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I'm a mommy, wife, chauffeur, zookeeper, reader and book reviewer

Monday, November 14, 2011

A little bit Star Wars, a little bit Pilgrim's Progress

How to Slay a Dragon (The Journals of Myrth, #1)How to Slay a Dragon by Bill Allen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I stumbled on How to Slay a Dragon by Bill Allen as a freebie. Greg Hart is a small, skinny boy who loves to write imaginative stories which make him the hero of mythical, medieval adventures. He is bullied by a typical bully—Manny “Malice.” One encounter with Manny is interrupted as Greg is transported to the planet Myrth to fulfill a prophecy.

At times this story reminded me of Pilgrim’s Progress and at others it reminded me a little of Star Wars. It is a definite page turner as the author leaves you hanging at the end of each chapter forcing you on. I would think this is perfect for 8-12 year-old boys, though girls who enjoy medieval adventure would probably enjoy it as well.

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Out with the old

I saw a tweet from an author the other day, begging teachers not to make their students learn to write “snail mail” to him but instead teach them to email him and he would respond. Now I don’t have a problem with teaching kids to use email and encouraging them to correspond with their favorite authors, but to throw out “snail mail” because it is old fashioned is wrong in my opinion. Learning cursive is becoming “old fashioned,” yet at some point we all have to learn to sign our name. Oh but some day it will all be done with finger-print scans. Well, someday isn’t here yet, so in the mean time, kids have to learn cursive so they can sign their name. If you really want to phase out writing, how about phasing in keyboarding class so kids can learn to type instead? But so far, I don’t see that happening, I just see and hear people complaining about the old fashioned stuff we need to get rid of.

I know more and more companies are encouraging their customers and clients to switch from paper statements to all online billing to be “green.” But tell me what happens when the internet is down? Some of these companies will simply charge fees for late payments, regardless of internet issues, computer glitches, etc. A company called me recently regarding a bill, and expected me to pay it over the phone because there was no invoice to send. Excuse me? It’s one thing to encourage customers and clients to be more green, but to assume someone pays bills over the phone all the time?

I have an idea, what if we teach our kids about how it WAS done, even letting them experience writing with a feather and ink well and other “old fashioned” ways then maybe we would be a bit more thankful for what we DO have. Let’s take our kids to museums more often, otherwise, what’s the point of even making movies about the olden days. Even watching Kitt Kittredge with my daughters I realized they didn’t really understand the storyline because they have no idea what a typewriter is or how a Model T was started with a crank.

I wonder when someone will suggest we phase out history class since it’s all old news anyway.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Completely unimaginative

The Adventures of Kid Combat Volume One: A Secret LostThe Adventures of Kid Combat Volume One: A Secret Lost by Christopher Helwink

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

There is a group who doesn’t exist. They are called the Secret Organization of Clever Kids or S.O.C.K.S. Kid Combat, secret kid agent and leader, and his gang are out to save their town from the likes of Jones who is trying to take over every inch of their beloved town.

If you can step back after weeding through way too much fluff and extra stuff, the storyline is cute is and would appeal to the 9-12 age group. They probably wouldn’t notice the numerous clich├ęs or confusing inconsistencies. They may not even notice that the overall idea is completely unimaginative and too predictable. In fact, 9-12 year olds might enjoy that. But the book seemed way too long to me and each chapter seemed to drag on forever—not appealing to a reluctant reader of said age group—and I’m an adult and avid reader!

I could have tolerated the overly simplistic bad guys is the author had just spent a little more time on the characterization of the heroes instead of all the nifty gadgets and the cool new Playground that they somehow secretly built in a grove a trees off the park (a bunch of 10 year old kids managed to squirrel away and install that much glass and wood flooring?). If these kids were such geniuses and so special, it is highly unlikely they would all be the same age and in the same classroom at the same school. Okay, so it’s a small town with only one school. The author took the easy way out on that one otherwise the kids would have been a variety of ages and in at least two, maybe three different classrooms.

