Monthly Archives: March 2009

Review-Real Simple- Back to Basics Cleaning- April 2009

 
When I was given the chance to review April’s edition of Real Simple, I was excited! There is a wonderful article in this issue that is called Back to Basics Cleaning.
 It is full  of all sorts of real, basic cleaning tips that use natural cleaners and things you probably have in your kitchen or fridge right now! The opening statement says it well….."Toothpaste does more than make your teeth sparkle; it can make your house shine too! the same goes for salt, vegetable oil, and a a host of other inexpensive everyday items. Here is 78 all-natural solutions to make quick work of countless cleaning chores."<p>
The article is written by Nicole Sforza and reporting by Allegra Muzzillo and Elizabeth Jenkins
It is an issue you really want to pick up! I  am eager to try out some of these easy cleaning methods. I really hate strong soaps and cleaners, but like the clean smell and also hate the grime that seems to happen when I attempt to not use them.  From lemons to toothpaste to clean your sink faucets, table salt to clean your artificial flowers if you have any and this one I found especially neat! White bread to clean oil paintings! We have oil painting my grandma and great-grandmother painted and they are so hard to figure out how to dust. They say use a piece of white bread to gently dab on the painting to clean it.  Finally, a good use for white bread as it certainly is not edible!!
<p> I  think the purchase of this issue this month is worth it just for this article, but the magazine is also  full of other really helpful tips and articles. From organizing your bathroom, new ways to cook rice, slow cooker recipes, a 20 minute workout, how to get the cheapest flights, and more, this will be one you will not be sorry you picked up.
My copy was here and I already had two people ask to borrow mine!!<p>
If you visit their website you can check this interactive tool that goes along with this article.
How to clean your house naturally
There is also on that same page, there are other tools for stain remover tips and other things. <p> There is a link on the homepage as well to get a free trial issue..check it out!

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First Wild Card Tours- Salty like Blood By Harry Kraus MD

