Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Blogiversary to Me!

3 years ago today, I posted my very first post. Stephanie's Confessions of a Book-a-Holic was born. I just wanted to take a couple of minutes to thank all of you for coming to visit me, reading my posts, listening to me rant....and being my friend!

Hopefully, it will be another 3 good years!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sunday Salon: 2010 Challenge Edition, Part One

The Sunday Salon.com I say Part One, because if I listed ALL of the challenges I'd like to join for 2010, I think Blogger would probably crash on me!! Sorry this is posted so late. Almost Monday. Oh well. Better late than not at all!

Isn't it funny how you can plan an entire year's worth of reading in one sitting, right here in front of the computer?? Actually, it's not all that difficult for me. I don't read nearly as many books in a year as a lot of you do. In fact, I actually think I read LESS books now that I've started blogging that I did before. BUT the quality of book has gone up, if that makes any sense. I was trying to figure out why the other day, and I finally realized that blogging/twitter time and reading time takes up the same allotment!! I only have so many free hours in a week. If I'm on the computer, I'm not reading. And vise versa. Probably why I've been offline so much lately. I've been immersed in The Ask and the Answer. OMG. I don't know if I can possibly wait for the next book!! SO GOOD!!

But....on to the topic at hand. 2010 Challenges and Group Reads. Oh my. There are SO MANY fun ones out there, it's just a matter of where start!! I know, I know. I rarely finish. But I like the JOINING. And the LISTS. If I actually finish, then I can bask in the glow of accomplishment. Otherwise, I meet cool people, read great reviews, increase my TBR and have fun. Nothing wrong with all that!! So, I've been keeping a list over the last few months of all the great challenges that are coming out for 2010. Thought I would make one post for all. WRONG! I went back to my list tonight, and realized that 24 challenges and 2 read-a-longs. And that's not even including the Once Upon a Time or the RIP challenge that Carl hosts yearly. So, I'll make a couple of posts and weed out the ones that I'm really looking forward to joining:

2009 marked the year that I read my first Graphic Novel. And my second...and third. You get the picture?? So, I knew that the first thing I would do in 2010 would be to join the GN Challenge. Hosted this year by my friends, Nymeth and Chris, the Graphic Novels Challenge 2010 is here.


  • The challenge starts on January 1st 2010 and ends on December 31st (but we don't mind you starting early.)
  • you don't have to make a list beforehand (but you can, of course! Lists are great because they give ideas to people who aren't sure what to read. And if you do make one, don't feel forced to stick to it!)
  • We simplified the levels of participation: you can be a Beginner (3 Comics or Graphic Novels), Intermediate (3-10) or an Expert (10+). You're more than free to adjust your level of participation after the challenge has begun.
  • There will be mini-challenges! Look for a post with more info on that soon.
  • Overlaps with other challenges are totally fine.

I don't have a set reading list yet, but my brother sent me some suggestions, so I'm definitely going to be reading a lot of Graphic Novels this year!! Among them:

  • Rest of the Fables Series.
  • Rest of the Sandman Series.
  • Rest of the Preacher Series.
  • Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis.
  • Locke and Key by Joe Hill
  • The Walking Dead Series by Robert Kirkman
  • Y the Last Man by Brian Vaughn
  • Ex Machina by Brian Vaughn
  • DMZ by Brian Wood.
  • Scalped by Jason Aaron.
  • Bone by Jeff Smith
  • Girl Genius by Kaja and Phil Foglio

Like I said, my brother recommended a LOT of these series. Since most are not available in the library, my reading them will be based on my ability to BUY them. So, we'll see how that goes!!!

