Saturday, June 30, 2012

Happy birthday to me!!

Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday dear meeeeee, happy birthday to me!

For reals though, happy birthday to me.

As of 5:39 Eastern Standard Time, I am 28 years old. Wahooo! My mom said she couldn't believe her baby girl was turning 28 and I said "I know. You are SO OLD." Hehe.

I am sure that we will have a low key day today. Might go see the Tall Ships. Might get a pedicure. I'd love to get a facial. Spend time with my hubby and my baby. Maybe go to dinner with some friends. My mother-in-law took me shopping today for some summer clothes. I was in desperate need of some new clothes. I am not a size 10 anymore, no sirreebob.

In honor of my 28th birthday, I wanted to list and share with you 28 things I am grateful for.

28 Things to Be Grateful for on my 28th Birthday
  1. My husband who works his hiney off for us.
  2. My son who works his hiney off to drive me nuts, but is freaking adorable while doing so.
  3. My health. I may be in pain from time to time, but I'm alive and not sick.
  4. My in-laws. I lucked out when it came to my in-laws. I am so grateful for each of them, especially my mother-in-law. And how many people can say that? 
  5. My mom and her health. My mom had a scare recently with breast cancer. She had some chemo and the growth shrunk and hopefully will not come back. 
  6. Old friends. I may not see them very often, but they are all just a phone call away.
  7. New friends. Those I've just met but seem to have known forever. 
  8. My college acceptance. I found out yesterday that I've been accepted into a Master's in Elementary Education program. So excited to go back to school!
  9. My family. They're mostly crazy but I love them anyway. 
  10. The VA (Veteran's Administration). Thanks to them, I'm going to be able to go to school for my Master's. 
  11. The Army. It valiantly tried to kill me, but I got to meet so many amazing and wonderful people that  it was all worth it. 
  12. Books. Books are what gave me dreams and showed me the much bigger world out there.
  13. Music. It has provided the soundtrack to my life. 
  14. The moon. I just love the moon.
  15. Stars. For giving me something to teach CJ to wish on.
  16. My dog. She may be the laziest dog ever, but she's my Kamipoopaloo.
  17. Blogging. For introducing me to a wonderful world of people I never would have met. 
  18. My bed. For being really comfy and having the perfect little divot for me to sleep in while still having my hubby just a stretch away. 
  19. My grandmothers. I have 4 grandmothers still living. A great-grandmother, step-grandmother, and both my parent's mothers. I may not see them much, but I am grateful for all I've learned from them. 
  20. My village. It truly took a village to raise me, so I'm thankful for all of those who helped out.
  21. Laughter. For keeping me sane.
  22. Myself. Because I am awesome.
  23. Delicious food. Usually cooked by my hubby. Yummy.
  24. Egypt. It's always been my dream to go there and I did and I still love it.
  25. The ghetto I grew up in. I survived and I don't ever have to go back unless I want to.
  26. Rain. Is there anything better than the sound of rain and the feel of a cool rain on a hot day? I don't think so. And the smell? Heavenly. 
  27. Hot showers. For helping me relax while also getting less stinky. Appreciate it.
  28. God. I know most people thank him first, but I wanted to list all of the things that I wouldn't have if it weren't for him and his plans for me. 
I will not be blogging tomorrow, so you might not hear from me. Have a great weekend. See you on the flip side. 
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Friday, June 29, 2012

Coppin's Gifts - Da Vinci Bracelet Review and Giveaway

I'm not really a big jewelry person. Most of the time, the only piece of jewelry that I wear is my wedding ring. However, I have been loving my sister-in-law's charm bracelet for a while. I didn't want to ask my hubby for one, because I was afraid I would never wear it. Then I was contacted by Coppin's Gifts asking if I was interested in reviewing one of their awesome products. They have sooo many amazing products, like Willow Tree figurines, Pillow Pets, Stompiez slippers, and even jewelry. I was tempted to choose all of the things, but then I saw that they carry Da Vinci charms and bracelets.

If you aren't familiar with these types of bracelets, let me tell you about them. They are basically a grown-up version of charm bracelets. You know those awesome charm bracelets we all had in elementary school? Well you can wear them again, and not look a little nutzo. I got to choose three charms and which bracelet I wanted. There were so many choices, it took me forever to decide. Check out these options. 

