This blog contains my thoughts and feelings only. It IS titled, "The Daily Life of Carol: My Thoughts, Rants & Raves." They do not represent those of anyone else. While I still can't imagine how my little blog is making the rounds locally, it is mine and mine only. If you are going to be offended or feel it necessary to whine or complain to those completely unassociated to me and my blog, stop reading and find something else to do with your time.

Friday, December 6, 2013

I'm back. Hopefully.

Hello again my dearest readers. Yes, I have not posted in nearly four months. I had a brain freeze. Not the writer's block that stymies many an author (although I am not currently a novelist, I would like to be one someday). Just brain freeze. Unable to cope with the world so my brain said, "I am not dealing with this. All systems shutting down." Of course, not a real brain freeze.... just my despair over the wickedness and injustices of this world.

I fell down Alice's rabbit hole and buried myself in the world of fiction. Tons of it. I came aboveground when school started. Since then, it has been busy, busy, busy. I am homeschooling all three boys, and they attend the local public schools part-time for electives. Eric plays his trombone in the band. Steven continues social personal skills, speech therapy, and drawing. Mark, for the first time(!), is taking electives - personal fitness and robotics.

I'm back. Hopefully. I need to find balance, and I am taking small baby steps toward that goal. But, please, do not discuss politics or the horrors of the world with me. You will just shove me back into the rabbit hole again. And, I am not sure if I will have the strength to pull myself back out. Certainly, it was not possible this time without the helping hands of family and friends.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Education: Classic Literature

 School starts next week, at least the public schools for our county. This year I will homeschool all three boys in their core academics. They will attend the public school part-time for electives, like Band and French I.

I was perusing a list of classic literature and asked the boys which of these they had read in school (since I did not remember them reading any from the list). I was right, and sadly surprised. While I cannot remember all the days of my youth, I do know that by 10th grade I had read many. Steven just finished The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Previously Steven had not read any Sherlock Holmes's stories and that just will not do. The Hound is my favorite!

So, now it is time to pick the next classic. I am perplexed. There are so many to choose from, but selecting for a teenage boy is different from what I wanted to read in school. For instance, I cannot imagine Steven interested in Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre.

I choose Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. However, I was wondering which classic book(s) do others think are important?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Book Review: Cross Fire by James Patterson

I just read Cross Fire by James Patterson. It is Alex Cross "lite." 

Alex Cross is a homicide detective in Washington D.C. His specialty is hunting down serial killers. He really did not accomplish that in this book. He went from murder to murder, never connecting the dots, and just happen to stumble upon the murderers. That was disappointing.

The wickedly brilliant criminal mastermind Kyle Craig returns in Cross Fire. He is the best part of this novel. His character was far more interesting than Alex Cross. However, the ending did not match the rest of the book. In fact, the ending was disappointing, abrupt, and very un-Kyle like.

I recommend the book if you are looking for a quick read without using much brain power - maybe while traveling on a plane or train. It is also easy to put down and finish reading later. There was no suspense that made me need to keep reading.

I hope the next three books in the series pick up the pace again and Alex actually solves the mystery. I'll let you know. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

"New" Patio Furniture

The doorbell rings and I think it is another teenage boy to hang out with my teenage boys. Luckily, I answered right away instead of hollering for one of the boys to answer it. Waiting for me was my next door neighbor.

They have a patio set that they do not want anymore and she asks if I want it or know someone who would. Are you kidding me? I have been shopping for patio furniture for months. The prices are ridiculous. $500 for just the table, $200 for chairs....of course that does not include cushions. I said that I would take it sight unseen. She insisted that I come next door and look at the set first. So, I did. Then, I said again that I will take it. Wooohooo!!


She gave me two lounge chairs with ottomons and a table with six chairs. Sweet! My house is the family-gathering location, especially for holidays. Before, we put chairs wherever we could. Now, I actually have a table and chairs. No more balancing the plates and cups on our laps. I am so happy with our "new" patio furniture.

I send my three teens to carry the furniture back to our house. When they are done, the neighbor lady gives them a bottle of water and $5 each for being her "movers." She told me not to get upset with giving them the money. That is very sweet, but so unnecessary. But, I thanked her and said it was okay. (So far, none of the boys have told me that they received $5 each. Ha ha!)

I have the best neighbors!! 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Replacing "The Twinkie"

It was a sad day when Hostess Brand, Inc. closed their doors for good. Very sad. Of course, it had been years since I had eaten a Twinkie, so - like millions of other people - my not purchasing their products may have something to do with their bankruptcy. Naturally, when they announced their bankruptcy, I bought Twinkies. I wanted my children to share in the institution that was The Twinkie. They did. Whew!

Since then, I have been searching for a replacement for The Twinkie. It has not been a very diligent search. I tried two so far. The first was Little Debbie Cloud Cakes. These are actually better than The Twinkie. They have a smoother taste. Twinkies taste a little drier side compared to these. Little Debbie Cloud Cakes are definitely a good replacement.

Next potential candidate was Sarah Lee Golden Fudge Cakes. First, I have to mention that growing up the family dessert was Sarah Lee Pound Cake. You can add fruit on top, or ice cream, or toast a slice. It can be decorated like a regular cake too. Second, the Sarah Lee Golden Fudge Cake itself. Wow. Although by appearances it looks like a replacement Twinkie, it is not. This yummy bit of goodness actually tastes like a fudge cake. You know, a chocolate cake with chocolate fudge icing! A box of 8 did not last very long in my house (there's 5 of us, 3 of which are teenagers).

Interestingly, my 16-year-old would not eat a Twinkie or Cloud Cake. He probably did not like the look of them. I certainly can agree with that....presentation is everything with food. He did, however, leap at the box of Golden Fudge Cakes. That is probably because it is wrapped in chocolately goodness. My 16-year-old is a chocolateholic. Epic chocolateholic. No, no, no, no, trust me, he can beat any other chocolateholic. When he was little, he ate an entire pan of fudge before I could get to him. This boy eats, sleeps and breathes chocolate. And, ketchup. Chocolate and ketchup.

