Saturday, August 30, 2014

Seedlings Fables from the Forest: a book with important lessons

Seedlings Fables from the Forest by C.D. Baker is a series of fables about trees. There are five stories which feature a different type of tree and each with a special lesson and Scripture which illustrates the lesson and questions to further the readers understanding of the lesson.

The first story features a blue spruce and the lesson of being thankful for what you have (Colossians 2:7). The second story is about a maple tree who was selfish (Ephesians 4:32). The third story is about a poplar is who too prideful (Philippians 2:3). The fourth story features an oak who was too lazy to work (Ephesians 4:2). And lastly, the fifth story and my favorite, features a beech who didn’t understand how each of us has our own talents (Romans 2:4).

I loved these fables. Each one written beautifully with an important lesson.  The pictures were beautiful and illustrated the actions of the story. When I requested to review this book, I was expecting a different kind of book. Seedlings Fables from the Forest took me by surprised and I thoroughly enjoyed reading the wonderful fables. I highly recommend this book for any family’s or classroom's library.
Seedlings Fables from the Forest is available on Amazon

in paperback for $8.99 or on the Kindle for $0.99

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Short Story: Three Sisters Part 2 Brynn

Brynn cringed at Amy’s voice. She knew she wouldn’t be happy. The contents of Carrie’s room was stacked haphazardly in the living room. Brynn knew that Carrie did it to piss off Amy and it was working. Carrie did nothing without malice of some sort. Brynn looked at Carrie who was acting as if she did not hear Amy and continued to unpack lunch.
“What…the…hell…is…this?” Amy asked again slowly, trying to control her anger. Brynn didn’t think it was working.
“Lunch” Carrie said innocently “I brought your favorite, Chinese!”
Amy signed “You know I can’t eat Chinese.”
Carrie looked at her with fake shock “Oh no! Since when?”
“It doesn’t matter. What happened with all your stuff?”
“It’s packed like you said.” Carrie began dishing out the food.
“Why don’t we sit down to lunch and we’ll fix the packing later?” Brynn asked, trying to defuse the time bomb that ticked loudly in their heads.
Amy continued without acknowledging Brynn’s question. “That is not packed. This is absolute mess, as usual. I knew better than to ask you to help. I tried to tell Mom that you wouldn’t help.”
“I am helping and now I’m hungry. Are you hungry? Brynn?” Carrie continued nonchalantly.
“Yes, I’m hungry. Amy?” She looked at Amy, hopeful and somewhat pleading her not to start the fight that Brynn knew was coming.
Amy sighed, turned and walked out of the room. Carrie smiled as if her evil plan worked. Brynn sat down and accepted the plate from Carrie.
“That was cruel, you know. She only wants to get the job done.”
“Cruel? She’s uptight and needs to have a little fun.” Carrie replied as she stuffed her face with chow mein.
Brynn shook her head and stared at her plate. She was always in the middle, the buffer between her sisters. Sometimes she sided with Carrie and sometimes with Amy. She hated the fact that Amy was the automatic “little helper” as Mom always called her. She didn’t like being called her little movie star either. It was a cute nickname but Brynn knew that her mom didn’t mean it. Amy was the apple of Dad’s eye and Carrie was the center of Mom’s world. That left Brynn, the typical middle child to find ways to get attention. That attention usually meant getting trouble at school and with friends. Brynn did it a little different. She became the fixer in the family. She helped Dad with repairs around the house. She learned how to sew in order to fix the clothes that became ripped and torn. She used tried to fix the rift between her sisters. Her “fixer” skills as she likes to call them is probably the reason why she is a great contract negotiator. She can help both sides feel like they were the ones that came out on top.
“Hello! Anyone home?” Carrie waved her hand in front of Brynn’s face. She shook back to reality. “Where were you?” Carrie said jokingly.
“Just thinking” Brynn replied. She got up from the table and walked to the closed door of Amy’s room. She knocked softly. “Amy?”
“Come in” came the muffled reply.
Brynn opened the door to find Amy faced down on the mattress. “Are you ok?”
“I just want to get this over with.”
“I know. I…” Brynn didn’t get to finish as she felt Carrie behind her.
“What’s this? Are we being a lazy bones?” Carrie joked.
Amy shot out of bed like someone poured ice water on her. She was immediately in Carrie’s face. “Lazy bones?!?! I’m been working my butt off trying to get this house in order so we can sell it and you have been nothing but a pain in the ass.”
Amy pushed Carrie out of the way so that she could leave the room. Carrie was quick on her heels. Brynn took a deep breath. Here we go again, she thought as she followed the storm into the living room.
“What are you doing?!?” screamed Carrie as Brynn entered the living to see Amy begin tossing items in various piles.
“I’m doing what YOU should have been doing hours ago. Obviously, this stuff means nothing to you, so what do you care what I do with it.”
“Get your hands off my stuff. I will take care of it, you control freak!” Carrie ordered.
Amy spun around to look at Carrie. “Oh, you’ll take care of it. Just like you take care of your children. And where are they today? Oh, that’s right, their fathers have them. You were too unfit.”
Both Brynn and Carrie gasped. Amy stared at Carrie, daring her to continue. Brynn stepped in. “Amy that was a little uncalled for.”
“No, Brynn, it was called for. She’s so judgmental and critical. She cares for no one but herself. I never understood how Mom thought you were the moon and stars. Her Care Bear, yuck! You never could do anyway wrong in her eyes. Even after you got caught in high school drinking in the principal’s office. At least, I now know where she got it.”
“What do you mean?” Brynn asked slowly as she was afraid of the answer.
“Mom. Hello! She was such a snob.”
“No, she wasn’t” echoed Brynn and Carrie together.
“Yes, she was. She would be nice and friendly to people’s faces but the minute their back was turned, she would criticize everything from their choice in clothing to their career. The sky was the limit to her judgment. Dad kept his distance. She didn’t care when I was having problems getting pregnant. She didn’t care when Brynn lost her job and had to struggle to find a place to live. She only reluctantly let you move back home after Dad pleaded with her. Oh, Brynn, don’t look at me like that. You know it’s true. Aaron always said there was something fake about Mom.” Amy choked on the tears that began to pool.
“Well, you want to know something. Mom didn’t like that you married Aaron. She thought that you married down when you picked him” Carrie spat down with a look of satisfaction, thinking she just delivered a blow. Brynn was shocked at Amy’s whispered reply.

