Monday, December 31, 2007

Music Monday: Casting Crowns

I am always so skeptical of Christian Rock Music. I just have never really liked it much. I know it has come a long way in the past few years, but when compared to current pop music, it usually is years behind.

However, over Christmas break I got a chance to really listen to the CD Lifesong by the group Casting Crowns. One of my younger brothers likes them and had it playing while we drove and talked and I have to say that I was pleasently surprised. My personal favorite right now is Praise You in This Storm, here is just the chorus:

And I'll praise you in this storm

And I will lift my hands

For You are who You are

No matter where I am

And every tear I've cried

You hold in Your hand

You never left my side

And though my heart is torn

I will praise You in this storm

Thanks Jay, everytime I listen to this CD I will remember a long drive and great conversation!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Should We Be Happy At Work?

As I was swapping out the guts of a computer yesterday on the job, a very unsettling thought crossed my mind; I don't like to chase down computer hardware problems.

This train of thought led me to really start thinking that I am perhaps in the wrong career. I then eventually had to ask my self if that even mattered.

There are many great sites out there to get one thinking about careers and being happy at work. I ran across this sort of fun quiz on Monster today "Discover Your Perfect Career." I think that is a really silly name, but the quiz did get me thinking and actually all of the careers it mentioned at the end are things I have dreamed of doing.

The quiz said that I am an ENFP (Extravert, Intuitive, Feeler, Perceiver). I actually think this is pretty accurate. And some of the careers it recommends are Career Counselor, Journalist, Graphic Designer, Copywriter, Corporate Team Trainer and Psychologist. As I said, these are all things I have thought of in the past.

But do we have to be happy at work? Does work have to be meaningful and fulfill me? Or is this a bunch of touchy feely crap that we have bought into? I am not sure that our parents, that would be the baby boomers, gave this a bunch of thought. I have a very hard time imagining my dad sitting around wondering if being an insurance agent completes him. I don't think he worries too much about whether or not he is happy at work. I also have a hard time picturing my father-in-law, a very logical practical Dutchman, wondering if he is happy enough at work.

What do you think? Do we need to be happy at work, are just somewhat content?

Monday, December 24, 2007

Blessings on this Christmas

As I sit here thinking of this Christmas and of Christmas past, I am so very thankful for this time of reflection. Time to remember good times of the past and to anticipate future blessings. It has been a rough few months, but I know we will get through. And as I wish I had taken more time in the past few weeks to just sit an enjoy the season, I am reminded of the simple truth in this time of year.

I think Linus has it right, and all I want to do is enjoy this Christmas classic with those I hold dear and make memories that will bless me in years to come. I don't want to forget to ponder the real reason for the season.

Blessings. . .

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Cafe Thursday - Crescent Wreath

I can't wait to try this adorable, yet quick and easy to make crescent wreath! I just love the shortcuts from Pillsbury.

2 cans refrigerated crescent rolls
1 container pineapple cream cheese spread
1/3 cup chopped ham
1/4 cup yellow pepper, finely chopped
1/4 cup green pepper, finely chopped
1/2 cup broccoli, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon red onion, finely chopped
6 cherry tomatoes, quartered

Heat oven to 375°F. Turn 10-oz custard cup upside down on center of ungreased large cookie sheet.Remove dough from 1 can, keeping dough in 1 piece; do not unroll.(Keep remaining can of dough in refrigerator.) Roll dough in one direction to make 12-inch log.Cut log into 20 slices. Arrange 16 slices, slightly overlapping and in clockwise direction,around custard cup on cookie sheet.

Repeat with second can of dough, cutting log into 20 slices. Arrange remaining 4 slices and slicesfrom second can (total of 24 slices) slightly overlapping each other and in counterclockwisedirection, close to but not overlapping first ring. Remove custard cup.

Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until light golden brown. Gently loosen wreath from cookie sheet;carefully slide onto cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Place wreath on serving tray or platter. Spread cream cheese spread over wreath. Sprinkle withremaining ingredients. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate up to 4 hours before serving.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Bonding via TV

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, right? Last night DD and I did some bonding while watching Clash of the Choirs. Now, usually, I hate all of those reality shows. My life has enough reality in it. I want to be entertained when I watch TV, you know, good fiction. Give me a murder mystery, gory though it may be anyday over one of those who can survive this stupid island like adventure longest by being a creep shows. However, DD's main passion in life is music, so this seemed like a show we may both enjoy, and I like choirs, so I figured we would give this new show a try.

I am so glad we did! I don't know if this show would interest me as much if it weren't Christmastime, but it was very enjoyable. The celebrity hosts are fun (to look at with Nick Lachey and Blake Shelton) and the music is actually really good.

My favorite had to be Patti LaBelle's Philadelphia choir, they brought the house down, and the talent was amazing. I personally thought Nick Lachey's was second, but I would guess there will be lots of debate about that one.

If you missed the show last night, you have another chance tonight, or tomorrow, or Thursday. It will be on NBC all this week. Let me know if you watched and what you thought. We sure had fun rockin with the bands.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Finally Friday Fun - A Great Wine Site

I can't even remember why I ended up on this site, I think I was looking for a gift for a friend. But this site is really a lot of fun. It is an educational wine site by a guy that may live next door to you.

Wine Library TV is hosted by Gary Vaynerchuk who is a typical Jersey guy. If you don't know any Jersey guys, he is loud, opinionated, but somehow endearing. He is the Director of Operations at a wine store in New Jersey, which seems to be a family owned business. He has gotten som nice press recently, and been on Conon O'Brien and the Ellen Degeneres Show.

The best part about his site is that it is a video cast, instead of being a bunch of writing I have to try and make time for. He does a daily show, and I have only seen a few, but they are pretty good, and I have found that the information is worthwhile.

If you are looking for a gift and need some wine advice, or you just wish you knew more, check out this great site. I recommend starting with the link on the right under "things to check out" called "New to wine?" Enjoy!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Dealing With Christmas Stress - Part 3

The last thing about Christmas that usually stresses me out is the thought of having to decorate the entire house.

Not this year. I have listed a couple of tips below to make holiday decorating quick and easy.

1. Add Christmas tree lights to mirrors and doorways. I know, the sprigs of evergreen and lights looks so nice, but I find that a cheap set of multi-colored lights around a mirror or door frame can quickly decorate a small room (like the bathroom).