That is my Twinkie story. I have not looked for other replacement Twinkies because I like the two I found. Of course, if I see another possibility I'll let you know.........

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

I hate paper cuts.

Earlier today I got a paper cut...on a folder or magazine. I was reaching for I-don't-know-what and sliced myself on some paper. It hurt. Paper cuts were the reason for fainting couches. Get a paper cut, rest on the fainting couch, drink iced tea, fan yourself. The pain of a cut makes me nauseous. Seriously. After I get a paper cut, I am done for the day.

During dinner, I was using a fork when I noticed my right hand was shaking, my finger was throbbing, and it felt like my finger was being ripped in half. It really, really hurt. The pain was just the paper cut again. It hurt worse than when I originally cut my finger. I had Jeff cut up my food and I tried eating with my left hand. It was easier to feed my dinner to the dogs.

Now, a couple of hours later it still hurts. I put a Band-Aid over the cut to stop the throbbing. Unfortunately, the dogs do not like it and want to bite the Band-Aid off. Ouch.

I really dislike sharp objects, like knives (especially pocket knives or box cutters). So I avoid them. However, there is no way to avoid paper. Or, the computer. I use all fingers for typing. I tried not to tonight, but I could not do it. I cannot use the hunt-and-peck approach after typing all these years. Even typing this post hurts my finger.

I hate paper cuts.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Bad Book Reviews

I do not know what to do with bad book reviews. I dislike writing bad book reviews - unless, of course, the book was so horrible that I got mad. But, writing a bad review might discourage someone else from reading that book. Maybe the author had a bad day (or editor), maybe I did not like that particular book but somebody else would. So, I wanted to write a bad review but just could not do it.

The author is well-known. I gave one a try. The story dragged on forever. I truly thought that I would never get to the end. The murder mystery was ridiculous. With the first murder, I knew who the killer was and that was disappointing. It was not just boring and uninteresting...it also had an ick factor.

The book is about a female firefighter who meets the love of her life and they get married. (I love a Hollywood ending.) Her mother abandoned her as a baby, so she grew up with just her father. Okay, fine. The dad is in the book and he is a great character. Only, about 1/4th into the book, the dad starts his own romantic, um, encounter. He meets the woman of his dreams and they get married. The problem is the book mentions the dad and his new lady having relations. Nothing specific, but still.

Nobody wants to think about their parents having sex. Never. Ever. My parents had four daughters but they never had sex. I refuse to think about that. La, la, la, la, la.....I'm not listening to you! So, it really creeped me out that the 26-year-old daughter and the middle-aged dad are both getting it on with someone...in the same book. Ew. Write a series about the characters, but not both stories in the same book. Isn't there a rule about that? There should be. Overall, I did not mind their love story but it was just thrown at me. There was no advanced warning. Where did those chapter(s) come from?! I like books about second chances, but give me a better description or book cover so I can decide whether I want to read their story.

So, what to do about a bad book review? Should I reveal the title and author? I just do not know......so I did not. This time.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Too Much Thinking

My brain is on overload, and it never stops. I have no "off" or "nighty-nite" switch. It is a freight train running at full speed 24 hours/7 days a week. I am an insomniac....my brain doesn't stop at night to let me sleep. I use sleep meds, a breathing machine, and an iPod to get some sleep. Some nights, some weeks, it just does not work. Like this week......

Of course, there are plenty of thinking items -- Benghazi, Gosnell, Santangelo, leaving babies to die or drowning them in toilets, immigration, Obamacare, Boston bombing, the religious crisis in the military - actually, all the constitutional rights and treatment of our military personnel - soldiers being killed in Afghanistan, politics, cancer, public schools, homeschooling, Algebra, t-e-e-n-a-g-e-r-s, Viagra and vasectomies, sundresses, prayer, puppies, presents, rescue dogs, Mother's Day, fixing my glasses, washing the roof, that big swooping hawk in the backyard, what's for dinner, missing friends, walking, jogging, blogging -- I have read many, many books that I have not written book reviews about because I'm iffy about the novels. They were okay.....not a positive, not a negative, just there. Do I write about such books or do I wait until I have a definite opinion? The list goes on and on and on and on and.... Well, you get the idea. You probably have a long list too.

I have even reached the point that I cannot decide what to put on the grocery list. And, would someone tell me why the dish detergent is in the bathroom? Wait! Maybe I don't want to know..... I've had too much thinking this week. I need the earth to stop rotating on its axis just for a couple of hours so the chaos in my brain will turn off and I can nap.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Book Review: Love is Murder by Sandra Brown

This is a fantastic book! Love is Murder is a compilation of 29 stories selected by Sandra Brown in the "romance suspense" genre, romantic stories with a terror twist or vice versa. Some of these authors were very familiar - like Lee Child - while others were new. Of the 29, 20 were my favorites. I know, I know!

The most brilliant story of them all is Diamond Drop by Roxanne St. Claire. It is a short story about her series Bullet Catchers, an elite protection organization. The main character in Diamond Drop is Donovan Rush. He is a courier for diamonds from Antwerp, Belgium to Paris, France. He must deliver diamonds for a new client, Boisvert Jewelers. The story is smart and fast-paced with a twist at the end.

Oh, there is the Hot Note by Patricia Rosemoor. In Love is Murder, Patricia writes a short story regarding her series about Shelley Caldwell, a homicide detective in Chicago, Illinois. Caldwell must solve supernatural mysteries, along with her half-vampire/half-human boyfriend.

