Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hey Family! Can I Have Your Attention Please?

Dear Family,

It has been brought to my attention that my birthday is exactly 2 months away from today.  Have you started thinking about a present for me yet?  I know it's a little stressful.  After all, what do you get for the girl who has probably already bought the book she's been wanting and lives as a recluse during the summer months so she doesn't get out much?  Well, wonder no more!  Here's a list of items that would be perfectly acceptable to give to me!

Gift Certificates to Shutterfly
After all, I do have over 20,000 pictures that would like to see daylight rather than the inside of my computer system.  (No, I don't have to print all of them out, but if you ever want me to finish those scrapbooks, some are going to have to be ordered.)

Gift Certificates to Publix or Sweetbay
Since I am trying to eat healthier and I'm learning to cook a little bit more, gift certificates to the grocery stores are a welcome relief.   Those veggies are pretty expensive!

Gift Certificates to Target
The home of one-stop shopping for essentials and much better than that "other" place I used to go to for items.  I even found out that they're adding groceries to the store right around the corner so I may be able to do some grocery shopping there as well!

Gift Certificates for Boot Camp
As you know, I've been working with Carrie for the past 6 months to try and "get in shape."  I've lost a large amount of inches during this time and I would like to continue with my training so that I can stay on track.  Carrie offers many different programs and is diligent about responding to my questions and my emails.  She truly cares  about my welfare and my well-being, so I'd like to continue training with her.

Hopefully these have given you some ideas about what I would like to see in a few months.  In fact, they'd be perfect for that other holiday coming in another six months too.  As always, if you have questions, please let me know.  Yes, these are things I REALLY want.  No, I'm not kidding.  Have a great day and happy shopping!

  Your daughter, niece, granddaughter, aunt, cat's mom, sister, and other names I'm unaware of...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Spring Read Thing 2010 Wrap-Up

It's really not that hard to believe that summer is here already--especially since the temps have been crazy and the daily thunderstorms have arrived.  However, when I think about the amount of time that seems to have passed us by, I'm amazed at the thought that half the year is over and I feel that I have nothing to show for it except a few adventures (or in some cases misadventures) and a few more gray hairs.

When I first made my book list for Spring Read Thing 2010, I had such high hopes to complete my list because I tried to keep it rather short.  Unfortunately, between the craziness of the end of the school year and my own crazy home life schedule, I still didn't complete my reading list.  These are the books I read for Spring Read Thing 2010:

What Difference Do It Make? By Ron Hall and Denver Moore

I received What Difference Do It Make? from Jodi Hughes at Thomas Nelson because I read the first book in this incredible story (Same Kind of Different As Me)and she thought I would be interested in reading about what happened afterwards.  This book continues the story of Ron Hall and Denver Moore's friendship after their first book was released.  Because of the nature of the story, I don't think they realized the impact it would have on its readers.  In fact, they were so overwhelmed, that they included many of the responses from the readers in this book!  In fact, there's even a Tampa connection, which I think is pretty neat, since I am familiar with this particular radio personality.  There are many quotable moments from the book, but I think one of the best is from Denver when he says, "The things you do for nothin is the things you keep forever."  How very true...How very true...  I recommend that you read this book--even if you haven't read the first (although it may not have the same impact)--because it is a story that everyone should be familiar with.  It puts a human name and face with a problem that is running rampant throughout our society: homelessness.  It also shows how one person can make a difference, even if it's in the life of one person.  I leave you with another quote from Denver. "Listen, if the devil ain't messin with you, he's already got you.  If you is waitin to clean up your own life before you get out and help  somebody else, you may as well take off your shoes and crawl back in bed 'cause it ain't never gon' happen."

Glaen by Fred R. Lydbrand

LOVED this book!  I wrote a short review of it here, if you're interested.  It really is a quick read and I definitely recommend it. 

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

I know this book was not on my original list, but one of our sophomore English teacher's classes were reading it for their unit on Censorship and since I had never read it, I decided to join them.  (We had a book get challenged this year and it was my first challenge to have to deal with in a library, so I thought this was somewhat apropos since they were burning books in this novel.)  I must admit, I actually enjoyed this book, even though it's pretty scary how close we are to this actual reality.  After all,we have flat screen TVs that take up walls in our homes, we have entertainment in our hands via mp3 players and smart phones, and I've even heard it said in the educational field that "we don't need books anymore, we have hand-held devices now."  Yep--we're dumbing down our society despite our "advances" in technology and making our lives "easier."  Good read and very enlightening.  (Very quotable as well.)

Look Again by Lisa Scottoline

Yet another one that was not on my original list.  We have a teacher book club at our school and this is one of our choices to read this year.  Overall it was okay, but rather predictable and in some cases far-fetched.   Don't get me wrong, I was concerned about the characters, but some of their antics just didn't add up, not to mention I figured out most of the plot after the first couple of chapters.  I would check it out from the library rather than spend your money on it because there was a nice little bow on things at the end of the story that just didn't belong there.

 Back to Life by Kristin Billerbeck (Trophy Wives Club Book #2)

It's been a few years since I've read The Trophy Wives Club so I wasn't sure if I would remember the characters or not.  As it turns out, it doesn't matter because this book was about one of the other characters, Lindsay.  Lindsay's husband died and now she's left to pick up the pieces and see if she can get "back to life."  However, there are a few issues that arise that help to complicate matters--namely his ex-wife and son. Not to mention, Lindsay's ex-boyfriend has decided that he can't live without her and tends to show up at the worst possible moments.  Her eccentric, gossipy neighbors aren't helping one bit either.  Can Lindsay survive this three-ringed circus or will she crawl under her covers and wait for it to go away?  You'll have to read the book to find out. 