2. Place baskets of ornaments on tables and countertops. We all have baskets lying around, and most of us probably have old ornaments that we don't hang on the tree anymore. Put them in a basket for an instant centerpiece. Add some ribbon and you have a very nice new decoration. If you want to do more, paint the basket to match the bulbs.

3. Add handmade snowflakes to windows and mirrors. My kids actually love to make snowflakes and tape them to the windows. Here is a great site with some patterns to use.

4. Another thing I do is decorate pillows with ribbon from past Christmas presents and wrap wall art and pictures like presents.

5. All you need to complete this look is to decorate the tree with traditional ornaments, bows and lights.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dealing With Christmas Stress - Part 2

As promised, today I will share one of my secrets for dealing with Christmas stress this year. I am cheating.

That is right, the second thing I stress out about most years is all of the baking I have to do in order to take cookies everywhere I go. I am not gonna slave in the kitchen for hours upon hours trying to make the perfect cookie this year! I am going to start with some dough provided by good old Pillsbury, and go from there.

In fact, over at the Pillsbury site they have some pretty darn good looking recipes that I plan to use, as well as some of my own editing of their dough. Why reinvent the wheel? Most cookies consist of sugar, butter, flour, I think that is what is in the Pillsbury stuff . . . right?

And instead of making 30 different kinds of cookies, I am going to narrow in on a couple and do them really well.

Bonding With My Teenager

I sit here this morning, typing in pain.

In order to bond with my daughter last night, I participated in an activity I really didn't want to. I got my nails done. And do you think she would settle for mom getting a nice plain old manicure? No! I had to get these darn acrylic nails put on. I got them as short as I could, but I am still having a tough time this morning. It was all I could do to convince her that I just couldn't possibly get a design too.

So, here I sit, a system administrator who can barely type, let alone be able to take a hard drive out of a computer. They look great, but come on, they have no practical purpose at all. I am just waiting for the ridicule from the guys here to start.

So, was it worth it? Absolutely! I am convinced that it is these small little memories and shared experiences that really matter. We wont remember what color we got, or what salon we went to, but we perhaps now have a new Christmas tradition that we will share in years to come.

What crazy things have you done to bond with your teen or parent?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

How I Keep Stress Away at Christmas

I was thinking on my drive to work today that the folks on the radio are special. The woman on the morning talk show was going on and on about how stressed she was and her shopping is almost done, as is her baking and decorating. I was thinking how I had barely started those things and yet for the first year that I remember, I am not at all stressed.

Then, upon arriving to work and checking Christine Kane's blog as I do each day, I saw that she was also blogging about how to destress, and I figured I may as well add my $.02.

There are three things that usually get me stressed out around Christams time; gifts, baking, and decorating. I will spend the next three days telling you why I am not worried about these things this year.

Gifts: All I had to do to not stress about this is two things. First, I asked myself to quickly list what I received last year. I couldn't do it. I remember what my thoughtful husband got me, but for the most part, I couldn't remember the gifts. I am guessing that many people are like me; they remember that they were thought of by friends and relatives, but can't remember the actual gift. As long as you make the effort, there is absolutely no reason to stress over picking the perfect gift. It doesn't exist.

Second, I made a list of all the gifts I need to get. I have 22 purchases to make. Now, I don't know about you, but there are many days, at the outlet malls usually, where I can easily make 22 purchases in a matter of hours. Why is it that we insist on spending several weeekends at the malls this month of the year? Come on ladies, we can do this in a day or less. Again, the key is to quit looking for the perfect gift and instead do the best you can.

Do not let others stress you out, and please realize that none of us have the perfect home, gift, kids, husband, family. Enjoy whatever you do have!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Encouragement May Be the Key

I wanted to write an update to my post on Parenting Teens from last week. I also wanted to thank those who responded, I read all you had to say and visited many of your blogs. I was so encouraged by all you have written and by your advice.

What came out loud and clear by many is that my DS may need some encouragement, and DD needs time to heal. We have made significant progress on both fronts.

DD seems to be healing quite nicely. She is interested in so many things, and has so many accomplishments that it is hard to have much time to sulk or nurse a broken heart. Also, it did help that she noticed someone else at church this weekend. Another boy, more trouble no doubt, but she at least has to acknowledge on some level that Moms reminder that other boys will come along was correct.

DS and I may have had a bit of a break-through this past week also. I noticed that for his last detention he had to write out some goals for himself. It seems that one of his goals is to attend a college in the Midwest that has a good reputation and therefore hard to get into. Upon discussing this, I realized that although he put it on his list, he really believed he could not get in. I encouraged him and explained that actually, if he quickly turned things around he could very well get in. He was shocked and amazed, and seemed to actually decide to try. Now, I know the personality of this little adult, and he will need CONSTANT validation and reminders of what his goal is. I am ok with that though, as I see that as a major part of this parenting gig anyway. To encourage and encourage and encourage until they no longer need it . . . and now that I think about it . . . my mom is still encouraging me when no one else believes.

I know, another post about the kids! Who cares? But here is hoping someone needed to hear that each day brings its own challenges and blessings.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Finally Friday Fun: YouTube Style

This has been a really long week. Lots of ups and downs with the kids, snow here in Chitown and we are in the midst of Christmas craziness. So, it is no great surprise to me that I somehow ended up over on YouTube watching videos this morning.

I started watching a StarWars Helpdesk parody, mostly because I am very familiar with what is known as "Helpdesk Hell." I watched a few of these StarWars shorts, but ended up stuck on this Muppets video that I remember all too well from when I was younger. This is just plain fun, now if I just had one of those cocktails from yesterday's posting . . .


Thursday, December 6, 2007

5 Christmas Cocktails

Ah yes, the weekend is coming, and I am preparing for it ahead of time. It has been a very long week both at work and at home, and I have been thinking all morning about some of the fun Christmas Cocktails I have seen and how I can't wait to try them.

Before the mad cow kicks in (yes, I am a closet Boston Legal fan, and I know it is a terrible show but it is just so darned entertaining and impertinent that I LOVE it) I thought I better jot a couple of these down.

1. I first want to try a Candy Cane Martini. I found this yummy sounding recipe at my new favorite Christmas website; Combine the following: 3/4 oz Peppermint Schnapps, 3/4 oz Creme de Cacao, 1/4 oz Grenadine, 1/4 oz Half & Half, and a splash of 7-up.