“I know”

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars: a story of living in the moment

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is a story about two-crossed lovers who are battling cancer while experiencing the angst and rebellion of adolescence. The story opens with Hazel, a cancer survivor, who has to be on constant oxygen due to the medication which keeps her cancer at bay. She is pressured by her mother to attend a support group for teenager cancer patients. She reluctantly goes where she encounters a new attendee. Augustus “Gus” Waters is 17 and immediately drawn to Hazel. They discuss their favorite books, Hazel’s is An Imperial Affliction written by Peter Van Houten, who has become a recluse since the book’s publication. Together, Hazel and Augustus go on an adventure of discovery and romance.
I enjoyed this book for the beautiful story. It is rare for me to say that when I didn’t like the main character. I feel that Hazel is too philosophical. At one point, she rants about eggs for breakfast and why not for other meals. I don’t know about you but I grew up with “breakfast” foods for lunch or dinner, just like I’ve had “lunch” or “dinner” foods for breakfast. I also didn’t understand her willingness to get into a car and go to Augustus’ house when she makes it clear after the meeting that she seems to be annoyed by him. I also didn’t enjoy Hazel’s “life sucks, cancer sucks” rants that seem to be her personality. I know that cancer is a very difficult disease. I have seen and watched many people suffer. While some have survived and others have not, not once did I see a “poor, pitiful me” attitude. Even when at the end and the bleakest reality was facing them, I have seen optimism and hope until their last breath. I enjoyed Gus the most. I enjoyed his flair for life despite his cancer. I enjoyed the interactions between Gus and his friend, Isaac. There is one scene (which I won’t spoil for you) that I laughed and said “That’s being a teenager!”
There are so many great quotes from this book that could summarize the theme. However, I feel the precise of the story was summarized in the line “Grief does not change you. It reveals you.” I find this statement to be very true. Grief has a way to reveal the inner strength of people but it can also reveal someone else’s weakness. The Fault in Our Stars is an enjoyable story filled with laughter and tears. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Short Story: Three Sisters Part 1: Amy