Marg, my wonderful friend, from Reading Adventures is hosting the Terry Pratchett 2010 Challenge. Now, I know this actually started this month, but I'm hoping Marg will still let me join!! The challenge will start from 1 December 2009 and run through to 30 November 2010. There are several different levels of participation for you to choose from:
1-3 books - Cashier at Ankh-Morpork Mint
4-5 books - Guard of the City Watch
6-8 books - Academic at the Unseen University
9-10 books - Member of Granny Weatherwax's Coven
10-12 books - Death's Apprentice

You can either be reading the books for the first time, rereading, or even watching the TV adaptations if you like! As long as everyone has fun I will be happy! Please also do not feel limited to only reading the Discworld books as any books by Terry Pratchett will count for this challenge.For a full list of the Discworld books in publication order, check out this page on the author's website for his page at Fantastic Fiction. The number of books either written by Terry Pratchett or about his work is a bit mind boggling really.

I'm hoping to read the entire Discworld Series in the next year or two. Hopefully, I'll be able to slip in one or two or twelve this year! On the list of books I must read are:

  • Nation (not Discworld, but a gift this Christmas)
  • A Hat Full of Sky
  • Wintersmith
  • The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents
  • The Colour of Magic
  • The Light Fantastic
  • Sourcery
  • Eric
  • Interesting Times
  • The Last Continent
  • The Last Hero

Natasha at Maw Books, Amy at My Friend Amy, and Hannah at Word Lily are hosting the 2010 Social Justice Challenge. They have created a dedicated blog for the challenge and write:

Reading opens new worlds to us and can sometimes expose the injustice in our own. We have all been powerfully moved by the injustice we have learned about in books and decided we wanted to host a reading project that would encourage us to learn more about these issues in the world.

The details of the challenge are as follows:

We will focus each month on a different area of social injustice in the world. During that month, we are asking that you read something from the list of resources or watch something suggested by that month’s host. That will complete step one of this challenge: Learn.

Throughout the month we will also be posting ways you can make a difference in this area. Don’t worry, we will provide several different options at many different levels of commitment. The important thing is to take an action step towards doing something to change things! That fulfills step 2–Take Action.

The hosts of this challenge have created several levels of participation for EACH MONTH of the challenge (participants agree to participate each month, but can customize that participation depending on their own individual needs):

Activist–At this level you are agreeing to participate fully in the activities of the month. You will read at least one full length book as well as choosing something from the other media list. You will also complete an action step. By signing up for the challenge, you agree to do a minimum of 3 months at this level. You do not have to decide which months in advance.

Intern–You agree to either read something from the reading resources (it can be an essay or children’s book) or choose to do something from the other media list. You will complete an action step. You do not have to decide which months in advance.

Volunteer– You agree to read at least one of the recommended blog posts, essays or shorter novels. You will complete an action step. You do not have to decide in advance which months they will be.Observer — Need a break? Just follow along with the blog for the month. This month has no commitment level. You can only do a maximum of three months at this level.At the beginning of every month there will be a mister linky where you can link to reviews of what you’ve read and where you share what you’ve learned. The host for the month will recap everyone’s posts and reviews. The resource lists will be continuously updated throughout the year and there will be a weekly recap to let you know what has been added.

The Monthly topics are as follows:

Religious Freedom
Domestic Violence and Child Abuse
AIDS crisis
Illiteracy and Education
Modern Day Slavery
Homelessness & Refugees
Women’s Rights
Child Soldiers and Children in War

SO looking forward to this challenge!!

Amazingly, as much fantasy as I like to read now, I've never read the "Classics". So, one night on Twitter I found out about The Lord of the Rings Readalong.

Starting January 1, 2010, we’ll be reading one book from the series (including The Hobbit) each month with a goal of finishing all four books in April. We’ll be taking turns hosting the readalong, so you can follow our intrepid fellowship of readers around the blogosphere. Here’s where you’ll find us each month:

January: The Hobbit at A Striped Armchair
February: The Fellowship of the Ring at The Literary Omnivore
March: The Two Towers here at Shelf Love
April: The Return of the King at Just Add Books

To join, go to The Lord of the Rings Readalong

Hosted by Darren of Bart's Bookshelf, the TwentyTen Challenge:

The aim is to read a total 20 books, over ten categories, in 2010. (Was this challenge based solely around the name? I’ll let you decide!)
So, on with the categories:

Young Adult Any book classified as young adult or featuring a teenage protagonist counts for this category.

