Archive for December, 2013

{Or something like that.}

We have this problem pretty much every year, and each year it seems to get worse.

“This” is on the list of “permanent things that are constants in our lives”; in the “mystery” category.” Other things on the non-mystery section of this list include, but are not limited to, chickens, horses, cats, dogs, and farm anything. 😀

I don’t know if we are strange or not, but it really is difficult to go gift shopping for the kids, particularly at this time of year. Used to be, we’d do a bigger ticket item for them collectively; lately they’ve been pooling their monies to buy their own higher dollar items.

Don’t get me wrong- I’m not complaining.

For years, we’ve been overloaded with junk. Several years ago, I even had to put the kibosh on bringing everything, including new books into the house, because we were overloaded with stuff.

We did a lot of good weeding, but it’s amazing how much stuff stuck around with the move. We definitely have more space here, which is good.

The issue now has become, what to get the kids for Christmas?

Does this seem like a strange problem to have? I don’t know. Are we alone with this mystery?

Several years ago, I had taken to having the kids make lists, which they manage to fill. It goes without saying that I weed a lot of the junk off of the lists.

I’m looking at my oldest daughter’s list, and I kid you not, right before the Burt’s Bees lip stuff request is this gem:  “another horse.”  😆 😆 To be fair, on everyone’s list, including hers, is tack.

Shoot. I want tack, but can’t find what I want.  And now it’s a little late. We may have to wait for a tack show in the spring.

But I digress.

You’d think Christmas shopping would be easy, but it’s not. I can’t stand getting junk just to get stuff. We have a habit of buying things like, oh, socks, for example, and then saying, “This is part of your Christmas gift.” 😆 And, to be fair, they do LOVE  getting socks {especially goofy socks, like toe socks (and no, they didn’t steal mine!)}, so that’s all good.

I’m thinking we may try more of a “Throwback Christmas.” You know, like something we’ve done when they were littler.

There was the one year they all got their own roll of craft paper. They each had their own, and I didn’t care what they did with it.

Another year, they all got copy paper. Yep, they did. I got tired of mine disappearing when I needed to print, so they got their own brick and left mine alone for, oh, like a week or so.

So this year, I am thinking, we need to do some monogrammed or otherwise labeled stuff in that same vein.

At the top of my list are brooms and dustpans. Despite me buying numerous brooms and dustpan/small broom sets, we never seem to be able to find them when we need to do chores.

Along these lines, I’ve thought about giving them each a vacuum, but that’s a bit spendy. I may just bite the bullet and give them each a pack of vacuum belts, which we go through a significant number of.

To spread out the giving, we may do some early/late gifts for birthdays, and yard tools are always a huge hit around here; shovels and rakes in particular. This might be one of those early gifts so maximum usage can be had.

At the very top of my list, though, I’m thinking of utility necklaces personalized with their names on them. {I can’t use initials, because they all have the same initials; yes, all of them……} On these necklaces, we need to have something for keys. We can never find shed keys, so this is good.

We’ll need a dangly part for a paint can opener. We are still painting, and we can never seem to find an opener. If everyone has one hanging around their necks, surely someone can open the can.

And finally, the one “charm” that needs a retractable cord so it never comes off the necklace, is a pair of scissors.

Did you know that scissors are in short supply? Indeed, they are. There’s a missing colony of them, which seems to be not unexpected for this state. 😉 I am sure they are somewhere in a hidden location, laughing at the effort to locate them.

A necklace with a cord would make escape nearly impossible. I say “nearly,” because as you well know, there are likely undercover operatives in the house, that seek to shuttle them to their secret hiding spots. It’s an underground network, I am convinced. If we ever find it, we’ll find not just the missing scissors, but a good number of socks, too.

{And if you think I’m nuts, they actually do have such a thing that you can connect scissors to:  scissorsreel

Except I’d want the necklace form of the reel.}

So. That’s what I’m thinking. This year, we may just go past the expected socks and underwear and do the necklaces, brooms, vacuum belts, and pens! How could I forget the pens?

These can go on the necklaces, too, those little sharpie pens. They are fantastic utility items.sharpie Get one of those and hook the whole mess on one of those badge reel thingies, badgereel and we’re good to go!