This book has the usual Billerbeck humor entangled within the plot that makes you laugh at loud and wonder if there's a secret camera following you around.  Seriously!  Many of Lindsay's thoughts were things that I either think or have said to other people.  If you want a light-hearted romantic comedy, then this is the book (and author) for you!

Darlington Woods by Mike Dellosso

If you like horror or supernatural fiction--this is the book for you.  The best thing--it's also Christian literature!  I read this book as part of a book tour, so here's a link to my actual review.  Great book, and I have Scream on my TBR list for this summer.  Let me know what you think!

Making Money from Home by Donna Partow

Another book that I asked to review because my mom is trying to get a business off the ground and I have a friend who is working on one as well.  I figured by reading this book I could help them, but there are so many helpful resources, that they actually need their own copies.  Here's a link to my review for the book. 

Frenzy by Robert Liparulo (DreamHouse Kings Book #6)

While this is a "young adult" book, I have been sucked into this storyline since book #1 (House of Dark Shadows) when the Kings first bought their "house" and encountered some unexpected challenges of trying to live there.  If you haven't read any of the other books, you really need to read those before you start this one because this wraps up the series.  I'll warn you ahead of time--you'll want all six books at once because each book leaves you at a cliff-hanger, biting your nails until you find out what happens in the next one.  It's an awesome series and I recommend it for anyone!

The Unseen by T. L. Hines

What if, at this very moment, someone was watching you right where you are sitting?  What if they somehow managed to get within your walls or even your ceiling and were watching you through a tiny pin hole?  Would you act differently?  Would you watch your conversations?  What if, you didn't even know they were there?  That's the premise behind this book.  Lucas has been the watcher for so long that he suddenly finds himself as "the watched."  As he tries to figure out who may be watching him, he uncovers an underground organization that results in some terrible consequences for him.   Honestly, I was a bit paranoid when I started reading this book since I live on the top floor of an apartment and there is a walkway in my "attic" area that someone could "hide."  After checking to make sure there was no one there (a few times), I finally decided I was being silly and just read the book.  The plot line was a bit frustrating because it moved slowly and there were so many unanswered questions at the end of the book.  I would recommend that you check it out from the library, only if you don't mind being disappointed when you finish.

  Last Dance by Melody Carlson (Carter House Girls #8)

I've really enjoyed reading this series by Melody Carlson.  While Mrs. Carter may not be as "hands-on" as many parents would hope, I find it to be realistic to the lives that many of my students face.  The girls are getting ready for prom and all that it entails as they begin to think about their plans after graduation.  It's a busy time of year, but Eliza still wants the girls to help her run for Prom Queen and she's put DJ in charge as her campaign manager.  As usual, chaos ensues when a bunch of girls get together and they find themselves as targets of one of the other Prom Queen Candidates.  While chaos reigns, one of the girls finds that she may be pregnant and doesn't know who to turn to for help.  (A situation that several of my students have found themselves in over the years.)  After talking it over with one of the girls, Mrs. Carter is finally brought in and we find out a little more about her history as a model.  It's a great series for teenagers and I'm sure they'll relate to many of the characters as they'll read.  I'm a bit sad that the series will be ending because I've grown to "know" the characters more, but just like with all Seniors, we must wave good-bye as they head off into the "real world."

So Over My Head by Jenny B. Jones (The Charmed Life Series #3)

Talk about laughing while reading!  Bella Kirkwood is still adjusting to her role as town "teen detective" when she's thrown into her role again after she discovers a dead body at the carnival.  Using her investigative skills, she manages to break-up with her boyfriend, cause chaos for her dad's upcoming wedding, and winds up working as a clown.  Can Bella fix this mess before a killer "fixes" her for good? 

 I love Jenny B. Jones!  As a high school teacher, she really "gets" teenagers and all of their drama.  Although this book is a YA book, I laughed quite frequently while reading.  I would start with the first book in the series (So Not Happening) and read all the way through the series because the characters will endear themselves to you and have you laughing with their comments and antics.  I think romantic comedy is quite an accurate description of her writing--although comedy should probably come first.  Let me know what you think!!

I guess all of the other books will return to my TBR pile and I may (or may not) get to them this summer.  How did you do on your list?  Leave a comment below and let me know.  Happy Reading!

Monday, June 21, 2010


Can you believe that it's only now officially the first day of summer? Here in Florida, we seem to have only 2 seasons: Summer and DEEP Summer. With temps ranging in the muggy 90s and our ever-present fear-inducing, lightning-striking thunderstorms, DEEP Summer had been around for the past month or so.

Today is officially MY first day of summer!  NO summer workshops; NO kids; NO VBS; NO, not one single thing that I actually HAVE to do today.  Yes, there is a HUGE smile on my face, which has been non-existent this past school year. (My co-workers probably wouldn't even recognize me.)  So, in honor of this AWESOME first day of summer, here is a fun look at what I try to do when I'm actually at work.  (Yes, it's from my addiction: YouTube.)

This video actually makes me want to move to Washington just so I can work with these people!  PLUS, they have the real Nancy Pearl--How AWESOME is that?!