Monday, March 30, 2015

Mailbox Monday - March 30

Mailbox Monday is a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued. Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. It now has a permanent home at the Mailbox Monday blog.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles, and humongous wish lists.

What a crazy week. Tons of great stuff going on in my working world, but my personal life is nuts: nursing home visits, doctor visits, and trying to get the housework done.

Two books arrived last week.

Set in Florence, Italy, One Thing Stolen follows Nadia Cara as she mysteriously begins to change. She's become a thief, she has secrets she can't tell, and when she tries to speak, the words seem far away.

I received this next one for review.

Grace of Gratitude is an exquisite journal that has lined pages for the reader to express their own thoughts of gratitude. Inspiring examples of gratitude by the author Deborah Perdue, and beautiful illustrations by Tara Thelen are interspersed throughout. Gratitude is a valuable spiritual practice, and through this journal, one can reap the benefits of appreciation of life to feel more joy and more peace on a sustained level. This journal is not only for the novice, but also for anyone who is already experienced at the spiritual practice of feeling gratitude in his or her life.

I also received an entire box full of children's books from

What did you receive?

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Graphs and Laughs: Impact of Missing School

From nationally acclaimed economist Elliot Eisenberg, Ph.D's blog, Graphs and Laughs:

While school closures for bad weather may hurt student achievement, absenteeism profoundly hurts achievement. Each one-day increase in absenteeism lowers math scores by 5% of a standard deviation! Schools deal with school-wide closures by adding days or speeding up the curriculum, but can't do so with absenteeism. Rather than experimenting with costly and unproven longer days or longer school years, reduce truancy! It's low hanging fruit!

Subscribe to his blog at

Thursday, March 26, 2015

As a Busy Mom Thinks - Stretched Too Thin

I temporarily dropped out of my online writing group because as I told them, "I am stretched thinner than a thong bikini on an elephant."

The blessing of being busy with real estate has been wonderful, but my recovery on top of helping my in-laws since my father-in-law's fall, both my daughters having medical issues and just normal day to day stuff, has left me wiped out.

Amazingly, despite all the added things on my plate, my husband's schedule hasn't changed much. Not sure how that happened, but this time in my life reminds me of the Calgon commercials from the 1980s.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Mailbox Monday - March 23

Mailbox Monday is a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued. Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. It now has a permanent home at the Mailbox Monday blog.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles, and humongous wish lists.

Happy Monday! It's that time again. I am thankful to say only one book made it's way into my mailbox last week. I've read all the books in this series, so I am glad the author sent this one along.

The tranquil little town of Willow Ridge is facing a startling challenge. Wealthy Nora Glick Landwehr is determined to make it her home again--and put her past to rest. Cast out by her own family, Nora can't reconcile with Old Amish ways or her strict father. But she'll do anything to help her community embrace the future . . . and make amends to the daughter she had to give up. So, she certainly has no time for her reckless new neighbor Luke Hooley. They disagree about almost everything. And how can she trust him if he always seems to believe the worst about her? Somehow, though, his unexpected support and passionate heart are helping her find her own way in faith. And Nora will discover that even in the face of insidious lies and unyielding judgment, God creates unexpected chances for forgiveness--and love.

What did you receive last week?

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Friday 56 - Week 219

Welcome to Week 219!

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post to the Linky at Freda's Voice. Add the post url, not your blog url. It's that simple.

It all made sense: how he had so much power and control here in Whitechapel among stronger, meaner, older men than he knew about me, including that I was a vampire hunter....

Learn more at Goodreads!

Welcome Spring Amazon $10 Gift Card Giveaway!

We might be getting a couple of inches of snow today, but it's still the first day of spring and time to celebrate. Enter below for your chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

Good luck to all who enter!

Terms and conditions:

* Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.
* Contest ends at 12:00 AM EST on 3/31/15.
* Winner will be notified by email and have 48 hours to claim the prize before a new winner is selected.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, March 19, 2015

As A Busy Moms Thinks: Post-op

I am nearly four weeks post-op. The surgery went well and recovery hasn't been bad despite the horrible back spasms I ended up with as a result of lying on the table for too long. Physical therapy started last Friday, so that should help.

The one tricky thing that amazes me about my experience is that I never realized exactly how much I do around here that keeps the household running. Since I am still two weeks away from being fully functional, my filthy floors that I am not allowed to vacuum or wash are driving me insane.

No one around here wants to help. In all fairness, the hubby works twelve hours a day and certainly doesn't feel like doing much other than relaxing when he gets home. But what about those kids I have waited on hand and foot for more than a decade? Why is it so hard to get them to help out?