T.B.R. **Intended to help reduce the old T.B.R. pile. Books for this category must be already residents of your bookshelves as of 1/11/09.

Shiny & New Bought a book NEW during 2010 from a bookstore, online, or a supermarket? Then it counts for this category. Second-hand books do not count for this one, but, for those on book-buying bans, books bought for you as gifts or won in a giveaway also count! \

Bad Blogger’s ***Books in this category, should be ones you’ve picked up purely on the recommendation of another blogger count for this category (any reviews you post should also link to the post that convinced you give the book ago).***

Charity Support your local charity shops with this category, by picking up books from one of their shops. Again, for those on book-buying bans, books bought for you as gifts also count, as long as they were bought from a charity shop.

New in 2010 This category is for those books newly published in 2010 (whether it be the first time it is has been released, or you had to wait for it to be published in your country, it counts for this one!)

Older Than You Read two books that were published before you were born, whether that be the day before or 100 years prior!

Win! Win! Have a couple of books you need to read for another challenge? Then this is the category to use, as long that is, you don’t break the rules of the other challenge by doing so!

Who Are You Again? This one isn’t just for authors you’ve never read before, this is for those authors you have never even heard of before!

Up to You!The requirements for this category are up to you! Want to challenge yourself to read some graphic novels? A genre outside your comfort zone? Something completely wild and wacky? Then this is the category to you. The only requirement is that you state it in your sign-up post.

The Rules:
Read 2 books from each category, making a requirement of 20 books total.
The categories are intended to be loose guidelines only, if you decide it fits, then it fits. (Apart from those marked **)
Categories marked with ** have tighter rules, and these must be followed.
Each book can only qualify for one category.
Crossovers with other challenges are allowed. To sign up, go to TwentyTen Reading Challenge


Finally, a new challenge I just found tonight!!

Hosted by Catherine from On the Nightstand and Pam from Bookalicio.us, is the new Vampire Reading Challenge: Fangtastic Fiction (seriously, who can resist a challenge with a name like that?)

Challenge Levels/Goals

The base challenge here (“Newly Turned”) is to read four books, one from each of the four categories below: classic, horror, romance and young adult. If a book can fit into two categories (or more), simply pick one category and then read another.
Once you have completed that, you can go wild with what books you read for your challenge list, so long as they have vampires in some form as a prominent part. For every additional four books you read, you go up a level. Where the base challenge is the equivalent of the first stages of a vampire, think of each four books as a century added onto their existence.
How old can you go?

First Blood
This is the category for vampire tales that were written prior to 1900. Examples of such books would be:
Dracula – Bram Stoker
Carmilla – Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

Things That Go Bite In The Night
This is the category for works firmly entrenched in the horror genre. Examples of such books would be:
Salem’s Lot – Steven King
Let The Right One In – John Ajvide Lindqvist

Kiss Of The Vampire
This is the category for all books that have romance as one of its main genres/focusses. Examples of such books would be:
Dead Until Dark (etc) – Charlaine Harris
Jessica’s Guide To Dating On The Dark Side – Beth Fantaskey

High School Is Hell
This is the category for all vampire books that fit in the young adult category. Examples of such books would be:
The Vampire Diaries – L.J. Smith
The Morganville Vampires – Rachel Caine

Bonus Challenge/Activity: Screams On Screen
As a bonus challenge/activity, why not take in vampires on the large and small screens as well? Keep track of how many movies or TV seasons you watch, whether it’s Buffy, True Blood or The Vampire Diaries on your TV, or Lost Boys, Underworld or any film adaptation of a vampire novel, and see how many you can total up during the year!
Other Information:

This challenge runs the entire length of 2010, so from January 1 to December 31.

