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Monday, January 31, 2011

Frost for the frost

I'm in a blah mood right now, and with the storm blowing around us and plummeting temperatures, I thought of one of my favorite poems by Robert Frost. I memorized it for class in third grade, and it's been a trusted companion ever since.

So, since my own words fail me, here are some for you to enjoy. Feel free to share some of your faves in the comments below.

Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening
by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Free Book Friday: The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn by Liz Johnson

Ha! I actually read this one and thought it was fantastic. Maybe that's how I ended up with two copies.

For those of you new to this little game, as part of my "organize Danica's library" project, I've been giving away my duplicate books. Every Friday, you get to be the recipient of my organizational efforts. And no, I'm not coming to your house to do yours. I'm still not done with mine. *sigh*

So enjoy, have a good weekend, and if Maury or Jerry call, well... hey, I say, do it! And then take notes to tell me all about it, because maybe it would make for a good book.

To enter the drawing, leave a comment, and I'll pick a winner on Monday.

Here's a little more info on the book:
Myles Parsons is just another inmate in Kenzie Thorn's GED course...until his abduction plan succeeds. Terrified, Kenzie doesn't want to believe his explanation. That he's Myles Borden, FBI agent-- placed under cover because someone wants her dead.

Now that Myles has got her out of harm's way, his plans start to fall apart. He attempts to take Kenzie to a safe house--but the stubborn woman won't go! He struggles to protect her even as she takes care of him. He tries to keep his distance...and finds himself falling in love.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Who's your baby daddy?

I was at the gym the other day and I had forgotten to charge my iPod, so I was at the mercy of the gym entertainment system. Namely, the Maury show. I must just choose the wrong times to go to the gym, because every time I'm there, either Maury or Jerry Springer is on. And it's always the same topic- determining if man A, B, C, or however many guys is the father of some poor innocent baby.

My first thought at watching the drama was, "between Maury and Jerry, haven't we figured out the paternity of every baby in America by now?"

I honestly don't understand our fascination with people going on television to air the drama of the baby mama. Because it's always the same- name calling, accusations, people acting like total jerks, and then the big reveal. Some days, the man is triumphant at his vindication, other days, the woman gets to revel in the knowledge that she knew the daddy all along.

Which is my question... why would someone be willing to go on these shows? I'd like to think that if the father of my children ever denied it, there'd be no going on television to prove it. I'd do it the old fashioned way- court. Where I'd prove paternity and get enough child support from the jerk that he'd think twice about where he put it in the future. But maybe that's just me. I guess I do enough humiliating things on my own that I don't need to do it on live TV.

The more I thought about this, the more it bothered me. Do these women have such low self esteem that they think these televised revelations will somehow make their lives better? And why are they so desperate for love that they would tearfully tell a man that all she wants is to be a family with him again even though he's just sat there and told everyone in the audience, live and at home, that he's been cheating and has no intention of stopping? I feel bad for these women. Not that I'm the poster child of high self esteem, on the contrary, I'm on the low end of the scale myself. How low do you have to get to want to be treated like this so publicly?

Then it occurred to me that for a lot of these people, this is their one chance to be SEEN. For their stories to be told, and for those fifteen minutes, their stories to MATTER.

I have to wonder, though, what happens when they go home. Is anything changed? Sure, they know the identity of kids' father, but is that knowledge enough? Are they able to take that knowledge and move forward with their lives and make something good and positive with it?

I don't know the answer.

But what I do know is that the sense of emptiness and desperation that makes people want to go on a television show to air their dirty laundry isn't going to go away just because they get their appearance. And it makes me sad. Because they fail to realize that there is a God who SEES them and who says that they MATTER.

And as much as I thought when I got the idea to write a funny article about how ridiculous it is that all these people are STILL going on these shows to prove paternity. And that we're still watching them. But the more I think about it, the more I realize it's not funny at all.

