“Bedtime for Boo” – A Haunting Bedtime Story

I read this to my 4-year old before bed tonight.  She likes ghosts and such, so I knew it would be ok.  The illustrations (by Bonnie Lieck) are very beautiful and kid friendly.

The story (by Mickie Mathis) is about Boo and his family, who live in a haunted house.  Boo is very excited because he gets to go haunting like the big ghosts.  As you can imagine, he is still wound up when they come home at the end of their night of haunting.  Mama Ghost has to get Boo to go to sleep.  She does that by getting him to close his eyes and listen to the world around him – the house, the animals, the weather outside.  Soon, he has fallen sound asleep.

My child liked the story.  She liked looking at the illustrations and pointing things out (like monsters).  It was a nice “quiet” book for us to read before she went to bed, so I appreciate that as well.

This book would be a great Halloween gift for a young child (to be read to), or a young reader (maybe 1st or 2nd grade).

I received this book from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

I am Determined…

I kind of look like a dork, but it’s my new personal best!

I’m a new runner.  I only started running about 6 months ago.  Since then, I have completed a couple of local 5ks, several virtual races, and gradually increased my mileage.  I’m not the fastest runner, but I try hard and I am learning.

The last 2 months have been difficult for training.  Between the heat, other activities, and several injuries/sore muscles, sometimes it’s hard to get the mileage that I want to get.  Especially since I am training for a half-marathon in October.

My biggest problem is pushing too hard, too fast.  It usually means I will end up hurting something.  That usually means I am out of running commission for a while.  For me, that’s hard.  I want to do my best and I want to be out running.  I can’t improve if I can’t get out there, right?

The last week or so, I have been battling a knee injury.  I’ve done something to it…probably a strain.  I figured something was wrong when I tried to do an 8 mile training run on Sunday and only made it ¾ of a mile…and even that was a struggle.

So why is this a problem?  Some people may say: “Just stop running.”  “Just ride a bike.”  “Just don’t do it.”  The issue is that I need to keep running.  I can’t do my half-marathon on a bike.  I can’t continue to improve my lifestyle without activity like this.  Running has helped me in so many ways.  It’s improved my health, it’s helped me lose weight, it’s made me stronger.

The result of my injury is that tomorrow, I will have my first DID NOT START (DNS) for a race I signed up for.  It makes me sad to do this.  Until this morning, I thought I was at least going to see if they would let me switch from the 10k to the 5k, because I can at least walk the 5k (they don’t allow walkers in the 10k).  But the knee is just not cooperating and it’s telling me I need to rest it some more.  I wanted to do this race – it was going to be my longest race to date and I wanted to put some more points on the board for the local Grand Prix competition (I’m currently in 4th place for my age group – yippee!).

While this is upsetting, I just have to keep my half-marathon in the back of my mind.  That race needs to be my priority.  It’s important to me.  It’s with my niece, and it will be our first half.  Vacation time has been requested and approved; the race has been paid for; plans are set.  The only thing that will keep me from running that race is if a doctor says I can’t.  Otherwise, I will be at that starting line with her on October 6th, race bib on, and ready to go.  I don’t care if I run/walk, run, or crawl, but I will be in that race.

 I am determined.

“Dog Loves Drawing”

Louise Yates (author of Dog Loves Books) has written and illustrated a fast-moving story about a dog who receives a sketchbook from his Aunt Dora.  Dog loves books, but he is initially baffled by a book without pictures and words.  Then he figures it out.

Bit by bit, Dog brings characters to life, and sets everyone on an adventure that is stopped by a vicious monster.  Luckily, Dog has an escape route for himself, and a way to make his friends safe.

My daughter really liked this story.  She thought it was funny that Dog liked to draw, and especially liked the different characters that came up in the story.  My daughters are always coloring and such, so for her it was not a stretch to imagine that the characters being drawn were actually coming to life.

The story and drawings are perfect for my 4-year old.  The illustrations weren’t overly detailed, but it brought home the point that Dog was drawing the pictures.  I thought the story was paced just right.  My daughter was caught up in the action and was sad when the story ended.

This would be a great book for a young child (to be read to) or for an older child to read on their own.

I received this book from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

“I Like Old Clothes”

This was originally published in 1976, but is being reissued this summer with new illustrations by Patrice Barton.  I don’t remember the original, but this version is certainly delightful.

The poem, by Mary Ann Hoberman, is especially appropriate at this time in my house.  The girls have been wearing a lot of hand-me-downs, recycled clothes, and DIY clothes.  Much like the kids in the book, they think it’s kind of fun to take something and make it their own (or have mom make it into something new – see my experiment here).  I don’t think the girls think much about the life an item of clothing has lived before it comes to them, but the kids in the story sure do.  They don’t want clothes that don’t have a story – they want to try and figure out how the clothes lived before they came to live with them.

It’s a great story and made me think (as a mom) about how thankful I am for friends who pass along clothes, and how I can take something and make it new to my girls.

Amazon Product Page

I received this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

A Refocus on My Journey

 

In January, I started a new way of life.  Nothing dramatic, but it was time for a change.  I decided that I was tired of the way I looked and felt.  I decided to become more active and to eat better.  I signed up for MyFitnessPal; I started a “Biggest Loser” type of competition at my local Y; and went on about my day.

 As I sit here at the beginning of month 8, I decided to look back at what I have done. 

