Thursday, July 28, 2011

One Summer: A Book Review!

I don't think I've ever done a book review on my blog before, but here goes!
The book is titled One Summer (by David Baldacci)
He is one of my favorite authors but usually writes more of an intrigue/suspense genre. I was skeptical because there have been other authors that stepped outside of their norm and I was not impressed (The Painted House anyone?) So, when I saw this book, I checked it out but I kind of set it on the bottom of the stack. And started reading my other books...til I found out that this one was not renewable because it was being requested on hold at the library. Hmmmmm. Ok, I put down the other book (The Appeal by John Grisham-a so so read IMO) and picked up One Summer.
I can barely put it down.
A man (Jack) is given a death sentence. Not the legal kind but the medical kind. It never mentions the illness he has (I guess the author doesn't want you to get side-tracked by that?) but he is dying. Painfully, slowly and in front of his family. A wife, a teenage daughter, a pre-adolescent son and a toddler son. While he lays in his hospital bed languishing he has a lot of time to reflect. His goal is to make it til Christmas. And he does. But, in a cruel twist of fate, his wife goes out on icy roads to get his pain medicine-which she forgot earlier. And she never comes back. She is killed in a car crash.
In true mother-in-law-from-the-movies fashion, his wife's mother takes charge (her husband is a seemingly weak person that you get the idea that he doesn't really like her shenanigans but does nothing to contradict her) and in short? The kids are farmed out to family and dad is left in the care of hospice to die. Alone.
Let me tell you, I am not a crier...ok, Little Women made me cry as did a Danielle Steele novel (??? what's up with that?--can't even remember which one! Think it was Fine Things) once and John Grisham made me almost sob once. I think it was The Chamber. But that's nothing. I read a LOT.  But this book almost made me cry. Had I let it, I would've let loose with some real tears. But, I supressed it so I could keep reading. And because I didn't have the luxury of time for a good cry.
Anyways, now that you know I have a heart of stone (!?!)...I didn't even cry at The Titanic!
Like I said, anyways, he doesn't die. While laying there waiting to die (alone-can you imagine?) and listening to the sounds of death in the hospice he's been abandoned to...he begins to get better. He can hardly believe it...and that's where I'm leaving you. He must then grapple with how to get his kids back, physically and emotionally-especially in the case of his teenage daughter and with the issue that he was supposed to be dead, not his beloved wife. It wasn't supposed to be this way....

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ranch Chicken Sandwiches

I honestly cannot remember where this recipe came from...but it's a favorite in our house!

  • chicken breasts (we use flash frozen because they are the easiest to buy and store and choose how many we need just an hour or two before dinner)
  • Ranch salad dressing (we have used everything from the kind you make-Hidden Valley-to the cheapest store brand and I think the key is not in what dressing but how long the chicken marinates in it!)
  • Provolone Cheese-thin slices
  • tomato (sliced)
  • buns
  • any other condiments you would enjoy--I've had it suggested that avocado would go yummily with this sandwich!
1. Start off with thawing your chicken (I do mine in a pan of cold water on the counter-but I have to watch out for the cat...He apparently likes this chicken too!)
2. Put the thawed chicken in a (glass) dish with the Ranch dressing-making sure it's coated on all sides (at least an hour works best I think...all day is even better!)
3. Grill (or pan fry in a pinch) your chicken breasts after they marinate.
4. Place the slice of cheese on the cooked chicken breast (we sometimes do it while it's still on the grill, but JUST before we take it off--just long enough to melt it a little)
5. top with tomato and put it on the bun!
(we reserve some of the ranch before we put raw chicken in it and save it for dipping the sandwiches in or putting some extra on it)

Dinner is served!  Oops! I was going to put a "finished product" picture but it was so late that the food was scarfed down before I could say "camera".

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Disney World

Ok, honesty here. I was totally overwhelmed by our vacation to Disney-more the planning and the execution of it rather than the actuality of it. Does that make sense? Do you realize that people actually make full time jobs out of Disney Vacation planning? I know, I's so commercial and cliche. But I really wanted to see my kids' faces light up when they saw all the commercialism. Kids like that!

Tips for planning:
  •  go during off-peak times if you can. We homeschool and this is a huge benefit of homeschooling. We went in February when it wasn't hot and it wasn't as crowded!
  • --all kinds of tips for planning and budgeting your trip to Disney.
  • a Travel Agent! --
     we used Small World Vacations, Inc. (Mary was our agent's name) and I have nothing but good to say!
  • plan your days-meals and all! But leave room for error and down time. We had reservations for most meals and when we didn't have reservations we knew where we wanted to eat. We also had a list of each day's must-dos. We spent one day in each park, we knew we couldn't see everything and trying would make everyone miserable. So, as long as we got our "must sees" done...we didn't stress about the rest.
  • the meal plan is worth it. Food at Disney is very expensive (seriously!) and our meal plan kept us on a budget and it was so simple! And we never felt deprived or hungry.
  • Use the family pass and the fast pass options. If you don't understand it? Ask one of the workers at Disney! We had a lady that stopped what she was doing and very enthusiastically showed us how to use these options!!!! We found their hospitality to be wonderful at Disney-overall.
  • skip the park hopper pass-it just makes you spastic
  • stay on site-free transportation and no parking fees! And you get perks-extra Magic Hours and stuff like that if you are staying on site! You just have to check which dates of your stay is the best to go to which park.
  • Enjoy it! Let perfection won't be perfect, you won't see everything and you and your kids will get tired and grumpy-even at "The Happiest Place on Earth"!