The author also seemed to use this as an opportunity to climb on his soapbox about big companies taking over small towns to “improve” them. I really think that personal agenda will be lost on this age group.

I’m glad this was a free download, because I would have been very disappointed, possibly upset, to have wasted any money on this.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Past the end of my nose

In this Texas heat, it is not surprising for a car to break down in some way in the car pick up line. However, I was surprised at the number of people that got “stuck” behind the car in trouble because they weren’t being observant. From my vantage point I watched as nearly half a dozen cars pulled up behind this poor woman. Did they really not notice all the cars that were going around this vehicle? It took multiple people directing traffic to keep the flow and avoid anymore “stuck” cars.

As I slowly inched through the line, I wondered how often we get caught up in our own stuff—how often I get caught up in my own world—and forget to look around us. Have I missed something obvious? Is there something I need to avoid? Is there something I should do? Yes, I admit I tend to have tunnel vision, though I prefer to call it focus, or even my responsibility.

You see one thing I do miss about high school was being able to go on a mission trip and not have to worry about other responsibilities (bills, kids, dogs). Yet those trips made me look beyond myself and think beyond myself. It is harder to go on a mission trip now (though I wouldn’t trade being a mom and wife for a minute), but I don’t have to. It is harder to get my eyes off all my responsibilities to think and look beyond myself. I don’t have to go far to make an impact, I just have to get past the end of my nose.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Not enough story

Treasures at the MuseumTreasures at the Museum by Deborra Richardson

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

In Treasures at the Museum by Deborra Richardson, Aunt Imani wants to educate her niece and nephew and include them in some of the things she does. She wants them to see beyond the displays in the museum, know the work that goes on behind the scenes, and learn that the work is interesting and not boring.

Unfortunately I did not find that premise interesting at all. The book was much too short, had no real problem or conflict that needing solving—other than Robbie didn’t want to go to the museum archives because he thought they were boring, and the story itself did not flow. While I understand comparing family pictures and keepsakes to museum archives, I think too much time was spent elaborating on their family “archives” and not enough time was spent emphasizing the actual museum archives. The details Richardson chooses to put in and those she chooses to leave out don’t make any sense and make the reading choppy. Many landmarks are mentioned, but only in passing which doesn’t do much for a 4-8 year old. The information contained in this “story” would do much better in a shortened form in a pamphlet. There is no real problem, hero, solution and therefore no real story here.

I received a digital preview through Net Galley to read and give an honest review.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Plan B?

Both my girls are in school now: a 4th grader and a kindergartener. While I have occasionally gotten teary eyed over that first week of school, realizing they are growing up and not so little anymore, this year is different. Something feels weird. Throughout Monday I was trying to figure out what felt off. Then it hit me. Normally our summers are filled with visits to the pool, crafts and activities, movies, and lots of fun. Unfortunately, this summer was hot and we seemed to spend a lot of it dealing with insurance companies and third parties in the wake of the June 21 hail storm. We didn’t have our usual two weeks of “practice” prior to the first day of school when we work on getting to bed earlier, waking with an alarm, playing school, using the new backpacks and lunchbags. AND even though both my girls are in school, I have still been running around like a chicken with its head cut off dealing with insurance companies (a few things still weren’t quite right with my car which also delayed getting started with the roof).

Maybe next week I can enjoy some me time—watch a movie, read, window shop, go out to lunch—all by myself. For now I’ll try to smile as my girls play out “car accidents” and have to take their vehicles to Progressive. I wonder what they’ll play out when the roofers start.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Wow! Very emotional

Wild Thing (Winnie the Horse Gentler, #1)Wild Thing by Dandi Daley Mackall

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Winnie Willis used to work with horses with her mother before the accident. The accident that killed her mother. Winnie blames herself. Now she, her dad and her younger sister Lizzy spend their time moving—a few months here and a few months there. Winnie is so desperate to be around horses that she mucks the stalls at Spidell’s stable where she learns a beautiful new Arabian horse has arrived. It is love at first sight for Winnie, but nobody seems to be able to handle the wild horse. Winnie buys the Arabian at an auction and using everything her mother taught her, Winnie slowly befriends the horse. Then she gets ready to sell the horse she has become so fond of at a sale because her family could really use the money.