<a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/SAad94Trj7I/AAAAAAAAArA/Yn05_E4V0fY/s1600-h/wild+card.jpg"><a href="http://firstwildcardtours.blogspot.com/"><img id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5190009307003588530" style="FLOAT: left; MARGIN: 0px 10px 10px 0px; CURSOR: hand; TEXT-ALIGN: center" alt="" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/SAad94Trj7I/AAAAAAAAArA/Yn05_E4V0fY/s200/wild+card.jpg&quot; border="0" /></a></a>It is time for a <span style="color:#990000;"><strong><a href="http://firstwildcardtours.blogspot.com/">FIRST Wild Card Tour</a></span></strong> 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!  <span style="color:#990000;"><strong>Enjoy your free peek into the book!</strong></span><br /><br /><font color="#cc0000"><em>You never know when I might play a wild card on you!</em></font><br /><br /><br /><div align="center"><strong>Today’s Wild Card author is: </strong><br /></div><br /><div align="center"><strong><span style="font-size:180%;color:#cc0000;"><a href="http://www.cuttingedgefiction.com/">Harry Kraus, M.D.</a></span></strong><br /></div><br /><p align="center"><strong><span style="font-size:180%;color:#cc0000;"><span style="font-size:100%;color:#cc0000;">and the book:</span> </span></strong><br /></p><br /><p align="center"><strong><span style="font-size:180%;color:#cc0000;"><a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1416577890">Salty Like Blood </a></span></strong><br /></p><p align="center">Howard Books (March 24, 2009) <br /></p><br /><div align="left"><strong><span style="font-size:130%;color:#333399;"><span style="color:#cc0000;">ABOUT THE AUTHOR:</span> </span></strong></div><br /><br /><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/Sc1V22j1ewI/AAAAAAAAClw/KjYsxeNeZpQ/s1600-h/kraush.jpg"><img style="float:left; margin:0 10px 10px 0;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 142px; height: 199px;" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/Sc1V22j1ewI/AAAAAAAAClw/KjYsxeNeZpQ/s200/kraush.jpg&quot; border="0" alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5318001135841540866" /></a><br />Harry Kraus, M.D., is a board-certified surgeon whose contemporary fiction, including Stainless Steel Hearts, is flavored with medical realism. A bestselling author, he has also written two works of nonfiction. He currently lives with his family in Kenya, where he is serving as a full-time medical missionary.<br /><br />Visit the author’s <a href="http://www.cuttingedgefiction.com/">website</a&gt;.<br /><br />Product Details:<br /><br />List Price: $13.99<br />Paperback: 352 pages <br />Publisher: Howard Books (March 24, 2009) <br />Language: English <br />ISBN-10: 1416577890 <br />ISBN-13: 978-1416577898 <br /><br /><span style="color:#cc0000;"><strong><span style="font-size:180%;">AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:</span> </strong><br /></span><br /><br /><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/Sc1VggEr6mI/AAAAAAAAClg/G4FIi3TiDGM/s1600-h/salty+like+blood.jpg"><img style="float:left; margin:0 10px 10px 0;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 130px; height: 200px;" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/Sc1VggEr6mI/AAAAAAAAClg/G4FIi3TiDGM/s200/salty+like+blood.jpg&quot; border="0" alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5318000751848188514" /></a><div style="OVERFLOW: auto; HEIGHT: 307px">      Rachel and I tumbled into the tall grass at the bottom of the hill, having survived yet another Daddy-just-one-more sled ride from the edge of our front porch. I collapsed on my back, trying to find oxygen between gasps of laughter and looked up at the summer sky. My daughter, with limbs sprawled in a wide “X” and her head against my foot, shouted her delight toward the house. “We did it! We made it!”<br /><br />      Seconds before, airborne and soaring toward record distance, Rachel reached for an octave above the normal human voice range, squealing a note that rang on in my head and I suspected invited half the neighborhood’s canine population to play. I laughed and put my fingers in my ears, rolling them in an exaggerated twist as if she’d deafened me.<br /><br />      She moved to lay her head upon my chest and quieted herself there, listening to my racing heart.<br /><br />      I stroked her hair, inhaled the scent of mown grass, and nestled my head back into the tickle of green. <br /><br />      “Is it okay?” she asked.<br /><br />      “It’s okay.”<br /><br />      “It’s too fast,” she said, raising up and pushing a bony elbow into my gut.<br /><br />      “Oh so now you’re the doctor.”  <br /><br />      She smiled. “Someday,” she said. “For now, you’re the doctor.”<br /><br />      “Don’t worry. I’m okay.” I scowled at my first-grader. “Really.”<br /><br />      We rested together, staring at the sky full of clouds of hippopotamus, horses, rockets—whatever Rachel imagined. Mostly I gasped and oohed. In a moment, I found myself blinking away tears, overwhelmed with the enormity of it all.<br /><br />      It was so ordinary. A summer Saturday morning without an agenda. It’s hard for me to describe beyond the sense I had of emerging, as if I’d been submerged for so long, and now, just to play and laugh and roll in the grass seemed a joy that would burst my heart. I smiled, taking it in, gulping in ordinary life as if I’d never have a chance again. <br /><br />      As Rachel chatted on with her running commentary of sky castles, fiery dragons and fairies, other images drifted through my mind, pictures of painful chapters that set my current joy into sharp contrast. Traveling with Joanne through the dark tunnel of post-partum depression. My mother’s battle with cancer. Memories of an intensive care unit visit while I was the too-young patient, watching my own heart monitor and wondering if life would be cut short.<br /><br />      Joanne’s voice swept me into the here and now. “What’s going on?”<br /><br />      I looked up to see her standing on the covered porch, eyeing a bottle of vegetable oil sitting on the white railing. <br /><br />      Rachel lifted her head. Her blond hair dotted with grass seed. “We’re sledding, Mommy.”<br /><br />      Joanne’s hands rested firmly on her hips. “It’s July, David.” She picked up the bottle. “And I’ve been looking for this.” She was serious, but her eyes betrayed her attempt at scolding me. Her happiness at my delight in our little Rachel couldn’t be spoiled by my summer antics.<br /><br />      I exchanged a mischievous glance with Rachel. She betrayed me in a heartbeat. “It was Daddy’s idea.”<br /><br />      “Women!” I said, grabbing my daughter by the waist and swinging her around in a circle. “You always stick together!”<br /><br />      As I trudged up the hill with Rachel folded around my back, I grunted exaggerated puffs. “You’re getting so big.”<br /><br />      I set her on the top step and kissed her forehead. She started pulling away. “Wait.” I picked at the seeds in her hair.“You’ll need to brush this out.”<br /><br />      She opted for the shake-it-out method. “I’m a rock star.”<br /><br />      I smiled. My star. For Joanne and I, Rachel had been the glue that helped us stick together through a valley of misery. <br /><br />      Joanne reappeared carrying lemonade in tall, sweaty glasses. She handed me one and kissed me. She had thin lips to go with sharp, elegant features, dark eyes alight with mystery, and hair the color of caramel. She could have been a model before big lips became the rage.<br /><br />      I’d been to hell and back with Joanne, but the last six months, I’d sensed a real change in her. She seemed settled somehow. Content. More romantic toward me—like she had been back in my medical school days. Our relationship, once teetering on the precipice of divorce, was now solidly a safe distance from the edge. I’d seen significant pieces of my life’s puzzle fall together in the last few years. When the marriage one finally clicked into place, everything else brightened with it. It was as if I’d been living my life in black-and-white and someone just invented color.<br /><br />      I kissed her back, trying to discern her mood. There seemed a surface calm, but I sensed a deeper stirring. I’d become a champion at reading her. I knew the quiet of her bitterness, the bubbly way she prattled on when she felt guilty, and the aloofness that dared me to pursue her into bed. For a moment, our eyes met. It was only a flash, but in that instant, I felt the a foreboding that threatened my wonderful ordinary-life euphoria.<br /><br />      I took her hand. “What’s up?” She lowered her voice, but even at that volume, sharp irritation cut at the edges of her words, clipping them into little fragments.<br /><br />      “Your father.”<br /><br />      I raised my eyebrows in question. <br /><br />      “His neighbor called.”<br /><br />      I waited for more, but it seemed the silence only uncapped her annoyance. In a moment, she was on the verge of tears. <br /><br />      “He always does this. Every time we have plans, he has a crisis.”<br /><br />      Plans. The practice was dining at the country club tonight.<br /><br />      I started to protest, but she interrupted, pushing her finger against my lips. “You know they’re going to announce that you’ve made partner.”<br /><br />      I smiled. Partner. A year early. Just reward for the practice’s highest revenue-producer nine months in a row. Another puzzle piece in my wonderful life about to connect.<br /><br />      “Which neighbor?”<br /><br />      “That Somali family,” she said, flipping her hand in the air. “A woman. She has an accent. She said his place is a wreck. He’s ill.” She seemed to hesitate before adding. “He’s asking for you.”<br /><br />      It was my father’s way. The crab-fisherman wouldn’t pick up the phone and let me know he needed me. He sent word around the block and expected me to show. “Define ‘ill.’ ”<br /><br />      Joanne imitated the neighbor’s accent. “Mister Gus isn’t eating. He toilets in the bedroom.”<br /><br />      I groaned. Whatever the neighbor meant, I knew it couldn’t be good. I walked into the house to my study and picked up the phone. I was listening to the endless ringing on the other end when Joanne entered. “Not a good sign,” I said. “He doesn’t pick up.”<br /><br />      “What are we going to do?”<br /><br />      I looked at my wife. Petite. Strong. And so able to read my thoughts.<br /><br />      She threw up her hands. “We’re going to the shore,” she said. “Just like that.”<br /><br />      I nodded. I was predictable. Family first. We had to go. <br /><br />      She glared at me. I read the silence, loud and clear. That’s why I love you . . . and hate you.<br /><br />      “I’ll call Jim. The practice will understand.”<br /><br />      Joanne shook her head. “This is your night, David. The moment you’ve been waiting for. And you throw it away because of family.”<br /><br />      I couldn’t say anything. She had me pegged.<br /><br />      “I’ll see if Kristine will take Rachel for the weekend.”<br /><br />      “Let’s take her with us.”<br /><br />      Joanne’s face hardened. “With us? That place is so . . . “  She paused, apparently mulling over adjective options. “ . . . crusty.”<br /><br />      It was the gentlest description of several other options that came to mind. <br /><br />      “We’ll take care of the crisis and stay at that seaside bed and breakfast. It will be fun. A chance for her to see her grandfather.” I let a hopeful smile tease at the corners of my lips. “Even if he is crusty he does adore her.”<br /><br />      Joanne sighed in resignation. “Yes he does.” She tipped her glass against mine. “As long as we don’t have to sleep there,” she said, shivering as if that thought was horrifying. She gave me a don’t-even-try-to-cross-me look. “You’re driving.”<br /><br />      I walked out onto the porch and into the humidity we Virginians call “summer.” As I called for Rachel, I followed the border of the house, my prize lawn soft beneath my bare feet. From her perch on the back deck, my daughter ambushed me with open arms.<br /><br />      “Can we sled some more?”<br /><br />       I looked at the blue sky and my Southern Living home, and I pushed aside a fleeting presence. A ripple beneath the calm.<br /><br />       I’d been through too many hard times to trust the peace. Nothing this great can last forever.<br /><br />      “We’re going to Grandpa Conners’,” I said, trying my best to sound excited.<br /><br />      Rachel wrinkled her nose. To her, the shore meant stinky crabs and everything smelling fishy. <br /><br />      I poked her nose with a finger. “You’re too much like your mother.”<br /><br />      She poked me back. “You’re too much like your father.”<br /><br />      A sudden breeze lifted Rachel’s hair against my face. I stopped, looking east. In the distance, a small thundercloud hung over the horizon. Not today. I don’t want to travel the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel in the rain.<br /><br />       My daughter squeezed my neck, bringing a smile to my face and pushing my anxieties aside. I nestled my face into her hair, trying to find an earlobe. She giggled and everything seemed right again.<br /></div><br />
<p>
My review:
I have read other books by Harry Kraus MD and have enjoyed them so signed up for this tour. This story of a husband and wife who are dealing with their own marriage issues, plus you throw in a father who is ill (David’s father), parents involved in politics on the other side, along with issues of temptation from people with little morality and toss in a kidnapping and you have this book.
David’s daughter is missing, the police think she is dead and are not looking, but he thinks otherwise. His wife is dealing with it in her own way, and by shutting him and most other people out of her life, and holding a memorial service seems like the best way. An old friend with wrongful intentions is trying to befriend her, while David is dealing with his own sudden friendship with the mysterious  woman of Islam faith, I believe it was.  The temptations for revenge as well as temptation for infidelity are all here in the story. The author really dealt with each one well, not giving you wrongful thoughts, but really showing you how real this could be. Of course, the mystery in the story is great too! If you like mysteries, you would like this one. It reminded me a bit of Coleen Coble’s books! – Martha

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Menu for the week

Wednesday: Taco salad, cake
Thursday: Pizza, salad (We had Book-It coupons to use so they  got each a personal pizza)
Friday: Chili in the crockpot, cornbread, apple pie
Saturday: Chili over rice,   Greek Spinach salad
Sunday:  Chicken legs, mashed potatoes, salad
Monday: Homemade pizza, salad
Tuesday: Beef Stew, bread
I woke up this morning with a long list, but one thing on the list  was to bake apple pies. My uncle had surgery and well, apple pie seemed more appropriate  than flowers and another friend lost her grandmother and I needed to drop off a card, so they both got some apple pies.  I also had started  a pound of dry pintos in the crockpot the night before so I drained off the water and added  the rest of the stuff for the recipe for chili to simmer while I was out today.
I baked a pan of corn bread when I got home
We like our cornbread in the cast iron skillet.  I don’t put any butter in the cornbread, but instead just melt butter in the pan to grease it and bake it in the pan in the oven. It has a buttery crisp outer layer that is really tasty and goes well with chili! I like the coarse ground cornmeal, but the store did not have it this time, so I used corn flour which worked okay!
<p> After dinner we have been able to go for a mile walk, which the boys ride bike, roller blade etc. I would like to go farther, but am building it up slow after a winter’s inactivity somewhat!
<p> I finally got some paperwork done I needed to get done today and was so nervous about. I hope I did everything right!!<p>
Chili recipe
I make it sort of different each time, but I do have a method!
Brown ground beef 1-2 pounds (I use ground turkey sometimes too) with 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 chopped onion if you like (I sometimes skip this) and 1 finely chopped green pepper.
1 pound dry pinto beans cooked  or 5-6 c. cooked pinto beans or canned ones
2 cans whole or diced tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 12 oz. can tomato sauce or 1 small can and 1 can El Pato if you like it spicy
(I like to blend the tomatoes and the green chilies all up in the blender, you can add some of the beans to it too and then the boys who do not like to eat beans do not realize they are eating them).
Add to crockpot all together. Season with  1 T. chili powder and salt. Cook on low 6-8 hours.
Add cumin to taste right before serving, (I do not do good with following recipes so adjust to your own taste!)