Choices: Bangle, Lobster claw, Toggle, and Necklace
I decided to go with the toggle bracelet. It comes in sizes from 7 inches to 8.75 inches. I don't remember what size I got, but it fits my wrist perfectly.

I thought that choosing which bracelet was hard. Then I had to choose which charms to get. You can get different charms to represent different times or events in your life. After some thought, I decided to get a charm for my sisters, for my husband, and for my son. I've always called my sisters Toni and Caitlin my little turtles (no idea why) so I got a turtle charm to represent them. My husband's birthday is in April, so I got the April glass charm. They have a ton of different choices for birthstone charms. I wasn't sure what to choose to represent my son, but I eventually decided to go with a little boy charm with his July birthstone in it. 

Each charm is only $6.99 and you can get one for any occasion. Since my nephew Caleb was just baptized and I am his godmother, I'm going to get a new charm for him. Here's the charms up close. Check out all of the charms available at Coppin's

I still don't wear jewelry everyday, but I wear this any time that I go out for anything special. It isn't gaudy or obnoxious and doesn't make me feel weighed down. It is sparkly and pretty and I love it. The people at Coppin's Gifts were really nice, and shipping was super fast. As soon as I finally made up my mind what I wanted, I got the package within a week. If you are looking for something to celebrate an occasion, like a birthday, Christmas, or an anniversary, check out all the great things available at Coppin's Gifts

In fact, the people at Coppin's Gifts are so nice that they are offering a giveaway of a toggle bracelet and your choice of three charms! If you need help choosing from all the charm options, let me know and I will help you out. I am now an expert on DaVinci charms. To enter, just fill out the rafflecopter form below! If the rafflecopter form is not showing, just leave a comment below with what event you'd like to commemorate with a charm. I'll manually add you to the rafflecopter form before I choose a winner. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received a bracelet and charms from Coppin's Gifts in exchange for my fair and honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I paid for my review. All opinions are my own.
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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Author Post - Pastor John Parris in The Darkening Dream

One of the cool things about The Darkening Dream, the book that I am currently reading is that a lot of the characters were taken straight out of history. The book takes place in Salem MA (where I was born coincidentally). I used to work at the Salem Witch Museum, and one of the people that I used to talk about during the tours was Reverend Samuel Parris. His daughter Betty was one of the afflicted girls and it is believed that Reverend Parris was largely responsible for allowing the witch hysteria to occur. When I was reading the book, I thought it was interesting that one of the main characters was Pastor John Parris, a direct descendant of the Reverend. Author Andy Gavin sent over an awesome guest post about the Pastor and how he changed the character to fit his book. Enjoy learning a little bit of history! 

Pastor John Parris: The Warlock

One of my primary goals with The Darkening Dream was to develop a strong sense of merely seeing "the tip of the evil iceberg." So the book has a lot of villains, some working together, but each with their own quirks and agendas. I knew early on that I wanted one of these to be a warlock and a minister. For me, Parris represented the human villainy in the story. While he clearly dabbles in the supernatural -- hey, warlock! -- he isn't like al-Nasir in being wholly a creature of darkness.
What makes real people evil? Self interest certainly goes a long way, but I looked further into the twisted nature of the psychopathic serial killer. To do what he does, Parris had to be a deeply warped individual. As a local pastor he is a member of the community, but his role is aloof enough that people just write him off as a bit touched. He was raised by his crazy religious, repressed, and abusive grandmother. So severe was this upbringing that his adult pathology is devoid of all empathy. He can put on an external show, but his own fears and desires are all he really knows.
And he's a deeply lonely individual who connects with but one other -- and that other happens to be a domineering succubus moonlighting from hell. But that's okay, as in private Parris is only comfortable playing the bottom. Nothing like a human/demon BSDM relationship to spice things up.

I even wrote 10,000 words of flashback showcasing grandmother Grace and Parris' 1893 meeting at Harvard Divinity with his future demonic lover. But these scenes were left on the cutting room floor (although I might put them on the website sometime) because they are backstory, which really doesn't have a place in fast paced fiction. Still, they were pretty cool and their removal made Parris decidedly less sympathetic. Plus they contained one of my favorite magical rituals in the book: a deadly curse tablet baked from the excrement of the victim (courtesy of an ancient Roman book on witchcraft).

My Parris is descended from Samuel Parris (to the right) who was the Puritan minister in Salem during the witch trials. Following in his ancestor's footsteps, John Parris is the leader of what amounts to Salem's Puritan church, by 1913 called the Congregationalist church. Witchcraft and ministry are both threads that run deeply in his family.

