Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Magic Room

As young girls, we often dream about romance and our wedding day.
We buy into the Disney Dream, of princes riding up on white horses to rescue us from our ordinary lives.

But that's not usually how things turn out.
These days we have to be our own prince...
work hard to buy our own white horse and rescue ourselves.

And, I have to admit, I'd rather rescue myself than have someone else do it for me.

I just finished reading The Magic Room by Jeffrey Zaslow for the BlogHer Book Club.

It focuses on the a 7-generation Bridal store in Fowler, Michigan, stories about the family who has run it and the brides who buy their dresses there.

The stories were overwhelming.
many different brides and different issues.
But overall it touched on the hope that women have about their weddings
and the dreams parents and grandparents have for their daughters and granddaughters on their wedding day...
and how picking out the dress plays such a huge part of that. 

I married my high school sweetheart at age 19, pregnant and rushed,
but my wedding was magical and wonderful.

Now I'm 34, and I've grown up.
I have two wonderful boys, and I'm separated from my husband. 

I'm a bit bitter about marriage, so reading this book was emotional for me.
I found myself cynical about the love stories.
But, then there's the lining of hope that resides around the edges of this story...and I can't help but feel it.

Hope it such an important aspect in our lives. As is love.
Some of us get it wrong at first.
But that doesn't mean it doesn't exist, right?

Join our discussion about weddings, love and marriage over on BlogHer Book Club.

I was compensated for this BlogHer Book Club review but all opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Reading Challenge


With the New Year comes changes and resolutions...
getting back into shape, 
taking on new projects, 
making ourselves better people

I'm on board with all of these! It's a good time to make changes.
And now I have a new resolution that someone recently shared with me.  
And, that's the joy of taking on a reading challenges.

I'm so excited by this idea! 
Here's the original novel challenge article from SassyMonkey at BlogHer that peaked my excitement.

There are so many options you can choose:

the food-lit challenge
the Jane Austen challenge
the Romance novel challenge
the short story challenge
the deepen your faith challenge
the finish that series challenge
the audio book challenge
3360 minutes reading challenge - read to your child at least 10 minutes every day
the Out Do Yourself challenge - read more books this calendar year than last year

Obviously you can combine challenges in some cases.  
Or you can make up your own!
There is a list of challenges on the Novel Challenge website.

A Novel Challenge

This is the first year I've made a spreadsheet 
and kept track of how many books (and which ones) I read. 
I think I'm at just under 100 books for 2011.
I'm trying to decide which challenges I want to take on...
but I'm leaning towards the Jane Austen one, 
because I don't think I've ever read all her books...
and a Sherlock Holmes one, 
because I've NEVER read Sherlock Holmes!!

Which one will you take on?

"Reading means growth.  Reading is fundamental.  Reading and expanding knowledge are not only important but they nearly essential to long term success in life."


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The PEN Ready Project from Olympus

My first camera was an Olympus 35mm that my mother gave to me when I was in high school.

I was taking a photography class my freshman year,
back when we had to load our own film 
and use dark rooms and chemicals to process.

One of our first field trips was to a junkyard.
At first I was horrified by a photography assignment there...
but once you start looking at things through a camera lens,
you won't believe what you'll find.

It was magical.

Photography is still magical to me today,
almost more so now that we have digital cameras.

To show how easy it is for everyday people to take amazing pictures
Olympus gave over 1,000 people a new Olympus PEN® E-PM1. 

It's all part of The PEN Ready Project—more than 1,000 cameras, over 1,000 people, 6 cities.  
To see what they shot, go to


This post is sponsored by Olumpus, but my words, of course, are always my own.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Just around the corner


I love this time of year. 
The leaves falling, the vibrant colors. 
Winter blustering in slowly. 

I'm looking forward to the next few days, 
where I can visit with my sister who's in town visiting, 
spend more time with my boys, 
enjoy quality moments my parents and grandmother. 

What are you looking forward to?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Secret to Morning Inspiration: Lego Star Wars?

This is the first ten days worth of my son's Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar.
He LOVES it.

Every morning, he pops out of bed and goes to make his Star Wars Lego kit for the day.
BEST Advent Calendar EVER.

However, two days ago, he popped out of bed as usual...and grabbed some paper and wrote down a poem.

A poem.

A poem he took to school and made the equivalent of an A+ on!!

If only I could pop out of bed with such energy, fizzing thoughts and inspiration.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

T-Mobile Christmas Flash Mob

These holiday shoppers had NO IDEA of the holiday surprise they were about to receive. T-Mobile pulled off a great performance/flash mob.


Really touching. I'd actually go to the mall if I thought I might see this!!

This post is sponsored by T-Mobile.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

She's a lover, not a fighter

I laid down in front of Miss Annie to get a photo from her level.