The truth is, as easy as it is to point at these people and say, "wow, they *so* have it wrong," a lot of us miss the boat too. We want to be seen, and we want to matter, and we try to meet those needs through all sorts of crazy ways other than the only way it will ever work.

God sees us. We matter to Him. Why is it so hard for us all to live that out?

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Highly Productive Weekend

I recently read something somewhere about how we need to take more time to relax and enjoy doing things without purpose. To just be. Well, this weekend was not one of those times. Although strangely, I feel more refreshed and happier had I spent the weekend doing nothing.

On my list of accomplishments:
1. Did laundry (not all of it, but I did wash two loads that I've been dreading).
2. Found the source of the stench in the basement (someone missed the toilet when puking and it dried up in the carpet) and cleaned it.
3. Cleared off a shelf in my closet, then moved the sweaters from my sweater drawer to the shelf and sorted my pjs from the pj drawer into two drawers. Yes, I have that many pjs. What can I say? I love pjs.
4. Cleaned all four of our bathrooms. You think you want multiple bathrooms until you have to clean all four.
5. Drove around looking at houses with family to inspire us for the great "get a new house" project.
6. Dusted the living room, family room and dining room.
7. Rearranged my china cabinet to make room for my new tea set.
8. Got rid of enough stuff to fill a whole box for Goodwill and a whole big can of trash.
9. Unpacked two big boxes of toys we'd taken away from the kids and put away all the toys (well, I supervised the kids doing it).
10. Re-organized the game closet.
11. Decided to paint the mantle in the family room to match the living room. Began the process by texturing the mantle. Will do primer, base coat, and other coats once it's dry.
12. Took the joint compound used to texture the mantle and used it to fill in the chipped corners on all of our walls.
13. Washed the outside of the washer and dryer (they were gross).
14. Starting cleaning off the top of the refrigerator.
15. Filed the past month's bills.
16. Upgraded Quickbooks (or Quicken, I forget which one I have).
17. Bought new items needed for the house.
18. Had a quality evening of family entertainment, then date night movie with hubby.
19. Started organizing paperwork for taxes.
20. Started taxes.

I think I just might be addicted to all this accomplishment stuff. I went to bed last night so jazzed about what I'd gotten done and excited about all the other things I want to do, and I couldn't sleep! I finally fell asleep sometime after 2:30. So I'm really tired. But super duper excited about all this organization and how great everything looks!

And seriously, once I get a nap in, I'm going to find another project to tackle. I have a list!!

What about you? How'd you spend your weekend? What do you do with your bursts of productivity?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Free book Friday: Dreamers by Angela Hunt

In a previous post, I talked about the dream come true of having library cataloging software. I only have 2 1/2 shelves done so far, but I am giddy with happiness over it. In preparation for my cataloging, I did some organization and I now have my books in an arrangement that makes me happy every time I see it. The only thing that would make me happier is to have them all in ABC and series order, but I suppose that's a little too OCD when I have somewhere around 6,000 books. Although... if any budding library majors need to take on the project for one of your classes, mi library es su library. :)

As part of this project (and part of why I wanted to do it), I am finding zillions of duplicates. And *cough* triplicates. I might admit to having four copies of a book, but that would just be ridiculous, now wouldn't it?

I've already mailed a box o'books to a friend, and have two more boxes ready to go to my aunts, fellow voracious readers that they are (see! I come by it honestly!), but I still have a stack or so of books leftover. So I'm passing on this gift to my blog readers. Now, these are not new releases, since I will hopefully never again buy a duplicate. But... they're still great books looking for a good home. Every Friday (as long as I can remember), until I run out of books, I'm giving away a book.

Today's book is Dreamers by Angela Hunt.

Sadly, I haven't read this one yet, but it sounds amazing, which is why I ended up with two copies. Angie is a terrific author, a great teacher, and someone I respect a great deal. Probably another reason I bought two copies. I have not read a book by Angela Hunt that I haven't liked, so I would still recommend it.