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Tuesdays at our house

Tuesdays are always a bit busy! We wake up and  feed the boys breakfast, but more often than not, they do not like to eat right away in the morning, except for the youngest  and would rather eat when they get home from piano lessons. The three oldest boys are all taking piano lessons from a friend at church. They get home  then after an hour lessons and we feed them and do some school before they have had science classes most of the year on Tuesdays. They have taken some classes that are just  P. and some is both P. and H. They have learned about all sorts of things! This Tuesday, P. made silly putty and learned about polymers! <p>
While they are at class for 2 hours, we do school with the ones at home.
Who me, mom? I would never do anything to make any trouble when you are trying to do school!! = )

L. has been doing some school on Time4Learning, which is nice, but a little expensive!
T. likes to do it too!

L. always smiling!!

Then next we head off to pick them up and go to the library for Chess club. Again P. and H. play chess and so I am upstairs with L. and T. and we work on the computer and look for books!

All set and ready to go, Mom!!!

Ready to use the computer!!

Picking out a book……we took a tour of the library and they discovered where the cookbooks are and it is their favorite place to look for books.
Got one, on Pasta and Noodles!!

We end up with a whole bunch of books!!!
I read that one Exposed…..that was a really good book, it was a hard read, but something that really irritates me so it was good for me!
Then we are off to bring P. to a Writing and Grammar class. On the way home, since it was nice out, we thought we would stop and play at  a park and get some P.E.
Doesn’t it look like fun? It makes me want to get out and run with them, which I do sometimes, but not when it is still cold!
They were making trains on the slide!
After this we picked up P. and went home for dinner! It is a long day!!!

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First Wild Card Tours- Yesterday’s Embers by Deborah Raney

<a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/SAad94Trj7I/AAAAAAAAArA/Yn05_E4V0fY/s1600-h/wild+card.jpg"><a href="http://firstwildcardtours.blogspot.com/"><img id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5190009307003588530" style="FLOAT: left; MARGIN: 0px 10px 10px 0px; CURSOR: hand; TEXT-ALIGN: center" alt="" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/SAad94Trj7I/AAAAAAAAArA/Yn05_E4V0fY/s200/wild+card.jpg&quot; border="0" /></a></a>It is time for a <span style="color:#990000;"><strong><a href="http://firstwildcardtours.blogspot.com/">FIRST Wild Card Tour</a></span></strong> 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!  <span style="color:#990000;"><strong>Enjoy your free peek into the book!</strong></span><br /><br /><font color="#cc0000"><em>You never know when I might play a wild card on you!</em></font><br /><br /><br /><div align="center"><strong>Today’s Wild Card author is: </strong><br /></div><br /><div align="center"><strong><span style="font-size:180%;color:#cc0000;"><a href="http://www.deborahraney.com/">Deborah Raney</a></span></strong><br /></div><br /><p align="center"><strong><span style="font-size:180%;color:#cc0000;"><span style="font-size:100%;color:#cc0000;">and the book:</span> </span></strong><br /></p><br /><p align="center"><strong><span style="font-size:180%;color:#cc0000;"><a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1416593098">Yesterday’s Embers</a></span></strong><br /></p><p align="center">Howard Books (March 24, 2009) <br /></p><br /><div align="left"><strong><span style="font-size:130%;color:#333399;"><span style="color:#cc0000;">ABOUT THE AUTHOR:</span> </span></strong></div><br /><br /><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/SccQXEAX8eI/AAAAAAAAClI/veIx3_Mm_II/s1600-h/Debredjacket-hi-rez.jpg"><img style="float:left; margin:0 10px 10px 0;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 150px; height: 200px;" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/SccQXEAX8eI/AAAAAAAAClI/veIx3_Mm_II/s200/Debredjacket-hi-rez.jpg&quot; border="0" alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5316235873532506594" /></a><br /><br />Deborah Raney is the author of several novels, including Nest of Sparrows and the RITA Award-winning Beneath a Southern Sky. Her novel A Vow to Cherish was made into the highly acclaimed Worldwide Pictures film of the same name. She lives with her husband and four children in Kansas.<br /><br />Visit the author’s <a href="http://www.deborahraney.com/">website</a&gt;.<br /><br />Product Details:<br /><br />List Price: $13.99<br />Paperback: 400 pages <br />Publisher: Howard Books (March 24, 2009) <br />Language: English <br />ISBN-10: 1416593098 <br />ISBN-13: 978-1416593096 <br /><br /><span style="color:#cc0000;"><strong><span style="font-size:180%;">AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:</span> </strong><br /></span><br /><br /><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/SccQcCofqUI/AAAAAAAAClQ/t5yquYilQZg/s1600-h/Yesterday%27sEmbers.jpg"><img style="float:left; margin:0 10px 10px 0;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 143px; height: 200px;" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/SccQcCofqUI/AAAAAAAAClQ/t5yquYilQZg/s200/Yesterday%27sEmbers.jpg&quot; border="0" alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5316235959063259458" /></a><br /><div style="OVERFLOW: auto; HEIGHT: 307px">The parade of taillights smoldered crimson through the patchy fog hovering over Old Highway 40. Mickey Valdez tapped the brakes with the toe of her black dress pumps, trying to stay a respectable distance from the car in front of her.<br /><br />The procession had left the church almost twenty minutes ago, but they were still barely two miles outside Clayburn’s city limits. The line of cars snaked up the hill––if you could call the road’s rolling incline that––and ahead of her, the red glow of brake lights dotted the highway, flickering off and on like so many fireflies. Cresting the rise, Mickey could barely make out the rows of pewter-colored gravestones poking through the mist beyond the wrought-iron gates of the Clayburn Cemetery.<br /><br />She smoothed the skirt of her black crepe dress and tried to focus her thoughts on maneuvering the car, working not to let them stray to the funeral service she’d come from. But when the first hearse turned onto the cemetery’s gravel drive in front of her, she lost it. Her sobs came like dry heaves, producing no tears, and for once, she was glad to be in the car alone.<br /><br />The line of cars came almost to a standstill as the second hearse crept through the gates.<br /><br />The twin black Lincolns pulled to the side of the gravel lane, parking one behind the other near the plots where two fresh graves scarred the prairie. The drivers emerged from the hearses, walked in unison to the rear of their cars, and opened the curtained back doors. Mickey looked away. She couldn’t view those two caskets again.<br /><br />When it came her turn to drive over the culvert under the high arch of the iron gates, she wanted desperately to keep on driving. To head west and never turn back. But Pete Truesdell stood in her way, directing traffic into the fenced-in graveyard. Mickey almost didn’t recognize Pete. He sported a rumpled navy double-breasted suit instead of his usual coveralls. How he could see through the tears welling in his eyes, Mickey didn’t know.<br /><br />Her heart broke for the old man. She wondered if he was related to the family somehow. Seemed like everybody in Clayburn was related to at least one other family in town. Everybody but the Valdezes.<br /><br />Pete waved the car in front of her through the gates and halted her with his other hand.<br /><br />Maybe if she stayed in the car until the procession left the cemetery. She didn’t want to walk across the uneven sod. Didn’t want to risk the DeVore kids seeing her…risk breaking down in front of them. What would she say? What could anybody say to make what had happened be all right? <br /><br />She didn’t know much about carbon monoxide poisoning, but she’d heard that Kaye and Rachel had simply drifted off to sleep, never knowing they would wake up in heaven. She wondered if Doug DeVore found any solace in that knowledge. Maybe it was a small comfort that his wife and daughter had left this earth together. <br /><br />But on Thanksgiving Day? What was God thinking? <br /><br />She’d never really gotten to know Kaye DeVore that well. They’d exchanged pleasantries whenever Kaye dropped the kids off at the daycare on her way to her job at the high school, but usually Doug was the one who delivered the children and picked them up at night when he got off work at Trevor Ashlock’s print shop in town. <br /><br />The DeVore kids were usually the last to get picked up, especially during harvest when Doug worked overtime to keep his farm going. But Mickey had never minded staying late. It wasn’t like she had a family of her own waiting for her at home. And she loved those kids. <br /><br />Especially Rachel. Sweet, angel-faced Rachel, whose eyes always seemed to hold a wisdom beyond her years. Mickey had practically mourned when Rachel started kindergarten and was only at the daycare for an hour or two after school. Now she forced herself to look at the tiny white coffin the pallbearers lifted from the second hearse. She could not make it real that the sunny six-year-old was gone.<br /><br />Through the gates, she watched Doug climb from a black towncar. One at a time, he helped his children out behind him. Carrying the baby in one arm, he tried to stretch his free arm around the other four kids, as if he could shelter them from what had happened. How he could even stand up under the weight of such tragedy was more than Mickey could imagine. And yet, for one shameful, irrational moment, she envied his grief, and would have traded places with him if it meant she’d known a love worth grieving over, or been entrusted with a child of her own flesh and blood. She shook away the thoughts, disturbed by how long she’d let herself entertain them.<br /><br />She dreaded facing Doug the next time he brought the kids to the daycare center. Maybe they wouldn’t come back. She’d heard that Kaye’s mother had cancelled her plans to winter in Florida like she usually did. Harriet Thomas would remain in Kansas and help Doug out, at least for a while. Wren Johanssen had been helping with the kids and house, too, when she could take time away from running Wren’s Nest, the little bed-and-breakfast on Main Street. Wren was like a second grandma to the kids. Thank goodness for that. Six kids had to be—<br /><br />Mickey shuddered and corrected herself. Only five now. That had to be a handful for anyone. The DeVores had gone on vacation in the middle of April last year, and with their kids out for a week, the workload was lighter, but the daycare center had been deathly quiet.<br /><br />Deathly. Even though she was alone in the car, Mickey cringed at her choice of words.<br /><br />She started at the tap on the hood of her car and looked up to see Pete motioning her through the gates. She put the car in gear and inched over the bumpy culvert. There was no turning back now. She followed the car in front of her and parked behind it next to the fence bordering the east side of the cemetery.<br /><br />A tall white tombstone in the distance caught her eye and a startling thought nudged her. The last time she’d been here for a funeral had also been the funeral of a mother and child. Trevor Ashlock’s wife, Amy, and their little boy. It would be five years come summer.<br /><br />As if conjured by her thoughts, Trevor’s green pickup pulled in beside her. Mickey watched in her side mirror as he parked, then helped his young wife climb out of the passenger side. Meg walked with the gait of an obviously pregnant woman, and Trevor put a hand at the small of her back, guiding her over the uneven sod toward the funeral tent.<br /><br />Mickey looked away. Seeing Trevor still brought a wave of sadness. Because of his profound loss, yes. But more selfishly, for her own loss. She’d fallen hard for him after Amy’s death—and had entertained hopes that he might feel the same about her. That she might be able to ease his grief. But he was too deep in grief to even notice her.<br /><br />Then Meg Anders had moved to town and almost before Mickey knew what happened, Trevor was married. He and Meg seemed very much in love, and Mickey didn’t begrudge either of them an ounce of that happiness. But it didn’t mean she was immune to a pang of envy whenever she saw them together.<br /><br />This day had to be doubly difficult for Trevor. It must be a comfort to Doug having Trevor here––someone who’d walked in his shoes and still somehow managed to get up the next morning––and the next and the next.<br /><br />Again, she had to wonder what God was thinking. Where was He when these tragedies struck? How could He stand by and let these terrible things happen to good men…the best men she knew, next to her brothers? None of it made sense. And the only One she knew to turn to for answers had stood by and let it all happen.<br /></div><br />
<p>My Review:
When I was reading this book, I found it a bit hard for me. I understood  the story and when I got to the end of the book I was happy with it. So, without totally blowing the story for the rest of you readers who are going to want to read it.  I felt like  that  it had some good lessons in it. When we experience sorrow, different people react differently. One reaction may be to try to replace what we lost whether it be a family member or other issues, with someone else, but ignoring the pain that we feel is never right, it will come back and bite us as it will cause others pain instead. Doug and Mickey could have forgone alot of pain if they had not given in to emotions and instead waited  on God.
Deborah really makes the reader think with the story, you are frustrated with the choices they made and wonder why. It causes you to look inside yourself and see how you have done similar things to others when you were grieving as well. It was a sad, tough book, but I assure you, the ending is happier than I thought!