2. How about a White Christmas? This recipe comes from the folks over at Fine Living: combine 4 oz of Eggnog, 1/2 oz of White Chocolate Liqueur, and 1 oz of Southern Comfort.

3. Next, I may have to try Emeril's Candy Cane recipe. To make this, add the following ingredients to a large bowl filled with ice cubes: 3 candy canes, crushed , 1/2 bottle vodka, 1 1/2 cups cranberry vodka, 1/4 cup Grand Marnier, 2 cups macerated cherries, 2 quarts cranberry juice, and 2 tablespoons grenadine.

4. My Grandpa used to make Grasshopper parfaits for all the adults at Christmas when I was a kid, but I had to settle for the fudge parfait instead. This recipe for a Frozen Grasshopper will no doubt be good, and also bring back childhood memories. You blend the following ingredients: 3/4 oz green creme de menthe, 3/4 oz white creme de cacao, and 2 cups vanilla ice cream.
5. And just in case it is as cold by you as it is by me these days, I thought I should add at least one hot drink. How about a Hot Nuts: pour 1 oz of Amaretto almond liqueur and 1 oz of Frangelico hazelnut liqueur in a coffee mug, then fill with hot chocolate. Top with whipped cream and pour 1/8 oz of Cherry Brandy carefully over the whipped cream. Top with a cherry.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Today is an UP Day!

After such a down day on Monday, I was afraid of what Tuesday may hold, but things were good yesterday, and I will take it. A day at a time, I will make it through with my two teenagers, a dd and ds.

DS Had his first swim meet . . .

and it went quite well actually. I had never been to a swim meet and was not sure what to expect, but other than the humidity of the pool area, I enjoyed it very much. He competed in three events and did quite well. I had to put this picture up for his grandparents, they will love it.

DD had fun in the snow . . .

and I was once again amazed by her strength and courage, so unlike her mother. She told me God had answered her prayers for snow so she was going out in it to enjoy the first snow of the season. Quite a change from the night before when she was nursing a broken heart. She is healing quickly and I am just so thrilled that she is grounded somehow . . . where did that come from??!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Parenting Is Hard

I think I have always known that parenting is hard, but it is the teenage years that are killing me.

I have a boy and a girl, and they have very different issues, but both hurt my heart today.

My daughter has just lost her first love. She is such a great person, smart, fun, cute, and lovable, but this boy has left her doubting her self worth and that makes me sad. I hate that we women often let the men in our lives have that power over us. As if we need their acceptance or that their opinions are the only ones that matter. I am trying to teach her to be independant and to think for herself and to march to the beat of her own drum. . .but she is a teenage girl. She likes boys. I will have to think up some interesting ways to pump up her ego a bit. Any ideas?

My son is a whole other person. I don't understand him. He is very smart, and is a generally good athlete, but he can't ever remember to bring his homework home, and therefore never does it and fails his classes. On top of that, he is late for classes and is now serving his thrird detention of the school year. . .as a freshman!! I don't know what to do. We have punished him, taken away his gadgets, no activities with friends, nothing to do at home but sleep and eat and it doesn't do any good. I am at a loss, and at this point, I am tired of crying myself to sleep.

My husband thinks this is typical parenting stress for those with teenagers. I would love to hear from anyone with teenagers. . .advice. . .or even just an "amen" we have that problem too would be very much appreciated.

How do you make it through the teenage years?

Monday, December 3, 2007

Review of The Historian

I finally finished The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, and I think this is the first book that I have read for pleasure that took me so long to finish.

I liked this book overall, and I certainly liked the idea of the book, but I think the thing is that the action never really took off and made this book one I couldn't put down. There were many details about monks and monistaries and not enough character development I think. This book read more like a history book than most historical fiction novels I have read. Unfortunately, I loved Dan Brown's Davinci Code. That historical novel had detail, but it had enough non-stop action to keep the reader involved and interested. His characters we more believable I suppose.

Even the love stories in this book, and I believe there are two, were weak and not well devoleped. There is little passion in this book at all, except perhaps the auther has for the old monistaries. I just kept feeling like something was missing. I was able to finish the book, but I won't really be adding it to any of my Christmas lists this year.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

5 Things To Do on a Blustery Chicago Day

The weather here in Chicago is treacherous today. There was snow, then rain, then more snow and some more raining. Needless to say, the roads are a solid sheet of ice.

So, I found myself looking for things to do to pass the time on this cold, slushy day and I ended up having quite a good day in spite of myself. I thought I would record what I did, so the next time the weather acts up this way I can immediately beging the fun.

1. Read. I always have two or three books that I have really wanted to get to and just never find the time for. Brew a pot of coffe or cup of tea and you have hours of entertainment.

2. Play video games with your children. Don't have children? Call a friend or get online and meet some friends.

3. Bake. This can be a lone activity or in my case, a chance to turn the gadgets off and talk to my children while we create yummies to consume.

4. Take a bath. Come on, when was the last time you sat down in a tub and really let the heat and some fun bubbles carry you away to warmer thoughts and climates?

5. Catch up with friends. You can pick up the phone, jump online and send an email or IM, or even walk to the neighbor's house for a quick visit. I touched base today with some friends I had not talked to in a while and was reminded of just how important those relationships are. I smiled and had warm fuzzies all over just connecting to others and catching up with them on all the happenings in their lives.

Enjoy the weather!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday Fun

The weather forcast for here in Chicago this weekend is not so pretty. Lots of cold wet stuff, either snow or slush or slushy rain, so we are making plans at our house to do lots of baking.

One of my favorite Christmas cookie recipes has been handed down from generation to generation. It is an odd recipe, but a good one. My daughter and I will be making some of these up tomorrow. . .

CANDY LASSES (Christmas cookies)

Cream: 2/3 cup butter

¼ cup sugar
¼ cup brown sugar

Blend: 1 egg
2 tbsp. Molasses

Add: ½ cup peppermint candy canes crushed

Sift: 2 cups flour
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. ginger

Beat well after blending in egg and molasses—then stir in peppermint candy and dry ingredients—drop by teaspoon onto greased cookie sheets—bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes.
Cool cookies for at least 5 minutes before removing from sheets.
Frost cookies with peppermint frosting.
To make peppermint frosting, add red food coloring, a few drops of peppermint flavoring, and some crushed peppermint candy canes to plain vanilla frosting.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Strike is Over, and I Am Proud as a Peacock

As you may or may not have heard yet, the Stagehand strike that has crippled Broadway for about three weeks ended last night around 10:30 pm. This means that today, the show will go on.

