Sunday, August 30, 2009

Organize Your Space! 1 Week Series and Workshop - AFTER

I signed up to participate in the Organize Your Space! 1 Week Series and Workshop going on over at The Double Dipped Life. I chose to work on my computer desk area. This is the before picture. It wasn't in bad shape, but, it did need some decluttering and reorganizing. Before, the top of the desk seemed to be a catch-all for magazines and papers. Whenever I needed to reload paper into my printer, I would have to dig it out from underneath the magazines.

This is the after photo. I removed the magazines and made myself go through many of them and throw out the ones I didn't want anymore. Then, I bought a few desk accessories - a paper tray (to hold printer paper and notebook paper for the kids' homework), a small mail sorter, and a box to hold paper clips, pocket dictionary and thesaurus, etc. We also have a shelf next to the computer desk that holds our DVDs. I went through those as well and ended up taking about 15-20 DVDs to sell at Half Price Books. How nice is that? Declutter AND make a little cash.

Last, I added a few "autumn" touches to brighten things up - a colorful pot with some fall berries and a small candle. That's it. Quick and simple, but, much more usable.

~Thanks to Krista at The Double Dipped Life for hosting this workshop~

Friday, August 28, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me - and - My First "VGNO"!

This weekend, I will be celebrating my 40th birthday! I actually dread the thought of turning the big 4-0, but, I figured I might as well get over myself and embrace it. So, this seems like the perfect time to join the "Virtual Girl's Night Out" party that goes on over at Ann Again...And Again.

Time For A Party Game!

"The Mighty Four"

Four places I go over and over:
1. Walmart
2. Walgreens
3. My parents' house
4. My laundry room - bleh!

Four places I would rather be:
1. Chicago
2. New York City
3. Somewhere with snow
4. Disney World

Four things I have for breakfast (not all at once):
1. Black coffee
2. Oatmeal
3. Cereal
4. Cinnamon Toast

How about a party beverage? This is one of my favorite wines - Little Black Dress Pinot Grigio!

My birthday is going to be pretty low-key, nothing special planned (by my own wishes). I will be helping my parents move this weekend. And, we (I say "we" but that really mostly means my hubby;o) are painting my two youngest boys' room this weekend, as well. Last weekend, my sister took me on an overnight birthday trip to Indianapolis. We did a little shopping at this fantastic mall, and a lot of eating at some yummy places like The Cheesecake Factory, Godiva Chocolate (OMG!), and Ruby Tuesdays. We also went to see the movie Julie & Julia. It was so nice to just relax and get away.

If you would like to participate in this week's VGNO, click here for more details.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cyber Baby Shower

I don't know about you, but, I've always loved baby showers. Cute decorations, silly games, and lots of precious baby gifts to "ooh and ahh" over. Kailani, at An Island Life, is expecting baby girl #3. Some of her blogging friends decided to get together and plan a cyber baby shower in her honor.

"From September 28th – October 4th, several blogs will be hosting a baby shower game complete with awesome prizes. Stop by and meet some amazing bloggers, have some fun, win some prizes, and help celebrate"

For more details on how to participate, click here.

Aloha Friday - School Subjects

It's Aloha Friday time! Time to take it easy and get ready for the weekend. I will post something quick and easy for you to respond to....

Our kids have been back to school for three weeks now. Many of yours have started back as well, or are about to. Last week, we talked about school-night bedtimes. This week, I thought I would ask another school-related question.

What was your favorite subject when you were in school? Your least favorite?

My favorite was history or Social studies

My least favorite - believe it or not I will have to say P.E. (or gym class). I was (and still am) hopelessly unathletic and dreaded anything that required me to sweat or exert physical energy. Pretty sad, because I'm still that way:o)

For more Aloha Friday, visit An Island Life.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Teens and Driving

Our oldest turned 16 in May and was able to get his driver's permit. In our state, we have Graduated Driver's Licensing. This is a three-step process: 1)Learner's permit - allows driving only with a fully licensed driver 2)Intermediate license - allows unsupervised driving but with restrictions related to driving at night and teenage passengers 3)Full licensure.