Later, I'll post more challenges, like the Gilmore Girls, GLBT, Flashback, What's in a Name and Essay's Challenges!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Friendship and the Christmas Spirit

My husband and I were talking the other day about blogging and the internet. And people that you meet online. As like alot of people, he doesn't seem to understand the "community" into which I find myself today. I know that word has been thrown about a lot. People try to define it. Even to those of us that firmly find ourselves entrenched in it, it's hard to actually pin down. Mike finds it odd....and a "little creepy" (his words, not mine!) that I have so many people that I talk to online. People that I don't know in "real life". People that could be "stalkers" and "serial killers". He said to me, "Don't you ever WATCH the Chris Hansen Dateline episodes? Or Criminal Minds?" I had to laugh. From the almost 3 years I've spent book blogging, and the few years before that on a Book Message Board, those thoughts had never actually crossed my mind.

Maybe it IS weird to feel such a bond to people that I have never actually "met" before. But you what? I don't care. I think I've stated many times before, I don't have a lot of friends in real life. Don't get me wrong...I have tons of acquaintances. I can take a walk in Bartonville, and run into quite a few people I have gotten to know over the years. People that know me as Ana's Mom or Bella's Mom. Chad's mom or Mike's wife. I have people that I know from work. And people that I know from church, or the library, or even the gym. But friends that KNOW me??? Very few. Most of the ones I had, I seem to have alienated in my efforts to gain back control over our financial life. Working so much, I am not able to do a lot (if any) Girl's Night Outs or Fun Nights. I can not remember the last time I actually sat down at a bar with a friend and had a drink. Or even out to dinner with anyone other than my family. My one true friend is Mike. And these days, he is feeling the stress of life as much as I am. It's hard to lean on him when I know he is struggling too.

So...I reach out here. In my blog. And I vent. Not all the time. And hopefully not all that much. Although this year, I do seem to be doing it more and more. Kind of a "blogging transformation"....but something that I'll discuss another day. Hopefully, you all don't get sick of hearing it. And do come back for the "Book" stuff. Because it's the book stuff that started this whole journey. I love to read. I love books. THAT is what makes my friendships with all of you possible. It's the common thread that brought us all together in the first place. But what keeps me coming back day after day is the friendships that I have made because of the books. No, I haven't met you all in real life. But I know about your lives. I know about your kids and jobs; your schooling and pets; hobbies and significant others. And I value that.

I know I mentioned a few days ago how I received a couple of books in the mail from 2 dear friends. The Secret Santa Blogging Exchange was one of those "conveniences" that got pushed aside this year because of all the "necessities". And I was really sad about it. Apparently, I pouted about it a little too much, because some of you took notice. My intent was never to cause a stir. But apparently, I did. This week is a bit busy for me. Christmas time in the restaurant business, although more lucrative that normal, can be challenging. Because we are an above average NICE restaurant, we are hit with lot of Christmas party business. This week, I'm working 3 double shifts: Dinner/party shift, then on to the Red Cross for overnights. 3 nights in a row. Then again on Saturday and Sunday. It's my last chance for some extra money for the holiday. But timing-wise, I'm going from one place to the next without a break. Normal season, I can have an hour or two between shifts. A little downtime or a chance to eat dinner with Mike.

Today, as I was running out of the house, I grabbed the mail and threw it in the car without even a glance. It went in with my clothes for my shift at the Red Cross. As usual, I was running late. (the pilot light on the water heater had gone out and jumping into a COLD shower about gave me a heart attack! By the time I figured out what was going on, I was running behind!) So when I went to grab my things tonight to change into, there was a pile of mail. On top was a package...with a customs sticker from Portugal. Tears welled up in my eyes when I realized that Nymeth (or Ana) had sent me a Christmas present as well. Not only did I get a wonderful card, a chocolate Santa, and a beautiful handmade bookmark, but I got a copy of the "best book ever!". Nation by Terry Pratchett, a book that has been HIGH on my wish list all year.

