A Modern Day Fairy Tale: September 2011

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Review: There You'll Find Me by Jenny B Jones

From the publisher:

Grief brought Finley to Ireland. LOVE WILL LEAD HER HOME.

Finley Sinclair is not your typical eighteen-year-old. She’s witty, tough, and driven. With an upcoming interview at the Manhattan music conservatory, Finley needs to compose her audition piece. But her creativity disappeared with the death of her older brother, Will.

She decides to study abroad in Ireland so she can follow Will’s travel journal. It’s the place he felt closest to God, and she’s hopeful being there will help her make peace over losing him. So she agrees to an exchange program and boards the plane.

Beckett Rush, teen heartthrob and Hollywood bad boy, is flying to Ireland to finish filming his latest vampire movie. On the flight, he meets Finley. She’s the one girl who seems immune to his charm. Undeterred, Beckett convinces her to be his assistant in exchange for his help as a tour guide.

Once in Ireland, Finley starts to break down. The loss of her brother and the pressure of school, her audition, and whatever it is that is happening between her and Beckett, leads her to a new and dangerous vice. When is God going to show up for her in this emerald paradise?

Then she experiences something that radically changes her perspective on life. Could it be God convincing her that everything she’s been looking for has been with her all along?

My Thoughts:
When I read the description for 'There You'll Find Me', I thought it sounded like a great story, so despite not being the target audience I gave it a shot. Finley is an 18 year old girl who had went through a very rough period after the loss of her brother Will. In an effort to find the God that her brother had written about in his travel journals, she decides to follow his footsteps to Ireland. On the way, she meets Hollywood heartthrob vampire, Beckett Rush (think Twilight). Despite her immediate dislike and efforts to stay away from him, she eventually finds herself falling. But while there is a great romance here, that's not all the story was- we also meet the mean girl, determined to make life miserable and a bitter elderly woman, Mrs. Sweeney whom Finley was assigned to help as a class project. These were all weaved beautifully into the story along with deeper issues of struggling to reach perfection and ultimately finding God in the beauty of Ireland.
Despite, once again, not being the target audience, I found myself in many ways relating to Finley in her issues with anxiety and trying to make everything perfect. The story was so well written that aside from the characters ages and a few typical teen themes, it could really be enjoyed by a much larger (and older) audience as well. I always love books that paint a great picture in my head of the places I'm reading about and I must say that this was definitely one of those. Several times throughout the book I found myself telling my husband that I'd love to go to Ireland one day!! Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I look forward to reading more by the writer!

You can purchase 'There You'll Be' here!

*I received a copy of this book free from Book Sneeze in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Scripture and A Snapshot: 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8

I am so happy to be able to join in for Scripture and a Snapshot once again this week! This is one of my absolute favorite link ups and I've missed being able to participate! And so this week I share with you one of my (and so many other's) favorite verses:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.- 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8

This is perhaps one of the most popular verses there is (right up there with John 3:16) but I cannot hear it enough. 1 Corinthians is one of my favorite books in the bible, and this entire chapter is the reason why!! Love, be it love of a spouse, a child, family member, friend or God is the most important thing in this world. As the verses before this one states, without love, there is nothing and what a great example of the kind of love we should strive for in all our relationships.

Just a quick note...

First of all, I wanted to say that I got a new computer, thanks to my husband's insistence that I just give up on the old one! So nice to not be restarting every few minutes. So be looking for more frequent posts in the near future!! What would you like to read more of?

I also wanted to pass along the word about a giveaway I found- low entries ending Saturday at 4 (eastern time). Go check it out here for a chance to win free Scentsy-and don't forget to check out the rest of her blog while you're there, lots of fun stuff!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My Baby Can Read!

As you may have figured out by now, I'm a bit of a book lover. From a very young age, I loved to read. I'd always have a book in my hands. I remember getting special permission from the school library and bookmobile to allow me to check out chapter books while the rest of my class was choosing picture books. In the second grade, as a birthday gift, my parents gave me a set of the classics and I thought it was the best gift ever. It was something I loved and it came fairly naturally to me. My mom is a speed reader as well, so I'm sure I got it from her. So you can imagine my disappointment when as soon as Shaun became mobile, he refused to be read to. I would try time and time again, but he was just too busy to let me read to him. I truly thought he'd never show an interest in books or reading.