I need to figure out a solution to make the tips of the scissors safe, so the kids don’t poke any eyes out or accidentally impale themselves. I’ll also need a paint lid opener tip cover, too, because those can be pokey and sharp as well.

Heck, while I’m at it, I should probably make myself a necklace too……

Looks like this year’s Christmas Mystery has been solved! I’d better get to it, because I’m running out of time. :mrgreen:

What are your favorite gifts for your older kids and teenagers?

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Thomas fought to conquer Magnus. Now his hold is hanging on by a thread. The faux Priests of The Holy Grail are doing a number on the inhabitants of his island. Who can argue with the ‘divine’ miracles they present?  martyrsfire

Feeling the lack of choice amidst the threats, Thomas allowed the 15 so-called priests to “grace” his land with their “truth.” They claimed to guard the Holy Grail. As they took over the local parish, displacing the priest via a “miracle” of the “weeping Madonna,” Thomas knows he must escape before they kill him.

Dressed as a beggar, Thomas makes his way to the parish, after learning that it’s filled with the poor who have taken an oath of loyalty to the interlopers.  He’s also learned that his castle has fallen without a fight. Meeting with his trusted and recently beaten friend, Gervaise, Thomas learns quickly that his life is at stake. He must escape.

Gervaise gives Thomas cryptic directions to a secret passage out of the church. “After sixty steps, you must make the leap of faith. Understand? Make the leap of faith. You will find the knowledge you need near the burning water.”

Thomas is confused and unsure of the directions, but knows he must trust or perish.

To add to Thomas’ dilemma, Isabelea is alive and the banished Katherine keeps showing up uninvited. Will Thomas’ journey to Jerusalem provide him with the answers he needs? Can he make it there alive?


If you’ve read my review of book 2, Fortress of Mist, you will remember how disappointed I was that the sequel had not yet been released. I was thrilled when I got the chance to review the next title in the series.

I was really disappointed, though, with the length of this next installment. This really only qualifies as a snack; an hors d’oeuvre; a novella.

I was bummed. There were parts that were equally confusing as the last story, but I have confidence that it will all get tied in together.  I wouldn’t suggest trying to read this as a stand-alone title, because you will be completely lost. Much of the storyline is the continuation of previous events, and without knowing those, you really won’t have a clue as to the role of the girls, in particular, and you won’t understand why Thomas doesn’t trust either of them.

It looks like the next installment comes out in January. I will be reading it. I seriously hope there is some meat to the next book, because this one was just a tease. I give this one 4 out of 5 stars, mostly because I enjoy the author and think the overall story is good.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

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Can he believe them? Kieran Mullaney isn’t sure he can. Night guard Poppy is sure he can’t. His version of events the night of the explosion aren’t the same as the “official” report, and his partner on duty that night has gone missing.

When you’re dealing with a nuclear site, you can’t afford to not know what you’ve been exposed to.

Kieran is worried. Poppy has his own questions, too. And neither is backing down. Can they survive long enough to get answers?  criticalreaction


Initially, the concept of funny business taking place on a nuclear site seemed a little too far fetched for me. Then I learned that the Hanford Nuclear Reservation was a real place, that had a real accident with lingering consequences.  Add that to the very real possibility of my family moving within spitting distance of this place, and, well, it got me thinking.

This novel is fast paced, and has multi-layered complexities. There’s the legal battle going on, as Kieran tries to get answers, all the while being stone walled by the company and then ultimately blamed for causing the recent accident.

There are mob-like threats happening to both Kieran and eventually Poppy, as both struggle to find out what they were actually exposed to that night. In addition, there is a missing guard who was another eye witness and who no doubt has key information.

Characters are well written, and there’s another layer of relationship issues between Kieran’s college friend and lawyer, Emily, and her father, who take the case while in the midst of a strained relationship.  There’s also the undercover scientist working on the site that sneakily befriends Ryan Hart, Emily’s father, while he’s out running, mulling over the case.

While this is a stand alone novel as far as I can tell, it absolutely could have a sequel. Normally, I’m not a fan of tons of characters, but they each had purpose in this novel, and weren’t confusing.

I give this one 5 out of 5 stars. Don’t miss it.

I received this book from Bethany House Publishers for this unbiased review. To read an excerpt, click here.

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