Monday, February 28, 2011

WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?

This is how lame we are: while watching tonight's Oscars (admittedly only the first half) I had no clue who any of the actors/actresses were. I'd seen only one movie that was referenced. Am I that out of touch?

The part that cracked me up the most was when that guy (my daughter told me his name is Christian Bale) forgot his wife's name while giving his Oscar speech. Did anyone else catch that????

I used to enjoy movies, and I watched at least 2-3 DVDs a week. Nowadays we see maybe 6 DVD's a year, and go to the movies (where you have to sell the rights to your firstborn to pay for popcorn) maybe twice.

How about you? Movie buff or are you out of touch like me?

Friday, February 25, 2011

FRUGAL FRIDAY FREEBIES!

Most of us here are well connected when it comes to finding complimentary CBA books. But did you know that you can get ABA books too? This was quite a revelation for me, and I stumbled upon the information quite by accident when I wrote an email to a publisher trying to find answers to a workbook for homeschool stuff.

There is one drawback.....it's geared toward e-readers.

Some of you have probably already made the leap, but I'm still a paperback girl (OK, you just know I love hardbacks too!) You can also read on your computer, if you're so inclined.

Just think of how much we can save in books with this new resource! It's called Net Galley and they have thousands of titles, fiction and non. I'm not sure what all the criteria are, but hey they let me in on it, and I was just looking for workbook answers!

Question: Do you have an e-reader? What kind? For the first time, I am tempted to get one, but that would defeat the whole point of Frugal Friday ;)
A BILLION REASONS WHY

I got the book late, so I haven't finished yet. But you can check out the first chapter below!


It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


A Billion Reasons Why

Thomas Nelson; Original edition (February 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Kristin Billerbeck was born in California to an Italian father and a strong Norwegian/German mother. Her mother tried to teach her to do things right, how to cook, clean, sew, and budget accordingly—all the things a proper girl should know in order to be a contributing member of society. Yet Billerbeck said she “failed miserably,” although her grandmother must still hold some hope since she gave her a cookie gun for her 40th birthday.

Billerbeck has authored more than 30 novels, including the Ashley Stockingdale series and the Spa Girls series. She is a leader in the Chick Lit movement, a Christy Award finalist, and a two-time winner of the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year Award. She has appeared on The Today Show and has been featured in the New York Times. She lives with her family in northern California.


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

There are a billion reasons Kate should marry her current boyfriend.

Will she trade them all to be madly in love?

Katie McKenna leads a perfect life. Or so she thinks. She has a fulfilling job, a cute apartment, and a wedding to plan with her soon-to-be fiance, Dexter.

She can think of a billion reasons why she should marry Dexter…but nowhere on that list is love.

And then in walks Luc DeForges, her bold, breathtaking ex-boyfriend. Only now he's a millionaire. And he wants her to go home to New Orleans to sing for her childhood friend's wedding. As his date.

But Katie made up her mind about Luc eight years ago, when she fled their hometown after a very public breakup. Yet there's a magnetism between them she can't deny.

Katie thought her predictable relationship with Dexter would be the bedrock of a lasting, Christian marriage. But what if there's more? What if God's desire for her is a heart full of life? And what if that's what Luc has offered all along?


Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson; Original edition (February 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595547916
ISBN-13: 978-1595547910

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


A Fine Romance


Katie McKenna had dreamed of this moment at least a thousand times. Luc would walk back into her life filled with remorse. He’d be wearing jeans, a worn T-shirt, and humility. He’d be dripping with humility.


That should have been her first clue that such a scenario had no bearing on reality.


“Katie,” a voice said.


The sound sent a surge of adrenaline through her frame. She’d forgotten the power and the warmth of his baritone. A quick glance around her classroom assured her that she must be imagining things. Everything was in order: the posters of colorful curriculum, the daily schedule of activities printed on the whiteboard, and, of course, the children. All six of them were mentally disabled, most of them on the severe side of the autism spectrum, but three had added handicaps that required sturdy, head-stabilizing wheelchairs. The bulk of the chairs overwhelmed the room and blocked much of the happy yellow walls and part of the large rainbow mural the kids had helped to paint. The room, with its cluttered order, comforted her and reminded her of all she’d accomplished. There was no need to think about the past. That was a waste of time and energy.


Her eyes stopped on her aides, Carrie and Selena. The two women, so boisterous in personality, were usually animated. But at the moment they stood huddled in the corner behind Austin’s wheelchair.


Carrie, the heavyset one in the Ed Hardy T-shirt, motioned at her.


“What?” Katie pulled at her white shirt with the delicate pink flowers embroidered along the hem and surveyed the stains. “I know, I’m a mess. But did you see how wonderfully the kids did on their art projects? It was worth it. Never thought of the oil on the dough staining. Next time I’ll wear an apron.”


Selena and Carrie looked as though there was something more they wanted.


“Maddie, you’re a born artist.” Katie smiled at the little girl sitting behind a mound of colorful clay. Then to the aides: “What is the matter with you two?”



Selena, a slight Latina woman, shook her head and pointed toward the door.


Katie rotated toward the front of the classroom and caught her breath. Luc, so tall and gorgeous, completely out of place in his fine European suit and a wristwatch probably worth more than her annual salary, stood in the doorway. He wore a fedora, his trademark since college, but hardly one he needed to stand out in a crowd.


As she stared across the space between them, suddenly the classroom she took such pride in appeared shabby and soiled. When she inhaled, it reeked of sour milk and baby food. Her muddled brain searched for words.


