Beyond Bedding

February 17, 2010 Categories: This and That | Comments Off  

Books, Movies, and all the various artistic forms of entertainment can change the way we view the world and help us to understand our world in a deeper sense. Stories told through the written word or acted out in film or on-stage have the capacity to evoke emotion and perhaps help us to have more compassion for others and learn about the human condition.

After viewing the wonderfully informative Chlidren’s Fiction section I realized that although this site is primarily about books, films, and other forms of entertainment there are many products that I feel also help to tell a story. Take nursery bedding for example. Decorating a nursery is more than just a little fresh paint and a pastel colors it’s choosing images and themes that may prove to be the beginning of their story.

Take for instance our ever popular Fire Truck Baby Bedding set is more than just a great 9 pc crib bedding set. Frankie is the name of the adorable fire truck that is the center of this bedding set and this theme is a perfect starting point for you to build a story of courage and sacrifice that your little boy will never forget.

Let your daughter’s imagination run wild with a classic yet modern cowgirl baby bedding set. With a wild west motif full of horse shoes, lone stars, and horses this amazing crib bedding set is another example of how a bedding set can aid in story telling.

Many parents choose to go with a stylish pink and brown bedding set but we urge you to go beyond color and patterns and think about how much a theme based nursery can help to inspire your child’s imagination.

(This is a sponsored blog post.)

I know, I know….

January 21, 2010 Categories: Blogging , Kid Stuff , This and That | 4 Comments  

….it’s been a really long time since I posted here. My mom has informed me that she misses reading my posts and thinks that others probably do, too. I’m not so sure about that – but for the few of you that are still checking back here for updates about me and my life, here’s a quick bullet-points update:

~ We had a wonderful Christmas. Kevin and I and the kids headed south to Chewelah to my parents’ house on Christmas Eve afternoon. We had a wonderful dinner – homemade fried chicken a la Dad – and then headed to church for the Christmas Eve service, at which Natalie and I both sang. We stayed over at Mom and Dad’s and had Christmas morning there. The kids were thrilled with the Wii and played all day long – which resulted in a lot of sore arms the next day.

~ New Year’s Eve we spent with Michelle and Don. The boys played video games, while Michelle and Don and Kevin and I played Mad Gab and Scruples and enjoyed spinach dip and pomegranate martinis. I think that was the first time we were awake for ringing in the New Year in a while!

~ The latest Jonathan-ism occurred when we were having dinner at a friend’s house. He asked for a piece of “German shepherd cake,” rather than German chocolate. :)

~ The kids are getting ready to start second semester P.E. classes, which will include 10 weeks of bowling. They are all very excited.

~ Two of my sisters are dealing with health issues. Marni has been diagnosed with Graves’ disease, a thyroid condition. She’s on medication and hoping that it works and she doesn’t need more radical treatment. Andrea has Raynaud’s condition, which is lack of circulation to hands and feet that causes extreme cold. It sometimes occurs on its own; other times it can be an indicator of something else, like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. We’re praying for the former.

~ Speaking of sisters, all three of my sisters, with their husbands and kids, will be visiting in June. I absolutely cannot wait.

Well, that’s all the personal stuff I can think of at the moment. Hope this finds all of you well in this first week of 2010.

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!

Quick update – and some links

November 5, 2009 Categories: Books , Movies , This and That , Writing | 2 Comments  

So, it’s day 5 of NaNoWriMo. I’m at 8,853 words – a bit over where I need to be, which is good, since I didn’t get to write yesterday at all. Michelle and I met at a local internet cafe, and against all odds, actually got some writing done! (Kevin was convinced the writing was just an excuse to get together and gab.)

Saturday is my birthday, so I’m looking forward to Mom and Dad coming over for dinner – Mom’s making lasagne, Dad’s making cheesecake. Yum!

