Friday, July 31, 2009

The Week Is Almost Over??

Can you tell we are having fun here in Atlanta?    The computer hasn't been touched because of all the playing we have been doing.  

Since we arrived Steph and Big Guy have been trying to take over the world.   Ha!    They are playing a game called Stronghold Crusader.     They can play it simultaneously on the two computers.      They are in heaven.


They aren't all computer games because something one of them said sparked the decision to have a battle.    My friend, Sheri, has a beautiful house, but she is a cool Mom so she didn't care if they went crazy setting up their battle.    That is why we are friends.   Letting our kids make memories like this is what matters most to us.

 
  
Little Guy and Sa have had the best time.     I think they have tried a little bit of everything in the house!
They have made a chocolate cake and "puppy chow".
They have jumped on the trampoline in the rain.
They have played games on the laptops.
The kids have had lots of fun doing things together too.      We took them to Lake Lanier Island to the water park one day.    Unfortunately we only were able to stay a few hours.   Poor Little Guy had a major allergic reaction to the chemicals in the water.    He is allergic to chlorine, but usually we can avoid it with some Benadryl.   I am not sure what they used, but whatever it was affected him greatly.    He was miserable all day long.
At midnight on Tuesday the kids decided it would be fun to pile every cushion, pillow and blanket they could find at the bottom of the stairs.     They then proceeded to jump, belly flop and fling themselves from the stairs into that pile.    They laughed, giggled and had a blast.     
 
  
We have done so much more this week:   two movies (G-Force and Imagine That), skateboard park, Lego Outlet, racing mini muscle cars, swimming, doing art projects, etc....
Tonight is our big finale.... taking the kids to Medieval Times.      I am excited because I know the boys will love it.     I am kind of sad because I know tomorrow it all comes to an end.    I am excited because tomorrow night I will see my sweet hubs that I have missed SO MUCH.    I am sad because I know I won't see our friends again for quite a while.
It will be a day of mixed emotions.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Tax Free Holiday

Do you have school shopping to do? I don't know about you, but my boys need tennis shoes for school. I almost wonder if they are sprinkling Miracle Gro on them as fast as they are growing.

This weekend is the perfect weekend to knock out some school shopping. It is the Mississippi Sales Tax Holiday. Clothing and shoes under $100 will be tax free from July 31 - August 1st.

Clothing under $100 is exempt from sales tax in the following categories:
  • Athletic Socks
  • Baby Clothes
  • Belts With Attached Buckles
  • Blouses
  • Boots (general purpose)
  • Caps and Hats
  • Coats and Wraps
  • Costumes (not rented)
  • Coveralls
  • Dresses
  • Gloves (general use, not rented)
  • Gym Suits and Uniforms
  • Hooded Shirts and Sweatshirts
  • Hosiery
  • Jackets
  • Jeans
  • Jerseys
  • Jogging Suits
  • Leg Warmers
  • Leotards and Tights
  • Neckwear
  • Pants
  • Raincoats, Rain Hats and Ponchos
  • Scout Uniforms
  • Shorts
  • Skirts
  • Sleepwear
  • Socks
  • Suspenders
  • Swimsuits
  • Undergarments
General footwear under $100 is nontaxable, including:
  • Boat Shoes
  • Cowboy Boots
  • Cross Trainers
  • Dress Shoes
  • Flip-Flops or Rubber Thongs
  • Hiking Boots
  • Jelly Shoes
  • Running Shoes (non-cleated)
  • Sandals
  • Slippers
  • Sneakers
  • Tennis Shoes
  • Walking Shoes

Items which are NOT included in this tax free weekend are: Backpacks, hair accessories, jewelry, wallets, watches and sporting apparel like roller blades and ice skates.

Personally, I think it is crazy to not include backpacks since this is supposed to be a weekend to allow parents to shop for back-to-school and backpacks are such an essential part of that shopping, but oh well!

I am really appreciative of this little break from taxes because every little bit helps!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Planning to Travel

When you go on vacation the most dreaded phrase you can hear is "Are we there yet?" over and over again. Well, that and "He/she touched me!" Ha! When the boys were born I decided that the drive needed to be the start of the vacation not a torturous part until we get to the vacation.