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First Wild Card tours: Keoni’s Big Question

<a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/SAad94Trj7I/AAAAAAAAArA/Yn05_E4V0fY/s1600-h/wild+card.jpg"><a href="http://firstwildcardtours.blogspot.com/"><img id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5190009307003588530" style="FLOAT: left; MARGIN: 0px 10px 10px 0px; CURSOR: hand; TEXT-ALIGN: center" alt="" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/SAad94Trj7I/AAAAAAAAArA/Yn05_E4V0fY/s200/wild+card.jpg&quot; border="0" /></a></a>It is time for a <span style="color:#990000;"><strong><a href="http://firstwildcardtours.blogspot.com/">FIRST Wild Card Tour</a></span></strong> 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!  <span style="color:#990000;"><strong>Enjoy your free peek into the book!</strong></span><br /><br /><font color="#cc0000"><em>You never know when I might play a wild card on you!</em></font><br /><br /><br /><div align="center"><strong>Today’s Wild Card author is: </strong><br /></div><br /><div align="center"><strong><span style="font-size:180%;color:#cc0000;"><a href="http://www.capstone-productions.com/">Patti B. Ogden</a></span></strong><br /></div><br /><p align="center"><strong><span style="font-size:180%;color:#cc0000;"><span style="font-size:100%;color:#cc0000;">and the book:</span> </span></strong><br /></p><br /><p align="center"><strong><span style="font-size:180%;color:#cc0000;"><a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/098167836X">Keoni’s Big Question</a></span></strong><br /></p><p align="center">BCH Fulfillment & Distribution; first edition edition (September 25, 2008) <br /></p><br /><div align="left"><strong><span style="font-size:130%;color:#333399;"><span style="color:#cc0000;">ABOUT THE AUTHOR:</span> </span></strong></div><br /><br /><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/ScRO6_eoA1I/AAAAAAAACj4/F4pjQak5mYI/s1600-h/patti_head_shot.jpg"><img style="float:left; margin:0 10px 10px 0;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 174px; height: 200px;" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/ScRO6_eoA1I/AAAAAAAACj4/F4pjQak5mYI/s200/patti_head_shot.jpg&quot; border="0" alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5315460235583292242" /></a>As an enthusiastic Sunday school teacher, Patti Ogden found herself with a sincere burden to help kids seek their own spiritual growth. She is the author of Keoni’s Big Question and two more Christian children’s books planned for 2009. Patti lives in Oregon, Illinois with her husband Jeff, of 35 years. She is a mother of two and grandmother to five darlings that fill her life with joy.<br /><br />Visit the author’s <a href="http://www.capstone-productions.com/">website</a&gt;.<br /><br />Product Details:<br /><br />List Price: $12.00<br />Children’s 4-8<br />Hardcover: 32 pages <br />Publisher: BCH Fulfillment & Distribution; first edition edition (September 25, 2008) <br />Language: English <br />ISBN-10: 098167836X <br />ISBN-13: 978-0981678368 <br /><br /><span style="color:#cc0000;"><strong><span style="font-size:180%;">AND NOW…THE FIRST TWO PAGES:</span> </strong><br /></span><br /><br /><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/ScRRjorzAvI/AAAAAAAACko/9nXS0BRa93k/s1600-h/keoni+cover.jpg"><img style="display:block; margin:0px auto 10px; text-align:center;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 240px; height: 240px;" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/ScRRjorzAvI/AAAAAAAACko/9nXS0BRa93k/s320/keoni+cover.jpg&quot; border="0" alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5315463132862415602" /></a><br /><br /><div style="OVERFLOW: auto; HEIGHT: 307px">PLEASE CLICK ON THE IMAGES TO READ AND SEE THEM BETTER.<br /><br /><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/ScRRWpyeSmI/AAAAAAAACkg/Mrerfv3zbT8/s1600-h/KEONI+Pg+1+jpg.jpg"><img style="display:block; margin:0px auto 10px; text-align:center;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 320px; height: 261px;" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/ScRRWpyeSmI/AAAAAAAACkg/Mrerfv3zbT8/s320/KEONI+Pg+1+jpg.jpg&quot; border="0" alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5315462909820553826" /></a><br /><br /><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/ScRQ7X2n2mI/AAAAAAAACkY/oSXtFRLmh8w/s1600-h/KEONI+Pg+2+jpg.jpg"><img style="display:block; margin:0px auto 10px; text-align:center;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 320px; height: 261px;" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/ScRQ7X2n2mI/AAAAAAAACkY/oSXtFRLmh8w/s320/KEONI+Pg+2+jpg.jpg&quot; border="0" alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5315462441149651554" /></a><br /><br /></div>

