Monthly Archives: October 2013

Ten Million Reasons by Heather Gray

My Review:
Cute story! It was very short, so moves along fast! My copy of the book had the end of some of the pages cut off, which was irritating, but I managed to keep up anyhow!
-Martha

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 author is:

and the book:

Astraea Press (July 25, 2013)
***Special thanks to Opal Campbell for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Aside from her long-standing love affair with coffee, Heather’s greatest joys in life are her relationship with her Savior, her family, and writing. Years ago, she decided it would be better to laugh than yell. Heather carries that theme over into her writing where she strives to create characters that experience both the highs and lows of life and, through it all, find a way to love God, embrace each day, and laugh out loud right along with her.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Money talks, and the way she spends hers tells him all he needs to know…
Richard needs to find a woman he can trust, and he needs to find her fast. He doesn’t have time to waste on getting to know people, which means dating and interviewing are out of the question. So how can he get past that initial mask of good behavior to learn what people are really like? Easy! Give them ten million dollars and watch to see what they do with it.
Genevieve is a free-lance journalist who talks to herself, constantly forgets to put appointments on her calendar and can’t go anywhere without being asked to take a survey. Why on earth is Richard interested in her? She doesn’t know it yet, but he has ten million reasons…

Product Details:
List Price: $1.99
Ebook: 123 pages
Publisher: Astraea Press (July 25, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: B00E5TLMV8

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Chapter One

How do I always let myself get sucked into these things? Genevieve Mason sat at her own little private booth in a large room with at least a dozen other people. The clock on the wall ticked loudly, reminding her this was not where she was supposed to be. For some reason she’d never understood, Genevieve had difficulty saying no to surveyors. She invariably felt sorry for the ones who had to stand out in the walkway of the mall trying to entice complete strangers into their offices to take the silly things. While she didn’t generally mind completing a survey, she simply didn’t have the time today. Yet, here I am. Taking a survey. When will I ever get a backbone about these things?

A tall, model-thin woman, with straight blonde hair and professionally done eyebrows, clapped her hands twice. “Alright ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming in today. I am going to explain what you need to do, and then I will answer any questions you have. The project should only take about an hour of your time, and you will each be compensated with a twenty-five dollar mall gift card. You can use your gift card at any retailer, including the food court.” The woman, who would doubtless look less severe if her eyebrows weren’t quite so brutally perfect, paused briefly before launching into what sounded like a well-rehearsed speech by a drill sergeant.

I wonder what she pays to get her eyebrows done. Surveying must be more lucrative than I thought.

“Today you will receive a windfall.” People gasped in surprise, but Genevieve wasn’t biting. She’d been through too many of these to get pulled in with a line like that. “You will be given a hypothetical amount of ten million dollars,” the woman continued, speaking over the disappointed sighs of some of Genevieve’s comrades-in-arms, “to spend any way you wish.”

Tapping her foot loudly, the woman who Genevieve had begun to think of as Model-Talker stared around the room until everyone was quiet. Then, continuing her speech, she said, “There is a computer screen in front of you with two columns. In the left column, you will give a description of how you are spending your money. On the right of the screen, you will enter the amount you wish to spend. You will see a tally at the bottom. The tally is keeping track of how much you have spent. When you get to ten million dollars, stop and raise your hand. I, or one of my assistants, will submit your entry and see that you receive your gift card.”

Arms raised all around the room as people began to have questions. Model-Talker held up her hand to halt people’s inquiries and added, “Let me give you a couple of guidelines first. Then I will answer your questions. Your survey will be assigned a coded number. When you are done, you will complete a form with your name and contact information in case we have questions at a later date. Your name will never appear on your survey. The information you enter will not be shared with any other companies and will only be reviewed by one other individual in addition to myself.”

Genevieve wondered how efficiently their survey data could be processed if only two people would see it. Reining her wandering thoughts in, she listened to the rest of Model-Talker’s speech. Talk faster! Some of us need to get somewhere.

“The items you wish to spend your money on have to be items you can purchase in a single day. You cannot spend any of your pretend money on buying a house, for example, because the paperwork and closing for a house take several days. While you can invest money in the stock market or a CD, you cannot open a trust fund because the legalities of opening a trust generally take more than a single day.” Three quarters of the hands in the room went down.

“Any questions?” Model-Talker’s chilly, businesslike voice and expression shamed the remaining people into putting their hands down.

For crying out loud, lady! It’s not as if you’re going to get the plague by answering a question. Genevieve stifled her laughter. She didn’t want to cause Model-Talker’s gaze to zero in on her.

“Alright, everyone. You have one hour to complete the exercise. Begin.”

Genevieve began typing away on her keyboard, entering totals, as she thought about all the ways she could spend the money. Ten million dollars… She wasn’t ever likely to have that kind of money, but it was sort of fun to think about.

Within five minutes, a short woman, muscular and dressed like a construction worker, raised her hand to indicate she was done. Genevieve wouldn’t have noticed except that Model-Talker tsked as the woman left the room. Once some of the other people saw how quickly it could be done, they began finishing hastily, too.

They’re probably dumping it all into a savings account or the stock market. Why wasn’t I born with that kind of cavalier attitude?

She, however, wanted to give careful thought to her expenditures. In order for the results to have any value, she needed to answer honestly. Although, at the rate the other people are leaving, I’d say the data compiled from today will be good and skewed.

Despite her best efforts to ignore it, the repeated ker-thunk of the door opening and closing demanded her attention. They obviously haven’t heard the honesty-in-testing lecture enough times. As she watched the next couple of people leave the room, something struck her.

They’re all women. There’s not a single man in this room. Maybe it’s a study into the female psyche. She was sure she’d heard Model-Talker say “ladies and gentlemen.”

Thinking about the lunch date waiting for her, Genevieve swiftly typed in her remaining entries and watched the tally at the bottom of the screen climb. When she got to nine million five hundred thousand dollars she sighed. Who’d have thought I’d have so much trouble spending money? What can I lavish half a million dollars on? Finally struck with inspiration, she entered her final imaginary expenditure and raised her hand. She completed the paperwork and left the room, casting one last pitying glance at the three remaining women who continued to studiously peck at their keyboards.

****

Genevieve sprinted the last twenty yards or so to the food court hoping her date hadn’t left. She clipped a stranger in the side with her shoulder, yelled an, “I’m sorry!” over her shoulder, and continued on her path. Zipping around the corner, she found herself confronted with an overcrowded food court, people spilling over everywhere she looked. How am I supposed to find him?

“Aunt Gen, over here!” Genevieve turned her head this way and that until she saw her nephew waving his hands wildly over his head in a far back corner of the food court.

Relief coursed through her. Thank goodness! She’d been worried he would think she’d stood him up. Poor guy had enough trouble in his life. He didn’t need another reason to be disappointed in those he loved.

“I’m late, aren’t I?” she asked, the sound of her words shaped by her winded voice.

Max laughed at her. “Aunt Gen, you’re always late.”

“Will you ever forgive me?”

“Buy me lunch, and I’ll think about it,” her fifteen-year-old nephew said with a twinkle in his golden brown eyes.

Sliding two twenties across the table to her nephew, Genevieve said, “You know what I like. Get whatever you want. You deserve it for braving the masses to order.” As her nephew jumped over the handrail behind their table and began maneuvering his way in and out of the different lines, Genevieve sat back and closed her eyes.

Thank you for keeping Max here until I arrived. It was a small but heartfelt prayer.

