Monday, August 25, 2008


Through someone else's blog, I heard about a service called ChaCha .

What it is:

A number where people text any question they have into the site, and guides (the job I have) do an online search to provide them with the answer. We get paid between 10 and 20 cents per search, so it could potentially become a decent source of income for me when I get faster at doing it.

If you are interested, there's a page of their site for job opportunities. You have to fill out an application and take a series of tests to see if you'll be accepted. There are 25,000 guides across the US, and you can work as much or as little as you like.

If you do sign up, please use me as you referral parcelhome at comcast dot net
I get a referrer bonus, and really, my family could use the money right now.

Even if you don't want to become a ChaCha guide, check it out. It is a TOTALLY free service that you can use from your phone while you're out and about. If you don't have a smart phone, how many times have you been out and wanted to google something? If you're like me, a LOT!

Check out ChaCha

Sorry for my Absence

Sorry, it seems as if I just disappeared off of my blog! Here's what has been going on:

1. Grace has been working on making the competitive gymnastics team. It means daily practices, and now we are ding fundraising as well to pay for it all.

2. Logan is playing football. This also means daily practices, games, etc.

3. The garden is keeping me hopping and I have got to make and can pickles today, as well as deal with the plethora of other things.

4. Still dealing with the job/decision making issue. Went to visit the town where the job is to see if it would work for us, not sure we can afford to live there, even with a raise.

5. I have been doing a new online venture called ChaCha, which I will talk about in another post.

School starts on Wednesday, so needless to say I'm behind with everything, especially with my reviewing and everything else. I will probably take a bit of a blog break from today until next Monday, where I'll have some books to give away and some excellent other things to talk about.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Today's Installment of "Why School Needs to Start Tomorrow"

Kids are playing in pool and trampoline. I have been out there reading for an hour, supervising and not really doing much of anything.

Football practice starts in an hour, so I come inside to make dinner (this is getting old by the way).

The minute I get out the knife to start slicing tomatoes, I hear ear-shattering screeching from Grace coming from outside. It doesn't stop. All of the windows are shut because it's 90 outside today, so I can't hear what the commotion is, but I know it's nothing major. Screeching and screaming continues.

I finally go outside to find Grace screaming at Logan at the top of her lungs. I call her over and want to know the cause of this horrible ruckus.

G: Logan keeps triple dog daring me to do a flip into the pool from the trampoline!

Me: So what?

G: He's DARING me to do it and I don't want to do it!

Me: Then don't!

G (Screeching and whining louder to me): Mommy! You don't get it! He's DARING me! I don't want to! (Crying ensues)

This is when I try to explain that a dare is just talking. It's not a home mortgage! It's not a written contract for anything!

I am never going to get dinner cooked at this rate. I told Logan to STOP daring his sister to do things. He just grinned and didn't look ashamed at all. Go figure.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Summer is too Long

I'm going to be honest here.

There are certain things I really enjoy about summer:

1. I love to sleep in a little bit and not be pressured to be ready and out the door by 8:15.

2. I really like to not pack lunches. I like this very much.

3. Fewer activities make for a less hectic driving schedule and less stressful when I have to be in two places at the same time.

4. Time is less structured.

But mostly, I am pretty much over the summer now.

1. The kids are bored. Even with every day gymnastics practice for Grace and every day football practice for Logan, they are ready for some new school challenges.

2. I miss my regular activities and the contact they give me with other adults. I miss Bible study, volunteering at school, and that sort of thing.

3. Although I really admire people who can homeschool, and really wish I could do it myself, my kids just do not respond to me with regards to school work. We've been doing a summer curriculum and it's like pulling teeth.

4. I kind of thrive on the structure. The schedule.

5. The kids want to eat ALL. THE. FREAKIN'. TIME.

6. I really dislike taking the kids to the grocery store and the post office. You would think at 8 and 9 years old that they would be relatively easy to deal with at those places. Yeah, no.

So, that's my recap. School starts two weeks from today. Not soon enough in my book.

I really do love my kids. I just want the structure of our schedule back again.

Steven Curtis Chapman on Larry King

Make sure you turn off the music on the right before pushing play.

Nothing I can really say about this except, wow.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Children's Classic Books

Children's Classics 5 Minutes for Books is hosting a "Children's Classics" carnival, this month's featured age is on middle grade readers (ages 8-12). It was incredibly difficult coming up with only one book! I pondered a great many, because there are SO many excellent books out there for children, so many that I enjoyed as a child and am now thrilled to pass on to my own children.

