Saturday, March 31, 2007

Meet the Robinsons

As promised, here's my take on Meet the Robinsons. This was one movie where the previews didn't give everything away, for which I am thankful. The movie was a delightful jaunt into an improbable future (think The Jetsons), but definitely a future kids would love to see happen. People being transported by bubbles, singing frogs ("genetically enhanced frogs"), time machines, and wise-cracking robots are all a part of the world of Wilbur Robinson. Wilbur goes back in time to retrieve Lewis, an orphan boy with a penchant for imagining and attempting to invent out-of-this world gadgets (and a wish to find his birth mom). Throw in a couple of villains (Bowler Hat Guy and a robotic hat named Doris... and just who is the brains behind that outfit?) and a plot twist and you have a fun hour and a half for the whole family. Best of all is that the moral of the story isn't hard to find. If you miss it during the movie (and I don't know how anyone could), John Lasseter (head of Disney's animation division) puts it out there in print at the end of the movie for all to see:

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
–Walt Disney
Reminds me a little bit of something a wise man named Paul once said... "forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on..."

Friday, March 30, 2007

Friday fun

Happy Friday to all and welcome to the weekend! It's opening day for the new Disney flick, Meet the Robinsons, and I imagine we will make time to take the kids at some point this weekend. Would love to see the Digital 3D version, but it appears the closest theater for that is about an hour away in Petaluma. We'll have to think on that one.... You know I'll post my review once we do see the film.

We have a fairly full day today, what with the usual school and chores around here. We're invited to a park day in the afternoon, so we will have to work diligently if we hope to go. Then once we get home from picking Emily up from school, Noah and Halle will have piano lessons, and I have an appointment to get the tubing replaced on my hearing aids.

Here are some links for your perusal this weekend:

They didn't study. I don't know if I would have had the guts to try this when I was in school, but it sure makes for some fun reading now.

5 Minutes for Mom is giving away a free Dyson vacuum. Not just any Dyson, but a new lightweight version. Sounds like the perfect vac for folks in a 2-story house... something easy to carry upstairs.

This sounds like a great CD. I've already heard a couple of these songs on XM 32, I think. Either that or at the Worship Together website. (If you're a sheet music junkie, register at the WT site... they give free sheet music downloads each week!). Oh, and BooMama is giving away one of the CDs (but don't feel like you need to go give me any more competition for one).

Your daily dose of "Awwww..." You know research has shown that looking at cute is good for your health, so click!

Hi-tech help for lost children. What a very cool idea.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I didn't see that one coming

So it's bye-bye to Chris Sligh. When it was narrowed down to either him or Haley, I really didn't know which way it would go. I'm sure this contest has opened all kinds of doors for Chris, though. Oh, and how about Ryan and his "I've been Sanjayaed?" Poor kid... this will follow him for a long time. What will Sanjaya's kids say when they find out?

Quote of the day from comedian Jeff Allen:

"I believe teenagers are God's revenge on mankind. It's as if God himself looked down and said, 'Hey, let's see how they like it to create someone in their own image who denies their existence.'"

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Live bloggin' AI Top 10

Gwen Stefani, huh? She's a pretty girl; loved how she looked in the video clips with the contestants. The "normal" makeup is much more attractive on her than the over-the-top face she puts on for her videos and concerts. I'm not a fan of her music, so any NoDoubt or Gwen Stefani songs tonight will be new to me. So what's my impression of the top 10 tonight?

Lakisha: Last Dance was an interesting choice for her. I guess it's the first time I've heard her sing something that uptempo. I was glad the camera didn't do too many closeups; I get distracted by her lisp sometimes. She was good, but it probably wasn't one of her best.

Chris Sligh: Why couldn't he keep the beat with Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic? Vocals were fine. He looked like he couldn't really figure out what dance moves to do, though. Just not in his element.

Gina: Oh. My. Word. Now that had to be her best performance yet! I wasn't familiar with the song, but she kept my attention and I really enjoyed listening to her. I don't think she'll be leaving this week.

Sanjaya: Forget Hair Idol. Please go home. Didn't know or like the song, hated the hair, and am just tired of him.

Haley: Doggone it, this was almost as bad as the night we couldn't hear her. I love her voice and agree with past comments that she is probably more of a recording artist than a performer. She was fine, but just not super fabulous. We'll have to see how the others do before knowing how much in danger she is. Loved her hair and outfit.

Phil: He was just a little too mild and mellow on Every Breath You Take for me. Very bland.

Melinda: OK, it's Melinda. What am I gonna say.... she sucked? Of course she was great. Love her hair now that she has cut it, and tonight's "flip" looked cute and fun. Didn't care for the pattern of her dress, but the style was great. Didn't know the song, so nothing to compare it to.

Blake: He has such a mellow voice.... very easy to listen to. Did he beat box tonight?? Did I miss it because I was typing?? Another new song for me.

Didn't know the song... hard to understand her, especially in the lower register. Not my favorite performance of hers. She's been my favorite so far, so this disappoints me.

Chris Richardson:
He has that nasal thing going on again. Cute song (again, one I don't know; I'm so out of pop culture. Guess that's why this is the first year I've ever watched AI.). He was a'ight.

Favorite performance of the night: Has to be Gina. I can't think of anything bad to say about it.