I have to admit, the thought of my child operating a vehicle out there on the road stresses me out. Since he is still in the learner's permit phase, we've been taking it pretty slow. If I'm going out to run errands close to home, I'll let him drive (as long as our other kids aren't with us). And, on several evenings, we've went out just to take a drive through town so he could get some more practice. He still has a long way to go, but, he is not doing a bad job so far. In a couple months, we are going to let him take a few hours of a professional driver's training course; in addition to helping him improve his driving, it will also give us a discount on his auto insurance.

Many of his friends are new drivers as well. Some already have their intermediate licenses. So, he is beginning to want to go out and ride places with these friends. More stress for me. To be honest, it scares me to death to let him go. But, that is part of being a parent and having your kids grow up - you have to let them go sometimes. We give him rules to follow: he has to ALWAYS wear a seat belt, he has to tell us exactly where he is going/who is going, we must always be able to reach him on his cell phone (no cell phone talking or texting if he is the driver), and he cannot be in a car with a bunch of kids. Also, he is never to ride with someone who has been drinking. We've assured him that he can call us anytime, from anywhere, and we will pick him up, no questions asked, if it keeps him from riding with someone who has had alcohol. From there, we just have to trust that he will be smart and safe.

Here are some statistics about teen driving from the National Safety Council:

*Every day – more than 10 young drivers age 15-20 are killed in crashes and another 745 are injured.

*About 25% of crashes killing young drivers involve alcohol.

*39% of young male drivers and 26% of young female drivers were speeding at the time of their fatal crash.

*Although young drivers only represent 6% of all licensed drivers, they are the drivers in 16% of all traffic crashes.

*Young drivers are involved in fatal traffic crashes at over twice the rate as the rest of the population.

*Traffic crashes are the #1 cause of death among young adults.

*Teenagers driving at night with passengers are 4-5 more times likely to crash than when driving alone during the day.

If you want to read more about teen driving, here are some additional links:

Allstate - Teen Driving

Safe Teen Driving Club

What about you? Do you have a teen driver? Or, if you've already been through this, how did you handle it? Does it ever get any easier when they go out in a car? I would love to hear your thoughts....

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Take A Chance Challenge - Challenge #4

I'm so excited to be participating in the Take A Chance Challenge hosted by Jenners over at Find Your Next Book Here. She has come up with 10 fun and clever tasks that involve books, reading, and even a little writing. This is my blog entry for Challenge #4.

Here are the instructions for this particular challenge:

4.Judge A Book By Its Cover
Pick out a book based SOLELY on the cover. First, write about what you expect the book to be about based on the cover art. Then read the book and write about how the book was different from and/or similar to what the cover art led you to expect.

I chose Birds in Fall by Brad Kessler

I think this has been my favorite challenge so far. Never, have I chosen a book to read simply by its cover. It was somewhat liberating - picking a book without even glancing at the inside jacket to see what it was about. For this challenge, I went to the fiction section of the library. I selected Birds In Fall because I thought it was a beautiful book. The cover is filled with exotic looking bird-themed postage stamps (I've always had a thing for postage stamps). It was impossible to tell what the book might be about, but, my guess was that maybe it took place in a tropical setting and involved someone on some sort of journey or trip.

Here's the actual synopsis:

From Publishers Weekly
This brooding novel is a modern-day retelling of the Greek myth of Ceyx and Alcyone. In the eerie first chapter, Russell, a New York ornithologist, is on a flight to Amsterdam when the airplane plunges into the Atlantic near Nova Scotia. The victims' family members, including Russell's wife, Ana, gather near the site on Trachis Island to wait for word from search crews. Their host is Kevin, an innkeeper who witnessed the crash and occupies himself making the anxious guests comfortable. There, the disparate group, a global mix of parents, siblings, spouses and aunts and uncles, begins the difficult work of dealing with the tragedy, with Ana's story at the center, while Kevin, distracted by his duties, grows apart from his partner, Douglas. The protagonists are sympathetic and complex and Kessler, a journalist, children's book writer and novelist (Lick Creek), writes with lyricism, but also with studied seriousness.