And, definitely do not miss the Black Ops, Inc. series by Cindy Gerard!  Black Ops, Inc. is a private security and espionage firm. Her short story is Dying to Score about a reconnaissance mission in Central Guatemala by Crystal Debrowski Reed a/k/a "Tinkerbelle" and her husband Johnny Duane Reed, along with Luke Colter a/k/a "Doc Holliday" and Gabe Jones a/k/a "The Archangel." Johnny is seriously wounded in the shoulder, and Tink and her companions must extract Johnny before they are overrun by mercenaries of a Mexican drug cartel.

I am usually not a fan of compilation books. This one, however, is the exception. I really hope you read Love is Murder. Two thumbs' up!

P.S. I cannot wait to give my list of "new" authors to my sister Julie. She feeds my library addiction. (Thank goodness!)


Monday, April 22, 2013

Troops to Teachers

Placing veterans in the nation's classrooms to serve again is the goal for the Troops to Teachers program. The purpose of the Department of Defense program is to help eligible current and former military personnel begin new careers as teachers in public schools where their skills, knowledge and experience are most needed.

In addition to counseling and referral, state Troops to Teachers representatives help applicants identify teacher certification requirements for the state they wish to teach, programs leading to certification and employment opportunities in their state. Other state representatives will reach out to servicemembers earlier while they are still on active-duty and identify education requirements so that interested servicemembers may begin working toward their teaching certifications before leaving the service, enabling a smoother transition into teaching.

Servicemembers can learn more about Troops to Teachers and locate a state representative at www.proudtoserveagain.com. www.military.com

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Boston Marathon ”GO RUCK” 2013

National Guardsmen "Ruckers" among
first marathoners to cross finish line.
At zero dark hundred on the morning of Patriot's Day, at the starting line in Hopkinton, Massachusetts - four hours before the runners took off - 15 active-duty soldiers from the Massachusetts National Guard began the 26.2 miles, 8-hour walk of the Boston Marathon known as the "Tough Ruck." Instead of shorts, t-shirts and running shoes, soldiers dressed in full fatigues, boots and carry their rucksacks filled with clothes and supplies, that can weigh as much as 45 lbs. 

Participants, who are referred to as Ruckers, honor a lost soldier by affixing a yellow ribbon that bears the name of a veteran who lost their life in service to their country in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan or Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation New Dawn in Iraq. It is a fundraising effort for active military personnel and raises money for "Military Friends Foundation in support of Families of the Fallen." 

The Military Friends Foundation was established in 2003 with the financial support of generous private donors who wished to recognize the unique service of citizen soldiers and airmen.  Unlike any other time in history, these men and women are being called upon to serve this Nation overseas.  Created as an independent non-profit organization, the Military Friends Foundation is designed to assist eligible Massachusetts National Guard and Reserve families facing financial hardships related to a deployment or extended activation. http://www.militaryfriends.org/

People saw the soldiers throughout the race and thought they were part of the security for the Boston Marathon. They were not. The picture of two soldiers tearing apart the fence to help those injured had just finished their Tough Ruck. And, while many ran away from the noise and chaos following the bombings, the soldiers ran toward it.  

All Tough Ruckers are all accounted for and safely home with their families. As always, they supported the American people. Now, it is our turn to support them. Tax-deductible donations can be mailed to Military Friends Foundation, 14 Beacon Street #706, Boston, MA 02108 or made online via PayPal at www.militaryfriends.org/donate.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by the bombings at the Boston Marathon.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Book Review: The Man in the White Suit by Ben Collins

To enjoy this book you need to be a fan of Top Gear U.K.  You need to understand the epic global phenomenon of "The Stig."  And, that most importantly, the Stig's identity is never revealed. No one knew his name, saw his face or heard his voice. After Season 2, the black-suited Stig chatted about who he was, so he was fired. Ben Collins remained in secrecy as the white-suited Stig for eight seasons. By then, the press started questioning that Ben Collins was the mysterious Stig, although Collins repeatedly denied it. Collins was not officially fired from Top Gear U.K. until his autobiography - The Man in the White Suit: The Stig, Le Mans, the Fast Lane, and Me - was published. So that brings us to the book review.

This was a long read for me - I do not know British expressions or internationally acclaimed racing car drivers. Nevertheless, the book was enjoyable. Collins has lead a very interesting life. At the age of four his sole ambition was to be a fighter pilot...His father instilled in him the love of speed. Ben took the eye examination for a fighter pilot and failed. He was crushed, but he never lost his passion to excel. For his 18th birthday, his father's gift was a trial in a single-seat racing car at the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit. The racing car driver was born.

The book basically has three components - Ben Collins the racing car driver (including movie stunt driver), the Stig, and a member of the British Army. His recollections of his army training were quite amusing. As the Stig, Ben coached hundreds of celebrities from Tom Cruise to Lionel Ritchie around Top Gear's Dunsfold racetrack, each person vying to be the fastest celebrity in "a reasonably priced" car. The competition is fierce. Ben has also tested hundreds of exotic supercars and family cars around that track too. Manufacturers (owners, designers, engineers) even listed to the Stig's comments and suggestions for improving or tweaking their cars. Amazing.

With rumors of Top Gear U.K. considering another Stig, a terrible racing accident in Romania, and the birth of his baby girl, Collins decided to give up the Stig and just be Ben Collins. Certainly he needed a less-franatic, less-traveled life. Even though the producers were looking for another racing car driver(s), the parting was not amicable when Collins published his book. That's silly. "You told everybody that you were the Stig before we could fire you." Ridiculous.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Ben Collins's autobiography. Of course, I am a rabid Top Gear U.K. lunatic. It was good to finally know the man behind the mask. Two thumbs' up!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Book Review: Alex Cross, Run by James Patterson

 I finally got my hands on the latest Alex Cross installment (thanks, Julie) - Alex Cross, Run by James Patterson. This one was creepy!

Alex Cross has to investigate the murders of three serial killers. The first murderer is killing tall, pretty blondes, the second is killing young gay men, and the third is killing young pregnant women. As awful as that sounds, James Patterson does a good job of making these murders palatable.