She opened her eyes, looked around at the crowd and caught a glimpse of herself in the large mirror along the back wall of the food court. Why do they insist on using mirrors to make it look like there’s more seating – and more people – than there actually is? She didn’t care to spy on other people while they ate and instead studied her own reflection. Genevieve scrutinized her large green eyes and fair complexion. She had curly hair that her family insisted on calling red even though she always wrote auburn whenever she had to enter the color on a form. It was shoulder-length but tended to stand out away from her head rather than lying down gracefully. I certainly don’t need any of that shampoo advertised to add body! In a family of Irish-Italian descent, she was the only one that actually looked Irish. Everyone else had been born with the requisite bronzed skin and black hair of their Italian heritage.

She sought out Max in the mirror. He stood in line waiting for the slow progression of customers to move him forward so he could place his order. Max looked more like her father, his grandfather, with each passing year. He’s too handsome for his own good. It won’t be long before he realizes how much the girls notice him. Max spent much of his time seeking approval from his family; enough in fact, that he hadn’t yet detected the way the fairer sex was always trying to get his attention. If he has seen it, he certainly hasn’t let on about it.

Genevieve’s sister had divorced three years ago. Max had been twelve at the time, his sister Jenny fourteen. Jenny had fared better in the divorce. She saw her dad a couple times each month, and he doted on her, buying her all the pretty things she wanted. That was his way of making up for his absence, and she was okay with that. Sadly, Max had been much more wounded. He hadn’t wanted the latest toys and gadgets. Instead, he had wanted time, and his dad hadn’t been willing — or perhaps able – to supply it. At an age when he was growing from boy to man, he’d essentially lost the one person who was supposed to be most qualified to help him understand what it meant to be a man.

Maureen, Genevieve’s sister, had done her best, but the divorce had forced her to change jobs in order to support her kids. Instead of working part-time and being home in the afternoons, she now worked fifty or more hours each week and hardly saw her kids at all. Genevieve had always been close to her nieces and nephews, but after the divorce, she went out of her way to try to spend time with Jenny and Max. She and Max did lunch at the mall every other week. She and Jenny got mani-pedis together. It seemed like the least she could do. It sure beats spending good money to get my eyebrows tortured when I can do that at home free of charge!

“You know, Aunt Gen, you’ve never once been on time to lunch.” Max was still laughing at her as he set the food down.

Snagging one of his egg rolls and putting it on her own plate, she said, “What makes you say such a mean thing to your dear old auntie?”

“You were worried I’d think you’d blown me off. I could see it on your face when you came round the corner.”

Genevieve shrugged. “Okay, so I was worried. Sue me.”

“You’ve never stood me up. Until you do, I’ll always believe you’re coming.”

Warmth moved through her middle, but it had an icy edge to it. Genevieve was both touched by Max’s words and saddened that he’d had enough experience with his parents in the past few years to know what it felt like to be stood up. His dad wasn’t the only one who hadn’t always been there for his son. There had been more than one sporting event in recent years where she’d been Max’s entire cheering squad. She always saved a seat for her sister, but the seat was rarely ever filled. Max deserved better, but as Maureen often pointed out to her, Genevieve didn’t know how hard it was to be a single mom working to support two teenagers.

Max and Genevieve ate lunch, swapped funny stories from their week, and discussed schedules for the upcoming month. He had decided to try out for the cross-country team.

“I don’t stand a chance, but I want to try.”

“Why? Running is so boring.”

“You run.”

“Yeah, but only because it’s slightly less monotonous than sitting at the computer when I have writer’s block.”

“The practices are long, and they’re in the afternoons when Mom’s usually working, so this will give me something to do. I get bored killing time at home so much. It’s dull there now that Jenny got a job and is gone all the time.”

“How does she like her job?” Genevieve asked, with interest.

“I don’t know about the job, but she sure does like the money,” Max answered, waggling his eyebrows comically.

Ah, to be a teenager with the simple worries of acne medication and a pretty dress. Then Genevieve corrected herself. And divorce. Don’t forget that simple worry.

“So why were you late today?” Max asked.

“You’d never believe me if I told you,” she answered.

“Try me.”

Rolling her eyes, Genevieve answered, “I got sucked into another survey.”

Max almost spit chow mein at her as he laughed. “You have got to be kidding me! Can you even walk through the mall without taking a survey?”

Trying not to laugh, Genevieve crumbled a napkin to throw at her nephew. “I got a gift card out of this one.” Then, slapping the palm of her hand against her forehead, she said, “I should have used it to pay for lunch! What was I thinking?”

“You can use it next time.”

“Do you honestly think I’m going to remember that?” Her voice was filled with dry humor.

“No worries,” he said. “I’ll remind you.”

“What would I do without you, Max?”

“You’d be lost without me, Aunt Gen, and you know it.”

The two cleared their table, and then Genevieve linked her arm through Max’s as they began weaving their way through the crowd to head toward the front of the mall. “You know, Max, I think you might be right. I would be lost. Who else would know to buy himself an extra eggroll just so I could snag it?”

When they got to her car, Genevieve entered Max’s cross-country tryout into her phone’s calendar and told him, “I can’t promise, but I’ll do my best to be there.”

“It’s okay if you can’t make it.” His voice was rock solid. “I know it’s in the middle of the day.” Max, whose every emotion generally came out in the way he spoke, only sounded this steady when he was trying to mask something.

He doesn’t want me to know he’s disappointed.

“No, it’s not that,” Genevieve said. “You know how bad I am with dates. I need to double-check my desk calendar at home and make sure I don’t have something written down there that I forgot to put in my phone.” Staring at the device in her hand as if the calendar in it would magically give her an answer, she finally shook her head and said to Max. “I’ll text you the morning of to let you know for sure one way or the other, okay?”

Max nodded and said again, “No worries,” as he climbed into her car.

It was a beautiful day in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains. They drove with their windows down and, since Max was in control of the radio, their music blaring.

Genevieve dropped him off at home. Jenny was still at work, so she didn’t pop in to say “hi”. Instead, she headed back to her own home to try and get some work done.

She was bumping up against deadlines for articles with three different magazines. That’ll teach me to stay up all night reading a book! Releasing a deep sigh, Genevieve admitted to herself that she’d been putting off the articles because they’d all sounded so boring. I have got to start getting pickier about the assignments I accept. What’s the point of freelancing if I can’t stand any of the work I do? I’m not sure this even counts as freelancing anymore.

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What Once was Lost by Kim Vogel Sawyer

From Back Cover:
A woman meant to serve, a child in the dark, a man standing apart—can these three souls embrace a God with new plans for them?

On a small Kansas farm, Christina Willems lovingly shepherds a group of poor and displaced individuals who count on her leadership and have come to see the Brambleville Asylum for the Poor as their home. But when a fire breaks out in the kitchen leaving the house inhabitable, she must scramble to find shelter for all in her care, scattering her dear “family.”

With no other options, Christina is forced to approach Levi Jonnson, a reclusive mill owner, to take in a young blind boy named Tommy Kilgore. Levi agrees with reluctance but finds himself surprised by the bond that quickly grows between him and Tommy. As obstacles to repairing the farm pile up against Christina, she begins to question her leadership ability and wonders if she can fulfill the mission to which she’s dedicated her life. And when an old adversary challenges Christina, will she find an unlikely ally—or more—in the aloof Levi? Can Levi reconcile with the rejection that led to his hermit-like existence and open his heart and life to something more, especially a relationship with a loving God?