During ABA when Shaun was about 2.5, he was working on a program where I believe he was matching non identical matching objects. With one particular card, a photo of a ball, he kept saying 'Toby! Toby' and turning the card over. For the longest time we could not figure out what he was saying this with a photo of a ball. One day I happened to notice that the back of the card read, 'Playtime Toy'. Hmmm, Toy/Toby? So I tested this theory and wrote 'Toby' on a piece of paper. He read it perfectly. I followed by various other train names and he read each and every one. At this point it was obviously sight reading, he has such an amazing memory so we left it at that. Very quickly we noticed he was 'reading' TV Shows on the guide on the TV. It started with just a few, and then soon he was 'reading' most everything that he'd commonly watch.

When he started school, he very quickly learned his own name as well as the names of his friends in the class (and from what I hear was happy to tell them which cubby, etc belonged to them too!) When his teacher mentioned this, I told her about the trains and TV shows, etc. She at that time suggested that he may be hyperlexic but at that point, it was hard to tell. (Basically, this means that he had abilities to read that were above what was typical for a child his age.) As I said, he has quite an amazing memory so he could have just been remembering that way.

Over the last year he started picking words up more and more quickly and I was constantly being surprised when he'd read a word somewhere and I'd have no idea where he could possibly have learned it. Over the holidays, he watched a 'Your Baby Can Read' DVD, and by the end of watching it only one time, he knew all the words. Incredible. Again, I couldn't believe what I was hearing but still, was it just his memory?

About a month or two ago, he started insisting that we watch everything with subtitles. In fact, if a movie did not have subtitles, we'd have a meltdown on our hands. So, subtitles it was. Suddenly it seemed as though he was reading everything. Though he still rarely let me read to him, when he'd give me the chance I'd make him read the words I knew he knew. Now he was reading the books and I would fill in the blanks. We like the Step into Reading books, and he was reading Step 1 all by himself, then Step 2, and unfortunately that's where the Thomas books stop but I'm sure he could manage a Step 3 with some assistance. At this point, not only was he saying the words he recognized, he was attempting to sound out the ones that he didn't...something we had never taught him to do. He was reading whole sentences when typically he prefers to use one word statements.

A few weeks ago, while talking about it with his teacher and therapists, they both came to the agreement that he was in fact hyperlexic. Now, the thing with a child who is hyperlexic is that while they have an amazing ability to read at ease, sometimes the understanding is just not there. They are merely words with no meaning. For Shaun, I believe this is partly true as well. He was reading over my shoulder one night and I'm certain he didn't actually understand what the book (Canary's List) was actually saying. But his teacher, in an effort to use this tool to help in the areas he's lacking (social and communication) set up a system where he was given a piece of paper with written directions and was asked to follow them (much like how a visual schedule would work, but with words instead of pictures). She wrote on the paper, 'Go say hi to 'friend's name''. And he did it!! So not only is he really reading, he is, to some degree, actually getting it!! As a mommy, this makes me so proud. Not only is this something just absolutely incredible to watch, in my opinion, but we're hoping it will also be a great therapy tool and something we can use to help him grow.

I am so thrilled with the progress Shaun has made in the almost 2 years since his initial diagnosis, and I am excited to see where this will help to lead him in the years to come.

"As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him."- John 9:1-3

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

So sorry...

that I haven't posted much lately! Unfortunately I've been having computer issues and it makes it hard to write a post when I have to restart at times every few minutes!! I am trying to hold onto my current computer for as long as possible but I think its in its final days...*sigh*
Hopefully when it's replaced I will be posting more frequently, in the meantime, you can keep up with me on FB- like my page to the right:)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Review: One Call Away by Brenda Warner

From the Publisher:

Brenda’s life has taken twists and turns that are stranger than fiction. It always seemed as if she was just one phone call away from the next explosive change. Each time her plans fell apart, she had a choice: would she give up, or would she press forward and learn from the unexpected? One Call Away is the inspiring story of a woman who has prevailed through many of the circumstances that discourage women: tragedy, poverty, betrayal, and humiliation. But unlike most women, her life has been on display in the media.
Brenda’s faith and God’s strength enable her to face challenge after challenge: an accident that leaves her son blind and brain damaged, a crumbling marriage, a tornado that kills her parents, a new relationship with promising football player Kurt Warner, and the pressures his sudden success brings to their growing family.
Through food stamps and funerals, Super Bowls and serving others, Brenda’s strength is unwavering. Her determination to dream new dreams, willingness to learn from her mistakes, and commitment to giving back to her community make her a role model for women of all backgrounds.
Her dreams haven’t materialized as she had imagined, but Brenda has found that God has a much bigger plan for her. Conversational and candid, One Call Away invites readers facing their own difficulties to trust God and discover hope in the future.