Oh, she was not looking forward to this. She stood in her parents’ house, anxiously dreading her sisters’ arrival. She sighed and regretting making this promise to her mother. She and her sisters did not get along as least when one sister was in the room. The butterflies in her stomach were so twisted that it felt like someone was beating a drum in her abdomen.
They were the three X sisters: Amy, Brynn and Carrie. Mom always laughed. Naming their daughters with letters in order, A B C. Very cute, Mom, NOT! From the very minute they were born, the competition began. Competition for Mom and Dad’s attention, attention of the teachers and especially the boys.
Amy sighed as she moved away from the window. She wished her husband could be here. He gave her strength when it gave to dealing with her sisters but she knew it would cause another argument that she didn’t have the strength to fight. A car door slammed as she looked out the window again and her sister, Brynn walks up to the door.
“Unbelievable” she mumbles. Brynn is dress to the nines. “She wears THAT to clean out house.” Brynn is wearing an outfit that she knows cost more than her car payment. Amy sadly looks down at her old t-shirt and jeans. Once again, the middle sister is going to shine brighter than the rest of them.
Amy plasters a smile on her face as Brynn enters the house.
“Amy, darling, how are you?” Brynn asks as she leans in to kiss her cheek. Amy awkwardly follows suit.
“Fine, fine. Just eager to get this done. We need to get the house on the market as soon as possible.”
“Yes, of course” Brynn looks around at the dingy house and winkled her nose. “Well, I certainly didn’t dress right, did I?” She laughed as if she didn’t know. Amy smiles weakly. She had a feeling that she would be doing most of the work…again.
“So, Maggie’s finally in school, huh” Brynn asked as she continued to look at the state of the house.
“Yes, she’s in kindergarten now and she loves it. She was so excited when…” Amy was cut off with the arrival of Carrie and Brynn’s squeal of delight as they hugged and began talking a mile a minute.
Carrie looked good. She had lost a lot of weight but there was something in her eyes that Amy did not like. Carrie reluctantly turned to Amy to say hello.
“Hi, Amy” she looked Amy up and down with a snide smirk. “How are you?” she asked dripping with venom.
“Good” Amy was able to squeak out as the butterflies got twisted tighter. She cleared her throat. “Shall we get started?”
“Shall we?” Carrie repeated.
“Yes, I thought we could start in our old bedrooms. You each can decide what you want to keep and what to give away, etc.” Amy said with her take charge voice. She felt somewhat stronger.
Brynn and Carrie both looked at each other and smiles. “Of course. Sounds like a plan” they chorused.
Amy nodded and hurried to her room in the back of the house and closed the door as she heard them laugh at whatever joke they made at her expense. She leaned against her bedroom door, looking at the mementos of her childhood. She closed her eyes against the tears that were already welling up. With a deep breath, she shook her head and got to work. She set up three boxes, labeled trash, donation and keep. She quickly cleaned out her closet, tossing the majority of the clothes in the donation box.
Before she knew a couple hours had gone by and her room was packed and ready to go. The only things that remained was her bed, which was trash and the dresser and nightstands which she was taking home with her. She carried the trash boxes to the dumpster she rented and piled the donation boxes in the garage. She looked around at her dad’s hideaway. His tools and various knickknacks still lined the cabinets.
“I guess I’ll do this next. Those two buddies certainly won’t do it.” Amy sighed and got to work. She began with her clean up routine. Deciding what she was to keep, donate and trash. She worked quickly, only pausing a few times to smile over a memento that her dad had kept. She missed him dearly. He was the only one who understood her, the only one who encouraged her and coached her though the difficult times in her life.
“Well, our bedrooms are done” Brynn’s voice broke Amy out of her daydream.
“Good. I guess you could start on the kitchen. I don’t know what is salvageable in there. Her pots and pans are so old, it’s probably trash.” Amy said.
Brynn looked at her strangely, looked as if she wanted to say something but nodded and walked back into the house. Amy finished what she could in the garage and made a mental note to call her husband to get help moving the heavier machinery.
Amy walked into the kitchen and looked around. “Where’s Carrie?” she asked.
“Oh, she went to get lunch.” Brynn said as she took items out of the pantry, grimacing as she touched something unpleasant.
“Lunch, huh?” She said as she looked at her watch. She guessed it was almost time for lunch. Just throw out all the food and seasoning.” Amy said as she set out to another room.
“Oh, yes, fearless leader” Brynn replied sarcastically as Amy entered her parents’ room.
Most of the items were gone already. Her parents’ beautiful four foster bed was at her house when they needed to move it to make room for her mom’s hospice bed. She opened her mom’s closet and breathed in her mom’s favorite powder. The scent surrounded her as she closed her eyes and thought of happier times. Amy’s eyes pooled with tears again when her thoughts turned to her mom’s final moments. She was the only one there as her mom took her last breaths. She held back tears as her mom struggled to talk. Amy remembers her final words, “Oh, my beautiful BB such the movie star! My little Care Bear, oh, my little care bear! And you, Amy, my little…” She never finished. Amy would sure she would have said “little helper” as the anger rose in her. First in birth but last in thought.
The front door slammed and Carrie’s voice rang out. “LUNCH IS HERE!” Amy sighed and left the room. She hoped she could hold it together. As she entered the kitchen, the scene that welcomed her had shocked her.
“What the hell is this?” 