I thought this was a beautifully written story. Even though it involved a terrible tragedy - an airplane crash and the demise of all its passengers - the book gave me a sense of hope and calm throughout. All of the main characters were likable and you couldn't help but root for them to make it through this horrible period in their lives. It was a quick and easy read at 238 pages. It's mentioned that this is a retelling of the Greek myth of Ceyx and Alcyone. I'm not familiar with that story but, am now curious to look into it and see what that's all about.

Movie Trailer Tuesday - After The Wedding

Here's one of my most recent Netflix rentals. I loved this movie! Loved. It.
It's a foreign film, so know that there will be subtitles in many parts of the movie. It was touching and unexpected. This is one that I really recommend. And, let me also say this - Mads Mikkelsen, who stars in this film, is probably one of the most beautiful men on this planet! Besides Netflix, you can also find the DVD on Amazon.

Monday, August 24, 2009

PBS Kids and PBS Parents

It's back-to-school time again. One thing I can still remember from when I was in elementary school, is watching The Electric Company in class each morning during the time before the starting bell sounded. "Hey you guys!" Remember that? At PBS Kids, you can access fun and educational games from The Electric Company, as well as other popular PBS shows including Reading Rainbow, Word Girl, Cyber Chase, and more. There's also videos, music, and coloring pages for your child to enjoy.

PBS Parents is another great resource that I highly recommend. There are sections on Child Development, Education, Healthy Kids, Issues and Advice, and much more. You can even follow them on twitter @pbsparents. Check it out - there's a wealth of useful information on PBS Parents.

In the PBS Back-to-School newsletter, they offer useful tips along with valuable resources and activities for this much-anticipated time of year. Here's a small sampling of information included in their newsletter:

Get your child back into the school groove with THE ELECTRIC COMPANY! Here are some suggestions from to keep the literacy learning going even out of the classroom.

*Create a cozy, comfortable reading space with your
child. Set rules for this area in your home to
maintain peaceful reading.

*Let your kids catch you reading. Talk about what
you read in newspapers, books, and magazines with
your children so they understand the importance of

*Encourage your child to read aloud at home. Your
child will learn to read with expression and
understanding while sharing stories with you – and
siblings and grandparents, too!

*A trip to the grocery store can reinforce reading
skills. Have your child write the grocery list, find
the items using the store's signs, and read product
labels — you can also encourage healthy eating.

For more helpful tips, visit And check out the new Back to School channel on the PBS KIDS GO! Video Player ( for curriculum-based clips from ARTHUR, THE ELECTRIC COMPANY, MAYA & MIGUEL and more to
foster learning!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Kmart's "Be A Schoolebrity" Deals & Sweepstakes

Kmart is the place for all your back to school shopping needs!

Visit Kmart's "Be A Schoolebrity" site for awesome back to school looks in the “wowdrobe” and to play with the Mix and Mash Dress-up Avatar. You can also challenge yourself and your friends with cool Mashup games, like "Mashup Smackdown" and "What's The Word" at:;217185549;40271978;t

Enter your child for a chance to win in the “Be A Schoolebrity” sweepstakes! One Grand Prize Winner will receive a visit at their school from a Nickelodeon® celebrity and the ultimate shopping spree PLUS a trip for 4 to LA for the true star treatment and a tour of Nick on Sunset studios!

Sweepstakes starts 12:01:00 AM (ET) on 7/26/09 and ends 11:59:59 PM (ET) on 9/7/09. No purchase necessary. For Official Rules and prize details, visit a participating Kmart store or click on the above link for more information.

Kmart also provides these convenient and helpful offers:

Kmart offers you the easy way to pay for Back to School. Use Kmart Layaway now to purchase all your Back to School needs and pick them up in time for the start of the school year. Go to and click on the layaway link for details.

Kmart knows that teachers spend an average of $300 of their own money on school supplies to stock up their classrooms. That’s why we’re helping teachers out this Back To School season with special offers on school supplies, Back to School wardrobe offers, and free downloadable classroom curricula. Kmart is providing teachers with tools to help teach their kids now about healthy spending habits. Teachers can access these offers and FREE downloadables here.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Aloha Friday - Weekend Getaway

It's time for Aloha Friday - time to take it easy and get ready for the weekend. I'll post something quick and easy for you to respond to....