My Review:
Christina was inspiring. She attempts to do what her father had done, before he died, but everything is against her.
The prejudice in this book is interesting. Blind people? Why? I found myself questioning how much we have really changed though, when I look around and see how we treat our poor and needy. We often carry some of the same ideas about orphans and foster children still.
I loved the mild romance in this book. It was very subtle and sweet, almost to the point you could miss it. Levi was hard for me to get, I struggled to understand him, and also the Christianity thing was also hard to get.
Ms. Sawyer does a great job of showing you how the care for the poor was a complicated process when the church took care of it. This is before Welfare systems, and it was not very easy. People had to give up their privacy and livelihoods to help others they did not believe were worthy. It was an interesting story!

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The Beloved Daughter by Alana Terry

My Review:
I am not sure what I expected from this book, but I did not expect it to be the gripping tale that it was. In Beloved daughter, the raw issues that faced North Korean believers are made very real. The emotional and physical abuse is described in detail, making this book one for adult reading, rather than teens, however, it would be good that if an older teen was reading, great for discussion.
I think this book would be great for a book club discussion group, as there are many facets that would cause deep thoughts.

I had not read much about the sufferings in North Korea, but what I found most interesting was the way that even the strongest Christians could turn on one another or be tempted to forsake their faith. The story is engaging, but does leave you on a bit of a cliff hanger, for which I really hope there is a second book in the making! This is not an easy, happy fiction read, but is more like a biographical story, written in easy to read language.

Thank you to Alana Terry for allowing me the chance to read and review this book!

The Beloved Daughter, an inspirational suspense novel by award-winning author Alana Terry, is a story of persecution and triumph set in the oppressive North Korean regime. The audiobook version of Alana’s bestselling debut novel is narrated by Kathy Garver, a four-time Audie award winner and Lifetime Achievement Award recipient from the Motion Picture Council. (You might also recognize Kathy as Cissy from the TV show Family Affair.)

Listen to a sample of Kathy reading from The Beloved Daughter.

The Beloved Daughter

Synopsis: In a small North Korean village, a young girl struggles to survive. It is her father’s faith, not the famine of North Hamyong Province, that most threatens Chung-Cha’s well-being. The Beloved Daughter follows Chung-Cha into one of the most notorious prison camps the contemporary free world has known. Her crime? Being the daughter of a Christian.

Join the giveaway

Acclaim: 

 

*Winner, Women of Faith Writing Contest

*1st Place, Book Club Network Book of the Month

*Amazon Bestseller (#5 Christian Suspense)

Reviews:

“…an engaging plot that reads like a story out of today’s headlines…” ~ Women of Faith Writing Contest

“Alana is a master storyteller, and I can’t imagine anyone failing to be
captivated by this harrowing tale
. What we have here is a compelling
story, but it’s also one of great importance.” ~ Brad Francis, Author of The Savvy Demon’s Guide to Godly Living

“The Beloved Daughter is a beautifully written story that is…both personal and representative of the challenges that many North Koreans still face today.” ~ Sarah Palmer, Rescue Team Coordinator at Liberty in North Korea

“The author does a phenomenal job… HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – but have tissues handy.” ~ Pauline Creeden, Editor AltWit Press
Order your own copy of The Beloved Daughter.

Awesome Prizes!

You don’t want to miss out on the month-long Beloved Daughter audiobook launch party. RSVP now on Facebook or see the Alana Terry facebook page to get started. Dozens of winners … Hundreds of $$$-worth in prizes!

ENTER THE DRAWING: In addition to the Facebook party, you can enter the grand prize drawing below for a chance to win a $100 gift card to either Target or Amazon (you choose!), or one of the awesome prizes from the prize gallery (think Christian T-shirts, jewelry, books, CDs, lotions, and more)!
SEE THE AUDIOBOOK HERE

SEE THE PAPERBACK HERE

SEE THE EBOOK HERE

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Perfectly Matched by Maggie Brendan

Perfectly Matched

By Maggie Brendan

 

 

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

 

From the back cover:

Anna Olsen knows it’s time to leave her sister’s increasingly crowded house and start a life of her own. Following her sisters’ examples, she becomes a mail-order bride, and after a short correspondence with clock maker and jeweler Edward Parker, she moves to Denver to become his wife. Almost immediately it’s painfully apparent that Anna and Edward are very different. Anna is a free spirit who would rather be painting and enjoying the company of friends than cleaning house. Edward is a consummate perfectionist who, on their wedding day, hands Anna a list of chores that need to be done around the house daily.

 

Can this mismatched couple see past their differences to a harmonious future? Or will their disparate passions create obstacles neither is willing to surmount?

 

Maggie Brendan closes her Blue Willow Brides series with a heartwarming tale of true love despite misunderstanding, showing readers that God’s timing is always perfect.

 

 

My Review:

This is the final book in this mail order bride series that is called “Blue Willow Brides” because of the theme of the Blue Willow china that is woven throughout.

 

Anna is impetuous, and when she marries a man she doesn’t know find that there are some struggles to overcome.  Edward has his own struggles, struggling with what we know as OCD, then he just seemed rigid and organized to a T.  I found it interesting how Ms. Brendan wove the china, OCD, Macular degeneration and other topics throughout this romantic story.

I especially enjoyed the book club meetings that were a part of it, hearing about what books they were reading at that time as well as the history of the city of Denver.  I am curious now, to go and do my own research about the beginnings of animal shelters, as that was another interesting tangent entwined in this story!

 

This is a heartwarming story of two people that seem so opposite, hardly know each other and yet, in this book, they fall in love without meaning to. If you enjoy reading a clean, romantic story, this will be one that you will want to pick up.

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Menu Plan for the week

I feel all mixed up and befuddled after getting home from my trip! I am trying to get back on track though!

Wednesday:
Pizza and Salad at the bowling alley with family

Thursday:

Lasagna noodle bake from the freezer (This was the first one we tried, it was really good)

Friday: 

Mashed potatoes, salad,  buttercup squash on the side

Saturday:

Chicken potato soup, bread

Sunday:

Spaghetti squash with sauce (pasta with sauce), salad

Monday:

Meatball subs, cut up vegetables, chips

Tuesday:

Crock pot meal….BBQ meat with buns, carrot sticks

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Where Hope Starts by Angela Meyer

My Review:
Angela Meyer was a new author for me, and I enjoyed the story she told. Karen is a talented worker, but when her husband causes issues for her once again, she loses her job. The thought process that follows causes her to accept a plane ticket to see her estranged family.
The journey that Ms. Meyer takes you on with Karen makes you want to solve the mystery of why her family is so messed up.

I struggled a bit in the book to actually solve that mystery and while you ended up getting bits and pieces here and there, I never felt like the picture was actually clear. I think it would have been nicer to lay it out a little at the beginning, and then go into more detail throughout the book.
In spite of that, I felt like the message of this book really spoke to me about how marriage should be sacred, but you don’t let it hurt you. Karen took a stand when her husband was abusive to her, which I liked to see.
This fiction book contains some nitty, gritty stuff….such as talk of abuse, family issues, parenting flaws etc. If you want a happy romance, this is probably not the book for you. But if you want to think about a few things outside of that, you will likely come away from reading this book with some deep thoughts. – Martha

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 author is:

and the book:

CrossRiver Media Group (August 9, 2013)
***Special thanks to Angela Meyer for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

 Angela D. Meyer lives in Omaha, NE with her husband of  22 years. They have two children whom they homeschool – recently graduating their son. She has taught childrens’ Bible classes for over 35 years. She loves God, her family, the ocean, good stories, connecting with friends, taking pictures, quiet evenings and a good laugh. Someday she wants to ride in a hot air balloon and vacation by the sea. Where Hope Starts is Angela’s debut novel.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

From New York City to the suburbs of Kansas City, a marriage struggles through the fallout of secrets and addictions.