Dandi Daley Mackall is obviously a talented writer. I ran through so many emotions as I read. If you know a young girl age 8-12 who loves animals, especially horse, she would love this book. If you know a girl who has ever read Pony Pals (Scholastic), Mackall’s writing is very similar and not preachy.

I downloaded this as a free e-book to check it out for my daughter, but I would gladly pay money for any of Mackall’s books and plan to get more of what she has written.

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Everybody's doing it

I caught a bit of a show the other day and heard the mother telling her daughter that her father had a very small area of control—limited to drivers ed and barbecuing. I can remember shows where the husband makes fun of his wife’s cooking both at home and to his friends. Now in these shows the writers were probably aiming for laughs, but the sad thing is I’ve heard these comments and others in real life. Husbands and wives pointing out one another faults in public just to get a laugh. Yes, sometimes it can be humorous, but sometimes the joke can go too far.

Proverbs 31:10-12 (NIRV) says

10 Who can find a noble wife?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband trusts her completely.
She gives him all the important things he needs.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.

Wives, do you really think your husband NEEDS you to tell all your friends the only thing he is good at is grilling and he never picks up his underwear or socks? Do you think it brings your husband good or harm the way you talk about him to your friends and family?

Ephesians 5:25-26, 28 (NIRV) says

25 Husbands, love your wives. Love them just as Christ loved the church. He gave himself up for her. 26 He did it to make her holy. He made her clean by washing her with water and the word. 28 In the same way, husbands should love their wives. They should love them as they love their own bodies. Any man who loves his wife loves himself

Husbands, do you really think it is loving to tell your friends how awful your wife’s cooking is?

So, husbands and wives, could you please think twice before you crack that joke? Could you reconsider before you join in with the crowd’s spousal bashing?

Personally, I think my husband is the most wonderful husband, an awesome daddy to our two daughters, a good cook, fabulously dependable, and very supportive and encouraging.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Christian Pony Pals

Horse Dreams (Backyard Horses)Horse Dreams by Dandi Daley Mackall

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Horse Dreams by Dandi Daley Mackall

Ellie James is a fourth grader who loves horses. She begs, cries and prays for a black stallion of her very own. She daydreams about them when she’s supposed to be paying attention in class. One day Ellie announces that she really has seen a scraggly, muddy pinto out the classroom window. She is laughed at and reprimanded until the imaginary pinto is seen by the whole town avoiding capture by animal control and the sheriff’s department. Ellie and her mom, who volunteers at a local cat farm, help the pinto recover from neglect at the cat farm so that it can be transferred to a horse rescue elsewhere. Even as she fights getting attached, Ellie’s dreams of a black stallion start turning into the pinto.

This is the first Dandi Daley Mackall book I’ve read and she has done a great job of creating a believable story for young girls who love horses. I read most of the book in one night—it is very hard to put down once you start. While the storyline does talk about God and prayer, it is not overly preachy. I loved this book and plan to buy for my own daughter—a fourth grader who loves horses.

I read this book through NetGalley in order to give an honest review.

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Are you a law abiding Texas citizen?

Old laws

Did you know you can't stick your pant leg in your boot if you have less than 10 head of cattle?
Did you know you can't take more than three sips of beer before you sit down?
Did you know you can't have a set of Encyclopedia Britannica?
Did you know that some cities have ordinances that prohibit flirting with your hands or mouth or loitering for the purpose of flirting? Did you know you have to be careful how you respond, too?
Did you know you can't shoot a buffalo wandering the streets from a second floor hotel room?
Did you know you have to give your crime victim 24 hour notice to let them know the nature of the crime you plan to commit?