I mentioned in my previous post that I'm going to Indianapolis with my sister this weekend. We're going to celebrate my 40th birthday, which is coming up next week. We'll just be doing some shopping, eating, and relaxing. It's only about a 2 hour drive for us, so, it should be an easy, fun trip.

My Aloha Friday question for you:

If you could leave today, for a weekend getaway of your own, where would you go? You can choose anywhere in the world....

For more Aloha Friday, visit Kailani at An Island Life

There might be a mouse in my house...

This weekend, I'm heading to Indianapolis for a little getaway trip with my sister to celebrate my birthday (I'll be 40 next week). We're going here to do a little shopping and then just to a hotel to relax and maybe go to the pool. Anyway, tonight, I'm running around trying to do laundry, iron clothes, pack for my trip, make sure all the kids' backpacks are ready for tomorrow, etc. I walked into my bedroom and I do believe I saw something small and dark dart from my treadmill to underneath my bed. ACK! Was it a mouse? Seriously? Is there a mouse in my house? I'm sure this is not a big deal to some, but, the thought of a mouse anywhere near my bed freaks me out. I LOVE my bed. Every day I can't wait until it's night, so that I can climb into my wonderful, comfortable bed. It's my haven, my refuge...okay, I'm probably being dramatic, but, you get the point. I LOVE MY BED!

Of course, tonight of all nights, my husband is working. So, I had to get the kids (who had just went to bed) and make them all come into my room and do a search for whatever it was that I saw. Or think I saw. We found nothing. Sneaky small, dark thing! I don't know if I will be able to get in my bed to go to sleep. Do you think there's any chance that a mouse would climb onto my bed? Maybe I should google that....

I called my husband at the firehouse and he thought it was funny. I asked him to bring home some mousetraps tomorrow. When I get back from my birthday-getaway, he better have a small dark corpse of some kind to show me.

Oh, and I forgot to tell you this - underneath my bed is one of the places that I often hide birthday or Christmas gifts for the kids. They never look under my bed, and the bedskirt hides anything from sight. While my kids were crawling around looking for "small dark thing" my youngest stumbled upon his birthday gift (he will be 9 next month). He immediately knew that it must be for him and started jumping up and down, laughing.

What a night! Wish me luck that I don't get an unwanted bed partner tonight.

Recommended Links

Quick, informative read
Symptoms of 4 Diseases That Could Affect Your Preteen or Teen -

I'm currently in a bible study class called "5 conversations you must have with your daughter", by Vicki Courtney. So far, it's really good. If you have a daughter/granddaughter, I highly recommend it. Check out the site:
5 Conversations You Must Have With Your Daughter Blog

I'm a sucker for cute animal pictures. Check out these sleepy-heads
Have you ever been so tired?

More funny animal photos - some of these are laugh-out-loud funny! The one with the reddish-colored dog and the cat peering out from behind the wall cracks me up.

Hope you all have a great day!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Teen Ink Magazine - Sample Issue Offer

I think it's important for teens to be able to express themselves and show their creativity. One way that they can do this, is through writing and art.

Teen Ink is offering a free issue of their print magazine to U.S. residents. Here's some information about Teen Ink (from their website):

..."a national teen magazine, book series, and website devoted entirely to teenage writing and art. Distributed through classrooms by English teachers, Creative Writing teachers, Journalism teachers and art teachers around the country, Teen Ink magazine offers some of the most thoughtful and creative work generated by teens and has the largest distribution of any publication of its kind. We have no staff writers or artists; we depend completely on submissions from teenagers nationwide for our content.

We offer teenagers the opportunity to publish their creative work and opinions on the issues that affect their lives - everything from love and family to teen smoking and community service. Hundreds of thousands of students have submitted their work to us and we have published more than 25,000 teens since 1989.

The Young Authors Foundation, Inc. is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that supports all Teen Ink publications. The foundation is devoted to helping teens share their own voices, while developing reading, writing, creative and critical-thinking skills. All proceeds from the print magazine, website and Teen Ink books are used exclusively for charitable and educational purposes to further our goal."

