Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Can You Hear the World Through My Ears?

On this last day of Autism Awareness Month, I'd like to share this poem another friend of mine sent me. I don't know who the author is. Enjoy.



Can You Hear the World Through My Ears?

Can you hear the World thru my ears,
that hum that fills my head.
I think it would be amazing to you
how I ever go to bed.


The sounds at school, the bus, the hall,
they fill our everyday.
The thunder of children’s passing feet
can make my nerves go fray.


I try to work and learn like others,
and you can see my efforts, no doubt.
But even that “Good job, Cameron,”
if too loud, can make me totally freak out.


I want to forget the heater, the lights,
the bells, and the one chewing gum.
So sometimes when it’s all too much,
I begin to run, flap, and hum.


I know there are places that I need to go,
to gym, to music and to lunch.
But all of them can be overwhelming,
and make me spaz a bunch.


I know I need your patience to learn,
grow, and overcome my fears.
I just hope and pray you can try to hear
the World thru my ears.

Strawberry Exfoliant for Feet




This exfoliant received 5 stars on RecipeZaar.com. It had a lot of good reviews and I thought it would be a fun pampering tip. Enjoy!


Ingredients:
8 Strawberries
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp Almonds, finely chopped

Directions

1. Make a chunky paste with all the ingredients, being sure not to puree or over blend which will make the mixture watery.

2. Massage the mixture onto your feet. Allow it to sit for a few minutes, then rinse off and pat your feet dry.

3. This mixture can be stored in an airtight container for up to one week in your fridge.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Yummy Chocolate Facial




This is a five-star recipe from RecipeZaar.com.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Cocoa
4 Tbsp Heavy Cream
3 tsp Cottage Cheese
3 tsp Ripe Avocado
1/4 cup Honey
3 Tbsp Oatmeal, crushed into powder

Directions:

1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.

2. Apply evenly on your face.

3. Leave the facial on for ten minutes.

4. Use a warm wash cloth to pat your face and to soften the facial mixture before removing.

5. Apply your favorite moisturizer.

Enjoy!

Monday, April 28, 2008

St. Louis Temple Trip



This past Saturday, John and I had the opportunity to attend our Stake Temple Bus trip. It's a four hour trip to get to St. Louis from Olathe - and I am very grateful I didn't have to drive! Plus, you can't beat $20 a seat with how high gas prices are right now.

We had an awesome babysitter come stay over night and spend the day with our kids. John and I got up at 5 am, showered, got dressed, and met our group at 5:45 am. Then off we went. We met lots of new people from all over our stake. The most fun part was sitting near four different people who signed - as in sign language. Now, I don't know sign language, but my hubby has lots of experience and used to work as an interpreter. We had so much fun getting to know the other signers, two of which were deaf.



We arrived at the temple at 10 am. After getting changed, we were able to attend two endowment sessions. During our first session, there was a problem with the sign language video, so John had the opportunity to interpret for our deaf friends. What a wonderful and inspiring experience. I was able to watch John while he signed and it was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. By the end of the session, John arms and hands were exhausted. Thankfully, the temple workers were able to get the sign language video to work for our second session.

I love going to the temple. When I walk in, I am filled with feelings of peace and tranquility. It's often difficult to find moments of calm in the rush and business of every day life. When we lived in Utah, sometimes I would drive to the temple just to sit in the foyer for fifteen or twenty minutes and just let those feelings soak in. Having the opportunity to spend six straight hours in the temple was heavenly. By the time we left, I felt rejuvenated and happy.

We spent the first hour of our trip back home, having a testimony meeting. It was wonderful to hear about everyone's experiences. Then we stopped for dinner (a yummy chinese buffet in Columbia). The last three hours were filled with chatting, church videos, and for me, lots of snuggling with my hubby - a huge bonus of taking the bus! We arrived back at the church at 9 pm. When we returned home, we were pleasantly surprised that our house was in order and all the kids were asleep in their beds. Our babysitter reported that all the kids had a good day. Anna didn't cry for Mommy, Isaac didn't tantrum or having any fights - the only person who was sad was little Rob, who missed Mommy at bedtime and cried for a little bit while our babysitter gave him hugs and read him books until he felt better.

I am grateful we were able to go to the temple and that our kids had such a great time with their babysitter. Now I'm counting down the days until our next trip!