<p> My Review:
Very cute, nice hardcover book for children!  I enjoyed it! I will post more about it later….

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Dinner at our house

The sun in the window behind makes it dark…..
Here is a better look, although you cannot see everyone! We are all set and ready to eat our BBQ chicken, pasta salad, cabbage salad and buttered pasta for those who do not like pasta salad. It was a cheap dinner. I got a package of chicken thighs for $1.40, pasta for .49 a pound and the cabbage was  .28 a pound. I added some odds and ends of little veggies to make the salad more interesting and leftover homemade dip to the pasta salad.

Alright, all set for dinner!
(i obviously took my camera off the fridge!)

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Being a doula- over the phone

A good friend went into labor last night and I have been with her for the last two of her births, so it was hard since she moved far away. Thankfully she had a very good friend of both of ours with her, who called throughout the evening and night and morning  for tips, updates and guidance. She did a really good job it sounds like and they have a new baby girl! <p>
My friend was going through her own trials physically, yet she took the time to work with her, staying up all night to be with this mom as she birthed their 5th child into the world! Even though I was just on the phone,  that feeling  of being able to help  was really great. <p> I have been meaning to take some pictures and get it on her, but I put my camera on top of the fridge and it got shoved to the middle and I am short. It is hard to reach, even with a chair unless I climb on the counter….which I have done sometimes. But really, I am meaning to climb up and get it down and take some. The other reason was because I was spending too much on photos and I had to cut back!!!= )
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Car shopping is going okay, although there are so many decisions to be made… I am not sure I like it.<p> I was reading this book I got from the library that is something about  52 ways to make a difference. They have you do a list of 52 things…you do one on each Monday in a year and at the end of one year you will have made a difference. I think I would change a few of the things on the list. But I am working on my list as I think it is a great idea, I will hopefully be posting that soon. I have read some great books lately….No more Status Quo…was really good! Also, Only Nuns change their habits overnight, as well as some other ones. I just picked up "Have a new kid by Friday by Kevin Leman to re-read.   I also got some money saving books by Ellie Kay, who is always good.
Then of course, I read some great fiction. It is always great fiction too, especially if it makes me cry. I did not think any of them were going to hit me that way, then I read Yesterday’s Embers  by Deborah Raney. The story did not make me cry as much as the author’s notes. It has been one of those weeks though where I stand in the shower and  think about life and the meaning of it all, so these books are great for reflective thinking, especially the fiction ones.
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So, I got to go back to the busy life of boys, I think I should go and make them something nice to eat. Spaghetti and salad was on the menu, but we did not feel like that, so  I guess I will see if there is something else or we will make more popcorn and snack foods and eat that!  I hear happy laughs coming from the other room as they play and bounce around in their large, nearly empty (on purpose)playroom. they have been having so much fun playing outside as the weather has been warm and nice! But they are pretty muddy when they come in! P. had a big streak of mud across his forehead, but bike riding after that long winter was so fun!
<p>

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First Wild Card Tours: Katt’s in the Cradle

