Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Book Review: The Dragons of Chiril by Donita K. Paul

You may have noticed that I have recently become a book reviewer for a couple of publishers and will be posting my reviews here on my blog for those who are following... The first book I am reviewing is posted below.  Enjoy the review and be sure to check back for more reviews as I continue to read and share!

Donita K. Paul's Dragon stories are some of my favorites. I am enthralled with her ability to make the fantasy world of dragons and their keepers come alive to those of us who are no longer young enough to believe in such things. The Dragons of Chiril is no exception to this. 

The Dragons of Chiril, previously released as The Vanishing Sculptor, is the story of a young girl, Tipper, who is the daughter of a prominent sculptor and an "eccentric" mother. Her father has disappeared from her life inexplicably several years prior to the opening of the book and Tipper is forced to grow up and take care of not only herself but her mother, who seems to have detached from reality and believes that her husband (Tipper's father) is merely shut up in his studio. Tipper knows that her father would be upset with her for selling his work, but she slowly begins selling them off in order to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. With the help of a wonderful cast of characters, including an over-sized talking parrot named Beccaroon who is seemingly guardian of young Tipper, this is a story of self-discovery and adventure full of interesting settings and even more interesting beings. 

When an aspiring artisan named Bealomondore arrives on her doorstep demanding to meet Tipper's father, the famous sculptor Verrin Schope and hoping for an apprenticeship with him, things start to unravel in Tipper's "normal" world. She soon discovers that her mother is indeed partially correct in the belief Verrin Schope is shut up in his studio when he appears to Tipper in what she assumes is a dream. Soon, however, her father begins to appear in more corporeal form and Tipper finds that her world is forever changed. On a journey to reunite three of the sculptures of her father's that she had previously sold, Tipper is joined by characters from several different walks of life and in fact several different planes of existence. In a world full of dragons and their keepers, magicians and giants, Tipper must find her way not only to rescue the sculptures and save the world but more importantly to find herself. 

One of the things I like best about Donita K. Paul's dragon stories is her inclusion of the "character" of Wulder, a reference to God and His workings in not only this fantasy world but also our own world as well. Where most science fiction/fantasy genre books lead the reader to non-religious thoughts and themes, Ms. Paul's books bring them full circle, back to the Creator. While not overly religious in tone, this adds a wonderful undercurrent to her work in the same vein as CS Lewis's Narnia books. Not as complex in theme as Lewis, her books are a delightful and relatively quick read for young adults-adults and perhaps a slightly more challenging read to younger audiences. 

The Dragons of Chiril is a book you can feel comfortable letting children and young adults read knowing that the themes, settings and language are wholesome overall and do not delve into the seedier side of the sci-fi/fantasy genre as many do. This book is a terrific stand-alone book but can also serve as a great introduction to Ms. Paul's other dragon stories such as DragonSpell

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this ebook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Happy Homemaker Monday

I've decided to start participating in Diary of a Stay at Home Mom's Happy Homemaker Mondays as a way to hopefully start posting more on this blog... I hope to kick start regular posts here as a way to share things that aren't shared on my other two blogs: Cookbooks 365 and Scrapping Post. I hope you'll join me as I try to get this going!

The weather in my neck of the woods:
Blech! Misty, rainy, messy :(

Things that make me happy:
My kiddos and my husband (usually!) Cooking and creating!

Book I'm reading:
Little House on the Prairie with my girls

What's on my TV today: 
Nothing at the moment, but I'm sure later it will be Strawberry Shortcake or Max & Ruby :) 

On the menu for dinner:
Crawfish cakes, Salmon, Couscous and maybe paneer with spinach

On my To Do List:
What's NOT on my to do list! Today it's just to get through the day...

New Recipe I tried or want to try soon:

In the craft basket:
Working on Prayer Pockets as gifts for my MOPS small group for Christmas

Looking forward to this week:
Girls Nite Out/Book Club

Tips and Tricks:
When icing cupcakes, use a disposable ziplock bag with the corner snipped off for a nice piped top...

My favorite blog post this week: 

Blog Hopping (a new discovered blog you would like to share with the readers):

No words needed (favorite photo or picture, yours or others you want to share):

Lesson learned the past few days:
Even a trip to the grocery can be a break when you're desperate!

On my mind:
My brother, who would have really loved watching these two little imps grow up... I miss him so much some times!

Devotionals, Scripture Reading, Key Verses:
Re-reading some passages from Job lately... and trying to remember to be thankful in all things!