Pastor Parris does a lot of magic in the book and I heavily researched his particular old-school brand of witchcraft (he's a ritualist, specializing in sympathetic magic powered by humors) and his complex conceptualization of protestant hell. For in the world of The Darkening Dream, hell is whatever inferno you believe in. His glyph (above) shows the tools of his trade: knives for bloodletting, bowls for mixing, and the flame -- gateway to below.

But how does any of this connect to my plot?

Parris is both a competent thaumaturge (a performer of magic) and through his demon lover he has one foot grounded in hell. When al-Nasir, my ancient vampire, is sent west to find something of great importance he seeks the services of this dubious man of God. For powerful things are guarded by powerful magics and dead flesh works no spells.

But Parris is no fool. The undead are not to be trusted. Still, when a vampire offers the lost grimoire of Dr. Faustus in return for help, who cares if a handful of innocents have to pay the price?

For information on developing the look of Parris' icon.

A Big Giveaway for The Darkening Dream

This week, through June 29th, Author Andy Gavin is running a big giveaway to celebrate his 99 cent promo sale.
The Darkening Dream Rafflecopter Giveaway
Tweet, like, follow, share, blog and grab a copy of his book to enter.

About The Darkening Dream

As the modern world establishes itself and pushes the supernatural into the shadows, the supernatural fights back.
An ominous vision and the discovery of a gruesome corpse lead Sarah and her friends into a terrifying encounter with a fledgling vampire in 1913 Salem, Massachusetts. Eager to prove themselves, the young heroes set out to track the evil to its source, never guessing that they will take on a conspiracy involving not only a 900-year vampire but also a demon-loving Puritan warlock, disgruntled Egyptian gods, and an immortal sorcerer, all on a quest to recover the holy trumpet of the Archangel Gabriel. Relying on the wisdom of a Greek vampire hunter, Sarah's rabbi father, and her own disturbing visions, Sarah must fight a millennia-old battle between unspeakable forces, where the ultimate prize might be Sarah herself.

The critics love it

"A vampire novel with actual bite." ~The Kirkus Reviews
"A gorgeously creepy, strangely humorous, and sincerely terrifying tale." ~Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

Read the first two sample chapters here.

Get your 99 cent copy of The Darkening Dream today on Amazon only.

About the Author

Andy Gavin is an unstoppable storyteller who studied for his Ph.D. at M.I.T. and founded video game developer Naughty Dog, Inc. at the age of fifteen, serving as co-president for two decades. There he created, produced, and directed over a dozen video games, including the award winning and best selling Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter franchises, selling over 40 million units worldwide. He sleeps little, reads novels and histories, watches media obsessively, travels, and of course, writes. Find out more here. Pin It

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Playing with Water

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ten Musicals To Watch with Your Kids

I love musicals. Now that I have a bambino, I can't wait to introduce him to all of my favorites. I've heard rumors that not everyone likes musicals (the horror!) so I thought I'd give you an intro to the funnest and safest ones for you to watch with your kids. I'll start with the ones that are safe for toddlers and go on to the ones that you might want to wait for a little while. Obviously, use your parental discretion. I'll also let you know which ones CJ already loves.

Peter Pan - You may not know this about me, yet, but I am obsessed with Peter Pan. Actually, I'm obsessed with Captain Hook. There are a bunch of different musical versions of the show, but the BEST is the one with Cathy Rigby. I promise you will not be disappointed. CJ and I love Hook dancing the tarantella and Tiger Lily singing "Ugg-a-Wugg". The version with Mary Martin is also really good, but that version of Hook terrified me until I was about 20. I don't know a kid who can't relate to the song "I Won't Grow Up".

The Wizard of Oz - Growing up, there was only one time a year you could watch the Wizard of Oz - the week before Thanksgiving. Now with DVDs the norm, you can watch it anytime. CJ has watched this one a few times and loves the music. We listen to the soundtrack pretty often too. There are a couple of scary scenes in this one, so if your child is easily scared, you might want to wait until they are a little bit older.

Bedknobs and Broomsticks - Honestly, I am not a big fan of this one. I'm not sure why but it just never struck my fancy. Everyone told me I had to include it on the list though. CJ hasn't seen this one either. But if it is a childhood favorite of yours, you should share it with your little one.