Eight years after saying I do, Barry raises his hand against Karen and she discovers his addiction to pornography bringing their marriage to the edge of destruction.

Karen returns to her childhood home near Kansas City, MO to think through her options, but discovers her first love ready to pick up where they left off so many years ago.

Still in New York City, Barry attempts to fix the mess he has made of his life and his marriage. His choices take him on a downward spiral that leads to brokenness and the possible loss of his freedom.

Will they find their way back to each other or will they walk away from the future God has for them?

Product Details:
List Price: $17.99
Paperback: 292 pages
Publisher: CrossRiver Media Group (August 9, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1936501155
ISBN-13: 978-1936501151

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Come home.

   Karen Marino choked back a cry as she stared at the words scribbled on the front of the envelope. She slid her fingernail under the flap and gaped at the plane ticket nestled inside a letter. Why now? She gritted her teeth. Heat flushed from her neck to the top of her head as she remembered the look of disgust on her father’s face.

The clash of pans in the restaurant kitchen startled her back to the present. “What the…?”

She glanced at her watch. Almost eleven. She slid the ticket and letter back inside the envelope and tucked it into her purse. She took a deep breath before stepping out of her office.

“Steve, how does the schedule look?” Karen hired him straight out of culinary school. His lack of experience paled next to his talent, and within a year his specialties had drawn in customers from all over New York City’s five boroughs, earning the restaurant a five-star reputation.

“Perfect, my love.” He crossed his arms and smiled. “Now, when are you going to marry me?”

She laughed. “Your mother would be disappointed. I have more red hair than Irish blood.” She enjoyed the attention her hair brought in The City, where she no longer stood out like an apple on an orange tree.

“My ma would love you anyway.” Steve placed his hand over his heart.

She shook her head and waved him back to work, then strode through the kitchen inspecting the line cooks as they prepped for the noon rush. “Be sure and clean up as you go….No, not that dish. Use the glass one. And keep a towel nearby.…How long have you worked here?…Don’t wipe your hands on your apron.”

She stopped. “Jimmy,” she yelled above the din of the kitchen. Her voice carried to the break room where the young man sauntered out with a donut in one hand and a coffee cup in the other.

“Yeah?”

She glared at him. “What’s with all these dirty pots and pans?”

The guy shrugged. “Had somewhere to be last night, so I saved them.”

“Get rid of that donut now and finish your job in the next half hour, or you’re fired, no matter who your cousin is.”

He threw the donut and coffee in the trash can and plodded off to his station.

“Karen.”

“What!”

“You okay?” Her assistant manager, Cathy, raised an eyebrow.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to snap.” Karen took a deep breath. “Is the dining room ready?”

“No problems there. But…” Cathy glanced over her shoulder. “Barry’s at the bar.”

“Not with the new owner coming in.” Karen clenched her fists. If she talked to her husband now she would lose her cool. “Did you tell him I was busy?”

“Yes. But, he’s got that look.”

Karen rolled her eyes. That meant another of Barry’s money-making ideas. Ideas didn’t pay the rent. “I better go talk to him.”

Barry grinned as she approached and she paused at the sight of his dark wavy hair and strong jaw line. If life were a photo, he would take her breath away. But once you added sound and action, that fantasy vanished.

She bit her lip. A part of her longed for what they used to have. How does a man change so much? He used to lead people. Now he controlled them, like the other night. Karen shuddered, then closed the gap between them. “We’re about to open. You need to go. We can talk tonight.”

“Like all those other times? Please.” He leaned against the bar.

“I said, we’ll talk.”

Barry slid off the bar stool. Although he stood only a few inches taller than her five foot seven frame and didn’t work out enough to have an impressive build, he carried himself with a bravado that demanded attention. “We’ll talk now. You’ll like this idea. It’s a chance to get in on the ground floor of a start-up company.”

Karen caught a whiff of liquor on his breath. “A little early to be drinking, don’t you think?”

“Don’t change the subject.” He banged his fist on the bar.

She jumped. His eyes grew dark. She backed away, her eyes frozen on his hands. “You need to leave. Now.”

“Why?” Barry’s voice grew louder.

“So I won’t lose my job.” The new owner was a powerful man. Barry could blow it for her.

“Miss Indispensable? Lose her job?” His empty laugh bounced around the deserted room.

“Please.” Karen reigned in her hostility.

“I will do as I please.” He took a step toward her.

“If you hope to get your hands on my money, try honey not vinegar.” She crossed her arms and stared at him.

“What are you talking about?”

“This approach will not get you what you want.”

He looked behind her and backed away. “Yeah, maybe we should talk tonight.”

Karen wrinkled her brow. What’s got into him now? She turned. The new owner walked toward her. He reminded her of Danny Devito. Short, stout, and balding. Add a bit of swagger to his walk and you would have her new boss. She groaned. Glancing Barry’s direction she saw him leave through the kitchen. I hope he didn’t just cost me my job.

She turned to face the man. She mustered a smile and extended her hand. “Karen Marino. You must be Mr. Simon.”

The man stared at her. “You’re fired.”  He smiled like a kid who just lifted a trinket from the store and got away with it.

“You can’t do that.” Her throat closed up. Breathe.

“I own this place, I can and will clean house as I see fit.”

His reputation was well earned. She forced herself to unclench her hands. “I built this restaurant into what it is today.”

“There’s no place in any of my restaurants for what I just witnessed. Home stays at home.”

“You’d get rid of me for one incident?”

“It’s not just one incident.”

She bit her tongue and glared at the man. Who talked?

“Leave now. Come back and clear out your desk after lunch.”

“Fine, I don’t need you or your restaurant. I have my reputation.” She regretted the words as soon as she said them.

“When I’m done, you won’t have a reputation.”

She turned and fled to her office. A man that powerful didn’t make idle threats. She grabbed her purse, squared her shoulders, and marched through the kitchen. She would not be shamed out of here. She did nothing wrong.

Her assistant manager barked orders at the staff. The new owner smiled while he watched. So Cathy betrayed me. An old pain grabbed at Karen’s heart. Why do people turn on me?

Letting the door slam on her way out, she rushed into the flow of human traffic. The wall of buildings hid the breadth of the sky and pressed in around her. Exhaust fumes mingled with the aroma of pizza from a nearby kiosk. She jumped when a taxi blared its horn. Two people shoved each other to get in, arguing over appointments. She picked up her pace, needing to escape the surroundings that for the last fifteen years had made her feel so alive. An image of the family orchard in Missouri filled her heart.

Her past caught up to her present and the old emotions, released from their prison, pinballed around inside her. She ducked into a nearby alley and leaned against the wall. Pressing her hands against the wall, she took several calming breaths against the tears welling up in her chest. She needed to think, not cry.

She pressed her fingertips against her eyes. I don’t want to go back to the apartment yet, and I don’t have an office anymore. Where can I go? She fought the desire to throw things and stomp her feet. She would not lose control.