Here’s the latest at Books and Movies:

~ Book Review: The Dead of Night by John Marsden
~ Book Review: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
~ Book Review: Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
~ Movie Review: Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
~ Movie Review: Aliens in the Attic
~ Book Review: Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
~ Book Review: The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter
~ Book Review: Dear Fatty by Dawn French
~ Book Review: The Watsons by Jane Austen
~ Lines you’ll only read/hear in a Stephanie Plum mystery
~ Movie Review: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
~ Recommendations from a non-blogger: Jonathan
~ Book Review: Lean Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovich
~ Book Review: Fire by Kristin Cashore
~ Movie Review: Cheri
~ Recommendations from a non-blogger: Noah
~ Two perfect books for curious kids and their parents
~ TV on DVD Review: Legend of the Seeker: The Complete First Season
~ Book Review: The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard

What advice would you give to your younger self?

October 28, 2009 Categories: Holidays , This and That | 4 Comments  

I had a strange dream last night – probably a result of watching the last two episodes of Life on Mars. In my dream, I went back in time to visit my younger self – around 15 or 16 years of age. I was allowed to give myself one piece of advice. You know what I came up with?

“Don’t wear orange.”

Profound, huh? I told Natalie, and her response was, “Well, Mom, you don’t look very good in orange.”

Links for Friday on Saturday

October 10, 2009 Categories: Extreme Health Makeover , Faith , Homeschooling , News , This and That | 5 Comments  

It’s been a while since I did an update post – and things are always crazy-busy, so here’s the bullet-points version:

~ It’s gotten cold here – we’re running the furnace in the mornings. I’m ready for fall, but praying that we don’t have record snowfall like last winter.

~ Project health makeover is going well. Kevin told me he can see my weight loss in my face. My jeans are loose, too.

~ Michelle is back from England, and I’m loving our weekly chatfests again.

~ I’m going to participate in NaNoWriMo for the first time this year. Wish me luck. I’m trying to talk Natalie and Noah into joining me.

~ I’m also going to take part in the 24-Hour Read-a-thon. Michelle’s taking the boys for a sleepover, and I’m hoping Natalie will be invited somewhere, too.

~ My sister Debra and her ex-husband – who divorced a few months ago – are in counseling and working toward reconciliation. This makes me very happy.

~ I talked to my youngest sister, Marni, on the phone today for an hour and a half. She lives in St. Louis – clear across the country. I miss her. I miss all three of my sisters, and I’m very glad that we’re all getting together in June.

~ I’ve decided that Natalie’s hatred of her history curriculum is not her fault, but the curriculum’s, so am considering a change. (Any ideas? She’s in 7th grade, studying American history from the Civil War through modern times. I’m considering The Story of US.)

~ Speaking of Natalie, it looks like she’ll be braces-free by Christmas, after 2 and a half years.

Well, I think that catches you up. Here are the links:

~ Cursive writing may be a fading skill

~ Buckets comic: Politics through the ages

~ Pictures that make you say ‘wow’: Photographers get up close and personal with wildlife

~ 20 centuries of church history in 4 minutes and 17 seconds

~ “Your Navel Never Lacks Blended Grape Juice”: A More Biblical Study on Alleged “Wine”

~ Confessions of a homeschooler

~ Why Roman Polanski can rot in jail for all I care

~ ‘Whatever’ so totally tops most annoying word poll

On Books and Movies lately:

~ Book Review: Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden
~ Book recommendations from a non-blogger #4 – Rod (Dad)
~ Book Review: The Magicians by Lev Grossman
~ Literary Road Trip: Author Lorie Ann Grover
~ Book Review: Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata
~ Book Review: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
~ Book recommendations from a non-blogger #3 – Teresa (Mom)
~ Book Review: Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich
~ Book Review: Eleven on Top by Janet Evanovich
~ Book recommendations from a non-blogger #2 – Marni (my sister)
~ Literary Road Trip: Author Dia Calhoun
~ Book Review: The Promised World by Lisa Tucker
~ Book Review: The Purloined Boy by Mortimus Clay
~ Book Review: The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

What DON’T I Do?

September 12, 2009 Categories: Homeschooling , This and That | 4 Comments  

I recently loved this post at Musings of a Housewife and it got me to thinking. I have a couple of book blogging friends who have said things like, “I can’t believe you homeschool and read all those books and blog, too!” One even said, “You’re a goddess!” – which made me snort my coffee all over my laptop screen.

So, yes, I do homeschool my four kids. And I read a lot. I occasionally do freelance writing – though not so much lately. I daycare my friend’s daughter after school. And I blog about books, movies, TV, homeschooling, etc; read other blogs; participate in Twitter and Facebook. I recently started going to the gym three or four times a week.