Women Are Amazing People



"Women are having to do way too much. They are multitasking, working long hours, and they are still responsible for most of what happens with the family; they are caregivers, best friends, listeners; they are amazing, amazing people."

- Dawn Tarnofsky-Ostroff

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Profound Statements from a Seven-Year-Old

My daughter loves to write. She gets that from her Mama.

She keeps a notepad and a journal. She gets that from her Mama, too.

But her smarts, she gets that from both her Mama and her Papa.

Tonight, I found this statement in her notepad:

What does a person need?

People need food.

People need drinks.

People need clothes.

People need a home.


After reading this, I thought about all the children out there who are hungry, thirsty, cold, and homeless. I feel an urge to go out tomorrow and do something to make some kids happy. All from a seven-year-old's notepad.

Man, if she can inspire me now at age seven, I can't wait to see what she comes up with as she grows and learns more about using writing as a form of persuasiveness. Look out, Newsweek. My daughter is going to be your future staff journalist.

I'm Doing a Happy Dance!



I'm a happy chick doing a happy dance!

Today, I received a contract in my inbox for six (count them: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6!) short stories for the upcoming book, Mirth from the Meetinghouse by Nichole Giles and C.L. Beck.

Yipee!

Whoo-hoo!

I am totally thrilled!

And just had to share the exciting news!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Noon Report: A Guilt-Ridden Mother



Ever since my return from the LDS Storymakers Writers Conference, I have been spending hours and hours every day on my laptop. I've been spending the majority of my time writing and editing, therefore some of my normal daily chores got pushed aside.

The first things on the list to go were cleaning and vacuuming each day. Then dishes began stacking themselves not only in one sink, but in both sinks before getting put into the dishwasher. Finally, came the comments from my kids, “Mom, I don't have any clean jeans left.” And another from my hubby, “Honey, are there any clean whites?” Both of these came about a day apart—and of course, as they are trying to get ready for the day with no time to throw a load into the washing machine.

Before you think I'm a terrible wife and mom, I should tell you that my hubby and I talked about this before I re-prioritized my schedule. As always, our family comes first—so getting everyone to school and preschool, soccer and track, talent show practices, etc. That all stayed into our schedules like they had been previously. Together, my hubby and I figured out all the logistics of how to keep our family going and try to keep our house in order. And we agreed that if things got messy, we'd just shrug our shoulders and wait until our family chores on Saturday mornings to get everything back in order. My hubby has gone the extra mile by coming home from work and emptying and folding the clothes that were in the dryer, then throwing in a new load.

But sometimes there's a kink thrown in. Like last week, my hubby had a very demanding work schedule. I remember him leaving for work on Monday . . . but don't remember seeing very much of him again until Saturday morning. It's weeks like this that our house goes haywire, clothes go missing, and we scramble to find clean plates for dinner.

This morning, I took a really good look at my house. I realized the bathrooms hadn't been cleaned for a month—which is totally scary considering the three boys who use them. For some reason, my sons can't just stand there and go potty. No. They think it's too boring. So they like to see how many designs they can make in the water before their ammo runs out. Which leads to very yucky toilets and bathroom walls. There was dirt tracked all across our playroom floor. Apparently some kiddios haven't been taking their shoes off when they come in the house like they're supposed to. Another rule to remind them of, especially now that spring is in full effect and they are constantly in and out of the house.

After taking status of my house, I looked over at my laptop and yearned to open it up. But instead guilt kicked in and took over. I marched up the stairs, filled my bucket with cleaning supplies, grabbed the vacuum, and got to work. I deep cleaned the playroom, the stairs and entry way, the dining room, and especially all three of our bathrooms. And I completed it all before high noon.

As a reward, I pulled out some pizza for lunch. Mmm . . . the best thing about burning all those calories is replenishing them with something very yummy.

Of course, having most of my house sparkling again is a great reward too. I just wonder how long it will last once my two oldest get home from school.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Fingers Just Aren't Meant to be Smooshed

Today, my three-year-old and I met one of his friends at the park for a play date. It was beautiful, sunny, and warm. We had fun playing on the swings, running around the play ship, and climbing up, then sliding down the slides. It really was a great morning.

Until we packed up to go home.