“Luc?” She blinked several times, as if his film-star good looks might evaporate into the annals of her mind. “What are you doing here?”


“Didn’t you get my brother’s wedding invitation?” he asked coolly, as if they’d only seen each other yesterday.


“I did. I sent my regrets.”


“That’s what I’m doing here. You can’t miss Ryan’s wedding. I thought the problem might be money.”


She watched as his blue eyes came to rest on her stained shirt. Instinctively she crossed her arms in front of her.


“I came to invite you to go back with me next week, on my plane.”


“Ah.” She nodded and waited for something intelligible to come out of her mouth. “It’s not money.”


“Come home with me, Katie.” He reached out his arms, and she moved to the countertop and shuffled some papers together.


If he touches me, I don’t stand a chance. She knew Luc well enough to know if he’d made the trip to her classroom, he didn’t intend to leave without what he came for. “I’m afraid that’s not possible.” She stacked the same papers again.


“Give me one reason.”


She faced him. “I could give you a billion reasons.”


Luc’s chiseled features didn’t wear humility well. The cross-shaped scar beneath his cheekbone added to his severity. If he weren’t so dreaded handsome, he’d make a good spy in a Bond movie. His looks belied his soft Uptown New Orleans upbringing, the kind filled with celebrations and warm family events with backyard tennis and long days in the swimming pool.


He pushed through the swiveled half door that separated them and strode toward her.


“That gate is there for a reason. The classroom is for teachers and students only.”


Luc opened his hand and beckoned to her, and despite herself, she took it. Her heart pounded in her throat, and its roar was so thunderous it blocked her thoughts. He pulled her into a clutch, then pushed her away with all the grace of Astaire. “Will you dance with me?” he asked.


He began to hum a Cole Porter tune clumsily in her ear, and instinctively she followed his lead until everything around them disappeared and they were alone in their personal ballroom. For a moment she dropped her head back and giggled from her stomach; a laugh so genuine and pure, it seemed completely foreign—as if it came from a place within that was no longer a part of her. Then the dance halted suddenly, and his cheek was against hers. She took in the roughness of his face, and the thought flitted through her mind that she could die a happy woman in those arms.


The sound of applause woke her from her reverie.


“You two are amazing!” Carrie said.


The children all murmured their approval, some with screams of delight and others with loud banging.

Luc’s hand clutched her own in the small space between them, and she laughed again.


“Not me,” Luc said. “I have the grace of a bull. It’s Katie. She’s like Ginger Rogers. She makes anybody she dances with look good.” He appealed to the two aides. “Which is why I’m here. She must go to my brother’s wedding with me.”


“I didn’t even know you danced, Katie,” Selena said. “Why don’t you ever come dancing with us on Friday nights?”


“What? Katie dances like a dream. She and my brother were partners onstage in college. They were like a mist, the way they moved together. It’s like her feet don’t touch the ground.”


“That was a long time ago.” She pulled away from him and showed him her shirt. “I’m a mess. I hope I didn’t ruin your suit.”


“It would be worth it,” Luc growled.


“Katie, where’d you learn to dance like that?” Carrie asked.


“Too many old movies, I suppose.” She shrugged.


“You could be on Dancing with the Stars with moves like that.”


“Except I’m not a star or a dancer, but other than that, I guess—” She giggled again. It kept bubbling out of her, and for one blissful moment she remembered what it felt like to be the old Katie McKenna. Not the current version, staid schoolmarm and church soloist in Northern California, but the Katie people in New Orleans knew, the one who danced and sang.


Luc interrupted her thoughts. “She’s being modest. She learned those moves from Ginger and Fred themselves, just by watching them over and over again. This was before YouTube, so she was dedicated.”


Katie shrugged. “I was a weird kid. Only child, you know?” But inside she swelled with pride that Luc remembered her devotion to a craft so woefully out-of-date and useless. “Anyway, I don’t have much use for swing dancing or forties torch songs now. Luc, meet Carrie and Selena. Carrie and Selena, Luc.”


“I don’t have any ‘use’ for salsa dancing,” Selena said. “I do it because it’s part of who I am.”


“Tell her she has to come with me, ladies. My brother is having a 1940s-themed wedding in New Orleans. He’d be crushed if Katie didn’t come, and I’ll look like a hopeless clod without her to dance with.”


Katie watched the two aides. She saw the way Luc’s powerful presence intoxicated them. Were they really naive enough to believe that Luc DeForges could ever appear like a clod, in any circumstance or setting? Luc, with his skilled charm and roguish good looks, made one believe whatever he wanted one to believe. The two women were putty in his hands.


“Katie, you have to go to this wedding!” Selena stepped toward her. “I can’t believe you can dance like that and never told us. You’d let this opportunity slip by? For what?” She looked around the room and frowned. “This place?”


The cacophony of pounding and low groans rose audibly, as if in agreement.


“This may be just a classroom to you, but to me, it’s the hope and future of these kids. I used to dance. I used to sing. It paid my way through college. Now I’m a teacher.”


“You can’t be a teacher and a dancer?” Selena pressed. “It’s like walking and chewing gum. You can do both. The question is, why don’t you?”


“Maybe I should bring more music and dancing into the classroom. Look how the kids are joining in the noise of our voices, not bothered by it. I have to think about ways we could make the most of this.”


But she hadn’t succeeded in changing the subject; everyone’s attention stayed focused on her.


