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

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.