Since this drive to Atlanta was our first without hubs I wanted to be extra prepared. There wasn't going to be any turning around to help or entertain. All of my focus was going to be on driving which meant I needed to make sure I had my plan in place before we left.

First, music. This is the console of our van. We have 6 slots for CDs. That means two for me, two for Little Guy and two for Big Guy. We picked our favorite two CD and loaded them in the CD player to get us started for the trip.

Next we need a map. I made maps detailing our trip for the boys so they can keep up with where we are. Both boys love maps so I think they will enjoy marking off the trip as we go.
One of the new things that I included for the trip was a bag system that coordinated with the map. I used very simple bags....
You can't get much simpler than a brown paper sack can you? But it worked perfectly. The first paper sack the boys found was in their seat when we were ready to leave. The outside said, "Breakfast Bag". It contained a simple breakfast and some chocolate milk. Getting on the road early was a must and I knew that eating in the car was not ideal but they seemed o.k. with it when I included chocolate milk and powdered donuts along with their fruit.
The second bag said "Mile 62" on it. It was their job to keep up with mileage and when we got to 62 miles in the trip they could open this bag. In it was a new video of their favorite comedian, Tim Hawkins.

Here is the preview for this video. Driving and laughing... So fun!


I had bag numbered for different miles... 173, 243, 390, etc... Each mile written on a different on a different brown bag with different items inside.

Some of the items in the bags:

* art book and art pencils
* the next books in the book series the boys are reading
* a travel game ... "You Sunk My Battleship!"

* another video
* a Brain Quest card deck


* new CD of music
* Found this great book which the boys loved!    It was something to "do".   Had pipe cleaner animals and creations all over the car!!


* the Klutz road trip book
 *  I had printed out plenty of blank SOS dot sheets and Tic, Tac Toe boards so that they could play games together too.
*   License Plate Game - I printed out a copy of the United States map so that they could mark off license plates as they see them.

In addition to our brown bag entertainment, each boy had their own travel boxes full of their own personal entertainment. They were packed with their Nintendo DS, iPods, games, books, and other items which they love. Of course no trip is complete without their special travel blanket.

This made our drive so much fun and entertaining. The only stops we had to make were for bathroom and gas. We packed a cooler with water, lemonade, Gatorade and sandwiches so that we wouldn't have to worry about eating fast food.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Foto Friday: Swimming With Lu

Our nephew, Lu, came to spend Sunday afternoon with us.    We love to go swimming so we asked if he could go to.     His Daddy said he had never been in a big pool so we were excited to take him and see what he thought about it.     He loved it and got a big kick out of being entertained by his big cousins.    Big Guy and Little Guy pulled out every trick in the book to entertain him, but I think the biggest laughs came from just swimming laps.     Something about the kicking of the feet and the splashes that really got him to giggling.

Lu's Mom said that he was supposed to eat at 3:30 so we pulled him out to feed him, but boy did he throw a fit.     He was having too much fun.     He finally decided that he really was hungry, but he was none too happy about being pulled out of the water when his big cousins were getting to stay in.     As soon as that food was gone he was very happy to get back in and play until it was time to go home.

Looks like we have another little fish in the family!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Distance Doesn't Determine Friendship

The boys and I are about to do something that we have never done before.    On Sunday we will climb in the car and wave goodbye to hubs and drive to Atlanta for a week long vacation.     We have never gone on a vacation without him.   

Despite the fact that I know I am going to miss hubs immensely, I am so excited about getting to spend a week with our friends.     They moved in next door to us when Big Guy was three years old.     They had a little boy just a few months older than Big Guy and they were instant friends.     They loved all of the same things.    If Big Guy disappeared I knew he was next door and vice versa.      You don't find friendships like this very often.    We didn't knock to go inside each other's houses.      Our husbands would come home from work and they never worried if we weren't home.   They knew where we were.... with each other.     If we cooked we cooked enough for everyone.     If we found toys on sale we bought them for all the kids.

