Saturday, October 31, 2009

Book Giveaway: The Carousel Painter

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Carrington Brouwer is an amazing painter and now that she needs to support herself, she looks for work and finds it painting beautifully carved carousel horses. Working at the factory is not easy though. Many of the men and their wives are not happy to have Carrie there, despite her talent and hard work. Her work is sabotaged several times and then things beginning disappearing and all evidence points to her, putting all that she loves at risk.

My Thoughts

The Carousel Painter is set in the late 19th century when the job Carrie holds was really for men only. Throughout the story, Carrington is learning more about what salvation truly means and how to depend on God to help her with her character. Miller weaves salvation into the storyline in simple conversations, giving gentle reminders about growing as a Christian and how the little things in life help develop character. I had figured out the 'mystery' long before it was revealed at the end of the book, but still enjoyed it {even if I could have smacked the detective upside the head for being so blind}.

The Giveaway

***This giveaway is now closed.***

If you'd like to win a copy of The Carousel Painter, just leave a comment on this post and I'll put your name in the 'hat'. Comments for the giveaway will be open until next Friday, November 6th, 2009 at 8pm. I'll randomly pick a winner and announce next Saturday. This giveaway is open only to US residents.

On My Nightstand

Be sure to stop by and visit 5 Minutes for Books and their monthly meme called "What's on Your Nightstand?" and also the Saturday Review.



I was given these products to review by Bethany House. I do not have to return the products.
I was not paid for this post. All opinions expressed in this post are mine.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Confession #2

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After making our lack of toothpaste and general mouth hygiene known to all mankind, I realized that tomorrow is a day that our kids will come home with bucket-loads of candy from our church's Harvest Party.

If the truth be known, I'll be pilfering at least half of my children's candy stash, assuring them that Kit Kats, Twix and more and really not that tasty ~ in a desperate attempt to distract them from all of my favorites. A few of the kids have gotten wise to us, so we've resorted to buying back their candy by the ounce...and generally throwing most of it away.

But if you happen to see me with a big TP written on my hand, know that I am not off in desperate search of toilet paper.

I'm just going to be proactive in the big sugar rush that is sure to ensue tomorrow.


A Confession

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I really hope that my forgetfulness doesn't lead to my children's teeth falling out of their head.

The kids were low on toothpaste and officially ran out on Monday night. It's Friday now and guess who has been at the store THREE times and still forgotten to pick up some?

I've heard there are these things called pens that really help one remember things if you use them to write stuff down.

Just hope my kids don't hold their stinky breath on that one...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Choices as a Parent

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There are times that I really don't like having to make decisions and being the 'responsible' one. I will never be one to say that parenting is easy or a piece of cake.

I am really not-fond of wondering if I am making a decision for my child/children that might scar them emotionally for life. Okay, I exaggerate a wee bit at this moment, but I know that in about 20 minutes {give or take} I am going to have one little five year old boy that will wake up and realize that he is still here at the house and a few key family members are missing for the next few days.

Maybe we made the wrong choice in not telling him ahead of time that Rick and the girls were going to great-grandma's funeral ~ while three of us {including him} aren't. Did we make the right choice in not letting him go to the funeral? Will the next few days be completely insane with a sobbing child distraught because he is still here ~ and they are not? Can he be distracted by a pancake breakfast and lunch at Chic-fil-A?

The burning questions just run through my mind....

Sometimes making decisions and knowing when to do stuff with kids can really be hard. I know that we don't always get what we want in life and kids learn lessons through all of it, but dare I mention that sometimes I avoid stuff? Part of the reason for not telling Zachary prior to everyone leaving was because we truthfully didn't want to listen to any whining and complaining about it before they left. Is that wrong? Should I even second-guess myself on this one?

Here's hoping pancakes and chicken will smooth it all over.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Spank Cream to Make Butter

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Zachary drew me a lovely picture of a rocket ship and presented it to me, all proud of himself. His description of it:

"It's a rocket ship that you use to break up mediators."