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Captain No Beard series: fun and imagination mixed with great lessons

Today, I have five books from the Captain No Beard series by Carole P. Roman.
First, Captain No Beard: An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate’s Life is the story of Alexander aka Captain No Beard and his pirate friends. Hallie, his cousin and first mate, Mongo the monkey, Linus the Lion and Fribbit the Frog. In this story, the crew aboard their ship, The Flying Dragon, must battle a fierce storm.

Second, Pepper Parrot’s Problem with Patience is a story about the new member of the crew and her inability to follow directions and her frustrations that follow. The captain orders drills to practice in case of emergency but Pepper the Parrot gets turn around and goes in the opposite direction of the rest of the crew. She yells and screams that she can’t get it right until Hallie stops and helps her. The lesson at the end of the story is not to be afraid to ask for help.

Third, Stuck in the Doldrums is a lesson about sharing. The crew is marooned on an island and they begin to play on the beach. Captain No Beard demands and decides since he is captain he is right and others are wrong. His behavior leads the others to not want to play with him so he goes off on his own. He is determined that he can do it himself. When a great squid attacks the ship, he calls for help but the others are willing to help at first. Captain No Beard learns that it is important to share and take others’ feelings into considerations in order to play together.

Fourth, The Treasure of Snake Island is a story about the search for buried treasure and the discovery of a great and priceless treasure. Armed with a map, the crew sails for Snake Island and dig where X marks the spot. Inside the chest, they find books!

Finally, Strangers on the High Seas is a lesson about strangers. Captain No Beard and his crew run into a strange ship and the crew calls out to them. Should they approach the strange boat or keep their distance?

The Captain No Beard series is a great series of books which captures the imagination of children as well as teach important lessons about sharing, strangers, and teamwork. The illustrations are beautiful and capture the story wonderfully. I highly recommend this series to families and classrooms.

All five of these titles are available on Amazon for the Kindle as well as in paperback. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Music: the soundtrack of our lives

Music. It’s the story of our lives. It defines our youth. It helps express feelings and words in a way that many of us cannot. We play it at all times: parties, weddings, funerals and even in stores as we shop. We play it loud and sing along in our cars. The music that people listen to is close to their hearts and they will defend anyone who trashes their music. I love music. I love most all genres. I grew up listening to my parents’ rock music of the 1960s and 1970s. As an early adolescent, I was a big fan of New Kids on the Block. By my teen years, I was listening to country music of the 1980s and 1990s. I found that people listen to music for many reasons. My top three are: pump up adrenaline for a work out, soothes the soul and help release anger and stress.

When I need to be energized and pumped up to either exercise or clean house, I play hard pounding rock music that will get my heart pumping. My husband’s favorite pump up songs are “Alive and Kickin’” by Simple Minds (1985) and “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor (1982). Eye of the Tiger is everyone’s go to work out or fight song. The intro alone gets one pumped and ready to go. One of my favorite pump up songs is “Lose Yourself” by Eminem (2003). This is the ultimate “do or die,” “you won’t know until you try” song. I play this song when I feel doubt and listening to the words and the pounding beat helps adrenaline run and I feel I can do anything and I’m motivated to put my plan into action, even if that plan is simply to clean house and do other chores. It’s a motivating song.

Music is also great to help soothe the soul. Music to cry to. Music to mediate to. Whatever it may be. Music that can ease the sadness that can overwhelms us. When I lost my second daughter in October 2013, I began searching for songs to help ease the pain that surrounded me. I found Daughtry’s “Gone Too Soon” (2011). While the entire song speaks to the grief that a parent feel when losing a child too soon, one particular line always soothes me because I feel that it was speaking directly to me. The line is “I’m always asking why this crazy world had to lose/Such a ray of light we never knew.” “Ray of light” is what speaks to me the most because my daughter’s name is Ziva Rae. Ziva is Hebrew or bright or radiant and Rae meaning light. It’s a song very dear to my heart.

Music can also help release anger when it builds up so much that you feel you need to do something. Instead of hitting something or someone, I put on hard pounding angry music. Listening to the music helps me calm down enough to think clearly. A song that is often mentioned when you just want to scream is “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette (1995). For me, “Welcome to my life” by Simple Plan (2004) is a great song when you’re angry and feel out place in the world. When I listen to this song, it reminds me that everyone has moments when they feel like they don’t fit in and when the world is just unfair. Another song I like to play is “Some kind of monster” by Metallica (2004). The first two minutes of the song are pure guitar riffs and long riffs intermingled in the whole song. It’s a great song to release anger to.

