Thursday, July 31, 2014

Virtual Book Tour: The Songbird of Sovereign by Jennifer Wixson

You can own a copy today! See giveaway details below!

The Songbird of Sovereign is the third book in a series by Jennifer Wixson called The Sovereign Series.  This is my first book review and I have been excited to give it a try.  As I began to read this month I was drawn into the story for several reasons.  I first read about Addie and Pappy Russell.  Addie was a 55 year old farm wife - hard working farm wife I might add - and she had arthritis.  She and Pappy had been married 37 years.  (Loved it!  Clay and I have been married 37 years, I am 55, and yes I have arthritis!)

This made me think as I read the rest of the story . . . what is it that catches your interest and lights your fire for a book?  It can be something like I mentioned above - a certain character who shares your age - maybe your interests - or maybe your name?  It could be the home that is featured in the story.  And one of my favorites is when I fall in love with the setting of the story - especially a town.

The Sovereign Series are all about a little town in Maine named, Sovereign.  My bucket list includes traveling to the east coast and staying near the ocean so I was thrilled to discover these books.  I have the first two books, Hens and Chickens and Peas, Beans and Corn, all lined up on my virtual shelf on my Kindle!  Reading them out of order but very anxious to get started!

A little glimpse into the story goes like this:  Jana Hastings is the star of the show.  I had no idea, that the disease of Tuberculosis was so devastating!  I have always taken that little TB skin test I used to get at work as a minor little test of inconvenience.  Jennifer Wixson opened my eyes to the dread of that disease that put fear into all people in its day.  At the beginning of the book, Jana is diagnosed and taken to Windmere Sanatorium in central Maine.  She quickly learns the "groups" that the children are placed into according to their prognosis.  Some, like Jana, have hopes of a cure, but some do not.  I was floored to learn that some of those children would spend their lives there.  How naive I can be . . . I quickly thought of my own parents - born in 1935 and 1936 - they too were at risk for this devilish disease as the antibiotic did not come around until the 1940's.    The story continues with Jana making friends and meeting a young boy who she quickly finds a special place for in her heart.    As the story of the two families - the Russells and the Hastings unfolds - it is interestingly intertwined with modern day characters and their story line.    Jumping between the 1940's and 2013 - - - we hear the story of Miss Jana Hastings through the eyes of the town's minister, Maggie.  And we get to meet Jana who is present day age 89!

Once again the most unusual events in the story caught my interest.  The dawning of World War II.  My son in law is a history teacher and I have hundreds of history type questions that I fire at him regularly.  I was thrilled to share with him the part about President Roosevelt and the differing opinions people had of his involvement with bringing us into that war.  My heart ached for the mothers and fathers who feared for their sons as the war loomed ahead.  

I highly recommend the series of books.  Jennifer Wixson does a fantastic job of descriptive writing and certainly has a talent for developing characters that you quickly love!    Now on to books #1 and #2 . . . 

Lastly, if you would like to have a chance to win your very own copy of The Songbird of Sovereign please leave a comment below and tell me . . . what is it about a book that can clinch the deal for you?  Keep you reading and not wanting to put down a book . . . Can't wait to hear your thoughts! 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

If at first you don't succeed . . .

Half of 2014 is officially over and I have a few of my "focus areas" that need some work.  To refresh your memory - check this post and then continue reading as I enlist the hubs to once again get back to movin' and getting stronger and more fit!   There are sooooo many reasons that all of us need to be serious about staying active and being strong.  It's not just for the young who want to build muscle and look great on the beach or in the gym or who want to win competitions . . . it's critical for optimal health in the 30's 40's and as we are finding out . . . the 50's.    Use Google - check it out for yourself . . . I'll leave that to each individual and their own physician to recommend a program.  Here is what Clay and I have decided we will do:

     1.  No food eaten after 8 p.m. 

     2.  Healthy portions.  Healthy food.

     2.  Limit eating out at restaurants to once a week.

     3.  Exercise 5 days out of 7.

     4.  Bible reading daily.

     5.  Once a week do something fun together - not including the meal we can eat out.

Nothing earth shattering or surprising in that plan.   We each have a weight that we are wanting to achieve - I will lose 40 pounds and hubs will lose 25.  