<a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/SAad94Trj7I/AAAAAAAAArA/Yn05_E4V0fY/s1600-h/wild+card.jpg"><a href="http://firstwildcardtours.blogspot.com/"><img id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5190009307003588530" style="FLOAT: left; MARGIN: 0px 10px 10px 0px; CURSOR: hand; TEXT-ALIGN: center" alt="" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/SAad94Trj7I/AAAAAAAAArA/Yn05_E4V0fY/s200/wild+card.jpg&quot; _fcksavedurl=""http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/SAad94Trj7I/AAAAAAAAArA/Yn05_E4V0fY/s200/wild+card.jpg"&quot; border="0" /></a></a>It is time for a <span style="color:#990000;"><strong><a href="http://firstwildcardtours.blogspot.com/">FIRST Wild Card Tour</a></span></strong> 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!  <span style="color:#990000;"><strong>Enjoy your free peek into the book!</strong></span><br /><br /><font color="#cc0000"><em>You never know when I might play a wild card on you!</em></font><br /><br /><br /><div align="center"><strong>Today’s Wild Card author is: </strong><br /></div><br /><div align="center"><strong><span style="font-size:180%;color:#cc0000;"><a href="http://www.gingerkolbaba.com/">Ginger Kolbaba</a><br /><br />and<br /><br /><a href="http://www.christyscannell.com/">Christy Scannell</a></span></strong><br /></div><br /><p align="center"><strong><span style="font-size:180%;color:#cc0000;"><span style="font-size:100%;color:#cc0000;">and the book:</span> </span></strong><br /></p><br /><p align="center"><strong><span style="font-size:180%;color:#cc0000;"><a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1416543899">Katt’s in the Cradle: A Secrets from Lulu’s Cafe Novel </a></span></strong><br /></p><p align="center">Howard Books (February 3, 2009)<br /></p><br /><div align="left"><strong><span style="font-size:130%;color:#333399;"><span style="color:#cc0000;">ABOUT THE AUTHORs:</span> </span></strong></div><br /><br /><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/Sb25psvcaNI/AAAAAAAACjc/0tRNyMIBYcE/s1600-h/ginger.jpg"><img style="float:left; margin:0 10px 10px 0;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 190px; height: 200px;" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/Sb25psvcaNI/AAAAAAAACjc/0tRNyMIBYcE/s200/ginger.jpg&quot; border="0" alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5313607261402982610" /></a><br /><br />Ginger Kolbaba is editor of the award-winning Marriage Partnership magazine. An experienced columnist and public speaker, she lives in Chicago with her husband. <br /><br />Visit the author’s <a href="http://www.gingerkolbaba.com/">website</a&gt;.<br /><br /><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/Sb24tXlPPxI/AAAAAAAACjM/iKqOpAWNgTc/s1600-h/christy+scannell.jpg"><img style="float:left; margin:0 10px 10px 0;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 150px; height: 200px;" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/Sb24tXlPPxI/AAAAAAAACjM/iKqOpAWNgTc/s200/christy+scannell.jpg&quot; border="0" alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5313606224930881298" /></a><br /><br />Christy Scannell is a college instructor, freelance editor and accomplished writer who lives with her husband in San Diego.<br /><br />Visit the author’s <a href="http://www.christyscannell.com/">website</a&gt;.<br /><br /><br />Product Details:<br /><br />List Price: $13.99<br />Paperback: 320 pages <br />Publisher: Howard Books (February 3, 2009) <br />Language: English <br />ISBN-10: 1416543899 <br />ISBN-13: 978-1416543893 <br /><br /><span style="color:#cc0000;"><strong><span style="font-size:180%;">AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:</span> </strong><br /></span><br /><br /><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/Sb25EfnRamI/AAAAAAAACjU/2APCTQubTzE/s1600-h/katts+in+the+cradle.jpg"><img style="float:left; margin:0 10px 10px 0;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 130px; height: 200px;" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/Sb25EfnRamI/AAAAAAAACjU/2APCTQubTzE/s200/katts+in+the+cradle.jpg&quot; border="0" alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5313606622223886946" /></a><div style="OVERFLOW: auto; HEIGHT: 307px">Meet the Pastors’ Wives of Red River, Ohio <br /><br />Lisa Barton is an at-home mom with two kids: Callie, sixteen, and Ricky, fourteen. Her husband, Joel, has pastored Red River Assembly of God for nearly five years. Lisa’s parents pastor the Assembly of God in nearby Cloverdale. <br /><br />Felicia Lopez-Morrison’s husband, Dave, pastors the First Baptist Church. They have one child, Nicholas, who is five and in kindergarten. Once a high-powered public relations executive with a top national firm, Felicia now works from home for the company’s Midwestern clients. The Morrisons came to Red River three years ago from Los Angeles. <br /><br />Mimi Plaisance is a former teacher who now stays home with her four children: Michaela, eleven; Mark, Jr. (MJ), nine; Megan, six; and Milo, fifteen months. Mark, her husband, is senior pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church. <br /><br />Jennifer Shores is married to Sam, pastor of Red River Community Church, where she is the church secretary part-time. They have been married twelve years and have one adopted daughter, Carys, who is eleven months old. <br /><br />Chapter 1 <br /><br />Lulu’s Café<br /><br />Tuesday, March 18<br /><br />12:05 p.m. <br /><br /><br />“I can’t believe it!” Felicia Lopez-Morrison waved as she ricocheted through the tables, heading toward her three friends seated in their usual booth in the back right-hand corner of Lulu’s. <br /><br />      “Did you hear the news?” she asked breathlessly, sliding into the seat next to Jennifer, who pushed her leather purse against the wall and scooched over to give Felicia room.<br /><br />      Mimi laughed. “You mean about the scandal?”<br /><br />      “Who hasn’t heard?” Jennifer leaned over and gave Felicia a side hug.<br /><br />      “When Dave told me, I thought he was kidding,” Felicia said. “Kitty hasn’t even been in the ground a year.”<br /><br />      Lisa nodded. “Well, Norm was probably just lonely. He needed the companionship.” <br /><br />      “Then buy a dog,” Jennifer suggested. “Of course,” she said, getting tickled, “then people would talk about dogs and a Katt living together!” <br /><br />      The women groaned.<br /><br />      “It would have to be for companionship.” Felicia shouldered Jennifer playfully. “He just met the woman. He couldn’t love her, could he?” <br /><br />      “From what I heard,” Mimi said matter-of-factly, “she’s more like a girl.” <br /><br />      “Ladies!” Lisa smiled but looked a little uncomfortable.<br /><br />      Jennifer knew Lisa was construing this turn as gossipy. Sweet Lisa, Jennifer thought, looking at her friend, seated across the table from her. Always taking the high road. You’d think after four years of us all being friends, we would have picked up some of her good traits.<br /><br />      “Well, well.” A loud, brassy voice interrupted Jennifer’s thoughts. Their plump, gruff-sounding waitress, Gracie, was standing over their table, pulling out the order pad from thewhite apron strapped around her ample thighs. “Glad to see little Miss Señora made it today.”<br /><br />      Felicia pulled back in mock offense. “Hey, I’m only five minutes late!”<br /><br />      “Yeah, yeah.” A slight smile crossed Gracie’s face. She jutted her chin out toward Felicia. “I’m likin’ you without all the high-and-mighty outfits and shoes and whatnot.”<br /><br />      Everyone at the table laughed. Felicia spread her arms in show and bowed her head, as if accepting a standing ovation. Gracie threw back her head and guffawed.<br /><br />      Felicia certainly had changed in the last year she’d been working from home, Jennifer recognized. Her silky black hair, once curled and neatly laying across the top of her shoulders, was now pulled back in a ponytail. And her high-powered business suits and designer shoes had been replaced by a black pair of jeans and a mauve hoodie sweater. Jennifer glanced under the table—Well, her boots are still designer, she thought good-naturedly.<br /><br />      “I like you girls.” Gracie pulled a pencil from behind her ear. “You’re always the highlight of my every-other-Tuesday.”<br /><br />      “Well, thank you, Gracie,” Mimi said. “And you’re ours.”<br /><br />      “All right, enough with the chitchat,” Gracie said. “Are we all having the regulars?”<br /><br />      “Yes, ma’am,” Jennifer and the others chimed in.<br /><br />       Gracie harrumphed. “I don’t know why I keep taking out my order pad and pen for you all. OK, PWs, I’ll be back with your drinks.”<br /><br />      Jennifer watched Gracie plod off to her next table of customers several booths toward the front of the café. Jennifer really liked their waitress—and knew her three friends did too. Underneath all Gracie’s gruffness lay a heart as big as an ocean. And it was Gracie who had given the women their official group nickname—the PWs. <br /><br />      When Jennifer, Mimi, Lisa, and Felicia had started secretly meeting at Lulu’s nearly three years before, Gracie had been their waitress. She’d overheard them talking about God and their churches, figured out that they were all pastors’ wives, and nicknamed them. She’d gotten a big kick out of the fact that the women—all hailing from the southwest Ohio town of Red River—would drive forty miles out of their way every other Tuesday to nosh and chat in this little nothing-special dive. Although the PWs never had explained to Gracie that they met that far from home to avoid nosy townsfolk and church members overhearing their business, their now-seventy-year-old waitress hadn’t taken too long to figure out what was going on.<br /><br />      Now Gracie ambled slowly behind the front counter to the rectangular opening between the restaurant and the kitchen. She pounded a bell sitting on the ledge and yelled, “Order in!”<br /><br />      Felicia unfolded her paper napkin and laid it on her lap. “I just can’t believe it,” she mused, shaking her head. “Norm Katt remarried. To a woman half his age.”<br /><br />      “Whom he just met,” Mimi reminded everyone.<br /><br />      Jennifer pulled her eyes from watching the cook grab their order ticket and start to read it. Gracie had interrupted a very important news-sharing moment, and Jennifer didn’t want to miss any of it.<br /><br />       “And did you hear her name?” Mimi asked.<br /><br />      “Allison.” Lisa shook her head, looking as if she were trying to suppress a laugh. “Ally.”<br /><br />      As if in chorus, the women said, “Ally Katt.”<br /><br />      “Does the man never learn?” Felicia laughed. “First, he marries Kitty. And now Ally.”<br /><br />      “Oh, if they have children!” Jennifer said. “They could name one Fraidy.”<br /><br />      Felicia nodded. “Twins, of course, would be named Siamese and Tiger.” <br /><br />      “Of course.” Jennifer smiled.<br /><br />      “You all are so terrible!” Lisa pushed back her thick, reddish-brown-highlighted hair and fluffed it.<br /><br />      Mimi sighed and patted Lisa on the arm. “Oh, we all know it’s just in fun. We really don’t mean anything by it, do we, ladies? But you do have to admit, it is funny.”<br /><br />      Lisa rolled her eyes and shook her head as if to say, You silly kids. “Has anybody seen her?”<br /><br />      “Not that I know of—I mean, except for their church,” Jennifer said. “I guess Norm and his new bride only came back to town a couple weeks ago.”<br /><br />      “Well,” Mimi said, “that kid’s got a tough act to follow. As much as Kitty drove us all crazy, her church adored her. Wonder how they’ll take to a new pastor’s wife?”<br /><br />      “I don’t know,” Lisa said. “But they’ll definitely talk. I hope she knows what she’s gotten herself into.”<br /><br />      “Did any of us know that when we married pastors?” Mimi asked.<br /><br />      Lisa smiled. “I guess not.”<br /><br />      “I sure didn’t!” Jennifer said, thinking back to when she and Sam married twelve years ago. She had been attending the church as a relatively new Christian when Sam arrived on the scene as pastor. “Being a church member and being a pastor’s wife are two entirely different things.”<br /><br />      “I didn’t marry a pastor,” Felicia said. “If you recall, I married a businessman, who decided several years into his career that he was called to be a pastor. I didn’t get that vote.”<br /><br />      Gracie walked toward them, carrying a tray of drinks. She set it down on the edge of their table. “I’m getting too old for this. Can you believe they still make me carry my own trays? And my shoulder all messed up from that fall back in December?” <br /><br />      Gracie had taken a tumble on some ice outside Lulu’s one evening after work several months back and hurt her shoulder and hip.<br /><br />      “Is that still bothering you, Gracie?” Felicia asked.<br /><br />      “I still go to therapy for it, but you know those doctors. You can’t trust ’em.” She handed Mimi a glass of milk and passed Lisa an iced tea. Felicia grabbed the remaining two glasses, each filled with Diet Coke, and handed one to Jennifer.<br /><br />      “Hey!” Gracie said. “You trying to deprive me of my hard-earned tip?”<br /><br />      “Sorry!” Felicia joked. “But you know I’m working from home now. I need all the money I can get.”<br /><br />      “Well, you’d better find a better table. These girls are tighter than a duck’s behind with their money.” She pulled four straws out of her right apron pocket and plopped them in the center of the table. <br /><br />      “I’ll be back.” She winked, then pulled up the tray against her chest and trudged away.<br /><br />      “Can you believe it’s been a year since Kitty died?” Lisa tore the paper off her straw and crumpled it before dipping the straw into her drink.<br /><br />      “I know,” Jennifer said. “I kind of miss her. All the snarky comments about how insignificant our churches were compared to hers. The patronizing tone. The condescending looks.”