Something brushed against her elbow and she jerked away. A pungent odor assaulted her nose as a man in a tattered jacket stepped closer.

“Some money for food?” He reached out his hands.

She pushed the man away and tucked her purse close to her body as she stumbled out of the alley and hurried away. Her thoughts latched onto her husband and the impossibility of the situation. Lost in a daze she walked several blocks before her stomach growled, reminding her of the time. She paused and looked around. Carnegie Deli looked like a good choice. Crossing the street, she stood in line for her turn, anxious for the line to move, yet longing for a slower pace.

Pressure built up in her right eye and tension grew between her shoulders. She dug through her purse for some pain reliever and popped two in her mouth.

“Next.”

She looked up at the man behind the counter. “Uh, I’m not sure, what—”

“I’ll take a Woody Allen and a coffee.” A construction worker shouldered his way past Karen, slapping some bills on the counter.

Karen glared at him, then raised her voice above the next person trying to steal her place in line. “Give me a Woody Allen, too.”  

Within minutes her order sat next to the construction worker’s sandwich. She grabbed her plate and cup of coffee, and turned to find a seat in the crowded dining room. From across the room, she saw two women get up from their table. She rushed to grab one of the empty chair.

She settled in to her seat and thought of the first time she came here. She was on a blind date, and he wanted to share his favorite place to eat. Crowded elbow to elbow with strangers at the shared table, it was not exactly romantic, but the food was delicious and plentiful. Her sandwich was piled so high with meat she ate for several days off of the leftovers.

Now, the deli gave her the anonymity she needed.

Cradling the coffee mug in her hands, she allowed the heat to calm her nerves. The day had not gone the way she planned. Lately, not much had. She rubbed her temples then scooted her plate forward to make room for her note pad. Avoiding the glares of her table mates, she pulled out a pen and began to list her options.

Find a job. In this economy? Right.

Barry find a job. She laughed.

Dip into her savings. She ripped the paper off the pad and wadded it up. Not again. That money was for the future.

Her head pounded as she fought back the tears. Barry’s scheme might be all they had. Maybe not.

She reached into her pocket and pulled out the letter. Karen remembered how special it felt to be a daughter of Charles and Annibel Hannigan. They were well respected in the community and at church, and then everything changed.

What’s so important that they want me to come home now? She laid the ticket aside and unfolded the letter.

Dear Karen,

Please come home. Your mother is dying and she needs to see you. She needs to know you understand. You need to hear what she has to say.

We are both sorry for the past and ask your forgiveness. I’ve enclosed a plane ticket. Change the date to what works best.

Love, Dad

Her hands trembled as she held the letter. Mom’s dying?

She laid the letter down and leaned her head onto her hands. She lost their favor with no explanation, and now they offered it to her again on a silver platter. It felt fake. What had she done to lose their favor in the first place? She wiped at tears she couldn’t stop. Did they think an apology could make up for everything?

“Hey lady, if you’re done, why don’t you move on. There’s folks waiting for a seat.”

Looking the bus boy directly in the eye, she reached for her sandwich and took a bite. He waved at her in dismissal and went back to work.

She glanced out the window as a mother bent down to look her child in the eye. She pointed at a large bulldozer across the street. The little boy smiled, looked back at her and nodded. They hugged. She grabbed his hand and continued walking.

She and her mother used to have a relationship like that. Carrying on like they were the only two people in the world. She looked away. Maybe going home wasn’t a viable option either.

She bit her lip. Am I supposed to just forgive them? How could they ask that of her? She hit the table with her fist and the coffee mug jumped, spilling onto the letter.

“Hey, watch it!” The man next to her grabbed his paper and picked it up ahead of the offending liquid.

“Sorry.” She grabbed some napkins and sopped up the mess. Blowing out a hard breath and tapping her fingers on the table, she checked her phone for the time before dialing her best friend.

Megan and Robert Fletcher reserved a table every Tuesday night at the restaurant Karen managed. Over time she became friends with Megan despite her penchant for religion. She always listened and gave good feedback.

And she’s the only person I trust.

Karen wouldn’t get the same attentive ear once Megan and Robert had their baby. The call went straight to voice mail, so she left a message. Megan must be at the women’s shelter she managed.

Karen picked up the letter and airline ticket and stuffed them in her purse. A walk might help her think better. Catching the waitress’ attention, she asked for a to-go bag.

Back on the street, her mind quickly turned to what her lack of employment meant for her life. Stay in New York and try to find another job without a reference. Give Barry’s scheme a chance. Or go home.

She cringed at all of those options. Like it or not, she had to consider them or maybe…her steps faltered as she did some quick mental calculations.

It would be risky and Barry wouldn’t like it, but she didn’t care. She quickened her step. She needed to stop by the bank.

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Using your library with your Homeschool

Using Your Library 

 

By Martha Artyomenko

Today I took a group of high school students to the library. Our purpose there was to learn about some of the valuable resources the library offers to help them with writing a research paper and other school projects.

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If you have not used or found the resources available through the library, I encourage you to look into them.  Many of them are available from your home, if you have high speed Internet and a computer or tablet.  Tony, one of the reference librarians, is very helpful and is available most of the time to answer any questions. You can email, call or visit the library at any time they are open.

On the library website there is a tab that says Databases and Resources. There are all sorts of things available on there.  Almost all of these require only a valid library card number.

http://www.flatheadcountylibrary.org/resources.htm

The first one, if you click on Magazines and Journals, it can pull up resources for any paper you may be researching. It has citations available to put into your paper as well.

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HomeworkMT is another part of the website. There are tutors available from 2 pm.-11 pm.  Sunday- Thursday to help walk you though homework questions.

Go through the library website to the link below.

http://homeworkmt.org

If you are repairing a car and need the Chilton Manuals, they have most of them available to you.

There are history reference guides, links to Montana sites that can help you among others.

Located in the library, there is a vast amount of reference and non-reference material available to be copied or looked at the library. The Montana Memory project is quite interesting!

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Remember this is one thing we can use as homeschoolers, that doesn’t cost us anything!  If it doesn’t get used, they often don’t feel it is needed!

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Confessions of a Wonder Woman Wannabe? by Jenny Sulpizio

Want to read a down to earth, while giving practical advice to you? Read this book! It was hilarious, practical and I enjoyed every chapter. Some of the info was not new information, but I enjoyed it anyhow! It helped affirm me in my mothering and gave me hope for the future! We may not all be wonder women, but we sure can pretend we are! Martha

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 author is:

and the book:

Leafwood Publishers (September 10, 2013)
***Special thanks to Ryan Self for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

As a self-proclaimed (and slightly crazed) Wonder Woman Wannabe herself, Jenny Lee Sulpizio is a Christian wife and mother to three amazing kiddos. After hanging up her star-spangled bloomers (and that restrictive red corset) a few years back, Jenny now spends most of her “spare” time dishing out the latest in tips, hints, and practical advice to help guide other mommies through the trenches of motherhood. And when she isn’t cooking, cleaning, starting her latest load of laundry, or attempting to raise her kids right (as in manner-possessing, respectful, God-loving little tikes), Jenny can usually be found writing about it instead. Through her children’s books, personal website, magazine articles, blog, and as a contributing writer for the online supersite, The MOB Society, there’s always plenty of information to relate to, and a whole lot of comic relief to go around.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Confessions of a Wonder Woman Wannabe will provide the modern-day mommy with sanity-saving tips, advice, and hilarious real-life accounts that every Supermom can most certainly relate to, benefit from, and appreciate.  After all, the reader may not have been born with super human strength, but with God on her side, Jesus in her heart, and the Holy Spirit in her corner, she’s more than equipped to handle the daily battles that rage before her. So hold on tight, girls, as we prepare to tackle this role of motherhood together: the good, the bad, (the slightly ugly), and everything in between.