Who should leave: We all know the answer. Only if the tweenyboppers' parents hide the phones tonight do we have a chance for that happening.

Air miles

The calendar, she is filling up. Of course, not for me... other than running kids to school, orthodontist, and gymnastics. No, yesterday my beloved sat a few feet away from me at his laptop and read off the schedule of all his flights for the upcoming weeks.

Trip #1: Next week he heads back to St. Louis for 3 days to meet with his siblings and the nursing home people to discuss his mom's care. He'll leave shortly after midnight Monday night and get home after midnight Thursday.

Trip #2: Thankfully, this is a short one. In the middle of April he will have to fly to Vancouver, BC for an evening meeting. He leaves one morning and returns the next.

Trip #3: This is the one that stinks. He is heading to Wichita Falls on April 22 and doesn't return until late evening May 2. During the time he is gone, Emily will leave and return from her choir trip to Chicago and I will miss the quarterly "Coffee and Tea with Mrs. P" hosted by Em's principal. There will probably be at least one orthodontist appointment in there as well, along with the usual gymnastics and piano lessons.

Oh, there will be a trip to San Antonio in June for him probably as well. Another required thing for him. He'd like it if the family could go along (the kids have wanted to see the Alamo for a long time), but who knows if we will have the finances for that. As much fun as it would be, I'd probably feel guilty we weren't somewhere else more important. I guess time will tell whether we sit at home for that trip or not.

So, anyone up for a trip to CA next month?

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Naw, not the kind you smell.... I just have several things running through my head that I want to talk about and don't know where to start first. Lessee... how about books? The Spring Reading Thing started 4 days ago (is that all?), and I have knocked out 6 books from my list. I cannot say enough good things about Karen Kingsbury's Firstborn series. "Life-Changing Fiction" is her tag line and I have to wholeheartedly agree. I am still processing much of what was revealed to me through the characters and situations in the stories. And I want/need to go back and read the earlier Redemption series, as well!

The last book I read this weekend reminded me of why I stopped reading Stephen King in the first place. There was a time I liked his writing, but it seems like the last 10-15 years, his works just haven't appealed to me. But I heard so many people say that Lisey's Story was so awesome that when I saw it on the shelf at the library, I thought I'd give it a try. It did nothing for me. I didn't feel a connection to the characters at all. It was.... stupid. Give me a good Dean Koontz novel any day. Next on my list: The Westing Game. Once I get through the fiction books I have on hand, I'm sure the rest of the list will go a bit slower.

And then there was much rejoicing. Tonight was the finale of Grease: You're the One That I Want. I don't think I've ever followed any competition as closely as I did this one, at least not since the first year or two of Star Search (I guess I can say I remember Rosie O'Donnell and Brad Garrett back when...). I definitely had my favorites and was quite thrilled when they both made it into the top 4. And even more pleased to see that in a rare if not unheard-of occurrence (that being that America and I actually agreed upon something), they won! Congratulations to Broadway's new Danny and Sandy, Max Crumm and Laura Osnes. Now, who wants to bankroll my trip to NYC to see the show???

Great day with the kids today. Everyone was up and ready to go to church on time with no fuss. It was a good time of worship and we got to hear a singing group from William Jessup University. I also found out that one of the coaches from Halle and Joel's gymnastics gym attends there. She and her husband came in a little late and sat by me today. I was sitting behind someone I thought looked familiar and then afterwards Emily pointed out that it was her PE teacher. I think I could get used to worshiping with folks I might get to see more than once a week.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Another Saturday night... (everybody sing!)

Another dad-is-moonlighting weekend here. We've kept busy watching movies (Rocky Balboa for me, Eragon and Everyone's Hero for all of us). Then Halle, Noah, and I played Disney Scene-It. After a couple of games of that, Emily pulled out the regular version of Scene-It and she and I played 4 rounds of it, each winning 2 games.

So now it's a little after 9:30pm and the young ones are bathed and settling in for the night. I didn't do any of the reading I thought I'd do today, nor did I get the laundry folded and put away. Eh, the laundry will keep until tomorrow after church. We're heading back to Crossroads again. The kids are really looking forward to their classes.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Thursday in the park

Today marked the third day in a row we've walked to the park with the kids... but this time we had ALL of them! It was so nice to have Emily along; she can be a real blast to hang out with. We all had fun playing frisbee in the open space. Campbell absolutely loves being there, running around (on leash) and lying in the grass. I really think he misses having a lawn to play on. Since our landlord abhors lawn care, our back yard is nothing but a big patio and a whole lotta mulch with weeds sprouting up through it. Brian sprayed weed killer on the weeds a week or two ago, but they haven't died off yet.

I wish we had taken the camera with us today, though. At some point during our time there, Noah had lifted Campbell up to the drinking fountain for a drink of water. Later on while I had a hold of his leash and was getting ready to take a drink for myself, Campbell stood up on his hind legs and began getting his own drink. He really had to stretch to get it, but he stood there for a good 20/30 seconds, lapping up the water like he'd been doing it for years. It was too funny. Hopefully we can remember to take a camera next time, so I can snap a picture to post.