The exercise will vary - I love to bike ride - I love to swim - I like to walk, play catch, clean house, and water flowers.   Those are my activities of choice.  I also like Bocce ball and working out on the fitness machines.  I have a treadmill and a gym membership.  Beloit offers many walking paths - awesome swim pool with lazy river - and plenty of places to hike.  

Clay does mega-walking in his job - - - He loves to golf - - - He will use the treadmill - - - and he has a gym membership.  

I know that I will need to start slow and I challenged my sister, Tami to a week of fun activities to get us moving.  Tami has been a success story in losing and keeping off a significant amount of weight.  She is active around their farm with gardening, and yard work, walking, jogging, and man-handling a large dog on a walk . . . known as the BDW (big dog walk).  

So here we go . . . and if you would like to join in the fun this week . . . please follow along  - - - here is our exercise routine for Week #1:

Choose five activiies from these seven and do any day you choose!

Activity #1 - Take a hike in the countryside - at least one mile of walking.  Take 3 pictures to share via your blog.  (Clay's will be shared on my blog)

Activity #2 - Swim or Bike Ride or Golf (If you chose to ride along with hubs - take your hand weights and you are required to do hand/arm exercises at every other hole!   Yes I've done this before!

Activity #3 - Walk 1.5 miles and do strength training for arms of your choice.  

Activity #4 - Play catch with baseball.  Keep it going for 20 minutes.  

Activity #5 - Walk 1.5 miles on a walking path - or country road - or around your farm!  Do the BDW!!

Activity #6 - It's all about the tummy today:  
                               Put on your favorite music - make it loud
                               15 jumping jacks
                               15 sit ups
                               15 bicycles
                               15 leg lifts
                               Repeat once!

Activity #7 - You choose!!!  Anything you'd like to get your exercise for the day!

Unfortunately for those of you who are more advanced in your ability to move . . . I have made this a beginners pace as Clay and I need to not get discouraged.  My hope is that we can all have fun with it - and that's the key!!  

Side note:  I am going to have my blood work done for a cholesterol panel and I am going to see my chiropractor.  These are two areas that I have been negligent with for quite a long time now.  

Hubs will be monitoring blood pressure as he had a few readings that were too high when last at the drs. office. 

How about you?  Please feel free to share in your blog the choices for exercise you picked here and what other things you may be trying in order to live a healthier and happier life!

Let's get moving!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Puppy Tales (Tails)

Introducing Liberty - Libby for short.  Libby was born on the 4th of July - at the same time that we were saying goodbye to our BT Dodger of 11 years - - - This is the craziest thing - me and a dog - because I was raised in a home with no dogs - never wanted one - never planned to own one - said no to my son for 11 years and watched him "play dog" "dream of dogs" "Look at books and pick out dogs" until one day - - - we got a call from the local vet where our brother in law worked - and they had a free BT puppy with a bent ear.  So we got him.     Later Clay's mom Janice recorded in her diary that Todd said "it's the best day of my life"  

Pepper and I did not fare real well together for awhile - he threw up a lot - I yelled a lot - he threw up more - and on and on.    He was a great family pet - and I've written about this as well as the next BT Dodger.  Dodger's purpose in life was to refill the empty nest . . . he did it well . . . and then some.

So how I got from the nervous and unhappy puppy mother to the one pictured above - is just kinda funny to me - - - I like the companionship and having someone to take care of.  And I heard it said best this last week - - - "Dogs bring out the best in people."  

I agree.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Book Review

Snow Melts in Spring is my first book read for Summer 2014. 

