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The Allison Show: July 2010

The Allison Show

All things Allison

Saturday, July 31

Super Fun Saturday!!

Today was incredibly busy but tons of fun.  We started the day with my hubby's sister's daughter's birthday party.  Paige turned 7 and had her party at a park up by their house.  The kids had so much fun!  They did Egg Races (the game came with giant plastic spoons and easter eggs!  LOL), Pin the Tail on the Donkey, Potato Sack races, Princess Bingo, and broke a pinata!  The old kids won prizes from the games, and everyone got a goody bag and filled it with Pinata candy.  All the kids' candy combined filled a Ziplock freezer bag!!

Then my sis-in-law babysat and we went and got tattoos!!  My husband and I got matching tattoos on our ring fingers of our left hand.  They say Live Laugh Love. 



Then I got my star tatoo on my right calf finished.  I started it right after I had Jacob back in 2006.  I got a star for each of the kids.  Blake's is red, Kayla's is purple (her favorite color is pink but I did not want red and pink next to each other LOL), and Jacob got a blue star.  Well as the last 4 years have passed we have had another 2 kids so my star tatoo was unfinished.  I decided to get a green star for Cody and (since it was in the color wheel pattern) a yellow star for Mason. 



They came out awesome!!!!  I love them so much.  I love the way the script looks on our finger- DJ picked out what they should say and I think it is very fitting for us and the way we live our lives.  My leg looks great. The colors look great together.  It is pretty big though, it ends about 2 inches under my knee and starts on my ankle.  Oh well thats what happens when you have 5 kids!!  (I would put up pictures but my camera is broke.)

Then this afternoon was my sister's bridal shower and tonight was her bachlorette party!!  I felt so bad for her.  She invited 20 people (well actually she invited more but 20 said they would attend) and only 2 of her friends came!  She was so upset!!  Her shower was me, our mom, and her 2 friends.  Pretty sad.  Then she texted everyone and they all gave lame excuses why they couldn't make it.  Since no one came to the shower we figured no one would come to the bachlorette party and we were right.  It was both my sisters, my friend Shay (who couldn't make it to the shower) and me.  My sisters wanted to just stay home and drink but I siad NO WAY!!  Shay brought over a sash that said bachlorette and a tiara that lit up and said Bride to be.  We made Jessica wear them and decided to head downtown San Diego and go clubbing!!   Our first stop was Quality Social.  They brew their own whiskey and make their own pickles so they signature drink is a shot of Jamison followed by a shot of pickle juice!!  EWWW!  That just sounds so gross.  But we made Jessica do it!!  She only did a sip of Jamison and then a sip of the juice but she looked like she was going to puke!  Too funny!  We ordered White Gummy Bears and they are yummy!!  Then we decided to head over to my favorite bar/ club Martini Ranch.  Well after walking a couple blocks we realized it had been across the street from Quality Social but we didn't realize it because they changed the name to Double Dueces.

After standing in line for about 10 minutes we get to the door and the cover was supposed to be $5 a person but the bouncer let us in for free!  But he spent like 10 minutes checking out my out of state TN driver's license like I used id card software to make it.  I would like to add that out of the 4 of us I am the oldest!  We had so much fun there!!  We got a bunch of guys to buy Jessica drinks and I talked her into to riding the mechanical bull!!  That was the funniest thing ever!!  I have video that I took on my cell phone so if she gives me the ok I will upload them to YouTube and post them here!!  Today was the best!!!!!!!!!!




***Disclaimer: This post contains a link for a sponsored post***

Friday, July 30

Chuck E. Cheese...Need I say more??

Wow.  I am suprised bu how much fun the kids had at Chuck E Cheese tonight!!  They all behaved and were helpful to each other and the older kids helped keep an eye on the younger kids.  We were supposed to meet my Dad and Sister at 5 pm.  Well Hubby was going to go mountain biking and couldn't decide where and when the other gys and him were supposed to meet up so after dropping him off, we were an hour late.  GREAT!!  I love hate being late to things.  Plus I was alone so I had to corall  the kids from the car, through the parking lot, into Chuck E Cheese, and find the otthers by myself.  Not a great start.  But like I said the kids were helpful and it was awesome.

We found my sister and Dad sitting at a table with an almost gone pizza and no kids.  So I sent my kids to find the others and sat down and grabbed a slice cause I was starving.  We decided to let the kids play for a while before ordering more pizza so that way they would be ready to take a break from playing and eat hot pizza.  Mason was happy sitting in his high chair eating pizza!


Another funny thing was that out of all the games, rides, and play structures, everyones favorite thing (at least before pizza) was a machine that sketched your picture.  The kids thought it was so funny!



They must have made 15 of these.  As you can see Jess and I got in on the action too.  That machine was very popular for a while!  We decided that since we had been there for about 45 minutes that now was the time to order more pizza.  Plus we used all the tokens that my dad had bought so we bought $10 more. We called all the kids over and my sister's kids decided that playing had made them hungry again so they had more pizza too!  LOL 

Then we gave the kids more tokes and they went out to play.  Blake came to the table to show me what he had made.  Chuck E Cheese has a machine that makes id cards.  You sit down, select boy or girl, and it takes your picture.  Then it prints out the id card.  they have 4 different ones for boys and girls.  They had an astronaut, fire fighter, hip hop dancer, movie star, rock concert backstage pass... they were the coolest thing ever!!  I wonder if I had a badge printer, could I make something like this at home?  I have Photoshop CS3 so I could design a background with a picture and then print it?  I think the kids would love it!!!  Blake, Kayla, and Jacob each made 3 cards, Cody and I each made 1.   What a fun party idea!!  Come to So and So's birthday and then make each of the guests their own id card.  Awesome!!!