Friday, August 05, 2011

Hoo Are You Tuesday...

Time for this week's Hoo Are You!... Click the link above to play along!

1. What is your favorite craft or type of craft and if you are a crafter how did you get into it?

I do all kinds of crafts, but probably my favorite would be anything to do with papercrafting. I scrapbook, rubber stamp, make cards, etc. I also love to loom knit and recently picked up a dvd tutorial on tatting that I'm hoping to get to one of these days... I think I got the crafting gene from my mom :)

2. What shows have you been watching this summer?

Um, Backyardigans, Max & Ruby, Veggietales... Can you tell I have kids at home during the summer? Other than those I've not really been watching except a few episodes of Eureka, Warehouse 13 and Alphas on Syfy when I've been able to sneak them in.

3. Who does the yard work at your house?

It's a combination. Mowing and trimming is mostly hubby, but landscaping and gardening is me.

4. Are you working on any projects inside the home or outside this week?

Um, am I ever NOT??? This week though we're trying desperately to finish most of the downstairs flooring (we're replacing ALL the carpeting in the house with floating wood laminate). I'm also cooking up a storm for a fundraiser and for a couple of moms in my moms group who've had babies and other things.

5. Do you have to worry about getting ready for back to school?

Yes and no. I have a preschooler, but she's mostly already ready. I need to get her napmat made, but other than that she's ready.

Friday, July 29, 2011

And so it goes...

Today's post is really just a little rambling from someone who really rarely posts to my blog. Something has been on my heart though lately and I wanted to share it with the blog-o-sphere. I guess I should say someone(s), rather than something. That someone(s) are my dear friend Misty McElhannon and her husband Justin (and their three gorgeous, precious boys!). You may notice a new button on my blog here which will link you to Misty's blog and their story. Let me tell you a little bit about them and how I know them and how God is using them in a mighty mighty way in not only my life but the lives of many many people, and then I'll tell you why (other than the obvious!) this precious family has been on my heart...

I met Misty through the MOPS organization at Boerne First Baptist Church about 2 years ago. She was in charge of "crafts" at the time and I had a couple of boxes of stuff I'd cleared out of my "studio" that I was donating to the group for us to use in our meetings. In that very brief encounter with her, I noticed something special about her. She seemed to glow with energy, love and excitement and I knew I wanted to be her friend. 

Fast forward about 6 months and I heard about a book club that Misty was starting up (not part of MOPS but mostly MOPS members) and having recently stopped going to another book club, I was excited about the idea of joining another, especially one made up of mothers mostly my own age with kids mostly my kids age. Let me preface this by saying that as a rule I'm a very SHY person. I'm an introvert by personality although an extrovert by profession. I know, makes no sense, but put me on a stage and you'll understand! I can speak, act, sing, in front of hundreds with no problem but don't make friends easily or do the "small talk" girlfriend thing very well. As a rule I'm not a very social person, so joining this group of women was a real stretch for me.  But two things drew me to doing so. The first was Misty. I really wanted to get to know her better. The second was the knowledge that I needed friends. We (my husband and I) had moved to Boerne a couple of years prior and I had become a stay-at-home mom in the process, but I hadn't made any real friends and didn't do much outside the house. So, I took the risk and went to that first book club meeting... And I've not looked back since! Those ladies are my best friends, my crazy "girls-nite-out" ladies, my one place (other than with my husband) where I can let my hair down and be myself. Now, I'm still no social butterfly and I still struggle with the whole individual relationship thing, but those ladies have really helped me to start to break out of my shell and Misty has been a great big part of that...

Fast forward again several months, to almost one year ago, and once again Misty was a true lifeline for not only me, but my husband and 2 year old daughter... When I went into labor with our second daughter at 35.5 weeks, it was Misty who coordinated meals, took care of helping us get someone to watch Emma when family was unavailable, checked in on me constantly and just basically showed me the love of Christ in so many ways. If it hadn't been for her and the other ladies who showered us with love during those two weeks in the NICU and then the several months where I was at home alone with the girls due to RSV concerns, I think I would have definitely lost my mind!

Misty is a true testament to the love of Christ and is without a doubt one of the strongest Christian women I know. And that's something I usually don't say about younger women and yet, she's 10(!) years my junior!!! And now, after all the trials they have been through together as a couple with family and children and just life in general, Satan has decided to once again attack this sweet couple with a blitz of health problems in her sweet husband Justin. 