Meteors?

"NO! It breaks up mediators!"

Seems a bit counter-productive, but I suppose it would work...

_______________________________

Laurianna helped me make butter this last week and I was explaining what we needed to do.

Me: "First, we have to whip the butter."

L: "Whip the cream? You mean we have to SPANK it?"



Head on over to Mary's at Not Before 7 for some more Tiny Talk Tuesday!!


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Finally HOME!!

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She lived 101 years with this earth as her home.



On Saturday morning Rick's grandmother went to her eternal home. Over the last week she had been having trouble communicating with others, but a little before she died she was heard asking, "Why can't I just go HOME?"

It's just so amazingly poignant, isn't it?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pumpkin Spice Playdough {Recipe for Fun}

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While it may not be the most attractive looking of all playdoughs, this recipe is guaranteed to have your house smelling absolutely yummy in no time at all! We pulled out our pumpkin cookie cutters and the kids had a great time playing with this soft and pumpkin~spiced playdough.

You'll Need:

~ 2 cups of flours {I had whole wheat on hand}
~ 1 cup salt
~ 4 tsp. cream of tartar
~ 1/4 cup cinnamon
~ 2 Tbsp. cloves
~ 2 Tbsp. nutmeg
~ 2 tsp. ginger
~ 2 cups water
~ 2 Tbsp. oil

To Make:

1. Mix the flour, salt, cream of tartar, and spices together in a mixing bowl.

2. Add the water and oil to the dry ingredients and mix together well.

3. Transfer mixture to a medium sized saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly.

4. The dough will begin to thicken and form. When it becomes difficult to stir and is more solid, remove from heat and carefully knead the dough. {Note: dough will be hot!}

5. When dough has cooled, have fun playing. Store in the fridge to help the dough last longer ~ this is great for the holidays!!


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Facebook Choir

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I'd never seen this video clip before, but it just made me laugh ~ so I had to share it with you. Isn't it the truth??



Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Little Bookworm

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Kaleb hopped up on our bed the other day, cuddled up under the covers next to me, and grabbed a book to 'read' from Rick's nightstand. He was completely absorbed in the book for quite some time and it was just too cute!

Withdrawals Maybe

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It's official. The camera is desperately in need of repair which means it needs to be packaged up and sent far, far away to a factory where some nice people can hopefully make it all better.

No backup camera. Nada. Nothing. Zilcho.

FOR THREE WEEKS!!!

In the meantime, what is a mom to do?? That thing is practically attached to me and I do believe that I will go through some type of withdrawal.

What if Zachary does the funniest thing EVER. How in the world can I prove it?

These next three weeks might just break me, people.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A New Virus?

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The kids were recently playing 'hospital' and pretending that dolls were their babies. Zachary was sitting on the couch driving with one of the babies next to him ~ rushing to the hospital.

I asked him what the emergency was and he said, "It's bad. I'm taking her to the hospital because she can't breathe. She has a Charlotte fever."

_______________________________

Kaleb was being a goofball and just cracking me up, so I told him he was hilarious.

{laughing} "No I'm not! Mommy, YOU are ha-harry-us!"


Head on over to Mary's at Not Before 7 for some more Tiny Talk Tuesday!!


Monday, October 19, 2009

Homeschool Blog Awards 2009

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Home School Blog Awards has a brand-spankin' new nomination form this year for you to nominate your favorite blogs. Twenty-five categories and an entire web full of possibilities...

Join Me at The Homeschool Post!

{Click on the button to start nominating}


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Zachary Turns Five

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Zachary turned five today. First thing out of his mouth to me:

"Mom? Am I five today? Because I don't FEEL any taller."

We celebrated yesterday by having a few friends over ~ and cake, of course.



And now the big man is enjoying some of his new gifts ~ cheesing it up for the camera, of course. Having fun handcuffing everyone, handing out tickets, and throwing people in jail.