While trying to solve these crimes, Alex lands on a website's hate list and the blogger is stalking him. At one point, the blogger sets Alex up for an assault arrest. Yes, Alex is arrested and must spend a night in jail. The police's top profiler/detective in jail! Alex is then assigned as noncontact status, and he can only answer the phones and filing. Thankfully, Alex manages to continue to work the cases from the desk and eventually is relieved from suspension and back to finding the killers.

Disappointment in a couple of incomplete side items. (1) One of the serial killers installs cameras and microphones in Alex's house. This issue is never addressed again in the book. Alex should have found that killer's laptop and the equipment, but it is never brought back up again. Throughout the book, the serial killer listens to Alex's family life and conversations, but it is not resolved at the end. Just a little something that should have been tweaked. (2) One the serial killers injects Alex with drugs. Alex is taken to the hospital when he collapses. No one believes Alex that the unsub stuck him with a needle, and no one bothers to check his hip for the puncture mark. Instead, they just believe their brilliant psychologist is actually a drug addict. What?! This made absolutely no sense whatsoever.

As usual, two thumbs' up for James Patterson. His books flow easily and are a quick read. I even went back and reread parts of the book, something I rarely do.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Book Review: Alpha and Omega Series by Patricia Briggs

Patricia Briggs writes other novels besides the Mercy Thompson series I enjoy. I've started reading the companion series called Alpha & Omega (Charles and Anna).

We're introduced to Charles, a werewolf, in the first Mercy Thompson novel Moon Called. Charles is one of the sons of Bran, the Marrok, the "king" of the werewolves. Charles is the only natural-born werewolf. Female werewolves cannot have children because changing into a werewolf during a full moon is too violent for the baby to live. However, Charles's mother was a Native American Salish woman, the daughter of a medicine man. She used the knowledge of her father to keep from changing while pregnant. She carried Charles to full term, but was so weak she died after his birth. She did, however, pass her magic to Charles, who can change easier and faster than other werewolves.

Charles's role in the pack is assassin. His father sends Charles to eliminate rogue or dangerous werewolves. When they discover an out-of-control Alpha in Chicago, Bran sends Charles to eliminate that werewolf. If possible, definitely start this series with a short story called Alpha & Omega: A Companion Novella to Cry Wolf. The first actual novel involving Charles and Anna together is Cry Wolf when Anna goes to Montana with Charles. The novella is the story of Charles and Anna's meeting and falling in love, as well as the story of the bad werewolf and his pack. It is the best start to this series.

This is a must-read series for those interested in werewolf folklore. To keep this blog short, I'll discuss Cry Wolf in another post. Most definitely two thumbs' up!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Book Review: Extinction Machine (Joe Ledger, Book 5) by Jonathan Maberry

After 11 long months, I finally have my hands on the fifth book in the Joe Ledger series by Jonathan Maberry - Extinction Machine. This man is a genius. His Joe Ledger novels are unlike any other. I re-read the other books in the series while waiting for the next one to be published. Yes, they are that good. Maberry's books flow quickly so you get caught up in the action right from the beginning.

Brief bio - Joe Ledger, a Baltimore detective assigned to a counterterrorism task force, is recruited by the government to lead a new ultrasecret rapid-response group called the "Department of Military Sciences" (DMS). His job as team leader is to battle monsters, mutants, genetically-altered humans and whatever nastiness is thrown his way. Ledger is the uber-fighting machine. In Extinction Machine, the ever mysterious Mr. Church has promoted Ledger and now he commands 200 people at the Warehouse, the third largest Dept. of Military Sciences field office located in Baltimore, Maryland.

In Extinction Machine, since the alien crash in Roswell, New Mexico, someone has been collecting parts and pieces of all the crash sites around the world including alien DNA. Now the aliens want their technology back. Ledger must locate a kidnapped president and deal with a despised vice-president, China, and a good-turned-evil organization in the U.S. Of course let's not forget the alien/human hybrids that have been breed to fly the alien spacecrafts. When the president is kidnapped, the vice-president takes over and is out to destroy Joe Ledger and DMS and take control of the world's most supercomputer MindReader owned by Mr. Church of the DMS. The vice-president declares Ledger a terrorist, an enemy of the state, and now the feds and soldiers want Ledger dead.

I encourage everybody to read this series. You do not have to be a sci/fi fan - I certainly am not. The books are more action/adventure. The sci/fi in the book is explained well and believable.

I certainly hope this is not the last Joe Ledger book. The ending was too tidy, too sentimenal. It made me nervous. I may have to wait a year to get my latest Joe Ledger fix, but the books need to keep on coming!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Book Review: The Ghosts Of New Orleans by Terri Reid

If you have read my other reviews, you will know that I really like Terri Reid's series about Mary O'Reilly. I cannot wait for Book 10 to publish. So, because I like the other Terri Reid books I bought The Ghosts Of New Orleans (A Paranormal Research and Containment Division (PRCD) Case File). This one, however, is stupid, stupid, stupid.

The story takes place after Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans. There is lots of newly deceased as well as displaced cemeteries. Eloise Parker is supposed to be this great paranormal psychic, who is brought in to contact the ghosts and help them more on. But, there is a terrible evil presence that is keeping thousands of ghosts hostage. Eloise cannot defeat ghosts unless she is making out h-e-a-v-i-l-y with her ex-boyfriend. Seriously. They practically have sex in front of everyone. Yesh.

This book is such a disappointment because I really like Terri Reid's Mary O'Reilly novels. Don't bother with this one, but definitely read her others. I'm sorry I paid the $2.99 for the ebook. More than two thumbs' down.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Bringing Lent Home with Mother Teresa

In the past, Lent has not been very personal for me, or the boys. Oh, I would give up coffee, chocolate or such and attend Stations of the Cross. The boys would select something and then we'd all try to remember what we weren't supposed to do. I was volunteering in the parish office, so I thought that was enough almsgiving.