“You should dance for the kids, Katie. You possess all the grace of an artist’s muse. Who knows how you might encourage them?”


Katie laughed. “That’s laying it on a bit thick, Luc, even for you. I do believe if there was a snake in that basket over there, it would be rising to the charmer’s voice at this very minute.”


Luc’s very presence brought her into another time. Maybe it was the fedora or the classic cut of his suit, but it ran deeper than how he looked. He possessed a sense of virility and take-no-prisoners attitude that couldn’t be further from his blue-blood upbringing. He made her, in a word, feel safe . . . but there was nothing safe about Luc and there never had been. She straightened and walked over to her open folder to check her schedule for the day.


Tapping a pencil on the binder, she focused on getting the day back on track. The students were involved in free playtime at the moment. While they were all situated in a circle, they played individually, their own favorite tasks in front of them.


“Carrie, would you get Austin and Maddie ready for lunch?”


“I’ll do it,” Selena said. “And, Katie . . . you really should go to the wedding.”


“I can’t go to the wedding because it’s right in the middle of summer school.”


“You could get a substitute,” Carrie said. “What would you be gone for, a week at most? Jenna could probably fill in. She took the summer off this year.”


“Thanks for the suggestions, ladies,” Katie said through clenched teeth. “But I’ve already told the groom I can’t attend the wedding for professional reasons.”


The women laughed. “I’m sorry, what reasons?” Carrie asked, raising a bedpan to imply that anyone could do Katie’s job.


It was no use. The two women were thoroughly under Luc’s spell, and who could blame them?


“Maybe we should talk privately,” Luc said. He clasped her wrist and led her to the glass doors at the front of the classroom. “It’s beautiful out here. The way you’re nestled in the hills, you’d never know there’s a city nearby.”


She nodded. “That’s Crystal Springs Reservoir on the other side of the freeway. It’s protected property, the drinking water for this entire area, so it’s stayed pristine.”


“I’m not going back to New Orleans without you,” he said.


Apparently the small talk had ended.


“My mother would have a fit if I brought one of the women I’d take to a Hollywood event to a family wedding.”


Katie felt a twinge of jealousy, then a stab of anger for her own weakness. Of course he dated beautiful women. He was a billionaire. A billionaire who looked like Luc DeForges! Granted, he was actually a multimillionaire, but it had been a long-standing joke between the two of them. Did it matter, once you made your first ten million, how much came after that? He may as well be called a gazillionaire. His finances were too foreign for her to contemplate.


“And who you date is my problem, how?”


“If my date tries to swing dance and kicks one of my mother’s friends in the teeth, I’ll be disinherited.”


“So what, would that make you the fifth richest man in the United States, instead of the fourth?”


“Katie, how many times do I have to explain to you I’m nowhere near those kinds of numbers?” He grinned. “Yet.” He touched his finger to her nose lightly. “My fate is much worse than losing status if you don’t come. My mother might set me up to ensure I have a proper date. A chorus line of Southern belles. And I guarantee you at least one will have the proverbial glass slipper and think her idea is so utterly unique, I’ll succumb to the fantasy.”


“Wow! What a terrible life you must lead.” She pulled a Keds slide from her foot and emptied sand out of her shoe. A few grains landed on Luc’s shiny black loafer. “To think, with courtship skills like that, that any woman wouldn’t be swept off her feet—it’s unfathomable.” She patted his arm. “I wish you luck, Luc. I’m sure your mother will have some very nice choices for you, so go enjoy yourself. Perk up, there’re billions

more to be made when you get back.”


“Sarcasm doesn’t suit you, Katie.”


e was right, but she didn’t trust herself around him. She’d taken leave of her senses too many times in that weakened state. Since moving to California, she’d made it her goal to live life logically and for the Lord. She hadn’t fallen victim to her emotions since leaving New Orleans, and she’d invested too much to give into them now.


“I’m sorry,” she said. “I only meant that I’m sure there are other nice girls willing to go home and pretend for your mother. I’ve already done that, only you forgot to tell me we were pretending. Remember?”


He flinched. “Below the belt.”


A pencil fell from behind her ear, and she stooped to pick it up, careful not to meet his glance as she rose. “I’m sorry, but I’m busy here. Maybe we could catch up another time? I’d like that and won’t be so sidetracked.” She looked across the room toward Austin, an angelic but severely autistic child in a wheelchair. He pounded against his tray. “The kids are getting hungry. It’s lunchtime.” She pointed to the schedule.


Luc scooped a hand under her chin and forced her to look at him. “Where else am I going to find a gorgeous redhead who knows who Glenn Miller is?”


“Don’t, Luc. Don’t charm me. It’s beneath you. Buy one of your bubble-headed blondes a box of dye and send her to iTunes to do research. Problem solved.”


He didn’t let go. “Ryan wants you to sing at the wedding, Katie. He sent me personally to make sure you’d be there and sing ‘Someone to Watch Over Me.’ I’m not a man who quits because something’s difficult.”


“Anyone worth her salt on Bourbon Street can sing that. Excuse me—”


“Katie-bug.”


“Luc, I asked you kindly. Don’t. I’m not one of your sophisticated girls who knows how to play games. I’m not going to the wedding. That part of my life is over.”


“That part of your life? What about that part of you? Where is she?”


She ignored his question. “I cannot be the only woman you know capable of being your date. You’re not familiar with anyone else who isn’t an actress-slash-waitress?” She cupped his hand in her own and allowed herself to experience the surge of energy. “I have to go.” She dropped his hands and pushed back through the half door. “I’m sure you have a meeting to get to. Am I right?”