Mary Poppins -  I mean really, what needs to be said? Mary Poppins is a classic for a reason. I don't know a single child who didn't wish that  a magical nanny would come whisk them away for some crazy musical adventures. Your child should see this for the song "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" alone. Absolute essential viewing for every human being on the planet.

Cats - This was my absolute favorite musical when I was younger. PBS would show it randomly throughout the year to raise money. I loved it. I want a cat so I can name him Macavity the Mystery Cat. This one is also based on a real cute book called Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. The music here is really catchy and the costumes are AMAZING. Somehow I haven't shown this to CJ yet, but I'm going to have to remedy that ASAP. 

Annie - When I put this on for CJ, I honestly didn't expect him to like it. Usually whatever movie we watch is background noise while we play. This one had him riveted though. I honestly don't know what it was, but he loved it. There are some sad moments, but otherwise it is safe for little ones.

The Sound of Music - The Von Trapp family is one of the most awesome families in cinema. If you have a large family, your children will be able to relate. Single dad? Got it. Beautiful nun? Got it. Hitler? Got it. The music in this one is unsurpassed. I guarantee you and your kids will be singing "My Favorite Things" for days. I don't have this on DVD so CJ hasn't seen it yet, but I know he's going to love it. There are adult themes such as love and war, but nothing scary or inappropriate.

Meet Me In St. Louis - While most of this movie is really cute and family-oriented, there is one scene that used to scare the crap out of me. The little girl in the movie commits snowman-icide. She freaks out because they are moving, runs downstairs, and destroys all of the snowmen. All while Judy Garland beautifully sings "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas". Other than that particular scene, this is a lovely movie to watch around Christmas.

Singin' in the Rain - I'm slightly biased because this is my favorite movie EVER. So good. The story of what happens to a group of actors when movies go from silent pictures to talkies. Everyone knows the song "Singin' in the rain" which is awesome, but the best song is "Moses Supposes". You and your kiddos will be singing it (in the rain) for days. I guarantee your kids will crack up laughing during Make 'em Laugh.

Labyrinth - This one isn't technically a musical, but it is awesome and has music in it. Starring David Bowie clad in white spandex with a big old blond wig, you know it has to be good. Older siblings will be able to relate to Sarah's feeling of being left out when people fawn over her baby brother. The movie also stars puppets made by Jim Henson. There are a few creepy little demon-type puppets and one does say "fracking" as if it is a swear word, but other than that, this is pretty safe for slightly older kids. Don't blame me when you come away from this one with a huge crush on Bowie. It's inevitable.

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Monday, June 25, 2012

New England Day Trip - America's Stonehenge

CJ leading the way. 
Every time we drive to and from Massachusetts, we drive by a sign that says "America's Stonehenge". Until I'd moved to New Hampshire , I'd never even heard of this place. I always accuse Craig of lying to me when he says it is real. So this weekend, we had some friends visiting from out of town (Hi Sara-marie, I know you're reading this! :-D) and Craig decided we were finally going to go see "America's Stonehenge".

Honestly, I was not expecting to be impressed. I've never seen the real Stonehenge in person, but I've imaged it to be amazing. So the fact that I'd never even heard of America's Stonehenge until I moved to New Hampshire made me doubt that it'd be anything all that exciting.

I was surprisingly wrong. America's Stonehenge was very impressive. First a little background. No one knows for sure who built it. It is believed to either have been built by Native Americans or Vikings who came over to America almost 4000 years ago. Yea, it is believed to be almost 4000 years old, making it quite possibly the oldest man-made structure in America. How did I grow up an hour away and never hear about this?! The people who built it, like the builders of Stonehenge, were experts in astronomy and were able to align the henges perfectly. You'll see from some of the pictures what I mean.

Where you first get to the complex, you have to go to the gift shop to buy your tickets ($11 per adults, $7.50 for kids, free for kid's under 5). I told Sara that the gift shop smelled like hippies. It has a lot of great rocks, sweatshirts, and incense. It's a little kitschy, but nice. After you buy your ticket, there's a short documentary you can watch which tells you more about the complex. We bought CJ a hardhat, modeled to the left by my handsome hubby.

Once you leave the gift shop, you meet the alpacas!! There are currently 4 male and 4 female alpacas. They were very friendly and two came right up to the fence to greet us. One of them had the cutest buck teeth. You can also buy of their fur made into yarn at the gift shop. They were so cute and fluffy and didn't smell as bad as I thought alpacas did.