I'm already 2 books down on the Spring Reading Thing; I've managed to get in 1 book a night the past 2 nights (yeah, I'm staying up til a little after midnight, but it hasn't killed me yet!). I've finished the first 2 books of Karen Kingsbury's Firstborn series, and can't wait to start the 3rd. I might actually have time tonight to read the 4th as well, because I don't think I'll be watching any TV. Yahoo!


I've been collecting some stuff to share for a little while and figured today was a good day. Hope some of these bring a smile to your face!

The Melinda Doolittle School of Humility: Emily and I caught this last weekend on E's Soup and could not stop laughing. Rated PG-13 for language (3x). (Edited Friday 3/23: Looks like the clip was removed for terms of use violation. Glad at least one person got to see it before it was taken down.)

Thanks to Carrie at Mommy Brain for this great Heroes parody. It's helping pass the time while I wait for the next new episode. Can someone fast-forward to April 23, please?

How about this nifty little invention?

Noah and I read about Where's George? in his UMag (magazine for young account-holders of USAA Federal Savings Bank) he got in the mail earlier this week. We visited the site and entered some of our paper money into the database so we can hopefully track where it goes.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

15 seconds of fame

5 Minutes for Mom has added me to their list of mom-blogs. Go see my interview!

Spring into Reading

It's my first foray into the reading challenges at Callapidder Days!

I've never kept track of what I've read before, so this should be interesting. I'm wondering if my list is even long enough. Thankfully, there are only 3 on the list that I don't already have here at the house. I hope I am able to find them.


  • Lisey's Story, Stephen King
  • The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin
  • Fame, Karen Kingsbury
  • Forgiven, Karen Kingsbury
  • Found, Karen Kingsbury
  • Family, Karen Kingsbury
  • Forever, Karen Kingsbury
  • The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield
  • The Ultimate Gift, Jim Stovall
  • Where God Was Born, Bruce Feiler
  • Dear Church: Letters from a Disillusioned Generation, Sarah Cunningham
  • Facing Your Giants, Max Lucado
  • How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, Fee and Stuart
  • Not a Tame Lion, Bruce Edwards
With the kids:
  • The Twenty-One Balloons, William Pene du Bois
  • The Apprentice, Pilar Molina Llorente
  • The Little Riders, Margaretha Shemin
  • A Little Princess, Francis Hodgson Burnett (hoping the boys can sit for this one!)
  • And the Word Came With Power, Joanne Shetler

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Must... not... look...

I have a stack of books beckoning me, but if I dare stop and look at them (or worse, pick one up!), I will never get anything done today. I have a list a mile long of chores to accomplish (laundry, vacuuming, cleaning the kitchen, etc.), plus that little thing called "school" with the youngest 3. It is taking all my willpower to avoid taking one peek inside the first book in Karen Kingsbury's Firstborn series. I know that if I so much as touch a book that is not part of our school for today, all hope of accomplishing anything is gone. Is there a name for this affliction? (Other than downright laziness... Let's not go there.)

Looking forward to tomorrow, when I will be posting my list of books for the Spring Reading Challenge hosted by Callapidder Days. I've never participated in one of her challenges before. I've never really kept track of the books I read before, either (except for one year in elementary school; I remember we wrote the names of the books we read on little circles and built "bookworms" out of them. I had the longest worm in class; big shock (NOT).). I think this is going to be fun!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Sunday smiles

Today was a beautiful sunny day, the kind of day that can make a gal appreciate living in California even though her heart is in the Midwest. Spring has already arrived here, and we were able to spend some time outside with the kids this afternoon. We took a walk to the neighborhood park and back, staying long enough for the kids to use up some energy on the playground before the uphill walk back.

But even better than having wonderful spring weather to enjoy today, we had a great time of worship this morning as well. The past two Sundays we had visited Valley Church, but today we decided to try Crossroads Christian Church, less than 15 minutes from the house. Of all the churches we have been to near our home, this one was by far the friendliest one. We had several people go out of their way to talk to us, and by that I mean carry on a conversation, not just exchange names. I don't like to "rate" worship experiences, so I will just say that we weren't disappointed. I probably felt more at home/comfortable in this place than the other churches we've visited in the last couple of months. The kids loved their classes, as well. That's always a plus. Emily knows several teens that attend this congregation; I believe several teachers from her school are there also, including her principal. I'm not sure if that's a plus for her, but I consider it one! I am really looking forward to going back next week. Thanks to those of you who have been praying about this situation for us. I am hoping that this may be an answer to those prayers, but don't stop just yet!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Go... Stop... Go...

So the past couple of days have been rather full of activity. Friday morning I left the house with everyone asleep to take my van in to the dealer to have a couple things taken care of. I got to sit there for around an hour, waiting for the shuttle driver to arrive, then I was the last person dropped off... that got me home about 2 hours after I left.

Not long after that, Brian and I took the kids to the base duck pond to hear a history presentation by Bruce Larson. Bruce is a retired park ranger naturalist and offers a variety of classes and presentations to schools and homeschools alike. He talked about the "mountain men" (trappers) in the West and was attired in like fashion, including a belt with his firestarter kit, pouch with ammunition, powder horn, small knife, etc. He also had a large Bowie knife and talked to us about its origin. The boys were quite interested in his flintlock rifle; those of us into words and language appreciated how he explained that phrases like "lock, stock, and barrel" and "flash in the pan" both originated from this piece of equipment.