No—there were no hysterics. No crying. My three-year-old was totally excited to go home and get lunch. In fact, he was so excited that after I pushed the button on the car remote to open the sliding side door, he accidentally pushed the interior button to close the door. And well . . . the door smooshed his wee little fingers.

His poor, tiny fingers! Oh, and the big, huge tears that rolled down his face. It was terrible.

I rocked him for about five minutes, giving his little fingers kisses—you know, the one cure all for everything is Mommy kisses. He finally calmed down long enough to get him home. I tried having him put his hand in ice water, but he said it was too cold. So we did the band-aide thing. Then, in typical three-year-old fashion, he went outside to play. A few hours later, he came in and asked me to take the band-aides off. So, I did.

Then he said, “See, Mommy. I told you the band-aides would make it all better.”

Huh. I think my Mommy Kisses cure all just got beat out by Hot Wheels band-aides.

Pampering 101 - Scentiments



One of my very, very favorite bath and body lines is called Scentiments. It's all natural, smells heavenly, and is totally affordable. Seriously, you can fit it into just about any budget. It's only available online or at boutique shows (such as the Utah Chocolate Show).

I was introduced to Scentiments through my friend Candace Salima, who absolutely raved over their hand lotion. You can read more about my hand story below, but after sampling her lotion, I went right out and ordered a bunch for my own stash. Since then, I've become a huge Scentiments fan. I absolutely love the quality of their products. And their prices are just right. I can stock up and pamper myself without breaking my pocket book

Another bonus: Scentiments was created by my good friend and writing buddy, Tristi Pinkston! If you know Tristi, you know she's totally creative and crafty. So if you're looking for a great Mother's Day gift and don't want to go to the hassle of trying to make it cute, then leave it in Tristi's hands. I've ordered baskets for teachers, baby showers, bridal showers, or just a little something to let a friend know I'm thinking about her—and she always comes through with gorgeous baskets. And she ships—not the baskets, but she still puts them in a cute bag!

My favorite products include:

Brown Sugar Facial Scrub -
I order mine peach scented. I tried vanilla once and every day I craved sugar cookies! This is my one, absolutely favorite product by Scentiments. I love how my skin looks and feels. I have oily skin and usually break out like crazy, but after adding this scrub to my skin regime, my skin has balanced out and I have fewer break outs. $7



Bath Salts – I love soaking in a nice hot bath at the end of a stressful day. With four kids, I don't get the opportunity to do it often enough. But when I do, I break out my Scentiments Bath Salts. Some of my favorite scents are Grapfruite Surprise, Lavendar and Lilac, and Lavendar Essential Oil. I'm excited to try out her new scents Blackberry Sage, Pear, and Ginger Blossom. $5

Body Spritz – I get comments all the time asking what lotion I use or what perfume I'm wearing. It's always when I wear my Lavendar Lilac Body Spritz. I love it so much, it's replaced all my other perfumes. Of course, there are lots of other great scents as well – Jasmine, Amber Rose, and Freesia, to name a few. $7

Lip Balm – My hubby loves Scentiments Lip Balms. I get him a new supply every Father's Day and Christmas. I really like them too, but don't wear it nearly as often as he does! His favorites – Buttercream and Light Strawberry (which is no longer available). New scents I want to try are Raspberry & Cream and Vanilla Banilla. $1.50



Hand Lotion – My hands get so dry. I keep lotion everywhere—my purse, my car, the bathrooms, the kitchen, and next to my computer. For a long time I used Avon's Silicone Glove. It was the only thing I could find that really helped my hands. Until my friend, Candace Salima, had me try the Scentiments hand lotion. Can I say wow? The lotion sank right into my skin and my hands felt hydrated without any sticky films. I immediately put in an order for a whole bunch of Mango Mango hand lotion. Since then, I've also really come to like the Lavendar and Lilac lotion—but Mango Mango is still my favorite. $3

Foot Scrub & Lotion Set – This is a new addition to the website. I haven't tried it yet, but am looking forward to it. I find it ironic that it's been added to the Scentiments line since I've been looking all over Wal-Mart and other stores trying to figure out which ones I'd like to try. I guess this takes away the guess work. I've been so impressed with this line of products, that I'm 99% sure I'll like the Foot Scrub & Lotion Set as well. $9

As you can see, I use a variety of the Scentiments products and really enjoy them. In fact, I enjoy them so much, I am going to be giving away a basket filled with Scentiments samples and Tristi's newest book at the beginning of May when I participate in the Season of Sacrifice blog tour. Of course, if you just can't wait until then, you can go to the Scentiments website to order your own.

