A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Christmas in Paradise #bookreview

You guys know how much I enjoy reading the Paradise series books from Deborah Brown, right?  Well, just in time for the Holidaze, the newest one, Christmas in Paradise, is out! 

You can read the first chapter free below.  As you see, it opens with mall Santa capers.  Unfortunately, when a guy in a Santa suit starts robbing banks, mall Santa is a suspect.  And since mall Santa is one of Madison's tenants, she and Fab are obligated to do what they can to clear his name. 

Along the way, Christmas decor disappears from the local funeral home, and other hilarious hijinks occur.  The Paradise books can be read individually, so don't be afraid to jump in here if you've never read one before and you're needing something light and festive.  Once you do, you'll want to go back to the beginning and read the previous dozen! 

My name is Madison Westin. Unless it’s Christmas, in which case my official title is “Holiday Cheermistress.” Nothing stops me from getting my ho-ho-ho on, not even my friends’ Grinch-worthy attitude toward sparkling tinsel, twinkling lights, and tinkling bells.

Hey, if Creole, Fab, and Didier wind up with coal in their stockings, it won’t be my fault.

When some bah-humbug bandit makes the rounds of Tarpon Cove, Fab and I are on the case. It’s the least we can do for our loyal friends. Seasonal crime-victim disorder seems to be on the rise.

Some guy in a Santa suit—well, the top half of one anyway—is robbing local banks. The cops are fingering the wrong guy. And you can bet your light-up Rudolph boxers that if we can’t track the real thief down, one of my merry band of miscreants could be spending the holidays behind bars.

The Paradise series, are Florida Keys mysteries, “great as stand-alone reads, but they're like chips...you won't be able to devour just one!”

Available to buy from.....

"South Florida author Deborah Brown books are infectious.

"My love for these quirky characters grows with every book! Hope they never end!"

"This fabulous duo exudes so much sassiness and strong willed characteristics that I absolutely cannot get enough of." 
Above reviews from Amazon


Book Excerpt

Also available in the Paradise Series

About the Author
I've been writing, in one way or another for as long as I can remember; poetry, sappy short stories (my best friend made me swear that I’d never show anyone until I changed the names), and a romance novel shoved under my bed.

I wanted to create books with a wide-range of unforgettable characters, with heat and romance, and lots of guns. It wouldn’t be complete without a slice of humor and charm.

I live with my family and demon children aka rescue cats in South Florida.

Find the author on the following sites...

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Crazy Cat Lady

First, a little update on volunteering.  Since May, I've served more than 130 hours with 8 different organizations.  75 of those hours have been at SPCA.  I think it's safe to say, I've found my favorite. 

One of the things I like best about SPCA is that there are so many different things I can do there. 

Hanging out with cats and kittens waiting to be adopted was what drew me in, and I love to do that. 

On the days I don't have anything else going on, I like to go in right after dropping the kids off at school, before they're open to the public. 

Starting the day giving some love to my furry friends makes me happy.  And so does the high turn over rate.  Most of these cats pictured have already been adopted. 

Another way I like to help out is by working the vaccine clinic days.  On these days, people bring their pets in for their shots.  I've learned a lot.  I've done a variety of positions on vaccine clinic days, and I like that it's interesting and busy.  It's funny, I've never been a dog person, but I'm learning to like them because of helping out.  Puppies can't be on the floor of the clinic until they've had all their shots (usually around 6 months old) and some of the larger breeds require a cart during their visit.  I've assisted people with their carts and met some nice dogs.  And I'm often handed leashes while pet owners use the restroom.  Whether I'm taking names, or helping people carry pet food to their car, or drawing up shots, the time passes quickly on vaccine clinic days. 

This sweetheart is Shirley, who is a special kitty I always liked to stop and visit.  She spent most of her time perched up on a shelf.  But she loves to have her head scratched.  Her info has disappeared from the website, so she may have been adopted.  I'll be sure to check next time I'm in. 

Another favorite way I serve is at the feral cat clinic.  Concerned citizens trap feral cats and bring them in to be spayed or neutered.  I had no idea how large the feral population was until I started helping out here.  We usually fix around 100 cats each weekend.  Those animals are then re-released into the colonies they came from.  I work recovery, helping them wake up after surgery, and it's always a little sad to know that all those beautiful animals are homeless. 

Some of the pictures I take while I pet cats end up on the website, and I hope they are helping to find those animals homes. 

Benny is a gorgeous kitty who was so photogenic I just couldn't resist snapping a few shots of him from outside his multi cat habitat during a vaccine clinic day.  I sent a couple on to one of the "real" volunteer photographers, who added them to Benny's profile online, and Benny has since been adopted. 

I know people think of SPCA as cats and dogs, but there are often other small animals in need of homes, as well. 