Are you still sure you're a law-abiding citizen? :)

Monday, August 1, 2011


Chester Raccoon and the Big Bad BullyChester Raccoon and the Big Bad Bully by Audrey Penn

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

While I have heard of the kissing hand, I have not read the story. Chester Racoon and the Big Bad Bully seems to be from that series. Chester Racoon and his brother and sister are dealing with a school bully and are reluctant to go to school. Their mother reassures them and later tells them a fable of sorts about a rough stone that becomes beautiful once it has been smoothed. It implies that the animal children should befriend the bully and help him smooth out his rough edges.

While the story is nice and the pictures are cute, the storyline is disappointed. I agree that those who are being bullied should band together and not have to deal with a bully alone, I do not agree that every bully can be befriended.

The bully is predictably a badger and the teacher is predictably an owl. While a sweet idea, I have rarely seen this solution work especially when the teacher can’t get through to the students. I think this story falls short of even brushing the surface of this complex bully problem.

I received this book free from the publisher to read and give an honest review.

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Lot's Wife

The other night as I was running, I was thinking about regrets in my life—then God reminded me of Lot’s wife. Genesis 19:26 “But Lot's wife looked back. When she did, she became a pillar made out of salt.” What did Lot’s wife have to do with this? Was God warning me about looking back?

But what about all those times You told Israel to remember? (Deut 32:7) I wanted them to remember in order to learn from their mistakes and remember the proof that I AM.

So why did she look back? Why the pillar of salt? I thought Christians were supposed to be salt. I reviewed the story and noticed that Lot and his family had become quite luke-warm and possibly even people-pleasers. And they wouldn’t even leave on their own but had to be led out of the city by the messengers of God and specifically told not to look back. Did Lot’s wife not believe the cities would be destroyed? Was she curious what the destruction would look like? Was she looking back with regret? I suppose if she had been turned to stone, travelers could admire her beauty. I did a little research and found she probably hesitated leaving a party lifestyle to be saved by God and that becoming a pillar of salt could have been the natural consequence of being too close to burning sulfur that rained down from heaven.

So …
Look at the regrets, change what you can to improve the present.
Realize you have changed and improved and you are no longer that person of the past.
Keep your focus on your improvements – “see how far you’ve come”
Leave the rest of the past in the past to rest
If you keep looking over your should at the [regrets] past, you will miss the joy, happiness, etc of the present and future

I don’t want to be stuck in my past, growing more bitter in regret as Lot’s wife. I want to focus on how God has changed and improved me then look toward the present and future.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Why I run

I have registered for my first 10K (a.k.a. 5mi uptown Oct 22, 2011), am getting ready to run the Dallas White Rock 5 person relay with 4 wonderful women, and I asked myself why? Initially I thought about running when my older daughter was about 18 months (she’s 9 now) and was bored with walking a stroller every day. Next, I wondered if I COULD complete a 5K—after all, I’m no athlete. Somewhere along the way I noticed some health benefits. I also came across a self-defense site (James R. Hannibal's self-defense site) that recommended running as a line of self-defense. The catch is having more endurance than your attacker. Suddenly, images from TV shows and movies of women running over various terrain away from their attackers replayed in my mind.

I’ve come a long way from only running down hill with a stroller and the Couch-to-5k-program. I don’t know if I’m classified as an athlete, but … Oh all right. I’ll admit it.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

So much better than I expected!

The Muir HouseThe Muir House by Mary E. DeMuth

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Muir House by Mary DeMuth is about a young, determined woman named Willa Muir who is looking for home and a missing year, a missing memory. She turns down a marriage proposal believing her life is too unstable with missing memories. Willa was starting to piece together some fragments when the house she was staying at in Seattle burns to the ground. She feels driven back to where she grew up—Rockwall, Texas. There she tries to sort through her feelings about her deceased father, her dying mother, her old boyfriend, the caretaker of Muir funeral home turned Bed and Breakfast, and the fractured memories that come back to her as she uncovers answers.

I appreciate that Willa is a strong-willing woman, undeterred by those who think the past should be left hidden, buried, or forgotten. There were moments when I wanted to keep turning pages to discover what happened next, but I had to put it down to chew on the concepts Demuth creatively wove into the storyline.