Sometimes it is difficult being a newbie Catholic. I do not have family or church traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation. The boys rely on me for their...um...Catholic activities. So, I read books or articles, surf through Catholic websites and blogs, and try to find something "Catholic" to bring into our lives. 

For Lent this year, I wanted something more personal for me and the boys. I wanted to bring Lent alive. It is a tremendous help that the boys and I are co-teaching Sunday School/Prep. Class for PreK4. The parish provides the materials, and, my co-teacher rocks the kiddie crafts! The children are such a joy. We've really paid attention to Lent and Easter season this year because we have to explain it to a room full of 4-year-olds!

I purchased Bringing Lent Home with Mother Teresa: Prayers, Reflections and Activities for Families by Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle. This has been an helpful book. Each day it offers prayers, reflections, stories about Mother Teresa's life, suggestions for fasting and almsgiving. My favorite sections of the book are fasting and almsgiving - there's different suggestions for each day of the week. For fasting there's "give up a TV show, a video game, or the internet." For almsgiving there's "think of someone who is in need of love and what could be done to show love for this person." Contemporary and personal.

The boys and I read thru the day's pages and decide as a group what the fasting and almsgiving will be. One day they may give up two hours of internet before bedtime, desserts or no complaining and bickering for a day. We also pick something good to do, like random acts of kindness. Oh, one particular day was smile, and mean it. The boys had no problem  with that, but I had to face all the parents in carline. Smile and mean it? When I wanted to run them over with my car? Oh, now that was a tough day, but in the day I felt better for it.

Whenever there was "do something special for a classmate, teacher, neighbor or friend" the boys would choose do something for Nana, like taking her dinner, writing pictures or poems, offering help. It's important the boys learn to really help the family and Nana was so happy with each gift or gesture. Another win-win.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Book Review: The Blood Gospel: The Order of the Sanguines Series by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell

Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow. Kudos to my sister Julie for finding this brilliant story. The authors are total geniuses. This fabulous book is The Blood Gospel: The Order of the Sanguines Series by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell. I am usually not interested in historical fiction. I find those books dull, boring and hopelessly incorrect. However, The Blood Gospel: The Order of the Sanguines Series is amazing.

I loved this book. I absolutely could not put it down. But, I had a tremendously difficult time writing a review. There was so much that I wanted to say, however I could not get my thoughts organized. So, forgive me for my lack of imagination, but here is the amazon.com description of the book. Please do not let my lack of originality keep you from reading this awesome, awesome book.


An earthquake in Masada, Israel, kills hundreds and reveals a tomb buried in the heart of the mountain. A trio of investigators—Sergeant Jordan Stone, a military forensic expert; Father Rhun Korza, a Vatican priest; and Dr. Erin Granger, a brilliant but disillusioned archaeologist—are sent to explore the macabre discovery, a subterranean temple holding the crucified body of a mummified girl.

But a brutal attack at the site sets the three on the run, thrusting them into a race to recover what was once preserved in the tomb's sarcophagus: a book rumored to have been written by Christ's own hand, a tome that is said to hold the secrets to His divinity. The enemy who hounds them is like no other, a force of ancient evil directed by a leader of impossible ambitions and incalculable cunning.

From crumbling tombs to splendorous churches, Erin and her two companions must confront a past that traces back thousands of years, to a time when ungodly beasts hunted the dark spaces of the world, to a moment in history when Christ made a miraculous offer, a pact of salvation for those who were damned for eternity.

Here is a novel that is explosive in its revelation of a secret history. Why do Catholic priests wear pectoral crosses? Why are they sworn to celibacy? Why do the monks hide their countenances under hoods? And why does Catholicism insist that the consecration of wine during Mass results in its transformation to Christ's own blood? The answers to all go back to a secret sect within the Vatican, one whispered as rumor but whose very existence was painted for all to see by Rembrandt himself, a shadowy order known simply as the Sanguines. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Book Review: Moon Called (Mercy Thompson, Book 1) by Patricia Briggs

Vampires, werewolves, and fairies! Oh my!! The series of Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs is wicked cool. This is a fantastic series. Definitely begin with Book #1, Moon Called. I have enjoyed these books so much that I'll write a separate review for each book.

In a world where vampires, the fae and werewolves co-exist with humans, Mercy straddles the line as one of the few remaining "walkers" from a Native American magical bloodline - she can shapeshift into a coyote. As a child, Mercy was orphaned and was raised by a pack of werewolves. She ran away from the pack and an early marriage in her teens. Now she lives alone, the owner of her own car repair shop. The Alpha of the Columbia Basin Pack is her neighbor, her old boss is an ancient fae, and she fixes car for the vampire seethe. This is one cool chick.

Moon Called focuses on an apparent clan war among werewolves. When Mercy takes in a newly-made teen werewolf she discovers someone is performing experiments on werewolves and creating new werewolves to sell. She seeks refuge in her childhood pack when the Alpha is badly injured, and must solve what evil is preying on young werewolves.

Moon Called is a tautly written action thriller in a believable alternate universe. B
riggs outlines a creative, highly detailed society in which they live without long detailed explanationsHer characters are well-written, sympathetic and entertaining. There are a ton of characters to cheer for, and among these different supernatural species only Mercy is friend to them all. Well, almost all.....

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Habemus Papam!

What an exciting week it has been, and we give praise and thanks to God for guiding the cardinals in the conclave to elect our new Holy Father, Pope Francis, and his acceptance of the election as 266th head of Roman Catholic Church. 

To understand the election of Pope Francis, it is vital to comprehend the dimensions of global Catholicism. Around 700 million of the world’s Catholics live outside of Europe, and 450 million of them live in Latin America. His election is a stunning development, but it is also recognition of the College of Cardinals that while the Church is truly global, the center of gravity has shifted to the Southern Hemisphere. The Church in Latin America is half a millennium old, and the election of the pope from that continent is a proclamation that it has truly come into its own. 