We both still remember the day I walked in her living room and said, "Watch Big Guy.   I'll be back in 30 minutes."   When I returned I sat down on her couch and said, "You aren't going to believe this.   You aren't going to believe this.   I am pregnant."      I think we laughed hysterically for an hour because we were in such disbelief.     

The day Curt announced his job was transferring him to Atlanta we were all devastated.    Despite the move, we have stayed close.    Visiting them.    They have visited us.    We have gone on vacation together. 

I started packing on Monday.    The car has been fully serviced.    I have shopped for snacks for our drive.    I have started putting together my "Mom Trip Bag".    

My friend, Sher, has teased me because I prepare so early.      I can't help it.     There is just nothing like spending time with a friend.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Enclave


Book Review: Reading this book is about the same as being sucked into a tornado. With two competing story lines you are initially flung from side to side. Seeing glimpses of light to being plunged into darkness. I will be honest and say that at first I didn't think I was going to like this book. However, all of a sudden I seemed to be sucked into the vortex of that funnel and couldn't get out.

The story is centered in the field of genetics which provides for a very controversial and interesting plot.

Book Description: When Lacey McHenry accepts a prestigious research fellowship at the world-renowned Kendell-Jakes Longevity Institute, she sees it as a new start on life. But a disturbing late-night encounter with an intruder leads to an unexpected cover-up by Institute authorities, and she soon realizes there's more going on than she ever imagined.

She finds a supporter in genetics researcher Cameron Reinhardt. However, Reinhardt is a favorite of the Institute's director, and she can't help wondering if he, too, is in on the cover-up. The brilliant but absentminded researcher turns out to have his own secrets, some of them dark and deadly. The Enclave is characterized by adventure, intrigue, spiritual analogy, and romance, all set in an unusual but fully realized world--one that may have its foundations on earth but which, the more one learns of it, doesn't seem much like the earth we know at all.

If you'd like to read the first chapter of The Enclave, go HERE

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Therapy

Out of curiosity I called some therapist offices today to find out the cost of a therapy session today. Don't worry. I am not freaking out or anything, but I wanted a comparison. I found out that one session with a therapist will cost about $110 - $175... for one session!!

I have found therapy for myself much cheaper than that. I have been searching for a "therapy" for quite a while. Someone once told me that going to the tanning bed was therapy for her so I tried that. Strike that... I was too claustrophobic. Then someone told me that going to get manicure/pedicure was very therapeutic. I don't know, but having someone perform something that I could do myself seemed like a waste of money for me. There were several other suggestions, but they had downsides including the fact that I could still think. Part of therapy to me was that I wanted a break from "thinking".

Then, back in January I discovered a paint studio. Easely Amused. I was immediately addicted. I am not a great painter, but I love painting. I have to concentrate on the instructions of the teacher and what I am doing so much that there is no way for me to think. It is complete brain break for me.

Here are a few of the paintings I have done...



"Let Him Fly"
"The Wondrous Cross"

Last week was Christmas in July so I painted a bunch of canvases
to decorate my house with at Christmas time!
One of the best parts of going to paint is meeting friends there.
Suzanne introduced me to Easely Amused and I just love her for it.
I am thinking that a bunch of us "bloggers" need to go one night! Doesn't that sound like fun???
You can see all the classes at Easely Amused! Tell Bridget I sent you for a "therapy" session!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Weekend with Big Guy

Just like a few weeks ago hubs took Big Guy away for some Father/Son time, this weekend he took Little Guy away for some time. This meant Big Guy and I got to spend some time together. Now that he is older it is more challenging to find things that are on his interest level. I like to find things that are outside the norm of the bookstore, movie, or ice cream. I want to do something different. The Watermelon Fest was going on in Mize and we discussed going, but I knew it wasn't at the top of his list.

He wanted to spend the night with his cousin on Friday night so they could work on some animation videos which is one of their hobbies. That was fine with me but we agreed I would pick him up Saturday for our time. When Saturday arrived I still wasn't sure what we were going to do until I did a last minute check of Facebook. Marshall Ramsey mentioned in his status that he was at the Jackson Comic-Con. Bingo! That is right up his alley and I knew my nephew would love it too.