Pampering 101



I love being pampered.

Scented lotions, manicures, pedicures, massages . . . you name it. I love it.

Over the next couple weeks, I am going to post tips on how to pamper yourself and products to try out. Of course, this is all leading up to Mother's Day. Because, ladies, if you have a hubby like mine, you'll probably get bath towels with little Hershey Kisses hidden inside. Yep, that really is a gift he gave me one year for Mother's Day. I love my guy, but sometimes he's just a bit too practical.

But hey, even if you're not a mom, every woman deserves to be pampered. So read on and enjoy!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

It's Coming . . . Take Cover!



This one is for all of you who have Mondayitis. I bet you didn't know it was real, but it is. And Garfield had the biggest case of Mondayitis I've ever encountered. So join the Mondayitis troop. Sergent Garfield will be your leader.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Awesome Song about LDS Church Leaders

This is an awesome video and song to learn the names of the LDS Church Leaders. My three-year-old liked it so much, he watched it six times in a row! Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Anna and the Toilet Paper Episode

Our darling one-year-old just discovered the joy of toilet paper. More precisely, how much absolute fun it is to start at the back of the house in Mommy & Daddy's bathroom and pull it through their bedroom, down the hall, across the dining room, and into the kitchen to show off her new trick. And of course, expecting cheers and clapping.





And what do you do when you've got all the toilet paper where you want it? You wrap yourself up in a pretty paper dress and then shred it!

The Attack of the DVD Hog!

With all the nasty stuff on TV, we prefer to watch either PBS or movies at our house. In fact, we own about 170 Dvds, which really isn't a lot. We have friends with hundreds, even over a thousand Dvds. Not us. We buy some movies when they are on sale or clearance, but otherwise the library is our favorite rental center. You just can't beat free.

The problem with Dvd movies is that they take up so darn much room. Does this look familiar to you?



Hmm . . . maybe that isn't clear enough. How about this?



Our Dvd collection takes up half the shelf space in our play room. I've recently had to do some creative re-organizing and squishing of our family board games, cause there just isn't enough room for both the Dvds and the games. This is one area of the disorganized mess at our house that just drives me bonkers!

Last month, Real Simple magazine ran a series of articles about organizing your home. They had some great ideas about organizing movie collections. My interest was captured. I researched some more articles on the internet, then came up with a plan to conquer the evil Dvd hogs.

First, I decided how I wanted to organize the Dvds. I really liked the idea of using binders with the CD inserts.

The next step was to figure out how to organize the binders.

Should we put all the movies in A-Z order? Nah, that would be a pain to keep up.

Perhaps we could just put all the movies in binders, number them, then have a master list to find the movies. So if I wanted to watch The Incredibles, I would just look it up, see it was in binder four, then go there and get it. I had to take some time to think about this option, because it could have worked. But in the end, I decided it would be too difficult for our kids to find their movies.

It was actually my hubby who came up with the best idea. Divide the binders into genres. Ooh, what a concept! We even went a step further and chose categories that fit our movie viewing schedule as well. For example, we wanted a binder for the movies our kids are allowed to choose from on Sundays. Here are the categories we came up with.

- Disney Movies (we have lots and decided they needed their own category)
- Kids Movies
- Action, Drama, and Mystery
- Chick Flicks and Musicals
- Sunday Movies
- Holiday Movies

Awesome! I was all excited to get started when I realized I still had some more problem-solving to do. Switching to a binder system created two problems.