My Thoughts:
I have to start this review by saying I'm not a football fan, or sports in general for that matter. I couldn't tell you a touchdown from a home run. Okay, I exaggerate slightly, but basically I don't follow sports. The only reason I knew who Kurt Warner was before reading this book, was from Dancing With The Stars. However, when I read the book's description, I thought it sounded like a great read and decided to review it anyway! So glad I did, it was a great story, but before I get to that I do have to say my one big annoyance with the book, perhaps a bit nit picky, but it bothered me!
After high school, Brenda tells about her time in the Marine Corps. As a Marine wife, I was interesting in reading this, but I was also disappointed in that every mention of being a Marine, the 'm' was not capitalized. Ask any Marine about this and I'm sure they'd all (or at least most) tell you it should be! Being that she spoke so highly about her time in, I'd have thought it would have been. Like I said, perhaps it's just because I had it drilled into my head to always use a capital M, but it did really bother me!
But aside from that little detail, it was a great story. Brenda shares very openly about her life, both the good and the bad. From living on food stamps to becoming a multimillionaire. She shares about the accident that left her son brain damaged and a bit about his recovery. Being a special needs mom myself, I would have enjoyed reading more on this, but I understand that there were many other stories to be told. Through all of these unexpected twists and turns, Brenda turns to God for strength and guidance. While she admits that she did many things wrong, I think it was a great and very honest story about relying on God through the hard times. Overall, I was happy with it and look forward to reading her first book, First Things First, which she cowrote with her husband. Football fan or not, this is a good book!

You can purchase this book here!

*I received a copy of One Call Away free from Book Sneeze in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts are my own.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where Were You?

This, of course, is the question of the day. Where were you September 11, 10 years ago today?

September 11, 2001- I was in the 8th Grade. It was the week we were scheduled to do our state testing. As we were sitting in the library waiting to begin, an announcement came on- a plane had crashed in New York- testing was cancelled for the day and we were to go to our scheduled class. At this point, I didn't understand what was going on- how had a plane crashing in New York affected us? Around me, I remember many were relieved to put these tests on hold. Again, we had no idea the scale of what was happening. As we watched the news throughout the rest of the day, we all became very aware. Through the halls there was talk of World War 3. The whole day seemed so surreal. How had something like this happened HERE? In America? I had never been one to watch the news much (and still don't today), and this all was so shocking to me. In the days, weeks, even months that followed, we followed the headlines daily. In History, we kept a journal on all of the events as they were happening and our thoughts on those. I would be interested to read what I had written at the time but I don't believe I still have it. But to be entirely honest, aside from making me more aware of the world around me, I can't say that my personal life was affected TOO much at that time. I didn't know anyone in New York. Or who was flying that day. I didn't personally know anyone in the military. I was not affected firsthand, nor was anyone I knew at that time. I think all of us were changed in some ways that day, how could we not be? But at that time it wasn't quite so personal. Several years later, when I married my husband, a US Marine, that changed. No longer was it something that did not affect me directly. Now, as I welcome my husband home from his fourth deployment, the results of that day are all too real for me.

Today, as we look back at the events at that day and how America and our world has changed, I say a prayer for all those who were lost that day. For those who went on about their work days, never realizing it would be their last. For those on the planes who never reached their destinations. For the heroes who risked their lives, going into the towers to save others. For those who made it, and for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. I say a prayer for the families left behind, waiting for word that their loved ones had made it. I pray for the military lost in this fight, and for their families. And I pray for those currently serving. May we never forget the events of that day or the lives lost to terrorism.
Jesus proclaimed, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13

Friday, September 9, 2011

Autism + Blackout=Time To Get Creative!

For a child (or adult) with Autism, routine is everything! Thankfully for us, Shaun is not quite as rigid as some. However, there are a few things that he has to have a certain way. He must always sit at the same seat to eat (if I mistakenly put his chair in the wrong place he'll move it back)...little things like that! He also believes that the TV must be on at all waking hours, regardless of if he is actually watching it, it has to be on. First thing in the morning or when we walk in the door-TV on. Simple enough, right? I like background noise myself so this doesn't usually bother me.

But then there are afternoons/nights like last night. I'm sure this has probably been on the news, but for those who were not aware, most of Southern California all the way to Yuma, AZ and part of Northern Mexico lost all power. As far as I know, there are still places without. Thankfully, ours came back on last night, but for 6 long hours nothing. At the beginning, Shaun was in ABA and didn't realize anything had happened. Once he realized the TV was 'broken' and the iPad was dead and couldn't be charged...well, needless to say, he was not a happy child!!