“It’s true,” he admitted. “I had business in San Francisco today, a merger. We bought a small chain of health food stores to expand the brand. But I was planning the trip to see you anyway and ask you personally.”


“Uh-huh.”


“We’ll be doing specialty outlets in smaller locations where real estate prices are too high for a full grocery outlet. Having the natural concept already in these locations makes my job that much easier.”



“To take over the free world with organics, you mean?”


That made him smile, and she warmed at the sparkle in his eye. When Luc was in his element, there was nothing like it. His excitement was contagious and spread like a classroom virus, infecting those around him with a false sense of security. She inhaled deeply and reminded herself that the man sold inspiration by the pound. His power over her was universal. It did not make her special.


“Name your price,” he said. “I’m here to end this rift between us, whatever it is, and I’ll do the time. Tell me what it is you want.”


“There is no price, Luc. I don’t want anything from you. I’m not going to Ryan’s wedding. My life is here.”


“Day and night . . . night and day,” he crooned and then his voice was beside her ear. “One last swing dance at my brother’s wedding. One last song and I’ll leave you alone. I promise.”


She crossed the room to the sink against the far wall, but she felt him follow. She hated how he could make every nerve in her body come to life, while he seemingly felt nothing in return. She closed her eyes and searched for inner strength. He didn’t want me. Not in a way that mattered. He wanted her when it suited him to have her at his side.


“Even if I were able to get the time off work, Luc, it wouldn’t be right to go to your brother’s wedding as your date. I’m about to get engaged.”


“Engaged?” He stepped away.


She squeezed hand sanitizer onto her hands and rubbed thoroughly.


“I’ll give a call to your fiancĂ© and let him know the benefits.” He pulled a small leather pad of paper from his coat pocket. “I’ll arrange everything. You get a free trip home, I get a Christian date my mother is proud to know, and then your life goes back to normal. Everyone’s happy.” He took off his fedora as though to plead his case in true gentlemanly fashion. “My mother is still very proud to have led you from

your . . .” He choked back a word. “From your previous life and to Jesus.”


The announcement of her engagement seemed to have had little effect on Luc, and Katie felt as if her heart shattered all over again. “My previous life was you. She was proud to lead me away from her son’s life.” She leaned on the countertop, trying to remember why she’d come to the kitchen area.


“You know what I meant.”


“I wasn’t exactly a streetwalker, Luc. I was a late-night bar singer in the Central District, and the only one who ever led my reputation into question was you. So I’m failing to see the mutual benefit here. Your mother. Your date. And I get a free trip to a place I worked my tail off to get out of.”


She struggled with a giant jar of applesauce, which Luc took from her and opened easily. He passed the jar back to her and let his fingers brush hers.


“My mother would be out of her head to see you. And the entire town could see what they lost when they let their prettiest belle go. Come help me remind them. Don’t you want to show them that you’re thriving? That you didn’t curl up and die after that awful night?”


“I really don’t need to prove anything, Luc.” She pulled her apron, with its child-size handprints in primary colors, over her head. “I’m not your fallback, and I really don’t care if people continue to see me that way. They don’t know me.”


“Which you? The one who lives a colorless existence and calls it holy? Or the one who danced on air and inspired an entire theater troupe to rediscover swing and raise money for a new stage?” Luc bent down, took her out at the knees, and hoisted her up over his shoulder.


“What are you doing? Do you think you’re Tarzan? Put me down.” She pounded on his back, and she could hear the chaos he’d created in the classroom. “These kids need structure. What do you think you’re doing? I demand you put me down!”

Thursday, February 24, 2011

OPERATION BONNET


Operation Bonnet is a fun story about a spunky, if somewhat socially awkward, wannbe detective who infiltrates the Amish community. The heroine is 20-years old, which is a reading segment that has been sadly neglected. It's definitely a new angle on Amish fiction--yay!



This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Operation Bonnet
David C. Cook; New edition (February 1, 2011)
by
Kimberly Stuart




ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kimberly says:



I am a writer of comedic fiction, and would like to suggest that you laugh regularly when reading my books. Let’s also try for one to two teary moments. If you are crying more than that, you don’t understand my sense of humor and should move on to another author.



I grew up in a book-loving home. Actually, that’s not entirely accurate. My mom loves books. My dad loves to read the first chapters of books and then make us all listen as he recites his favorite passages. I, however, enjoy reading books in their entirety and came into writing as a result of book-love. After earning two fancy degrees in education and Spanish, I promptly let the thinking part of my brain take a breather and instead became pregnant. (I’m sure a lot of other things happened between early literacy and pregnancy but I don’t really remember any of that. If you also have shared your uterus with another human, you understand.)



In an effort to author a book that would entertain my sassy, irreverent, breast-feeding/drooping friends, I wrote my first novel, Balancing Act. People were so nice to me after that, I decided to continue with writing. Also, I can’t craft, knit, or scrapbook, so what else was a nice, Christian girl to do?



In addition to writing books to make my friends laugh and cry, I observe the chaos at the home I share with my unfailingly supportive husband and three offspring. We’re doing our best and so far, no one’s been to prison.



ABOUT THE BOOK



Twenty-year-old Nellie Monroe has a restless brilliance that makes her a bit of an odd duck. She wants to be a private investigator, even though her tiny hometown offers no hope of clients. Until she meets Amos Shetler, an Amish dropout carrying a torch for the girl he left behind.