1. Our kids like to look at the Dvd cases to decide what movie they want to watch. So instead of putting four Dvds on each page, I decided two Dvds with pictures of the movies beside them would be a good solution. Then the kids can flip through the pages and still have a visual way to choose their movie. The pages turned out like this:



2. I didn't want just plain, white binders sitting on my shelf. I wanted them to be pretty, or at the very least interesting. Yes, I know - this is the decorative female side of me. My hubby just doesn't get it. But I'm sure many of my readers agree. I went to Office Depot and Wal-Mart. I found totally cute binders with stripes, dots, or paisley patterns. I really, really wanted to get them. But I didn't. For two good reasons; a) they didn't have any insert areas where I could label them, and b) they were at least $2-3 more per binder than the white binders, which made my pocket book want to commit suicide. So, I chose the white binders. Wal-Mart had the best deal on 1 1/2" binders with the clear plastic covering so you can insert spine labels and cover sheets. After getting home, I went out to Avery.com which has lots of pre-made and blank templates you can download and print from home. I found a template for 1 1/2" spine labels. For the cover sheets, I used Google Images to search for pictures. For some of the cover sheets, I used my HP Print Master program, which has lots of clip art. Here are some of the cover sheets I came up with:








Then the real work began. My hubby and I spent one entire afternoon and early evening moving all the movies into the binders. Actually, my hubby and the two older kids organized all the Dvds while I worked on cutting out the pictures for beside them.

Where did I get the pictures? First, I checked to see if the Dvd came with an insert. You know, one of those pages telling you the different scenes in the movie for short-cuts, etc. If there was an insert like this, it often had a good picture just the right size I could cut out. If not, then I took out the paper cover from the front of the Dvd case and cut the picture off there.

Now, I have to be honest here. Cutting all those pictures is a pain in the tush. And I'm still not done! I've finished the Action, Drama, & Mystery and the Sunday Movies binder. I'm halfway done with the Disney and Kids movie binders. And all the rest still need to be tackled. It takes a lot more time to cut and insert all those pictures than to move the Dvds into the binder, but my kids love it. I highly recommend that if you are going to do this, to invest in a paper cutter. I found one at Office Depot that had a sliding cutter and would cut up to 13" for $15. It's not the best or sharpest blade, but it gets the job done much more quickly and less painfully than using scissors.

Another decision we had to make was what to do with all the Bonus Feature Dvds? We thought about just putting them right with the movies, but we hardly ever watch them. So for now, we have them in a CD case. But after I finish this set of binders, I am going to buy another binder just for them.



After all the hard work my hubby and I put into it . . . and still need to do to finish it, we've really liked the results.



I still can't believe we fit all those Dvds into just seven binders! There's even room left for more binders. And look how much free room is left on our shelves now.



I'm so excited about all this extra space! My next project is going to be to re-organize all the games. If I'm lucky, when I'm finished I'll be able to put pictures and other fun stuff on the shelves! Isn't organizing so much fun?

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Votes Are In!

The poll has closed and the votes are in.

The movie with the most votes was:



Somewhere In Time with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour


Then there was a three-way tie. I called my hubby to see how he felt about watching four movies instead of three. His reply: "I'm 33.33% more put out than I was before. Sure. Why not?" Not very enthusiastic, but it works for me.

The other three movies are:



Ever After with Drew Barrymore and Dougray Scott



Miss Potter with Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor



While You Were Sleeping with Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman

I'm not certain what date the results will be in - but my goal is that one week from today, John will have watched all the movies and have made his choice. Let the Chick Flick Fest begin!

P.S. - Just out of curiosity, what chick flick do you think will win? Post your thoughts in the comments section.

Autism - Be Aware. Be Understanding.



Autism is a scary.

Autism is stressful.

Autism is complex.

Autism is colorful.

Autism is funny.

Autism is joyful.

Autism is a puzzle.



After eight years of living with autism in our home, I have experienced all of the above. Those first frightening moments of having a specialist tell me my son had autism and what it meant. The stress of intense therapy sessions and challenging behaviors. The complexity of trying to figure out why my son reacted certain ways in different situations or places. The colorfulness of having crayons, eggs, and poop smeared on the walls. The funny moments we share and the sound of our son's laughter. The roller-coaster ride we call The Ferguson Family Life that brings joy into our home. The puzzle of wondering what the future holds for my son.

As a mom of a child with autism, one of the most difficult things I come in contact with is other people's judgment.

You see, the media likes to show the severe side of autism. Which is good - to a point.

When my son was diagnosed at age two, he showed all the severe signs. In fact, he was diagnosed as severely autistic. After years of therapy, today he is a fairly average eight-year-old . . . with some quirks. It's rare for him to display his more severe behaviors anymore. He has to be pushed and pushed to be angry enough to have a melt down.