In conclusion, music reaches every aspect of our lives. It gets us pumped up for a workout, it can soothe the soul and it can help release anger and stress. Whatever your motivation for the music you chose to listen to, I remind everyone of one thing: do not make fun of someone else’s taste in music. Music speaks to us in a way that it will not for someone else. What you may hear in a song and enjoy the lyrics, someone else might not. Does that mean the music is a better or worse than something else no. Just like beauty is in the eye of the holder, music is in the ear of the listener. Music is a large part of our lives, our culture and our history. Enjoy! 

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Haunting of Wolfe Haven: a mystery with soap opera drama

The Haunting of Wolfe Haven by Debbie A Heaton is a story of mystery and drama. The story opens with Riley Russell return to Wolfe Haven, a home she ran away from after three years of marriage. She has been coaxed by her cousin-in-law, Abby. Once there, she quickly falls into a tangled web of past hurts, betrayals, schemes and plots. Can she escape before someone tries to kill her?

I felt I was reading a daytime soap with all the drama and backstabbing. The twists and turns that almost did not make sense. When I requested a copy of this book, I was intrigued by the haunting but there was not really any haunting activity. It was mostly someone using the family ghost stories as means to play with the minds of the people he or she wanted to destroy. The final scene between Riley and her now reconciled husband was odd and out of place. It was very uncomfortable to read. I must say that Ms. Heaton certainly set the mood. I could really visualize the manor and its grounds with the massive gardens and the various representations of the wolves around the property. If you are looking for mystery of intrigue then I recommend The Haunting of Wolfe Haven. If you are looking for an actual haunting, this isn’t the book for you.

The Haunting of Wolfe Haven is available on Amazon 
in paperback for $15.95 and on the Kindle for $9.99. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

My favorite Robin Williams roles: a tribute

This week the world lost a great comedian and great human being. Robin Williams had made people laugh for almost 40 years. When I saw a Facebook post that he had died, I thought it was a hoax but when I saw that all the major news networks were reporting the same sad news. It took my breath away. Robin Williams was a great comedian who could pick up on anything and run with it. I have laughed so hard that I was left breathless. While I watched all the tributes that aired, they showed some of his most famous roles on particular Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Genie from Aladdin (1992), I realized that while those were great roles, they weren’t my favorite that he played. My favorites are Sean Maguire (Good Will Hunting, 1997), John Keating (Dead Poets Society, 1989) and Adrian Croanuer (Good Morning Vietnam, 1987).

Good Will Hunting, a story about a mathematical genius discovered as a janitor at M.I.T. is counseled by Sean Maguire, a man with deep pain himself. Sean’s speech illustrating how Will truly lacks knowledge about the world is my favorite in the entire movie. It’s too long to quote but the essence is there’s a difference between book smart and knowledge of the real experience. My favorite line is when Sean says “You don't know about real loss, 'cause it only occurs when you've loved something more than you love yourself. And I doubt you've ever dared to love anybody that much.” I love that Sean teaches Will that life will have bad times but as he tells it “You’ll have bad times, but it’ll always wake up to the good stuff you weren’t paying attention to.” I love this illustration because when I am going through rough times, I see all the good things in my life and I am able to push through. Mr. Williams played Sean with such vulnerability and passionate that you root for both him and Will.

Dead Poets Society is a story of a great teacher who inspires his students to seize the day and become greater than they ever thought they could be. This movie combines two of my loves: poetry and inspirational teachers. The poem at the center of the movie is “O Captain, My Captain!” by Walt Whitman (1865). Mr. Keating is the type of teacher who values education and not just school education but education in which someone learns and broadens their minds. Someone who learns and tries new things. Someone who says “I will” because someone else said “You can’t.” I see that passionate teaching in Mr. Williams’ performance. One of my favorite quotes is when Mr. Keating tells his students, “There’s a time for daring and there’s a time for caution, and a wise man understands which is called for.” This lesson is about how and when to challenge a system you deem unfair. It’s a quote that can be applied to most situations: when to act and when to wait. The students begin to realize that they don’t have to follow the paths that their parents had planned for them, that they are the masters of their own destinies. They begin to buck the system and the school’s code of “tradition, honor, discipline and excellence.” If you have never seen this movie, I highly recommend it.

I was first introduced to Good Morning, Vietnam in a high school history class. While it is a comedy, it has its dramatic moments portraying an unpopular war. Adrian Croanuer is a DJ for the Armed Forces Radio Service. One line that never fails to make me laugh is when Adrian first starts his radio show: “Goooooooood morning, Vietnam! Its 0600 hours. What does the “O” stand for? O my God, it’s early!” While Adrian is popular with the troops, he begins to annoy a couple of officers who believe that his brand of comedy and music has no place in the Armed Forces. Adrian soon learns the harsh reality of fighting in Vietnam when the enemy could be the man standing beside you. Good Morning, Vietnam was the perfect movie for Mr. Williams’ fast paced, quick witted humor while portraying a dark and difficult time in our history.