*** Disclaimer:  This post contains a link for a sponsored blog post.***

Thursday, July 29

Hair, Beach, Hair

This morning Hubby and I took the boys to La Jolla shores to walk around and take pictures.  Mom-in-law and Sis-in-law took Kayla with them to run errands.  We were on our way to the beach when they text me asking if Kayla can cut her hair.  She has super long hair that is almost to her waist.  She had her hair trimmed once but that was it.  She wanted to donate 10" of her hair to Locks of Love.  We said ok as long as the 10" wasn't higher than her shoulder blades.  It wasn't and she looks so cute with short hair!!

She is so excited!!  She keeps walking around with a goofy smile on her face!  LOL

While she was doing that, we were having a great time at the beach.  San Diego has been having some really weird weather this year and even though it is July they are still having June gloom.  It was 68' and overcast and nasty looking at the beach.  We walked out on the pier and saw some seals swimming and playing in the surf.  Then we walked a little farther and climbed down some stairs that took us to the water.  Mason and Cody played in the sand but my other 3 boys were running in the waves and got wet!  We hadn't planned on them getting wet so we made them sit in the car in their underwear!  Ha Ha.  I can't believe how much of a kid Hubby is!  He was soaked right along with the other 2.

I love this picture since I managed to get all 5 of them in it at once!!  I took it on my cell phone.  After that we all met up at home for lunch and a nap!!  My sister Jessica (who has 2 boys the same age as Jake and Cody) called and asked if we wanted to go to Chuck E Cheese with them and my dad tomorrow night.  We said sure.

But first... My Mom-in-law had been saying all vacation that she would trim my hair and dye it for me so we decided to do that while the kids napped.  But when she brushed my haie hair out she wondered if I had enough hair to donate.  (I have wanted to do it forever but my hair is usually too short) so we measured and I had 10" to donate.  It would make my hair pretty short- in fact the shortest it had ever been but I had to do it!!
 I love it!!!  My hair curls under around my jaw and I now have side bangs!!  Love it!!  Iam still getting used to how short it is but I am soo glad I chopped it off and for a good cause too!!

I wish my Mom-in-Law had gotten a picture of Mason though while we were there.  He was playing with these super cute wooden toys!  They were just the right size for him to carry around and he loved them.  I will have to see about getting him some for Christmas!




***Disclaimer: This post contains a link for a sponsored blog post***

Wednesday, July 21

Legoland, Here we come!!

Wow!!  We have been to Legoland back in 2006 or so and I didn't realize at the time how fun it is.  I think the problem last time was tha kids under 48" (sometimes 42") have to ride every ride with an adult.  Last time we went it was me, Hubby, 3 oldest kids, my friend Shay and her 2 kids.  So adults were out numbered 3 to 5.  We had to ride the rides multiple times and leave some of the kids waiting (which they LOVED- NOT!!). But this time was a lot better.

It was me, hubby, 4 oldest kids, Nana and Papa, Sis-In-Law and future Bro-In-Law, and their daughter.  So it was 6 adults to 5 kids.  Plus they were all older.  Last time B was 5, Kay was 3 and Jake was a baby.  Cody was the youngest at almost 3.  the weather was perfect for a trip to the amusement park.  It was about 68' and a little overcast.  Not hot, not cold, and not raining!!  Legoland opens at 10 am.  So I left at 9 am ish to bring Mason to my sister, who was nice enough to watch him for us.  We got home at 10 am and that was when Papa (father-in-law) got home from work.  Perfect timing!! 

Since we had just spent the previous Thursday and Friday in the car ALL day long, I worried that the kids might not want to sit in the car for another hour plus trip so I brought some learning toys, like the Leapster, and some books to entertain the kids during the ride.  I shouldn't have bothered!! They were so excited about the trip they didn't play with anything.  And on the way home, they all passed out from sheer exhaustion.

We got to go on a ton of rides because it wasn't too busy!!  We went one the "teacups", the Pedal Coaster, 2 roller coasters, a water ride, the Safari ride, the little boys got to drive their own go-carts (earning them their own drivers licenses), an airplane ride, and a ride where you get to shot guns at targets.   We probably went on more but I can't remeber!  We had lunch at a nice little deli place and then went to the Aquarium.  The kids love the fish and sharks and that they got to touch the tide pool animals.  Apparently they don't remember when I worked at SeaWorld and they did stuff like that almost every weekend.  LOL

What an awesome day!!!  I love and miss San Diego, CA!!!!


***Disclaimer: This post contains a link to a sponsored blog post. ***

Tuesday, July 20

NachoMama Tee Shirt winner...

is #18 Karasceviour!!  She said,  "I signed up for their newsletter entry #3." She has been emailed and has 48 hours to respond or I will pick another winner.  Thanks to everyone who entered!!

CrazyDogs Tee winner is..

 #34 Eco-Friendly and Frugal!!  She said, "I follow you on Twitter as EFandFrugal."  I have emailed her and she has 48 hours to respond or random.org will choose a new winner.  Thanks!

EcoMom Plum Organics Winner is....


#35 MelissaStuff!!  She said, "Twitter follower."  She has been emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. Thanks to everyone for entering!!


Lets try this again.  My new winner is #47 Jess (and the boys).  She said, "Your button is on my blog!  (left side) #2." I have emailed her and she has 48 hours to repond or we will pick another winner.  Thanks again!