One part of the morning that held great interest was his demonstration of how to start a fire using a flint and steel. Before this, however, he asked the group to come up with the reasons being able to start a fire was so important. It didn't take long to come up with most answers (stay warm, cook, keep predators away), but a little longer for someone to think of another good reason... to get his clothes dry! (We'd been talking of trapping beavers, which would mean that the trapper may have gotten wet setting his traps.) The kids also enjoyed hearing several bird calls he had brought with him, including quail, owl, hawk, and turkey. Mr. Larson also passed on instructions on how a person should react if he were to encounter wild animals such as mountain lions or bears.

We had lunch with some other members of the group, then headed back to the duck pond to feed the ducks and visit some more. By the time we finished up there, it was time to pick up my van. When we did that, we discovered that the dealer had only received 1 of the 2 little parts they ordered, so I will have to take it back again for the second one to be installed (these are the brackets for the sunshades in the rear windows). We also found out that they aren't sure why the wireless headphones for the rear entertainment system aren't working when the kids watch a movie; they are ordering a new audio system to see if that's the problem (they've already tried replacing a cable). If that doesn't work, they'll put in a new DVD player. Am I glad we got the extended warranty!!

Brian went to Sacramento for today and tonight, so it was just me and the kids here at home. Emily wanted to go shopping, and since it wasn't my money she wanted to spend, I was glad to oblige. We managed to hit Kohl's, Old Navy, and the mall. She snagged some new tops at the first 2 places, but left the mall empty-handed. A later trip to Target yielded a new bathing suit top to match a suit we'd gotten earlier this year.

In between the running around, I managed to squeeze in some reading. Dean Koontz's Odd Thomas was an easy read. Not one of my favorites of his, but still pretty good. His writing seems different than his earlier works; I can't quite put my finger on it.

Friday, March 16, 2007

This, that and the other thing

Ok internets, you're in for a treat tonight... cuz I have some kind of stream of consciousness thing going. No telling what will come out of these fingers.

First off: American Idol. Yeah, I'm a little late weighing in with my 2 cents; what's new? So Tuesday night was sad in more ways than one. Except Sanjaya's hair. He could totally win Hair Idol (if there was one). But there was no way in Hades he could handle "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." Sorry, babe. I really was unhappy with the whole Diana Ross night. That theme seemed to tilt the favor in odds of the already favored (Melinda and Lakisha). I'm thinking there needs to be a Barry Manilow night. Truly, I am sick of hearing songs that must be belted out; I want a nice, quiet ballad. Kind of what Haley tried to do, but didn't quite achieve. If I could only have heard her. And oh... judges: I'm not sure the general public would have realized she forgot the words if you hadn't been so kind as to point it out to us! Honestly. Favorite songs of the night: "If We Hold On Together," Jordin; "Home," Melinda. As for the results: BAH. I guess there's always next week.


Has anyone heard of LibraryThing? I don't remember where I ran across this, but it looks way cool. I have talked in the past about wishing I could just catalog all of our books. It looks like LibraryThing could help with that. It can also help increase the number of books in my library by suggesting new ones based on what I already have. Just what I need!!

And speaking of suggesting new books: What Should I Read Next? will also recommend books. Doesn't look as nifty as LibraryThing, though.

What does your sleeping position say about you? I tend to sleep in the Foetus position, although not as curled up... either that or a modified version of the Freefaller, with my head on my hands. Both descriptions could probably fit me.

Can you name all 50 states in 10 minutes or less? Be ready to start typing when you click, because the clock starts counting down.

Are you a blogaholic? I scored a 52: You are a dedicated weblogger. You post frequently because you enjoy weblogging a lot, yet you still manage to have a social life. You're the best kind of weblogger. Way to go!

On a more serious note, look at what Catez Stevens has to say about Living in Community: Getting Past the Church Criticism Fad.

Last item of the night: tomorrow (March 16) is hubby's 42nd birthday. We celebrated tonight with dinner out with the kids, followed by some Coldstone Creamery goodness. He has the day off of work tomorrow (well, he doesn't have to go in to the hospital; he'll have to make some phone calls to the East Coast in the morning). Hopefully we'll do something else fun with his day. Those of y'all who have a mind to, go see him and tell him Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

She's got personality

I recently took a personality assessment based upon the DISC Model of Human Behavior. According to this assessment, my "behavioral blend" is that of a Competent Influencing Specialist. Here is the description:

C/I/S's like to do things right, impress others and stabilize situations. They are not aggressive or pushy people. They enjoy large and small crowds. They are good with people and prefer quality. They are sensitive to what others think about them and their work. They need to be more determined and dominant. They can do things well, but are poor at quick decision-making. They are capable of doing great things through people, but they need to be more self-motivated and assertive. They are stimulated by sincere, enthusiastic approval and logical explanations.

My husband says it seems pretty accurate to him. I think I can agree with the assessment as well. The interesting thing about the assessment I took is that it has a Christian basis to it and offers admonitions and challenges for each personality type to focus on... believing that one should grow spiritually to the place in her life where people really wouldn't know her personality type. For the C/I/S type, those admonishments are:

  • Guard against being judgmental
  • Avoid bitterness and resentment
  • God will meet your needs
  • Be thankful for everything
  • Let God's word affect you
  • Whatever you do, do it for God's glory

Obviously, those guidelines are appropriate for everyone, but I can see where these might be areas more challenging for one of the C/I/S personality type.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

And another book meme!