They have a chore list, but it turns into an argument when they won't honor their commitments. Granted, their main focus has to be school, but is it so hard to bring your laundry up to your room each day and put it away? Is it too much to ask that once a week they vacuum a couple of floors? And don't even get me started on the state of their rooms. You need a Hazmat suit just to enter the Lil' Diva's room.

I'm struggling not to overdo it, but I definitely don't want to pull something out of whack and end up back in the hospital. Say a prayer for me that I can get the kids to contribute a bit more.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wordless Wednesday

First Chapter Review: Out of Control by Shefali Tsabary, PhD

BLURB:  Every parent wants the golden key to raising well-behaved, academically gifted, successful, happy children. Embedded in the collective psyche is the notion that discipline is the cornerstone to achieving these goals. Out of Control offers a never-before-published perspective on why the entire premise of discipline is flawed. Dr. Shefali Tsabary reveals how discipline is a major cause of generations of dysfunction. The author goes to the heart of the problems parents have with children, challenging society’s dependence on discipline, daring readers to let go of fear-based ideologies and replace them with an approach that draws parent and child together. The key is ongoing meaningful connection between parent and child, free from threats, deprivation, punishment, and timeouts — all forms of manipulation. Parents learn how to enter into deep communion with their children, understanding the reasons for a behavior and how to bring out the best in the child. Far from a laissez-faire, anything goes, approach, this is how a child learns responsibility and takes ownership of their life, equipped with character and resilience that flow naturally from within.

COVER: This color scheme is very appealing and soothing. The blended circles appear to signify the connected and harmonious relationship between parent and child.

FIRST CHAPTER: The opening chapter of Out of Control sets the stage for what is to come. In a few pages, the author is able to outline her philosophy on child rearing.

KEEP READING: Definitely. I received this book quite a while ago, but simply haven't been able to sit down with it. Two recent events with my children have made me realize I can't afford to put off reading it any longer. All of us seem to be at the breaking point lately considering our overloaded schedules and medical issues that have cropped up for many in the family. We need our home life to be more peaceful so that we can deal with the other issues better.

This first chapter is designed to quickly outline Dr. Tsabary's philosophy on why discipline doesn't work and get you thinking: Is she right? I look forward to reading more.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Mailbox Monday - March 16

Mailbox Monday is a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued. Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. It now has a permanent home at the Mailbox Monday blog.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles, and humongous wish lists.

So much going on in my world right now that keeping track of books is hard. Thankfully, I haven't been inundated with them.

These two are Kindle freebies I picked up this week.

Gift shop owner Stormy Day is settling into her new life until she comes across a frozen body, hidden inside a well-dressed snowman.

When her own father is implicated in the murder, Stormy must chase down clues and uncover the town's secrets herself.

As she draws closer to identifying the killer, Stormy's own life may be in danger. That is unless Jeffrey, the mischievous Russian Blue cat who led her to the icy body in the first place, can flick his sleek gray tail at the final piece in the puzzle.

Janette Oke has dreamed for years of retelling a story in a biblical time frame from a female protagonist's perspective, and Davis Bunn is elated to be working with her again on this sweeping saga of the dramatic events surrounding the birth of Christianity...and the very personal story of Leah, a young Jewess of mixed heritage trapped in a vortex of competing political agendas and private trauma.

Caught up in the maelstrom following the death of an obscure rabbi in the Roman backwater of first-century Palestine, Leah finds herself also engulfed in her own turmoil--facing the prospect of an arranged marriage to a Roman soldier, Alban, who seems to care for nothing but his own ambitions. Head of the garrison near Galilee, he has been assigned by Palestine's governor to ferret out the truth behind rumors of a political execution gone awry. Leah's mistress, the governor's wife, secretly commissions Leah also to discover what really has become of this man whose death--and missing body--is causing such furor.

This epic drama is threaded with the tale of an unlikely romance and framed with dangers and betrayals from unexpected sources. At its core, The Centurion's Wife unfolds the testing of loyalties--between two young people whose inner searchings they cannot express, between their irreconcilable heritages, and ultimately between their humanity and the Divine they yearn to encounter.

This one I purchased from the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society in De Smet, SD.

Hordes of pioneers moved west at a time when Dakota Territory was still unsettled. When the railroad came to town, this land of opportunity soon became a small town called De Smet. Through the years, muddy streets and wooden shacks were replaced with brick and mortar, and the little town grew into a county seat. The hallmark of De Smet comes from the pen of Laura Ingalls Wilder, when she wrote five of her Little House books set in the community. Ensuing years saw the demolition of several of De Smets heritage buildings, but others remain today, and the validity of these structures bring untold numbers to view them. Long-standing traditions, such as Old Settlers Day, have remained within the borders of the community and are still an exciting part of the towns history.