And just why does this make me proud as a peacock? You see, my brother has been working very hard since he was in high school to find his place in the world. He at first, I think, believed he would be a singer or actor. . .and he was good. But over the past few years he has tried his hand at many different things, and seemed to find his niche in being a Company Director. He has continuously worked on his theater degree and dreamed only of Braodway.

Well, my hat is very proudly off to my little brother today, for realizing a dream that he has had for years and followed at deep personal cost! Tonight, my brother has his Broadway debut, and I wish with all my heart that I could be there to see it. Tonight my brother will be the Company Manager of the Broadway musical Curtains with David Hyde Pierce!

It may take years, but following your dream and pursuing it diligently, in almost all cases, does indeed pay off. If you are willing to work tirelessly and give it your all, you will be rewarded. For all of you who are on that long road. . .hang in there! Your own breakthrough may be right around that next corner.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

5 Board Games Everyone Will Enjoy

I don't want to do it, I don't want to add another gift list, but I have to for two reasons. First, I want to record all my good ideas for myself, and second, everyone I talk to these days is looking for gift ideas. Let's face it, it is the most important thing on all our minds right now. So, on to the board games.

My husband hates board games, but the kids and I love them. We also find that especially in the winter months, lots of couples like to come over for game night. . .and the food and fun is magical.

So, for those "gamers" on your holiday gift list, here are a few board games that I will be picking up for my friends this year (just so I can use them when I invite them over).

1. Eat It! Snacks & Sweets Trivia Game was feature in the December issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray. Not only does it get great reviews, and include questions about my favorite food group, chocolate, it comes with coupons also. Who wouldn't enjoy this gift?! ($28)

2. I need to add the Jumbo Sequence game to a list for my family, as we play this all the time with friends. It is a team game, and so the competitiveness in us all comes out, but it usually provides hours of entertainment for anyone who likes card games. ($33)

3. We LOVE Cranium. This is the board game that we go back to time after time, and now there is a new version out. I may even put Cranium Wow on my own Christmas list this year. ($30)

4. Another food related game for the magazine above is one called Celebrity Chef the Game. I'll admit it, there is nothing I like to do better on a Saturday morning than make a cup of coffee, have some eggs, and sit down to an hour or two of the Food Network. This game will at least validate some of my time spent! ($30)

5. And finally, another game we play over and over again at our get togethers is Scene It. If the person you are buying for has an XBox 360, another GREAT game that I can't wait to try is the XBox 360 verion of Scene It. ($60)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

5 Inexpensive Gifts for Kids

I was looking for stocking stuffers for my kids, and some small gifts for nieces and nephews and found some really good ideas both online and the December issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray.

1. My son has had a rough year, and so I have promised his Dad that I will put only coal in his stocking this year, but at least with Christmas Coal, I have found a fun way to do that!

2. I like these little watches for the elementry aged kids on my list. I like that it was designed by a child at St Jude's and I also like the price.

3. These gloves are just too funky. I plan to get a pair for my dauther and all the girls on my list.

4. Ever since Jeff Foxworthy came on and challenged us to be smarter than our 5th graders, the kids in my house have been clamoring to play a game where they can beat the parents. I am putting this game under the tree, friendly competition never hurt anyone, just as long as the parents win! This website is also nice, as there is free shipping, and the option to choose only gifts made in the US.

5. And although the Wobble Deck is made in China, I think this is too fun to pass up. I think my teenagers will like this, and I am sure their dad will be anxious to show just how young he is with this game.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Alternative Suggestions to Black Friday Shopping

I know eveyone is just dying to get out, sit still in traffice, fight for a parking spot, and then fight with all of the other customers in the stores today, but not me. I am looking forward to a very calm day doing some more productive activities.

Here is my list of 5 alternate activities to participating in the Black Friday Craze:

1. First, I will be tuning all of the radios and internet sites to Christmas All the Time buy going to WLIT the Holiday Lite, 93.9FM. Their website also has some great holiday ideas for decorating and some amazing recipes.

2. I will put together a delicious lunch of leftover turkey. I found some great recipes on the Food Network website that I can choose from, yum!

3. I will get out my decorations today and slowly over the next few days decorate the different rooms in my house. Last year I found a great bathroom set that makes me smile every morning at the BedBath Store.

4. While I am enjoying the lights and music of the season, I will also sit down and address a few of those holiday cards that I want to send out. I found my cards this year at Red Stamp, they had dozens of photo cards to choose from.

5. After I have spent at least 15 minutes on the Christmas cards, I will put in a Christmas Classics and cozy up with left over pie and tea!

Whatever you do today relax and enjoy this magical time before Christmas, the season that is most filled with hope, joy, love, and peace on earth.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Career Advice

In a former job, I had college students reporting to me, and I have stayed in touch with many of them, and it distresses me to see so many of them struggling with indecision now that they have their degrees.

I can relate to this, as I too wonder what could have been if I had been forced to think about what I wanted to do with my life more in high school.

I want to encourage parents to help their kids think through this, so I will post some links below that may be helpful. If you have or know someone who will be going to college, or is in college, and they don't know what to do with their lives, please encourage them to really put some time and effort into this and make a plan.

I love the Wall Street Journal's site CareerJournal. It has some really great articles, including some interviews with people about their jobs.

Another great site is MSN's Collage Grad site.

And another good idea for all high school aged students is to look through some current job postings to get a feel for what jobs and skills employers are looking for.

I got my last job through a posting on CareerBuilder, so I recommend that one here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving Memories

I have such happy memories of Thanksgivings of the past, both in the long ago past and the not distant past. Of these, there are two videos that help me sum up, with a chuckle, those memories and I plan to share these both with my kids this year.

The first is the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special. . .take a look.

The second is less appropriate, but I was a teenager when this first came out and I remember watching this with my brothers and laughing well into the morning! Those are very happy memories.

How about you? What fun memories do you have?

Monday, November 19, 2007

5 Things to Do After Thanksgiving Dinner

Holidays are great. My family and I look forward to family coming for Thanksgiving every year. We plan for weeks what we will cook, when we will clean each room of the house, and what projects must be finished before family from out of town arrives. We just about think of eveything, however, we usually fail to plan what we will actually DO while we wait for dinner to cook.