We drove. Yes, drove. It took us 2 days (plus an evening on the first night because we left in the late afternoon to get part of that first leg done!). But if we had flown, with the size of our family, we were afraid we'd have gotten there, looked at the castle in Magic Kingdom (from outside of the park) and said "ooooh. aaaaah" and had to go home (due to used up funds). I planned out ( where we would stop each night--and it was so worth it! To have printed out directions to each hotel, knowing what amenities (free breakfast anyone?) they had and that there was a room for us! All we had to do was follow the directions and check in! Voila!

So we checked in to our Resort (hotel) at Disney on Sunday night. That way the fun could begin Monday morning!  To be continued....

Thankful Tuesday

It's time again...Kelly at "Oh, That Mom Again" is sure challenging me...Honestly, I thought about skipping Mr Linky this week. Who would know? Who would care? Then I thought, that's pure laziness! So, here goes!

1. Air Conditioning. That will be my number one thankful thing til prob'ly....late September where I live!
2. That I get to stay home with my kids. I know it's not for everyone, but it is for me.
3. Friends. Good friends. Friends that care what you are going through. Friends I've never met but know online.
4. Books. "I can go anywhere, take a look, it's in a book..." (Remember that one? Think about it and see if you can conjure up that childhood song from a tv show!)
5. My grandpa. Every time I call him he acts like it's the best thing that happened to him. Ever. And I've never known it to be any different.
6. Children that are healthy enough to drive me crazy. They can run, make lots of noise and even more lots of messes....but it means they are alive and healthy! I'll take it!
7. Running water. Think about it. Has your water ever been turned off for repairs? We take it for granted but I can't imagine not having it.
8. My husband's job. He has one. A lot of people don't.
9. My husband. He's not perfect but he's perfect for me. He balances me out. (I kind of stole this one from Kelly but it was true.)
10. My home. Some people have nicer, fancier, bigger homes. But mine is cozy and it's ours. We get to stamp it with our personal stamp. Even if right now that is a bunch of messes. So many that it might be one big one.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Why We Don't

**Disclaimer** This is simply what it is. A post about why my family does not do Harry Potter. It is discernment rather than judgement. Every family has to choose for themselves what is right in these kinds of matters. If you enjoy a good Harry Potter movie and are not convicted concerning it, this is not directed at you.

Now, that taken care of....we decided early on not to "do" Harry Potter. Not the books. Not the movies.
Why? First and foremost: I believe the Bible warns us implicitly to avoid anything that smacks of magic/wizardry and sorcery.
  • Do not practice divination or sorcery (Leviticus 19:26).
  • Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against your magic charms with which you ensnare people like birds and I will tear them from your arms; I will set free the people that you ensnare like birds (Ezekiel 13:20).
  • So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me," says the LORD Almighty (Malachi 3:5).
  • Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power (Acts 19:18-20).
 I have heard the argument "But at least my son/daughter is reading."  Well, there are a lot of things your child could be reading. My kids read non-stop (seriously, I sometimes have to tell them to put the book down!) even with any of the wizard-y, vampire-y stuff outlawed! And they love it! My other argument against that logic is this: Some people read Playboy for the articles. That doesn't make it good material! There are a lot of words you or your child could read...that doesn't make all of them good.  Phillipians 4:8 says Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.  Lest you think I'm a total killjoy, let me assure you that my children have lots of fun! They watch a lot of movies and tv.  Probably way too much. I don't say "no" to everything.

I have also heard this: "It's just for fun."  My son thinks it's fun to play with fire. Do we let him have free reign with that? No. Why? Some things that look fun can be very dangerous. (We do let him, under supervision, make a campfire by the way.)  My toddler thinks it's great fun to run into the road. We, as parents, have the job of making sure he has safe fun.

What about this one: "It's not real, it's just fantasy for entertainment".  I believe the spirit world is very real. The Bible talks often about spirits-bad ones too! 1 Corinthians 12:10 says this: "to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits...." what does that say to you? The note in my 
Bible says " Since there can also be false prophecies that come from evil spirits, this gift is necessary in order for the church to distinguish the true from the false". 1 John 4:1-3 says "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist..."
While Rowling insists her stories are imaginary, she "admits she has been studying witchcraft to make the books more 'accurate,'"  according to Richard Abanes, author of the book Harry Potter and the Bible.

As a parent it's hard to say "no". We want our children to have fun. We don't want them to be left out. We even *gasp* hope they love and like us! But, doing what's right isn't always easy. And for us, NOT doing Harry Potter is right.

In the words of Dumbledore to Harry:


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