If you know a teen who may be interested in this publication and website, check out the link above. If you live in the US, you can request a free sample of Teen Ink magazine here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Movie Trailer Tuesday - Waltzing Anna

Okay, I have to admit, this one is a little hokey or cheesey or whatever you want to call it. But, it's still a sweet, heart-warming story that made me laugh and cry. If you are an Entourage fan, you will recognize Emmanuelle Chriqui as one of the stars of this movie.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Organize Your Space! 1 Week Series and Workshop - BEFORE

I am participating in the Organize Your Space! 1 Week Series and Workshop going on over at The Double Dipped Life. You can choose a room, area, or even a junk drawer as your organization project. I will be working on my computer desk area. Our computer desk is located in our dining room (because it's conveniently located and also because we do not currently have a formal dining room table). Eventually, when we finish our basement, we will be moving our computer area there. But, for now, I really need to get this little space organized; especially since it's so visible from our main living room and kitchen. It seems to be a catch-all for papers, magazines, and other "stuff" that doesn't really belong there.

These are my before pictures. Stay tuned to see if I make any progress....

If you would like to join in the Organize Your Space workshop, click here to get started.

Well, that's a little embarrrassing...

School started back for us last week. Our youngest is in the 3rd grade. Friday he brought home an envelope filled with his work from last week. Parents are supposed to look over the work, then sign and return the envelope. One of his assignments was a back-to-school booklet - they had to draw a self-portrait, trace their hand, and then answer a series of fill-in-the-blank questions related to their summer and also their hopes for the school year. Here are some examples of the questions...and the answers my son gave:

I think my favorite subject will be - math

My favorite school lunch is - pizza

This year, I want to learn about - Indians

During the summer, I went to - Florida

Now, this is where it gets a little embarrassing:

During the summer, I learned about - nothing

During the summer, I read - nothing

During the summer, I made - nothing

I had to laugh. I'm sure we just made a great impression on the teacher. Seriously though, I promise we weren't total slackers this summer.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Aloha Friday: School-Night Bedtimes

It's time for Aloha Friday. A time to take it easy and post something quick and easy for you to answer.

My topic this week is school-night bedtimes. Our kids started back to school on Tuesday. I have to admit, it was a little bit of a shock to the system - getting back into the early morning routines. I'm a night owl by nature; I love to stay up late and then sleep in. During the summer, my kids are pretty much the same way. Now that school has started back, here's the schedule we aim for:

Our 8, 11, and 13 yr. olds in bed by 9:00 pm (they catch bus at 7:30 am and 8:30 am)

Our 16 yr. old in bed by 11:00 pm (he leaves for school at 6:30 am)

Here are my questions for you:

1. If you have kids, what are their bedtimes?

2. Do they have the same bedtime all year or do they change during the school year?

3. If you have more than one child, do you give them different bedtimes according to age?

~For more Aloha Friday, be sure and visit An Island Life

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Take A Chance Challenge - Challenge #9

I'm so excited to be participating in the Take A Chance Challenge hosted by Jenners over at Find Your Next Book Here. She has come up with 10 fun and clever tasks that involve books, reading, and even a little writing. This is my blog entry for Challenge #9.

Here are the instructions for this particular challenge:

9. Poetic Review
Write a book review in three different forms of verse: haiku, limerick and free verse. (You can pick any book you want to write about).

I chose Blood Red by Heather Graham

Let me just say that this is the most difficult challenge for me. Writing poetry is definitely not my thing. Not my thing at all. But, anyway, here is my attempt:


Friends in New Orleans
they meet vampires good and bad
a battle ensues


Three friends who went to have fun,

Ended up being sent on the run;

From vampires out to kill,

They did it with magical skill.

But finally the good people won!

Free Verse

Vampires lurking in the city,
most are oblivious to their presence;
but a few are acutely aware.

While evil tries to seduce
and possess those who are weak,
Good is there to fight and protect.

Take A Chance Challenge - Challenge #10

I'm so excited to be participating in the Take A Chance Challenge hosted by Jenners over at Find Your Next Book Here. She has come up with 10 fun and clever tasks that involve books, reading, and even a little writing. This is my blog entry for Challenge #10.

Here are the instructions for this particular challenge:

10. Movie/Book Comparison
Find a book that you haven't read that has a movie based on it that you haven't seen. Read the book and watch the movie within a few days of each other. Write about your reactions to both the book and the movie and compare the two.