I found this at Shalee's Diner.

Here are your instructions:

  1. Bold the ones you’ve read.
  2. Italicize the ones you want to read.
  3. Cross out the ones you won’t touch with a 10 foot pole. (This could include ones you read but would never read again and would not recommend to anyone.)
  4. Underline the ones on your book shelf.
  5. Asterisk the ones you’ve never heard of. (*)
  6. Color the ones you loved.
  • The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
  • Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
  • To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
  • Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
  • The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
  • The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
  • The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
  • Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
  • Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
  • A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry) *
  • The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
  • Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
  • A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
  • A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
  • Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Rowling)
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Rowling)
  • Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald) *
  • The Stand (Stephen King)
  • Ulysses (James Joyce)
  • Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
  • The Hobbit (Tolkien)
  • The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
  • Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
  • The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold) *
  • Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
  • Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
  • The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
  • East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
  • Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
  • Dune (Frank Herbert)
  • The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
  • Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
  • 1984 (Orwell)
  • The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
  • The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett) *
  • The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
  • Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister (Gregory Maguire)
  • The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
  • The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
  • The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
  • The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini) *
  • Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
  • The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
  • Bible
  • Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
  • The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
  • Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
  • The Blue Sword (Robin Mckinley) *
  • She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
  • The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
  • A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
  • Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
  • Great Expectations (Dickens)
  • The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
  • The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence) *
  • The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
  • The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
  • The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger) *
  • Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
  • The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
  • War and Peace (Leo Tolstoy)
  • Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
  • The Hiding Place (Corrie Ten Boom)
  • The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
  • Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
  • Les Miserables (Hugo)
  • The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
  • Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
  • Love in the Time of Cholera (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
  • Shogun (James Clavell)
  • The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
  • The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
  • Redeeming Love (Francine Rivers)
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
  • The World According To Garp (John Irving)
  • The Giver (Lois Lowry)
  • Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
  • Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley) *
  • Of Mice And Men (John Steinbeck)
  • Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
  • Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind) *
  • Emma (Jane Austen)
  • Watership Down (Richard Adams)
  • Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
  • The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields) *
  • Blindness (Jose Saramago) *
  • Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer) *
  • The Talisman (Stephen King)
  • Lord of the Flies (Golding)
  • The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
  • The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
  • The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
  • The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
  • Lightning (Dean Koontz)

It looks like a lot of my unread/unheard of stuff is more modern literature... hmm, wonder why?

Monday, March 12, 2007

A little inspiration

I found this in my drafts folder from March of 2005! Since I rarely leave a post unfinished, I had to look and see why I hadn't gotten this one posted... turns out it was during a rare time of illness in my house... I had 2 kids fighting an intestinal bug at the same time, plus I had an out-of-town trip scheduled for a few days later. No wonder I couldn't finish it!

My sources tell me this was written by Bobette Bryan.

Now That's God

It was one of the hottest days of the dry season. We had not seen rain in almost a month. The crops were dying. Cows had stopped giving milk. The creeks and streams were long gone back into the earth. It was a dry season that would bankrupt several farmers before it was through.Every day, my husband and his brothers would go about the arduous process of trying to get water to the fields. Lately this process had involved taking a truck to the local water rendering plant and filling it up with water. But severe rationing had cut everyone off. If we didn’t see some rain soon...we would lose everything.

It was on this day that I learned the true lesson of sharing and witnessed the only miracle I have seen with my own eyes. I was in the kitchen making lunch for my husband and his brothers when I saw my six-year-old son, Billy, walking toward the woods. He wasn't walking with the usual carefree abandon of a youth but with a serious purpose. I could only see his back. He was obviously walking with a great effort ... trying to be as still as possible. Minutes after he disappeared into the woods, he came running out again, toward the house. I went back to making sandwiches; thinking that whatever task he had been doing was completed. Moments later, however, he was once again walking in that slow purposeful stride toward the woods. This activity went on for an hour: walking carefully to the woods, running back to the house.

Finally I couldn't take it any longer and I crept out of the house and followed him on his journey (being very careful not to be he was obviously doing important work and didn't need his Mommy checking up on him). He was cupping both hands in front of him as he walked, being very careful not to spill the water he held in them ... maybe two or three tablespoons were held in his tiny hands. I sneaked close as he went into the woods. Branches and thorns slapped his little face, but he did not try to avoid them. He had a much higher purpose. As I leaned in to spy on him, I saw the most amazing site.

Several large deer loomed in front of him. Billy walked right up to them. I almost screamed for him to get away. A huge buck with elaborate antlers was dangerously close. But the buck did not threaten him...he didn't even move as Billy knelt down. And I saw a tiny fawn lying on the ground; obviously suffering from dehydration and heat exhaustion, lift its head with great effort to lap up the water cupped in my beautiful boy's hand. When the water was gone, Billy jumped up to run back to the house and I hid behind a tree.

I followed him back to the house to a spigot to which we had shut off the water. Billy opened it all the way up and a small trickle began to creep out. He knelt there, letting the drip, drip slowly fill up his makeshift "cup," as the sun beat down on his little back. And it came clear to me: The trouble he had gotten into for playing with the hose the week before. The lecture he had received about the importance of not wasting water. The reason he didn't ask me to help him. It took almost twenty minutes for the drops to fill his hands. When he stood up and began the trek back, I was there in front of him.

