Friday, April 29, 2011

A to Z Challenge: Z

Z = Zilch

Zilch, zero, zip. Nada, nothing, nuttin'.

Yup. I am out of ideas.

I considered Zeus, not the Greek god, but one of our cats. But I don't feel like talking about him.

I considered zombies, because my daughter is obsessed with Plants vs. Zombies at the moment. Again, don't really wanna talk about it.

Considered zeta, of the Greek alphabet – or a woman's name (think Catherine Zeta Jones) – but didn't wanna do that, either.

I perused through the dictionary, and thought zymurgy sounded kinda cool. Webster defines it as,
the chemistry of fermentation, as applied in brewing, etc.
But, well, I'm not a beer drinker. And I know fermentation isn't just beer, but I decided it would require too much time to research it enough to say anything worth posting.

So, that leaves me back at zilch. I liked that better than zero.


A to Z Challenge: Y

Y = Yurley

Yurley is the name of one of the children my husband and I sponsor through Compassion International. She is a 6-year-old girl living in poverty in Colombia. I chose her because she's close in age to my oldest daughter and because I felt like she was who God wanted us to sponsor. (We currently sponsor two girls, and plan to add at least one more child to our sponsorship soon.)

I can't remember exactly what it was that compelled me to finally sign up to sponsor these girls. I know God had put it on my heart for a while before I finally acted on it. I think, in part, that my being amother has helped me in the compassion department, and helped me decide that we should be doing what we can to help one (or more) of God's less-fortunate children.

Sponsoring these children has been such a blessing. They are sweet girls, and writing to them is fun. They draw pictures for me all the time, and are quite good artists. I'm proud of Yurley and Emily (the other girl we sponsor), and I hope we are able at some point to meet them. Compassion arranges sponsor trips to the countries their children are in, but they are pricey. But, one day, I believe God will help us – or at least me – to be able to meet these girls face to face, give them hugs, and just love on them.

If you already sponsor a child (or two or more) – whether it's through Compassion or another agency – God bless you! If not, please consider doing so. It's not all that expensive, and makes a huge difference to these precious children.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

A to Z Challenge: Xenon

X = Xenon

X is a difficult letter, no doubt. And I wanted to use something that actually started with X. I toyed around with many things, finally looking in the dictionary under X. It is a very short listing.

Xenon caught my eye. When I read the definition (provided by none other than Webster's), I wasn't sure why. Definition:
n. a colorless, nonreactive, gaseous chemical element
I hated chemistry, so I doubt that's why it caught my eye. Although the mention of chemicals briefly made me think of Breaking Bad, Mr. Ham's new favorite TV show – "courtesy" of Netflix.

But that's not it, either.

Then there was the light-bulb moment.

It was the name of the cell phone model (the LG Xenon) that I had before I got my BlackBerry Torch, which I love much more than the Xenon. Don't get me wrong, it was my first texting phone – you know, with a Qwerty keyboard. LOVED it.

But it made me wonder.

Why did they call it the Xenon? Why name it after the chemical element? Not that it matters. I'm just curious. My guess would be because the word xenon sounds kinda cool, and it's memorable. But, is that all there is to it? I'm not a marketing person at all, so I'm completely befuddled by it! LOL


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A to Z Challenge: W

W = Wild Kratts

There are so many Ws I could have used: Wednesday (how lucky was that?), wonderful, woot, weary, etc. But I had long ago (meaning early on in this challenge) decided to post about Wild Kratts.


Wild Kratts. It's a new PBS Kids show that my kids just love. All THREE of my kids love this show! And let me tell you, that is no small feat! My kids are 3, 5, and 7 years old. Any show that appeals to all three is quite the show.

It's from the same guys (not surprisingly, the Kratt brothers) who brought us Zoboomafoo, as show I remember my now-13-year-old niece loving when she was my kids' ages.

It's an excellent show that helps teach kids about various species of wild animals. From monarch butterflies and elephants to flying squirrels and fish, there's no species these men shy away from.