For this challenge, I chose The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau.

Book Review:
Ember is an underground city that was built in order to save the human race from some sort of apocalyptic disaster. "The Builders" who designed the city intended for the Ember inhabitants to stay underground for a period of about 200 years. They wrote specific instructions on how to leave the city once it was safe and return to the outside world. These instructions were put in a lock box that was programmed to open at the appropriate time. This box was very secretive and was to be handed down through the years from mayor to mayor. At some point along the way, the box was misplaced, and after many years, no one even knew of it's existence. The story takes place in the year 214 (214 years since the beginning of Ember). The residents do not even realize that they are in an underground city. By now, this is just the only world they know. They think that nothing else is "out there" except for darkness. Food and supplies are getting scarce. And, the large generator that powers the electricity in Ember, is beginning to wear out. Black-outs are becoming more and more common, and the people of Ember are worried about what's going to become of them. Two of the story's main characters are Lina and Doon, both twelve years of age. In Ember, children attend school until age twelve. Then comes "Assignment Day", the day when the children are given their jobs. Jobs are assigned by random draw. Unhappy with their job assignments, Lina and Doon agree to trade positions. Doon goes to work in the Pipeworks - where the generator is located. Lina, becomes a messenger - running all around the city delivering messages. After Lina happens upon the lock box and it's contents, she and Doon try to unravel the mystery of their city and also look for a way out.

The story immediately drew me in and was very easy to read. It was at times suspenseful and sad, but also hopeful and positive. I thought the whole premise of "Ember" and the way the city worked was fascinating. I really liked how well the characters were described - I had a clear mental image of each of them. Overall, I would say I loved the book.

Movie Review:
I watched the movie a few days after completing the book. I had high expectations, because I so enjoyed the story. Shorty after the movie began, it was obvious that much of the character development and background was not there. The story seemed to move way too fast, with some parts being left out or changed. I have to say, the movie totally bored me and it took two attempts before I could finally watch it all the way through. Overall, I was very disappointed in the movie.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Grand Re-Opening Celebration and Giveaway at Once Upon A Blog Design Shoppe

Check out Once Upon A Blog Design Shoppe. Whether you need blog design services, business cards, or birthday invitations, they can help. Check out their portfolio - you will love their work. Right now, they are celebrating their 2 year birthday and grand re-opening. You can enter for a chance to win 3 different giveaways. The rules for the giveaway can be found here.

Ugg Boots - Giveaway and Discount Opportunity

ugg boots

Wouldn't you love the chance to win a pair of Ugg boots? I know I would. And, so would my daughter - just the other day she informed me that a pair of Ugg boots were on the top of her Christmas wish list this year. Click here to see the different styles available and to learn more about Ugg boots. Then, click here to find out how you can get a 15% discount and a chance to win a free pair.

Movie Trailer Tuesday - I Am David

This movie is based on a novel by Anne Holm. Set in the early 1950's, it tells the story of David, a Bulgarian boy who escapes from a labor camp. With little more than a compass, bread, some sealed papers, and instructions to travel to Denmark, he embarks on a long and difficult journey toward freedom. Although he is not even sure what awaits him in Denmark, he courageously tries to find his way there. It is a beautiful film.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

An Award

Kathie at my net finds has so kindly given me a blog award. In her words, she made this award for:

"the special bloggers who take the time to not only read my posts, but also leave comments, respond to comments, form blog friendships with and support others, answer blogger questions, etc.....the ones who are a real "gem" in the bloggy world."

Thanks, Kathie! That's really sweet and right back at ya!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Movie Trailer Tuesday - Tristan and Isolde

This is one of my very favorite movies of all-times. It stars Rufus Sewell, James Franco, Sophia Myles, and, if you are a fan of The Tudors, you will recognize Henry Cavill.

From Netflix:

"this timeless medieval tale follows Tristan (James Franco) and Isolde (Sophia Myles), star-crossed lovers doomed by the forces of imperial politics. When gallant English knight Tristan wins the love of beautiful Isolde -- the daughter of the Irish king (David O'Hara) -- their liaison threatens to destroy the uneasy truce between their two nations. Rufus Sewell plays English warlord Lord Marke."