So Nellie straps on her bonnet and goes undercover to get the dish. But though she’s brainy, Nellie is clueless when it comes to real life and real relationships. Soon she’s alienated her best friend, angered her college professor, and botched her case.



Operation Bonnet is a comedy of errors, a surprising take on love, and a story of grace.



If you would like to read the first chapter of Operation Bonnet, go HERE.



Watch the book video trailer:




Wednesday, February 23, 2011

SAVE THE DATE

I love, love, love this book! The hero and heroine are the perfect opposites attract duo. Great storyline and total spunk. Let's just say there's a brawl every time a Jenny B. Jones book arrives in our mailbox, and this book was no exception. Great read!



This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Save The Date
Thomas Nelson (February 1, 2011)
by
Jenny B. Jones




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



I write Christian fiction with a few giggles, quite a bit of sass, and lots of crazy. My novels include the Katie Parker Production series and So Not Happening. I would also like to take credit for Twilight , but somewhere I think I read you’re not supposed to lie.



When I’m not typing my heart out (or checking email), I teach at a super-sized high school in Arkansas.



My students are constantly telling me how my teaching changes their lives and turned them away from drugs, gangs, and C-SPAN.



Okay, that’s not exactly true.



Some facts that are true include:



I've always been refined!



A. I got my camera confiscated by big boys with guns at the American Embassy in Europe this past summer. O la la!



B. I once worked in a seed mill office and cleaned out mice on a regular basis. Ew.



C. I’m a former drama teacher.



D. I didn’t pass my drivers test the first time. Or the second…



E. I attract stray animals like a magnet.



F. I used to assemble and test paint ball guns for a local factory...



Since my current job leaves me with very little free time, I believe in spending my spare hours in meaningful, intellectual pursuits such as:



-watching E!

-updating my status on Facebook

-catching Will Ferrell on YouTube and

-writing my name in the dust on my furniture



I’d love to hear about you, so drop me a note. Or check me out on Facebook.





ABOUT THE BOOK



You’re invited to the engagement of the most unlikely couple of the year.

When the funding for Lucy’s non-profit job is pulled, she is determined to find out why. Enter Alex Sinclair, former professional football star and heir of Sinclair Enterprises—the primary donor to Lucy’s Saving Grace organization. Alex Sinclair has it all . . . except for the votes he needs to win his bid for Congress. Both Lucy and Alex have something the other wants. Despite their mutual dislike, Alex makes Lucy a proposition: pose as his fiancĂ©e in return for the money she desperately needs. Bound to a man who isn’t quite what he seems, Lucy finds her heart – and her future – on the line.



Save the Date is a spunky romance that will have readers laughing out loud as this dubious pair try to save their careers, their dreams . . . and maybe even a date.



If you would like to read the first chapter of Save The Date, go HERE

Monday, February 21, 2011

CLASSIC ROCK


Despite a treacherous snowstorm, we made it to the Valley yesterday for the Classic Rock Invitational. For 4.5 glorious minutes, my baby girl strutted her stuff. She is a lesson to me in perseverance and grace. You might want to turn off your volume. I'm a screamer.

Friday, February 18, 2011

FRUGAL FRIDAY

Everyone does it--name their blog days--so I though it'd be a cool thing to do today, especially since I loved Worry Wart Wednesday :D I had a few ideas, and Frugal Friday sounded like the best of the bunch. You don't know how close you came to being subjected to Fat Friday because lately I'm swelling up like a puffer fish.

Anyhoo....

If the economy goes as wonky as some experts predict, a strict tightening of the belt will be in order. In fact, I want to start now. There is so much I can do to get our family in a better position. AND, there are some things I simply won't do. Here it is:

TOP 5 THINGS I REFUSE TO GIVE UP WHEN IT ALL GOES DOWN:

5. Cosmetics. Really, this is a public service effort on my part.

4. Cable. If the world falls apart, watching Ancient Aliens will keep me sane. (Yes I know it's a ridiculous weirdo show. Don't judge me!)

3. Coffee. Pretty much this will keep me from poking anyone's eyes out. Too much is never enough.

2. Internet. There's no better place to learn how to grow veggies in the windowsill, make my own feminine products, and fend off looters when the going gets really tough.

1. Seriously...do I need to tell you? BOOKS! This one needs to explanation.

What do you refuse to go frugal on?

PS. I do have a real frugal tip--I'm switching to Geiko and saving over $2000 a year on car insurance. Woot, woot!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

WORRY WART WEDNESDAY

I could generate a year's worth of Worry Wart Wednesday columns. Don't tell me--I already know where we are supposed to take our fears, but I was born a worrier. You can't fight DNA!

The World Bank said food costs rose 15% from October to January. Depending on which sources you read, food prices are expected to make dramatic increases. While we have about a one month supply of food on hand, it's not nearly enough to ride out the wave. If we had a yard, and
didn't live on a mountain (details) we'd have a garden.

This is not the diet I was hoping for!

On top of the food situation, gas prices are on the rise again. (Like I needed to tell you that.) This will only compound the problem. We are sitting at $3.19/gal.

TWO QUESTIONS:

1. How much are you paying for a gallon of gas?
2. Are you concerned about food prices, and do you stock up?

Monday, February 14, 2011

30-DAY MARRIAGE MAKEOVER

Happy Valentine's Day! This book is a good read for married couples who have grown comfortable in their relationship. The chapters that spoke to me most were the "dating" ones, encouraging couples to prioritize dates. (I'm particularly bad about this.) Some of the tips included are ideas I really wish I'd have known before we got married. Nothing is off-limits in the 30-Day Marriage Makeover, including finances and s-e-x. (Yes, I am an adolescent, according to the book's guidelines, and if you want to know what that means you'll have to read it!)