Here's a little about the book:
In the land of Pharaoh, Tuya has always been a slave. As a little girl, she was sold as a playmate to a wealthy child who became her best friend. But as she approaches womanhood, beautiful Tuya is betrayed and cast out. Now she belongs to Potiphar, captain of Pharaoh's guard. Yet her heart is owned by handsome Joseph, sold into slavery by his own brothers. Proud, arrogant Joseph dreams of freedom, of his own household, of Tuya as his queen. Shared dreams will sustain Joseph and Tuya through the deepest of sorrows and most unbearable of separations…but is it God's will to make the dream their destiny?

If you're not lucky enough to win the book, you can buy it here or at any of your other favorite retailers.

To enter, all you need to do is comment. I'll draw a winner on Monday.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The unTwitterable funny kid comment- sort of

The funny stuff my kids say tend to be Tweeted at an alarming rate. I just can't help myself. However, the other day, my kiddo said something I wanted to Tweet SO BAD, but couldn't, because I needed to give proper disclaimers.

My 10yo has a new curse word: Obama.

We were shopping, and chattering about different things, when out of the blue, she says, "Obama," just like you'd mutter a swear word. I asked her what that was about, and so she says, "well, Mom, Obama's pretty much screwed up this country, and he's ruining my chance of having a fun summer vacation, so that's the worst word I can think of."

And maybe I shouldn't, but I think it's funny that in today's world, my 10yo thinks that Obama is a worse word than say, the "f" word. Though I'm not sure if she knows what the "f" word is. She still thinks stupid is a swear word.

Now, before you think that I'm the kind of parent who shoves my politics down my kids' throats, please understand. We don't talk politics at our house. Mostly because I have family members who are aggressively passionate on both sides of the spectrum, and hubby and I have learned to just keep our mouths shut. When my kids asked who I voted for, the answer was, "none of your business." To be honest, I don't want to talk politics with my kids because those are the questions I don't know how to answer. There's such a disparity between reality and what I believe ideally that it isn't going to be an easy discussion. Nor one that gives my kids any answers. After all, I don't have any myself.

And no, I won't go further than that because then, I will get political, and that will get messy, and I don't want to get messy, k?

But here's the thing... as hilarious as I think it is that my 10yo says "Obama" is a swear word, many of my friends would be offended because they still think Obama is the best thing to happen to America since indoor plumbing. The other half of my friends would be having a party to show how even 10yo girls think Obama is the anti-Christ. And you know, it's neither. It's just a funny thing my kid said.

I hate that we have to be so polarized as a nation and that we can't talk about the things that matter to us without having to toss around the D word and the R word like racial slurs. Though it is still pretty funny that my daughter turned Obama into a swear word.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The unquantifiable dream

My good friend, Kay Day, in one of her comments the other day reminded me of those dreams we can't quantify or set a date to. Sometimes, the dreams in our hearts are beyond our control.

For example, that ever-distant book contract. I've had so many "sure things" not sell and missed so many goals for when it would happen that I no longer have any expectation as to when it will happen. If you'd have told me when I started writing that I would still not have a contract on a full-length novel in 2011, I think you'd have needed to give me some mega motivation to even start.

But it's beyond my control. I have a fantastic agent, supportive friends, and despite the years of rejections, I continue to write.

However, there are things I can control. I can control whether or not I write. I can control how much I write. I can control what I do to improve my writing craft. I can control how often I submit.

And so, even though I can't say when I will get that elusive contract, I can say what I will do to get there.

Until then, I'm going to keep working, keep writing, keep praying (PLEASE GOD!!!), and do everything that is in my power to get there. Though seriously, I'm not sure I can take another ten years of this. Just sayin'.

What else can we do in the pursuit of a dream beyond our control?

Friday, January 14, 2011

The nitty gritty of planning your dream

In my last post, I talked about making plans for the dream. Today, because I'm definitely in Type-A mode, I'm actually working on those plans. I thought it would be helpful for others to see my process. And, if you have anything to contribute, I'd love to hear it.