His little eyes just filled with tears. "I'm not wasting," was all he said. As he began his walk, I joined him...with a small pot of water from the kitchen. I let him tend to the fawn. I stayed away. It was his job. I stood on the edge of the woods watching the most beautiful heart I have ever known working so hard to save another life. As the tears that rolled down my face began to hit the ground, other drops...and more drops...and more suddenly joined them. I looked up at the sky. It was as if God, himself, was weeping with pride.

Some will probably say that this was all just a huge coincidence. Those miracles don't really exist. That it was bound to rain sometime. And I can't argue with that... I'm not going to try. All I can say is that the rain that came that day saved our farm...just like the actions of one little boy saved another.

I don't know if anyone will read this...but I had to send it out. To honor the memory of my beautiful Billy, who was taken from me much too soon... But not before showing me the true face of God, in a little, sunburned body.


Have you ever been just sitting there and all of a sudden you feel like doing something nice for someone you care for?

THAT'S GOD! He speaks to you through the Holy Spirit

Have you ever been down and out and nobody seems to be around for you to talk to?

THAT'S GOD! He wants you to speak to Him.

Have you ever been thinking about somebody that you haven't seen in a long time and then next thing you know you see them or receive a phone call from them?

THAT'S GOD! There's no such thing as coincidence.

Have you ever received something wonderful that you didn't even ask for, like money in the mail, a debt that had mysteriously been cleared, or a coupon to a department store where you had just seen something you wanted, but couldn't afford.

THAT'S GOD. . He knows the desires of your heart. .

Have you ever been in a situation and you had no clue how it is going to get better, but now you look back on it?

THAT'S GOD! He passes us through tribulation to see a brighter day.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Thank someone in Hollywood

My jaded self is fairly convinced it all boils down to the almighty dollar, but the more optimistic side of me would like to think that Hollywood's latest entry into the family film arena occurs because there truly is a sector of Tinseltown that believes we need more wholesome family entertainment. Based on the book by Jim Stovall, The Ultimate Gift fills the bill incredibly well. With well-known names like James Garner, Lee Meriweather (okay, maybe only well-known to those of us in the 40-and-up age range.... Barnaby Jones anyone??), and Brian Dennehy, plus cute-as-a-button Abigail Breslin and eye candy Drew Fuller, the film is packed with acting talent. But we all know it takes more than talent to make a good movie. You also need a compelling story with believable characters. It's all there.

Here's the synopsis from the movie's website:

When his wealthy grandfather dies, trust fund baby Jason Stevens anticipates a big inheritance. Instead, his grandfather has devised a crash course on life with twelve tasks – or “gifts” – designed to challenge Jason in improbable ways, sending him on a journey of self-discovery and forcing him to determine what is most important in life: money or happiness.

Not having seen Little Miss Sunshine yet, this was my introduction to Abigail Breslin. I now know why she was nominated for an Academy Award. Drew Fuller, another new actor to me, brought great believability to his role as the spoiled rich kid. Watching his character change and grow throughout the film was really rather inspiring. As one person commented at the IMDB site, "It's more than a "must see" movie, it's an "I want to do better" movie. " Visit the movie's website for a host of information and activities based on the film. There are discussion guides to download, youth and family activities, movie clips to share, and more.

We can thank the folks at Fox Faith Movies for this one.

Yet another book meme!

Found at Life is Not a Cereal:

Hardback or trade paperback or mass market paperback?
If it has words on the page, I will read it.

Amazon or brick and mortar?
Both. Barnes & Noble if I've run out of books and need something now; Amazon if I have time to wait and need to save a little money.

Bookmark or dogear?
Bookmark! (Although not always a "real" bookmark... sometimes it's a receipt or business card... whatever happens to be nearby.

Alphabetize by author or alphabetize by title or random?
Now that we have the nifty floor-to-ceiling library area, I try to keep books alphabetized by author and separated into categories: Christian fiction/nonfiction, kids' general fiction/historical fiction, science, history, etc. The kids' section is rarely in order, though.

Keep, throw away, or sell?
Keep! Although I have been known to give a book away if it's not one I think I'll reread.

Keep dustjacket or toss it?
Keep... and in the case of children's books, try to remember to tape them on so they don't get lost.

Read with dustjacket or remove it?
Always's a built in bookmark.

Short story or novel?

Short story collection (short stories by the same author) or anthology (short stories by a different author?

Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket?
Definitely Harry. Cannot stand Lemony.

Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks?
When one of the kids draws blood from another. On the rare chance that doesn't happen, when I get too tired.

"It was a dark and stormy night” or “Once upon a time”?

Buy or Borrow?
Mostly buy; nobody to borrow from and the library doesn't carry much Christian literature.

New or used?
Mostly new for reasons above.

Buying choice: book reviews, recommendation or browse?
All 3. If a book comes recommended, I'll often check reviews. Just like with movie reviews, I can't always depend on the opinions of the professionals, so recommendations generally hold more sway.

Standalone or series?
Both. I enjoy continuing stories, but standalones are great because you don't have to worry about missing anything.

Favorite series?
Karen Kingsbury's 911 Series.

