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, December 15, 2017

Sam's Visit

Sam came home for Thanksgiving.  Blogging fell by the wayside, of course, as we spent time enjoying having him here for almost 2 weeks. 

He surprised us by coming home 2 days before we were expecting him! 

His former football coach picked him up at the airport, and then Sam changed into his uniform at their house before showing up on our doorstep.  Doesn't he look great?  I'm so proud of him. 

Sam and Eli are pretty much tied in height right now, although Eli's hair is fluffier. 

Paul's trying to prove that he's taller than them.  I'm pretty sure only Zach is taller now. 

Jack is going to pass me up in the next year. 

It was fun to see my boys hanging out together. 

Sam's coach gave him a giant Snickers bar, and he polished it off in just a couple of days. 

Whenever I sat my phone down, I would find random selfies on it later. 

Not even all taken by Sam, actually.  I think I must have been making school lunches or something here. 

One day, Zach and Brayden came to hang out with us. 

We went out to lunch, and the boys told bidet stories.  :blink,blink:  Who knew?

Shockingly, we ended up with leftover pizza, which the school kids were happy to polish off when they got home. 

On Thanksgiving, we went out front for a quick family picture.  We're missing Annaliese, who is still in New Zealand, and Heather, who had to work.

Brayden was being silly during pictures, but I got one that was okay for a Christmas card. 

After the big meal, we played games. 

A fellow Marine friend that Sam met in tech school drove up from Camp Pendleton to spend Thanksgiving here. 

That seemed kinda grown up ish to me...  until I found them eating crayons. 

Not. Even. Kidding.

"Who me?" 

But it was a really good visit.  Sam got to go out with his local friends.  We went grocery shopping together (which is one of our favorite things to do together), and Christmas shopping.  We had some good conversations, and just hung out. 

The tree went up the day after Thanksgiving.  I wanted to do it before Sam left, since he wouldn't be home for Christmas. 

My boy.  My Sammers.  My Marine. 

My fourth child.  The one who taught me that no two kids were ever going to be the same.  My athletic, class clown, fearless (except for glitter) son. 


The days passed quickly, and soon it was time to say goodbye. 

We said our goodbyes at bedtime because Paul and Sam would be leaving for the airport super early.  I secretly thought I'd wake up and get one more hug in before he left, but I missed it. 

Vaya con Dios, my son.  Your mama is super proud of you. 

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Books Books Books

Today, I want to talk about books.  Naturally, I will be including affiliate links for your convenience, and a tiny potential profit for me.  Thanks for your support.  

I've always enjoyed the Jane Austen movies, but I'd never taken the time to actually read the books.  

A few months back, Paul and I were at Costco and we spied Pride & Prejudice, which came home with us.  I started reading it aloud in the car on the way home, and we ended up reading the whole book together.

After finishing P&P, I picked up Persuasion from the library.  I hope to make my way through the rest of the Austen books next year.

Recently I talked about how much I've been enjoying volunteering at the SPCA.  Well, SPCA holds a huge fall book sale every year.  Paul and I went last month and brought home some new-to-us books.

You can probably guess which pile is whose.  Yes, my pile is full of "mental fluff."  I'm okay with that.  I've got Northanger Abbey and Jane Eyre in there, too, so it's not all junk food.

The nice thing is, as I read them, I can either take them to SPCA with me, or take them to the Book Den which is another place I've been volunteering.  The Book Den is a pretty amazing offshoot of the Friends of the Library here.  It's part warehouse, part book shop.  And volunteers get paid in books.  This makes me very happy.

I've been going to volunteer about once a week, and I've brought home some treats, including this book for Paul.

One of the things I do at the Book Den is what's called "first sort" out in the warehouse.  This is really fun because it's sorting through boxes of donated books, and you literally never know what you're going to get.  I've seen books that were in my grandmother's collection, and books that came out this year.  Books that I've read, books that I'd like to read, and books that I'd never cross paths with, ordinarily.

Brianna read The Things They Carried for school, and a couple weeks after she was telling me about it, not one, but two different copies showed up in the boxes I was sorting.

Last week, I brought home this Christmas book, since I've read some of Rita Mae Brown's other books before.  It was a quick read, and I'll be taking it back to the Book Den tomorrow.  There's a Christmas section up right now, so hopefully someone else will enjoy it this season, too.

In other book-related news, Paul finished reading the Chronicles of Narnia to the children.  He's started reading them the Little House books now.

I helped out at a Friends of the Library event at my local branch recently.  Book First is a program that gives a free book to every first grader in local schools with a high percentage of students who qualify for free or reduced lunch.  This event was in preparation for Book First season.  We stickered books with reading levels to make it easier to get the right levels into the kids' hands during a distribution day.

Then we walked around the room, compiling classroom packs.

Each pack contained 30 books, in 5 reading levels.  Then we placed labels inside the books and bagged them up.

This was about a third of the bags we created.  I hope to be able to help out at at least one of the distribution days, where we're actually helping kids choose their own books to take home.  For many of those children, it will be their first book of their very own.

Not really book related, but I've also started washing the story time toys at my local library once a week.  I like being able to volunteer at the branch that the kids and I patronize. 

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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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