My kids not only love the show, they love the games based on the show, too. (Those can be found on the PBS Kids Web site linked above.)

For the curious, here is a preview video posted by PBS:

And another video. This is like the informative/educational tidbits at the end of each show. Enjoy:


A to Z Challenge: V

V = Venti

I know, this is cheesy, but it's the best I could come up with. I considered Victoria's Secret, but decided that wasn't really in the spirit of this blog.

Enter Starbucks.

Until recently, Venti was their largest size drink. I believe it's 20 oz., but I could be wrong about that. (I'm too lazy to look it up right now.) I think the new huge one, Trenta (or something like that), is even too much for me, but I digress.

Whenever I have the opportunity – and the money – I like to get myself a Venti nonfat chai tea latte. YUM. Best tea ever! I used to get it regular, meaning not nonfat, but that was when I was relatively new to the whole Starbucks thing and didn't realize it was an option. It took a little while – meaning a couple of drinks – to get used to it that way, but now I don't want it any other way. YUM.

Starbucks' Birthday Cake Pops
Until recently, that was almost all I ever got, unless my daughter wanted hot chocolate.

But then Starbucks got evil.

They introduced their Petites. And they are GOOD! As in, I CRAVE them. Well, not all of them. The cake pops – the Birthday Cake variety. Oh. My. Gosh! So good.

My kids like them, too. Now I can't go there with them without hearing little voices asking for Birthday Cake Pops! Doesn't help me when I'm trying to be strong and not have one ...

I know, I know. There are worse problems to have.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A to Z Challenge: U

U = Umm ...

Yes, umm ... as in, I'm drawing a blank. I've had ideas, but nothing feels right at the moment. I'm sure part of it is simply from knowing I'm a day behind, and I'm feeling the self-imposed pressure. I don't want to be behind. I want to be exactly where I should be.

And, no, I suppose this isn't just talking about this blogging challenge.

Instead of filling the page with a bunch of rambles for the sake of having a post for the letter U, I'm just gonna shut up now.

Hopefully I can do better for the letter V.


Monday, April 25, 2011

A to Z Challenge: T

T = Teeth

Before I start, I offer my apologies for falling behind. I was out of town for the Easter weekend, and it just wasn't feasible to make Saturday's post – or today's either. So, I'll get one (or both) done now, and be caught back up by the time this is over with.

OK, so, as I hinted above, today I'm talking about teeth. (How's that for a lot of Ts in the post? ;-) )

You see, I saw the dentist last week, and we had a talk about my teeth. I've had some issues for the past few years, and for a long time it was a mystery problem. Then the dentist I had been seeing left the practice, and I got a new dentist.

One look was all it took. Long story short, my bottom teeth are VERY crowded, and apparently they're pushing the front ones. And the front ones don't really have anywhere to go. His determination, "You're going to need orthodontics."

Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is the fact that I went through orthodontics in junior high. Had braces, retainers, headgear, etc. The whole nine yards – and then some. I really don't wanna do that again. But, it's worth keeping my teeth in my mouth longer.

Still, part of me hopes that it won't necessarily be braces that are needed. Maybe – hopefully – I can get by with retainers or something. I dunno. I mean, it's not like this hadn't crossed my mind, as my previous dentist and I had discussed things, I kinda had an inkling that things were headed this way. So, it was no surprise that it finally came up.

Main problem (which the dentist acknowledged) is that it's going to be very expensive. His figure was around $6,000. Yes, that is correct. Six THOUSAND dollars. Just for me. And I have three children, at least two of which will need their teeth fixed, too. Lord help us! We do have dental insurance, although it covers very little. But I suppose every little bit will help.

It'll be worth it.

I'm too young for false teeth!

Friday, April 22, 2011

A to Z Challenge: S

S = Sorry, Sacrifice, & Salvation

Sorry. Because I'm sorry this is a late post. I had intended to get this posted last night, but it just didn't happen. We're out of town now for the Easter weekend, and that's thrown me off a bit. So, my apologies for being late with this.