I am participating in a summer reading program called Kate'sBook Blog.

Katie's Book Blog Summer Reading

She loves the land. Mattie Evans grew up in the Flint Hills of Kansas. Although her family has lost their ranch, she still calls this land home. A skilled young veterinarian, she struggles to gain the confidence of the local ranchers. Fortunately, her best friend and staunchest supporter is John McCray, owner of the Lightning M Ranch. They both love the ranch, and can’t imagine living anywhere but in the Flint Hills. He’s haunted by it. Gil McCray, John’s estranged son, is a pro football player living in California. The ranch is where his mother died and where every aspect of the tallgrass prairie stirs unwanted memories of his older brother’s fatal accident. Gil decides leaving the ranch is the best solution for his ailing father and his own ailing heart. But he doesn’t count on falling in love. Falling in love isn’t an option. Or is it? When Mattie is called in to save a horse injured in a terrible accident, she finds herself unwillingly tossed into the middle of a family conflict. Secret pain, secret passions, and secret agendas play out against the beautiful landscapes as love leads to some 
unexpected conclusions about forgiveness and renewal.  (Taken from the author's description)

I really enjoyed the book!  I live not too far from the Flint Hills and I have always wanted to do some hiking in that area and spend the night in a little Bed and Breakfast I found online.  It was a fun read, had twists and turns that kept it exciting, and as always I have the Lightning M Ranch all mapped out in my mind - the house - the barn where Mattie builds a small animal clinic after a fire - and the area where the horse rides were taken.  Great read for the summer!    

Also interested me as our granddaughter wants to go horse back riding in the mountains . . . and the plans are in the works for that . . . I'm sure that will be another post as my time on a horse has been limited to about a whopping total of 20 minutes per lifetime!

Here's to the next book on my reading list . . . Songbird of Sovereign by Jennifer Wixson.

Enjoy your summer reading!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Getting a plan . . .

The following blog post was nearly "deleted" today as I started on a new post - - - as you will see below I was feeling stressed out - - - and once the post was written - - - I didn't have any intention to print it - - - but today as I re-read - - - it doesn't sound so bad.  It's all very true.  Life isn't always picture perfect.  So - read on . . . and then follow along with me to see my " plan" in action,

It's nearly 2 a.m. and I have been home from work for one hour.  Why?  Trying to catch up with work that cannot seem to find an ending.  Two steps forward and then three steps back.   I'm going on a long weekend trip to see our son this weekend so extra hours are required.

Poor management? (that would be on me)  Busy establishment? (that's a good thing) Short on help?  (I think maybe yes).  A person can't move from one position to a supervisory position and take all of your present work with you to the new position . . . then become even busier on top of it all . . . it makes for a tired lady.    And yes sitting up at 2 a.m. blogging may bring certain people down on me . . . but I'm not suffering from physical tired.  I'm tired in my heart and in my soul.  

Every aspect of my little life - which is blessed in many, many ways - is not going the way I think I want it to go.    I want to work hard at my job and meet deadlines easily - I want to lead with grace and wisdom and kindness and forgiveness.  I want a more healthy body at a smaller size but I refuse to do what it takes to get it.  I want to relax in my home with my family and pets and read and clean house and keep up with laundry and watch favorite TV shows.  

I want a good nights sleep.

I want to pray and read God's word.

I want to simplify.

I have been dejected at not finding things to blog about as I did in the past.    

So sounds like I need a vacation??  Well we are off tomorrow to the great state of Texas.  Our son Todd and his family live there, and the five day weekend promises to bring some fun in the sun and much more . . .


Relax   Enjoy family  Rest my soul   Come home with a plan . . . stay tuned.

“Your life is the sum result of all the choices you make, both consciously and unconsciously. If you can control the process of choosing, you can take control of all aspects of your life. You can find the freedom that comes from being in charge of yourself.” - - Robert F. Bennett

Problems are always made better at the beach :)