Product Details:
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Leafwood Publishers (September 10, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 089112392X
ISBN-13: 978-0891123927

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

You’re a Mom . . . Now What?

“There is no way to be a perfect mother,

andRB a million ways to be a good one.”

—Jill Churchill

And there she lay. After forty-one-and-a-half weeks of pregnancy, and eighteen long, and rather painful—make that excruciating—hours of labor, my daughter had officially arrived. And it was at that point that I realized . . . I had absolutely no clue what I was supposed to do with her. Other than admiring that sweet, beautiful miracle, wrapped like a little burrito in her swaddling blanket and asleep in my arms, I was frighteningly devoid of my maternal instincts and just waiting for something (anything!), to kick in.

“Excuse me,” I said as I spoke into the hospital room intercom, attempting to grab the attention of one of the attending nurses. “I’m ready for my infant to be taken to the nursery now.”

There was silence on the other end.

“Hello?” I said again, maniacally pressing the button in an effort to get some attention. “Can anyone hear me? I’m pretty tired and need some assistance with getting my daughter settled for the night.”

It was at that point that I could have sworn I heard cackling in the background as the nurse dispatch seemingly collected herself, paused for a moment, and then stated, “Um, we don’t have a nursery, sweetie,” trying hard to hold back laughter. “That baby girl of yours is bunking with you tonight . . . and every night from here on out.”

Puzzled by her response and quite certain she had made a mistake, I looked at my husband in disbelief. With my hormones raging and tears welling up in my bloodshot eyes, I glanced down at my beautiful baby girl and pathetically yelped, “Help me!”

As a new mom, my mind was anxious with inexperience, as question after question on how I should mother my infant kept popping into my head: Why was this baby sleeping so long? What should I do with her if she wakes up? What happens when she has a dirty diaper? Should I ring the nurse to come and change her? In fact, where was the nurse most of the time and why wasn’t she taking care of this baby for me? Wait, why was my hospital gown all wet? Were my breasts leaking? Dear God, what was going on with my body?

And then the ultimate in negative thinking infiltrated my brain: Maybe I just wasn’t cut out for this motherhood gig after all. I mean maybe, just maybe, if I could bribe that delivery nurse to come home with me and agree to be my live-in nanny, this might all work out. After all, she did appear to have a sense of humor and definitely seemed like she’d be good with kids.

As it turns out, this “rational” plan of attack I concocted  probably wasn’t going to be the best long-term solution I needed after all, especially since bribery tends to work best when you actually have money. But hey, I was a new mommy and feeling a bit overwhelmed by the helplessness and sleep deprivation I was experiencing since that sweet blessing had arrived safely in my arms. Sure, I had been forewarned of the challenges that these first few days might present, but in all honesty, I didn’t believe they would happen to me. You see, prior to becoming a mom, I’d read book after book on how to be a great mother, how to avoid being a bad one, and everything in between. I felt prepared, confident, and ready to defy those “supposed” issues that most new mommies face: Raging hormones? Please, mine would be even-keel. Colicky baby? Pshaw! Had to be a myth. Complete and total exhaustion to the point where one’s eyelids needed to be pried open with toothpicks? Sounded like complete nonsense to me.

Yep, upon becoming a mother, it appeared that not only was I slightly delusional as to the expectations I had for myself, but it also seemed that I was suffering from a bit of naivety, a hint of denial, and was under the trance of one serious perfectionist complex already. Unbeknownst to me, my Wonder Woman Wannabe alter-ego (complete with imbalanced hormones) was taking up residence within, and the Supermom Syndrome was well underway.

“I think you just need to breathe,” my husband said.

“Breathe?” I asked quizzically, as if he were speaking a foreign language or something.

“Yeah, as in inhale, exhale, and repeat.”

“Oh, yeah . . . right,” I said. “B-R-E-A-T-H-E. Maybe I should try that.”

If only those superpowers would kick in already.

Struggling to Become “Super”

“There will be so many times you feel like you’ve failed. But RBin the eyes, heart and mind of your child you are Super Mom.”

—Stephanie Precourt

Remembering those first few months of motherhood kind of makes me cringe. Now, don’t take my words the wrong way—I was enamored of that beautiful baby I had been given, and was quite aware of how blessed I was. What I struggled with were the changes that came with being a mommy: figuring out which of my baby’s cries meant what, how the whole issue of feeding was supposed to take place, and understanding how to operate (and fully function) on three hours of sleep. In fact, I think I’m still struggling with that one.

Adjustments such as these, well, they’re all part of being a new mom. Unfortunately for me, though, I didn’t get the memo. Instead, my induction into this “maternal sorority” wasn’t the smooth transition I had originally hoped for, and those early days spent in “the motherhood” transpired a bit differently than the visions I had spent years conjuring up in my head. You see, initially, I had expectations of a well-orchestrated daily schedule comprised of pure baby bliss: maybe routine trips to the gym, long showers, and a much-needed nap or two (or three) each day. Throw in the gourmet meals I was going to whip up for my husband each night, and the spotless house I was going to regularly maintain, and I was convinced of my destiny to redefine the “super” in supermom . . . and channel my inner Wonder Woman in the process, I might add.

I’m sure you can guess what happened instead.

The truth of the matter was this: after becoming a mom, my world consisted of a constant struggle to maintain balance in my life. It was evident that all of those ambitious ideas I once possessed were totally ridiculous on my part, and the reality of my situation was that I hardly ever worked out, cooked macaroni and cheese out of the box, a lot, and detested the mere thought of cleaning my own home. I was run-down, tired, and in need of assistance. My clothes didn’t fit, my hair was a mess, and that unblemished, outward facade I once possessed was long gone. I was forced into accepting the fact that my life on this roller coaster ride of motherhood was going to require every ounce of energy I could muster, a whole lot of help from up above, . . . and maybe a serious caffeine addiction, as well.

But wait. Wasn’t this “ride” supposed to be amazing?

Amazing? Yes! Perfect? No.

Were doubts, questions, and moments of pure pandemonium going to surface?

Absolutely.

Would I become the type of mother who prayed incessantly, all the while enduring bouts of temporary insanity, a jolted confidence, and the severe testing of my patience along the way?

Odds were, likely.

Was I going to mess up from time to time, struggle with imperfection a lot, and question my parenting abilities just as often?

All signs would point to “yes.”

But who told me I needed to be perfect? And who said that my best wasn’t going to be good enough? It certainly wasn’t God. Nope, that person was me. I was a new mom struggling to become “super” . . . and I was losing the battle, big time.

So, Now What?

“Enjoy every single moment. The good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly, the inspiring, the not-so-glamorous moments. And thank God through it all.”

—Meghan Matt

Throughout this journey, I’ve learned a thing or two, or five hundred, about parenting my clanRB. At this point in my tenure, I’m finally understanding what works, what doesn’t, and what will single-handedly drive me to the brink of insanity without hopes of ever returning. Hey, there’s no denying that motherhood is a blessing and those children of ours are without question miracles, but that doesn’t mean raising them is easy, now does it?