Saturday, October 17, 2009

Farraday Road & Swope's Ridge {Book Reviews}

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From Zondervan
Ace Collins is a prolific author, publishing over sixty non-fiction books, and has penned the next chapter in his literary career. The follow up to Farraday Road, Collins is releasing his second novel Swope's Ridge {Zondervan, Oct 2009}, the harrowing second book in a suspensful trilogy paralleled in plot with the twists and turns of its' settings ~ from the Ozark mountains of Arkansas to Germany to the Gulf of Mexico and back to the heartland of Kansas.
My Reviews

Farraday Road
by Ace Collins. During one of the worst storms the state of Arkansas had ever seen, Lije Evans and his wife were gunned down. Lije was discovered in time and saved, but his wife wasn't so fortunate. In his grief, Lije vows to find the people responsible for the murder of his wife ~ but his memory of the night is scattered and incomplete.

As the weeks progress and the blanks start filling in, the mystery of that night grows deeper and deeper. What seemed to be a completely random attack is tied to something much more sinister, but every step that brings Lije closer to an answer is filled with increasing danger.

Swope's Ridge by Ace Collins. The mystery of his wife's death led Lije to a man on death row ~ one who claims he is innocent of the charges brought against him. Lije and his team have only a short amount of time before the man is scheduled for execution. As the team searches for clues to the man's innocence, bizarre and sinister secrets are revealed that go back decades in time ~ and it all ties into the recent murder of his wife.

My Thoughts

Both of these books were so hard to put down! I received Farraday Road about a month ago, set it on my nightstand and a few days later picked it up to start reading. Several hours later, I realized that it was VERY late and I had been completely swept into the mystery on Farraday Road. I finished the book the next day and then {sadly} realized the story wasn't finished ~ it ended with a reader's worst fear:

'To be continued...'

Especially at 1 AM in the morning {not that I stayed up that late or anything!}. Really. It's just plain mean!

Fortunately for me, the sequel Swope's Ridge had just been released. Zondervan was wonderful and sent me the sequel to review as well! The chapters in the books are short, so you quickly find yourself justifying 'just one more chapter...' You'll grow to love the characters and get pulled into the many mysteries. While the books are faith-based, it isn't the primary focus of either, just an underlying theme throughout both.

I've set both of these books aside for my husband to read because they are two that he would love {mystery, suspense, conspiracies, adventure and so much more!}. Now I'm just waiting for the third book to be released...

________________________________

Over the last few weeks I have managed to read a few of the books on my Fall into Reading list ~ some of them weren't on the original list either {like the sequel to Farraday Road}, but I'm definitely enjoying them. Here are the ones that I've recently finished:
  • Home to Harmony by Phillip Gulley ~ Finished this one and now I'm going to have to add the rest of the series onto my 'to read' list. That's more than likely going to mean I'll have to bump another series I'd been planning to read. Loved it!
  • Blue Like Playdough by Tricia Goyer ~ I've finished it up and have also been reading it along with a friend as part of our 'Bible study' time each week. I'll be reviewing this book next week!
  • Farraday Road and Swope's Ridge by Ace Collins.
Next week I have am planning to tackle at least one fiction book from the following two:

Dawn's Prelude by Tracie Peterson

The Carousel Painter by Judith Miller

Be sure to stop by and visit 5 Minutes for Books and their monthly meme called "What's on Your Nightstand?" and also the Saturday Review.



I was given these products to review by Zondervan. I do not have to return the products to the vendor.
I was not paid for this post. All opinions expressed in this post are mine.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Call from America's Funniest Videos

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I'm completely serious. I got a call yesterday from America's Funniest Videos about a video of Kaleb eating a cookie I submitted a little bit ago.

Apparently they DO watch all those little clips that you submit online.

I seriously I thought it was a joke when they first called. Quickly realized it wasn't and now we're waiting to hear when we'll see a fun little clip of Kaleb on national tv.

How fun is that?

The kids are thrilled. When we told them who had called, Laurianna's first question was, "Are we going to Hollywood?"