Pope Francis is the first Latin American pope and the first Jesuit pope. At the age of 76, many were surprised at his election, but let us all now join in asking God to pour out His blessings on our new Roman Pontiff, who in the words of Archbishop Charles Chaput, "is a wonderful choice; a pastor God sends not just to the Church but to every person of good will who honestly yearns for justice, peace and human dignity in our time."
What a great day to be a Catholic! Let us pray that our united witness to the world will inspire more Catholics to come home to Christ's Body--the Catholic Church!

O Lord, guide Pope Francis I in the way of Jesus. May the Gospel inspire him and may truth be his guiding force. Give him wisdom, zeal and the gift of governance as he leads the Church on the journey to the Kingdom. Amen.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Day at Melbourne Beach

Tuckaway is the blue two-story.
View from the patio.
We had a delightful day visiting relatives at the Melbourne Beach. They had a room at the Tuckaway Shores Resort. Their room was on the first floor, facing the beach. I did not book or pay for the room, so I cannot comment about their service. But, the room was cute and the view was fantastic! www.tuckawayshores.com. If you do rent a room, ask for Room 109. I loved its location.


Boys of Summer
(Taken from the room patio.)
It is so relaxing to sit at the beach and listen to the waves crashing on the surf. The day gave me plenty of time for reading. The boys spent a lot of time on the beach. I am always so happy to see them spending a Florida day on the beach.

Because we did not want to leave the room or the beach, we had takeout for dinner. I definitely recommend the No. 1 Chinese Restaurant on Eau Gallie Boulevard.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Movies: Skyfall (James Bond)

I am seriously, seriously worried about Nana and Miss Julie. They both recommended the latest James Bond movie Skyfall. So, the family sat down to watch it together. Epic fail!

The story begins with James Bond getting shot and believed killed in action. Of course, he wasn't. You cannot kill off James Bond and still have a James Bond movie. Anyway, Bond returns to help Queen and Country when Mi6 headquarters are bombed. Mi6 is moved to Churchill's WWII tunnels. (Why wasn't Mi6 - a "secret" organization always located in secret location?) The bad guy just wants to kill M.

I have disliked the new James Bond movies since they replaced Pierce Brosnan with Daniel Craig. It is not Daniel Craig's fault. The storylines are unBond-like. They have forgotten who James Bond is.....a suave, debonair, ruthless, cold-blooded killer. After all, he has a license to kill. The new Bond is too vulnerable, too hesitant, too flawed. During the movie I kept thinking "Bond would never do that." "Bond wouldn't let that happen." Jason Bourne is more Bondesque than James Bond.
The new Q

Not only have the storylines fallen apart, so has Q (Quartermaster). Desmond Llewelyn portrayed Q from 1963 to 1999, who will always be the real Q. Then, John Cleese was Q from 1999 to 2002. He was good and put his own sassy spin on the Q character. Why didn't they return with John Cleese? With all these Bond changes, they need some consistency. Instead, there is a new Q played by Ben Whishaw. He is a cutie and does a good job, but they have made Q all about computers. Huh? James Bond is about gadgets, gadgets, gadgets. I was so disappointed there were not any cool gadgets in this movie.
The evil agent Silva

Finally, there was the worst villan. Javier Bardem portrays Raoul Silva, a former Mi6 agent also believed to be killed in action. This character is just freaky. He is totally obsessed with M as "Mommy" and just wants to kill her. My 15-year-old said "awkward," left the room and never returned during the I-want-to-be-gay-with-Bond scene.

When the movie finished (thank goodness), I thought "weird and boring." My 14-year-old said "uninteresting and disturbing." I totally agreed. Oh, I was concerned about watching a James Bond movie with my teenagers because of sex scenes. Miss Julie said not to worry. Um, wrong! There were two naked-with-Bond scenes and we were all uncomfortable being in the same room. Perhaps I'll let them watch a James Bond movie with Pierce Brosnan was Bond - just with Daddy.....

Opinion? Two thumbs' down. So, now what do we do about Nana and Miss Julie??

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Book Review: The Black Echo (Harry Bosch, No. 1) by Michael Connelly

I am so glad to have finally read the first in the series - The Black Echo (Harry Bosch, No. 1) by Michael Connelly. The problem with starting a series from the middle or end is that you don't get the character development or history from the beginning.

Although I knew from other books that Eleanor Wish was the mother of his daughter, I did not know when they met or under what circumstances. That story is told in the very first book of the Harry Bosch series - The Black Echo. It is a very good story. Of course, Eleanor does not tell Harry that he has a daughter until three years later (I think). If that is the correct timeline, it makes sense after reading this book. The book also includes a bit of Harry's history in Vietnam as a tunnel rat. His service is referred to in other books, but it is really explained in this first one. His freight of tunnels isn't just because he was a tunnel rat, but actually happened in the tunnels. "Out of the blue and into the black....the black echo."

Interestingly, the story begins after Harry's fall from grace in the Robbery-Homicide Division. I always thought that story would be its own book. Not so. When Harry returns from his suspension, he is assigned as a homicide detective for LAPD's Hollywood Division. He is called out to the homicide for a street junkie. Everyone wants to write the death off as an overdose, except Harry. He recognizes clues that it is actually a murder. And, he recognizes the victim - a former Army buddy/tunnel rat from Vietnam. But, it seems that only Harry wants the truth!

Each of the Harry Bosch books stands alone, yet I recommend reading from the beginning of the series with this first book. I had several "ah ha!" moments when part of this story connected with his other books. Definitely, two thumbs' up.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

TV: How the States Got Their Shapes

Did you know that Atlanta gets more rain per year than Seattle? But, Atlanta is built on bedrock so the ground cannot absorb all that water. Or, that Nevada's state line was lowered into Arizona's territory so that Nevada would include part of the Colorado River? Why? Because Arizona sided with the South during the Civil War. Cool, huh? Did you know it took Canada and the U.S. decades to agree to a treaty that determined the Maine and Canadian borders? Know how they finally decided. Watch the show! 