As you walk through the complex, you see different exhibits of how it is believed the builders may have lived. We walked by this canoe, which is just tiny. We were wondering how they fit their butts into it. My hubby pointed out that since they were on the original Paleo diet, their butts weren't as big as ours. According to the image in front of the canoe, it seems that they knelt in the canoe, they didn't sit in it.

It was a really cool walk. It took probably an hour to walk through the whole complex. We probably could have gone longer but it started to rain. The henges were really cool. There was one part where you could actually walk inside and through the cave. It was amazing to see how they put the rocks together perfectly. There were barely any spaces at all between each rock.

This was a really great day trip. I would definitely recommend it. It was great to learn about this amazing place. My favorite thing was the places that were cut down to perfectly align with the solstices. It is amazing that they had the scientific knowledge to do that.

America's Stonehenge is located in Salem, New Hampshire. It is only 45 minutes from Boston and 30 minutes from Manchester NH. It is right off most major highways and is really easy to get to. For more information, go to the America's Stonehenge website.
Here are some more pictures I took of the visit. 
Amazing that they moved all these stones, the bottom left is the sacrificial table. I tried to convince someone to
lay their head down on it but they wouldn't. It was really creepy to think that people were killed there. 
These line up perfectly with the sunrise and sunset during the solstices. It was amazing how perfectly the cleared these lines. 

There was a celebration for Mother Earth a few days ago for the Summer Solstice. 
Family pictures on the rocks and Uncle Mark practicing how to hold a baby. 
CJ peeking at the kids playing under the rocks and the man on their man-walk. They kept leaving us in the dust. 
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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Darkening Dream Book Preview and Giveaway

I just wanted to share some news about a book that I'll be reviewing later this week. They are having a big book release celebration with a bunch of giveaways. Since my review won't be until this giveaway is over, I wanted to share it with you ahead of time.

A Vampire Novel with Actual Bite! As the modern world establishes itself and pushes the supernatural into the shadows, the supernatural fights back. The Darkening Dream is a chilling new dark fantasy novel by Andy Gavin, creator of Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter. The book has received rave reviews and is on sale for only 99 cents on Amazon Kindle from June 25th-29th! Download your copy here. In addition, Andy is doing a big giveaway, including a $100 gift certificate to Amazon, signed copies of his books, video games, posters, and more! The Darkening Dream Rafflecopter Giveaway Tweet, like, follow, share, blog and grab a copy of his book to enter.

Get your 99 cent copy of The Darkening Dream today on Amazon only.

Long-time readers of dark historical fantasy (Tim Powers, Guy Gavriel Kay, Katherine Kurtz) will appreciate the weaving together of mythology, occult, and religion, while younger readers and fans of HBO dramas (True Blood, Carnivàle) or urban fantasy (Laurell K. Hamilton, Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher) will be drawn to the twisted imagination, graphic action, and romantic tension.

About The Darkening Dream Even as the modern world pushes the supernatural aside in favor of science and steel, the old ways remain. God, demon, monster, and sorcerer alike plot to regain what was theirs. 1913, Salem, Massachusetts – Sarah Engelmann’s life is full of friends, books, and avoiding the pressure to choose a husband, until an ominous vision and the haunting call of an otherworldly trumpet shake her. When she stumbles across a gruesome corpse, she fears that her vision was more of a premonition. And when she sees the murdered boy moving through the crowd at an amusement park, Sarah is thrust into a dark battle she does not understand. With the help of Alex, an attractive Greek immigrant who knows a startling amount about the undead, Sarah sets out to uncover the truth. Their quest takes them to the factory mills of Salem, on a midnight boat ride to spy on an eerie coastal lair, and back, unexpectedly, to their own homes. What can Alex’s elderly, vampire-hunting grandfather and Sarah’s own rabbi father tell them? And what do Sarah’s continuing visions reveal? No less than Gabriel’s Trumpet, the tool that will announce the End of Days, is at stake, and the forces that have banded to recover it include a 900 year-old vampire, a trio of disgruntled Egyptian gods, and a demon-loving Puritan minister. At the center of this swirling cast is Sarah, who must fight a millennia-old battle against unspeakable forces, knowing the ultimate prize might be her very soul.