Favorite books read last year?
911 Series, Searching for God Knows What, And the Shofar Blew

Favorite books of all time?
Christian Lit: Peculiar People by Richard Soule, The Scarlet Thread
Christian Growth: Velvet Elvis
Chick Lit: The Yada Yada Prayer Group
For Fun: Lightning by Dean Koontz
Historical: Shogun by James Clavell
The Literature of Place: not even sure what that means!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Party Time!

(I'm sticking this post at the top until party week is over... scroll down for new posts!)

It's a week of partying as I jump in and join the Ultimate Blog Party hosted by the gals at 5 minutes for Mom. Susan and Janice have invited everyone to stop by and get to know each other, and you're invited too... So grab a diet Mountain Dew and mingle with the others! Directions for how to join the party can be found by clicking the links or the graphic in my sidebar (doesn't it look like that graphic was just made for my place?? It goes so well!)

If this is your first visit here, I'll give you the quick 411 on me. I'm Karen.... mom to 4 kids and wife to a very busy US Air Force nurse anesthetist. We're on the last leg of his military career, stationed in northern CA for the next 3 years (we've been here almost 2 already). This has been our toughest move yet, as we are midwesterners; culture shock hit us smack dab in the face and I'm still working to clean it off! We are also homeschoolers; my 3 youngest are at home with me, while my oldest began her freshman year at a local Christian school this year. When I'm not being Mom or teacher, I like to spend my time reading, doing jigsaw puzzles, watching movies/TV, or hanging out with cool people like you online. Thanks for stopping in!!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Book and Movie Meme

Seen at Steph's:

Put an asterisk next to all those books whose movies you have seen. Bold the ones you’ve read.

1. Heidi (Johanna Spyri) *
2. Pride and Predjudice (Austen)*
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)*
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)*
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)*
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)*
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)*
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)*
9. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)*
10. Anne of Avonlea (L.M. Montgomery)*
11.The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
12. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)*
13. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
14. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)*
15. Chariots of Fire (Clarence E. Macartney)*
16. 1984 (Orwell)
17. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)*
18. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
19. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
20. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
21. Quo Vadis (Sienkiewicz)
22. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Victor Hugo)*
23. The Robe (Douglas)
24. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
25. The Story of A Soul (St. Therese)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

More stuff on my mind

I read a great post over at today's lessons this week...

Today's sermon on healthy communication was moderately interesting to me. While my communication with others is generally pretty productive, there are a few people in my life with whom I don't seem to be able to communicate well at all.

It's their fault, of course.

When the pastor started talking about the importance of having a good attitude about communication, I kind of zoned out. Some of his comments applied to a few very limited areas of my life, to certain people with whom I often disagree (it applied to them more than to me, of course), but generally I felt that he wasn't giving me any new tips when he talked about sarcasm, anger and flippancy.

She went on to talk about her family's experience after the sermon, at a local pizza restaurant. I would venture to guess that most of us have had similar experiences with vituperative restaurant managers in seemingly perpetual foul moods, heaping abuse on employees and patrons alike. But how often are we real with ourselves and have to admit that we are no different than that person?

It was then that I realized what I so hated about this woman.

She reminded me of me.

It's funny how I can go to church on Sunday morning with my heart prepared to be taught, completely open to being renewed, be presented with just the message I needed to hear, and still walk away with nothing.

Yet, when my guard is down, when I'm just there for the food, a nasty pizza shop manager and a tearful server can teach me more about myself than a month of sermons.

Life can be so strange, can't it?

You really must read the whole thing.


Life goes on as usual here. Halle and Noah are adapting well to their orthodontia. Every night, Halle comes to me for me to crank her palate expander for her. She goes back for a check in a little over a week. Noah's braces probably gave him a little more trouble painwise than Halle's expander, but they seemed to become less troublesome after 3 days or so. He doesn't have another check until near the end of the month. They have already noticeably worked to move one of his top teeth down so that it will be even with the rest. There is a good chance it will be in place by the end of the month if it keeps moving as it has been. Then he'll be able to start wearing the headgear.

Friday night we will be traveling to Sacramento to see the ACSI Musicale Command Performance. Emily's choir will be participating in this festival during the day on both Thursday and Friday, and Emily has a solo. I am really looking forward to hearing her!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

And how was *your* Saturday evening?

Meeting Mark

It was an excellent concert.... Big Daddy Weave rocked the house, and Mark sang all his old stuff and several new ones. One of the best parts of the night was when he had everyone sing It Is Well With My Soul a cappella. Wish some of you could have been there to share it with us!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Saturday Silly

Found over at It Coulda Been Worse, the following letter had me laughing so hard I almost needed a different P&G product:


Dear Mr. Thatcher,

I have been a loyal user of your Always maxi pads for over 20 years, and I appreciate many of their features. Why, without the LeakGuard Core ™ or Dri-Weave(tm) absorbency, I’d probably never go horseback riding or salsa dancing, and I’d certainly steer clear of running up and down the beach in tight, white shorts. But my favorite feature has to be your revolutionary Flexi-Wings. Kudos on being the only company smart enough to realize how crucial it is that maxi pads be aerodynamic.