So, when I go out with my son - let's say to Walmart - he may see something he really, really likes and decides he has to have it. He may keep asking me over and over for it. Hmm . . . this all sounds pretty normal for an eight-year-old, right? The part that's hard is if I can't redirect his attention in a way that satisfies him, then he will become frustrated. Which could include him becoming louder or running away from me. If we still can't resolve the situation or leave the store quickly, then he'll become even more frustrated which could mean kicking, pinching, or yelling "I hate you!"

Now be honest. If you saw a third grader behaving like this, you would think he's either:

1. A spoiled rotten brat throwing a fit, in which case the parents really should learn how to control their child.

or

2. A victim of abuse, in which case you watch the parent like a hawk, with your cell phone ready to call 9-1-1 if you feel the situation isn't handled in a calm, appropriate manner.

I've come up against both scenarios. Sometimes when I explain to on-lookers that my son has autism, I will actually get someone who says, "I know what autism is. I've seen the shows on TV. Your son doesn't have autism."

This is when I truly dislike the media and their portrayal of autism. But that's not really what my blog is about today.

Today, my blog is about autism awareness. My favorite t-shirt says:

"Autism - Be Aware. Be Understanding."

My wish for this month, is that the community will take the time to become more aware of autism, what it is, and the different ways it can affect both children and adults.

Autism comes in all different shapes and sizes. You can't look at someone and say, "Oh, he has autism." There are no physical features that make them stand out in a crowd. For example, the socially-shy, techno-geek in the cubicle next to you may have autism. Yes, there are perfectly normal adults out there who have autism and you wouldn't even guess. The only thing you might think is he's a true geek who's sucked into his computer. Adults with autism may go to college, married, and have families.

So this month, take fifteen, thirty, or sixty minutes and learn about autism.

But most importantly, be more kind and understanding, be a good neighbor. Perhaps the next time you see a kid in the middle of a tantrum, you won't think he's bad. Instead, you might remember that he could have special needs.

And maybe, just maybe, you'll offer the mom a bit of help in the check-out line.


For more information about autism, visit the following websites:

The Autism Society of America

Autism Research Institute

Autism Speaks

Quote from Meladee McCarty

"Live your life as though there is great joy to be experienced . . . an abundance of goodness in each person you come in contact with, and the knowledge that you have enough inner wisdom to answer the mysteries that challenge you."

-Meladee McCarty

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Hilarious Milk Commercial!

A big thank you to Teri for sending this to me! Enjoy everyone!


video

What's Up With Chick Flicks?



Chick Flicks are the heart beat of the American female, of any age. My seven-year-old daughter LOVES chick flicks. Her very favorite is Cinderella, of course. But she's recently become a fan of Anne of Green Gables, High School Musical, and Pride and Prejudice (the Colin Firth version!). Ahh . . . It's mommy heaven. We watch chick flick after chick flick together.

But sadly, guys just don't seem to get it. Why is that? Is it genetic? Hormonal? What? Maybe guys need to take estrogen supplements.

They probably wouldn't go for that though, huh? Even if it meant complete matrimonial happiness.

Well, in an attempt to help guys understand the appeal of chick flicks, my good friend De has disected her favorite flicks. Go to Chick Flick Reflections for some good educational info.

Seriously, go check it out guys.

And ladies, if you can't get your hubbies out there to read it, consider printing it out and putting it somewhere he can't miss - like pasted to his car windshield.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A Door to Gratefulness

A day at my house includes doors slamming, kids running around the table, and lots of loud voices. With all this chaos, it can be difficult to promote a feeling of gratefulness.

I recently learned about a really fun activity called a Grateful Door.

Here's what you do:

1. Choose a door your family uses often.
2. Cover it with butcher paper
3. Tie yarn around one or two pens or markers.
4. Attach the other end of the yarn to the butcher paper on the door. Possibly one the top half and another on the lower half where the younger ones can reach.

Once the door is ready, family members should write one thing they are grateful for each day. Younger children can draw pictures instead.

Think of how fun it will be seeing the door fill up as the month progresses! At the end of the month, I suggest popping popcorn and holding a Family Reading of the Door. Then simply re-paper the door and start all over again. What a wonderful way to teach our kids (and ourselves) to recognize the things we are grateful for each day.