Then, just when I thought my day couldn't get any brighter, a small little envelope caught my eye. Now...I've been blogging for almost 3 years exactly. But before that, I was in a few online book clubs that met, at first on the Oprah message boards. Ana is 7, and I'm pretty sure I joined "The Classics Club" the summer she was a year old. I was one of the first members of the club. And although time constraints have kept me from reading with them for the last few years, I still keep up with them through email, and the yahoo group. Chris from Book-A-Rama and Michelle from Michelle's Masterful Musings are two old friends that I have known since that summer. I'm still a little fuzzy on who exactly is part of the founding group and who isn't. I just know I've known these beautiful ladies for years. I opened the card and found an insanely generous gift card for a Spa day. In MY TOWN. I can't imagine the research that went into finding this place (which is adorable, by the way. I've had the girl's nails done there. As a gift to them). But they did. And they sent it to me for a day to treat myself. So...tears in eyes turned into flat out bawling. At work. Tom, my third-shift cohort thinks I'm nuts anyway. Now, he's sure of it. When I told him I was crying because I was happy, he just shook his head!

Chris, Debi, Michelle, Christina and Nymeth: There is no way I can repay all your generosity. From the gifts to just listening to me vent. To giving me a shoulder to lean on or cry with. Just know that I thank you all so very much. You have truly made my year a little brighter. And you certainly know the real meaning of Christmas.

And if anyone asks me if I think online people can be REAL friends, I will whole-heartedly say YES.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Zombies Are all the Rage: Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Usually I'm pretty good at keeping up with my reviews. I have had days when I was struggling to find something to post about. But with the crazy last few weeks, I am not one, not two, but *4* reviews behind!! And I have other things to post. So hopefully, this will be a banner month of posting for me!! Today, the review is for Carrie Ryan's Zombie-themed book, The Forest of Hands and Teeth (320 pgs, Delacorte Books, 2009). It is a YA book (of course) and I am using it as a selection for the YA Dystopian Challenge.

My mother used to tell me about the ocean. She said there was a place where there was nothing but water as far as you could see and that it was always moving, rushing toward you and then away. She once showed me a picture that she said was my great-great-great-grandmother standing in the ocean as a child. It's been years since, and the picture was lost to fire long ago, but I remember it, faded and worn. A little girl surrounded by nothingness.

In a post-apocalyptic time, there are few things certain in Mary's life. She has recently lost both her mother and her father to the Forest of Hands and Teeth. The forest is where the "Unconsecrated", or Zombies live. Her village is a little island of humanity in the middle of the forest. Surrounded by fences and watchtowers, the villagers have made a life for themselves amongst the un-dead. They are ruled by The Sisterhood, an order of religious women that control all the aspects of life in the lone village. And they are protected by The Guardians, men who defend the village against breaches in the fence system that would allow the Unconsecrated into the village. This is the only life that Mary has ever known. She was born long after The Return, and knows the concept of loss very well.

But for Mary and the other girls of the village, life only offers 3 choices. You can live with your family. But Mary's only family is her brother, and he blames her for their mother's "death". There is marriage. But marriage in the village is not about love. It is about preservation of the race. One has to be spoken for, then the couple will be bound for life. Mary's friend Harry has taken an interest in her, and she is positive that he is going to ask for her hand. Unfortunately, she is head-over-heels in love with Harry's brother, Travis. The only other option is to join The Sisterhood. And that requires a faith that Mary just doesn't have anymore.

But when a new, fast-moving zombie breaches the perimeter, everything changes. All the years of planning by the Sisterhood and the Guardians has gone out the window because Mary and a handful of others become the only survivors. Now they are on the run, one step ahead of the Unconsecrated and they are out to find if there is anything outside the Forest of Hands and Teeth.

For all the glowing reviews I had read of this book, I really expected to love it. And while I enjoyed the book, love it I didn't. I had a few problems with it, to be honest. Maybe it's me and I'm just reading too much into a YA Zombie book. Maybe it's just meant to be fun (or as much fun as a book of zombies can be about!) But I actually found myself reading it and finding a few moral conundrums. Most of this book is centered around Mary and her incredible need for things she can't have. And I found her to be a really selfish person. One might say that she really only followed her heart....trying to make all her dreams come true. I'm all about dreaming and reaching for the stars. I am. I think every person should have dreams. And dream big. I encourage it in my own kids. But when your quest to fulfill your life not only hurts people emotionally, but hurts people physically, where do you draw the line? Do you give up on something to save the people you supposedly care about?? Or do you do whatever it takes to make that dream a reality, no matter who you hurt? Does living in a world where death is literally looking over the fence at you on a daily basis make a difference? Do new rules apply?