And mention of Easter brings me to the second item.

Sacrifice. As most of you likely know, today is Good Friday. For most, I'm guessing, it's just the Friday before Easter. Something to do with Jesus, but no specifics.

For me – and Christians everywhere – it's so much more than that. So very much more. It is the day on which we remember the Ultimate Sacrifice. The day that Jesus died for our sins. The day that we were shown the ultimate in mercy, grace, and love. It is the day on which I remember what He did, and am humbled by it. I am thankful – more than usual – because it's a day on which it's impossible to push it out of my mind. When 364 (or 365, in Leap Years) other days in the year I'm able to push aside thoughts of Christ's sacrifice and what it means to me, it's such a good thing to have one day to focus on it. Thank Him for all He has done – not just with His death (and subsequent resurrection), but in my life since He came into it, too. He is my everything. I am nothing without Him.

Salvation. It's what I have through Christ Jesus, thanks to the day we celebrate in two short days: Easter. The day we celebrate His resurrection, and everything it means for us.

Thank You, God, for sending Your Son for me. Thank You for using Him to pay my debts. I am so unworthy, and so very thankful.

Thank You, Jesus, for paying my way into Heaven. Thank You for loving me enough to die for me. Thank You for all that I am, and all that You are making me.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

A to Z Challenge: R

R = Riyria

Most of you, I'm sure, are wondering what the heck Riyria is. Well, it's a realm. It's also part of a title of a series that I am in LOVE with: The Riyria Revelations. The author is Michael J. Sullivan, one of my favorite contemporary authors.

I discovered his books on a whim, when his wife approached me about getting the first book in the series, The Crown Conspiracy, at a discounted price. I decided to go for it, and have never ever even considered regretting it! I have since read the following five books, with the sixth coming my way in the next few weeks. And I cannot wait. How many teen (and not-so-teen) girls around the country couldn't wait for the release of Stephenie Meyer's Breaking Dawn. That's how excited I am. I am not exaggerating.

You see, The Crown Conspiracy is the book that reacquainted me with my love of reading. It's the book that reminded me why I love to read, and why fantasy is one of my favorite genres. It got me back in touch with my inner book nerd. And I haven't looked back since.

The series gets better and better as it progresses through the books. And that's why I just cannot wait to read the end. (Although, it will be bittersweet, as is often the case at the end of any type of series.) Best of all, this series was picked up by Orbit Books (an imprint of Hachette), making its awesomeness official.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Thursday Thunks

1. Describe yourself, in sentences, using the main word of the sentence with the letters in the word: VANITY

Wait, what? If I'm reading (and understanding this properly), I'm supposed to make a sentence about myself using the letters in VANITY. Um ... let me try.

Very antisocial – nah, introverted – today, yup.

Does that work?

2. List things you own using the letters in the word: POSSESSION
Out-dated T-shirts (as in, from college and high school)
Samsung HDTV
IPod touch
Old car (2000 Dodge Neon)

3. List food items that you absolutely will not eat using the letters in the word: DISGUSTING
Donuts that have jelly inside
Italian sausage
Green peppers
Undercooked meat (mine must be well-done)
Ice cream that is coffee-flavored
Nuggets from McDonald's (you know, McNuggets)
Goat cheese

4. List things you do online using the letters in the word: USB CABLE
Update my blogs
Stay in touch with friends & family
Buy things

Change passwords
Access our banks
Bingo (and other games) on facebook
Library book renewals


A to Z Challenge: Q

Q = Quindlen

Q. A bit of a tricky letter. There are a bunch of words: quiet (not in my house), quick, quail, Quayle, quality, quite, queen ... I could go on and on. But, instead of forcing myself to post something about which I didn't have much of anything to say, I figured the old standby would work. I'll post about a favorite author whose last name starts with Q.