I can’t tell you how safe and secure I feel each month knowing there’s a little F-16 in my pants. Have you ever had a menstrual period, Mr. Thatcher? Ever suffered from “the curse”? I’m guessing you haven’t. Well, my “time of the month” is starting right now. As I type, I can already feel hormonal forces violently surging through my body. Just a few minutes from now, my body will adjust and I’ll be transformed into what my husband likes to call “an inbred hillbilly with knife skills.” Isn’t the human body amazing? As brand manager in the feminine-hygiene division, you’ve no doubt seen quite a bit of research on what exactly happens during your customers’ monthly visits from Aunt Flo.

Therefore, you must know about the bloating, puffiness, and cramping we endure, and about our intense mood swings, crying jags, and out-of-control behavior. You surely realize it’s a tough time for most women. In fact, only last week, my friend Jennifer fought the violent urge to shove her boyfriend’s testicles into a George Foreman Grill just because he told her he thought Grey’s Anatomy was written by drunken chimps. Crazy! The point is, sir, you of all people must realize that America is just crawling with homicidal maniacs in capri pants.

Which brings me to the reason for my letter. Last month, while in the throes of cramping so painful I wanted to reach inside my body and yank out my uterus, I opened an Always maxi pad, and there, printed on the adhesive backing, were these words: “Have a Happy Period.”

Are you kidding me? What I mean is, does any part of your tiny middle-manager brain really think happiness - actual smiling, laughing happiness - is possible during a menstrual period? Did anything mentioned above sound the least bit pleasurable? Well, did it, James? FYI, unless you’re some kind of sick S&M freak girl, there will never be anything “happy” about a day in which you have to jack yourself up on Motrin and KahlĂșa and lock yourself in your house just so you don’t march down to the local Walgreens armed with a hunting rifle and a sketchy plan to end your life in a blaze of glory.

For the love of God, pull your head out, man. If you just have to slap a moronic message on a maxi pad, wouldn’t it make more sense to say something that’s actually pertinent, like “Put Down the Hammer” or “Vehicular Manslaughter Is Wrong”? Or are you just picking on us?

Sir, please inform your accounting department that, effective immediately, there will be an $8 drop in monthly profits, for I have chosen to take my maxi-pad business elsewhere. And though I will certainly miss your Flexi-Wings, I will not for one minute miss your brand of condescending BS. And that’s a promise I will keep - Always.

Best Regards,

Wendi Aarons

Hope that gave you a good chuckle, too.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Stuff on my mind

So much going on here and so little time to write it... I've got 30 minutes before I have to take Emily to school and will try to get it done by then.

I'll let you head over to my hubby's place to hear his news. It is a mixed blessing, because it will mean more TDYs (that's trips out of town for you non-military folk), maybe 6 more a year. Just what I've always wanted; 6 more weeks out of the year as a single mom. Well, hopefully by the time this calendar year is over, we'll have the funds to maybe accompany him on one... the kids have always wanted to see San Antonio, and Washington, DC would make a great field trip as well.

Emily let a friend at school use her cell phone earlier this week (use as in take it and keep it for a period). When she got it back, it wasn't working. Turns out her friend got it wet. We don't know how and she isn't saying. She hasn't even apologized to her. Thankfully Brian thought to take out insurance on this phone, so a replacement is supposed to arrive today. Emily is splitting the $50 deductible with him. I don't think she'll be letting her phone out of her sight again.

I found a neat Countdown Clock you can add to your sidebar. Wish I had something to countdown to... Oh wait!! I kinda do... maybe I'll add one later.

Another widget for your blog: MeeVee. Share what you're watching. It's too big for my sidebar, or I'd put one on here.

Make a customized Starbucks graphic for your computer. What's your drink? Mine's a grande peppermint nonfat, no whipped cream hot chocolate.

Read in World magazine this week:

It's a good thing Rebecca Johnson wasn't wearing a skirt. The 24-year-old's baby came so quickly, she didn't even have time to make it into the hospital in Connellsville, Pa. Instead, she told a reporter for the Daily Courier, "I didn't know what happened until he was in my pant leg." Despite being born down his mom's pants, doctors said the 5-pound, 15-ounce baby was healthy.

Brian and I are headed to see Mark Schultz and Big Daddy Weave in concert tomorrow night. It's been a long time since we've been to a concert, so we're looking forward to it. We saw Big Daddy Weave back in Omaha about 3 years or so ago, but this will be our first Mark Schultz concert. Hey Jim... we'll be thinking about you!

That's all the news for now!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Braces and books

The kids did great today at the orthodontist. Halle was a trooper getting her palate expander on; she hasn't complained at all. Noah did not actually get his headgear today, but the orthodontist did put braces on some of his top front teeth (I can't remember now exactly how many... seems like 6.). If his teeth shift enough in the next 4 weeks, he'll get the headgear then. Basically we are waiting to get them aligned before starting that treatment. As far as Halle's expander, I get to give it a little "crank" every night before bedtime. She'll go back in 2 weeks to see how that is coming along. Once the ortho is happy with the width of her palate, she'll get her braces.

I went to a homeschool group meeting tonight. The agenda for this evening was to sell/swap curriculum. I had a suitcase full of stuff to dispose of and came home with almost all of it. Seems like the other ladies there all were using the same stuff I was! I did find a couple of things I could use... and I got to have some adult conversation, so it was a good use of my time.

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