See? Maybe I am making too much out of nothing. But Mary just bothered me. (SMALL SPOILER ALERT). She spent most of the first part of the book pining over Travis. So in love with him, she could think of nothing else. Even when she was bound to his brother, she would do just about anything for Travis, even though it hurt her friends. THEN, when she gets the guy, she's bored with him. He's just not enough to make her happy. She ALWAYS seemed to be putting her needs above everyone else's. And that bothered me. Alot. Again, maybe I'm trying to put more into it than I should. Or maybe, in a world where death is so close all the time, one's needs become more important. Still, I would have liked to see more compassion and less narcissism.

But other than my problems with the main character, I loved the storyline. With the YA world bursting the seams with vampires, this new line of zombie stories is rather refreshing. And Carrie Ryan has a knack for story telling. She has created a very believable world in a place and time that should be completely unbelievable. Besides, she's a hopeless romantic to boot:

"The Sisterhood has it wrong," he says. "It's not about surviving. It should be about love. When you know love...that's what makes this life worth it. When you live with it every day. Wake up with it, hold on to it during the thunder and after a nightmare. When love is your refuge from the death that surrounds us all and when it fills you so tight that you can't express it." He rocks forward and backward as tears stream down his face.

See? Isn't that nice? A sentiment I agree with!! Of course, I didn't love this story, but I did like it, and I'm anxious to see where the next book takes us. (supposedly this is one of a trilogy, with The Dead-Tossed Waves set to be released in March.) If you are a fan of YA paranormal, then this might be the book for you. Especially if you a fan of Zombies!! 3.5/5

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Happy Post

I feel bad for not posting this sooner. The weekend was a rough one, with way too many shifts at work and Jesse's funeral. I felt so bad by Sunday night that I could barely drag myself to work.

And then came Monday. Bella and Ana's Christmas play was on Monday. A morning performance, for the grade school classes (and if you couldn't make it to the evening show.) My mom and dad came up for the morning show. Ana was an Elf in the chorus. And Miss Bella had the leading role. She played Mrs. Santa Claus in the Oak Grove East production of "Santa Goes Green", and environmentally friendly little play about Christmas, recycling and saving the planet. Quirky and cute, Bella had more than double the lines of anyone else. Even Santa himself. She looked adorable. I had problems trying to upload the video, so I will save you having to watch. But just know that I am one proud mama!!

I ended up at both performances. Ana and Bella were fantastic. And I even cried. Just a little. Because I was so proud.

But the other event that caused me to be lifted from my deep depression happened after I got back from the morning performance. The mailbox door wouldn't close, so I figured there was something in it I should probably take in the house. And there was. Not one, but 2 packages. Bot addressed to me. When I use this blog to whine and vent, I guess I don't realize that people actually read it. And 2 of my favorite people in the world sent me a Christmas present to cheer me up. Chris and Debi, the two of you are so incredibly sweet I don't even know how to express my thanks. I love both of you very much. And I consider you family...as well as friends. If you ever need me for anything, know that you can count on me!! See? They know me so well:

Saturday, December 5, 2009

2009 Virtual Advent Tour Day 6: The Toland's and Santa

The past few years, I have participated in the Blogger Virtual Advent tour. I've talked about some of our family traditions; some of the things that make the holidays special to the Toland Family. This year is going to be a little different.

For the past 13 years, Santa Claus has been a big part of the Christmas tradition for us. Yes, the kiddies know that Christmas is actually a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. But face it. With kids in the house, there is always the idea of Santa Claus! But I have a sinking feeling that this will be the last year for the man in the bright red suit. Chad, at 13, has spent the last few years actually helping me with the girls' presents. But this year, Miss Bella informed me she no longer believes. With Ana so close in age to Bella, I can see the end in sight.

