Saturday, November 24, 2012

Book Review - Son by Lois Lowry

They called her Water Claire. When she washed up on their shore, no one knew that she came from a society where emotions and colors didn't exist. That she had becomes a Vessel at age thirteen. That she had carried a Product at age fourteen. That it had been stolen from her body. Claire had a son. But what became of him she never knew. What was his name? Was he even alive? She was supposed to forget him., but that was impossible. Now Claire will stop at nothing to find her child, even if it means making an unimaginable sacrifice. 

I read The Giver (published in 1993) in my college Young Adult Lit class. I read it in one day, on a Saturday, because I could not put it down. I loved that book. It was one of those books that stays with you long after you read the last page. A book where you think about the characters and wonder what happened to them. It wasn't until a few years ago that I discovered Lois Lowry had written two more books in The Giver series. I read on her website that she had so many people wanting to know what happened to the characters that she decided to write more books, Gathering Blue (2000) and Messenger (2004)They are all books that can stand alone, but when read together the stories and characters are woven together in such an amazing way. Son, the final book of the series, came out this year, 19 years after the first book. I find it interesting how much time passed between the writing of these books. I wish more writers would take more time when writing a series. I think writers rush and publishers push and in between something gets lost in the storytelling. Son takes the reader back to the same community as in the first book and back to the original character, but in a new way. Claire is introduced in the last book and it is through her story that the characters from all four books are reunited. This was one of the best series of books I have ever read, better than Hunger Games, Maze Runner and, yes, even Twilight (especially Twilight). For me, these are on my list of books that I could read over and over again. Hopefully, someone (Mom!) will get the hint and get me the set for Christmas. Click here if you want to purchase Son 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Gluten free recipes

Lately we've been finding out that people in my family have Celiac Disease (click to find out what Celiac disease is). I know I need to get my kids tested and get myself tested, but it's a little scary and daunting to think there may be a chance that we have to go gluten free when it comes to food. My kids love bread and all things gluten. So do I. But I have been looking on blogs and websites just to see what's out there and there's a lot of good, gluten free recipes. My friend told me about a yummy gluten free chocolate peanut butter cookie and the other day I made some homemade granola that Dave has been loving as a snack for work mixed in with vanilla yogurt. Here are the recipes:
Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup peanut butter (I used half smooth and half crunchy)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
Heat oven to 350 and and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (for easy clean up). Mix ingredients by hand with a spoon until combined. Roll dough into balls and dust with a pinch of sugar before baking (I forgot to do that). Bake for 8-10 minutes. The cookies may seem too soft, but you don't want the bottoms to burn. Let cool on the cookie sheet a few minutes before removing.

For Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies add to the above recipe 1/2 cup cocoa powder and 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Mix, roll and bake the same.

Cranberry Almond Granola
3 cups oats (not quick cooking)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/3 - 1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/3 - 1/2 cup dried cranberries (this would be good with dried blueberries, or a combo of both)

Heat oven to 350. Mix everything except cinnamon and cranberries in a bowl. Spread onto greased baking sheet or line sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring halfway. Remove from oven and stir. Let cool 2-3 minutes, add cranberries and stir to combine. Store in air tight container for 2-3 weeks. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


When I was a kid I used to brag about how many grandmas I had and that I had great-grandmas too. Not just one, but three. Not too many other kids I knew had great grandmas and that made me feel special. I especially loved that as I had kids they were able to brag that they not only had great-grandmas but great-great grandmas too. A few years ago my mom had family in town over Thanksgiving weekend. We had a dinner at her house and Trevor came up to me and said, "Mom, I just counted that I have 5 grandmas here!" I told him how lucky he was to have that many grandmas in one room at one time. This past weekend my great-grandma passed away. She was 102 years old, just a few months away from turning 103. A while ago my mom got a book for her that had questions in it so she could write down her memories and history. It's been fun reading about my great-grandma and getting to know more about what she was like when she was younger. She lived a long life and saw a lot of changes, but she was a sweet lady and the kids loved her. When I told the boys she passed away they were all a little sad. Trevor cried and said, "I wish I had one last chance to see her and say good-bye." Then Colin said, "Well, we'll see her again when she is resurrected." And Logan, "She's in Heaven with her family." I'm so grateful for the things my boys know from church and things we have taught them at home. So grateful that they know when someone dies they go to Heaven and that they are met by all of their loved ones who have passed on before and that we will get the opportunity to see our family again. It makes these sad times a little easier, knowing that they haven't really left us, they are waiting and watching from the other side. 

Trevor with his great and great-great grandmas
Colin and Great-great Grandma Helen

Logan and Great-great-Grandma

Monday, November 12, 2012

Christmas Book Giveaway!

Because it's Monday and the kids are home from school, because there are only 43 days left until Christmas and because this week my very first published story comes out I am doing a Christmas Book Giveaway!

Can Santa learn a lesson from the Savior?

Can a foreign exchange student help you see Christmas a little more clearly?

Do things really look better from a distance?

And just how many holiday ornaments does one woman need?

Get into the Christmas Spirit by entering to win a FREE copy of Checkin' It Twice. 

To enter leave a comment on my facebook post or blog telling me what is at the top of YOUR Christmas list this year.  
I will choose a winner at random on Thursday November 15.

You can also buy a copy of Checkin' It Twice by clicking HERE.  It would make a great gift for family or friends. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

A little bit of fun

Elementary school is really kicking my butt. I never thought it would be this hard to get my kids through the first 6 years of school. I thought they would sail through and get straight A's on their report cards, that homework would be a breeze, that they would get up every day and be excited to get ready and go to school. I thought my boys would be like I was in elementary school. But they're not. Kindergarten was great for both #1 and #2. They both did well and they were smart and caught on to concepts quickly. But then first grade came and it was a struggle for both of them. Reading is hard, writing is even harder. I rack my brain trying to come up with fun things to do at home to learn spelling words (I never have and I never will like spelling tests) or I will spend hours online trying to find games or ideas to help with reading and writing. We fight and yell and argue over homework every day. The kids get burnt out and so do I. But I keep doing it. I keep getting on them about working hard. I keep printing out writing prompts, sight words, spelling lists and work to do at home so they can get extra practice. I pray for their little minds to open up and absorb what they need so they can "get it", so the light bulb will go off and they will not struggle so much. I hide in my room and cry when it's report card time and I see on Facebook all of my friends posting about their kids getting straight A's when my kid had to work really hard for a C. They are smart boys, I know they are. They are just struggling right now and it's making life at home not so fun. So this weekend we are going to have a little fun. We're going to take a break. I cleaned the house today so no one has to do chores tomorrow and we're going to go to the movies and out to eat and we're going to play games and have a day where no one has to think about or worry about reading or writing or grades. Because right now, our little family needs a day off. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Saturday, November 3, 2012


A couple of weeks ago my parents took the boys and me to Disneyland. They really wanted the boys to see Cars Land and since we didn't get a summer vacation they wanted to do something special and fun for the boys. It was a fabulous trip and we had an amazing time. Logan had absolutely the most fun during this trip. At 4 he was the perfect age. Everything was just so fun for him, he was in awe of the rides and characters and all of the Halloween decorations. He thought everything was "real" and it was just fun seeing the look on his face. He loved all of the rides from the big ones (Thunder Railroad) to the little ones (Winnie the Pooh). The boys all had their moments (what kid does not have at least one meltdown while at the Happiest Place on Earth?) but all in all it was a memorable trip and something I look forward to doing again.