Balboa Park and Museums

San Diego has some great museums, most of which are located in Balboa Park, and one of the greatest thing about them is that they are free on Tuesdays!!  I really miss going to free museum Tuesdays now that we are in TN.   Today's free museums were the History of Man and the Art Museums.  (Wish we were here last week when the Photographic Art museum was free!)  Hubby's mom took this whole week off so she is came with us.  My dad, sister & her fiance, and their 2 kids met us down there as well.  WOW!!!  I forgot why we don't do free stuff in the summer.  No one is in school and there is way too many tourists.  (Yes I get the irony that I am technically a tourist but never mind that).  We had the hardest time finding parking.  But since I didn't used to be a tourist, we know the secret parking spots and went down there to park.  It has been about a year maybe a year 1/2 since I have been to   Balboa Park and have times changed. 

Balboa Park is really large and like other large parks (Golden Gate park in San Fran and Central Park in NYC) they is a large homeless population that calls the park home.  They used to hang tarps in trees and make makeshift tents that way.  You would barely see the places where the homeless lived but now HOLY COW!!  These homeless have set up homes with camping equipment.  They have real tents, sleeping bags, one guy even had a camping stove!!  I was amazed.  But at the same time so sad.  I can't imagine having to live like that and I wonder why no has done more for the homeless population of San Diego.

The kids had lots of fun looking at the paintings and sculptures at the Art Museum.  They love the Walk Through Time at the Museum of Man.  They have life size replicas of "Man" though out time.  Such as CroMagnon and Neanderthal Man.  I really love anthropology so this is one of my favorite museums.  Then we went outside and the kids got to dig for fossils.  Nothing like using a paintbrush to move sand around in a sandbox!!  LOL  At least it kept the kids busy for 20 minutes.  After the museums, Papa came to pick up Nana and the rest of us got lunch and headed to a park to let the kids play.  We got the kids Happy Meals at Burger King because we needed Legoland coupons for our visit tomorrow.  Then us adults went to IN-AND-OUT!!!  YUM!  The best burgers!! The kids passed out in the car on the way home from the park!  4 days into vacation and we are having an AMAZING time!!


***Disclaimer: This post contains a link for a sponsored blog post***

Friday, July 16

San Diego, CA or bust!!!

We decided that instead of waiting for Saturday to leave, that we are leaving at 2 am today!!  We are going to try and make it to Amarillo, TX today and then to San Diego, CA tomorrow.  We think it will be possible because we will gain an hour today.  And then tomorrow we gain 2 hours!  We are hoping that by leaving at 2 am, we can drive until 8 or 9 pm and we won't be tired and it will be almost dark.  The other 3 times we have driven cross country, we left at 6 am and drove until 10 pm or later.  But that is harder because you are driving in the dark, at the end of the day, when you are tired.  Plus this should be the easiest trip yet because we are making it in our van!! The first trip out here we were in our truck pulling a U-Haul trailer.  I was squished because of all the crap behind my seat.  Then on the way back to CA, we were in the U-Haul truck.  This last time in July 2009, hubby was in the U-Haul truck, towing our van and I was crowded in my mom's truck full of kids and stuff.  I can't hardly wait!!

Hubby is trying to make all of our stuff fit in the van.  I can't believe how much stuff 7 people need to go on vacation.  Kayla has a backpack of clothes, Blake has a Spiderman suitcase, J and C each have a Bob the builder suitcase, Mason has a Thomas suitcase, Hubby has a HUGE duffel bag plus he put 4 pairs of shorts in my suitcase.  Then each kid has a mini backpack full of stuff to entertain them on the car ride.  We have 2 small bathroom bags, camping gear, like sleeping bags and flashlights and 2 small igloo coolers.  Plus grocery bags of food and diapers and what not!!!  Good thing Hubby is pro at packing the car!!!

After much deliberation, the sitting arrangement has been decide upon.  Back row Blake, Jacob, and then Kayla.  Middle Row Cody and Mason.  I hope this arrangement will minimize fights and help us have a smooth, peaceful trip.  I will update tonight when we stop!!

**Update 9:45 pm**
We made it to Amarillo!!!  Yay.  That was our goal and it was surprisingly easy.  We stopped for ice before leaving Johnson City, stopped for gas in between Nashville and Memphis, TN, got gas in Arkansas, got gas and groceries at Walmart in Oklahoma City, OK.  We also stopped at a rest stop to have a picnic lunch.  Stopped at a Super 8 motel in Amarillo.  When we get up at 4 am, we will get gas and hit the road!!  As soon as we get into NM, we will gain an hour and then in AZ we will get another one. The kids were so GOOD in the car!!!  Yay!  Vacation here we come!!


***Disclaimer: This post contains a link for a sponsored blog post.***

Wednesday, July 14

Book Review Lucy Springer Gets Even

Title: Lucy Springer Gets Even
Author: Lisa Heidke
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Published: January 1, 2009
ISBN: 978-1741755831

Summary: "Lucy Springer thinks she's got it tough. She's living through renovation hell, her two kids seem more challenging than ever, and her once successful acting career has been reduced to the odd commercial. Then Max, her husband, absconds to Bali with an unknown companion and things go from bad to disastrous. But Lucy doesn't give up easily. Juggling increasingly chaotic building dramas, bewildered children, her crazy best friend/agent Gloria, and her ever helpful mother with chasing after Max, Lucy Springer is determined to get her life onto an even keel and more. This delightful new novel is an often hilarious account of triumphing over adversity, following your dreams and listening to your heart."

This is a really good book.  The characters relly come to life: such as Patch- the building supervisor who wears an eye patch and Gloria, Lucy's over the top crazy agent who is always trying to get her to do reality TV.  I also love Lucy!!  I love how she is not a perfect Mom.  Too many times in books, Mothers are portrayed as perfect and Lucy is definitly not perfect.  But she is comfortable with her faults and I like that!