At this point, the house plan is going to mean making a list of what we need to do to the house to sell it, figure out how much it will cost, and how long it will take, and plan accordingly. Which sounds daunting, and for us, lots of steps, so I'm going to break down a different goal.

Another goal I have is that I'd like to take a nice family vacation. Which is easier to plan. So for illustration's sake, here's what I'm going to do:
1. Decide where to go. (I'd like to do a family cruise, but have to discuss with hubby.)
2. Find out how much it will cost. The one I priced that sounds fun is $2500, plus I estimate about $800 for airfare. Add in some spending money at about $500, and just to make it a round number, I'll call it $4000.
3. Now I've got to figure out how to get $4000. If I save $100/month, we can do the trip in 40 months, just over 3 years.

Time to start saving!!

What about you? Do you have a goal that you can break down to make a reality? What's your plan of attack?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Making plans for the dream

In just a couple of days, we have gone from "it would be nice if someday..." mode to actually seeing one of our dreams as being realistic. I recently talked about the change in our dreams for our house.

So here's the crazy thing. The house down the street is for sale. It's identical to ours, and currently priced at below appraisal value. Which has had me nervous for a while. If it sells at asking price, that drops the value of MY house by $35K. Yeah, you can go vomit now. That's how I've been feeling since it went on the market a few months ago.

Anyway, my weird obsessive thing that I do is occasionally check the online listing to see what it's priced at and if it's been reduced. I also scrutinize every vehicle driving by in hopes that someone is looking at that house. So far, no one has even gone to SEE it!

The other day, when I was looking at the listings, trying to find it, I saw an ad for another house for sale. Remember the whole, buy a house where we can have a horse deal? Well... not only does this house fit the bill, but it's in a location hubby and I have always dreamed of living. We just never could afford it. This particular house, along with 2 or 3 others, are actually listed at the same price as our house would be.

The dream? Not so impossible as it would seem.

Hubby was ready to list our house and make an offer on that one. I'm slightly more conservative, so I told hubby that we should make a plan. And we did. The plan is that we're going to spend the spring fixing up our house and making it look really nice. The last time we did this whole moving thing, we put a lot of time and money into fixing up the old house, and it sold in five days. An identical model was on the market, and had been for months, but ours sold faster and for more money because our house looked nicer. So that's our plan of attack for this house.

Will it work? I don't know. But like I told hubby, even if we get this place fixed up and we decide not to sell or the timing isn't yet right or whatever, we'll still be living in a nice house.

And then, as I was sitting here, thinking about how this whole plan is seeming to come together, I realized that what we're doing now is no different than what we should have been doing all along. We have so many dreams and goals for our family- not just the house thing. But what are we doing to get it? Just saying, "Someday..."

I've read so many books that tell you that you're supposed to set a goal, give it a date, and make a plan. No wonder we haven't gotten anywhere- we've been in someday mode the whole time.

So today, I'm thinking in goal mode. We want a new house. We want to go on a nice family vacation. Instead of putting it in terms of someday, I'm going to take the time, sit down with hubby, and put down real dates, and make real plans.

What are your dreams? Do you have a plan to make them a reality? How are you going about making them come true?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Dragon and the Turtle Go on Safari by Donita K.Paul and Evangeline Denmark

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card authors are:

and the book:

The Dragon and The Turtle Go on Safari

WaterBrook Press (January 11, 2011)

***Special thanks to Staci Carmichael, Marketing and Publicity Coordinator, Doubleday Religion / Waterbrook Multnomah / Divisions of Random House, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***


A former schoolteacher, Donita K. Paul is the best-selling author of the Dragon Keeper series, The Vanishing Sculptor, and Dragons of the Valley.

Visit the author's website.