The 13th Reality Book Trailer

OK everyone - this is totally cool! Reel Line Productions put together this book trailer for James Dashner's 13th Reality: The Journal of Curious Letters. I was fascinated with how they took some of the scenes from the book and put them into the trailer. Very, very cool.





You can also watch a ten minute interview with James Dashner on the Reel Line Productions website. Enjoy!

Farworld by J. Scott Savage




J. Scott Savage . . . do you know that name? Maybe so, maybe not.

How about Jeffrey S. Savage - does that ring a bell? If you are a Shandra Covington Mystery series fan, then I should hear a resounding, "Yes!"

Well, J. Scott Savage and Jeffrey S. Savage are one in the same. Huh? That means they are the same person, silly! So why the two different names? Hmm . . . a mystery indeed. But stay tuned. The question will be answered when I host an author spotlight during the Farworld Blog Tour, coming in July of 2008.

For more info about Savage's Farworld book, please click here.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Ultimate Chick Flick Contest - Vote Now!



The nominations are in. The poll has been created. And now, the time as come to vote, vote, VOTE!

But wait! There are a few rules. Well, just one really.

Each voter may only vote ONE TIME and only for ONE MOVIE.

What? You mean I let you nominate all those movies and you can only vote for one? Yep, that's right.

Hee hee hee - I'm sneaky!

So, send all your friends out to vote for their favorite chick flick. The poll closes in exactly one week, Monday April 14th at 1 pm. Then my hubby will watch the top three chick flicks to determine the ultimate chick flick . . . and who the winner of the movie gift card will be.

Good luck to everyone who participated!

Still Hanging In There?




"When you get to the end of your rope - tie a knot and hang on."

- Eleanor Roosevelt

Conquering the Mail




Mail is the demon of clutter at our house. It doesn't matter if it comes from our mail box, school, or from my kids - you can find it all over my counters, kitchen table, and even piled on the piano bench. In an effort to de-clutter, I found this tip from, of all the odd places, my March planner pages.

"A cluttered pile of mail is an unwelcome sight. I like to deal with mail as soon as it hits my kitchen table. I toss unwanted envelopes and catalogs and set aside the mail that deserves my attention in an "in-box" which, for me, is a basket. I designated a regular time to go through the mail, and that way I've been able to give it the proper attention when I'm ready to." - Claudia Caruso

I would love to hear more tips on how you organize your mail. Help me and other Queen of the Clan readers by sharing your mail organizational wisdom. Simply leave your tips in the comments section.

Good luck conquering the mail!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Hurry to Nominate for the Chick Flick Contest!




I've received lots of great movie nominations for the Ultimate Chick Flick contest. Thank you to everyone who's participated!

Due to several reasons (mostly that involve time and schedules) I've decided to close the nominations for the contest early. I'll be closing nominations on Monday, April 7th at noon. So if you've been waiting to send in your nominations, now is the time to get them in. Remember, each person can nominate up to three movies. For the complete set of rules, please see The Ultimate Chick Flick Contest post.

Happy Nominating!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Anna's First Steps

So, about a week after Anna turned one year old, she still wasn't walking - at least, not on her own. She was content to let her brothers and sister hold her hands and walk her anywhere she wanted to go.



Until one very fun week I babysat for a friend of mine who has a sweet little girl a few months younger than Anna. (see their cute picture together above) This baby girl wasn't walking yet either, but Anna was so interested in her that she just got up and started walking all on her own! Of course, then she followed the little girl around everyone - even to the point of climbing on top of and over her.

Anyway, the Sunday after I finished babysitting the cutie pie who inspired Anna, we took a short video of her walking. Ever since, we've had family asking to see it. I've finally figured out how to post videos on my blog . . . so here you go! (Ahem - please excuse our messy room.)


video

Blue Birds vs. Blueberries - Video

Here's a short video of MJ during her soccer game. She's #5, wearing the brown shorts. Her team is the light blue team (Blue Birds). They were playing the dark blue team (Blueberries). I don't know how well the video is going to turn out for the blog, but you'll be able to get an idea of what was happening. Enjoy!

video

Blue Birds vs. Blueberries - 5 April 2008

Check out MJ's first soccer game. She did an awesome job!