As part of Steven's homeschooling courses, he is learning history. But, I did not want all of his lessons to come from books. Reading, reading, reading. Good to know, not always the right way for a particular student to learn. I discovered a fantastic TV program on the History Channel: How the States Got Their Shape. Today's lesson was "A River Runs Thru It." Hence, the paragraph above.

I enjoy the mini-quizzes. Which river is longest? The Mississippi, the Missouri, the Colorado or the Ohio? Nope, not the Mississippi. It is the Missouri River. What is the water source for the City of Las Vegas? No googling........ Lake Mead. But, is Lake Mead actually a "lake"? No. It is the reservoir at the Hoover Dam. Where is the Hoover Dam? It is located on the Colorado River about 24 miles from the Strip southeast of Las Vegas.


It's a very enjoyable show with information about the states, but not presented in a boring documentary sort of way. The host Brian Unger travels to each state, showing the area and asking local citizens questions about their state. We do not have cable or satellite TV so we were watching it online at http://www.history.com/shows/how-the-states-got-their-shapes but then discovered it on Amazon Instant Videos. We have Roku and watch the episodes thru that service. We have Amazon Prime so these particular TV episodes are free (otherwise they're $1.99 each). They're also online at Amazon.com or DVD. 

I recommend the TV show for everybody - It is informational, interesting, entertaining and fun.

Friday, March 1, 2013

TV: Body of Proof


The third season of Body of Proof has started - Tuesdays at 10:00 p.m. on ABC. I really like this show. Dana Delaney portrays a medical examiner in Philadelphia named Megan Hunt. Of course, medical examiners perform autopsies, not investigate murders. And, no woman who stands on her feet all day would wear her fabulous platform pumps..... but I like it anyway.

The end of season two was a shocker. The writers were killing people off right and left - people who worked with the medical examiner. At the end of season two, Dr. Hunt's medico-legal detective Peter Dunlop was stabbed and she was calling for help. This season starts off Dr. Hunt's returning from a three-month leave of absence after Peter's death. Okay.....so they did kill him off. Answered that question. I am always surprised when a main character is removed from the show. He was the secondary character after Dr. Hunt. Boom! He's gone.

Season three begins with a two-part episode called "Abduction." Someone is killing U.S. combat veterans and removing their spleens. Ew. Dr. Hunt must discover who are the killers and why the veterans are being killed. Soon after she makes a startling discovery, Dr. Hunt receives a phone call that the killers have kidnapped her daughter. She has something they want back. Hum, interesting.

Although I enjoyed the episodes, anything involving the U.S. military makes me squeamish. The mainstream media does enough trash talk about our armed forces, so I dislike when they're portrayed as bad in movies, books, TV. Of course, the allover message of the show was our veterans need more help, but still.......

I still recommend the show. Two thumbs' up!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Book Review: Die Trying (Jack Reacher, No. 2) by Lee Child

Lee Child broke my heart. Ripped it right out of my chest and shredded it into little pieces. At least, that's how I felt after reading Die Trying (Jack Reacher, No. 2). Yes, I'll explain. But first, the basics.....

Jack Reacher was a Major in the Army military police. (Read The Affair to discover why Reacher left the Army). After a life of growing up on Marine bases and then 27 years in the Army, he decides to freelance.... be a hobo.... a traveling man. His parents and brother are dead, so he has no ties to any particular place. He wanders across America.

In Die Trying, Reacher is in Chicago for a few days. He's walking along a sidewalk when a young woman exits a dry-cleaners. She previously injured her knee so she's having difficulty with balancing her dry-cleaning, pushing the door open, and hanging onto her cane. Reacher stops to help. Immediately, three guys surround them and kidnap the young woman - Reacher too. The young woman is FBI Agent Holly Johnson.

The short version of the story is Reacher and Holly's travel to the kidnappers' compound and their potential escape. Of course, there are more plot twists but I never want to tell too much. The book started off slowly for me, and I'm not even sure why. It's a good Reacher story. As usual, he beats up the bad guys and saves the damsel in distress.

Spoiler alert: But, how did Lee Child rip my heart out? Because in all the Reacher books I've read, this is the first and only book that Reacher falls in love with the girl..... but, she loves somebody else! She walks away from him in the end, and he is devastated. Of course, she had to leave him because it is only the second book that Lee Child wrote and Reacher is a traveling man so he could not stay with her, but still..... I was so upset at the end. "It wasn't the end of the world. Just felt like it." Poor, poor Jack.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Book Review: One Shot (Jack Reacher, No. 9) by Lee Child

Yes, friends, I'm chatting about yet another Jack Reacher novel. My favorite series at the moment. I just finished One Shot (Jack Reacher, No. 9) by Lee Child. More breathtaking, heart-pumping action!

First of all, let's get one thing straight - I'm NOT watching Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher in the movie One Shot. Jack Reacher is 6'5" and 250 lbs. Tom Cruise is 5'7" - need I say more? Casting should have picked a big musclely hunk, like 6'4" Dwayne Johnson (The Rock). Yeah, Baby! Dwayne would definitely be a believable Jack Reacher, headbutting or throwing an elbow into somebody's face. Now that's what I'm talking about!

Reacher is in Miami when he sees a TV news report about a sniper killing five people in Indianapolis. He recognizes the name of the killer from his old Army days as a military cop. So, Reacher travels via bus to Indiana. At the same time, the suspected killer tells the police that they've arrested the wrong man and he wants Jack Reacher. Interesting....