This book starts with Lucy and her Hubby sitting around the table eating Thai food.  He pushes his plate away and says "I've had enough."  He then walks out of the house.  She finally realizes, after talking to his secretary a few days later, that he isn't coming back.  She then receives a post card from him saying he needs to think about their life and marriage and is Bali!!

Wow.  I am not sure what I would do if my Hubby took off without so much as a word but I'm pretty sure it would involve bodily injury!!!  And to make life even worse, he left her in the middle of a huge home remodel project, that he wanted!  She has a leaky roof, no kitchen, and loud, crazy builders that don't feel like doing a lot of building.  And she has to stay strong for her 2 kids.

Have no fear!!  Lucy Springer does get even as the title suggests.  I don't want to spoil the ending but it is hilarious!!! This is definitely one of those books where you yell at the characters.  "I hate you!!" or "NOOOO!  Don't believe him!!  His is so obviously lying!!" (Don't look at me like I'm crazy!  You don't yell at the books you read?)  I HIGHLY recommend this book to everyone.  Rating: Photobucket

Tuesday, July 13

Congrats!!

 The winner of my Patriotic Pup from Pillow Pets is #4 Naila!!She said, "My brother Aaron is currently serving in the Army. He has gone to Iraq 3 times and has to go to Afghanistan sometime in the near future.


I am also honoring (on FB) my other 2 brothers, Jason & Marcus who served. As well as my 4 uncles, my Dad, & my grandpa. I am also honoring my husbands family who served including an aunt and his dad."

She has been emailed and has 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.  Thanks to all who entered! And all who serve our country!!!!

Monday, July 12

Book Review/ Giveaway The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst

Title: The Nobodies Album
Author: Carolyn Parkhurst
Publisher: Doubleday
Published: June 15th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0385527699

Summary: "Parkhurst returns with the story of Octavia Frost: widow, successful novelist, and estranged mother of Milo, lead singer of an up-and-coming band. Milo and Octavia haven't spoken in almost four years, but their separation ends when Octavia learns (from the Times Square news crawl) that Milo has been arrested for the murder of his girlfriend. In short order, Octavia travels to the West Coast, determined to find out who really killed Bettina Moffett."

This is a very good book!  I read a few of the reviews and a lot of them talk about the excerpts from Octavia's books that are scattered through out the novel.  I love the little book snippets.  I think they really go along with the main story plau give us a deeper view into Octavia's life and her story.  And actually I would love to read each of those novels.

I really feel bad for Octavia because she has been estranged from her son for 4 years and then out of nowhere she sees a news broadcast about her son.  If that wasn't bad enough, she sees that he has been arrested for the murder f his live in girlfriend.  In a burst of maternal instinct, she flies to LA to be at her son's side.  Upon arrival she realizes that not much has changed and he still doesn't want to see her. 

Octavia realizes that endings cannot be changed but that sometimes what you thought was the end turns out to only be a pause.  I HIGHLY recommend this book!!  Rate: Photobucket

Thanks to Judy over at Doubleday, 2! readers will win a copy of this amazing book!!

HOW TO ENTER:
Follow me on GFC, Twitter, or Networked Blogs (leave me a comment.  Up to 3 entries)
Tell me why you want to read this book. (2 comments = 2 entries)

Hurry and enter!!  This giveaway ends Monday 7/30 @ 9pm eastern.  Good Luck!!!

Let the Countdown Begin!!

We have decided to take the kids on vacation.  We have also decided to leave Saturday 7/17.  But wait Allison...Thats is in 5 days!!!  I know, I know.  Lots of things to do and very little time to do it in.  But the kids are packed, DJ is packing and I will pack tonight. 

We are going on a road trip so we will just have to throw all the bags in thevan and we will be off.  We will be gone for a little over 2 weeks, about 2 1/2 weeks.  I am trying to get all my book reviews and giveaways listed, before we go so that  I won't have that much to do while we are gone.  Have no fear, I will be blogging but it will mostly be about our trip and the activities we do.  I am taking my laptop so I don't go through withdrawls. 

So let the countdown begin!! 

Daisypath Vacation tickers

Sunday, July 11

Another winner! Congrats!


Congrats to #20 Jayda!!!  She said "I follow on GFC."  She has been emailed and has 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.  Thanks to everybody who entered!!

Saturday, July 10

Winner Winner!!


And the winner of my Fandangling Giveaway is.....#12 Lydia!!! She said, "Liked Fandangling on FB and posted to their wall #2."  She will be emailed and have 48 hours to respond or random.org will pick a new winner.  Thanks to everyone who entered!!

Friday, July 9

Spread the Love Blog Hop

I haven't done a Blog Hop for a while and this one has a really cute button so I decided to join in.  It is hosted by Boutique on Feet Shopgirls Blog

We are doing something a little different this week in place of our "Follow Fridays", a little "blog hop". A blog hop is a way to exchanging links among multiple blogs. If you are a blogger, leave your link and grab the link code to add to your site. The same list will appear on every blog that puts the code on their blog. Readers, hop away to different blogs and learn what great ones are out there!

Now, please make the most out of this blog hop.

Follow These steps:
1. Enter your link and add it
2. Grab the link code and create a blog hop on your blog
3. Follow the blogs listed {Make sure to leave a comment so I can send some LOVE back to your page!!}
4. If the blogs have a FB and Twitter account . . . "LIKE" and "FOLLOW" them, too!

and I am adding the most important rule HAVE FUN!!!!!

WooHoo!!!!!

So excited!!!  I have just hit 300 followers on GFC!!!!  Thanks everybody!

Interview with author Julia London

I had the great opportunity to interview Julia London author of the new book One Season of Sunshine.  Here it is.  Enjoy!!


Thanks so much for having me here today!


Where are you from? Austin, Texas

When did you first consider yourself a writer? When I quit my day job to write full time in 2002.