That was then followed by a slew of questions ~ "Will we get to meet Tom?" and my favorite so far: "Will they pay for us to stay in a HOTEL?"

We only know that the video will be on the show at some point in the future {as soon as I submit all the right paperwork tomorrow...}. When we hear anything more, I'll let you know when it will air!

Especially if we get to go to Hollywood or something... {grins}

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Stuffed Animals and Ceiling Fans

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Did you know that stuffed animals and ceiling fans are actually learning tools?



Squeals of laughter and tons of fun as the kids learned all about centrifugal force.

How can you say no to that?



{p.s. We don't have a new little one that I've been hiding from you all ~ just a friend visiting!}

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Making Kids Eat Their Food

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Now before someone goes all crazy-like on me, I'm writing this in response to a comment that I received from a few of you about getting our kids to eat what is on their plate, after my Dear Son letter. We don't force feed our kids {although there have been some moments where I am more than tempted to do that....}, but we have a few 'methods' that we use in helping our kids actually ingest food that we consider edible by most standards.

Here's the question:
"...what do you do when a child won't eat dinner? Obviously no dessert, but do you keep it for another meal? What age did you start doing this? Are there any exceptions? I.E. help me!!"
{Lindsey}
I'll be honest and say that some of our kids are easier to feed than others, but we have had periods of time with each one when they either outright REFUSED to eat their food, turned up their noses at something on their plate, or were just plain rude about things.

It's usually been toward the tail end of age two/beginning of age three that we really begin to lay down the law in the food/dinner department. The main criteria - when those little defiant attitudes start setting in and they KNOW what they are doing ~ or refusing to do.

You know....the outright "NO!" and pushing the plate away. Turning up their little noses at something they have eaten before. Just irritating testing you to your absolute limit.

All that said, here's how we handle it:

~ Bring on the condiments. Ketchup, ranch dressing, and cheese can cover a multitude of dislikes. Our kids really like balsamic vinegar, so there are certain veggies that get a nice little dose of it before they get eaten.

~ Outright bribery. I'll be honest and say bribery at times has worked like a charm. A little dish of ice cream, a tiny lollipop, a cookie {especially when everyone else is enjoying them} can do wonders. If that doesn't work, we step it up a notch.

~ It comes back for breakfast. We really want our kids to understand that they need to eat what is put in front of them. I refuse to cook a different meal for each person in our house and there have been several occasions when food that was served for dinner made a re-appearance at the breakfast table. We covered the plate up or put it in a storage container and stuck it inthe fridge until morning. I'll admit it's frustrating and there was crying ~ and at times the kids STILL refused to eat the food for breakfast.

So it came back at snack time. And then lunch....each meal/snack time necessary until the food was eaten. We don't give them any other snacks or foods until the food in question has disappeared off their plate and into their stomach.

Sometimes it seemed ridiculous ~ a few measly green beans, a single piece of broccoli, one piece of ravioli....but it wasn't so much the food as the attitude/behavior behind the refusal to eat. There have been times when I felt horribly mean {or maybe that I was starving my child}, but believe me ~ when they get hungry enough, they'll eat!

One of ours {who shall remain nameless} refused to eat one piece of broccoli and went up until about 10 minutes before the next night's dinner before literally inhaling that thing because I made one of our family favorites for dinner. That child wanted to eat the meal and understood they wouldn't get it until the broccoli was gone. It's amazing how quickly it disappeared then.

There are times though that it isn't an 'attitude' or defiance that is causing the lack of attention to dinner. For example:

~ Appetites decrease and increase. Sometimes our kids just don't each as much as we expect them too. I usually try to start the kids off with small portions and they can always ask for more food if they finish and want something else. But the rule is they have to try everything on their plate and eat a certain amount of food {i.e. two bites of this, etc...}. There have been instances where I've given them too much to eat so we 'portion off' what they need to finish to qualify as 'done' with the meal.