What was in your mailbox last week?

Friday, March 13, 2015

Bargain Books: Global Home Cooking International Families' Favorite Recipes

41 countries, 140 recipes, from 102 international families... Founded in 1962, the International School of Lausanne celebrates an annual tradition of cultural exchange and good eating. This "International Day" compilation of wonderful family recipes from all over the world is a loving tribute to this spirit of sharing and global home cooking.
"What is patriotism but the love of the good things we ate in our childhood?" -- Lin Yutang
"Strange to see how a good dinner and feasting reconciles everybody." -- Samuel Pepys

Purchase here!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Mailbox Monday: March 9

Mailbox Monday is a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued. Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. It now has a permanent home at the Mailbox Monday blog.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles, and humongous wish lists.

It was a good week. I was able to return to work. My father-in-law is healing nicely from his surgery. And, I sold a house. Not bad for the first full week back after my surgery.

This first book I picked up as a freebie for my Kindle. I am a big Civil War fiction fanatic.

Near the end of the Civil War, inhumane conditions at Andersonville Prison caused the deaths of 13,000 Union soldiers in only one year. In this gripping and affecting novel, three young Confederates and an entire town come face-to-face with the prison’s atrocities and will learn the cost of compassion, when withheld and when given.

Sentry Dance Pickett has watched, helpless, for months as conditions in the camp worsen by the day. He knows any mercy will be seen as treason. Southern belle Violet Stiles cannot believe the good folk of Americus would knowingly condone such barbarism, despite the losses they’ve suffered. When her goodwill campaign stirs up accusations of Union sympathies and endangers her family, however, she realizes she must tread carefully. Confederate corporal Emery Jones didn’t expect to find camaraderie with the Union prisoner he escorted to Andersonville. But the soldier’s wit and integrity strike a chord in Emery. How could this man be an enemy? Emery vows that their unlikely friendship will survive the war—little knowing what that promise will cost him.

As these three young Rebels cross paths, Emery leads Dance and Violet to a daring act that could hang them for treason. Wrestling with God’s harsh truth, they must decide, once and for all, Who is my neighbor?

This book is something I won from a blog contest.

Tania wants to buy a goat from a charity gift catalogue to help someone living in the third world, the only problem is that she only has enough to buy a goat's back leg! With the help of her brother and the new family that has just returned from living in India, Tania hatches a plan to raise the full $50. But rain, wasps and a grumpy neighbour are making this plan harder than Tania thought.

This is the first book in The Tania Abbey Adventures.

What did you receive in your mailbox?

Guest Blogger: Andra Watkins, Author of Not Without My Father

Can an epic adventure succeed without a hero?

Andra Watkins needed a wingman to help her become the first living person to walk the historic 444-mile Natchez Trace as the pioneers did. She planned to walk fifteen miles a day. For thirty-four days.

After striking out with everyone in her life, she was left with her disinterested eighty-year-old father. And his gas. The sleep apnea machine and self-scratching. Sharing a bathroom with a man whose gut obliterated his aim.

As Watkins trudged America’s forgotten highway, she lost herself in despair and pain. Nothing happened according to plan, and her tenuous connection to her father started to unravel. Through arguments and laughter, tears and fried chicken, they fought to rebuild their relationship before it was too late. In Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace, Watkins invites readers to join her dysfunctional family adventure in a humorous and heartbreaking memoir that asks if one can really turn I wish I had into I’m glad I did.

For More Information

  • Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444 Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

How I Almost Killed My Father
 by Andra Watkins

I never really liked my father. He was the classic 1960s dad: worked hard; came home and let everyone wait on him; let Mom handle all things kid-related; never talked to me.

When I turned thirteen, he decided to change his approach. He believed he hadn't taught me anything. His every sentence to thirteen-year-old me started with, "Andra, you need to learn....."

What thirteen-year-old girl would bond with that?

We shouted down my teens, harangued through my twenties and seethed away my thirties. I rolled my eyes every time I saw Dad's number on my caller ID. I couldn't send him to voicemail fast enough. He drove me MAD.

Then his appendix ruptured. He was seventy-seven. He died on the operating table. I only found out I almost lost him when I went to the hospital three days after they revived him. I was busy, after all. Chasing the mid-life dollar at the peak of my income potential. I didn't have time to drive two hours and sit in a dreary hospital room, couldn't afford to scrap a planned client trip. When I found out he almost died, I panicked.

I didn't know my father. At all.