Now, don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with just sitting around and talking. Some may find, though, that the more restless of their relatives may need some activities to get them talking and sharing and opening up. Here are just 5 simple ideas for having some fun, being productive, or simply working off some of that food.

5 Things to Do After Thanksgiving Dinner:

1. When you invite folks, let them know that you will have a place set aside for them to do some holiday cards, and you will have an address swap. Even if you invite friends instead of family, this could be a very productive activity.

2. Another fun thing to do after dinner is to print out those pictures you took before and during dinner and begin scrapping with your family and friends there. I am thinking that the women in the group may especially enjoy bonding over making a momento to take home.

3. Go for a walk. I know simple, but sometimes we forget the simple things. Is there a child or spouse you have not spent much time with lately in all the flurry of activity? Invite them along and talk about the dinner or the day or even swap Christmas lists or wishes.

4. We don't have many traditions in our family, but one we do have is that every Thanksgiving we pick a movie to go see in the theater. This is a great way to unwind after a long week, and face it, the cook probably needs some time off her/his feet!

5. Another tradition that we have, is touch football. I think this activity is even more fun for those of us who are not usually coordinated or sporty. Anyone can toss a football a couple of feet and run. . .and there is little danger of injury if you stick to the "touch not tackle" rule.

Do you have fun activities planned or have some different traditions? Please share!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Finally Friday Fun

Friday fun for the next few weeks is most likely going to be shopping, and shopping tips. So on this last Friday before Thanksgiving, I am working on THAT shopping list.

Here is my menu for Thursday and some links for the recipes that I will be using.

Thanksgiving Menu:



Mashed Potatoes

Pretzle Salad (am changing all references to Strawberry here to Cranberry)


And for Dessert:

Pumpkin Bars (will cut then top with a mini candy pumpkin for decoration)

How about you?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Cafe Thursday

Another week has practically come and gone, and here we are with only some 39 odd days left to get all of our Christmas preparations done. I don't know about you, but I am already starting to feel the familiar panic setting in. I got even more worried when I realized that Thanksgiving is a week from today.

I am subscribed to the Chicago Edition of Daily Candy, and yesterday they sent this amazing recipe from Moto pastry chef Ben Roche. It has me relaxing and completely looking forward to breakfast with my family next week. Whether you try this recipe or an old family favorite, in the rush of the holidays, don't forget to slow down for special moments with loved ones. Take a long morning break and have breakfast with your Mom, daughter, sister, friend or make cookies and have tea with friends. Just remember to enjoy the people in your life at some point, and for a least one meal here and there . . . just enjoy your food without counting the calories.

Pumpkin Pie Pancakes with Cranberry Maple Syrup

Makes 12 Pancakes

3 slices prebaked 8-inch pumpkin pie (cut into 8 even slices)

2 eggs

¼ c. plus 2 tbsp. milk

½ c. plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour

1½ tsp. baking powder

¾ tsp. salt

2 tbsp. brown sugar

½ tsp. powdered cinnamon

½ tsp. powdered ginger


¾ c. cranberry sauce

¼ c. maple syrup

1. Roughly chop pumpkin pie, crust and all, into half-inch pieces.
2. Put chopped pie and eggs into blender and blend until smooth.
3. Add milk and dry ingredients and blend until smooth (a little clumpy is okay).
4. Pour batter into buttered pan and cook as you would normal pancakes. When they are a dark caramel color, flip delicately.
5. Blend cranberry sauce and maple syrup.
6. Top pancakes with cranberry maple syrup

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What the heck is a FLYbaby?

Ok, I will finally admit it outloud . . . I am not organized, and organization does not come to me naturally. Not only I am not natively organized, I have almost no routines and usually avoid them at all cost. So, it comes as no suprise to most that I don't exactly have a perfectly clean home that my family can't wait to get home to. I was not taught how to clean by habit and routine, and therefore, when company is coming, it is usually a several day ordeal that contains much hollering and lots of stress. Last week, I realized that not only was my house disorganized and not clean, but my house really was only a reflection of the chaos I had accepted in all areas of my life. I was also at a loss as to how I was going to encourage my ds (dear son) to care about school and get himself together. So I did what I always do when I am in a crisis and need advice, I used google.

The first sites I happened across were reform schools and places for troubled teens. Knowing that things were bad, but not quite that bad yet, I kept going. I somehow ended up on a funny little page with a woman in purple wings and blue hair at I won't bore you with all the details, but I highly recommmend this site for any woman who may be a perfectionist, works at home or outside somewhere, and is feeling like perhaps things in your life are out of control and you can't organize yourself.

Once I decided to become a FLYbaby, the only natural next step was to organize the second most important thing in my family's life (the house being the first), dinner! I have only begun to use some of the tools posted on the Saving Dinner site. I can't tell you what to do, and I am sure this system is not for everyone, but I think it is no coincidence that I had my first really good idea for a story today . . . one week into the new lifestyle!

Being the Disciplinarian

I think this is the worst part of the Mom gig; being the disciplinarian. I am not all that good at it either, truth be told. I am not scared of my kids or worried that they won't like me, it just isn't much fun having to discipline the kids. But, it seems that letting my high school aged children try to determine their own bedtimes makes for a VERY stressful morning for all.

So, I have decreed a bedtime for both of them (of course this was met with weeping and gnashing of teeth). I don't think 10pm is too early for teenagers that need to get up by 6:30 each morning to make it to school on time. What do you think? Please let me know.

Monday, November 12, 2007

5 Gift Ideas for the Geek on Your List

Do you have any Geeks on your list? You know the ones, they dress in dark colors, and may sit in a cubicle or an office, but come 6pm, they are sitting in their basement in front of at least 2 monitors playing the latest online RPG.

Here are a few fun ideas if you have any of these folks on your list:

1. Have a mobile IT person in the family? Are they often running from system to system or location to location fixing computer issues? If so, they may need an Ironkey. This is a secure way to keep passwords handy and be able to browse the internet safely from any location.

2. When I first got into the IT business, someone got me a Wave, I had it only a month before I noticed dear hubby using it. I have not seen it since, but this is definitely a great stocking stuffer for anyone who likes to tinker.