I know it didn't mean a lot to the boys, but Larry Kenny was the special guest for the Comic-Con.    Kenney was the voice of Lion-O from the 1980's animated series Thundercats, but more importantly, he was the voice of Count Chocola from the cereal and is still the voice of the bird from Coca Puffs.     He did a lot of the voices for me and it was just so great!

 Big Guy ran into some characters himself including this highly recognizable figure...

 And then we saw Marshall and had a chance to say thanks for letting us know about the Comic-Con...
 
My nephew was fascinated with Artists Alley...

 
This was an entire line of tables filled with artists drawing and talking to people who loved to draw.   Several artists asked the boys if they brought their sketch books.    A was disappointed that he hadn't brought his sketch books so I told him I would take him home to get his books.    After a drive back for his books, he showed them to the artists...
 
 
I was pretty proud standing there listening to them talk about his talent and giving him words of encouragement about his artistic ability.    Go, A, Go!   We have always known you have God given talent, but it was so cool to see others acknowledge it too.

Before we left, we asked the boy's favorite artist, Zachary Freundt, to do a portrait sketch of both of them....

 
A couldn't get over his.   He just kept saying, "It is so awesome!"
Big Guy also got a great sketch from artist, Justin Sawyer....

And both boys had some conversations with some really interesting characters...

The Comic-Con ended at 6:00 but the boys were still grinning and talking about it at 10:00.    Without a doubt, I think the boys LOVED it!      That makes me really happy.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Through the Fire

(Is this not a GREAT book cover? One of the best I have seen in a while!!)

Book Review: I received an email several months ago from Shawn Grady asking that I consider reading his debut novel which would appear on my review list. I appreciated his kind and considerate email, but his book description had already piqued my interest. I have many friends who are firefighter and firefighter wives so I knew that I would want to read Mr. Grady's book.

My friends would tell you that their greatest fears as a firefighter are dealing with an arsonist and fighting a fire with children involved. You can tell Mr. Grady is a firefighter himself because "Through The Fire" grips you from the very beginning with both of these scenarios.

This is an unbelievably good debut novel. Mr. Grady wrote something that was not only easy to ready but something I wanted to finish reading. I hope to see Mr. Grady expand the relationships between his characters which will allow readers to feel more of the tension that is truly underlying. Keep writing, Mr. Grady! You definitely have the gift!!

Great Gift! Buy a copy of this and deliver it to your local fire station! What a way to witness! Go ahead and buy some copies for sons-in-law, uncles, etc... it is never too early to buy stocking stuffers.

Book Description: Firefighting burns in Aidan O'Neill's blood. The son of a fireman, O'Neill has a sixth sense about fire and often takes dangerous risks. When one act of disobedience nearly gets a rookie killed, O'Neill is suspended. His weeks off are supposed to be a time to reflect but instead he escapes to Mexico, where another rash act of bravery actually kills him. But only for a few minutes.

Called back to Reno, he's now haunted by visions of hell and paralyzed in the face of fire. And at the worst time, because an arsonist is targeting Reno. With a growing love interest with one of the investigators complicating everything, Aidan must discover where his trust rests as the fires creep ever closer.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Through The Fire, go HERE

Friday, July 17, 2009

Foto Friday

Little Guy discovered my old 35mm camera last weekend and immediately asked if I would teach him how to use it. We ran to buy new batteries and a couple rolls of film and after a few pointers I let him loose. It was so fun watching him find his subjects.


I wanted him to look at his subjects, take a test photo with the digital camera and then take one with the 35mm, but he just wanted to jump in. I decided to just let him because trying is the best way to learn. I had fun trailing behind and taking photos of him!!

Here are some of the shots I took while following him around...


To "Concerned": I realize that I don't post a lot of photos of Big Guy. He has reached the middle school years and he has become shy and not to happy about having his photo taken. He also has final say on what photos I am allowed to post on my blog. What that means is that not a lot of photos are posted. It doesn't mean I am showing favoritism. It means I am respecting Big Guy and his wishes.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rick & Bubba's Guide to the Almost Nearly Perfect Marriage


Rick and Bubba's Guide to the Almost Nearly Perfect Marriage

Rick Burgess and Bill "Bubba" Bussey
Thomas Nelson Publishing

Book Description

The only thing funnier than marriage is Rick and Bubba talkin' about it!