Question for you: How do you keep your relationships fresh?

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


30-Day Marriage Makeover

Siloam (February 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Anna Coelho Silva | Publicity Coordinator, Book Group | Strang Communications for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





Douglas Weiss, PhD, is the executive director of Heart to Heart Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The author of Intimacy, The Seven Love Agreements, and Sex, Men, and God, he is a regular guest on national television (both secular and Christian) as well as radio.



Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Based on principles from his best-selling book Intimacy, Dr. Doug Weiss offers thirty daily teachings for married Christian couples that will help them discover what true intimacy looks like, learn how to overcome the five main roadblocks to intimacy, and help them fall in love all over again.


Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Siloam (February 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 161638140X
ISBN-13: 978-1616381400

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask

for, it will be done for you by my "ather in heaven. "or where

two or three come together in my name, there am ! with them.

—Matthew 18:19–20


Throughout my years of counseling, I have discovered that many marriages lack structures to encourage intimacy. We grow up believing that one day we will get married and live happily ever after. We enter marriage ill equipped for intimacy and are disappointed when our husband or wife doesn’t possess the secret code to intimacy either.


At first marriage is fun as you begin to learn about your spouse, go to work or school, get your first apartment, pick out furniture, go to church, and are physically intimate together without guilt. The sheer complexities of your new life together, along with the many new decisions you must make, can keep you talking and sharing regularly. Slowly and subtly it happens. No one really knows when or where it happens, but something changes within the relationship. You don’t seem to talk as much.


Decisions are not met with the same excitement as when you were first married; instead, they are delegated, then discussed. Purchases become fewer, and sex and life take on a routine. You don’t feel as close but seem just to be living together. What happened? Where did the passion for one another go? Americans believe that people are either passionate or they are not. But this kind of thinking is incorrect. Passion is a dividend of consistent investments made into a relationship. Let’s reflect back a minute to when you were dating. You were selling your spouse on the idea that being married to you was a great idea. Remember the passion you had for your future spouse? Of course you remember the passion, but what you may have forgotten is the foundation of that passion, the priority of the relationship. Do you remember how you “made” time to be together? You planned your days and weeks around each other’s work schedule, including your days off. Those of you who were attending school in another city away from your future spouse, as I was, had the phone bills to prove your passion and priority. In my case, those phone bills took a giant bite out of the little income I made just so I could tell her about my day. If you were a Christian at the time, do you remember how spiritual you were? You prayed together as often as you could and perhaps even read the Bible together. You desired to know God’s will, and you wanted God to help you stay pure and still express your love to one another. Do you remember the gratitude you had for the smallest things your spouse did for you? ,is was especially true for me when Lisa cooked for me. I was so grateful! I 5lled her life with a constant stream of praise. Do you remember when you thought she was so smart and attractive and had so much potential? You believed in her and regularly encouraged her.


Understand that passion is a result of setting priorities. Too many people attempt to get back the passion instead of getting back their priorities. Once you get the priorities back, the passion follows and grows

naturally. What priorities? I will discuss priorities shortly, but before I do, I want to share an analogy I often use in counseling sessions. Many couples come in for help with sprains or fractures in their relationships. I liken the repair of a marital relationship to 5xing a broken bone. When your bone is broken, you can continue to function in a limited way, but you look and act unusual. When you go to the doctor or emergency room. The first thing the doctor does is order an X-ray of the bone. Sure enough, he looks at the structure. Regardless of how it happened, the X-ray shows a damaged structure (your bone is broken). The doctor and nurse apply a structural treatment to your structural problem in the form of a cast. The cast is a structural treatment that allows the bone to heal. The cast itself is just plastic or plaster, and it has no healing properties. But when it is applied to a broken bone to hold the bone in place, surprise! Healing can and does happen. The same thing happens when you place the priorities back into your

marriage. No matter how sprained or broken a marriage is, healing can and does take place. I have seen genuine miracles of restoration in marriages when priorities were put back into the relationship. One of

the structures I apply is what I call “the three dailies.” I want to add a personal note of testimony. As I have stated before, I would never ask you to do something that Lisa and I have not done or are not doing presently in our relationship. Lisa and I have done two of the three dailies every day for years, with only a few exceptions. When I developed the third exercise, we actively applied it to our marriage routine also.


These three exercises help Lisa and I maintain our relationship priorities. They are part of our bedtime routine. Neither of us expects to go to sleep without our relational ritual of the three dailies. They are a major highlight of my day. I get to hear about my wife’s day, hear her heart, and she gets to hear about my day and heart as well. ,is relational structure has richly developed our skill for intimacy to such a level that it can weather the day-to-day challenges of children, writing, and media demands, together with all of our other commitments. When your marriage priorities are restored, your passion will be restored. Everyone who knows me is well aware of my passion for Lisa.


I love her and really like her as well. This passion is the fruit of disciplinethat is born out of a heart of love.


THE THREE DAILIES

1. Prayer

Prayer is an absolute necessity in your marriage. I am constantly amazed when couples tell me that the last time they really prayed together, not including praying over food or a good night prayer with children, was years ago. Sometimes they say, “We both pray, just not together.” Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” The Lord must be part of building your house. Prayer is an active way to include the Lord as part of the building plan of your marriage.