There have been many years in the past, at 2 a.m., as I was stuffing stockings or putting together toys like the Princess Kitchen that I longed for the days for all the "sneaky" stuff to be over. Longed to be in bed at a civilized hour, sleeping like the rest of the family. But now that the time has come, I feel an overwhelming sadness that my kids are growing up. How has this happened? It seems like only yesterday we were standing in lines at the mall, Ana hiding behind my legs trying to get a glimpse of Santa Claus, too scared to actually sit on his lap unless I was there to hold her hand. Or Chad, big and brave, all ready to jump up on St. Nick's lap, with a smile on his face. Or Bella, with a HUGE list in hand, ready to let the jolly fat man know exactly what she wanted under the tree.

Every year, our school has a Santa Breakfast: pancake and sausage breakfast, Santa and Mrs. Claus sitting in big fat chairs handing out candy canes after listening to every child's wish list; crafts for the holidays, and lots of music. Yesterday, we attended probably our last. The girls were more interested in playing with their friends than sitting on Santa's lap (though the girls did make the effort, just in case!)

Every year we leave Santa a plate of cookies and milk (one year, I even suggested a sandwich and soda to wash it down...I think I missed out on Christmas Eve dinner because of work!) And every year, Rudolph gets a special treat as well. Usually an apple or a carrot, especially for him. Sometimes we sprinkle "reindeer" food outside the door. It's made with oatmeal and glitter, and looks so pretty on the snow. And if there is snow, always walking around outside in Mike's big boots, leaving a trail of footprints.

I love that my kids are getting older and we are able to enjoy our time together doing activities. And I'm sure that Christmas will be just as special for them, even if they don't believe in Santa any longer. The sadness will definitely be mine alone. If this is any indication of future events, I don't think I will gracefully accept the idea that my children are growing up!!

Here is a picture of Christmas past, we my little believers!

Don't forget to stop by the other Day 6 participants in this year's Advent tour:

Melissa @ Book Nut

Chris @ Stuff As Dreams are Made On

Lily @ Reading Extravaganza


Friday, December 4, 2009

A New Month

For some reason, I'm having trouble processing the fact that it is now December. Christmas is a few weeks away, and I'm not even close to being prepared. My blogging this year has been a bit sporadic. I am keeping ridiculous hours these days, so for the moment I've decided I'm OK with it. I'd love to be able to post more. As it is, I've got about 10 posts I really need to do: at least 4 book reviews, some challenge reviews, some wrap-up posts. I'll get to it. And after the 1st of the year, I'll do better. Things will slow down. But for now, I guess we will just have to take things one day at a time.

The last week has brought some really tough stuff. Mike, Chad and Belle all succumbed to the "plague", as it is now known at our house. This flu is one that hangs on for it's life, that's for sure. I'm still, even after 2 weeks, carrying around a bit of a cough.

I'm also looking for a new job. As much as I like my job at the Red Cross, I don't see any way I'll be able to get off 3rd shift. After 2 years of nights, my body is starting to feel the effects. I am truly a night person, but for my sanity, I really think a day job would be better. Of course, times are tough, and finding something else might not be as easy as I would like to think.

Finally, as part of my job, I work with a fleet of drivers. Both paid and volunteer, our drivers carry the blood/blood products to the hospitals in are region. There are over 42 hospitals and the distance between them is high. A drive can be over 300 miles. Because the work is sporadic, most of the drivers are retired gentlemen. It is hard sometimes to call these older men in, to put them on the road late nights. I love them all and their willingness to help out night/day whenever they can. But I lost my favorite driver to a horrible accident the other night, and it's been a hard few days for all us at the Cross. The guilt of someone dying on our watch is a bit more than we can handle. Jesse was the sweetest guy. He always had a smile and loved to sit and chat. If I was on my own, he would come in with an "extra" apple fritter, because he knew they were my favorites. My heart just breaks for his family at this time. Because his Red Cross family has been just a bit destroyed by all of it.

I may be back later today with a review. But if I don't, just know that I will. I'm getting tired of writing posts that say, "I know it's been a while but ...." Like I said earlier: At the moment, I'm OK with being sporadic. I'm hoping to change that a little when the New Year hits!