What inspired you to write your first book? What inspired me was fear of being a bureaucrat for the rest of my life, LOL. Seriously, I was a county manager, and I couldn’t imagine doing that sort of job for much longer. I thought I could write and decided to try it and see if I had any talent for it. Lucky for me, I had enough that an agent and a publisher were interested in me.

Do you have a specific writing style? I think that I write very character-driven books. I think that’s what you mean by writing style. If you mean what do I wear to write, you really don’t want to know. It’s kind of pathetic.

How did you come up with the title, ONE SEASON OF SUNSHINE? It was a collaborative effort between me and my editor. We knew it would be a summer book, and we wanted it to convey summer and a little bit of intrigue.

Is there a message in ONE SEASON OF SUNSHINE that you want readers to grasp? I didn’t set out to convey a message, but I took from it that our past influences who we are today, and that the concept of family takes on many different meanings.

How much of ONE SEASON OF SUNSHINE is realistic? Hopefully, the reader will identify with the characters in the book and find them real. It’s the story of a woman who goes in search of her birthmother, so the premise is very realistic. I try to make my characters and their experiences as realistic as possible, but let’s face it, it’s fiction, so the story is a little larger than life.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life? No. This particular book is based on a woman I read about, who had come to Texas to just feel Texas, because she’d been born here. But that was the only thing she knew about her beginnings. I tried to imagine what that would be like, to want to know something about yourself so deeply that you would come just in the hopes of feeling something in your bones.

Did you learn anything from writing ONE SEASON OF SUNSHINE and what was it? I learned about the process of looking for a birth mother with little or nothing to go on, and how that search is so tedious that it can overtake one’s life. I am grateful I know my past because I think I would be curious but wouldn’t have the determination necessary to uncover it otherwise.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in ONE SEASON OF SUNSHINE? No.

What books have most influenced your life most? Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, just for the beauty and wit of her writing, Here be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman, because I was completely swept away by that book. There have been so many books that have influenced me in so many ways, it is hard to name a few.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor? Marian Keyes. I don’t know her, but she is a fabulous writer and she has suffered through addiction and debilitating depression, and still manages to create some of the most entertaining fiction I have ever read.

What book are you reading now? I am reading Jane Slayre by Sherri Browning Erwin. It’s Jane Eyre with zombies and vampires and werewolves and is so funny!

What are your current projects? I am currently working on A LIGHT AT WINTER’S END, another novel set in Cedar Springs. It’s about two sisters who have a deep conflict and a lonesome cowboy who steps into the fray.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? I find every day a challenge! Writing is a lonely, hard job. Not only must I have the discipline to sit down and do it (with varying degress of success, I must add), but I try and improve on my craft. Don’t get me wrong—I love what I do, but it’s not easy.

What was the hardest part of writing your book? I think the deadline. I got really behind for some personal reasons, and oh my goodness, I had to cram a lot into a much shorter time frame than normal. I’m still exhausted just thinking of it.

Do you have any advice for other writers? Yes—write every day. Touch some part of your writing every single day to stay fresh and to improve what you do. It’s just like anything else—if you want to be good, you have to practice.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? Thank you, thank you, thank you (my copy editor would reduce the number of thank yous, but I really mean them), for your loyalty and good spirit. You make my life a living dream.

Thank you!!! Thank you so much for having me! I would like to invite anyone who wants to know more about me or the book to check out my website at http://www.julialondon.com/

Book Review One Season of Sunshine by Julia London

Title: One Season of Summer
Author: Julia London
Publisher: Pocket 
Published: June 29, 2010
ISBN: 978-1416547099

Summary: "Should some questions be left unanswered?  Adopted as an infant, Jane Aaron longs to know the identity of her birth mother and why she gave her up. Her only clue is the name of the small Texas town where she was born, so she’s come to Cedar Springs for answers.

Handsome ad executive Asher Price lost his wife, the beautiful, mysterious Susanna, in a terrible car crash eighteen months ago. When he hires Jane as the nanny for his two children, sparks fly. Jane finds herself falling in love with both Asher and his children, but begins to suspect that Susanna was not the perfect mother and wife the family portrays her to have been.

As Jane gets closer and closer to finding out the truth about both her own and Susanna’s past, devastating secrets begin to emerge that may be more than anyone can bear. Will the truth bring Jane and Asher closer together or tear them apart forever? "

I loved this book!!  I always (at least when I read books/watch movies about adoption) wonder how hard it must be to have been adopted and totally love your adoptive parents but at the same time want to know about your birth parents.  This is the dilemma Jane finds herself in.  She has a huge, loving family but still wonders about the birth parents who gave her up for adoption.  So she decides to give up her life: she leaves her teaching position, sublets her apartment, and moves to the small town where she was born.  She takes a job as a nanny to support herself while she searches for her birth parents.

I really like Julia London's writing style and the way the characters come to life so well and so vividly!  This is the perfect beach read.  It had drama, love, mystery, and a little suspense.  I think you should go buy this book before your next trip to the beach!!  Rating:Photobucket

Thursday, July 8

Another Winner...


Congrats to #10 Rebecca!!  She said "Twitter follower: rhoneygee" to win my $40 CSN E-Gift Card!!!  They have everything from dining room tables to cookware to home décor accessories! Thanks to everyone who entered and keep entering my giveaways!!

You will definitely want to check this out!!!