This was another "I can't stop reading," "I can't put this book down," type of novel. It's filled without lots of Reacher action and good storytelling. What's supposed to be a slam dunk case against the killer turns out to be riddled with holes. [Pun intended.] Only Reacher can put all the clues together and solve this baffling case. And, he does. But first, Reacher must avoid the police on a trumped-up murder charge.

This is in my top three favorite Reacher books....right now, it's resting at #2. Yeah, I really enjoyed this book. More genius by Lee Child - keep 'em coming!

Friday, February 22, 2013

TV: The Taste

I am enjoying The Taste on Tuesday nights on ABC. It's a twist from the typical cooking competitions. There are four judges - Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, Ludo Lefebvre and Brian Malarkey. Each judge selects four chefs for their kitchen. Whatever the challenge may be, each cook prepares just a bite, or taste. The judging is blind so the judges don't know if they're voting off one of their own people. I like that. It's all about The Taste.

Of course, the entire world knows Anthony Bourdain. He's my favorite chef. I hope his team wins even though my favorite contestant is not on Team Anthony. More about that later..... I am aware of who Nigella Lawson is, but I've never seen her TV show or read her books. I have no idea who Ludo Lefebvre or Brian Malarkey are, but I'm cheering for Ludo instead of Malarkey. It's a personality thing. Malarkey shouts just for the sake of shouting. That drives me nuts. Ludo is a classically trained French chef so I understand him and what he wants in his kitchen.

You just have to make it past the first two episodes - the auditions - and then the show gets interesting. This week was Episode 5: Sandwiches. I t-o-t-a-l-l-y understand that challenge. Making a good sandwich is actually difficult. One slip up and it can go from awesome to awful. My Dad loved sandwiches. He was always putting different combinations together. And, that's why I like diners. You can always get a good sandwich at a diner.
Khristianne Uy

My favorite chef-contestant is Khristianne Uy (Team Malarkey). She is one cool chick. She creates dishes that even my picking tastebuds would try, and I like her stories. My least favorite is Gregg Drusinsky (Ludo Team). Too arrogant, yet a crybaby. Annoying.

We're halfway thru its short season, so we'll know who the winner is soon. I hope you'll give The Taste a try. I'm enjoying the show.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Book Review: Cassandra Palmer Series by Karen Chance

 3/24/13: Update - Okay, I have now read the series, Touch the Dark (Book 1), Claimed by  Shadow (Book 2), Embrace the Night (Book 3), Curse the Dawn (Book 4), and Hunt the Moon (Book 5). I am enjoying this series, but they must be read in order. The first three books have way too much detail and not enough action. Yada, yada, yada. Book 4 is really amusing and why I'm willing to give this series another chance.

The heroine of the books is Cassandra Palmer, who is to be crowned as Pythia, the world's ruling clairvoyant. She can also time-shift, which is helpful in fighting evil mages who are trying change history to what they want. I wasn't interested in Cassie in the slightest. Boring. She is constantly whining about her situation and bickering with those who are trying to help her. She runs around clueless, make stupid mistakes and gets people killed. She drives me nuts. I want Cassie to be the tough, cool chick of Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson. Totally different writers, but I think Cassie would be a must better character.

However, the series is worth reading because of the secondary characters. There's Mircea, master vampire and her betrothed; Pritkin, half human/half demon who is training her in self-defense; Marco, an ancient and very cool vampire who is head of her vampire bodyguard team (a former Roman Centurion!); and Jonah, the faerie version of Tim Gunn (Project Runway).

Compel yourself to get thru the first three books and then it gets better. Hunt the Moon (Book 5) ended with a cliffhanger. I don't care about Cassie, but I do care about the others. I'll keep reading to find out what happens next. Just, caveat emptor. I have a love/hate relationship with these books, but I still say give a try.

P.S. This series is rated M for mature audiences only.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Seton Home Study School

Today was Steven's first day as a part-time high schooler and a part-time home schooler. It was a very good day.

Recently, I was flipping through Catholic Digest and came across an ad for Seton Home Study High School. I checked out their website and was very pleased with three amazing things: (1) an accredited high school diploma, (2) a modified curriculum tailored for Steven, and (3) affordable. This was truly heaven sent!! www.setonhome.org.

It was an absolute joy to speak with the Special Services Counselor. We spent 90 minutes reviewing each course. Seton developed a program just for special needs students - modified curriculum, easier lessons, simpler tests, etc. For instance, instead of having Steven trying to write essays (very difficult), he may take multiple choice quizzes (very doable). Steven doesn't have to read as many novels as the regular curriculum, and he can take two years to complete Algebra 1. Whew! And, Steven can proceed at his own pace.


Pope John Paul II and Dr. Clark,
Director of the Seton Home Study School
Seton is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (recognized by the U.S. Dept. of Education), so Steven can earn an accredited high school diploma. Steven needs 22 high school credits for his diploma (5-6 classes per year). From his first semester at the public high school, he already earned three credits. So, Steven didn't need to take all five courses for Seton. We dropped Science and he's taking Religion, English Literature, Grammar and Algebra 1.

This morning Steven attended his regular 3rd and 4th period classes (Social Personal Skills and weight training). He stayed for lunch with his friends and then came home. He worked through his home study courses, but it only took 1 1/2 hours. He didn't want to double-up lessons for the day, so I supplemented with other things (like videos). He'll also read an extra book for personal reading too. But, every little bit helps.

It was a pleasant day for Steven and all of his school stress was gone. No crowds, no noise, and no disruptive students. Yippee!!!

About Me

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Winter Springs, Florida, United States
I am a stay-at-home mom to three boys (18, 16, 14), three Mini-Dachsunds, and a wife to an incredible husband {think MacGyver}. I am Catholic. I am passionate about making a difference in my world while still making a great life for my children and family. Besides being a mom, I am also a blogger for freddythewienerdog.blogspot.com and thedailylifeofcarol.blogspot.com. I hope to make my voice heard and make a difference in my own way.