Thank God I have one!

Anna Quindlen ~ I have only read one of her novels (to date), but that is enough. It was probably the best novel I read last year, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Every Last One. It was amazing. I was blindsided, and you will be, too. So. Well. Written. I don't actually own it – yet – but I fully intend to. For how good it is, here's the proof: I liked it more than The Time Traveler's Wife and Water for Elephants ...


(In the interest of full disclosure, most book-title links in this post are to reviews I have written and posted on my book blog, Proud Book Nerd. If I haven't written a review, then the link goes to the Goodreads page for the book.)


Monday, April 18, 2011

A to Z Challenge: P

P = Proud Book Nerd

Yup. I'm using this as an opportunity for self-promotion. Might as well, right?

What is Proud Book Nerd?
My book blog. Over a year ago, I was posting a lot of book reviews and stuff here on Ramblings & More. And my blog started to feel quite cluttered. So I decided to make a separate blog for my bookish postings. And voila! Proud Book Nerd was born.

Earlier this month, Proud Book Nerd had its first anniversary! I cannot believe it's been a year, but it's been an awesome year. I'm so happy and pleased to be able to share my love of reading with others.

How do I share my love of reading?
Book reviews, mainly. But I also post book-related memes, such as Teaser Tuesday, an occasional giveaway, and occasional book-related chatter. And it's a blast. The book-blogging community is absolutely fantastic. We book nerds stick together! ;-)

My love of reading goes back as far as I can remember. I remember my dad reading various books to me as a kid, and me reading tons of things as soon as I was able. My love of reading stretched into college, when I majored in English (lit). It was a blast. Hard work, of course, but a blast.

Where is Proud Book Nerd?
That's easy: Easy to remember, easy to find. (And it's linked from here, too.)

So, if you love – or even occasionally enjoy – reading, please come join me over on Proud Book Nerd! You'll be glad you did!


A to Z Challenge: O

O = Oliver, Oliver, & Osborne

I had a few ideas here and there about what to do for "O," but nothing really appealed to me. I decided that I really liked what I did for N, and wondered how I hadn't thought of that before! LOL I mean, given how much I read ...

Anyway, so, I'm sharing three of my favorite authors whose last names start with the letter O.

Jana Oliver ~ Just last week I read her latest novel, The Demon Trapper's Daughter. Wow. It was so good. Now, before reading it, I was quite skeptical. I wasn't too into the demons and whatnot in my books. But, I've found over the course of the last year that I'm really surprising myself by what books I like. I've found that I like much more than I'd ever have guessed. So, after reading the summary of this one a few times, I finally decided to participate in a tour for it, and I am so glad I did! I look forward to the rest of this series!

Lauren Oliver ~ I have heard all about Before I Fall, a book I have yet to read. But I have read Delirium, and WOW! It's the first dystopian novel I've read, and I never thought I'd like the genre. But I do. (Yes, yes, I know, I love books but haven't read The Hunger Games. Bad me. I haven't read Twilight, either.) This is the first in another series, and I cannot wait for more.

Mary Pope Osborne ~ My daughter LOVES her Magic Treehouse series. My daughter, Abby, is 7. Before discovering this series, she claimed to hate reading. Since, she likes it, and is exploring more authors and books she never would have looked at before. I'm certain of it, because before Mary Pope Osborne, Abby was so not into reading. Now she says that Mary Pope Osborne is her favorite author, and she's always looking in her Scholastic book orders to see what Magic Treehouse book is available. Any author who can help my daughter learn to love to read is a favorite author of mine, too!

(In the interest of full disclosure, most book-title links in this post are to reviews I have written and posted on my book blog, Proud Book Nerd. If I haven't written a review, then the link goes to the Goodreads page for the book.)


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday Stealing: The 65 Questions Meme

Taken from the-blog-that-encourages-stealing, also known as Sunday Stealing!