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Ferguson Clan Book List - April



It's that wonderful time of the year when the weather fluctuates between absolutely beautiful and thunderously awful. Whether it's sunny or stormy, we hope you'll enjoy these books.

John Recommends:

Red Dragon Codex by R. D. Henham

Danyelle Recommends:

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


Isaac Recommends:

If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Joffe Numeroff and Felicia Bond

MJ Recommends:

The Rainbow Fairies Series by Daisy Meadows

Rob Recommends:

Trucks by Byron Barton

Anna Recommends:

Baby Signs by Joy Allen

Happy Spring Reading!

Weird, Wacky, and Random Game



My totally fun, writing friend, Gaynell, tagged me for this Weird, Wacky, and Random Game. I love stuff like this. Thanks, Gaynell!

Okay, friends—get ready for some weird, wacky, and random stuff about me!

1. I love to twist my hair around my fingers. I can't remember a time I didn't do it. When I was in my early elementary years, I would twist the hair around my pointer finger and it would get into knots. If I couldn't get the knots out, then I would just pull the hair out of my head. And since at that time I usually twisted hair near the back of my head while watching tv or reading a book, I had bald spots—really big ones. It drove my mom crazy! The other thing that annoyed her was pulling out the couch and finding all those knots of hair clumped up in piles on the floor. This phase of my life lasted for, oh . . . about three or four years. Note: Around age ten, I did learn how to twist my hair without getting knots and needing to pull it out. So don't be afraid to pull out the couches at my house!

2. When I was pregnant, my feet got bigger. Yes, I know this is common. But my feet kept getting bigger and bigger with each pregnancy. After four kids, my feet had grown from a narrow size 7 to a wide size 8 ½. Now that we are done having bambinos, my feet are finally back to a size 7, although not on the narrow side.

3. While we are talking about things getting bigger, having four kids in nine years helped me to grow quite a bit. When John and I got married, I was a skinny-minnie 100 lb chick. Just before having our last little one, I weighed over 200 lbs. During the six months after having our fourth, I worked and worked and managed to get down to about 150 lbs. Then in August, a friend of mine opened a nutrition club. I decided to check it out. I liked it and decided to join. Since then I've been able to reach 128 lbs AND maintain it through the holidays, vacations, etc while still having fun and eating like a normal person. I'm quite happy with where I am and plan to stay.

4. I enjoy singing with my kids. What's wacky or weird about that? We don't sing anything really normal like nursery songs. We make up our own goofy versions, sometimes to familiar tunes—other times to off the wall, bust-a-gut, one-of-a-kind originals.

5. I am a total chicken. My hubby can walk into the room and if I wasn't expecting him, I jump, suck in my breath, and my heart goes straight to aerobic level. Now, my hubby thinks this is awesome cause when he really wants to scare me, all he has to do is hide behind the door, then jump out at me, and I turn into a screaming mass of hysterical female.

6. I talk in french in my sleep and I think in french when in the shower. Yep, it's true. You'd think twelve years after living in France, I'd be back to normal by now . . . but I'm not. You'd also expect that if I can think in french, I'd be able to speak it just as well, right? Instead, I get all nervous and tongue-tied and only get the basics out.

7. My two favorite cures for writer's block: 1. change into PJ's and jump into bed. Then my mind starts to wander and come up with all sorts of story lines. If that doesn't work, then I opt for #2—which involves stripping off my clothes, jumping into the shower, and washing my hair. For some reason, I get my very best scene ideas by doing this. John has actually considered putting a white board in our bathroom so I can just write it all down without soaking my note books. I go through a lot of note books. (And no, my stories are not in french. This happens to be the one time everything comes out in english!)

Were those weird, wacky, and random enough for y'all?

Now, who to tag? Wa ha ha ha!

1. Kellie (Mere Motherhood)

2. Teri (Fronk Family)

3. Mandi (Abbot and Alyssa)

4. Heather Justesen (Heather Justesen)

5. De (My Blog)

6. Marta (The Last Word)

7. Jennifer (Confessions of a Lifelong Bookworm)

So...here's the rules:

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Review Disclaimer: Sometimes a book I review has been sent to me for free by a publisher or an author. This in no way effects my review, which is my own opinion about whether the book was a good read for me, fit my tastes, and if I would recommend it to others. Other than possibly a free book, I am not compensated in any way for posting a review.