Still, I couldn't imagine how we could fix our relationship. The pattern of dysfunctional communication was ingrained. Intense. Unalterable. He was almost eighty. Almost gone. I didn't know what to do, but spending time with him didn't change our dynamic.

When I decided to walk the 10,000-year-old Natchez Trace to launch my debut novel To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis, Dad was the last person I wanted as wingman. Things between us were still off. I couldn't imagine living with my father for five weeks. I mean, I was forty-three years old. I lived on my own for more than two decades.

Sharing a hotel room with my eighty-year-old father? For five weeks? HELL ON EARTH.

His gas was legendary. He called it 'the paper mill.' He scratched himself all night while a sleep apnea machine breathed for him, and he wasn't fond of wearing clothes to cover his almost three-hundred-pound frame. Strangers loved his stories, but I plugged my ears through the five billionth telling.

For some reason, he agreed to accompany me on my journey. While I walked fifteen miles a day on the Natchez Trace, he explored tiny southern towns and regaled everyone with The Roy Show. Usually, he picked me up and dragged me to meet someone, forced me to sign books with sausage fingers and stand even longer on feet that looked like they'd been through a meat grinder. When he got so carried away with his own mystique that he forgot to pick me up, I hated him even more.

Spending five weeks with my dad was the stupidest idea I ever had.

Until it wasn't.

I wrote Not Without My Father: One Woman's 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace to encourage everyone, everywhere, to Make a Memory. We all have family members we love to hate, but we'll still miss them when they're gone. They're family. They're part of us.

That's important.

It's never too late to Make a Memory........until it's too late. Think about someone who matters to you. What have you been meaning to do with them? How long have you been putting it off? Won't you regret it when all you can say is "I wish I had?"

Turn "I wish I had" into "I'm glad I did." Read Not Without My Father and be inspired to Make a Memory. Right now. Today. Because the memories you make are the pieces you'll have to cherish when that person is gone.

Andra Watkins lives in Charleston, South Carolina. A non-practicing CPA, she has a degree in accounting from Francis Marion University. She’s still mad at her mother for refusing to let her major in musical theater, because her mom was convinced she’d end up starring in porn films. In addition to her writing talent, Andra is an accomplished public speaker. Her acclaimed debut novel To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis was published by Word Hermit Press in 2014.

For More Information

Thursday, March 5, 2015

As a Busy Mom Thinks - Guilty Pleasures

Every busy mom has her guilty pleasures. Mine is watching Downton Abbey. It's a no-brainer that someone who loves history as much as I do would fall for a period show like Downton Abbey, and as a character-driven reader and writer, I am fascinated by the many characters I've discovered over the last five seasons.

I have to admit I didn't want to start watching DA, because it never fails that I fall in love with a show and then it gets canceled. That said, I came into it toward the end of Season 2, went back and watched the previous episodes, and have stayed with it ever since. I think it also helps that creator Julian Fellowes is working on a series for NBC, so one can imagine Downton Abbey ending in the near future. At least a viewer can prepare herself.

Season 5 brought us new romances, uncovered secrets, a wedding, the departure of a beloved character, and a long-awaited proposal. Not sure what the next season will bring, but I can't wait until the rumors start flying.

Do you watch Downton Abbey? What is one of your guilty pleasures?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Mailbox Monday - Mar 2

Mailbox Monday is a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued. Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. It now has a permanent home at the Mailbox Monday blog.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles, and humongous wish lists.

It is Monday again. Last week was a tough week around here. Complications from surgery kept me from doing too much and my father-in-law fell in our house, breaking his replaced hip and fracturing his femur. We are both on the mend, but he will be in rehab for many weeks and that will add stress to our already busy schedule.

While I did not receive any books by mail, I downloaded a free Kindle book that seems interesting.

Nestled at the foot of Pine Mountain, Rose Hill has one traffic light, one patrol car, and one cold-blooded killer.

When rich and rotten Theo Eldridge is found bludgeoned to death in the local veterinary clinic, Rose Hill police chief Scott Gordon is forced to work with ambitious county investigator Sarah Albright. Unfortunately Sarah seems more interested in seducing Scott than in solving the crime.

Scott’s crazy about Maggie Fitzpatrick, but she's still grieving over the mysterious disappearance of the love of her life. Although determined to resist the powerful chemistry between them, Maggie finds herself deeply involved with Scott's investigation, and battling emotions she can no longer deny.

It’s a bitterly cold January in Rose Hill. As Scott and Maggie untangle the sticky web of Theo's shady business dealings, they uncover dark secrets that may connect Theo's murder to another committed twenty years before.

What did you receive in your mailbox?