One of my FAV bog designers, April Showers, is doing a giveaway!!!  All you have to do is leave a comment on her blog with a link to a blog post telling about the giveaway.  The giveaway is only lasting from today 7/8 until 7/11 at midnight!!  The winner gets an entire Blogger or Wordpress design!!!  That is an offer worth $160-$300!! WOW!!   Go enter!  http://www.aprilshowersblogdesign.com/

Book Review/Giveaway When A Woman Takes An Axe to a Wall

Title: When a Woman Takes an Axe to a Wall
Author: Allegra Bennett
Publish: A Writer's Lair Books
Published:  May 13, 2006
ISBN:  978-0975440247

Summary: "Warning!!!! Women in this book are not afraid. They’ll snatch off their sling-backs, shimmy out of their couture, slip into overalls and strap on tool belts in the making of their perfect space and, in that, the renovation of their state of mind. When A Woman Takes An Axe To A Wall explores the synergy between a woman and the four walls she calls her own. Through anecdotes and incidents, it shows us that a woman, or indeed all women who take on their own home repairs embark on more than just superficial fix-it-jobs, they dip into the renovation of their own spirits."

I really liked this book as it helps us to questions gender roles and the way we view traditional men and women jobs.  Most people would think home repairs and remodel are things men do but the women in this book beg to differ.  They are single (most from divorce but some for other reasons) and they are faced with work that needs to be done but there is no man around to do it for them.  So what do they do?  Hire someone, ask a male friend?  Nope these women embrace these tasks and in doing so find themselves.  Some of the women take on home remodel and upkeep because they are newly single and someone has to do it, others are buying a new house and the only ones they can afford are Fixers, and still others see t as a way to make money and support their children.

My only complaint is not actually about the book, but about the cover art.  The whole point of this book is to rethink gender roles when it comes to home owning, remodeling, and repairs.  But the women on the cover is wearing HIGH HEEL work boots.  Come on!!  Images like this are helping to further the wrong message.

I also like that while most of these women were down on their luck they didn't give up and soon realized that things do happen for a reason.  They also realize that when something is taken from your hands, it is so that something better can land there.  Rating: Photobucket

Does this sound like a book you would like to read?  If so leave me a comment with why you want to read this book and your email address.  The winner will be notified by email and have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chose.  Hurry and enter!!  This giveaway ends 7/30 @ 9 pm eastern.

WooHoo! WoodGroove Winner is...


The winner is #12 Kelly D.!!  She said "I like the Letter Plaque - Country D (Deaton). Thanks for the chance!"  Thanks to everyone who entered and to everyone who reads my blog thus making these giveaways possible!!!

His ~ Tee Shirt Giveaway from NachoMama Tees

First I want to send a big Thank You to Amy for giving me this awesome review and giveaway opportunity. She let me pick a shirt from both NachoMama Tees and CrazyDog Tees (They are sister companies). So I decided to do a His and Hers Tee Shirt Review and Giveaway! (Although both sites sell Mens and Womens Shirts). This is my His Giveaway.


I decided to let me hubby pick a shirt from NachoMama Tees (I like to try and share the review work love with the whole family!).  As we were looking through all the tees we saw the perfect one...BACON It's That Good.  My hubby has a weird obsession with bacon.  I even made him Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies.  He wants to make a dessert that incorporates Chocolate, Bacon, and Avocado.  I told you it was a weird obsssion.  You didn't believe me huh?

He loves his Bacon Tee shirt.  He says that it is perfect for summer because it is light weight and soft.  It fits well (not too tight or super baggie either) and also has gotten softer with each washing.  It is now his favorite shirt and he has TONS!!

Thanks to Amy one lucky reader will win the shirt of their choice from NachoMama Tees!!!

HOW TO ENTER:

Mandatory Entry (must be done for extra entries to count):

* Go to NachoMama Tees and check out the different Tees. Leave me a comment with which shirt you would love to receive and your email address. (I will notify the winner by email. They will then have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be choosen.)

Extra Entries:
*Follow me with GFC, on Twitter or Networked Blogs for 1 extra entry (up to 3). Leave a seperate comment for each. (Each comment counts as an entry.)
* Sign up for their email newsletter. (Leave 3 comments)
* Like CrazyDog Tees on Facebook and tell them How Many Kids sent you. (Leave 2 comments)
* Update your Facebook status to tell your friends about the giveaway! (Leave2 comments)
* Putting my button on your blog counts as 2 entries. (Leave 2 comments)
* Blog about giveaway 3 entries (Leave 3 comments)



Hurry and enter. This giveaway ends Thursday 7/15 at 9 pm eastern. Good Luck!!!!





***Disclaimer: I received this product free in exchange for my honest opinion and review.***

Hers ~ Tee Shirt Giveaway from CrazyDog TeeShits

First I want to send a big Thank You to Amy for giving me this awesome review and giveaway opportunity.  She let me pick a shirt from both NachoMama Tees and CrazyDog Tees.  So I decided to do a His and Hers Tee Shirt Review and Giveaway! (Although both sites sell Mens and Womens Shirts).  This is my Hers Giveaway.

After much deliberation, I decided that I wanted The Dinosaurs Are Cool Tee from Crazy Dog Tees.  I LOVE it!!  It is a super soft cotton shirt that gets softer with each washing.  It is a fitted tee but still really comfy.  All my kids love the cute blue dinosaur on it.  The only thing is that the writing is on the underside of my boobs so it is a little hard for people to read.  So when I see people staring at my shirt I usually say it sayd Dinos are cool.  And they usually respond Oh ok. I like that it is a long tee so it doesn't creep up when I am chasing the kids around.

They have some HILARIOUS! tees.  I really like the ones from Hangover.  Literally Too Stupid To Insult is my Fav!

They also have Kids tees.  My kids' favorite is the Hamster in a ball that says Thats How I Roll.  They also sell stuff for DOGS!! Ad Dog Lovers.  I love one of the shirts that Says I post pictures of my weiner online!!!  ROFLMAO!!  It has a picture of a really cute Dachshund.  What is your favorite tee?  Wanna win it?