Rick and Bubba are at it again, and this time it is all about marriage. Addressing such topics as apologizing (The Ten Worst Ways to Say I’m Sorry), communication (Grunting Is Not a Language), date nights (Worst Date Nights in History), finances (I Thought You Paid the Gas Bill), and playing sports together (I Did Too Let You Win), the two "sexiest fat men alive" will have couples everywhere tied in knots.

In Review: As soon as I opened the package hubs flipped the book open. The first thing that caught his eye was the anniversary gift since we had just celebrated ours. He was thrilled to see that next year for our 20th anniversary we should go to a premier golf course! The more we flipped and read, the more we laughed. It was an instant A+ for both of us because in our eyes no marriage is complete without a lot of laughter! Of course, we also have decided that if you are married to Rick and Bubba your marriage also wouldn't be complete without a lot of laughter and whole LOT of patience. Their wives have to be saints to put up with all the nonsense they put them through. After all, you know your life is going to require patience when your husband asks, "Can we go back to the church for more cake?" on the way to your honeymoon!

However, it was refreshing to know that they also argue about some of the same things that it seems like every couple seems to argue about: Like how husbands can justify thousands and thousands of dollars in outdoor, hunting and high tech electronics, but argues that $265 spent at Walmart was a budget buster!

Putting aside all the laughter and picking, Rick and Bubba have a true and abiding love for their wives and waste no words in letting readers know that the good foundation of a marriage is God. Their words of advice about living with your spouse forever are not only refreshing, but incredibly wise.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pirate Hunter


Book Description: High Seas Adventure Meets a High-Tech Quest for Pirate Gold West Indies, 18th century Young Ted Bascombe is rescued by notorious pirate Captain Henry Thatch, finding himself caught up in a world of crime, adventure, and a daily fight for freedom.... Key West, 21st century Marine archaeologist Greg Rhode embarks on a treasure-hunting expedition in the turquoise waters of the Florida Keys, but he's as beguiled by a beautiful diver with different-colored eyes as by the lure of pirate gold...The Hunt Is On! Interweaving these two stories, pro deep-sea diver Tom Morrisey spins a multilayered tale of two young men's quests to escape their past by losing themselves to adventure on the high seas. Romantic and thrilling, this unique novel explores the timeless truth that "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

If you would like to read the first chapter of Pirate Hunter, go HERE

Book Review: Pirate Hunter is a book that weaves together the past and the present. The stories intertwine back and forth in the same way a pirate ship would loll on the waves of the ocean. Greg and Phil are two typical males -- set on adventure and hoping to find money in the process. Because I live in a house full of typical males I grew to love these two characters very easily. However, there were points in this book where I found myself of skipping across parts of text because it had lost my interest. That didn't make this a bad book, but it just meant that it seemed wordy in sections and I was ready to move on. I am anxious to see what my husband and son think as I am sure their opinion about a pirate book will be much different from mine!

TMTT: No Other god

Do not worship any other god,
for the Lord your God is a jealous God.
Exodus 34:14


"Thou shall have no other gods before me!" It is no wonder that this verse has been bouncing around in my head lately. With all of the people we have been putting on pedestals lately it has been a little nauseating to me. I don't mean to sound inconsiderate because there are definitely families who are sad right now and I feel for them, but a man is a man and he does not deserve to be elevated to "god" status.

On the flip side, the same thing goes for all the other things in our life that we allow to be elevated beyond the level of importance they deserve. Food, television, computers, sports, exercise, materialism, money, entertainment... all of these can replace what is supposed to be our first love.

When I was a little girl I imagined the "no other gods" as the golden calf that I read about in the Old Testament story, but as I have grown I have realized that there can be many golden calfs in our lives. I am praying that God will make me aware of any melting that I may do today. I want nothing to separate me from His love.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Who Made You A Princess?