In fact, ever since birthing my beautiful brood, I’ve morphed into a woman that, at times, I hardly recognize. I don’t say this to scare you of course, but my mind has become pretty scattered (okay—make that seriously spacey instead). “It can’t be that bad, could it?” Well, that useless ’80s music trivia I once prided myself on knowing is now a thing of the past. Dates, names, faces, and childhood memories have seemingly retreated to somewhere in the recesses of my brain, and I’m lucky if I leave the house each morning without sporting my ensemble inside out, upside down, or displaying unsightly deodorant stains. This mom (yep, me) has been found in public on more than one occasion donning two different shoes, a bra gone AWOL, and hair that would never be categorized as cute. Those days of carrying on an adult conversation (you know—using words other than “cacaRB” and “binky”) are long gone, and instead of putting my college degrees to use, I simply have them hanging on the wall to help remind me that I even went to college at all.RB

So, now what?

Girls, I think most of us can agree that we possess the desire to become more prepared, better organized, less frazzled mothers. I myself spend a sizeable amount of time praying for more patience, less frustration, and for God to mold me into the type of mom I so desperately want to become—perhaps one whose even a little less absent-minded at times. Hey, I don’t deny that, on occasion, I’ve even prayed for God to grant me some sort of superpowers, as well. Maybe not bionic strength or x-ray vision, but perhaps an extra arm or two for multi-tasking purposes, the ability to turn back time after a not-so-great mommy meltdown, the option to clone myself so I can be in ten different places at once, or simply the power to be everything to everyone during every moment of everyday (without collapsing in utter exhaustion).

Ahh, the life of a Wannabe is never boring, is it?

You, too, might be in search of easier ways to accomplish specific tasks and complete those unending errands. And you might also be a mom who finds herself stuck in a routine that she just can’t work her way out of.  Like you, I wanted to be more structured. I wanted to be more prepared. I wanted less stress in my life and more time for those memorable mommy moments I was craving with my youngins’.

I wanted all of these things and more, but didn’t know where to start or how to begin decoding the mystery of motherhood.

After all, there are no cheat sheet or crib notes we can reference. The manual I was in desperate need of to help me figure out how to do this role of mine—broken down by age and gender, and inclusive of all those unexpected surprises that would most certainly pop up on this journeyRB—just didn’t exist. But through my experience, and inexperience, I began to glean some valuable insight into this role. I found that the unexpected should be expected. I finally began to understand and appreciate what the concept of true patience really meant, and that being present day in and day out in the lives of my children, and loving them with my whole heart, was the most important thing I could do for them. I learned all of these things and more through ups and downs, highs and lows (a nervous breakdown or two…kidding, of course), and ultimately, through divine intervention.

But enough chit-chat already, right? Let’s get started by providing you with the information you’re looking for. After all, this guide is in your hands in order to give you tips you’ll need to make your life easier. And it’s been written to give you the practical advice you’re searching for, with the Christian foundation that’s necessary.

The Three Basic Rules of Motherhood

So, what are the three basic rules of motherhood that every Wonder Woman Wannabe should know?

I’m so glad you asked.

1. Expect the unexpected.

I’ll be honest in stating that I haven’t always been a prepared mom. In fact, there have been plenty of times where I have jumped in the car, kids in tow, only to forget some pretty important necessities. You know—items that no mother should be without?  We’re talking diapers, wipes, jackets (in the dead of winter), my cell phone, shoes—of all things, how does one forget shoes—and the list goes on and on. You name it and I have forgotten it, because I have failed to take the necessary steps in preparing myself in advance.

It’s in those times that I seriously think my mommy card should be revoked.

But in order to stave off stress and avoid embarrassment, we need to be uber-organized, prepared mommies. If you haven’t heard this before, I’m telling you now: preparation is key when it comes to being a mom. Whether it be packing your kiddos diaper bag the night before in order to avoid the last-minute, early-morning scuffle or simply making a list to remind yourself of your child’s necessities, being prepared is vital to your sanity and overall well-being. Want to make sure you’re prepared for when the unexpected happens to you? How about trying these tips on for size.

Make a list: Now, I’m a Capricorn by birth, which means that I am a maker of all things list-like. Is that even a word? No, seriously, if there’s a list to be made for any reason at all, I’m the gal making one. And my advice to you would be to do the same. Keep a journal, a daily planner, or whatever else will help you stay on task and be more organized. Go ahead, make a list (and check it twice if need be), in order to keep on top of your chores, errands, or any other type of thought in need of jotting down. Believe me—you’ll be glad you did!

Maintain a schedule: I absolutely must keep track of my appointments, and any other event I’m scheduled to make some sort of appearance at, or they become completely lost in the recesses of my brain. I’m a mom, I’ve had kids, and that means my memory is shot (we’ve been over this before). It’s a given. But part of being prepared for day-to-day endeavors is knowing where you have to be, at what time, and for how long. This requires a bit of planning and some organization. Use your cell phone calendar to keep on task, or establish a wall calendar at home so your spouse, kids, and anybody else interested in your monthly activities can be “in the know.” Keeping an up-to-date schedule is a huge sanity saver, girls!

Get help: I am a mom of three. I’ll let you do the math here, but since there is only one of me and three of them, this would indicate that I am severely outnumbered when it comes to my mothering duties. I need help. In fact, I need a lot of help. Confessing this doesn’t make me weak, nor does it make me less of a mom . . . it simply makes me aware of the fact that I need assistance (and that I should never RBbe too proud to ask for it). Do yourselves a favor, moms and employ neighbors, friends, in-laws, parents, or whoever else can help you as often as possible. Help is often times needed . . . and usually just a phone call away.

2. A little patience, please.

Who else out there finds themselves quick-tempered and easily frustrated? I’ve got both of my hands held high on this question and will be the first to admit that part of the problem with me resides in the fact that I no longer think like a kid. I think like an adult instead, and expect my kids to think (and act) the same way that I do.

But as Mark Merrill once stated, “Patience is choosing to control your emotions rather than letting your emotions control you.”

Hey, our kids are going to make mistakes. They’re human. At times, they’re going to do things that make absolutely no sense at all, in this lifetime or any other. They’re going to act out, behave poorly, throw tantrums, and embarrass the heck out of us, because guess what? They’re kids, and the whole concept of good behavior just so happens to be a learned one. It’s how we respond to those crazy situations that make all the difference. Yelling and screaming won’t get you anywhere (believe me, I’ve tried), but controlling your tongue, using reason instead, and implementing the use of prayer most definitely will. When your patience is all but gone, try a few of these tips to help you keep your cool.

Count to ten . . . or eighty: For me, ten seconds won’t cut it. In order to calm my temper and reach that happy place within once again, I shoot for eighty seconds instead. Take some deep, calming breaths and try to breathe your way through the frustration. Remember those Lamaze breathing methods you once used to deliver you’re now tantrum-throwing toddler? Time to brush off those birthing manuals and bust out those techniques all over again. Breathe away that frustration and keep your cool when tempers threaten to rage. It’s worth a try, right?

Pray: In fact, pray like you’ve never prayed before. I find it helpful to sound off in the middle of my frustration: “Lord, help me now, because (enter child’s name here) is trying my patience. I need you to let him know that I can’t take it anymore. Will you please help (speak child’s name here, once again) to become a sweet, loving, and respectful child? You know, the kind of gentleman (or young lady) you call him to be? Lord, hear my prayer. Amen.”