The Muir House includes mystery, suspense, romance, and healing in an order I did not expect. I would definitely recommend this book.

I received this complimentary copy from Zondervan to read and give an honest review.

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Summer Reading Challenger and an American Girl

My older daughter was a reluctant reader, but nothing seems to excite her more than the challenge of beating me—her mom. Our first true week of summer, she checked out the Kaya series—6-7 books—and I checked out a Clive Cussler. Ok, maybe I checked out a couple other books too that I was curious about and to give her a chance to beat me. I thought I was a fast reader.

She is no longer a reluctant reader. She beat me with no trouble at all. It might have something to do with these American Girl books. I decided to read one of these books my daughter was devouring. The Kaya series is well written and definite page turners. And I couldn’t stop at just one. I had to find out if Kaya returned to her family after being kidnapped. I wanted to know if she ever saw her sister Speaking Rain again when she had to leave her behind in a crisis. I had to keep reading to see if she was reunited with her beloved horse Steps High.

I love that the American Girls are about strong-willed girls 8-10 years old who have to deal with conflicts in their time periods. Because Kaya is a Native American Indian in 1764, the stories include the Nimiipu religious traditions but is done in such a way that it fits without trying to brain wash the reader in any way.

I think I will have to restructure the summer reading challenge, however, as my daughter is no longer a reluctant and is beating me too easily.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Cute, quick, fun read

Gossip From the Girls' Room: A Blogtastic! NovelGossip From the Girls' Room: A Blogtastic! Novel by Rose Cooper

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I discovered this author via Facebook and Blogger when she was waiting for this book to arrive from the publisher. As she talked about a sixth grade girl named Sofia who wrote down everything in a journal that she thought was blog worthy. Sometimes she recorded hallway rumors and sometimes she learned interesting tidbits when she was unnoticed in a bathroom stall. She then posted to her blog—which is hosted by the school website—when nobody was watching. Sofia uses and assumed name and only her best friend knows the truth, but Sofia still dreams of popularity via her anonymous blog.

The pink and black cover and author’s doodling add to the irresistibility of this book. I checked it out to see if my older daughter (8yo) would be interested. Gossip is such a quick, fun read I had to pass it on to her. She couldn’t put it down! I highly recommend this to 8-12 year old girls. I think it is especially appropriate for the reluctant reader.

Per my 8yo: this was a really good book. Sofia is a really good character because she has a journal where she writes down everything she hears. It’s really cool that she has a blog on the school website because I don’t. I liked the weird jokes, when Sofia practiced writing her names different ways and when Nona’s tongue got stuck on the flagpole. I would recommend this book to other girls my age.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New author Karsten Knight

WildefireWildefire by Karsten Knight

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Life is tough enough when you’re adopted, your trouble-maker sister is expelled and runs away, and you look different from everyone at your school. Then your boyfriend cheats on you, you lose your temper, throw a few punches, your sister appears out of nowhere, and … you decide you need a fresh start at a boarding school where you discover your mood swings are more powerful than you thought. Ashline Wilde—Volcano Goddess. Karsten Knight does a great job of mixing folklore and legend across cultures. It reminded me of a cross between Harry Potter and X-Men. The language does get crude at times and there are some sexual situations. I still think it’s a great story and Knight is a talented writer. I would definitely recommend this book and hope to see more from this author.

I won this free ARC from Simon and Schuster.

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Friday, June 24, 2011

Too fast-paced, too honest

The Maverick ExperimentThe Maverick Experiment by Drew Berquist

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

The Maverick Experiment by Drew Berquist is about a secret team of the best soldiers who act outside the rules. Though they are formed and hired by the CIA, they don’t really exist and nobody knows what they are doing where. While the idea is thrilling and exciting, the action becomes so fast-paced that it can be hard to follow. Is this supposed to be some far-fetched idea of the author as the only way to get certain things done? Or is Berquist giving us a peak into the way the government really works? Either way, I think the presentation is too much information, a little too honest. Once the men on this Maverick team are given a vague assignment, they seem to act through anger and passion in the heat of the moment rather than with logic. There is way too much crude language even for a war novel.