She may not be able to speak to us, but she says a lot with her eyes.

She lets us know when she urgently needs to go outside to the bathroom.
Or if she's hungry.
Or if she's just begging for people food from our plates.

Or if she just needs love.

She's such a sweetie.  A lover, not a fighter.  

Friday, December 9, 2011

Teenage Psychological Warfare

If you have a teenager in your life, then you know how they use psychological warfare in their combat exercises.

My 14-year-old has had two surgeries this fall.  One for his appendix and the other for a knee injury from football.  This has led to him believing that we should all wait on  him...and serve him...and bring him everything he desires.

Granted, for a short period, post-op, he needed this extra catering to his every whim...but that period is over.

And now, when I ask him to feed the dog, he tells me his knee is hurting.
When I ask him to take his dishes to the kitchen...his knee is hurting.
When I ask him to clean up his room...his knee is hurting.

But, it doesn't hurt when he plays basketball.
Or when he hops up to grab his phone.

I'm sensing a theme.

Oh, also, his latest response when I actually refuse to do something for him?

"Mama, can you pick up a steak tonight? I need meat."
"Donny, I'm not going to pick up pizza for dinner tonight."
"You don't love me anymore."

That, my friends, is teenage psychological warfare.

Have you experience this widely contagious phenomenon plaguing our nation's teenagers?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Lake of Dreams

What would you do if you discovered that your family history had an unknown story? 
One that changed much of what you believed about your family? 
Would you explore it, or would you let it be? 

In Kim Edwards' Lake of Dreams, the main character, 
searches to answer a family mystery 
while also trying to decide what to do with her life. 
The author uses nature effortlessly in all her settings, 
and the history is rich with details. 

The family secret drives Lake of Dreams, 
a puzzle that goes back generations 
and intertwines with the 1910 appearance of Halley’s comet, 
the suffragist movement in upstate New York, 
and the burgeoning early 20th-century industry in the Finger Lakes region. 

I loved the symbolism built into the earthquakes in Japan and the study of water.  
The glass making and the lock picking.  

There were so many wonderful aspects to this book, that I read it so quickly...
but for some reason was left with a sense of dissatisfaction when it was complete. 
I'm not sure why.  
But, I'd recommend it as a good read.

This book made me want to go sit down with my grandmother and listen to her memories. 
To get them down and preserve them for future generations. 
I never make the time to do that, and I really want to!

Join in on our discussion about Lake of Dreams over on BlogHer Book Club!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Once Upon A Family

Today I attended a blogger luncheon hosted by Once Upon A Family

Who are they? Their website said that they are a company that makes products that to add joy, closeness and meaning to every family's story.  

And it's true. I had a chance to check out some of their stuff, and I was impressed!

They had holiday themed items, like a Santa Pillow, to help celebrate traditions.
To treasure the passing on of life's lessons, they had things like value lessons box
And, they had products like the love notes box to help build and maintain loving relationships.

They fed us lunch. Yum!

They sent us home with goody bags that had the Santa Pillow, a box of holiday cards and a box of conversation starter cards that I can't wait to open!

If you have a minute or need some great gift ideas, check out the Once Upon a Family online store
Which one of their products could you see yourself using?

I was not paid to write this post about Once Upon a Family. They did treat me to lunch and gave me some swag, but all opinions here are definitely my own. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Math Wizard

Tonight was Math Night at the elementary school.

And, so, even though I'd been up since 5am, driven two hours in commute to and from work and worked a full day, I made sure we went to Math Night.

Math is a noble creature.
It deserves its own night of celebration.

I used to like math.
I was even kind of good at it.

My boys, they both love math.
And at Math Night you get to play games, earn star stickers and collect a prize and a bag of popcorn at the end.

Here's Remy playing a few math games tonight.

And he even got his older brother to play a few games.

And then, a genuine, Math Wizard snuck up on them. 

Unfortuneately, the popcorn burned and set off all the extremely loud fire alarm and flashing lights, causing our well-trained children to file outside immediately...

We rocked Math Night.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Duct Taped Weaponry

I think the shiny silver and gold duct tape was originally 
to keep the gun from falling apart...

and then progressed into a fashion statement.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


My broken vacuum cleaner apparently uses belts that are NOT easy to find. Anywhere.
The high school off-season football program may take up more time than actual football did.
This means getting my son to the high school before 6:30am every morning because no bus will get him there in time.
This also means he may not be able to take the bus after school due to weight lifting.
And I'm trying to figure out how to get him home if he can't take the bus.
Which makes me angry that their dad doesn't live close enough to help with the daily parenting.

Christmas is now less than a month away, and I have no idea how I'm going to afford it.
Life is so complicated.