1. Tell us who the last person that you took a shower with. Um ... my husband? I'm guessing, given that I'm not really one who enjoys taking showers with others. It's been a long time, and is entirely possible that it was one of my children when they were babies.

2. Tell us about your favorite tee-shirt. Extra points if you show a pic. (We know. What can you do with freakin' extra points?) I don't really have ONE favorite. I just like them big and loose, so I don't feel like they're showing off my leftover baby fat ...

3. Has anyone ever hit on you even though they knew you were taken? Um, I don't think so.

4. Do you plan what to wear the next day? You mean tomorrow? I don't know. I'll decide when I'm ready to get dressed.

5. How are you feeling RIGHT now? Why? That I am exhausted. Because it's past my bedtime.

6. What's the closest thing to you that's black? My mousepad.

7. Tell me about an interesting dream you remember having. I'm to tired to think of any at the moment. Sorry!

8. Did you or might you meet anybody new today? Nope.

9. If you could be doing anything right now (or perhaps after you finish this ridiculous meme)what would it be? If I could, I'd finish my book. I probably have about 50 pages left to read. But I am so friggin' tired that I think I'll just have to wait until morning.

10. Do you floss? Occasionally

11. What comes to mind when I say China? Nice dishes

12. Are you overly emotional? Sometimes

13. If you could listen to just one rock album (CD, vinyl or mp3) which one would you pick? Skillet's Awake

14. Do you bite into your ice cream or just lick it? Both

15. Do you like your car? Yes

16. Do you like yourself? Yes and no

17. Would you go out to eat with Charlie Sheen? Only if he's paying and not on anything.

18. What was the last song that you listened to? A Kutless song, but I can't remember which one at the moment and I'm too tired to go find my iPod to check.

19. Are (or were) your parents strict? Yes

20. Have you ever wondered what attending a wild orgy (if only to watch or...) would be like? No.

21. I say cottage cheese. You say: food

22. Have you ever met a celebrity? Um, does a former Illinois governor count? If so, then yes. If not, then no. Although, I did meet Dick Butkus at a book signing once. But it was a brief "Hello" as he signed a book I bought for my hubby.

23. What was the last movie that you watched at home? Something's Gotta Give (not very good)

24. Is there anything sparkly in the room you're in? My diamond rings are always in whatever room I'm in! ;-)

25. What countries have you visited? The Bahamas, Germany, and France

26. Have you ever made a phone call while you were drunk that you've regretted? If yes, do tell. Nope.

27. Where were you going the last time that you were on a train? Probably Chicago

28. Bacon or sausage? Bacon, but only if it's CRISPY, otherwise I'll take sausage links

29. How long have you had a cell-phone? More than 10 years now, unless I have to start counting over since I gave up a cell phone for about 6 months after Natalie was born. It's been two years since that little short-lived stint was seen as a bad idea!

30. What other memes do you do regularly? On this blog? Not many – at least not regularly. At least I don't think so. I do a bunch of book-related ones on Proud Book Nerd, though.

31. Who is the craziest meme host? Dunno.

32. Who invented chop sticks? I have no idea, and I don't really care.

33. Who are you going to be with tonight? My hubby.

34. Are you too forgiving? No. I'm probably not forgiving enough.

35. When was the last time that you were in love? Still am. :-)

36. Tell us about your best friend. Which one? The one I'm in daily contact with is Mr. Ham. There's also Chris, my BFF out in Jersey (whom I've never met IRL). Then there's Jen, a woman who was my BFF in high school and now lives near Seattle. While we aren't in touch as much as I'd like, I still consider her a BFF. Whenever we see each other (every few years or so), it's like we've never been apart.

37. What was the stupidest thing you learned in high school? I can't think of anything. All knowledge is useful. Sometimes things I never expected to be glad to know are the very things I'm finding myself using when I least expect it. Knowledge is powerful.