I discovered this as a free e-book and I’m glad the only thing I’m out is some time. I wouldn’t spend money on this book and I would not recommend it to anyone. In fact, if you’re interested in a military thriller, check out Michael Angley (Child Finder series) or James R. Hannibal (Wraith). Both are much better written and much cleaner.

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

A fascinating read with beautiful historical illustrations

The Story of the Bible: The Fascinating History of Its Writing, Translation & Effect on CivilizationThe Story of the Bible: The Fascinating History of Its Writing, Translation & Effect on Civilization by Larry Stone

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Story of the Bible by Larry Stone is a chronological account of how the Bible came about. It begins with the early days of record keeping via stone, copper, papyrus, and parchment. Next came the development of scrolls and then codex—the predecessors of the book. Stone describes the protocols and procedures that were put in place to ensure the accuracy of future copies of chapters and books of the Bible. As each ancient record is discovered, analyzed and placed in the historical time line the validity and accuracy of the scriptures is proven over and over. The original manuscripts of the Bible have survived raids, wars, washings and re-usings, fires—and yet there is still enough left for scholars to study and marvel at the consistency of the man-made copies. The locations of the discoveries show that copies were dispersed and circulated. The early church had to deal with false teaching without the benefit of an established Bible.

I’ll admit I have not finished reading this book. It is big and packed with information. The portion I have read is fascinating and I look forward to reading more, gradually and seeing more of God’s sovereignty revealed as He has obvious overseen the survival of so many puzzle pieces. I plan to make this a permanent part of my home library and I’m sure I will refer to it as I do various Bible studies.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson to read and give an honest review.

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Monday, May 30, 2011

Fathers do not exasperate your children

Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.(NIV)

“Honor your father and mother” and “Obey your parents” were preached and taught often when I was growing up, but I always wondered about this scripture. What does it mean to exasperate? Dictionary.com says: “to irritate or provoke to a high degree; annoy extremely.” Why didn’t they talk about this one? How exactly can fathers, or either parent, exasperate their children? At first I thought “Isn’t just being a parent annoying and irritating to kids?” But then I realized even proper parenting can be taken to the extreme. Reminding your child to pick up their things can turn into nagging. Encouraging them to improve can become overly critical if done in the wrong tone. Seeing or hearing a parent do something the child is told not to do can be very confusing to a child. As adults our lives get busy with deadlines and commitments, and spending focused quality time with each or our children should also be a commitment. And children don’t react the same as adults when they are irritated or annoyed. Their behavior will be altered—sometimes acting out in anger, sometimes acting out for attention, sometimes withdrawing because they feel undervalued or unwanted. So the next time we recite “Honor your father and mother” or “Obey your parents” maybe we should ask ourselves if we are doing anything (or not doing something) that would exasperate our kids. We can’t expect our kids to behave any better than we do.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I think I’m starting to understand why parents didn’t trust my suggestions when I was teaching but before I was a mom myself. Ok, so I didn’t know firsthand what it was like to raise kids, but it wasn’t like I hadn’t been around kids before. I have to wonder sometimes where “experts” get their ideas, though. Is it firsthand experience? Is it classroom and textbook theory?

Like when my daughters were potty training and the “experts” in the books said NEVER be negative about an accident and ALWAYS say it’s ok you’ll do better next time. My daughters took that to mean they had permission to have an accident. When we used positive reinforcement (a.k.a. bribery), they were fine with only earning something (Hershey’s kiss, M&M, mini-Reese’s) once per day—in other words, success once per day.

Or how about the experts who say allergies don’t make you lethargic? When I’m sneezing my head off, my eyes are itchy and swollen, my nose is running like a faucet, I’m feeling pretty lethargic.

How about overweight doctors? Need I say more?