<br /><br />      “I’m serious!” Lisa said. “It was tragic.”<br /><br />      “I know.” Jennifer sipped her soda. “Believe me, I wish she hadn’t died. It wasn’t a piece of cake for me—going through that miscarriage and being considered a murder suspect in her death—all in the same weekend.” There I go again, making everything about me, she told herself and inwardly winced.<br /><br />      Felicia rubbed Jennifer’s back. That was sweet, Jennifer thought, realizing her friends remembered how difficult that time in her life had been. She’d wanted that baby so badly. And to suffer a miscarriage, have an all-out argument with Kitty, threaten her, then have her up and fall down a ravine and break her neck…. It had been devastating.<br /><br />      “Let’s be honest.” Mimi dabbed at a trace of milk at the corner of her mouth. “We didn’t like her. She didn’t deserve what happened to her. But life has been calmer and more sane and relaxing since she’s been—”<br /><br />      “It was a year ago yesterday,” Felicia said. “St. Patrick’s Day weekend. At the pastors’ wives’ retreat.”<br /><br />      “That reminds me!” Mimi brightened and reached under the table. She pulled up her large purse/diaper-bag and dug into its depths. In her hands appeared two shamrock-and-cross-covered eggs that were the brightest kelly green Jennifer had ever seen. She laid them on the table and reached back in, producing one more. “From Megan. She wanted me to make sure to give these to you. We combined two holidays in one—St. Patrick’s Day and Easter, since that’s this weekend.”<br /><br />      “Carys will like this.” Jennifer picked one up and set it on top of her purse.<br /><br />      “I wonder what she looks like?” Felicia took another of the eggs and placed it by her drink. <br /><br />      “Who?” Lisa asked.<br /><br />      “Norm’s new wife.”<br /><br />      “I wonder if she’ll come to the next pastors’ wives’ meeting at New Life next month?”<br /><br />      “I already called and invited her. She’s coming.” Lisa tore into a packet of sugar and dumped it into her tea.<br /><br />      The table fell silent as Jennifer, Mimi, and Felicia all stared open-mouthed at their friend.<br /><br />      “What?” Lisa asked. <br /><br />      She really doesn’t know, Jennifer realized.<br /><br />      “You’ve been holding out on us, girlfriend!” Mimi said.<br /><br />      “Spill it,” Felicia said.<br /><br />      “What? There’s nothing to tell, really.” Lisa fidgeted a little in her seat. “I called her last Friday. We didn’t talk that long. I just congratulated her on her wedding, welcomed her to Red River and to being a pastor’s wife, then invited her to next month’s meeting.” She looked around the table. “OK. She did sound young . . . and very perky. And . . . she giggled a lot.”<br /><br />      Jennifer, Felicia, and Mimi eyed each other knowingly. Yep, this is going to be a fun meeting next month. How in the world did Norm go from hard-edged, superior Kitty to an early twenties cheerleader?<br /><br />      “Wonder what Kitty would think?” Felicia asked.<br /><br />      Lisa shrugged. “I’d hope she’d be glad that Norm found someone who loves him and is going to take care of him.”<br /><br />      Before Jennifer could say anything, Gracie arrived with their food.<br /><br />      “All right, PWs, quit your yakking and help me unload this thing.” Gracie pulled the first plate off the tray and handed it to Mimi. Mimi looked at the tuna melt and strip of cantaloupe and passed it on to Lisa. Jennifer’s was next with her chicken strips and fries. Then Felicia took her Caesar salad. Last was Mimi’s hamburger.<br /><br />      They got their food situated, passing the ketchup and salt, then Felicia offered grace.<br /><br />      Mimi shoved a fry in her mouth and savored it. “I love Milo, but I gotta tell you, it’s nice to eat a full meal without messy little fingers showing up, grabbing something on my plate.”<br /><br />      Felicia poured the dressing over her salad. “I know what that’s like. Oh, the peace and quiet—and adult conversation!”<br /><br />      Jennifer smiled as she thought of eleven-month-old Carys doing that same thing. But her thoughts drifted back to Kitty and the week following her death. Jennifer had been considered—although not officially—a murder suspect and had had to endure the detectives following her around, treating her like a criminal, until they determined Kitty’s death had been an accident. <br /><br />      “Remember last year when those detectives were following me around?” Jennifer asked, trying to sound nonchalant. <br /><br />      With their mouths all full, the others could only nod and say, “Mmm-hmmm.”<br /><br />      “Well, it’s happening again. At least I think it is.”<br /><br />      “What?” Mimi half-choked and plopped her burger onto her plate. She pounded on her chest with her fist as if trying to move the meat down her esophagus. “Detectives are following you around?”<br /><br />      “I don’t know who it is. But I keep seeing this black town car everywhere I go. Just glimpses of it, really. But . . .” Jennifer knew the whole thing sounded crazy. And verbalizing it made it sound even more outlandish. Maybe I’m just making this up. “Never mind. It’s . . . probably nothing.” She tried to laugh it off. “Just my overactive imagination. You know, with all the sleep deprivation and everything.”<br /><br />      “Oh, yeah, I can relate,” Mimi said. But she tilted her head toward Jennifer. “You OK? I mean, if somebody is following you . . .”<br /><br />      “Why would somebody follow you?” Felicia asked.<br /><br />      “That’s just it.” Jennifer swirled her chicken strip in a sea of barbecue sauce. “I don’t know. I can’t think of one plausible explanation.”<br /><br />      “Maybe it’s a church member trying to dig up dirt on you.” Felicia smiled and patted Jennifer’s arm.<br /><br />      Jennifer laughed. “No, that would be Lisa with that problem.”<br /><br />      Lisa lifted her napkin to hide her face, then let it droop just below her eyes. Wide-eyed, she looked around the diner frantically. They all laughed, but Jennifer knew Lisa was trying to put up a good front. Lisa had lost fifteen pounds in the last six months, and the sparkle in her hazel eyes had lost its shine. Poor Lisa. God, take care of this situation at her church. They don’t deserve this. They’re good people.  <br /> “What’s going on with your church?” Jennifer asked, partly to take the focus from her, and partly because she hadn’t heard the update in a while.<br /><br />      Lisa dropped the napkin back to her lap and shrugged. “Same old, same old. At least Joel is still the pastor—though I don’t know for how much longer. He’s meeting with the head troublemaker next week to confront him.”<br /><br />      That’s not going to be easy. Although Jennifer and Sam had had their share of church member issues, they’d never gone through major conflict, as Lisa and her husband, Joel, were now. She ached for them.<br /><br />      Lisa continued. “I just wish . . . you know, if these people are so upset, why do they cause such trouble? Why not just leave? Why make it into a huge power struggle?”<br /><br />      “Because—” Mimi leaned over until her shoulder was touching Lisa’s—“and you should know this better than any of us, Miss Assemblies of God, this is called spiritual warfare. The enemy doesn’t want the church to be vibrant and powerful in the community. He’d rather take down a church from the inside out than have it succeed.”<br /><br />      “Oh, sure, look at it from a spiritual perspective, why don’t you?” Felicia smiled gently. <br /><br />      “It’s hard to do that, though, isn’t it?” Jennifer asked. “Especially when the hurt is so physical and emotional.”<br /><br />      “Well, sweetie, you know you’re in our prayers.” Mimi wrapped her arm around Lisa and squeezed. <br /><br />      Lisa just nodded and looked down. Jennifer could tell her friend was embarrassed, because she’d quickly wiped at her eyes.<br /><br />      “How are things in your life?” Jennifer asked Felicia, trying to take off some of the pressure from Lisa.<br /><br />      “Actually, can’t complain right now.” Felicia swirled around some more dressing in her salad but didn’t look anyone in the eyes. “My clients are happy. I mean, there are challenges working at home. Mostly because everybody thinks that since I’m home, I’m, you know, sitting around watching Dr. Phil and just waiting for someone to put me to good use.” <br /><br />      “Oh, yes.” Mimi laughed. “Been there. Everybody thinks that we live to serve, huh? OK, well, we do, actually—at least that’s what my kids tell me—but still!” She laughed again.<br /><br />      “So that’s been a bit of a challenge. But other than that, things are . . . good.” Felicia held up crossed fingers. “Enjoy the peace while I can, right?”<br /><br />      Jennifer waited to see if Felicia would say any more. She got the sense something else was going on with Felicia but knew her friend would speak up when the time was right.<br /><br />      Lisa must have thought the same, because she turned to Mimi. “And how about you? How’s Dad doing?”<br /><br />      “Awwk.” Mimi rolled her eyes. “As ornery as ever. One of the conditions for Dad staying with us is that he’s supposed to attend his AA meetings. He’s still attending, but he’s also still drinking. He does it on the sly, like he thinks we don’t notice. I don’t know what to do, honestly. We can’t kick him out; he’s got no place else to go.”<br /><br />      “Where’s your mom?” Felicia asked.<br /><br />      “She’s down in Kentucky, staying with her sister. She’s definitely not interested in taking him back. And I don’t blame her. Life with my father has never been easy. But when he ran off to California with that woman . . . I can’t say I’d take him back either, if he were my husband.”<br /><br />      “So instead,” Jennifer said, feeling a little bitter, “you, the daughter, have to take him in and parent him.”<br /><br />      Mimi half-chuckled. “Yep. My sister made it clear she wasn’t interested. So I’m it.”<br /><br />      “Doesn’t that tick you off?” Jennifer said.<br /><br />      “Sometimes, yes. But you know, I’m the responsible one.” She tucked her short, blond hair behind her ears—something she did whenever she was stressed or frustrated about something. “Plus, Mark and I have been trying to look at it from a spiritual perspective. He’s my dad—and he needs the Lord.”<br /><br />      Just like my mother. Jennifer tried to push the thought aside. <br /><br />      “Is he going to church with you yet?” Felicia asked.<br /><br />      “No, that’s one thing he refuses to do. But we keep working on him. It’s really cute to see Megan reprimanding him about not attending.” <br /><br />      Jennifer could picture Mimi’s precocious six-year-old giving her grandfather a lecture about loving Jesus and getting saved.<br /><br />      Gracie reappeared and dropped the check on the table. “Here’s your parting gift, ladies. Hope you have a good week and those preacher husbands of yours treat you all right.”<br /><br />      “Hey, how’s your sister doing, Gracie?” Lisa asked as Gracie started to turn away. <br /><br />      Gracie grimaced and a shadow crossed her face. Jennifer knew Gracie’s sister had been diagnosed with breast cancer a year ago and had gone through surgery and chemo.<br /><br />      “Not good. She just went to the doc last week. It’s back and vicious.”<br /><br />      “I thought she had it beat,” Jennifer said.<br /><br />      “We thought so too, but when she went in for a checkup, they found it. It’s in her bones and I don’t know where all.”<br /><br />      “Oh, Gracie, we’re so sorry.” Mimi touched Gracie’s hand. Gracie squeezed it and held on. <br /><br />      “Oh, Gracie,” Jennifer murmured.<br /><br />      “That’s terrible,” said Lisa.<br /><br />      Felicia just shook her head, her face heavy.<br /><br />      “I’m flying down there to Florida next week to be with her,” Gracie said. “So I guess I won’t see you next time.”<br /><br />      “We’ll be praying for your sister—and for you,” Lisa said.<br /><br />      Gracie nodded and let go of Mimi’s hand. “I know you will. If God hears anybody, I know it’s you four women. Pray hard, will ya? Maybe he’ll take pity on an old, crotchety woman and her sister.” She winked, then turned and walked slowly away.<br /><br />      Jennifer and the others looked at one another but didn’t say anything for a moment.<br /><br />      “I had no idea.” Felicia’s eyes followed Gracie as she tended to her other customers on the other side of the restaurant.<br /><br />      “She didn’t let on at all that something was up,” Mimi said, looking amazed at how well Gracie had covered up her pain.<br /><br />      “Maybe we should pray for her and her sister right now,” Lisa suggested.<br /><br />      Jennifer and the others agreed. There was no better time and place to pray.<br /></div><br />
Okay, for some reason I am having trouble getting the pictures to upload alright here, but hey, I will keep trying!
I just got this book yesterday, but actually had taken the time to read it so I could post a short review of what I thought. It was a humorous look at the difficult life of pastor’s wives.  They were all really different! Mimi has 4 children and a drunkard of a father to deal with, Jennifer with her mother with mental illness (which of course I related to) and Lisa with all the church issues, Felicia deciding if she should have another child or not,  and the new young pastor’s wife whose name is hilarious…..Ally Katt!  I think I would agree after reading this book that Katt should not be anyone’s last name! <p>
I found the book interesting! it ws hard to get used to the switching back and forth between all the characters for me, I think it might have been the way the book was set up, but it was a small thing. The story was well written, engaging and  fairly honestly protrayed the difficulties of pastor’s wives. I did feel that a couple of things were a bit far fetched, but hey, it was a fiction book!
I would love to read the whole series!