38. What was the last thing that you cried about? Um ... I don't remember.

39. What was the last question you asked? I asked Natalie how many eyes Zeus (our cat) has.

40. Favorite thing to do this time of the year? Sit on the swing on the front porch and read.

41. If you had to get a (or another) tattoo, what would it be? My kids names, maybe? Or a cross.

42. How would your best friend describe you? Depends on which one you ask.

43. Have you ever seen all three Twilight films? Yes, I have.

44. Ever walked into a glass door? Um, I can't remember if it was a door or just a big window in a mall ... thankfully, I was walking slowly.

45. Favorite color on that person that you are attracted to? Blue, gray, or white - they all bring out his eyes.

46. Have you ever slapped someone? Only playfully

47. What hair style (for you) would you like to see return? I don't know. I don't style my hair based on trends

48. What was the last CD you bought? I don't remember.

49. Do looks matter to you? To some extent, yes.

50. Could you ever forgive a liar? Wouldn't I be a hypocrite if I didn't?

51. What's the hardest bill to pay every month? The credit card, because – unlike the mortgage or the utilities – it is unnecessary.

52. Do you like your life right now? For the most part.

53. Do you sleep with the TV on? Hell, no.

54. Can you handle the truth? You bet! I know the Truth and the Truth has set me free!

55. Do you have good vision? When I have my contacts in ... ;-)

56. Do you hate or dislike more than 3 people? Hate? No. Dislike? Maybe. I'd have to think about it for a bit to come up with three.

57. How often do you talk on the phone? Only when absolutely necessary. I hate it.

58. What celeb would you like to come home to? As in romantically? I dunno. Johnny Depp or James Marsden

59. What are you wearing? PJ pants and a T-shirt

60. What is your favorite wild animal? Bald eagles, I think.

61. Where was your facebook picture taken? It wasn't. It's an avatar graphic.

62. Can you waltz? Yes. I can also cha-cha, as well as a few other dances.

63. Do you have a job? You bet – I'm a full-time stay-at-home mom. I don't get paid in currency, but in intangible benefits. But, those benefits do not include sick days, days off, vacation, or lunch breaks. Still, it's the best job in the world!

64. What was the most recent thing you stole? I am not in the habit of stealing.

65. Have you ever crawled through a window? Not that I remember.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

A to Z Challenge: N

N = Nadol, Nepa, Nieffenegger,
Northrop, & Numeroff

I was stumped, absolutely stumped today. I considered "No Idea" as well as books with an N title. Nothing really rung true. But I decided to stick with the book theme, and check out (via Goodreads) my list of N authors. Perfect!

Jen Nadol ~ Her debut novel, The Mark, came out last year. It was very good. It's first in a series, and I'm very much looking forward to the release of Book 2, The Vision.

Andrea Nepa ~ Last year I had the pleasure of getting to review her children's book, Red in the Flower Bed. It's about adoption, and it is wonderfully written. And the illustrations are absolutely BEAUTIFUL. Their beauty is not adequately shown on any photos I've seen. When I opened the book, it is just breathtaking!

Audrey Nieffenegger ~ Author of one of the best books ever, The Time Traveler's Wife. This book was recently made into a movie, and it doesn't do the book justice. The book is so amazing. One of the best books ever – also one of the saddest ... but so GOOD! I'd like to say I want to read this again and again. But, I don't know. It haunted me for a while. Fabulous, fabulous book. I haven't read her others yet, but Her Fearful Symmetry is high on my list of books to read soon!

Michael Northrop ~ Fabulous YA author. I read his latest book, Trapped, last month and it was very, very well written.

Laura Numeroff ~ Author of several, very clever, fun children's books, the first of which (at least to my knowledge) is If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. The book is so cute, so clever. I find it fascinating. To come up with something like that would take painfully long! LOL My kids love her books, and we have several of them.

(In the interest of full disclosure, most book-title links in this post are to reviews I have written and posted on my book blog, Proud Book Nerd. If I haven't written a review, then the link goes to the Goodreads page for the book.)

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