We frequently have bunnies, and various other smalls.  Right now, there are a couple of chickens and a bird. 

It's probably a good thing Paul has said I can't bring any of them home.  I fall in love with somebody pretty much every week. 

It's easy to do when they're so eager for attention. 

This is Boots, who is very vocal.  We had quite the conversation last week! 

The vast majority of the cats are short haired, so I'm sure someone will see Boots' longer fluff and fall in love. 

I am blessed to be able to "give back" in a way that gives so much to me. 

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

November Happenings

I mentioned in October Happenings that we had an Emergency Room visit while Paul was gone for 2 weeks.

With that in mind, it was no great surprise when Paul called me to ask, "Which ER do you take the kids to?"  These things tend to come in 2s and 3s.

Brianna went in October, and this time it was Eli.  I was really glad it was Paul's turn.  (Small families probably don't argue over whose turn it is to do the ER run, do they?)

Eli was telling me the story later, and he said the doctor walked in and asked, "So, what did you do?"  I told him the doctor was asking if this was an accident or if your last words prior to the incident were, "Hold my beer."

So this is how he went to school the next couple of days.  (It actually occurred during weightlifting, he was maxing and strained his wrist.)  I told him if any of the administrators gave him the hairy eyeball to put on his innocent face and say, "Root beer, of course!"  He said, "I'll just tell them 'My mom wrote it.' "  Pretty much all the teachers just laughed at him.

Paul and I decided that, as much fun as it is to go to Costco and the auto parts store, just the two of us, it would be even more fun to go somewhere different.  So we went to the Nimbus Fish Hatchery in Folsom.

Grammy and I took the kids here, ages ago, when we first moved to the area and were exploring all the fun stuff.  But it's been a long time.  Somewhere, there's a picture of Zach on the giant fish climbing structure.  From like 2005?

You can't really see them, but there are monstrously large fish in there.  Salmon and steelhead.  After this, we went into the visitor center.  I was a little put off by the guys whacking the fish with a rubber mallet on the other side of the glass.  I know the fish die, I just don't need to see it, you know?

Then we went for a walk.  That building down there is the visitor center.

Fishermen in the American River.

Old people selfie.  I was trying to get the arch of the walkway in the background.  Instead, I got my finger.  Wrong generation.

When we went to Apple Hill, I bought a box of apples.  They were starting to turn, so Josiah peeled them and we made applesauce in the instant pot.  We made it on Friday, and I put it into single serving containers, thinking I'd put it into the kids' lunches the following week.  By the time I pulled out the lunchboxes Sunday night, all the applesauce was gone.  I'm told it was really good.  It was super easy to make, so maybe I'll have to make it again.  Literally 5 minutes cook time in the instant pot.

I don't want to get too excited, just in case something changes, but I've got a new bed set up in the corner of Josiah's room, anticipating a special visitor this month!  I'll have to get a couple of pillows for him.

I had told the girls they couldn't wear pants until it started raining.  Call me a big meanie.  We had our first rainy day, and upon coming home, Katie's brand new pants looked like this.  I suppose duct tape would be tacky?  If I tossed every pair that got holes in them, they'd go through 40 pairs a year!

This picture had gone missing when I posted the Marine pumpkin and the Army pumpkin last month.  I found a copy, so I thought I'd share it.  I thought it was pretty cool that Brianna and Boy chose to carve all the branches represented in our family.

First quarter ended, and I had conferences with the younger kids' teachers.  I'm pleased with how well everyone has transitioned to school life, and I think out of all 5 students, we only had 1 D on report cards. 

Eli made my day by bringing home leftovers from my favorite pizza place ever, which is too far away for us to patronize with any regularity. 

Hannah and Katie collaborated to color this autumn book that I had printed ages ago. 

Part of Katie's homework is to read for 20 minutes each night.  This is not a problem.  Katie likes reading.  In fact, I'm having her read through our baskets of readers one last time before I do a big purge of them.  I had a hard time paring down our collection of board books when she outgrew those, but I'm dumbfounded that it's time to say good by to the level 1 and level 2 books, as well.  I'll keep a handful of favorites, of course, but we don't need the rest any more. 

Wheeling and Hannah, sharing a sunbeam. 

My little zombie children, watching an unfamiliar movie at Shriners. 

We're working our way through the "new leg process."  Paul took them to their last appointment in October, where it was decided that they would have to recast Katie (basically, start over).  This was another long appointment, but we're getting closer.  We should take delivery of the completed legs in December. 

This time, we brought homework with us, since the girls were missing a day of school. 

While we were there, we talked with the film crew doing a new promotional video for Shriners, and they got some footage of Katie's fitting.  If we end up in the finished piece, I'll be sure to share a link. 

May you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We have so much to be thankful for. 

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