The book I chose is one that really stirred my interest in the mystery genre. It's a book that kept me up reading very late into the night, and was one that I tried (often in vain) to recommend to every one of my friends. At almost every stage of my life, I have had one friend who is an avid reader like I am, and when I was in elementary school her name was Holly. I vividly remember going over to Holly's house one afternoon and passing along my precious copy of The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, which she devoured and loved as much as I did!

The Westing Game was written in 1978 and was given the Newberry Award in 1979. The book begins with sixteen people and families, all who have been "invited" to live in the Sunset Towers apartment building. Wealthy Samuel Westing has died, and these people are invited to the reading of his will. This will contains a game filled with puzzles, which will determine who will inherit Mr. Westing's sizeable estate. The sixteen are divided into eight groups of two to work together to solve the puzzles.

Isn't this every child's dream--to be given the opportunity to be rich based on solving puzzles in a game? Well, it certainly was MY dream!

This book is a great mystery, but it is also filled with a ton of humor. The characters come from all different races, nationalities, and walks of life. I found that, reading the book aloud to my children as an adult, I picked up on some different layers of humor than I did as a child. And also, as an adult, Ms. Raskin's writing is even more clever and entertaining.

The Westing Game is a book I have been proud to pass on to my children, one they love as much as I do!

Ms. Raskin's other books (The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I Mean Noel), Figgs and Phantoms, and The Tattooed Potato and Other Clues) are also brilliantly entertaining reads.

Winner of Beyond the Night

Today's winner is

Sweet Sue!

I have contacted her via e-mail, she has 48 hours to give me her info or I'll move on to the next person.

Be looking out for another book drawing later this week, and thanks to all who entered this one.

Friday, August 08, 2008


I just read a blog post about mis-heard song lyrics, and it made me remember something my oldest used to sing.

You know that old song, "Do your ears hang low?" Well, there's one line that says:

"Can you throw 'em over your shoulder like a continental soldier?"

Remember that?

My daughter used to sing (at the top of her lungs mind you):

"Can you throw 'em over your shoulder like a cotton bag of boogers?"

It took me MONTHS to convince her that those were not the correct lyrics.

Personally, I always had problems with the Heart song "Alone"--

Till now I always got by on my own
I never really cared until I met you
And now it chills me to the bone
How do I get you alone
How do I get you alone

For some reason, I could never get that line and heard "I never really cared to delight you"

Not that it makes any sense, but that's what I heard, in fact, until I heard someone sing it on American Idol a couple of years ago.

Anyone else have this issue?

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Surprise Thursday Book Giveaway

I had the opportunity to review this book a little while ago, and it's a fantastic story. Today's giveaway is Beyond the Night by Marlo Schalesky.
Here's the book description:

They say love is blind. This time they’re right…

As a woman lies unconscious in a hospital bed, her husband waits beside her, urging her to wake up and come home. Between them lies an ocean of fear and the tenuous grip of memories long past. Memories of wonder. Of love. Memories of a girl named Madison and a boy named Paul…

Madison Foster knew she was going blind. But she didn’t want pity–not from her mother, not from her roommate, and especially not from her best friend Paul–the man she secretly loved.

Paul Tilden knew a good thing when he saw it. And a good thing was his friendship with Maddie Foster. That is, until he started to fall in love.

With the music of the seventies as their soundtrack and its groovy fashions as their scenery, Maddie and Paul were drawn together and driven apart. Then one night changed everything…forever.

And only now, when life tiptoes past the edge of yesterday, along the rim of today, can they glimpse the beauty that awaits them…beyond the night.

Intrigued? Here's how to enter:

1. Leave a comment, please include your e-mail address or your entry will be disqualified.

2. Subscribe to my blog, mention this giveaway on your blog, or, if you don't have a blog, e-mail five friends to tell them about it and include my e-mail address among those you send the message to and get two additional entries into the drawing.

3. Deadline to enter is Monday, August 11. I'll draw using on Tuesday the 12th.

A Collection of Interesting Links

I haven't done this for a while, I thought I'd include a collection of various links that caught my eye recently:

Fifty Ways to Have Fun By Yourself on the Cheap from The Simple Dollar. Lots of fantastic ideas here!

Cake Wrecks I honestly laughed until I cried at some of these.

Quotation Marks Lots of "great" quotation mark signs and other bizarre uses of quotes. Perfect for grammar people like "me."

Apostrophe Abuse One of my favorites--misuse of apostrophe's (intended here, LOL)

I'm (just a little) famous!

I don't know if any of you are readers of Romantic Times magazine, but this month's issue has a "Meet the Reviewer" section and I'm the reviewer profiled.

If you aren't a subscriber (you should be! Just a plug) you can get a copy at Barnes and Noble or any other bookseller, or I have seen them on quite a few grocery store stands as well.