3. I love this laptop tote. I am adding it to my own list right now.

4. I haven't tried the Sun Jar yet, but with all the attention that green gadgets are getting this year, I will definitely be adding a couple of these to my list for my siblings.

5. And last but certainly not least, if you have been putting off getting yourself or the top receiver on your list an iPod, now is the time. With so many to choose from, you can get one for almost everyone on your list.

ThinkGeek - Cool Stuff for Geeks and Technophiles

Best Kitchen Cleaning Tip EVER

I spent much of this past weekend cleaning my kitchen. I know, I am supposed to clean my house little by little every day, but come on; I don't always have time for that. Besides, I like having a lazy dinner and then catching up with the kids and watching our favorite TV shows together during the week. That leaves the weekend for deep house cleaning, and while I was whitening my stove this weekend, I was thankful once again for the best cleaning tip my mother ever gave me.

It was shortly after I got my brand new shiny white oven. Mom was there on Thanksgiving and I was pouting over my white burners no longer being white. Mom asked if I had any SOS pads and suggested I try those. They worked! My burners looked brand new, and NOTHING cuts through grease on counters, floors and tables like those little SOS pads. They even worked pretty well on my shiny sink.

A follow-up tip: if you have a red wine or red juice stain on anything white, try the Magic Eraser. I am not sure what this thing is made of, but we even got out dark blue dye from a friends antique wood table with this little gem.

I get mine from, inc. It is quick, easy, and usually delivered (for free) in a day or two. I save even more money by not going to the drugstore on my corner and filling my cart with things I had no intention of buying.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Finally Friday Fun

Another new feature and theme day: Finally Friday Fun. I am imagining a list of links and fun for Fridays. For now, I am thinking I will theme it each week with topics that I like, and will go from there.

Today as I commuted in to work, I was listening to Afterglow by Sarah McLachlan and thinking of things that make me happy, and I thought of riding my motorcycle. I am hoping that it will warm up just enough here in Chicago today for me to get a few moments in after work on my bike, if not today, then hopefully sometime this weekend. In honor of my happy thoughts this morning, I figured I would list here some fun motorcycle links, especially those dedicated to women bikers.

Illinois Free Rider Course - This is the absolute best thing I ever did by myself or for myself! Do this if you are even thinking about biking just a little bit! It is worth it. My class was over half women.

Women who Ride - A good starter site with tips and information. - I got my first pair of Harley boots here for a great price, shipping was free and I had the boots the next day. . .Zappos is amazing. Here are the boots I want next (hint, hint).

Harley-Davidson - And of course, this is my next bike, for now anyway (hint, hint). You also have to like the fact that they have an entire section on their site just for women riders.

I am still looking for warm clothing so I can ride a bit longer in the fall and earlier in the spring, so if you have any sites to share please let me know.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond Review

I just finished listening to The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Mary Beth Hurt is the Narrator on my version, and I found her voice to be very easy to listen to.

I LOVE listening to good books on the way to and from work. I find that if I am concentrating on a good story, I am happy, the time flies by, AND it keeps Road Rage from sneaking up on me. All around, a win/win situation.

I was very afraid at the beginning of this book that I was going to have to stop listening, what with all of the male dominance being portrayed. I kept listening though and found that as the story progressed, I got into it and realized that like it or not, it has taken us a long time to realize that all people are created equal.

I need to reflect for a couple more days on the theme and the main points of the book, but overall this is an enjoyable book, and does shed light on just how the witch trials may have gone. More importantly, it gives a very clear picture of why we MUST get to know people before we pass our petty judgements on their character. When we reach out to people, meet them where they are, and share ourselves with them we can find deep and lasting happiness.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Cafe Thursday

Until further notice, Thursdays will be the days that I celebrate my inner chef. Now, I am no Julia Childs, Paula Dean or even a Rachel Ray, but I can occasionally put together a decent meal for the family. I have lots of favorite ways to come up with recipes for dinner, and I will share those here as well as some sites and tips.

Today, I would like to put down in writing for some friends and family a recipe that everyone except my husband seems to enjoy. I found this recipe in a Pillsbury circular at the grocery store and modified it a bit.

Homestyle Chicken Pot Pie

1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 1/2 cups of cubed chicken
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
pinch of chipotle seasoning
1 package of frozen or canned mixed veggies
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1 packet of Onion soup mix
Cooking spray
2 pie crusts (Pillsbury is my personal favorite)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Heat Olive Oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken, salt, pepper and seasoning. Drain veggies (steam frozen veggies under HOT water if using them) and put in a seperate bowl. Add cream of chicken soup, 1/2 can of water, and onion soup mix to veggies. Once chicken is browned, lower heat and add veggie mixture until warmed through.

Lightly coat a pie tin with cooking spray and spread one pie crust. Add meat and veggie mixture. Place second pie crust on top of the mixture and tuck in around the sides. Be sure to add at least a couple of slits to the top of the pie, but decorate as you see fit. I often will add someone's initials or a heart.

Put pie plate on a cookie sheet and bake for 35 minutes. Remove pie from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. . .serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Happy Hump Day - Shopping Feature

On Wednesday of each week, I am going to post some products that I have discovered or loved, or just want to remember or pass on as hints to those reading my site. So here goes, a Happy Hump Day Shopping List:

1. I have been flying for a couple of months now, and so I do a swish & swipe every morning when I get out of the shower. While I was browsing around, inc. last week I happened upon the Method Glass Cleaner, and I will admit, it was the color that first drew me. I like blue! I then noticed that it was also mint scented and decided to give it a try. Am I ever glad I did. This glass cleaner leaves no streaks, it cleans my counter and potty area also, and the smell is so much nicer than other glass cleaners. It makes me smile every morning.

2. Ok, I'll admit it, I have never paid over $100 for a pair of jeans. I just don't see the point. I am a professional woman, and can realistically only wear jeans two, maybe three days out of the week. I also probably have not purchased jeans in about a year, but have tried a few times. I don't usually like the fit or the look. This weekend a trip to Old Navy changed that. I bought great looking jeans, in a fit that was flattering to me, and was the right length, for $25 dollars! Can you beat that? I was worried before I tried them on that they would be thin or cheap, but the material is nice an thick, and in the surprising cold Chicago weather yesterday, they kept my legs quite cozy. If you haven't tried them, give them a shot. I bought the "flirt" style, but there are two others if you don't like those.