   Hey, God knows when you’re about to flip your lid, and He’s aware of how trying His little creations can be. So, seek Him out for help anytime you’re being tested and your sanity is in question. Better yet, ask God for help first and go to Him always . . . and often.

Keep calm and carry on: I feel like this phrase was written especially for me. Keep this saying close to your heart, fresh on your mind, and maybe plaster it somewhere in your home as a reminder when times get tough—because frustration is inevitable when you’re a mommy, which means we had better find ways to deal with it appropriately, amen? Keep calm girls . . . breathe, pray, relax, repeat.

3. Be there or be square

Life can get pretty crazy at times—as in the out-of-control, coo-coo type of crazy. Time speeds by much too quickly. I often find myself anxiously wondering how in the heck my children grew to their current ages and how soon their sweet childhoods will be but memories (ones I hope I’ll be able to remember, that is). It’s downright scary. All those efforts to freeze time have failed miserably. But even if we mamas can’t stop the clock, we do possess the power to make the most of the time we have by enjoying our children purposely, willfully, with our whole hearts, and with 100 percent of our attention. Being present means being deliberate in everything we do with our kiddos. It means refusing to allow the mindless, monotonous jobs of motherhood—cooking, cleaning, laundering, and so on—to consume us. Instead, we focus on the larger picture ahead by not getting wrapped up in the small, meaningless stuff. Confused? Let me clarify:

Together time: Set aside a period each day to spend intentional time with your kids. Read together before bed, watch a favorite family television show, talk about the day’s events, play a board game, or better yet, spend some much-needed time in Scripture. No matter what you do, make these designated moments of the day routine for your child. You know, a portion of the day they can count on and look forward to spending with you.

Listen up: As a mom, my mind just happens to always be in motion. Whether it’s trying to remember if I turned the Crock-Pot on this morning or whether I failed to turn the curling iron off, my brain is never at rest. Come to find out, my children are the same way. But rather than keeping their thoughts to themselves, they’d much rather express them . . . every single one of them, out loud and all of the time. As moms, we need to listen to our kiddos. We need to turn off our minds and turn on our ears. It doesn’t matter if our kids don’t make sense or if the vocabulary they’re using doesn’t exactly equate to English.  They feel happy, secure, and safe enough to share with us all that’s going on in that brain of theirs, and their begging for a captive audience. So, let’s make a concerted effort to place our thoughts on hold as we intentionally listen to what their young minds have to say. Because chances are, if we don’t pay attention now, they won’t give us the time of day later.

Limit technology: Cell phones, computers, tablets, and other technological devices that have made their way into our lives are also the instruments currently stripping us from valuable time with our families and loved ones. I’m just as guilty as anyone else of letting these electronic contraptions invade my life. Try curbing your use of these devices, especially when at home, and tend to your social media needs well after they’ve gone to bed.

If only motherhood were this easy though, right? If only these simple practices mentioned above could be the answers to all of our questions and the solutions to all of those mommy dilemmas. But keep in mind: this is only Chapter One, girls. Hang on tight, have no fears, and keep on reading.

A number of sites had this quote with “and”

http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/jill%20churchill

http://www.searchquotes.com/quotation/There_is_no_way_to_be_a_perfect_mother,_and_a_million_ways_to_be_a_good_one/232988/

Punctuation found at this site and others.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kirangosu/8338913627/

Might consider saying “can of #.” Since the first story started off with the experience of your firstborn, readers might be interested to see the “then and now” big picture.

Consider changing to “poopy” or some other version of caca. Funny enough, in my house, that would was a no-no to use growing up.  🙂

I would suggest “stinky” as well, but then you’d have rhyming words.

Mine never even made it to “wall status.” They’re tucked in my closet next to a heating pad. Very sad.

This one word seems to convey what you’re getting at, and avoids the awkward phrasing. Okay change?

Some of us (me!) still struggle with this on a daily basis. Using “should” may help remind us stubborn moms that we need to find humility in this area. That includes being willing to call our mother-in-laws for kid-pickup when we’re down to one car. RGG!

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Homeschooling – Week 7&8 in one

P1060454 T. reading one of the book basket books on Felicity’s life

P1060455His other read for the day was a little heavier. The weather has not been so nice, and we have not been able to go out to explore for identifying plants, but we read a bunch!

P1060456 P1060457 P1060458

Pointing out all the pictures was a lot of fun. They found the slavery pictures especially fascinating and horrifying, in light of our read aloud this week. Amos Fortune  Freeman by Elizabeth YatesP1060460

P1060462P. my high schooler, working away on his paper on the computer. His history book is sitting along side him.

P1060463“Do you think I am going to live through high school, Mom?”

P1060467T. working on the bed….

P1060453L. working on copy work

Today was a tough day! We are cramming a lot of knowledge into one week and I am not sure if we are going to retain it all. I am sure I am going to have to back over and review stuff, but that is a given most of the time!

P1060469T. doing sentence writing on a mini whiteboard on my bed.

P1060470His brother, L. reading his chapter book on the other end of the bed

P1060471Cheeky grins and looks…

 

P1060487Learning to put together a bookshelf…

P1060488 I think it goes like this…

P1060489 Got it!! Just have to screw it in!

P1060490 And nail on the back! All done!!

P10605137th/8th team for 2013

P10605085th/6th team for 2013

P1060503Listening to the coach

P1060514Playing  I spy with himself and his breakfast.

P1060517A great breakfast in his opinion!

P1060516 P1060515Basking in the sunshine, doing copywork and reading bible memory

P1060531The gorgeous view near here!

 

P1060530See all the trees changing color?

P1060520 We have been studying different types of animals. P1060519 P1060518Today was Bats.

P1060532They practiced using noise and smell to find each other.

P1060525 P1060527 P1060526 P1060529 P1060528They were blindfolded, half of them and half had to make noise and held something that made a smell. P1060523 P1060522 P1060521It was quite a good learning experience!

Then we went to a homeschool basketball game.

P1060533 P1060534 P1060535 P1060536 P1060537It was a good amount of running and you would think they would be tired after that, but L. seemed all amped up!

However, we completed a lot of school this week. We crammed a lot into one week and I proved that I could do it! I just have to keep up the pace!

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Freezer meal cooking continued….

P1060493Dough for pizza pocket rising

Pizza Pocket recipe

3 T. yeast

4 c. warm water

2 T. sugar

1/4 c. oil

1 t. salt

flour

Mix warm water and yeast together with sugar. Add other ingredients, except flour. Add flour to mixing bowl and knead until the dough pulls away from the sides and cleans the bowl. It will be fairly stiff, but not too stiff.

Oil bowl and set to rise

P1060496When it is risen, divide in to 2 in. balls.

Roll out into a circle and place your toppings on it. I put either turkey ham and cheese or sauce, pepperoni and cheese.

Fold in half and seal.

P1060500Let rise on a tray and bake at 400 degrees for about 10 to 12 minutes or until browned.

P1060499

 

I then put together some Italian noodle casseroles.

P1060491 Along with some Lasagna for dinner.

P1060501 It was really good!

P1060495 The casseroles lined up, ready for the freezer!

P1060498 I also roasted a chicken for other meals, for later.

P1060502 In the end, I think there were 5 Noodle casseroles and 3 bags of pizza pockets for the freezer, although the pizza pockets were already going fast!

 

 

 

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Filed under Bargain Dinners, Daily Happenings