Oklahoma Family Vacation - Part Three

This is my last post for our Oklahoma trip.

Of course, while we were on vacation spent quite a bit of time playing family games together. Rob - my five year old - became quite the Yahtzee champion. That boy has got the Yahtzee magic touch!

We played lots of games - Monopoly, Kings on a Corner, Skipbo, Disney Memory, Go Fish, and more! Anna was quite funny. She added her own little "MoJo" flavor to everything she did - a special way to shake the dice, a silly giggle, or a sassy little dance for whenever she did something great. She was such fun to play with!

I am going to end this series with our trip to the Botanical Gardens. At first glance, this destination looks really tiny - and definitely on the dinky side. We were super surprised when we started following the paths and discovered a HUGE set of gardens that went on and on and on! Our kids absolute favorite part was the Japanese Gazebo & pond. The pond looks totally disgusting - all green, yucky water. We watched some cute baby turtles swim around. As we were leaving, we discovered a bucket filled with fish food. We paid for a cup, then went over and tossed a few pebbles in - hoping for a few fishies. There were TONS of huge, color fish - all lurking under that yucky green water, just waiting for someone to toss them some food. We continued tossing in a little at a time. The kids laughed and laughed as the fish jumped over each other trying to get their fair share! It was a really fun surprise!

This concludes our pics from our Oklahoma Family Vacation. I hope everyone is having a great summer. Take advantage of every minute! The start of school is coming up!

Oklahoma Family Vacation - Part Two

Funny vacation story - We were staying in a three bedroom condo. There were two master bedroom suites - one with a king size bed & TV, the other with a queen bed but with more privacy on the other side of the condo. John and I opted to let the girls sleep in the king bedroom.  =)  So, what do two girls do with a king size bed?

 They decide to sleep on the chair and floor instead! Silly chicks!

One of the benefits of vacationing in the middle of Nowhere, Oklahoma, is that my cousin Erin lives in Somewhere, Oklahoma (Tulsa). So she booked some time at the resort and drove up with her munchkins for a few days. We had a great time - and our kids got along really great! I'm definitely hoping for more vacations together!

Our two families visited Har-Ber Village, which is a 1800's country town setting. The kids had fun running from cabin to cabin to see all the "old" stuff. And now, for your viewing pleasure . . . 

Erin & Me

Me & My Sweetie

What does a writer think is the most awesome part of the village?
The really funky old typewriters!

 Hang 'em from the gallows!
(They really shouldn't look that happy to be up there!)

Outside of this church was a statue of Christ.
Isaac (my ten year old) decided that we needed to stop and say a prayer before going to visit the chapel.
He led us in a short, sweet prayer. It was a wonderful parenting moment.

Oddly enough, we ended on Fairytale Lane. I don't know what that has to do with the 1800's, but Snow White's house was fun!

I hope everyone is having a great week! We're traveling again - this time back to visit my family in Pennsylvania. There are more pictures from Oklahoma scheduled for Friday. See you when I get back - I have lots of book reviews to catch up on!

Oklahoma Family Vacation - Part One

Little Miss MJ
Last week, The Ferguson Clan hit the road to Hickville, Oklahoma (actually, Grand Lake - Monkey Island, OK) for some R&R. Unless you're an avid boater, there really isn't much to do in Grand Lake. And since I got sick just driving up and down the hilly, winding roads to get to the resort, you can imagine I'm definitely not a boating kind of chick.

Rob being a goofball during lunch!
Our favorite part of the vacation was the resort's pool. It was empty all morning until lunch time. As you can imagine, our family took advantage of the opportunity to rule the waves! We were in the pool every morning by 9:30 and never left before 11:30 am. It just depended on what time others started showing up. Sometimes no one came until after noon. It was fabulous! Anna finally got over her fear of getting wet and even graduated to jumping in the pool and swimming around all by herself. Such fun!

I'm going to divvy up our trip pictures into multiple posts one each on Monday, Wednesday & Friday. Today - Darryl Starbird's Custom Car Museum. We went because they had the original Batmobile on display. All you car fanatics - get ready to drool!

Monster Trucks!
This car was named Princess.

More funny stories and fun pictures to come on Wednesday!

The Tender Mercies of the Lord

Until We Meet Again

Book Reviews: Queen in Exile by Donna Hatch & The Healing Spell by Kimberley Griffiths Little

Today, I am reviewing two books: Queen in Exile by Donna Hatch and The Healing Spell by Kimberly Griffiths Little.