Matthew 18:19 says, “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.” As we’ve previously noted, this verse discusses the importance

of two or more agreeing in God’s name. It doesn’t say when one agrees—it says when two agree. Since Christ’s resurrection, He intercedes with and for His bride, which is the church. The Lord sees prayer as being extremely important. God’s pleasure is for us to commune with Him not just as individuals,

but as a couple as well. Prayer is one of the priorities that must be set in place by a couple desiring more intimacy. Remember, intimacy is three dimensional, involving spirit, soul, and body. As we grow together spiritually, our intimacy in the other two areas will grow as well. Prayer is just talking aloud to God with your spouse, similar to talking with a friend. Prayer doesn’t have to take long hours in any particular

position. It is the principle of connecting with God that is essential. As a couple, within your governing style in your marriage, process the decision of daily prayer. As a result of your decision as a couple, place a

check by which of the following statements you agree with.


* We have agreed to pray daily together to improve and maintain our intimacy for the next thirty days.


* We have agreed not to pray together daily for the next thirty days, knowing that it will negatively affect our intimacy. The structure of prayer taking place within your marriage is one essential part of the three daily exercises. This structure will also be a part of your thirty-day log at the end of each day. Hopefully you have agreed to daily prayer. I know better than most that each couple has many variables. Some of these differences include sleep preferences, work schedules, children’s school and extracurricular activities, church, and fellowshiping with family and friends.


Look at your schedules. When can you pray together? In the morning? At lunch? In the evening? Take the time to discuss this with your spouse, and see if you can agree on a time to pray together. In the space below, write your first and second options to pray together.


Option one is ________ a.m./p.m.

Option two is ________ a.m./p.m.


In your thirty-day log, it’s important to track your progress regarding this exercise to maintain the consistency that ignites the passion and intimacy you both desire. Those who travel often ask how to maintain the thirty-day program while out of town. In this day of modern technology, it is a non issue for the creative person. You can use your calling card or mobile phone to pray with your spouse over the phone. This really demonstrates a commitment to maintaining your spiritual intimacy. Even if you’re in Hong Kong, you can e-mail a prayer to your wife and chat with her. Remember that the structure first brings healing, then passion. As you walk together spiritually, your intimacy over the next thirty days can

nourish.


I love walking in the garden of my life with Lisa and coming with her into the presence of our loving Father. I really believe this has been instrumental in developing the strength and intimacy of our marriage. couples come in for help with sprains or fractures in their relationships. I liken the repair of a marital relationship to fixing a broken bone. When your bone is broken, you can continue to function in a limited way, but you look and act unusual. Then you go to the doctor or emergency room.


The first thing the doctor does is order an X-ray of the bone. Sure enough, he looks at the structure. Regardless of how it happened, the X-ray shows a damaged structure (your bone is broken). The doctor and nurse apply a structural treatment to your structural problem in the form of a cast.


The cast is a structural treatment that allows the bone to heal. The cast itself is just plastic or plaster, and it has no healing properties. But when it is applied to a broken bone to hold the bone in place, surprise! Healing can and does happen.


The same thing happens when you place the priorities back into your marriage. No matter how sprained or broken a marriage is, healing can and does take place. I have seen genuine miracles of restoration in marriages when priorities were put back into the relationship. One of the structures I apply is what I call “the three dailies.”


I want to add a personal note of testimony. As I have stated before, I would never ask you to do something that Lisa and I have not done or are not doing presently in our relationship. Lisa and I have done two of

the three dailies every day for years, with only a few exceptions. When I developed the third exercise, we actively applied it to our marriage routine also.


These three exercises help Lisa and I maintain our relationship priorities. They are part of our bedtime routine. Neither of us expects to go to sleep without our relational ritual of the three dailies.


They are a major highlight of my day. I get to hear about my wife’s day, hear her heart, and she gets to hear about my day and heart as well. ,is relational structure has richly developed our skill for intimacy to such a

level that it can weather the day-to-day challenges of children, writing, and media demands, together with all of our other commitments.


When your marriage priorities are restored, your passion will be restored. Everyone who knows me is well aware of my passion for Lisa.


I love her and really like her as well. ,is passion is the fruit of discipline that is born out of a heart of love.


THE THREE DAILIES


1. Prayer

Prayer is an absolute necessity in your marriage. I am constantly amazed when couples tell me that the last time they really prayed together, not including praying over food or a good night prayer with children, was years ago. Sometimes they say, “We both pray, just not together.”


Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” The Lord must be part of building your house. Prayer is an active way to include the Lord as part of the building plan of your

marriage.


Matthew 18:19 says, “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.” As we’ve previously noted, this verse discusses the importance

of two or more agreeing in God’s name. It doesn’t say when one agrees— it says when two agree.


Since Christ’s resurrection, He intercedes with and for His bride, which is the church. The Lord sees prayer as being extremely important. God’s pleasure is for us to commune with Him not just as individuals,

but as a couple as well.


Prayer is one of the priorities that must be set in place by a couple desiring more intimacy. Remember, intimacy is three dimensional, involving spirit, soul, and body. As we grow together spiritually, our

intimacy in the other two areas will grow as well.


Prayer is just talking aloud to God with your spouse, similar to talking with a friend. Prayer doesn’t have to take long hours in any particular position. It is the principle of connecting with God that is essential.