They are currently at the Cleveland Clinic (in Cleveland, Ohio of course!) where Justin has been seeing various specialists and undergoing more tests than most lab rats and meanwhile their three boys are here in Boerne being loved and cared for by family and friends and missing their mom and dad. Justin has been admitted to the hospital now (his second stay there) and things are not looking good... But we know that GOD is the one in control and that regardless of the plagues Satan may be visiting upon his body, it is ultimately GOD who will care for them. 

And now for why, other than the above, this sweet friend is on my heart... Those of you who don't know I have experience in the "worrying about your husband's health" "life or death situation" department. 

Many year ago now (10 in fact) my loving husband Michael was diagnosed (thanks to a wonderful family physician!) with testicular cancer. Within a matter of days, our world was turned upside down. We went from two happily married "kids" to two "adults" overnight. We went from no worries, to worried that Mike wouldn't be around for very long. We had to deal with things like wills and health insurance and life insurance and all the "what-ifs" that go along with life-threatening illness. Words like living will, power-of-attorney, long term disability, and home care were tossed at us. We were lost in a sea of confusion and doubt. Fortunately we had the help of family who work in the medical field who helped walk us through both before and after surgery and the radiation that followed. 

Thanks be to God, Mike's cancer was caught early and after surgery and radiation, he was declared cancer-free. And 10 years later, he is now passed the point where statistics consider him in the same category as those who've never had cancer.  But during the time of his diagnosis, surgery and treatment, we both had the chance to really stop and consider our priorities, to realize that God was first and foremost in our lives and that our marriage was strong enough because of that to withstand the trials that Satan was sending our way. Has that always remained the case? Well, no. Have we had our bad times as well as our good times? Definitely yes. But when I think about my sweet friend and her husband I remember like it was yesterday the worry and heartbreak of knowing the person I loved more than anything in this life was sick and there was nothing I could do to help him. I remember the helpless feeling as they took him in for surgery, the helpless feeling when he was in pain recovering and the helpless feeling when he was dealing with sickness from radiation therapy. And it was only with God's help that I was able to abandon that helplessness and know that while I, as a wife, was helpless to help him, GOD was not. GOD was in control, then as now, and would walk beside us because we asked (begged!) Him to. And so I know, with all confidence, that GOD is also walking hand in hand with Misty and Justin (and the boys) as they deal with this because there is no more faithful example of His love than that family.

So, I'm writing all this, pouring out my heart to you all, asking that you please, please take time to stop whatever you're doing, drop to your knees and pray with abandon for this precious family. Visit Misty's blog and read their story. Consider coming to or donating to the fundraiser pancake supper that has been planned for them on August 10th. Share their story with others you know who will pray and petition the Lord on their behalf. There may not be much I can do for this sweet family other than this, but if I can draft others into the cause of prayer for them, how much stronger that petition will be. 

If you have made it all the way to the end of this rambling post, then THANK YOU! And thank you for praying for and supporting this sweet, sweet family, now and in the future...


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hoo Are You Tuesday...

It's been a while since I played along, but here are this week's questions... Click the link above to play along!

1. Have you ever attended a professional sports game?

Yes pro baseball and basketball...

2. Have you ever been to a concert and if so which one was your ultimate favorite performance?
Quite a few... my favorite was by far seeing Amy Grant in concert although Bon Jovi, Rolling Stones and Heart are close as well!

3. Have you ever been to Disneyland or Disney World?
Disney World a few times.

4. What is your favorite theme park?
Favorite of all would be Disney, but I get to visit others more often so my favorite local would be Six Flags Fiesta Texas.

5. Do you have a favorite vacation spot?
Anywhere I can go and be with my kids and/or hubby... I love Fredericksburg for quick getaways and the coast for longer times, but favorite spot of all would have to be Colorado.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Handling the Roots of Disrespect

Mom friends, how do/did you handle the roots of disrespect? 

Yes, we're in the throws of "toddlerhood" where "no" is her favorite response to being told to do something and "shhhh" is her favorite way to try and prevent us from telling her something in the first place. Time outs aren't very effective and we try to reserve spankings for dangerous situations only (running into the street for example) so I'm just wondering how others have handled the beginnings of disrespect... 