~ Gag reflexes. We have one that has a very sensitive gag reflex when it comes to certain veggies. {YUCK}. Needless to say, I'm very careful with how I present things to him and in what quantities he gets them. That might mean mixing certain foods together so that he doesn't have to eat those things all by themselves and trigger that nasty reflex {i.e. hiding the food in other food, or covering it with something lovely like cheese to make it easy to go down}.

~ Offer an alternative. The main dish is the main dish here, but we have one kiddo that deals with texture issues, which then triggers the gag reflex. Cooked carrots are a HUGE issue, so instead we offer the option of raw carrots. There are times when I might offer an alternative to a veggie, but usually it's just replacing it with a raw veggie.

All that said, this is how OUR family handles it and your child/family might be completely different. It isn't so much the food but the attitude/behavior that rears its lovely little head that we are really trying to take care of. The biggest thing for us is consistency - once we've laid down the law we have to stick to it. We don't threaten, but the kids are reminded of the 'rules' and the consequences if they don't follow them. Our kids aren't perfect {and we most certainly aren't either}, but this is how we're doing things in our house. :)


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Where There's Smoke...

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Kaleb has just been Mr. Chatty the last few weeks and it's rather fun to listen to the endless stream of conversation that he comes up with.

Fortunately for me, he feels the need to share all the important stuff too.

The boys were out playing in the backyard the other day and Kaleb came running in the house and repeating, "Start a fire."

And then something about marshmallows, but I was a little hung up on the FIRE part of his conversation.

I asked him where Zachary was and was told, "In the basement. Lookin' for lighter."

And wouldn't you know, that's exactly where I found him. Up on Daddy's workbench, scrounging for a lighter.

The boys had found every.single.stick and twig from the backyard and made a rather large pile on the patio to make a mini bonfire to roast marshmallows.

Might have just gotten away with it, if it weren't for Mr. Chatty-pants.


Head on over to Mary's at Not Before 7 for some more Tiny Talk Tuesday!!


Friday, October 9, 2009

To My Dear Son

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I would like to take a minute to jot down a quick note.

'I am more stubborn than you may ever know.'

So when you refuse to eat your food for two nights in a row, pretending that you have FORGOTTEN how to use a fork, know that I will not back down and spoon feed you like the infant you no longer are.

Even if that means you miss out on ice cream for dessert {by which time, I'm sure you would have recalled how to use your utensils independently again}.

And just to let you know ~ looking at me and telling me that you WON'T back down? Saying that you are more stubborn than me?

Those, my dear son, are fighting words.

I'm in this for the long haul if need be. So buck up and ready yourself, because Mommy is digging in her heels and I refuse to be taken over by a 4-year-old.

Not that I'm naming any independent, strong-willed names or anything.

Love,
Mommy

p.s. I have no idea where your independent, strong-willed streak came from. It certainly wasn't me.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

And I Thought He Was Quiet

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In the last almost 3 years I have been misguided. Living in a state of disillusionment {or denial}.

I believed that Kaleb was a quiet, laid-back child and have over-excitedly passed along that tidbit to every mother who noticed him silently resting on my shoulder...while his siblings ran around me like wild and crazy children.

The last few weeks, while the older three have been at Awana, Rick and I have been running errands with just Kaleb.

And he will not shut up {and I say that in the sweetest and most loving way}.

There is constant chatter coming from the backseat. LOUD conversation all.the.way through Costco. Non stop communication. Laughter. Giggling. A running dialogue on anything and everything.

He's not quiet after all. Apparently, he's just been living in the shadow of three super-verbal siblings and couldn't get a word in edge-wise.

So he saves it up for his mom and dad and a quiet moment and then just EXPLODES with information.

Who knew? The boy is hilarious!


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Can You Please Explain to Me???

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Why is it that a child can be sitting no less than 5 feet away and you call his name repeatedly and do not get the slightest acknowledgment to your calling.

To the point that you wonder if his hearing should be checked up.

Yet mere hours later, the same child is wholly focused on a LOUD tv show, clear across the house from you ~ and somehow manages to hear you and your husband whisper about the contraband cheese puffs that were hidden in the closet.