But, here’s what I don’t do:

I don’t cook gourmet homemade meals. I do cook mostly from scratch, but it’s very simple food, and Kevin grills a lot.

I don’t garden or do any yard work whatsoever.

I don’t can fruits and vegetables.

I don’t bake bread.

I don’t iron. I purposely buy clothing for my family that doesn’t require ironing.

I don’t keep my house spotless. If we’re having company – it’s clean enough. Spotless, not a chance. Up until this past summer, the house was cleaner in the summer – but this summer, I spent most of our free time at the park or pool with the kids. Deep cleaning did not get done.

I don’t scrapbook.

I don’t craft. I used to crochet, but haven’t had time lately.

I don’t volunteer.

I don’t attend women’s Bible study any more.

I don’t have a clean bedroom.

I don’t feel guilty (anymore) about the things I don’t do. Actually, that’s not true – every once in a while, when my mom or a particularly gifted homemaker friend of mine comes over, I may feel a teeny bit guilty and even try to deflect it by making excuses. But for the most part, I don’t feel guilty anymore.

When my kids are grown, I don’t think they’re going to say, “Geez, my mom wasn’t a very good housekeeper.” or “I wish my mom had baked more bread or canned more vegetables or kept a scrapbook.” I think they’re going to remember that I loved to be with them so much that I kept them with me every day. I think (hope) they’re going to remember all the books we read aloud together – laughing and crying over them. I think they’re going to remember how much fun we had learning together. And then it (the messy house, the store bought veggies and bread, the lack of pet, the lack of a second income) will all be worth it.

Big catch-up post, plus some links

August 23, 2009 Categories: Books , Homeschooling , Kid Stuff , Movies , This and That , Videos | 1 Comment  

Whew – it’s been a whirlwind week, with no signs of slowing down. Adding in my weekly support meetings and weekly training sessions, plus three trips a week to the gym on my own, has made things feel very busy – not that I’m complaining, since it’s working. Plus we have one more week of summer vacation before our homeschooling year starts back up on the 31st, and the kids want to suck as much free time and fun up as they can, while they can, so there has been a lot of shuttling kids to the city pool and park.

Friday, the kids and I headed down to Silverwood for our once-a-year amusement park day. We went with a friend and her daughter. The kids all read their 10 hours (outside of school reading) for a free ticket. Why don’t they have a similar program for adults? My admission ticket was $43.75. Add to that snacks – not even a meal, just snacks, because they won’t let you bring in any of your own food – and it was a very expensive day. Glad it only happens once a year. And also grateful that they do have the reading program for kids, or we would never be able to afford it.

The kids were all at sleepovers last night, so Kevin and I went out to Mexican food to split an order of chicken fajitas, and then came home and watched Psych on DVD. I love that show. Slept in this morning. I have to go pick up the boys here in a couple of hours, and then this evening we head south to Mom and Dad’s to celebrate Mom’s birthday.

The upcoming week will be just as busy, but with fun stuff. We’re having an extra play date with Michelle Tuesday afternoon, because she leaves on her dream trip to Edinburgh and London on Thursday. For four weeks. Sob. I’m so happy for her that she gets to go, but what will I do without our weekly gabfests?

Then, next weekend is the fair, and Natalie is competing. She will be singing twice for auditions on Thursday, and then if she moves on, again for the Talent Show on Friday, and, possibly, the Grand Revue on Saturday. She had an extra lesson with her voice teacher on Saturday, and I cried: she sounded so beautiful and looked so grown up.

After our fair weekend, it’s time to get back into our school routine. I’m ready. I think the kids are, too, though they might not admit it.

Well, it’s almost time to go pick up the kids, and I haven’t even put my makeup on. I just have enough time to share the links I’ve been collecting:

~ Win some cool Simply Fun family games at 5 Minutes for Giveaways.

~ Sherry has a great post about Miley Cyrus’s recent exhibition of poor choices.

~ Project 2996 is a project for bloggers to help commemorate the Americans lost on 9/11.

~ Am I the only grammar geek who has dreamed of doing this?

~ This little boy is an amazing guitarist.

