A Roar for Powerful Words Award

C.L.Beck over at LDS Writer's Blogck chose little ol' me to receive “A Roar for Powerful Words” award. This award is for writers, so I posted my response on my Ferguson Authors website. Please stop by!

Ooh, Ooh . . . Kaleidoscope!

Last week, I was asked to attend the first grade field trip to Kaleidoscope. I wasn't planning to go as I had a deadline for a writing contest, but when another parent had to drop out because of the awful flu that's been going around, they were one parent short . . . and desperate. Which is probably why they called me. My hubby arranged to work from home and watch our kids along with the other little girl I had previously agreed to watch while her mom attended the field trip. What a guy! Believe me, I know just how lucky I am to have him for my husband. He's awesome.

On with the trip! Since we just moved here a little over a year ago, we haven't explored the Kansas City area very much. So this was the first visit to Kaleidoscope for both me and MJ. It was totally fun. I highly recommend it to any KC visitors! I put together a little scrapblog of our experience. Enjoy!

The 13th Reality: The Journal of Curious Letters by James Dashner

Forget about cool, calm, or collected. Get your running shoes out and beat a fast track to your nearest book store! The 13th Reality: The Journal of Curious Letters by James Dashner has been sighted on some book store shelves early! The official release date is March 3rd . . . but if you can find it, you definitely want to get your hands on it ASAP.

Why? Well, let me tell you . . .

I was one of the lucky few who got to edit and review the manuscript for James. If you haven't figured it out, that means I've already read the book. And I'm here to tell you that it's AWESOME!!! As a book reviewer, I don't say that lightly. When you start reading this book, you will be totally, 100% sucked in and glued to your coach, bed, or favorite reading spot until it's finished.

The characters in The 13th Reality will have you laughing out loud. Even their names are funny. I mean, who ever heard of a boy named Atticus Higginbottom, aka Tick? (I once asked James how he came up with his character's names. I'm still waiting for the answer . . . James????) Here's a little blurb about The 13th Reality:

"James Dashner’s new fantasy novel will keep kids and adults mystified as they try to find the answers behind the baffling riddles and puzzling clues that reveal the secrets of The 13th Reality —the source of every frightening myth, dangerous legend, terrifying nightmare, and the home to a dark power.

Atticus Higginbottom, a.ka. Tick, is an average thirteen-year-old boy until the day he begins receiving strange letters in his mailbox. Postmarked from Alaska and cryptically signed with the initials “M.G.,” the letters contain riddles and clues that test Tick’s courage and determination to learn the secrets behind the 13 parallel realities. The choices Tick must make ensures he has the guts, intelligence, and strength to join the Realitants, an organization sworn to protect the realities, and battle the evil power that seeks to control them.

The first volume of an outstanding new children’s fantasy series, The Journal of Curious Letters is filled with adventure, humor, riddles, and, oh, yes ─ danger . . . As M.G. warns Tick, “Very frightening things are coming your way.”

I have to tell you, those riddles mentioned above - they really got me. I'm not exactly a great riddle solver, but I tried and tried to figure them out. When I finally gave up and read on to find out the answers, I just wanted to hit myself on the head and say, Duh! It was especially fun when I told my hubby the riddles, then timed him to see how long it took him to figure them out. He was much, much quicker than me. :)

It's been a long time since I've enjoyed the plot of a book like I did with The 13th Reality. Now all you chicks, guys, and kiddos - I'm totally serious about what a great book this is. So go get it, read it, and come back here to let me know what you think of it.

P.S. - I know James loves to hear from his readers as well. You can contact him via his websites which are "linked" from here to both his book website and his author website in the first paragraph of this blog. Enjoy!

The Princess and The Frog

One of my favorite stories as a young child was The Princess and The Frog. My favorite part was when the princess kissed the frog and he turned into a handsome prince.

Last weekend, two very special people from our family became a princess and a frog. My daughter, MJ, and her Dad. MJ's Girl Scout troop was invited to the district's annual Princess and Frog Ball. MJ was very excited as she got all dressed up in her fanciest church dress. Then I did her hair all nice and pretty, we painted her toe nails and finger nails. It was quite the little pampering party. In typical fashion, Dad had the easiest job. He got ready in normal work attire - dress slacks, dress shirt - and added a fun tie. So what took us hours to get ready for, only took Dad about fifteen minutes.

Never-the-less, MJ has thrilled as Dad escorted her to the Ritz Charles for the ball. When they returned home (close to 10 pm that night), they were both filled with stories of how much fun they had dancing and laughing the night away. Before going to bed, MJ gave her Dad a big kiss on the cheek. Unlike the childhood story I enjoyed, Dad didn't go Poof! and turn into a prince. He's been a prince all along - and of course, we all knew it!

Enjoy the pics from the dance!

Ice Storm Photography

Some may remember the ice storms that swept the mid-west this past December. At the time, I was visiting family in Pennsylvania and trying to fly home. Instead, I "got" to extend my visit for two extra days while planes were grounded and airports closed.