3. Finally, a link to one of my favorite shopping sites. I was looking through my current issue of Lucky Magazine a couple of months ago and happened across an ad for See Jane Work. I will admit that I was intrigued, and did check out their site the next day. As I had been looking for file folders that were attractive for a while, I did purchase some PepperPot File Folders and fell in love. This cool little site is perfect for the professional woman who wants to surround herself with feminine looking office products. I have found few places that carry pink and green polka-dot file folders, but what girl wouldn't like those?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

On Happiness

I am currently reading The Witch of Blackbird Pond, and I am struck by my intense response to it. I find myself very angry with the overbearing men in the book. I find myself once again upset by the forces in my life that have dictated my dull view of Christianity.

So I am questioning how I have portrayed Christianity to my children? Does it seem dull to them? Are they burdened by the rules and regulations? Or have I shown them grace and love and mercy? Have I explained enough that while the Old Testament focused on tasks and laws. . . Jesus showed us that in those tasks we are called to focus on the people and relationships? For when asked the greatest commandment, Jesus reply was:

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38This is the great and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets." Matthew 22:37-40

Monday, November 5, 2007


I was sharing this new blog with my mother this weekend. I wanted her opinion on the blog in general. She is a bit skeptical about the whole blogging thing, but aside from that, her other big concern was my inclusion in one of my reading challenges of a book by author Philip Pullman.

As with Harry Potter, it seems that there is a bit of a religious scuffle surrounding both Philip Pullman and his literature. And, as with Harry Potter, I was completely oblivious to all of the conflict. I have read some of the material from and about Pullman, and he is indeed an athiest.

The question for me is, does an authors religious view matter? My answer to this is no. Reading is a hobby for me. It is something I do in my spare time, and at its best, it helps me find God in new ways. At its worst, it helps me realize more the fall of man. I never approach a book and assume the author knows anything. I never put authors on pedistals or pretend that their opinion of things is correct. I read to be entertained at least, and challenged at best.

I think the basis of my opinion is that I doubt very much that Philip Pullman scares God. And I belive that God is much bigger than Pullman, thus freeing me to read about him, and to read his material and form my own opinion. I don't need to run away and hide from Pullman or his ideas or books. If I am regularly doing what I need to grow and mature, I should be ready to engage this culture and the best it has to throw at me. It is like those silly celebraties that come out and encourage us to vote for one candidate or another. I love to watch some of them on the big screen, but in most cases, they are hardly qualified to give advice, let alone persuade me about a political candidate. Philip Pullman may be a literary giant, but that does not qualify him to be my spiritual mentor or guide.

This freedom extends to my children as well. It is indeed my job to shelter them and guide them to a point, but I also MUST equip them with the tools to read books and engage people and ask tough questions and wrestle with God and their faith. Shutting them in a closet and hiding anything that may disagree with my point of view will teach them nothing, and in no way prepare them for the world they will eventually have to enter.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Student of teen culture

I had an intersting conversation last night with my teenagers about, well, lots of things, but mostly about what scares them about school. My daugter had to watch Bowling for Columbine in her Government class over the past couple of days and this left her feeling worried and needing to talk.

We talked about gun control, an issue I am on the fence about, by the way. However, it seems my daugher thinks guns should be ban. Her strongest reasoning is that it is too easy for kids to get ahold of them now, and being as kids/teens are so unstable anyway, they need to be kept out of their reach at all costs. I guess since she only got one side of the argument in school, I will once again have to at least show her the other half of the argument so she can see both sides. Once again I have to step in and un-teach my daughter some crazy teacher's political agenda. Ah well. . .the price of freedom in America. . .I wouldn't trade it for the world!

As we were discussing this issue of gun control and school shootings, an opportunity for some instruction from my children came. It seems that the two boys from Columbine were what my kids would consider "emos." This term, "emo," was new to me. It turns out that this is a common teenage term for what my son called "emotionally disturbed" kids.

This was further solidified with me today when I stumbled upon a great readers blog and saw this video description of an "emo." Very funny stuff!!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Sleep Specialist: 5 Tips for an Insomniac

My daughter is a worrier. She comes by it naturally, as I worry about everything too. The difference between us? Her worrying keeps her up and mine gives me reprieve at night.

We have recently come up with some things that we do that help her sleep easier, at least a bit.

1. Take a shower. I recommend a bathbomb or some bubbles, a good book for teens, and some soothing tea.

2. Have a quick conversation with Mom. Teenage girls need to have some sense of connectedness with the feminine side. . .so a quick conversation on any topic with any female will probably yield the same result.

3. Read your Bible. The Holy Spirit is our comforter, a quick prayer for wisdom and a even reading just one verse will allow our minds to focus on God rather than us and all our problems.

4. Journal about what you have read. I don't personally think it matters what you write, but just writing something for an overthinker seems to help unconfuse the mind and help one to relax a bit.

5. Pray till you fall asleep. My mom once told me that the Devil would rather not bug you and keep you worrying if all you are gonna do about it is pray. I don't know how theologically correct this is, but it has always worked for me. . .I can always fall asleep praying for or thanking God for all the great people in my life!

The Girly Part

I'll admit it, I like to cuddle up in a warm toasty bath with a cup of tea and a good book and soak for entirely too long. I haven't had too much time lately, but I do think it is important that we girls take some time to do this from time to time.

It is now so much better than before. I grew up with Mr. Bubbles, and while the bubble bath you can get at the drugstore or even the grocery store is ok, I have found heaven on earth.

LUSH products are beyond wonderful!! If you need to get any woman in your life a present, I really recommend you buy her this stuff! And I really recommend that if you are feeling stressed out, or anxious, or just need a break try a bomb. I especially recommend the Sex Bomb (pink and pretty with rose petals).

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

From the Stacks Reading Challenge List

Against my better judgement, I entered another reading contest. This is only my second one ever, and I am doing them both at the same time, but honestly, I read enough that I should be able to get through both just fine. For this new contest, I have found the following books on my shelf that I would really like to get to:

1. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
2. Lisey's Story by Steven King
3. The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett
4. Jude by Kate Morgenroth
5. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

Happy Halloween

I know I have been a bit wishy-washy over the years on the issue of whether or not we celebrate Halloween or not. I grew up with it. I also grew up with Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. They did not dampen my spiritual life at all, or make me not believe in miracles. Quite the opposite rather, these legends of magic and mystery made me appreciate all the more the truth of the Gospel. They made me long to believe in something bigger than myself that was real. And I think they helped me to understand our human desire to believe in what we can't see.