California traffic is bad enough when the power is on, I could only imagine how bad it would be with very few stoplights (only a few were on generators and still going), but being the Scentsy addict I am, we no longer had candles in the house, and only one small flashlight. With the news saying it could be out well into today, tomorrow even, we knew we had to venture out and try to find a place open to get what we needed. Off to Wal-Mart we went. Closed. Next stop, Target. They were open thankfully. As we headed to the camping department for flashlights and lanterns, I suddenly remembered something. While looking for birthday gifts a few weeks ago, we'd spotted some Target exclusive glow in the dark Thomas Trackmaster sets. So while the crowds filed to get lighting sources, we made our way in the dark to the toys, and sure enough, they still had them! Shaun chose 'Thomas Midnight Ride' and we were back on our way, getting what we came for...armed with a lantern and a few more flashlights, we headed home. I was actually pleasantly surprised with the traffic! At that point, people were not rushed, were being courteous on the roads, etc...were we still in California!? I did hear that later though it turned into craziness!!

We set up Shaun's new toy and set up our new lantern and Shaun played quietly all afternoon, until falling asleep watching his trains go round and round the tracks. He even asked me at one point to play WITH him, which NEVER happens. I'm not sure if it was just because it was a new toy in general, or if it was the fact that it did glow but either way, it made what could have been a long, meltdown filled night quite peaceful. Best idea ever!!

And that's our California Blackout 2011 survival story! We made it, in one piece and without driving each other crazy!! Any other SoCal people out there? Would love to hear your stories!

(Also, be sure to join me on the new FB page- link on the right!!)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Join Me On Facebook!!

A Modern Day Fairy Tale is now on Facebook!! I've been debating starting a fan page for some time, as I know I find it easier to keep up with sites I like on there, and so I finally set it up! Click 'like' to your right to follow me there! I promise not to clog your newsfeed with constant posting, but I wanted a way to keep you updated quicker, as well as interact more with my readers! Hope to see you there!!!

Yes, I have a stockpile...No, I'm not a hoarder!!

(Unless you count pumpkin and Scentsy, that is!)

As most of you have probably figured out if you've read my blog for long, I'm a coupon-er!! (Pre Extreme Couponing too!) While this is by no means a coupon blog, I've been asked often how I get such great deals etc so I decided I'd write just a few posts on the world of coupons. I am going to start by sharing a little bit about my own personal stockpile, with pictures!

Now, I don't have a huge crazy stockpile as seen on 'that show'. I don't buy 100s of one item, just because I can, nor do I have more than we can use before things expire. As you will see, most of what I have is health/beauty and cleaning supplies. This was built up slowly, never buying more than 4 at any given time (and even that was rare!). It actually took me awhile to be comfortable with the stockpile. One of the reasons I coupon is because I have a major anxiety about spending money...anything over $20 seems like a lot to me! So my shopping lists pre-stockpiling tended to be the essentials that we needed at that given time, coupon or not. I would feel that if I were buying something I did not yet need because it was on sale or I had a coupon, I was still spending more money at that time than I needed to (even though I knew in my head that it was smarter and cheaper in the long run). Thankfully, I have gotten over that, for the most part!! By using coupons with sales and buying when I could get them cheap rather than when I needed them, I have saved a TON of money...and I don't have to worry about running out of something...it's a win/win! If you haven't embraced the stockpile yet, I encourage you to!

My upstairs bathroom. The canvas bin is filled with razors (mostly free, some just super cheap!) The basket has toothbrushes-all free! These mouthwashes are a great example of how a stockpile can save you money also. These were on sale for $2.99, with a coupon for $2 off, making them 99 cents each! These are normally about $5 EACH, I got 5 bottles for the price of 1!! As you can see, I have lots of shampoo and conditioner and various hair products also. None of these were over $1, many of them free! All of my deodorants were free as well. (Many of these you saw in Mailbox Monday!) Overall, I am very proud of this portion of my stock!

This is also in my upstairs master bath. Nothing too interesting here, but a LOT of tissues, ready for the cold season. There are 11 boxes total here, plus 4-5 boxes open throughout my house. I also just gave a few boxes to my son's class too! Hopefully these will last us a bit...but the colds have already been starting here, so we'll see. The Puffs were a great buy, they were on sale for $3.50 or so for a 3-pack, with a 25 cent coupon, but inside were MORE coupons for various P&G products, like Charmin and Puffs and Crest toothpaste...they paid for themselves! I also have toilet paper in each bathroom as well...That's one thing you never want to run out of, right?