Thanks to Amy 1 lucky winner will win the tee shrt of their choice!!

HOW TO ENTER:

Mandatory Entry (must be done for extra entries to count):
* Go to CrazyDog Tees and check out the different Tees. Leave me a comment with which shirt you would love to receive and your email address. (I will notify the winner by email. They will then have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be choosen.)

Extra Entries:
*Follow me with GFC, on Twitter or Networked Blogs for 1 extra entry (up to 3). Leave a seperate comment for each. (Each comment counts as an entry.)
* Like CrazyDog Tees on Facebook and tell them How Many Kids sent you. (Leave 2 comments)
* Sign up for their email newsletter. (Leave 3 comments)
* Update your Facebook status to tell your friends about the giveaway! (Leave2 comments)
* Putting my button on your blog counts as 2 entries. (Leave 2 comments)
* Blog about giveaway 3 entries (Leave 3 comments)

Hurry and enter.  This giveaway ends Thursday 7/15 at 9 pm eastern.  Good Luck!!!!


***Disclaimer: I received this product free in exchange for my honest opinion and review.***

Monday, July 5

EcoMom Plum Organics Review and Giveaway

It seems like everytime time I turn on the TV or pick up the newspaper, I hear or read about food poisioning, hormones, BPA, and tons of other things that are in food that I don't want my kids to be eating. I try to buy all natural products and organic meats and produce.  But what about baby food?  You might remember back in April, I did a review and giveaway of EcoMom's BPA free feeding set.  (Here is the link if you want to read that post. BPA Free Feeding Set )  While I was checking out her blog I saw all the different foods she offered and really wanted to try some of them for Mason.    But then a few weeks after that, Mason decided that he was a big kid and wanted to feed himself and refused to eat baby food. 

So when Jody at EcoMom, gave me the chance to review some of the Plum Organics food for all the kids, I was super excited.  She sent me 3 kids of Plum Organics fruits: Pears, Mangos, and Peaches.  For toddlers we got Plum Organics Strawberry Mish Mash and Revolution Foods Berry Mashups.  We also received a 2 pack of Boon Spoons which are really cool spoons that screw on the top of the bags so you just have to squeeze and food comes out onto the spoon.  For the older kids, we received 2 Revoution Foods Jammy Sammys.

All of the kids loved the fruit and snacks we received.  Jacob and Cody ate the Jammy Sammys one day when we were at the mall and I didn't want to buy them fast food for a snack.  They are portable PB & J sandwich bars!! They are made with 100 % whole grains (Wheat Free!) and filled with organic fruit spread.  They contain no trans fat or corn syrup.  And both boys loved them!

All three of the little boys also love the Mish Mash and Mashups.  They have the consistency of apple sauce and Jacob loves to squeeze the fruit onto the spoon.  I think the spoons are intended for babies like Mason but Jacob loves novelties so he wouldn't let me put the Mashups in a regular bowl. 

Now that Mason has been feeding himself for a while, he is more open to letting me feed him.  He loved the mangos!!  I am not one of those Moms that taste their babies' food but I did try the mangos and they taste just like a freash mango!!!  I was amazed. 


These are great organic healthy foods for kids of all ages!!  Another thing I love about EcoMom is their EcoPass.  For $99 you get a one year membership to EcoPass. Benefits include: Discounted prices on all products, Free ground shipping on all orders, First look at new product samples, and Exclusive offers and promotions.  It can pay for itself in as little as 4 orders!!


Thanks to Jody one lucky reader will win $15 worth of Plum Organics Food and snacks!!

HOW TO ENTER:

Mandatory Entry- (must be done for extra entries to count)
*Go to EcoMom and check out all the different foods they sell. Leave me a comment with your favorite and your email address. I will notify the winner by email and they will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be choosen.

Extra Entries-
*Follow me with GFC, on Twitter or Networked Blogs for 1 extra entry (up to 3). Leave a seperate comment for each. (Each comment counts as an entry.)
* Like EcoMom on Facebook and leave them a comment that I sent you! (This is good for 2 entries so leave me 2 comments)
* Follow EcoMom on Twitter (1 extra entry)
* Putting my button on your blog counts as 2 entries. (Leave 2 comments)
* Blog about giveaway 3 entries (Leave 3 comments)

Hurry and enter!!  Giveaway ends Tuesday 7/13 @ 9 pm eastern.  Good Luck!!!
 
***Disclaimer: I received these products free in exchange for my honest opinion and review.***

Sunday, July 4

Happy 4th of July


Congrats to #7 Gigi! She is the winner of my Glee Gum Make Your Own Gum Kit!!  She said "I'm following you on Twitter @agape4gigi."
I will email her and she will 48 hours to respond or random.org will choose a new winner.  Thanks for entering my giveaway!!

Saturday, July 3

Happy (Early) 4th of July!!

This is the new Patriotic Puppy from Pillow Pets!! He is a red pup with a blue belly with white stars.  But my favorite thing about this pup is that $5 from every sale is donated to Scholarships for Military Children!! What a great cause!!  If you are going to buy toys for your kids, at least this way you are giving back to those who protect our country!!  Only 3000 of the Patriotic Pups are available.  I am especially thankful this year for the men and women who serve our country because I know a few families who are celebrating the birthday of our country without their loved ones!!  I think we should make sure to really thank those service men and women and remember why we are celebrate the 4th of July. THANK YOU OLIVER, TRAVIS, & KEVIN and EVERY else who is or has served our country!!!!!

Thanks to Kathy, 1 lucky reader will win their own Patriotic Puppy!!

HOW TO ENTER:

You can do one or all three to enter this giveaway.