But, I'm thankful for the roof over my head,
the food on my table,
the car that transports me,
my job that supports me,
my family who loves me,
and my amazing children.

Thank you for listening. I just needed to vent.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


I took my dog on a walk this morning and admired the changing colors on our trees.
This is my favorite time of year.

This Thanksgiving weekend has been a very calm and relaxing holiday.
With my older son recovering from knee surgery...and my younger son out of town with his father...
it's been quiet and restful.

I've had time to make pancake breakfasts for my older son and his friends.
I've been able to walk the dog in the morning.
I've been able to lie on the couch and read all day.

It's been wonderful, calm & restful, and for that I'm very thankful. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Sea Change

People write for so many different reasons.

I write to express my creativity and have fun.
I write to tell a story.
I write for therapy.

I just finished reading a novel called Sea Change by Jeremy Page for BlogHer Book Club.
It's about a man who experiences a terrible tragedy and then spends five years on a boat, writing an alternate ending to his life.

He literally journals how he thought his life would continue on as if the tragedy had never occurred.

It was fascinating...and sad.
I can't imagine his mental state to carry on like that.
To live in almost complete isolation on his boat.
And to live in a made up world most of the time.

But, it was an intriguing read, and the writing was beautiful.
It's not a book I would have picked up to read on my own, that's part of what I love about the BlogHer Book's discovering writing gems that I might never have found on my own.

Join in on our discussion about Sea Change over at BlogHer Books!

I was compensated for this BlogHer Book Club review but all opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Not the Usual Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving has been a little different.
My son and my mother had surgery two days ago, so they're both recouperating.

We ended up ordering Thanksgiving meal, instead of cooking, to make things easier this year.

And while, the meal was good, it wasn't the same.
The process of cooking, the usual smells, the coming together in preparation....

that was all missing.

But, I'm thankful.

Thankful my mom and son are healing so well.
Thankful we were able to make the holiday a little easier this year.
I'm thankful I was able to spend time with my family.

And at the end of the meal, we played a rousing game of Blokus.
4 generations of family.

I'm thankful for that and so much more.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

An Impressive Display of Holiday Cheer

I saw this in my grocery store today.

A snowman made out of Coca-Cola 12 packs!

Impressive and creative!!

Seen any cool holiday decorations yet?
And, yes, I'm one of those people who prefers you not put out Christmas decorations 
until Thanksgiving is over. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Knee Surgery & Chicken and Dumplings

The day started with my 14-year-old having knee surgery 
due to a lateral meniscus tear from playing football.

They shaved his knee and then let me initial it...
you know, to be sure I had their permission.  
(OK, not really, it's to verify they are operating on the correct knee.)  

Then the surgeon showed up and wrote "YES" in big letters on the same knee...
and wrote "NOT" on the other knee.

He knew what he was doing.

And the surgery went well.

And now my son is home.

My grandmother has dropped off his favorite meal.
She made him chicken and dumplings.

And all is right with the world again.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Eve of Tomorrow

Tonight there is rain, thunder and lightning.
Tonight I crawl into bed, tired, eyes itchy, head hurting.
Tonight my mind races, hoping I have done everything in preparation for tomorrow.

Phones are charging.
Game devices are charging.
Kindle is charging.
Books are packed.
Laptop in its case, so I can work remotely.

Because tomorrow, first thing, I have two family members scheduled for surgery.
And that, my friends, makes for a long and stressful day.

The surgeries aren't too serious or life threatening, but they aren't a walk in the park either.
And so as I climb into bed, into darkness with thunder in the background, I can't help but worry.
And hope we're all prepared. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Reason #32 Why I Love the Weekend

It's a chance to take Annie in the car with me to run errands.
(She LOVES the car!)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Reason #23 Why I love the Weekend

I have time to make my boys pancakes.

What do you have time to do on the weekends?

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Zombie Apocalypse Drill

My son's high school had a Zombie Apocalypse Drill yesterday. 

They used the Theater Department as the Zombies and the victims.
The used the EMT Department (high schoolers training to be EMTs) to assess the victims
and they used the Criminal Justice Department to arrest and do some crime scene investigation.

That's a creative learning drill!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Worrying Never Ends

When you become a parent, you become skilled at the Art of Worrying.

You worry whether you're eating the right things 
caring for the baby growing inside you.
You worry the baby is getting enough to eat 
and worry why he's crying when he's a newborn.
You worry he's growing and progressing at a normal rate 
as he becomes a toddler.

You worry he will adjust to school, that he'll make friends and do well.
The worrying never ends.

You worry about new things every year.

My first born son is just months away from turning 15 years old...
and my new worry?


He'll start learning to drive.

Heaven help me.  
The worrying never ends.

What are you current worries?