Long overdue update post – and Merry Christmas!

December 23, 2009 Categories: This and That | 1 Comment  

It started with NaNoWriMo – at least that was my excuse. And then even when I gave up on NaNoWriMo halfway through the month (I made it to 20,000 words), I still didn’t blog much, except for some promotional posts and reviews I had committed to. It’s not that there hasn’t been anything going on – I just haven’t felt like writing, I guess. I am still blogging, though – I’ve become completely addicted to book blogging – and it takes up most of my spare time. I never dreamed there would be a day when I would have different authors e-mailing me every week, asking to send me a copy of their book to review. It’s been amazing!

Mommy Brain will always be my first blogging home, though, and I feel guilty for letting so much time go by here without a post that was a bit more personal. So, if there are any of you actually left reading, here’s what’s been going on in our world.

~ Natalie turned 13. She sang at a community Christmas concert on her birthday, and hearing her introduce herself as ’13 years old’ for the first time was quite a moment. She sang beautifully, by the way.

~ Noah, 11, decided maybe getting married didn’t sound like such a bad idea after seeing a particularly pretty girl from afar at a church we were visiting. :)

~ Jonathan, 10, and Josiah, 8, are very sad we don’t have much snow for Christmas. I, on the other hand, got enough snow during last year’s snowpocalypse to last me the rest of my life.

~ Kevin’s keeping busy – work is steady.

~ Kevin’s sister Carol is undergoing treatment for her liver cancer, and it seems to be working so far.

~ My sister Debra and her husband divorced earlier this year, but through prayer and counseling, they have reconciled, and will be remarried on Christmas Eve. Yay, God!

~ We will be spending Christmas Eve and day with my parents. Natalie and I are both singing for the Christmas Eve service, then we’ll sleep over and have the tree and presents in the morning. My grandma and aunt will join us for Christmas dinner.

That’s all that comes to mind for now. I hope this Christmas finds you surrounded by family and friends. See you in the new decade!

Bookish stuff

December 21, 2009 Categories: Books | Comments Off  

~ Book Bloggers’ Twelve Days of Christmas
~ Book Review: Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
~ Book Review: The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
~ Book Review: Beside a Burning Sea by John Shors
~ Book Review: No Time to Wave Goodbye by Jacquelyn Mitchard
~ My top 20 books from 2009, part one
~ Book Review: Darkness Be My Friend by John Marsden
~ Book Review: The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer
~ Book Review: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
~ Reading challenges for 2010
~ Book Review: The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment by A.J. Jacobs
~ Announcing Essay Reading Challenge 2010
~ Book Review: Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd
~ Literary Road Trip: Author Martha Brockenbrough
~ Book Review: Wait Until Twilight by Sang Pak
~ Book Review: On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson
~ Book Review: When She Flew by Jennie Shortridge
~ Book Review: Best American Nonrequired Reading 2008

Young Scientists Club Kit Winner

December 19, 2009 Categories: Contests | Comments Off  


Congratulations to Jonnie, who has won her choice of The Young Scientists Club Set 4: Bacteria & Fungi, Weight & Volume, Acids & Bases Science Kit. And thanks again to Jason from Toys and Games Online, a great resource for online toys, who made this giveaway possible.

Featured DVD: Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie

December 15, 2009 Categories: Movies , Reviews | Comments Off  

(Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie was provided to me by Click Communications for the purpose of review.)


The most magical event of the year is now even bigger, with more thrilling adventure! Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie Extended Edition features exclusive footage, behind-the-scenes bonus and awesome extras that take you deeper into the mysterious world of wizardry!

Embark on a supernaturally exciting adventure as the Russos, your favorite family of wizards-in-training, join together on a quest full of heart-stopping action and hilarious magical mishaps! While on vacation, Alex (Selena Gomez) accidentally casts a spell that threatens her family’s existence! Max (Jake T. Austin) tries to keep his parents together while Alex and Justin (David Henrie) use every trick they know as they search for the “Stone of Dreams” to reverse the spell and save their family. You won’t want to miss one extraordinary moment of this extended, magic-filled and action-packed movie!

Natalie’s review: Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie is a very fun and exciting adventure movie for kids of all ages. I really enjoyed it. Wizards of Waverly Place has always been one of my favorite TV shows. I do recommend this to kids!

Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie is available now on DVD. The DVD special features include on-location featurettes about special effects, stunts, props, and more.

Happy Birthday, Natalie

December 13, 2009 Categories: Kid Stuff | 1 Comment  

Thirteen years ago today, God gave us the incredible gift of a baby girl. Today, she is a teenager. I know that the adolescent years are supposed to be fraught with angst and rebellion and conflict – and I know there will probably be conflicts ahead – but so far, Natalie has been an utter and complete joy.