*Entry #1: Post a comment giving the name of a family member or friend who serves in the military; or the name of someone special’s memory who served who you’re honoring this 4th of July.
*Entry #2: Post a Thank You to the men and women who serve in our Armed Forces.
*Entry #3: Leave a comment saying why you are thankful of your independence this 4th of July.



~~~Hurry and enter.  This giveaway ends Monday 7/12 @ 9 pm eastern.  Good Luck!!!!~~~

Friday, July 2

Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner!!!


Wow first off thanks to everyone who entered this giveaway from Pillow Pets!!  This was the biggest turnout, any of my giveaways have had yet!!  Congrats to #55 Natalie A.  She said "I follow your blog!"  She has been emailed and has 48 hours to respond or random.org will choose a new winner.

Thursday, July 1

Book Review: Shiva's Arms by Cheryl Snell

Title: Shiva'sArms
Author: Cheryl Snell
Publisher: The Writer's Lair Books 
Published: March 27, 2010
ISBN: 978-0615340814
Summary: "Is there a happy medium between Hindu tradition and American style, or does the battle of wills between a mother and daughter-in law for the love of the man caught in the middle trump all else? When Alice marries Ramesh, she is plunged into a battle of wills with her mother-in-law. Amma wreaks havoc over Alice's household until a family secret is revealed that costs the old woman everything. Now it is up to Alice to heal the rift. Shiva's Arms evolves into an exploration of cultural identity, the power of reconciliation, and the meaning of home."

This was a very good book.  I feel bad for Alice.  I think after the birth of her chld she had PPD and instead of trying to be helpful, Amma, her mother-in-law takes the baby back to India with her.  I think that would not only be horrible but also more depressing.  I can't imagine trying to juggle a new husband, a new baby, and a Mother-In-Law who is controlling and also from a different culture.  The pressure would have been unbelievable!

I was scared at first that it would either be really hard to understand (since I know almost nothing about India and Hindu way of life) or too obvious that the author was includding info so that her readers would not be lost.  But it has a nice balance.  Snell explains things but not at the loss of the story line.  I also really love that in the back of the book there is receipes for dishes that are mentioned in the book.  I wish I had known about them as I was reading because I would have liked to flip back their as I read about the dish to see how it is prepared and with what ingredients are in it.

I also really like that at the begining Alice is looked at as an outsider but after getting involved in an old family lie, she is now includded as one of the family!

I think this book does a great job of showing us that in the end love can really conquer all. Rating: Photobucket

Author Interview: Cheryl Snell

Here are some questions I asked Cheryl Snell author of Shiva's Arms

Where are you from? 
Alberta, Canada, eh.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I published a poem in an excellent journal whose rep dwarfed my previous publications

What inspired you to write your first book?
Inspiration didn’t enter in. I had published about 65 poems and a few stories in lit journals and the logical next step was to put together a collection of poetry.

Do you have a specific writing style?
I write in a lyric narrative style. A critic/professor recently said I was an American surrealist. I like that.

How did you come up with the title, Shiva’s Arms?
It came to me when I was at McDonald’s with my Mom one day. It had all the elements I needed, incorporating the Hindu god of creation AND destruction, comparing that entity to Amma (who did plenty of C&D herself). All the god’s arms reminded me of Amma’s push-pull with Alice.

Is there a message in Shiva’s Arms that you want readers to grasp?
Much of literature focuses on the idea of Home, and I thought it would be interesting, in this book, to take a culture clash, complicate it, and see how the characters worked out a way to see one another as individuals as well as family.

How much of Shiva’s Arms is realistic?
The basis for the story is drawn from my life (American girl marries Hindu boy) but the characters are fictional. Details are drawn from South Indian culture, researched and fact-checked. Like Emily Dickinson, I want to put “real toads in my imaginary garden”.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The action in the story certainly could have happened to me, if I had married a more traditional guy. In our social circle, there are plenty of attitudes similar to those I write about, and I’ve witnessed the results in real life, from my place as observer.

Did you learn anything from writing Shiva’s Arms and what was it?
Aside from learning how to shape a long narrative and control my characters, I learned that societal memes do perpetuate. Traditions in old cultures will continue to be passed down, and change will only come slowly. But the Christian ideal of reconciliation has great power.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in Shiva’s Arms?
No. After many drafts and remodels, I’m quite satisfied.

What books have most influenced your life most?
Looking at my library of a thousand or so volumes, my eye goes straight to Shakespeare’s plays and Flaubert’s Sentimental Education.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Alice Munro, for her wisdom.

What book are you reading now?
I like to read several at once: Bellow’s Humboldt’s Gift, and Roth’s Dying Animal are right on top of the pile on my bedside table.

What are your current projects?
Another volume of short stories, another book of poetry with art by my sister, and a new novel. Working on several types of writing at the same time prevents writer’s block!

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
My father liked to write and I followed suit, writing little poems and stories for family birthdays and celebrations.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Knowing when a piece is finally finished. For awhile afterward, the characters still seem to want attention, one last try for another effect or plot point. Overworking a piece can leave it blurred, all the spontaneity drained. You have to know when to quit.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
“Killing your darlings” in order to make it new.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Standard advice: write every day, and read more than you write. Workshops are good, or at least a fresh pair of eyes to look at your work. “Write what you know” may be good advice, but I’d rather learn something new well enough to be able to write about it.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I’d like to thank them for reading my work. It’s the highest compliment for any writer.

Thank you!!!
It was my pleasure.

 
**If you would like to win a copy of Cheryl's book Shiva's Arms leave a comment with a reason why you want to read this book and your email address.  I will notify the winner by email and they will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.  Giveaway ends 7/30**