So no state this year, and Mike's win seems a little bittersweet, but they did really good, and we've got next year.

Since this was our first time in a 'gambling town' and or even Nevada, Mike kept me up most of the night walking up and down the River Walk, stopping in all the casinos. We didn't get back to our hotel room until after 4 a.m. And even though I didn't have the kids, and I need at least 7 hours of sleep, my internal clock still woke me up at 8 a.m. Stupid clock. After checking out, we wandered up and down the river a bit more, then headed for home. Since we carpooled with a friend of ours, I got to sleep most of the way home.Which wasn't very comfortable.

The trip to Laughlin taught me a few things, some of which I knew already but needed reminding of. First, Mike can survive off of WAY less sleep than I. I still haven't caught up on it all. Next, I am not the gambling type, or the drinking type, or the partying type, at least not anymore. I would much rather curl up on the couch with the dogs, the kids, and a good book. Third, some people just turn into zombies as soon as they sit in front of a slot machine. I mean, I know there's Gamblers Anonymous, but wow. You could tell the ones that were there because they had to be there. No smiles, no fun, just push the button and hope for a jackpot. Finally, I miss my kids. It was nice to be away from reality for a few days, but once it was over, I was glad to be home.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sun Stand Still

I found another wonderful publisher doing the same thing booksneeze is. WaterBrook Multnomah Publishers has the same program: get a book for free, review it, post about it.

So here's my first book from them. Sun Stand Still by Steven Furtick. Mr. Furtick is the pastor at a church in Charlotte, NC. By page 23 of Steven's book, I was ready to put it down and go set the world on fire. But by page 50, I was just ready to put the book down.

This is a book based on one small prayer in the Bible, prayed by an Old Testament hero. Sound familiar? This type of writing would be appropriate for a short book or a pamphlet, but not a 200 page book. I found it very difficult to be engaged after a certain point.

As with many theological books, it offers a new perspective on the Bible, your faith, and your convictions, but honestly, I could not finish this book. And there are very few books that have that dubious honor. I understand that the author is doing incredible things in the name of God. I understand that his heart is in the right place, but I think he needs to brush up on his writing skills.

If I knew someone who needed a new outlook on life, who had never read one of these types of books before, I might recommend this book to them. But for the people who who have read book after book about changing their life just by praying this one prayer, I would say stay away. Or at the very least, read the first 30 pages, that's all you need.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Video Classes....

...are not about learning to shoot your own videos. They are regular classes, that are broadcast via closed circuit TV to all the campuses and centers of NPC. This way, one instructor can be in more than one place at a time. Something many people wish they could do. I suppose you could call him SuperTeacher!

One classroom is used for multiple classes throughout the day. So, my plan to get to school early to make sure I was in the right place was thrown out of whack when I walked into the empty classroom and heard someone talking about math. I backtracked, looked at the paper on the door, realized I was in the right spot, but I was just 15 minutes early.

So I sat down in a part of the classroom that was not visible to the camera, and waited for 6:30 to roll around. A few people came in, most of them in the wrong classroom. Finally, the time was right, and class started. Although there are at least 12 other classmates, only one other person shares the same room with me. I am glad I am not the only one, but it's still weird only having two people in the room.

My required English classes were/are 101 and 103 OR 109. I got them confused, and thought I had taken 103 previously. So, when the instructor said, " 101 is a prerequisite of this class, so if you have not taken 101, please go speak to an academic advisor." I panicked for a minute. But, once I got home and looked at my transcripts, I realized I was in the clear. Proceed as planned! This is technical writing, so it isn't about grammar and punctuation, but our teacher went over some basics with us tonight, as a refresher course.

After it was all over, being excited about having my first class over with, I headed home. Well, first I hit the gas station so that I would make it all the way home. You know that emotional rush you get when you help someone in need? A couple came up to me, said they were out of gas, needed to get home. My first instinct was to say no. But I prayed about it, and decided I needed to help. So, ten extra dollars later, they were on the road again and I am glad I could help. I hope they pay it forward.

So, that was day one of my 5th semester at NPC. I hope the rest of the semester goes just as well.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

My New Schedule

I sat down and wrote everything out today. Ready for it? Here goes:
Sunday: Church. At least that's it.
Monday: Evening class. Not looking too bad.
Tuesday: Mid-morning class. Still ok.
Wednesday: Morning Bible Study. Afternoon class. Evening class. Going to be a long day, but still pretty good.
Thursday: Early release for the kids. Girl Scouts. Pretty easy day.
Friday: Every other week, clean the Community Center, go to the bank.
Saturday: Free day!!

Oh, wait. There's Lodge events, PTSO meetings, AND my internship this semester. The calendar next to my computer desk looks like a kindergartner took some crayons to it. Only I can discern what all the scribbles, lines, and random letters mean.

Instead of being overwhelmed, I am looking forward to this semester. I will be busy, but I will have wonderful rewards at the end. Eventually all this hard work will result in a diploma. My kids will have good experiences in all their activities, and I will meet new people. Something that we could not do if we were just sitting at home all day.

So, my posts might dwindle a bit, and my allotted time online shrink, but I will be working toward a goal. A very good goal, a very achievable goal. And it will be worth it.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Cleaning House

A few years ago, I watched this home decorating show. The family they were talking to called themselves 'minimalists.' Their home looked like a hotel room. Even the kid's room was spotless. Personal items were removed from sight at all times, except when they were in use.

I hated it. Who wants to live in a hotel? I like a home to look lived in. I like drawings on the fridge, toys on the floor (to a certain extent), books on a shelf, and the coffee table full of projects.

But, as I grow-in maturity, faith, and knowledge-I am finding myself getting tired of all the stuff in my home. I am downgrading. If I could get rid of it all, I would, but I have 3 other people to consider, so things don't disappear quite as fast as I would like.

I have decided that I hate excess. This is my new passion. Why do I have 3 curling irons, when I only use one. Why am I keeping this kitchen utensil when I have 5 others just like it. What's up with the books that I have never read, and probably won't ever crack open? (Yes, I am getting rid of some of my books!!) And just why do we have a vase full of bouncy balls??

When we moved into this home, we liked the area so much that we decided we didn't want to move ever again. Now, my husband is dreaming of a bigger home, so we have room for more stuff. I say get rid of stuff, then we'll have room! So that is what I am doing. Movies we don't watch, books I don't read, clothes that will never, honestly, be worn again. Nick-nacks that are pretty, but honestly just collect dust. Although I cannot bring myself to get rid of my frog figurines, I have given up some stuffed frogs, and I think I may get rid of some more. There's a few special things I will keep, but I am ready to give all this junk over to the thrift store.

If it were summer, I might have a yard sale, and normally, I would pack everything in boxes and wait for the thaw, but right now I just want it GONE. Out of my house, out of my possession. Gone. Mike is struggling with all of this, he likes his things. But slowly and surely I'll get him to see my way. :)