Then there are certified dieticians that recommend giving your child diet sodas instead of sugary sodas and juices. Really? I would think that a limited amount of fruit juice is better than soda AND diet soda. Better double check your research on artificial sweeteners. Some of those can be worse than sugar itself.

Now I’m reading an article in Going Bonkers magazine by a psychologist about social phobia. This expert warns about safety behaviors that people practice thinking they are helping, but supposedly make you more nervous. For example: If you’re afraid of saying something stupid or boring, your safety behavior is to plan everything out in your mind before you speak. I do this frequently. I thought it was called “think before you speak.” Oh, and you’re not supposed to go over anxiety-provoking situations after the fact. Really? I would have thought it would be a good idea to think about what went wrong, figure out how to improve so you don’t make the same mistake again. Don’t torture yourself with the mistakes, but how do you improve if you don’t consider what went wrong for a moment?

And how many times have “experts” argued and given us conflicting information?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Like a Christian Parnell Hall

The Corruptible (A Ray Quinn Mystery)The Corruptible by Mark Mynheir

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Corruptible by Mark Mynheir is a cop driven mystery. Ray Quinn is a former cop turned Private Investigator/Detective. He is coming off a case investigating a cheating husband when Armon Mayer calls. Mayer owns Mayer Holdings—a company with a lot of money, but no one really knows what it does, only that it has high profile clientele. Mayer hires Quinn to find a former security guard who has hacked into Mayer Holdings systems and downloaded sensitive information and then disappeared. Logan Ramsey, the former security guard, had many enemies and few friends. Quinn worked with him briefly in narcotics, but Ramsey was known to go undercover a little too deep. He seemed to go rogue, getting lost in the undercover world. Things get complicated when Ramsey turns up dead but the satchel containing the stolen information is nowhere to be found.

Though I figured out who the killer was before the end of the book, there were several unexpected twists and turns that kept the story interesting. It was a fairly clean read with maybe a few questionable words. I think the style is similar to Parnell Hall. Though Ray Quinn is the main character, he is not a Christian in this storyline which made for an interesting angle for a Christian murder mystery. I am interested in reading more Ray Quinn mysteries by Mark Mynheir.

I received this book free through the Blogging for Books program from WaterbrookMultnomah to read and give an honest review.

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Pilots and Christians

I read a story by a pilot friend of mine about the importance of checking all the instruments and gauges on the dash of a plane or jet. There is a gauge called an attitude indicator and the standby is a gyro. The attitude indicator is the instrument that shows you up from down. Some younger pilots will tend to ignore the gyro because it needs more maintenance—it needs to be righted after big turns and rolls. This friend wrote how even he tended to ignore the gyro in his younger days. There was one day he was thankful he maintained his gyro and paid attention to all the instrumentation—the day his main attitude indicator went out. If he had continued to only pay attention to his main indicator, he would have continued into a nosedive and crashed. Instead, by maintaining the gyro and watching all the other instruments, he was able to right the plane and land safely—with a little help from the approach controller.

As I read that story, it reminded me so much of our Christian lives. We can walk into a situation and ignore our initial reaction, our conscience, our attitude indicator. We can make excuses. We can try to rationalize. But if we read our Bibles every day and keep the communication open with God and surround ourselves with Christian friends who will keep us accountable, we can still right ourselves instead of crashing and burning in temptation.

Proverbs 15:22 (New International Reader's Version)
22 Plans fail without good advice.
But they succeed when there are many advisers.

P.S. You can read the pilot’s story here:
The Ops Check That Saved My Life

Monday, May 9, 2011

We all have a choice

I watched a video of one of my friends presenting a devotional of sorts at a Christian high school assembly. While I liked what he had to say and how he said it, I was surprised at the comments.
• So according to you those kids who are atheist or who don't believe in your version of a monotheistic god are … flawed? What a disgusting thing to say at a school and to kids....
• so thank you for willingly contributing to the ignorance of our future generations
• “It's just sad to see kids being mentally circumcised and brainwashed like that. being a christian school and faith based doesnt mean you deliberately close their minds with crude statements like that man, cmon.... there are many moral codes but they are all flawed? why don't you people give these kids a chance to make up their own mind instead of force feeding them that kind of [bull]. it's just so sad. it should be agents the law and a form of child abuse....”