When I finally returned back to the land of Oz, I grabbed my camera, loaded my two youngest kids into the van, popped a DVD in, and went driving. The trees and landscape were just amazing - a photographer's dream. I compiled a nice scrapblog of those photos. If you find an image you absolutely love, send me an email. I love selling my photos.

Shoe Shopping Frenzy

"Nothing cheers a girl up like shopping."

Obviously the original Material Girl has never been shoe shopping with four kids in tow.

This afternoon, I decided to take advantage of the day off school (It's President's Day for those of you who have wandered around in a fog all day) and brave the mall. You see, Payless Shoes is having their BOGO event. If you don't know what BOGO is, then you probably don't shop for shoes very often. BOGO = Buy One, Get One 1/2 Off sale. We take advantage of BOGO two or three times a year and believe me, it saves us quite a bit of money. You'd think kids shoes would cost less than adult shoes, but they just don't.

I thought ahead and called two girls from our church congregation to come along with us. The plan: I'd take one kid at a time into the store with me to pick out shoes. The other kids would play, supervised by the babysitters, in the play area conveniently located right in front of Payless Shoes. This actually worked really well.

As we shopped, I thought my kids' choices were quite interesting. I could see how they were each growing older and making more "mature" choices (and occasionally surprising ones as well).

Shoe Victim #1 : Isaac

Previous Shoes: Transformers
New Shoes: Spider Man
***It took us two years to get Isaac out of his Power Rangers mode. I thought for sure he'd hang on to Transformers a little longer. But alas, six months was it. I credit the change to Spider Man to his Aunt Cheryl, who bought him Spider Man Wall sticker thingies (which Isaac totally loves).

Shoe Victim #2: Rob

Previous Shoes: Disney Cars
New Shoes: Transformers
*** Rob has picked out Disney Cars shoes for the last year and a half. I was very surprised that he didn't want the new Cars shoes and instead voted for Transformers (which suspiciously look quite a bit like Isaac's former Transformer shoes). Rob's true colors shined through in the end - we also ended up purchasing a pair of Disney Cars Crocs.

I can't wait to see these fancy feet flying through our yard . . .

Shoe Victim #3: MJ

Ah, yes . . . MJ is my girly girl slash "I'm gonna beat your butt" tomboy. She's also a shoe shopping addict. It took her FOREVER to pick out shoes. Ever since she was teeny tiny, she's insisted on trying on every style of shoe available in her size before narrowing them down to about four or five pairs. Then she needs to try on those at least two more times to narrow them down to three . . . Repeat the process one more time and we've finally narrowed it down to one pair of sneakers and one pair of crocs. Whew! Once again, I attribute this to my sister (MJ's Aunt Cheryl). She was exactly the same. I still remember going shopping with her and my sister walking out with no less than six pairs of shoes per trip to the shoe store. She had rows and rows and rows of shoes. Hopefully MJ won't be that bad as a teen . . . (maybe I should say some prayers about that too!)

Previous Shoes: High School Musical
New Shoes: Champion Pink
*** When MJ chose her HSM sneakers, she had never seen the movie. The only thing she knew about HSM was that her friends really liked it and talked about it at school. Only just recently have MJ and I sat down to watch the movie (about two years after it came out!) This time, instead of choosing the popular fad, she decided to go with something she really liked rather than what her friends are all wearing.

Shoe Victim #4: Anna

Ah . . . the moment I know you've all been waiting for. Anna's first shoes! It really was fun watching her reaction to all the different shoes. I had fun just seeing the teeny shoes! Anna wears a size two - can you believe that? They look like a doll should be wearing them! We ended up purchasing three pairs - sneakers, dress shoes, and a pair Anna just wouldn't let go of!

Very cute pink camo sneakers.

I thought these would be darling with her church dresses.

These are the shoes Anna just wouldn't give back. Aren't they sweet?

While I wouldn't say that I had lots of fun, I do think the kids had fun picking out shoes and playing at the mall. And really, the two and a half hour trip wasn't all that bad - except for the cash register total at the end. I just about choked on my gum! Now I just have to be sure my hubby is half asleep when he reconciles our accounts later this week. :)

Special Olympics Basketball Season and Album

Our son, Isaac, loves to be active - running, soccer, basketball . . . you name it, he likes it. Thank goodness our city has an amazing Special Olympics program. Right now, he's playing basketball. His team practices once a week for an hour. They've had four practices so far and just played their first game.

It was awesome! Isaac kept his hands to himself (he loves to grab jerseys so he can keep up with the faster kids). In fact, the kid he was guarding was a sixth grader. Isaac's head came up to about the middle of her chest. With his arms up to guard her, his hands reached to about her shoulders. What can I say? Isaac's in third grade and he's a small third grader, too. I actually find it quite humorous to watch my little guy, who has no fear, guard such huge kids! Anyway, Isaac dribbled, made a basket, and was awesome at defense. When his team fell behind on the score board half-way through the game, Isaac got very frustrated. He was running up and down the court going back and forth from defense to leading his team - the whole time with tears coursing down his face while he said, "We have to make a basket! We need to get ahead!"