As a couple, within your governing style in your marriage, process the decision of daily prayer. As a result of your decision as a couple, place a check by which of the following statements you agree with.


We have agreed to pray daily together to improve and maintain our intimacy for the next thirty days.


We have agreed not to pray together daily for the next thirty days, knowing that it will negatively affect our intimacy.


The structure of prayer taking place within your marriage is one essential part of the three daily exercises. This structure will also be a part of your thirty-day log at the end of each day.


Hopefully you have agreed to daily prayer. I know better than most that each couple has many variables. Some of these differences include sleep preferences, work schedules, children’s school and extracurricular

activities, church, and fellowshiping with family and friends.


Look at your schedules. When can you pray together? In the morning? At lunch? In the evening? Take the time to discuss this with your spouse, and see if you can agree on a time to pray together. In the space below, write your first and second options to pray together.


Option one is ________ a.m./p.m.


Option two is ________ a.m./p.m.


In your thirty-day log, it’s important to track your progress regarding this exercise to maintain the consistency that ignites the passion and intimacy you both desire.


Those who travel often ask how to maintain the thirty-day program while out of town. In this day of modern technology, it is a non issue for the creative person. You can use your calling card or mobile phone to pray with your spouse over the phone. This really demonstrates a commitment to maintaining your spiritual intimacy. Even if you’re in Hong Kong, you can e-mail a prayer to your wife and chat with her.

Remember that the structure first brings healing, then passion. As you walk together spiritually, your intimacy over the next thirty days can nourish.


I love walking in the garden of my life with Lisa and coming with her into the presence of our loving Father. I really believe this has been instrumental in developing the strength and intimacy of our marriage.






Friday, February 11, 2011

WILL WORK FOR CUPCAKES

With the compelling motivation that I could eat a peanut butter cupcake left over from Superbowl after I finished my taxes, I powered through the number crunching in two hours.

Sad, isn't it, that I have to use copious amounts of sugar to make me do the right thing. But whatever works! Even more sad was when I used food to compel me to exercise. A little backwards in my thinking, and now that I don't exercise I eat an unthinkable amount of broccoli. It's almost enough to make a girl want to start jogging again.

Georgiana's top 3 motivators (I was going to do 5 but I realized how few things there are to get me off my bum). These are all guilt-free:

3. Reading Time
2. Writing Time
1. Food

What motivates you to complete tasks you'd otherwise neglect? Or do you have inner strength that the rest of us can only admire to draw from in times of need?

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

LOVE MOMENTS

Me: The next problem is 5-0. That means you have five cookies and I take zero away. How many do you have left?

5 year old: I still have five!

Me: Yes. Good job.

5y.o.: Mom?

Me: Yes?

5 y.o. with deep sincerity: Thanks for not taking my cookies.

How do I know God loves me? He picked me to be my childrens' mom! Even through the drudgery of math, there was a love moment.

Sometimes my primary reponsibility seems not so fun, especially since it keeps me from working toward my personal goals. But then God shows me that what I'm doing IS important and vital, and there's a reason my focus is almost solely on the kids. When I dig deep, I know that I know that I know I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing, no matter the cost. There's peace in that.

Is your primary responsibility the thing you want to do most? Or is it a sacrifice?

Just to share, here are a few items we've been working on:

The body book. We're learning what each organ does as we color, cut, and glue.


After talking about the Flood and the rainbow, we did a color wheel. Purple was harder than I thought it would be, but all in all a fun project.

A little geo time! We learned the layers of Earth.

Monday, February 07, 2011

BUSY HANDS

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.
~Colossians 3:23

Another verse, in Ecclesiastes says that whatever your hands find to do, to do it with all your might.

These are the words of encouragement I need this week to tackle a few items on my ever-growing to-do list that I'm not looking forward to. (Taxes and cleaning the shower immediately spring to mind.) Then there are the daily grindouts I must work through (math with the kids, trying to eat healthy after grazing my way through the Superbowl, and cooking meal after meal after meal.)

A few tricks to help: setting my work to music, racing against the clock, rewarding myself with uninterrupted reading or computer time. Most importantly, I have to remind myself that I'm a model for my kids, and they learn from my willingness to work cheerfully.

What tasks are on your agenda this week, ones you'd rather avoid? C'mon, friends, I need to know I'm not alone! How do you power through?

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

OR NOT SO SMART....

As much as I like to think of myself as a life long learner, I'm a 'fraidy freddy when it comes to anything do-it-yourself.

Take, for example, two weeks ago when we woke to a puddle in the bathroom next to the throne. While I was able to look up online what the problem likely was (wax ring) I didn't dare attempt to remove the unit myself. Dear hubby, bless his heart, wouldn't have another day off until the end of the week, and despite my pleading to call in the professionals he insisted he could, in fact, tackle the throne. In the meantime, we turned it off.

Fast forward four days....

Hubby finally had a day off. He turned the water to that area back on to see precisely where the water was coming from. And voila...

No leak.

It's been several days and the leak has not returned. Friends, we have a miracle toilet, and for that I am truly grateful.

Aside from the magic flusher, I'm still not a DIY'er. Case in point, this afternoon I have an appointment with a tax professional. Theoretically our taxes are super simple and I should be able to use Turbo Tax or some such program, rather than forking over $200. I'm skittesh about trying it, but I've been assured it's a no-brainer. Right now I'm gathering bits of courage to call and cancel the appointment.

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.

Are you a DIY'er? Do you venture into your own repairs? Do you (gulp) do your own taxes?
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