  • Achievement 1 – Weight Loss – to date, I have lost about 30 pounds.  I’m not done yet, and it’s not coming off as fast as I would like, but that’s ok.  Am I eating better?  Mostly.  Can I do better?  Sure, but who wants to give up chocolate?
  • Achievement 2 – Running – to date, I have raced in 2 virtual 5k races and 3 other 5k races.  I am not the fastest runner, but I am working on it.  I will say this though, as much as I like the 5k races with other people, I really like the virtual races.  I don’t feel as much pressure that I am going to be the last one to cross the finish line.  I have at least 3 5k races, a 4-mile virtual race, a 10k, and a half-marathon planned for the next 3 months.
  • Achievement 3 – Weight Lifting – if you had asked me in January to lift weights, I would have headed straight to the machines and gone to work, but not challenged myself.  In April, I decided that I needed more of a challenge.  I poked around on some forums and other websites and found New Rules of Lifting for Women.  I started the program in May and am in the 2nd phase.  I have (mostly) enjoyed what I have learned while doing it.  In addition, I feel stronger and a bit braver…especially those days in which I am the only female in the free weight area.
  • Achievement 4 – Clothing – I have dropped 3-4 sizes since January, depending on the brand, style, and type of clothing.  This has to be one of my biggest complaints – garment manufacturers cannot seem to standardize their sizes.  On top of that, the classic size 8 is not the current size 8 (in my opinion anyway).

 What do I see for myself for the rest of this year?  Here are my goals:

  • Goal 1 – Weight Loss – lose another 10 pounds by the half-marathon, lose remaining weight by the end of the year (but NO LATER THAN March 1).
  • Goal 2 – Activity – stick with workouts.  I have found that it helps me to plan them out for each month.  Then I know what to expect and I can plan the rest of my day with certain expectations.  I also need to find something to train for.
  • Goal 3 – Weight Lifting – finish New Rules of Lifting for Women by the end of the year.  I should be able to accomplish that, unless my half-marathon training interferes too much.  After that program, I need to decide what I am going to do.  I may go back and start over, or I may decide to try something different.  Who knows?

This journey hasn’t been all sunshine and unicorns.  It’s been tough.  I’ve hit a few plateaus.  I’ve struggled with food choices.  There were days that I didn’t want to log everything I ate, but I did anyway.  I made myself accountable to the online friends I had; I made myself accountable to my husband and daughters; and most of all, I made myself accountable to me.  There are a few friends that have stuck with me since the beginning – with weekly weigh-ins that we text to each other, friends that listen to me whine and complain (and then help spur me on), friends that cheer me on when I run.  To them, I say

 thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I would have given up way before this without you.

The end of the Grandview Freedom Run Race (7/4/2012).

Without a doubt, this has been a hard journey (kind of like the race pictured above).  It’s not going to get easier.  I’m lucky that I have a supportive husband and two little girls who think it’s a lot of fun to “exercise” with Mommy on those days I decide a DVD is going to be the extent of my workout.  I’m lucky to have supportive friends.  I’m thankful for those people in cyber-land who run contests, who blog about their efforts, who are always willing to give information to newbies, and serve as inspiration.

As I refocus myself on the rest of the year and the activities I have coming up, I would like to say thank you.  Let’s keep supporting each other.

“Day by Day”

Susan Gal’s book Day by Day, is written for ages 5-9.  My 4-year-old really liked it – especially the drawings.  She liked how there was a “pattern” to the words (what everyone else would call parallelism, I guess).  She liked how the drawings spread across the page and were so detailed.  For her, it was nice to be able to pick out the various parts of the actions.

It’s the story of a community of pigs and how they live – they plant a garden, they care for the garden, they do ordinary chores, they build a house (of bricks, mind you, so the big bad wolf can’t come in – again, according to my 4-year-old).   I think my first grader would be able to read this to her sister, so it’s a pretty easy and quick read.

I received this book from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

“The Forgiven Duke” – A Great Story Continues…

I read “The Guardian Duke” a few months ago and LOVED it.  I really wanted to read the sequel.  Thankfully, the sequel did not disappoint. “The Guardian Duke” left off with Alex and John sailing off to Iceland while Gabriel watched, unable to do anything.

However, since he is the Duke of St. Easton and has resources available to him that others may not, he is able to figure out what needs to be done.  He decides that it doesn’t matter what the Prince Regent wants, he is going after Alexandra, and will put his resources at her disposal to find her parents.

Throughout this book, Gabriel’s wants are subverted at various times and by various factions.  He is constrained by family, duty, rivals, and his deafness.  One of the most beautiful things in this book is how Gabriel comes to deal with his deafness.  The lights that he saw in the first book continue in the second, and play a huge role in allowing him to become “accepting” of his disability.  He also comes to realize that the only thing he needs to rely on is God, and that also helps him accept his shortcomings.

Often in Regency fiction, dukes are shown as infallible and proud.  Gabriel certainly starts out in that fashion, but this book really makes him more human.  His story is very interesting, especially given the fact that he is trying to act as though he can still hear, and this is before sign language.

Another interesting plot in this book is the story of John and Alexandra.  She is still captivating and caring, but she begins to realize how some relationships feel right and others don’t…even if they started out feeling right.  I did not like John’s character, there just seems to be something “off” about him.  The interaction between Alexandra and John feels wrong.  The relationship is resolved during the course of the book, but I don’t want to give away the ending.

Something to look forward to in book 3 – there is news of Alexandra’s parents in this book and I can’t wait to see how the journey turns out.

I was provided with a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.