So it is in this spirit of exploration, and fun, and innocence that I am encouraging my children to participate in Halloween. Not worshiping the Devil or any such silliness, but trick or treating, and dressing up like Snow White or the Dwarfs or a cowboy riding a donkey! You are a kid only once, enjoy it!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Lessons from Eclipse

Guard Your Heart!
I just finished reading the third book in the Stephanie Meyer vampire series, and it has left me very contemplative. I want to walk away from each book I read now with something to show for my time, so I will be thinking on them more than I have in the past.

The one message I really take away from this book (whether the auther intended this or not is irrelevant) is that a woman must always guard her heart. I think I have thought this for a long time, but haven't quite yet been able to put my feelings to words.

My advice here in this post to my dear daughter is that you must realize that a woman's heart is soft and precious and much different than a mans. We have been created with an amazing capacity to love, and we long so desperately to love, that if we are not careful, we ruin ourselves this way.

It is true that you must share and love people, but there will be one man with whom you will need, and want to share everything with. I encourage you think about this man, somewhere in the back of your mind, each time you feel like sharing your heart, your hopes, your fears with someone. Until you know for certain that you are speaking with the man you will marry, the one God has designed for you, share these hopes and dreams with family, and girl friends, but not with boys.

I honestly believe that this simple act could keep much heartache from touching you.

Guard your heart, it is the essense of who you are as a woman. It makes you unique. It makes you beautiful, and it makes you, you.

Monday, October 29, 2007

JK Rowling's Top 10

My children and I are still recovering from our grief over having finished the last Harry Potter book. You see, when my daughter started Kindergarten, we read the first Harry Potter book together. She is now a Sophmore in high school and no longer needs me to read her bed time stories. . .or does she??

I found an old article from the BBC while I was searching through lists of classic literature. It is JK Rowling's top 10 list for classics she thinks all children should read. So I am going to suggest to my dear daughter and son tonight that we begin reading these classics together.

Here is her list from that article:
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

  • Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

  • David Copperfiled by Charles Dickens

  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

  • Animal Farm by George Orwell

  • The Tale of Two Bad Mice by Beatrix Potter

  • The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Review of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

I finished my first book for the Book Awards Challenge. I thought I would start with an easier one. I did not choose well.

I know the vast majority of people liked The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon but I did not. I do think it was interesting how he used a handicapped boy as the narrator, but after the first chapter, I was annoyed with this and with the boy and his parents. I don't want to spoil the book, but the whole deal with the parents, come on, who does that?

I understand that good literature should take a look at society and capitalize on a problem or issue there and really encourage good debate. I am sure that this book will indeed do that, but I still didn't enjoy reading it. I enjoyed Anna Karenina, I enjoyed A Tale of Two Cities, The Scarlet Letter, To Kill a Mockingbird, not to mention Call of the Wild and so many other great pieces of literature. I did not enjoy reading this book.

I also got this book thinking I would perhaps share it with my children, but with the language and adult situations, it seems inappropriate. This book reminded me why I often stray away from books on award lists and go by good reviews and intuition instead.

Here's hoping the next choice will be more enjoyable!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Music Teacher

Today, I need to be a music teacher for my talented daughter. She has played the flute in the band for about 5 years now, and suddenly wants to play sax in the jazz band. She has just borrowed a sax from a friend and has to teach herself how to play. I now have to admit that I have always harbored a secret desire to play the sax myself (having been a trumpeter in my own high school band) so I plan to list some sites for us all to learn to play the sax.

A very basic beginning site is this one. Some good tips for purchasing, holding, and beginning notes on the sax. A great site for some basic tips and some basic song suggestions is this one hosted by the BBC. This last site also has a link to what looks like a pretty detailed fingering chart at The Woodwind Fingering Guide. There is also a basic getting started guide on eHow.

And YouTube of course has a couple of nice how to videos.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Book Awards Challenge Reading List

I signed up for the Book Awards Reading Challenge and here is what I plan to read:

Possession: A Romance by A. S. Byatt
Bag of Bones by Stephen King
The Curios Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman
Bones by Jan Burke
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
The Hours, by Michael Cunningham
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


The Hidden Side of a Leaf is an interesting blog that I plan to read for the next few days. It is a books blog. It has some nice reviews and some great recommendations for reading (I haven't seen a post anywhere else for the Coraline book by Neil Gaiman).

A post from October 21st caught my attention. It seems Joshua Henkin, author of the new book MATRIMONY is giving away a book. This book was a Booksense Pick for October, so it must be good. And I do have to admit, I am a bit curious about this book. Marriage is a fascinating topic, and those who do it well have much to teach if we will listen. I am hoping this book will show marriage as exciting, and crazy and boring as it is. . .for marriage is like life. . .it is fun and crazy and boring, but to really be good at it. . .it takes everything you have and rewards you just for trying!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Counselor/Job Coach Part

I have often wished that someone would have sat down with me as a teenager and gone over my passions, desires, and goals for my life. I wish they would have encouraged me to talk to professionals doing jobs I thought I may want to do so I could talk to them and perhaps even shadow them for an hour or two to get a feel for what I may want to be when I grew up.

So when I got my daily updates from the Career Builder website with a link to the following article posted there and I saw what some career options for the future look like, I started thinking of careers my talented daughter and smart son could pursue after college.

Potential Jobs:

  • Anesthesiologist - potential salary is $225,000
  • CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthesiologist) - potential salary is $128,127
  • Senior Database Administrator - potential salary is $93,300
  • Technical Support Specialist - potential salary is $49,100
  • Call Center Manager - potential salary is $53,800
  • Civil engineer - potential salary is $57,200
  • Project engineer - potential salary is $65,200
Can you tell which one I recommend? If you are good at math and science, then there is no reason not to go for the anesthesiologist. . .right? If you are going to have debt, you may as well have a career that will quickly help get you out of debt. Work is work, you may as well look for something you won't hate that makes good money for you and your family, and will allow for the kind of lifestyle you want. All of these factors should be part of your thought process as you decide on a career.

So what exactly is an Anesthesiologis? For more information on exactly what an Anesthesiologist does, there are some good websites to check out. Again, Mom's bias may be evident.

Canadian Anesthesiologists' Society
University of Southern California Keck School
Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Michigan