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Award-winning author Shelley Adina wrote her first teen novel when she was 13. It was rejected by the literary publisher to whom she sent it, but he did say she knew how to tell a story. That was enough to keep her going through the rest of her adolescence, a career, a move to another country, a B.A. in Literature, an M.A. in Writing Popular Fiction, and countless manuscript pages.

Shelley is a world traveler and pop culture junkie with an incurable addiction to designer handbags. She writes books about fun and faith--with a side of glamour. Between books, Shelley loves traveling, playing the piano and Celtic harp, watching movies, and making period costumes.

The All About Us book series has its own home over on the Hachette website. Stop by and see what the five fabulous girls at Spencer Acadenmy are up to! Series Website.

Her other books in this series includes book one, It's All About Us, oook Two, The Fruit of my Lipstick, and book three, Be Strong & Curvaceous. This present book is book four.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Shani Hanna returns to SpencerAcademy for her senior year after an amazing summer spent with her friends Lissa, Gillian, and Carly. But the best part about summer was meeting Danyel Johnstone. Danyel is cute, smart, cool, and super nice. All Shani has to do is get him to see her as more than just one of the gang.

But when the girls return to school, they find a new addition to the distinguished student body: Prince Rashid al Amir of Yasir, an oil-rich desert kingdom in the Middle East. Prince Rashid moved to California to prepare for an eventual MBA at Stanford...and to romance his future wife: Shani Hanna!

It turns out, Shani's family and the prince's go back for generations, entwined in tradition, obligation, and family honor. In each generation, members of the two families have expanded their business interests through arranged marriage. Will Shani put aside her feelings for Danyel to pursue her family's wishes? Or will God answer her prayers for an intervention?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Who Made You a Princess , go HERE

Book Review: I cannot give you a complete review on this book as I have not finished reading it, but I did want to say that I am so glad to see books like this being written. There seems to be such a gap in the publishing world for teen and college age readers. Let me correct that... a gap in virtuous and Christian publishing. I have a teenage niece as well as a neighbor who reads constantly. I will be thrilled to share this with both of them.

Reunion Wrap Up


Hub's Family Reunion is over for another three years. The next one is scheduled for July 6-8th weekend in 2012. Right on top of our 22nd wedding anniversary. Hmmmm..... when we were planning our wedding you would have thought someone would have mentioned that the Germanys have their family reunion every three years on July 4th weekend, but somehow that detail was NEVER mentioned. Despite that little detail, I wouldn't change our wedding date because it was the only time that hub's Uncle Phil could come and perform our wedding ceremony. I can't imagine anyone else doing our wedding ceremony but him and sadly he died very unexpectedly the very next summer.

Anyway, here are a few pics I took at the reunion this year.

This is Little Guy in front of the generational "bulleye" that was put up for people to sign up on when they arrived. You can see all of the "heads" of the family in the center. I told you this was a huge family.


One of the main reasons the boys look forward to going is because they are going to get to see Uncle L and Aunt D. They wish that their cousin, J, could come too but know he is a big important college guy now. Isn't Aunt D pretty?


Big Guy really enjoyed playing some chess with Uncle R during the reunion. Our nephew, Lu, is just "cutting his teeth at the game. Ha!!!


This was a FAVORITE hang out during the reunion. The reunion is held at the family campground. If you have ever been to an open air campmeeting you know just what the campground is like. It is a beautiful campgrounds, but boy is it HOT. This new pavilion is covered and filled with rocking chairs and picnic tables. We all loved it but agreed all it needed to be perfect was a few ceiling fans.

I mentioned hub's Uncle Phil who did our wedding ceremony. Hubs grew up living next door to them in Florida before he moved to Mississippi. He misses his cousins immensely and looks forward to seeing them at reunions and any chance he can get.
Aunt J

Bar and Jen -- 1 year newlyweds
(You may remember when hubs went to their wedding!)
Hubs and Bri
Gigi with Grandma and Grandpa. Thanks, Gigi for organizing such a great reunion for us and for agreeing to organize it again. You must have been delirious!