Robin Williams had so many great roles that I could probably write a book about them all. I have only highlighted a few of my top favorite. He will be forever in my heart and memories as the man of many voices who brought so much joy and laughter to others but could not overcome the darkness inside his own mind. I pray that his family finds peace in knowing that he is greatly beloved by millions and he will remain among the greats. He will be forever the Genie, Sean Maguire, Mr. Keating, Mrs. Doubtfire and the many characters he brought to life as only he could. It deeply saddens me that people do not understand how someone like him could be depressed. Depression, like cancer, can strike the rich and famous. It can strike the poor and downtrodden. It can strike anyone and at any time. It is incredibly heartbreaking that in the depth of his despair, he only saw one way. I pray that his life and legacy will lead to better understanding and education about depression that we do not have another sad ending like his.

Rest in Peace Robin Williams 1951-2014

Thursday, August 14, 2014

We visit Norway, France, and Mexico in the "If you were me and lived in..." series

More books in the “If you were me and lived in…” series by Carol P. Roman. First, we start with Norway. A country in Northern Europe known as the Land of the Midnight Sun. Their currency is called the kroner which is a small coin with a hole in the center. While living in Norway, one can see the aurora borealis or the northern lights. They celebrated Syttendde Mai on May 17th as a celebration of the signing of Norway’s constitution. There are parades and costumes.

Second, we travel to France located in Western Europe. Its most famous city, Paris, is known as the City of Lights because it was the use to use gas lamps in 1838. The most famous landmark, the Eiffel Tower and the famous crepes which are served as a breakfast food or dinner and even dessert. They celebrate July 14th, known as Bastille Day as their independence day. It signifies the beginning of the French Revolution.

Lastly, we visit Mexico. The largest city is Mexico City which is home to the Palacio de Bellas Artes or the Palace of Fine Arts. In Mexico, we learn about the Chichen Itza, a Mayan temple which has 365 steps one for each day of the year. Mexico celebrates Descubrimiento de America which honors the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, similar to America’s Columbus Day.

I love these books. As this is my four review of the series. I highly recommend these books for any family and classroom!
All the “If you were me and lived in…” titles are available on Amazon for $9.99

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Friendship poems

Lately, I’ve been thinking about friendships. Why some friends remain in your life through thick and thin and why others drift away. Instead of writing an essay about it, I wrote these poems. 

Seasons of friends
Every friend has its season
This I know
Spring, new, fun and sweeten
Summer, we talk, laugh and grow
Some circle back after winter’s cold
Some are gone forever in days of old

Strangers with memories
You used to be my friend
What times we had
But just around the bend
Distance grew, all things turned bad
No friends with victories
We are now strangers with memories

Friends turned family
We met so long ago
Though distance was far and wide
We never let go
After the crashing waves of life’s tide
You are my family

Sister of my heart happily

Sunday, August 10, 2014

On Green Diamonds Pursuing a Dream by Tom Tatum: a great book about life, love and baseball

On Green Diamonds Pursuing a Dream by Tom Tatum is a wonderful story about a young man who meets a retired baseball player and both their lives are never the same again. The story opens with Gabe “Fireball” Nelson, a retired professional baseball player, who is settling into a normal life with his wife, Heather, when a widowed woman and her son move into the neighborhood.

The Nelsons are immediately drawn to the grieving family. Tyler is a shy and withdrawn 8 year old whose only love is baseball. Gabe is able to use his knowledge of the game to help Tyler improving his baseball skills as well as deal with his father’s sudden death. Gabe and Tyler soon become like grandfather and grandson as Gabe teaches Tyler more than baseball. He teaches him the 22 rules to live by that his father gave to him. Gabe teaches him the importance of the Lord in his life and how to be a generous and thoughtful man to others. Through triumphs and setbacks, Tyler learns the importance of being a great leader on the field and off. Will Tyler achieve his dream of becoming a professional baseball player? What sacrifices must he make to get there?

I loved this book. I’m usually not a big baseball fan. I’m more a football fan. I normally watch baseball during the playoffs and the World Series. With the limited knowledge of the game, I was still able to enjoy this book and cheer Tyler on as he pursues his dream of green diamonds. I loved how Gabe’s 22 rules are applied throughout the book. I loved Gabe’s fish analogy of “a keeper” when discussing the birds and the bees with Tyler. Even though you may not be a baseball fan, I recommend this book. You will enjoy the journey of Gabe and Tyler through their love of baseball. The characters are real and relatable. I wish that I had a grandfather or father like Gabe Nelson. I highly recommend On Green Diamonds Pursuing a Dream by Tom Tatum. You will love it!