The Reviews Are In "A vampire novel with actual bite." ~The Kirkus Reviews "A gorgeously creepy, strangely humorous, and sincerely terrifying tale." ~Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) "Mr. Gavin has brought something refreshingly new to a genre now suffused with poorly-concealed bodice-rippers which have more in common with Fabio than Bram Stoker: depth. His big baddies are scary, not romantic interests, and the added religious lore is complex and engaging. Don't expect another Twilight -- the story can get downright creepy, so be prepared for a return to the old horror sensibilities of supernatural fiction." ~Amazon Review "With Mr. Gavin's video-game pedigree, I was expecting something aimed squarely at the 18-25 year old fanboy contingent; what I got in The Darkening Dream was something wholly unexpected: A period novel with a female protagonist, a crash-course on Judaism in the colonial years, and multi-layered series of plot arcs featuring a crazy cast of natural and supernatural characters populating turn of the century America." ~Amazon Review "…A perfect blend of mystery, magic and myth. A grown-up Grimm's fairy tale... emphasis on grim." ~Amazon Review

Read the first two sample chapters here.

Get your 99 cent copy of The Darkening Dream today on Amazon only.

About the Author

Andy Gavin is an unstoppable storyteller who studied for his Ph.D. at M.I.T. and founded video game developer Naughty Dog, Inc. at the age of fifteen, serving as co-president for two decades. There he created, produced, and directed over a dozen video games, including the award winning and best selling Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter franchises, selling over 40 million units worldwide. He sleeps little, reads novels and histories, watches media obsessively, travels, and of course, writes. Find out more here. Pin It

Friday, June 22, 2012

Toddler Summer Activities Fun List

I don't like the term "bucket list" because if its somewhat negative origins. So this is CJ's summer fun list! I hope you find some good stuff to do with your 1-4 year old this summer. Please use your discretion in deciding what is appropriate for your child. Have fun!

Toddler Summer Fun List
  1. Run through sprinklers
  2. Go to splash pad
  3. Go swimming in a pool
  4. Find a geocache
  5. Color with chalk
  6. Have a picnic 
  7. Go for a walk in the woods
  8. Go to the zoo
  9. Go to the aquarium
  10. Go to storytime at the library
  11. Do a silly science experiment
  12. Go to a children's museum
  13. Make chalk paint
  14. Build a fort in the backyard
  15. Build a fort in the living room
  16. Go camping
  17. Go on a nature hike 
  18. Make a pillow mat 
  19. Take swim lessons
  20. Bake with mama
  21. Go to a baseball game
  22. Go berry picking
  23. Swim in fresh water
  24. Eat watermelon
  25. Go to a drive-in
  26. Nature scavenger hunt
  27. Read a book outside
  28. Fly a kite
  29. Go to an outdoor concert
  30. Paint Rocks
  31. Go to the ocean
  32. Playdate with a new friend
  33. See the fireworks on the 4th of July
  34. Play with a hose
  35. Eat popsicles
  36. Throw some water balloons
  37. Go fishing
  38. Roast marshmallows
  39. Help wash the car
  40. Go to yoga
  41. Watch fireflies
  42. Blow bubbles
  43. Collect sea shells and sea glass
  44. Play in a water table or bucket
  45. Play with some squirt guns
  46. Have a dance party
  47. Go to a new park
  48. Finger paint
  49. Sing and dance in the rain
  50. Have as much fun as we can!!

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

You love me, you really love me.

Uhmmmm did y'all realize that I passed 500 followers like FOREVER AGO?! Ok not really, but I just signed into blogger and happened to see where it says I have 512 followers. WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN?! You guys... awwwww.... you love me, you really love me. Thank you so much for following my little blog, it really means a lot to me.

I'm sorry that the blog has been kind of stagnant lately. I have no excuse other than I am just really lazy. But knowing that 512 people are willing to listen to the BS that I post on here makes me want to go out and do awesome things so I can blog about it. Thanks so much you guys. I really mean it. I will try my best to make following my blog worth it. :) You rock! Pin It

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

MG E-Book Set Giveaway - The Black Shard

Remember when I reviewed the awesome MG book The Magic Warble? Well, the author Victoria has just released the second book in the series, called The Black Shard. The book is perfect for ages 9 - 13. It has 255 pages, and includes 1-2 pictures per chapter. I absolutely love the illustrations in The Magic Warble, and I'm sure that these are just as great.