I know she's too young to understand the concept of "honor your mother and father" although I've tried to explain to her what "respect" and "obey" and "disrespect" and "disobedient" mean, and I don't like having to constantly be battling her. Yes, I do "pick my battles" and let the little stuff go, but when she's deliberately disobedient or disrespectful, what is the best way to deal with it? What can I do with her at 2.5 to help set a good presidence for the future? When I tell her to do something and she tells me to "shhh"? When she outright refuses to do what she's told?

For the moment I'm just praying for patience and guidance... And realizing that my mom was right when she said "paybacks are he**" :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Hoo R U Tuesday...

It's time for another round of "Hoo Are You" Tuesday! Click the button to play along...


1. What did you get/give for Valentine's Day?
Well, I'm kind of of the opinion that V-day is a greeting card holiday, so that's what I got and gave...well, that and moving my 6 month old to her own room so hubby and I have ours back to ourselves...
2. Do you have a vacation planned in the next couple of months or in the summer?
Yes, sort of... We're going to go to Ohio to visit extended family, for a memorial for my great-aunt,  and to help get my grandmother ready to move down here!

3. What is one thing you do to pamper yourself?
Um, what's pampering? Honestly, I don't. Probably should, but I don't...

4. What sparks your interest to other people's blogs?
Creativity, new ideas, and a good writing style. That or the fact that I personally know the blogger :)

5. What kind of a mood are you in today?
Grumpy I'm kept me up a lot last night and I've got a migraine so I'm not exactly feeling ship-shape :(

Monday, February 07, 2011

Hoo R U Tuesday...

Ok, so I'm a bit late posting last week's Hoo Are You...but I'm still gonna post it! :)

It's time for another round of "Hoo Are You" Tuesday! Click the button to play along...


1. Are you married/in a relationship/single? For how long?
Married...for 15 1/2 years to my wonderful, loving hubby Michael

2. What do you do for a living? Do you enjoy it?

I'm a wife and mother primarily, and a homemaker secondarily :)

3. In what state do you live? Where were you born and raised?

I live in Texas and was born in Texas. I spent most of my childhood in Ohio but got back to Texas as quick as I could!

4. Do you have children? If so, how many? If not, do you want them?

Yes, two, ages 2 1/4 and almost 6 months, both girls :)
5. Who is your favorite blogger to follow and why?

I don't think I can pick a favorite...I have so many I love to follow! (yes, it's a cop-out, I know!)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Hoo R U Tuesday...

It's time for another round of "Hoo Are You" Tuesday! Click the button to play along...


1. Do you wear glasses or contacts, if so for how long?
NO! I did for a while, but last appointment was told I didn't need them! YAY!

2. What was your favorite board game as a kid?
Not sure...probably Candyland, but I preferred card games like UNO and War

3. What is a word that you use all the time?
Whatever! And I know it's gonna come back to haunt me when my 2 year old starts up with it... :(
4. What is your favorite day of the week?
Saturday because I have an extra set of hands at home to help child-wrangle!

5. Did you graduate high school from the town you grew up in?
Yes and no... I grew up in a few different places, but I graduated from high school in the place I spent my Jr. and Sr. High days in. Still live close by in fact...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hoo Are You Tuesday

So here are this week's Hoo Are You Tuesday questions and answers... Click the button to play along...


 1. Do you use an alarm clock or some device to wake you up, or do you wake up on your own?

Well, kids don't really count as a "device", so on my own I guess :)

2. If you could go on any game show, which won would you choose?
Probably Wheel of Fortune, although I love Jeopardy as well

3. Do you prefer the weather to be hot or cold?
In between... I don't like either extreme really...But I think if I had to choose I'd go for hot because I absolutely hate being cold!

4.What color of clothing do you wear the most?
Either black or purple I think, although I've added more pink now that I have girls...
5. What is your favorite color?
Probably purple although I like lots of colors so it changes pretty frequently

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Hoo Are You Tuesday?

So here are this week's Hoo Are You Tuesday questions and answers... Click the button to play along...


 1. Did you make any New Year's Revolutions?
Only one... I resolved not to make any resolutions!
2. What are some goals you have for 2011?
To be a better wife and mother. To lose the baby weight. To clean out the garage and office space so they're usable. To enjoy my babies while they're babies...
3. What is something that you got for Christmas?
Time with my mom. That was the best gift :)
4. Did you see any good movies over the holiday season? 
Not at the theater, but I always enjoy watching White Christmas, It's A Wonderful Life, Polar Express and Miracle on 34th Street on TV...
5. Do you do your own taxes or have someone do them for you?
We do our own...

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