First off, it’s funny that this commenter would talk about circumcision since God started that one in the Bible. But if I’m not mistaken, every parent from every religion of the world brings their kids up in their religion. Kids are raised on the religion of their parents. Even if you don’t “force feed” them or “shove it down their throats” they will still learn it by watching you. Parents lead by example. And who says these kids don’t have the chance to make up their own mind? If they’ve made it to high school, they have a brain and they can think. If they can choose whether to be a cheerleader, a jock, a book worm then they can choose what religion they will ultimately follow. If they can choose which college to attend, which major to study, which job to apply for, which career to pursue; then they can choose whether to continue to worship as their parents do or go another way.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

grew overnight

A school day a couple years ago, my older daughter went to put on a pair of pants that she had only worn a week ago, and on this day she couldn’t get them on. They were too small. We quickly went through the rest of the pants in her closet to find there was only one pair that still fit. One pair. I sent her off to school and I went on a search for pants that would fit. In most stores, those pants were out of season. It took me a while to find her some clothes to get her through the remainder of the season.

As I watched the clearance racks in the children’s section, an idea struck me. What if as clothes go out of season and go on sale I stock up on future sizes and future seasons? Sometimes things that are normally $10 will be priced as low as $2. Over the last two to three years this has served me well and my kids have not run out of clothes since!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Christian Nancy Drew?

VanishedVanished by Kristi Holl

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Vanished by Kristi Holl is about a 6th grade girl named Jeri McKane at an all girls boarding school. Her best friend Rosa goes missing while on an art class field trip along with 5 other students and the art teacher Mr. Reeves. The town turns out to help look for the van and missing people. Jeri calls Jake Phillips, a local reporter whom she looks up to, to come and help with the investigation. Then Jeri discovers that Jake’s stories aren’t adding up. Did the van run off the road and crash through the ice on the lake? Did Mr. Reeves kidnap the students? Did Jake have something to do with the disappearance? Jeri is determined to discover the truth.

The main character acts like an older sixth grader. Some of her logic seems to be a bit old for her but perhaps that works for a detective personality.

Overall this was an enjoyable read and not overly preachy. In fact, there are only a few references sprinkled throughout the story of Jeri’s relationship with Jesus. I think this would be fun and appropriate for girls aged 10-12 years. It has just enough suspense to keep you guessing and turning pages without being too scary.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Little Changes

I am no fitness expert or health guru, but I know what has worked for me in the past. It really is the little things. Leaving one bite on my plate. Drinking a glass of water before I get a snack. Eating fruits or vegetables before I reach for chips or candy. Cut your serving size by one-fourth, one-third, or even one-half. Skip dessert or eat a smaller portion. Decrease your soda intake. Notice serving sizes and consider what size you really need according to your caloric needs (personally, I don’t need 2000 calories a day, so if that is what the serving size is based on, I need a smaller portion).

Think about it. If you started on the first day of the month to eat one less cookie or one less chip and each day decrease again (on the first of the month, one less, on the second day of the month, two less, on the third day of the month, three less, etc). Imagine the difference that could make by the end of the month.

Try adding a fruit or vegetable each week. By the end of the month you could add four fruits or vegetables to your menu. Then try eating the fruit before you reach for the cookies or the candy or the vegetable before the chips.

You can use this same strategy for physical activity (jumping jacks, running, jump rope, walking, hiking, swimming, dancing, bicycling, push-ups, sit-ups, squats, etc.). Choose an activity and do one on the first day of the month, two on the second day, three on the third day, etc. You could be doing thirty jumping jacks or sit-ups or whatever by the end of just one month!

All of these little changes will add up over time. What if you had one less chip, added one fruit or vegetable, AND added one activity over the course of the month? Why don’t you give it a try and see what happens? Can’t hurt, right? What’s the worst that could happen?