Goodreads' Synopsis: Kristina's stay at summer horse camp is horrible to say the least, and it's all because Hester and Davina are there as well, making her life miserable. When Hester's cruel prank goes terribly wrong, it's actually what sends the three girls back to the magical land of Bernovem. In Bernovem, Kristina is very excited to see her former friend, Prince Werrien. When he invites her to sail with him on his ship to his homeland Tezerel, putting it simply, Kristina can't refuse.
Reunited with her gnome, dwarf, animal, fairy friends ... and best of all, Werrien, things seem like they couldn't get any better for Kristina. But when Werrien becomes fascinated with an unusual seeing stone, the "Black Shard," Kristina is haunted by a ghostlike old hag. Struggling against suspicion, guilt, illness, and ultimately the one who wants to possess her soul, Kristina will see it's in her weakest moment that she will encounter more strength than she has ever known.
I guess Hester and Davina didn't learn their lessons the first time...  The book is currently available on Amazon for $2.99. This is a great steal, most similar books are at least $5.99.

To celebrate the release of the second book, and because she is awesome, Victoria is going to give away 2 e-book sets to BBS' readers. So you will get The Magic Warble AND The Black Shard. Fo' Free. Sweet! To enter, just use the rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway Pin It

Wordless Wednesday - CJ Goes to the Zoo!

Isn't he the cutest?
Signing more. He did this at every dinosaur.


His "cheese" face.

He was born in Kentucky.

Signing "monkey"

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Monday, June 18, 2012

It's Monday... again!

Didn't we just have a Monday? Sheesh. I feel like the weeks are going by faster and faster. My baby is about to turn two!! Waaah. We are at the Franklin Park Zoo today, so I'm sure I'll have some great pictures for Wordless Wednesday.

My nephew got baptised on Saturday. I am proud to be little Caleb's godmother. He slept through the entire ceremony. Such a little stinkbug. CJ was excited to go to church because I told him he could go and say prayers. He said his prayers like a good boy, but then he wanted to run around the whole church. I am not ashamed to say I bribed him with animal crackers and my necklace. A mom's got to do what a mom's got to do.

So what are you all reading? I am in the middle of a great YA book, The Darkening Dream. I'm also finishing up The Bloggess' book. I haven't had a ton of time to read lately, so it is taking me longer to finish reading than usual. 

Menu Plan
Monday - falafel, hummus, and tabouleh
Tuesday - Stuffed Green Peppers
Wednesday - Crispy Honey Mustard Chicken
Thursday - Egg Bake
Friday - Sloppy Joe Shepard's Pie
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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day

Before I tell you all how lucky my son is to have the best daddy ever, I'm going to share a little bit about my own father.

I affectionately refer to my father as the sperm donor. That is all he has ever been to me. At 17 years old, he knocked up my 15 year old mother. My half-sister Melissa is less than two months older than me. Sounds like a good guy already right? I only remember talking to my father a few times in my life and there are only two things I remember him telling me. One, he told me that I was his only child who wasn't a mistake. So apparently he purposely knocked up a 15 year old. A classy fellow. The second thing I remember him telling me is that I was the type of person who would always be the victim. Classy fellow huh?

I am happy to say that I have never allowed myself to be the victim of my own life. I am a happy, healthy mama to a beautiful son, and wife to a wonderful man. My graduated high school, college, and basic training without a father. I go months without even remembering that my father exists. I posted this video on facebook, because if you've ever wondered what it feels like to grow up without a father, this is it. It is from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Will's dad walks out on him again, and so he has this conversation with Uncle Phil.

Will: “Nah, you know what Uncle Phil? I’m gonna get through college without him. I’m gonna get a great job without him. I’m gonna marry me a beautiful honey, and I’m having me a whole bunch of kids, I’m gonna be a better father than he ever was, and I sure as hell don’t need him for that, ’cause there ain’t a damn thing he could ever teach me about how to love my kids!”
Will: “How come he don’t want me, man?”

Those of without fathers may move on with our lives. We may become the best parents, everything that our fathers weren't for us. Rationally, we know that we are better off without our fathers. But always, in some deep recess of our hearts is that little kid who wants to know what they did and why their daddy doesn't want them.

Well, now that I've sufficiently depressed you, let me talk about the best daddy I know!

I've realized over the last few weeks just how lucky I am. I have an amazing husband who loves me and treats me wonderfully. My son is the luckiest boy there ever was. He has a daddy who will always be there for him and will show him how to become a great man. Craig is CJ's playmate and role model. I thank God everyday that I found Craig, and that he chose me to be his wife and mama to his baby. Love you so much bubba. :) Happy Father's Day!