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Menu for the week and other such things

I did not post terribly much this week! It has been a hard one! But we lived through it and I think maybe P/ for all his complaining about having to take a Beginning Writing and Grammar class, may end up enjoying it! I am not sure if he will beg me for another one, but we will see. Our weather here today has vacillated between snowing and sunny! It cannot make up it’s mind if it wants spring to come or not! Right now it is snowing, an hour ago, the sun was shining!
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I had to do some different grocery shopping this week and spend more on food as I was trying to tempt someone’s appetite, but I think I can figure it out, I hope! I did get some good deals though! I got two blocks of cheese for $4 ($2 a pound for cheddar cheese), Eggs, toilet paper, pasta etc. pretty cheap as well. The pasta was .49 a pound, which is good!
Anyhow, I am mostly done for the week already  unless there are amazing sales I have to get next week.
Wednesday:
Corned beef and cabbage, potatoes (I did not feel like freezing the corned beef this time)
Thursday:
Corned beef hash,  cauliflower and broccoli- in a salad or with dip or steamed, not sure or coleslaw
We could even have Reuben sandwiches…..hmmmm, well, maybe we will have some of both!
Friday:
Borcht- Bread
Saturday:
Cabbage rolls, mashed potatoes (i have no ground meat so I am going to try to make these with like a pot roast type meat, we will see  how it goes. Maybe I will be too tired on Saturday and will clean the house instead and eat leftovers!)
Sunday:
Pasta, spaghetti sauce, salad
Monday:
BBQ chicken, Broccoli  cauliflower salad, pasta salad
Tuesday:
Skillet scalloped potatoes and ham, green beans
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