And the cries of "Cheesies?????? CHEESIES? Do you have cheesies?" can be heard by all who live on your street....


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Twirling Will Lead to....

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Last week {after the camera-breaking incident} we were driving home from homegroup when Zachary started singing from the backseat:

"I'm gonna sing, sing, sing,
I'm gonna shout, shout, shout,
I'm gonna sing, I'm gonna shout
And praise the Lord..."

I just sighed and smiled, thinking it was a nice ending to an emotional day and was thrilled to hear him praising Jesus.

Until he got to the second verse.

"I'm gonna twirl, twirl, twirl,
I'm gonna hurl, hurl, hurl,
I'm gonna twirl, I'm gonna hurl
and praise the Lord!"

{In all honesty, I'd probably be hurling if I were twirling too...}

Head on over to Mary's at Not Before 7 for some more Tiny Talk Tuesday!!


Monday, October 5, 2009

Hobbies {Friend Makin' Monday}

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The topic over at Friend Makin' Monday today is 'Hobbies'. What do I like to do? What do I wish I did more of?

Hmmm....

  1. Photography. Yep. I like to take pictures for sure. A lot of pictures. You know that you take a lot of pictures when your kids are constantly asking you why you take so many and your husband just sits there and smirks. Our poor computer hard drive. Makes me extremely thankful we have an online backup and a server that keeps track of all the pictures.

  2. Blogging. I know I've mentioned this before, but this is seriously the cheapest form of therapy that I know of. Chocolate is right up there, but that can get rather expensive after awhile. And depressing if I eat too much of it.

  3. Reading. Hand me a fiction book and you might just lose me for awhile. Since I read quickly, it can become a big issue if I'm not careful. I love, love, love to get lost in a good book.

  4. Movies. Period dramas, especially. When I'm working, I like to have something on in the background and generally it's something related to Jane Austen or that time era.
What I wish I did more of:
  1. Sewing. I have a lovely little machine and I used to sew a lot more, but that's taken a BIG backburner now with 4 kids and homeschooling. I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that the machine is hidden in the bowels of my basement.

  2. Scrapbooking. I had finally caught up...and let's just say I'm not anywhere close to being caught up now. Partially it's just a matter of having other things that I'm doing right now ~ or want to be doing right now. I figure my blog is keeping track of most everything, so I at least have a great place to get all the info when I do have the time.

  3. Knitting. This is something that I want to actually DO!!! The girls are asking me to teach them, so that would mean I need to actually learn. Does anyone have a good recommendation for a teaching/learning book?

  4. Canning/Freezing. Of course that would involve actually keeping a better garden, so I'm not sure if I'm ready for that ~ but I really would like to do more of it!


What are your hobbies? Or what do you wish you did a little more of? Be sure to visit Amber to hang out and make some new friends!


Saturday, October 3, 2009

In the Name of Fun

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Days before we were heading to the U2 360 tour, there was a little back and forth Facebook banter between my friend Crystal and me about our excitement in going to the concert. Because it's only a group we've listened to since, well...a LONG time ago, and still love.



Crystal: Only 25 days left until a Magnificent and Beautiful Day!



Me: Just remember who has the tickets, baby!



Crystal: Jo ~ I'm going With or Without You.



Me: It'll cost you 40. Especially since it's something I know you Desire.



Crystal: I do need you to go, especially since Sometimes You Can't Make it On Your Own.



Me: I suppose I should just Surrender since I don't want this to turn into a Sunday Bloody Sunday.



Crystal: Yeah, let's choose peace In the Name of Love. My blood pressure is experiencing a little Elevation...we don't want to get Stuck in a Moment we can't get out of. Jo, you're the Sweetest Thing for being the keeper of the tickets. It's All Because of You that we'll have a blast in October.




And we did!!


Friday, October 2, 2009

More to Come....

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Late night. Lots of fun.

Guess who I went to see?



More to come....

 

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