Queen in Exile by Donna Hatch

 Rumors of war hang over Princess Jeniah's peaceful country of Arden, a land that shuns both magic and warfare. Following a lifelong dream, Jeniah forms a telpathic bond with a revered creature called a chayim, who is prophesied to save her kingdom. But when a Darborian knight comes upon Jeniah with her chayim, he sees only a vicious monster about to devour a maiden, and he slays the beast.

Devastated by the loss of her chayim, and fearing that her own magic is evil, Jeniah doubts her destiny. When an enemy invades Arden City, they slaughter the people, storm the castle, and execute the entire royal family except the princess. Rescued by the knight who slew her chayim, Jeniah is now heir to the throne of Arden and the only hope for freeing her people from tyranny.

On the run and hunted by enemy soldiers, Jeniah must place her life and the fate of her kingdom in the hands of this trained killer. Torn between embracing her destiny as queen of Arden, and her love for a mere knight, she must ultimately rely on her magic to save herself and her people from death and tyranny.

My Review:

I was actually leery about reading this book. From the description, I wasn't sure if this was really a book I'd enjoy or if it was more on the fantasy/fight side, which I just don't connect with. But Donna's PR person, Amy, convinced me to give it a try. And I'm soo glad she did! I absolutely enjoyed Queen in Exile. There's a great romantic line that goes through the story, which made me so happy (yes, I'm a romantic fool). But I also really liked that this wasn't just a fantasy-overcome-all-obstacles book. Yes, there are fantasy or magical elements which I liked. More importantly, I felt really connected to the main character, Jeniah.  When her country is bombarded and her family put to death, she has to reach deep down inside herself to find the courage and strength to keep moving, to look past her grief and help her country and her people. I sincerely hope there will be a sequel to Queen in Exile! You can read the first chapter here.

The Healing Spell by Kimberley Griffiths Little

Deep in the bayou country, Livie Moulaison’s mother arrives home from the hospital in a coma. Daddy is determined she will only get better surrounded by the people who love her best, but Livie is terrified of her mother’s lifeless condition and wracked by a guilty secret. The household is turned upside down when Aunt Colleen comes to nurse Mamma, but Livie and her cousin Thibodaux clash from the get-go. This annoying kid seems to know what her worst fears are – and plays on those fears to torment her. Finally, Livie travels into the forbidden recesses of the swamp to buy a healing spell from the mysterious traiteur in hopes that she can bring her mother back to life.

My Review:

The Healing Spell was an intriguing story. The first chapter was a bit confusing for me. There were just so many characters introduced - the family, all of the neighbors who were gawking as Livie's dad brought her mom home from the hospital - still in a coma - and all the church ladies, gossiping with their casseroles. My mind swirled with all these different faces and trying to figure out what was happening. But I imagine that's exactly how Livie felt, too. Not sure what to think or how to feel with her Mama coming home and wondering if she'd ever wake up. I enjoyed the story line and plot twists. I think this is a book my ten-year-old daughter would love. The Healing Spell is exactly what you would expect from Scholastic - a great book for pre-teens to enjoy!

The Healing Spell book trailer:

Summer Fun

We've had so much going on this summer. It seems like we've been on the run and I know I've been neglecting my blog. Sorry everyone! I hope you enjoy seeing some of the "coming and going" we've been doing.

First up - my awesome son, Isaac, earned three pins and completed his Webelos badge on July 8th! 

My totally cute hubby is the Cubmaster of the pack, so he got to present Isaac with his last cub scout badge.

Thankfully, he didn't stick me when he gave me my Webelos pin!  =)

Isaac, Mom & Dad after the pack cheer for Isaac.

Second up - Rob and Anna had some cute stuff going on . . .

Don't they look like angels getting ready to go spread some mischief?

And finally - some birthday love with our adopted mama, Marge Gifford. 

John and I were invited to a family & adopted family surprise party. All of Mom Gifford's kids flew in from around the U.S.  We had such fun catching up and playing! My daughter, MJ, played photographer and got some awesome pictures. It's always fun to see how much more relaxed people are when kids take the pictures . . . 

MJ even takes good pictures of herself! She totally gets that from her Dad.

John and Steve (Dad) Gifford

Mom Gifford enjoying her grandkids.

John and Mom Gifford

And of course, no Gifford get together isn't complete without some games - 
- and my opportunity to try to kick Nathan's butt. 

Unfortunately, I haven't succeeded in that venture yet.
But the day will come, Nathan. Yes it will.   =)

 So, that's a tad bit of what we've been up to. Right now, I'm working on laundry and getting ready to pack everything up for some family vacation time. I'm so excited to spend some time with my sweetie and no work phone calls! Wohoo!  

I hope everyone is having an awesome summer. Please tell me what you've been up to!