On Green Diamonds Pursuing a Dream is available on

Amazon in hardback for $29.99 and one the Kindle for $3.99

Friday, August 8, 2014

Don't be afraid of your emotions

Have you ever had a conversation start with “Now don’t get mad” and you or someone is immediately on the defensive because what is about to said will probably make you or them mad? Our emotions are natural and God given feelings. To tell someone, “don’t get mad” is denying them their natural feelings. However, our emotions can get us in trouble if we don’t learn how to manage them and deal with them in an appropriate manner. Your emotions are what make you human. Emotions can build and build until they can’t be held in anymore and there are wrong ways to express anger.

First, do not bottle up your emotions. Allow yourself to be angry, to feel sad. Your emotions are a part of you and are a part of what makes you human. Jesus expressed his emotions freely. He expresses his emotions freely. He wept and grieved at the death of his friend (John 11:35). He showed his anger at people’s disbelief and stubborn hearts and turned that anger to heal a man before their very eyes (Mark 3:5a). He expressed his anger at the men exploited people’s attempts to worship at the temple (Matthew 21:2, Mark 11:12-19, Luke 19:45-48 and John 2:14-15). The Lord understands the emotions you are feeling. Come to him in prayer and expressing your emotions. Tell him how angry you are, He understands. Tell him how sad, hurt, depressed you are, He knows.

Second, denying yourself to feel any emotions, especially negative emotions can lead to sinful behavior. Just like a soda bottle that has been shaken too much, eventually the pressure will become too much and you will explode. You may say or do something that you will regret. You may hurt others with your words or actions in a way you never meant to. Job openly grieved for the loss of his family (Job 1:20-22) and says “Therefore, I will not keep silent; I speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul” (Job 7:11). Keeping emotions locked in can lead to a bitter and angry spirit.

Third, there are many examples in the Bible of how anger is expressed in the wrong way and lives ruined when anger is not managed properly. Cain, jealous that his brother’s offering was honored by God, turned his anger toward his brother and kills him (Genesis 4:1-8). The result? He is condemned to walk the earth as a restless wanderer (Genesis 4:12). Sarah mistreats Hagar out of jealousy and anger. Hagar was able to get pregnant when Sarah could not (Genesis 16:6). Sarah was angry at herself and her infertility and took it out on her maidservant who was just following orders. Haman, angry at Mordecai for not kneeing in his honor, plots to kill the Jews (Esther 3:5-6). The result? Haman ends up tangled in his own web and is hanged on the very gallows he prepared for Mordecai (Esther 7:10). Anger can be very dangerous when we place on anger against someone else.

In conclusion, do not hide your emotions. Emotions are a part of what makes you human. It is not sinful or inappropriate to express them. Express them in a way which is healthy and safe. For me, I pray and cried out to God. Sometimes simply saying through my tears, “Please, God.” I also write. I write about my anger, my fears, my sorrows and my joy. Talk about your emotions to a trust friend or relative. Believe me, when you give your emotions a voice, the negative emotions lose their power and hold on you and you’re able to think clearly. Be careful to direct your emotions at the right person. Deep breathes, think before saying or doing anything. You have the right to feel your emotions; however, your emotions do not have the right to own you. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Stillwell a haunting on Long Island: a great mystery that will keep you on your toes

Stillwell a Haunting on Long Island by Michael Phillips Cash is a haunting story about a sudden death and the impact it has on the ones left behind with a great ghost story weaved in.

The story opens with Paul, a recent widower who is preparing to restart a life with his three children. His wife, Allison, dies after a sudden and fast moving illness which has left everyone unable to understand it all. The entire book takes place in one week. Starting with Sunday as his kids return home from his sister’s. His oldest children, 13 year old twins Veronica and Jesse, act out as teenagers will do. His youngest child, Stella acts like a 9 year old would, holding on to childish fantasies. Paul returns to work as a successful realtor when he agrees to sell Stillwell Manor for an old friend. The mansion has recently been involved in a murder-suicide and has a dark past. Strange occurrences begin to happen at the manor and at home, that leaves Paul questioning his sanity as well as wondering if someone is truly trying to communicate with him from beyond the grave.

I really enjoyed this book. The struggles of Paul and his children felt potent and very real. I enjoyed the ghost story of Stillwell Manor and the resolution of the hauntings is great. I would recommended this book if you enjoy a good ghost story intertwined with a real human experience.