Now, some of you may be thinking "Oh that poor boy!" but parents with kids with special needs would be saying, "That's cool!" Why? Because he understood how his team was doing and even though he was frustrated, instead of tantruming and having a melt down, he kept playing the game and obeying the rules. This was a MAJOR accomplishment for our son. Hurray!

Even though the final score on the board showed that his team lost, it was a huge win for Isaac. All of his coaches gave him big hugs and high fives - they were so proud of him. Even the coach from the opposing team came up to my hubby to say how impressed he was with how well Isaac played.

Now, I know you're just waiting for the album. I have a little disclaimer. I had our three year old AND our one year old with me in the stands. Our three year old desperately wanted to be out there on the court with his big brother. To keep him in his seat, I let him take all the pictures of the game. So be prepared for not the best quality - we had to do A LOT of editing which really diminished the crispness of the pics. But hey, you'll still have an idea of what the game was like. Enjoy!

Isaac's Baptism . . . Thoughts from Mom

Our oldest son was baptized on February 9th, 2008. In our church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), we don't baptize our children when they are babies, but instead wait until they are eight years old. Isaac turned eight this past August 2007. Why wasn't he baptized then? We waited for two reasons really.

One: Isaac has autism and was still learning about baptism, it's meaning, etc when he celebrated his eighth birthday. Two: I want all of our children to be baptized because they want to - not because Mommy or Daddy want them to. I am a convert to the Church and was baptized when I was sixteen years old. Every day, converts of all ages are baptized as members of our Church. Just before his birthday, my hubby and I asked Isaac if he'd like to get baptized, but he said he wasn't ready yet. So I sat back and patiently waited to see what would happen.

At the end of this past December, our family attended tithing settlement with our Bishop. Just after the opening prayer, Isaac turned to our Bishop and said, "Guess what, Bishop? I'm eight years old and I'm getting baptized!" I was shocked. I think my jaw dropped and stayed there for at least a good five minutes. During those five minutes, I listened as our inspired Bishop talked with Isaac about baptism, why he wanted to get baptized, and what Isaac needed to do next. It was a moment of peace and the sweet feeling of the Spirit filled the room.

Fast foward six weeks and here we are at Isaac's baptism date. He helped us plan everything - music, talks, prayers, and who was invited to attend. We kept the service small, simple, and totally focused on Isaac. I especially thought his music selections were awesome. We sang The Wise Man and The Foolish Man, I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus, and I Am a Child of God - all of which are some of his favorites. Isaac asked his seven year old sister to talk about baptism and the Holy Ghost, his little three year old brother to say the opening prayer, and Mom to say the closing prayer. Dad performed the baptism and confirmation. I was so impressed by Isaac's reverence during his baptism service. He really understood what an important step he was taking. I could feel Heavenly Father's love for Isaac.

I am so grateful Isaac is a part of our family. There have been many, many times in the last eight years when I've seen just how much Isaac is loved by his Heavenly Father through the special blessings he receives. He's a great example to me, my hubby, and each of our kids.

Below this post, there's a small photo album from Isaac's baptism. Enjoy!

Isaac's Baptism Album

Where'd My Baby Go?

Exactly one year ago, I was lying in a hospital bed listening to air guns, hammers, and saws while trying to recover from a very complicated delivery. During our four day stay, Anna was the only one who got any sleep. Here's some well-meant advice to expecting moms - never choose a hospital that's in the process of remodeling their Women's Center if you actually want to rest and recover while you're there.

Yesterday was Anna's first birthday, as you can see from the posts below. I can't believe my baby is no longer a baby. She's developing quite the attitude. At a year old, she let's her older brothers and sister know when she's tired of playing with them - usually by growling or smacking them away. She's also a little chicken doodle when it comes to walking. She likes to let her older siblings hold her hands while she walks around or to use her walker but will she walk on her own? Oh no. She's too afraid to take those first steps. It's fun watching her take things out and put them back in like her toys from her rubbermaid bin or the plastic lids from the kitchen drawer. She'll amuse herself for quite a while taking them out, putting them back in, over and over again. Anna also enjoys music and dancing. She's a very cute dancer! While these are all things our other kids enjoyed around this age, Anna also has her own unique personality.

Anna is an observer. She watches other kids and adults, curious about what they're doing and watching for their reactions. She's not the bubbly, laughing comedian our other three kids have been. You really have to work to get a glimpse of Anna's pretty smile. I think Anna is going to be the one to keep the rest of her nutty family planted firmly on solid ground. She just seems to be that type of a person so far.

So, our youngest and last little one is a year old . . . and is just going to keep growing and getting bigger every day. Part of me is rather sad because I want to keep my little snuggle bug just the way she is forever . . . but another part can't wait to see what's in store for Anna as she grows and experiences more in life. I excited to learn about her passions, dreams, and talents. So I'll try to nudge away that bit of sadness and look forward to a bright and beautiful future for our baby girl!

Be sure to check out Anna's First Birthday album below. If you click the play button, it will play music and automatically turn the pages for you. I would recommend using the page turning arrows the first time through though as I've found using the play button doesn't give you enough time to read the text on each page. Enjoy!

Anna's First Birthday!

Anna's very first birthday! She had a blast!
Posted by Picasa