Evangeline Denmark likes to turn bedtime stories into picture books. She lives in Colorado with her engineer husband, their two noisy boys, her author mom, and Willie, a cattle dog who tries to herd the entire family into one room.

Visit the author's website.


Vincent Nguyen has illustrated numerous children's books and is also a part of the art departments for 20th Century Fox and Blue Sky Studios.

My children and I LOVED the first book in this series. It immediately became my auto-buy gift for moms with little ones because it was so charming. The latest installment, The Dragon and the Turtle Go on Safari is no different. It's a fun adventure emphasizing the value of friendship and what it means to be a true friend. In a world where kid friendship drama happens so early, it's a great story to teach children about healthy friendship. My girls love these stories, and I know they're eager for the next one! And, for those of you who love dragons as much as my kids do (in no small part thanks to Mrs. Paul!), remember that January 16th is Appreciate a Dragon Day. My 10yo is already planning all sorts of fun ways to celebrate. And I'm sure Padraig the Dragon will be making an appearance.

Product Details:

List Price: $11.99
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (January 11, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 030744645X
ISBN-13: 978-0307446459

AND NOW...THE FIRST FOUR PAGES...press the pictures to better view them:

Friday, January 07, 2011

Dreams... coming true and letting go

Since my last post, I've spent most of my days in bed praying for death. Yeah, my daughter gave me her nasty virus as a lovely little Christmas present. The good news is that when I went to the doctor's, he gave me The. Best. News. Ever.

No, I'm not pregnant. Hubby would have a heart attack and die and he won't let me have enough life insurance on him to make it worthwhile.

See, I have a huge problem with nausea. Once nausea hits, I'm done for, and it usually ends with a trip to the ER. I am allergic to most of the anti-nausea medications out there, and the only one that works is not covered by my insurance. And, at $60 a pill, it's cheaper to go to the ER. Yes, America, that is health care at its finest. Anyway, the doctor told me that said medication was reclassified by the FDA, is now available in generic, AND!!!! My insurance now covers it!! So, I got a whole bottle of my favorite miracle drug for $15 and I was able to get through the virus without a trip to the ER. YAY!!!

Trust me, this is a dream come true.

But that wasn't the only dream come true. For Christmas, hubby bought me the library catalog software and barcode scanner I've been wanting FOREVER. If you were part of my great cataloging software debate, I finally decided on Book Collector. I ended up trying every program that had a free demo, and even though it's not perfect, I liked it best. I have a barcode scanner, can scan the book, and it pretty much populates everything for you. The other thing I like is that it has an app so I can have it on my iPod. No more buying duplicate books! I think. I hope.

I have not gotten everything cataloged yet. I decided that since I was cataloging, I was going to organize. Be afraid. Be very afraid. The extremely type A portion of my personality is singing all kinds of happy songs. So I'm organizing, and then once everything is where I want it, I will catalog.

The other upside of this organization plan is that I'm finding lots of duplicates and *blush* triplicates. I have two boxes of books that I will be distributing to my book-loving family and friends. And um, I'm not done organizing yet.

All of these dreams coming true have given me space to think about new dreams, and the direction I want to keep heading in. I've always said that I want a library like the one in the movie, My Fair Lady. I still do. Today, author Christine Trent visited Keli Gwyn's blog and posted pics of her library. And well, that will be the next goal for my library. :)

With all of these library plans, I do have to admit that I am letting go of a dream we have had for a long time. When we bought this house, it was with the plan of knocking out the back wall to give me a bigger kitchen, master bath, and an office that's not in the basement. Well, now that hubby thinks he's a cowboy, and my little girl's horse fever isn't abating, I think we're going to look at a new house instead of adding on to this one. Because, you see, at some point, we're going to have to buy a horse. Which means getting a place that has room for one. But hey, that's the bargaining chip for my library. They want a horse, I get a library. I think that's a fair trade, don't you?

Other dreams... well, we're working on them. And I'll share more about that soon.

What dreams in your life are coming true or are being reshaped?