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Eat Your Vegetables! CopyKids Review

I am very lucky that CJ will eat pretty much anything we put in front of him. From time to time though, he will resist eating some vegetables. He likes broccoli, but sometimes he will just refuse to eat it. I think this is just because he's stubborn, not because he necessarily dislikes the food.

If your child does fight you when it comes to vegetables, there's a great new series that aims to help. CopyKids has twelve 7-minute segments that show regular kids eating vegetables. It sounds simple, and it is. Kids are natural copycats. When they see kids their own age eating and enjoying vegetables, they might decide all of a sudden that they like vegetables too. The video is produced by a pediatrician, Dr. Gordon, who provides a discussion on the DVD about healthy eating. There are also some adorably funny outtakes of the kids.

CJ loved this video. He keeps finding it in his DVDs and asking me to play it. His favorite is actually the apples and bananas segment. Those are his favorite foods anyway, but he just enjoys watching the kids. After he finished watching the DVD, he brought me into the kitchen and wouldn't stop signing "eat". We had salad for dinner the other night, and he was all over the broccoli. He even brought me the DVD after we ate to remind me that there was broccoli on it. These are some adorable kids. Check out the video below.

If your kid has trouble eating vegetables, you are in luck. One reader will win their own copy. Just fill out the rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

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Friday, June 15, 2012

Fun Meme Friday

1. Would you grow your hair out to cut it? 
Last year, I grew my hair out forever. When I finally went in to get it cut, I was really hoping that it was long enough to donate. It was an inch too short :( I was sad. My sister-in-law's boyfriend is currently growing his hair out to donate it. He found a place that will take 8 inches instead of 10, so I think he's cutting it this weekend. I'm growing my hair out right now so I can perm it for my birthday. 

2. What song makes you think of summer?
Will Smith's "Getting Jiggy with It" and obviously, his "Summertime". Also, New Kids on the Block's Summertime. Country music makes me think of summer too - open air, hanging out at the beach, relaxing music. 

3. Are you a flip flops or sandals kind of person. 
If I could find some sandals that didn't make me look like I'm either on safari or a hippie, I would love them. Until then I'll wear uncomfortable flip flops. 

4. Favorite summer treat?
Good old fashioned ice cream. There's nothing like it at the end of a hot summer day. 
I wish I could share that with CJ, but until he gets over his milk allergy, none for him.

5. Do you do something special for the father of your children?
I'll let Bubba sleep in and make him breakfast. That's really all we have planned. 

Who is your favorite father from a book series?

Mr. Weasley from Harry Potter! That's probably going to be a really common answer. Also, Mr. O'Hara and Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind. I always loved how dedicated a father Rhett was, even though in that time period, fathers weren't very hands-on. He didn't care that he had a girl and not a boy. "What use are boys anyway?" I loved the dad from The Lovely Bones too. But I can't think about that movie or it makes me cry. 

Weekly Reading Recap
I'm currently reading Darkening Dream, a great YA paranormal book. It took a bit to get into it, but now that the story is picking up, I love it. CJ has been reading a ton of picture books, including The Giving Tree and My Father The Dog. I'm also reading The Bloggess' memoir which is ridiculously funny. What are you reading this week? 

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Why You Should Do a 3D Ultrasound

When I was pregnant, my absolute favorite moments were the ultrasounds. I loved seeing my little schmoops and hearing his heartbeat. I was paranoid for a lot of my pregnancy (for absolutely no reason) so for those few minutes, I felt completely calm. In the Army, they tell you around 20 weeks what you are having. Well, the week prior to that, I was home visiting my hubby in Massachusetts. He wasn't going to be back in Kentucky with me while I had the gender ultrasound. We (ok, I) decided we were going to go get a 3D ultrasound. I found a place in Boston and we went in.

It was awesome and so much fun. CJ was lounging, leaning back with his hands behind his head (how he still sleeps) with his legs spread wide open. As soon as she zoomed in we knew. There was no denying that he was all boy.

Look at my schmoops, can't believe he is going to be two!

If you are around 20 months, you can go in and find out what you are having. It is a ton of fun when it is in 3D. I got an awesome DVD with a video and music

If you are in the Austin area, check out Miracle Insight.  They have 2D, 3D, and even 4D ultrasounds. I don't even know what a 4D ultrasound is. I can't wait to get pregnant again! I want another baby to grow! Pin It