My cleaning closet (in my laundry room). As you can see, I have a LOT of the Tide Stain Release. I love this stuff, and I made sure to stock up when they had the $3 coupon (and there was a sale for $4.50-ish!) So glad I did since the recent coupons have only been $1.50 off!

My food pantry, as you can see, it's not nearly as impressive (in my opinion, but well stocked nonetheless! You can't see all of it here, but I have lots of pasta (we eat pasta at least once a week usually, so I try to keep plenty on hand!), canned veggies, diet cokes, etc. I actually need a bigger pantry, but we make it work!!

Part 2 of the pantry. Breakfast foods and snacks. My snack shelf is where you really see the stocking! There are about 5 boxes cheese nips (90 cents each, with a 75 cent off 2 coupon), 13 boxes of fruit snacks- most of them Thomas. I wish I could say I got a better deal on these, but really, most of them were 2.16 each with a coupon for 50 cents off 2. A few were $1 off each, making them 1.16 a piece though, and the non-Thomas ones were 50 cents each. I could have gotten much cheaper fruit snacks, BUT of course, my little guy is obsessed with Thomas so if it makes him happy, it's worth the little extra! I've had to grab these when I could though, apparently they're quite popular! There are SEVERAL bags of pretzels also, most of them 19 cents a piece, and somewhere behind there was some free popcorn also.

And finally...napkins, ziploc baggies, foil, etc... There are several packages of Bounty napkins behind there...47 cents each! The ziploc bags came out to about 50 cents each as well!!
See, nothing crazy, but it works for my family and has saved us a ton of money! I love seeing other people's photos so if you have a link, feel free to leave it in a comment! If you don't coupon and want to start, or are just starting, what questions do you have that would be helpful? As I said, I'm not a coupon blogger, but I do love helping others save money any way I can! I hope you enjoyed!!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Review: 'The Canary List' by Sigmund Brouwer

From the Publisher:

Protected by the dark of night, Jaimie Piper runs. But is anywhere safe when Evil is hunting you?
She’s just a twelve year-old girl, bumped around between foster homes and relegated to school classes for challenged kids, those lagging in their test scores or with behavioral issues. But her real problem is that she can sense something the other kids can’t—something dark. Something compelling her to run for her life.
All Crockett Grey wants is to mark the anniversary of his daughter’s death alone.
But when his student Jaimie comes to him, terrified, her need for protection collides with his grief, and a tangled web of bizarre events sends them both spiraling toward destruction.

Crockett’s one hope of getting his life back is to uncover the mysterious secrets of Jaimie’s past and her strange gift. It isn’t long before his discoveries lead him to a darker conspiracy, secrets guarded by the highest seat of power in the world—the Vatican.

My Thoughts:

If you follow my blog, you might realize I received this book some time ago to review. Typically when I receive these books I try to get them read fairly quickly, but upon reading the first few pages I realized this was better read when I wasn't home alone at night. Immediately, we are drawn into the world of the supernatural- demons, satanism and witchcraft to be exact! Some scary stuff, and not at all what I was expecting!! My initial thought was honestly, this book is too weird. Don't get me wrong, I like supernatural fiction- vampires, witchcraft, all that are fine with me. Demons and exorcism, however, are not my first choice and again, not what I was expecting in a Christian fiction! Needless to say, it took me awhile to get into it, but somewhere towards the middle, everything started to make more sense and I started getting more into the story. This put me in mind of books such as 'Da Vinci Code', with their conspiracy theories and coverups within the Catholic church (the author even references to Dan Brown in the final pages). Through most of the book, it seemed to have a bit of an anti-Catholic message, dealing with Satanism and pedophilia within the church. As it went on, I started thinking that perhaps that wasn't the case, as it seemed they were trying to stop such things from happening, but again towards the end with the coverups and lies, I wasn't really sure where it stood. I am not Catholic myself (though my husband is), but I can certainly see where many could be offended, so that is something to keep in mind before reading. Overall, I'd have to say that it wouldn't be my first choice but it's not a horrible book, just very different! 

As a side note, I do have to say that there were several typos and grammatical errors that drove me crazy while reading, however, this was an advanced reading copy and I'm sure these were fixed before the final publication!!

You can purchase this book here!

**I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books free in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts are my own.