~ Ever feel stumped for the perfect retort? Check out this list of imaginative insults.

Here’s what’s been going on at Books and Movies lately (By the way, Books and Movies was nominated for two Book Blogger Appreciation Week Awards: Best General Review Blog and Best YA Lit Blog, so thanks to anyone who nominated me!):

~ Book Review: Daniel X: Watch the Skies by James Patterson & Ned Rust
~ Literary Road Trip: YA Author Chris Crutcher
~ Book Review: Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant
~ Book Review: The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall
~ Enter to win a copy of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
~ Movie Review: Lost in Austen
~ Book Review: Ten Big Ones by Janet Evanovich
~ Some movie links and trailers
~ Author Interview: Elle Newmark, author The Book of Unholy Mischief
~ Book Review: Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon

Links for Friday – July 31, 2009

July 30, 2009 Categories: Homeschooling , Movies , This and That , Videos , Writing | 2 Comments  

Can you believe that it’s the last day of July already? We start our homeschool year on the 24th of August – it’s going to be here before we know it. Natalie’s science books came in the mail this week. These are completely new to me, so I was very happy to finally get my hands on them. I’ve gotten the year scheduled out, and just need to do some reading to make sure I understand what she’ll be learning! 7th grade science looks much harder than I remembered it.

This weekend is busy – tomorrow (I’m posting this Thursday night) Natalie is singing at a local arts festival called Rendezvous. She is very nervous, but I know she’ll do fine. We plan to spend Saturday at the lake, and then if we’re not too beat, we will be heading back to Rendezvous to hear An Dochas, a local band who has hit it big in Gaelic music circles. Their CDs are often played in our house and van.

Sunday, we hope to visit a friends’ church – if we’re not completely wiped out from the rest of the weekend!

Do you have any big weekend plans?

~ If you’re longing to do a re-read of the Harry Potter series, or if (~gasp~) you haven’t read it yet, sign up for the Harry Potter Reading Challenge.

~ Ever get angry over poor customer service? This guy had a creative way to get back at United Airlines.

~ The new Tim Burton film Alice in Wonderland looks really amazing.

~ I love this new take on a wedding processional.

~ Writing advice from Stephen King and Jerry Jenkins. (Who’d have thought that King and the writer of the Left Behind series would be friends?)

~ The upcoming New Moon film now has an official site.

Family vacations to Vegas

July 27, 2009 Categories: This and That | Comments Off  

Las Vegas used to be known as Sin City, but that has changed as Las Vegas has tried to foster a more family-friendly reputation. Many of the hotels, resorts, and casinos are doing their best to attract families with children and there are now a ton of kid-appropriate attractions, museums, and restaurants. Most travel agents can hook you up with different types of packages for cheap Las Vegas vacations.

Here are a few of the best places to take kids in Vegas:

GameWorks: Located right next to the MGM Grand, GameWorks offers over 200 interactive games – with something for every age and gaming level. My boys would go crazy in this place!

Adventuredome: If there are thrill-seekers in your family, then the Adventuredome is the must-see destination. The names of some of the rides make me shudder (Sling-Shot, Canyon Blaster, Inverter, Chaos), but those of you who like an adrenaline rush will definitely find one here.

Mandalay Bay Shark Reef: For those of you whose kids geek out over Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay would be a great place to visit. It’s designed to look like a sunken shipwreck and give you the experience of being up close with the aquatic wildlife.

Take in a show: If visual entertainment is more your family’s style, take in a magic show by Lance Burton, have a medieval banquet and take in some jousting at Tournament of Kings, and visit the world’s largest permanent circus at Circus-Circus.

Lied Discovery Children’s Museum: Science museums are always a big hit with kids, and the Discovery Children’s Museum is no different. Take part in some hands-on science and explore over 100 science and art exhibits.

CSI: The Experience: If you’re not planning to visit Las Vegas until later this year, the new attraction at the MGM Grand should be ready. CSI: The Experience gives visitors the chance to play crime scene investigator and solve one of three mysteries.

These are just a taste of the many family-oriented attractions now available in Vegas. As you can see, taking a family vacation to Las Vegas means a lot more than gambling and nightclubs.

(This is a sponsored blog post.)