Stillwell a Haunting on Long Island is available on Amazon
 in paperback for $12.99 and on the Kindle for $0.99

Monday, August 4, 2014

Why I believe everything happens for a reason

During that past seven months, I have been involved in a grief support group online which focuses on parents who have lost child either through pregnancy complications or childhood deaths. While the group support have meant a great deal for me, there is one thing that bothers me. Many of the members hate the statement, “everything happens for a reason.” They hate the statement so much that they get angry when they hear someone say it. I fully believe that everything does happens for a reason. I believe it for three reasons: God’s will, consequences or results of a decision and the nature of the world we live in.

In Ecclesiastes 3:1-15 tells us that there is a time for everything. God has a plan for all people and that we all must experience the cycles of life. The good and the bad. A time for life and death (verse 2) and a time to mourn and a time to dance (verse 4). I'm sure when people hear verses 1-8, they hear The Byrds playing in their head. I know I do. Many people would say then your babies were meant to die. Maybe they were because verse 11 says “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” We cannot see into the future or comprehend everything that God sees or understand. I fully believe with all my heart that the losses of my babies has strengthen my faith and trust in Jesus Christ, has brought my husband and me together and made us stronger and helped us appreciate the blessings that God has given us.

Judges 16 tells the story of Samson and Delilah. Samson, whose strength was greater than any man before, falls madly in love with Delilah and trusts her with his biggest secret. By telling her this secret, it led to his capture and his eventual death. The story illustrates that all our decisions have consequences for good or bad. God allowed Samson’s decision to follow its natural course and he suffered greatly for it. God does this in our lives today. Every decision will results in something. If we follow God’s plan and will, He will bless us but if we go against His plan and will, we will suffer the consequences of such a decision. We’re short on cash because we didn’t budget. We are having a fight with our loved ones because we decided to tell a secret or a lie. We worked hard at work and received a promotion. Bad decisions will yield bad results and good decisions will yield good results. Sometimes our situations are simply the results of past decisions.

Sometimes the events in our lives happen because of the fallen world we live in. Homes and businesses will be lost in a horrific storm. Certain weather patterns will form storms. There is no way to stop them or ease the damage they will cause. Earthquakes can occur at any moment and there is no way to predict them. We live in a fallen world and there is good and evil all around us. We can hope for the best but prepare for the worst. In life, there are no guarantees. There are no guarantees that everyone will live to see a ripe old age. God tells us in Job 14:5-7 that before we were even born, our days are numbered but God also tells us in Jeremiah 1:5 that before we were formed in the womb, He knew us and He has plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11). I believe that God has a plan when he took my babies back to Him. I may not fully understand why but I fully trust Him that He will reveal it to me in time.

In conclusion, I believe that everything happens for a reason. There is a season for everything. Decisions will yield good or bad results. This is a fallen world. My babies’ lives were cut short by our standards. But by God’s they lived as they were determined to. I realize now that if my first baby was born, my beautiful Abby wouldn’t be here now. I also realize that if Ziva had lived, I probably would not have started my blog and actively writing again. I don’t know the reasons why but I do know that God has a plan and I will trust Him with every breath. It may hurt to think that there’s a reason for everything but to me, something happening without a reason is even worst. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Two new books about adventure and learning to do something new

Whaley’s Big Adventure illustrated by Alexander Luke and presented by Carole P. Roman, author of the “If you were me and lived in…” series as well as the Captain No Beard series. Alexander is her 5 year old grandson. In this book, Whaley is a blue whale who is on an adventure to learn about the different types of whales in the ocean. With each whale he meets, information is given about that whale. For instance, orcas are the fastest in the sea. They can swim up to 30 mph. Humpback whales who are known for their songs. Beluga whales who are very friendly and playful. Other whales are introduced.

The story is very fun with great educational information. The illustrations are great and impressive for a 5 year old. I recommend this book as a great addition to any family’s or classroom’s library.

Second, I want to do yoga too by Carole P. Roman is the story of a little girl named Hallie who wants to do yoga like her mom. She goes to the gym’s play center while her mom is in yoga class. While she is there, Robin instructs Hallie to pretend to be a tree or an airplane or a snake. All the while Hallie is insisting on doing yoga. When Hallie’s mom picks her up, she explains that she was doing yoga and Hallie wants to do it again tomorrow.

The story is great fun as the Hallie learns how to do yoga. It’s a great story to introduce yoga to young children.

Whaley’s Big Adventure is available on Amazon for the Kindle $1.99 and in paperback $8.99

I want to do yoga too is available on Amazon for the Kindle for $0.99 and in paperback for $9.25