Romantic Times BookReviews is a magazine filled with reviews of every genre of books you would even consider reading. Plus, there are interesting articles and columns that will appeal to a wide variety of readers.

Go get a copy, if even just to read about me (Grin), you'll be glad you did!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

It's a Parade!

The county fair has a kids' day parade each year to kick off the fair. Last year, we won 3rd place in our division, which was fun because it gave each kid a tiny amount of money to spend at the fair. This year, Logan was at camp, so just Grace and I joined with some of our neighbors for the parade this year.

The fair theme was "Celebrate 2008" and we decided to add on "Animals Are Great! We had three wagons all decorated with stuffed animals and other jungle things, and two of us brought our dogs. Grace, Allie, and Carter dressed up as animals. They threw out candy to the parade watchers and had a grand time.

They won 2nd place in their division, which gave them $30 of winnings! The three families split the money, so Grace had $10 to spend at the fair, which she promptly gave over for an elephant ear and a shaved ice.

Casey walked some of the time, but most of it he spent in the wagon. His knee is hurt, so I didn't want to hurt it even more. Fortunately the morning was fairly cool, or the kids would have roasted in their costumes. Here is Grace the leopard. You can kind of see Carter the dinosaur (so we had a wide variety!) behind her.
Too bad camp is always the same week as the fair. I don't think we'll be able to participate next year and try for that coveted first place spot.

Lily On the Fly

What is Lily on the Fly ? Well, I'm glad you asked!

It is a set of meal planning cards that can make your life loads easier.

Here is how I use this system:

On Sunday night, I go through the food ads and have my pantry and freezer contents nearby. I look through the Lily on the Fly cards and use these to plan my menus for the week. Each card has the recipe name and directions on the front with a picture, and on the back are seven color coded areas: meat/poultry/seafood, produce, dairy/refrigerated, canned/soups, frozen, dry goods and other, and staples. A finishing touches section is also on the back, so you can know what to serve with that item to make the meal complete.

I then make my shopping list for the week based on these food items, knowing what I have on hand already and what I need to purchase. Some people put the cards in the holder and take that to the store, but that's too cumbersome for me, I like to make my lists and hang the card holder on my fridge (see picture above).

This holder also allows me to display the upcoming meals for the week, getting rid of the "What's for dinner" comment each day.

There are a huge variety of recipes included on the card deck. The starter kit has 36 cards, ranging from main dishes to side dishes, breakfasts and desserts. This week in my card holder I have: Pacific Rim Salmon, Easy Does it Spaghetti (made in the crock pot), Chicken and Noodles, Pork Chops, Oh Baby, and Lily's Best Coleslaw.

I was pleasantly surprised when I received the pack that it didn't have too many processed or canned foods as ingredients. And those it does have could easily be substituted--for example, the chicken and noodles calls for canned chicken, I can easily substitute an equal amount of cooked chicken either from a leftover roast chicken or cooked up chicken breasts. It's a very versatile program. My family has enjoyed everything I have made so far!
I got to try this great program thanks to 24/7 Moms You should definitely check out the 24/7 Moms site for more fantastic ideas about saving money, cooking, and just being a mom.

Blog the Recession

Motherhood Uncensored has come up with a great idea. If you're like me, and quickly page through the blogs in your feed reader or glance at the title of the blogs that come through your e-mail, you don't actually take the time to visit those actual blog pages.

But page views are what help with all sorts of things--from ad revenue to sponsors deciding whether to send prizes for review or giveaway, etc.

So the deal is: for the month of August, try to click through to the blogs you read. Comment if you want, because if other bloggers are like me (and I know they are) comments are what make you want to post more often! And you don't actually have to click on the ads (unless you want to). Most ads are based on page views.

So come on readers, click through to the blogs!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Summer Fun!

To me, this is everything summer should be! Running away from the waves...and trying, but not too hard, to avoid getting wet. Mind you, this is the Oregon coast. So the kids are dressed appropriately. That doesn't stop them from drenching themselves though!

Check out more entries at in their Summer Fun photo contest.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

We Have Some Winners!

The winners of my giveaways are:

#1 Christian Book Pack Casey stertz4213@...

#2 Christian Suspense Pack Martha martha@...

#3 The Shack Kristan andrewandkristan@...

#4 College Road Trip Movie rockinmama jasonncaryn@...

#5 Homemakers Pack Mom2toboys heatheri@...

I'll be contacting you all shortly for your addresses. I need to hear back within 48 hours or I'll go onto the next number drawn.

Thanks to all for entering...make sure you subscribe to my blog for future giveaways, I will be giving away a book each week.