So, Natalie, I want you to know how proud your daddy and I are of you. You are a loving, vibrant, smart, beautiful girl, and I am so blessed to be your mom. Never forget that you are a treasure – not only to us, but to your Father who gave you life. I am so excited to watch you grow into the woman He wants you to be.

Happy Birthday, Natalie! I love you very much.

Young Scientists Club Giveaway

December 11, 2009 Categories: Contests , Homeschooling | 9 Comments  


I am so excited about this giveaway – and I know all of you will be, too. Whether you’re a homeschooler, like me, or a parent who likes to share educational activities with your children, you definitely need to enter this giveaway.

Toys and Games Online is a fantastic site, especially right now, when everyone is shopping for Christmas. If you’re shopping for online toys for your kids, you’ll definitely want to check out their site.

The Young Scientists Club kits are pretty much every homeschooling mom’s dream: they give you all the tools and simple instructions you need to perform interesting experiments with your kids. The idea was created by a mother of five with a degree in Biology – as a biologist, she knows her science, and as a mom, she knows the things we want most in a science kit.

Now, for the giveaway details:

1. Click on over to their Young Scientists Club section, and check out all the different kits.

2. Come back and leave a comment on this post telling me which kit you would like to win if your name is chosen. Only one entry per person, please.

3. This giveaway is open to readers in the US and Canada only.

4. All entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. PST, Friday, December 18th. I will used Random.org to draw a winner on Saturday, December 19th.

Good luck!

Jonathan’s food confusion

December 6, 2009 Categories: Kid Stuff | Comments Off  

For some reason, our third child has trouble remembering the names of foods. Or, to be more exact, he has trouble remembering how to say the names of foods. Here are a few of his most fun mistakes:

Hot-stickers (for pot-stickers)
Whack-a-moley (for guacamole)
Shirley Temper (for Shirley Temple)


Winner: Nancy Drew – Warnings at Waverly Academy PC Game

December 5, 2009 Categories: Contests | 2 Comments  


Sorry this is so late! Busy day. :) Without further ado, the winner of Nancy Drew: Warnings at Waverly Academy is…

….Susie the Geek!

Congratulations, Susie. :) Watch your e-mail box; I’ll be contacting you for your mailing information.

Thanks to everyone for playing along. Stay tuned – another great giveaway for parents is coming up on Monday!

Music Review: Norah Jones – The Fall

December 2, 2009 Categories: Music | Comments Off  

thefallBeloved by fans for her sultry vocals and jazz-informed, piano-driven pop songwriting, Jones has taken a new direction on The Fall, seeing it as a chance to experiment with different sounds and an opportunity to work with a new set of collaborators, including Jacquire King, a noted producer and engineer who has worked with Kings of Leon, Tom Waits, and Modest Mouse among others. Jones also enlisted several songwriting collaborators, including Ryan Adams and Okkervil River ’s Will Sheff, as well as her frequent partner Jesse Harris.

Track listing:

1. Chasing Pirates (Norah Jones)
2. Even Though (Norah Jones/Jesse Harris)
3. Light As a Feather (Norah Jones/Ryan Adams)
4. Young Blood (Norah Jones/Mike Martin)
5. I Wouldn’t Need You (Norah Jones)
6. Waiting (Norah Jones)
7. It’s Gonna Be (Norah Jones)
8. You’ve Ruined Me (Norah Jones)
9. Back To Manhattan (Norah Jones)
10. Stuck (Norah Jones/Will Sheff)
11. December (Norah Jones)
12. Tell Yer Mama (Norah Jones/Jesse Harris/Richard Julian)
13. Man Of The Hour (Norah Jones)

I jumped at the chance to review Norah Jone’s new CD The Fall. Her earlier CD Feels Like Home is a favorite of mine. I’m glad I read a review before listening to her newest – so I was prepared for it to have a different feel. Still good – just different.

While Feels Like Home was a very feel-good CD, heavy on piano and a folksy sound, The Fall is much more rhythm driven – lots of drum and guitar. It evokes a completely different mood – in fact, reading through the lyrics, I would guess Ms. Jones had a bad break-up recently, especially considering the last song on the CD, “Man of the Hour,” is about her dog. :)

Ms. Jones’ lyrics are very symbolic and full of poetry, and I find phrases from the songs running around in my head long after I’ve stopped listening, as my mind turns over the various layers of meaning. I definitely think Ms. Jones’ fans will love this CD, as long as they don’t expect it to be a copy of her previous work.

Watch a video of my favorite song from the CD, Chasing Pirates.

Disclosure: The Fall was provided to me by Special Ops Media for the purpose of review. The above link is an Amazon affiliate link. If you click on the link and subsequently purchase anything, I will receive a small percentage in commission.