Thursday, September 27, 2012

Tell Me Thursday -- learning

This is my kitchen table, with 2 laptops and a monitor.  I'm taking a remote class from home this week to learn more about SharePoint.  It's been a great week -- very informative and I can throw in laundry while I'm on break!

I need 2 laptops so I can watch the class on one, while accessing the remote computer from the other.  My poor eyesight meant I couldn't see the remote PC, so Bo set up the monitor so I could actually see the icons on the screen.

Taking a class remotely requires strong attention skills, because it is easy to become distracted.  Luckily, I'm really interested in the topic, so my days have seemed to fly by and I've picked up some very useful information that I will be able to use in my classes.  The instructor has been great -- very knowledgeable and entertaining, which also helps make the experience a good one.

I'm back in front of the classroom again next week, but I've enjoyed being behind the desk this week!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday -- Learning

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Phineas and Ferb Live Coming to Phoenix! (Discount Code)

Are your kids fans of the Disney show, Phineas and Ferb?  Feld Entertainment has produced a live show of the popular cartoon show and it will be in Phoenix from October 13 - 14, 2012 at the US Airways Center.

The cartoon characters make a bold escape from the television world into live action, and I'm sure the show will be hilarious and entertaining!

The show will be in Phoenix for 4 shows:

  • Saturday, October 13 at 1 and 4PM
  • Sunday, October 14 at 1 and 4PM
Ticket prices are $20, $30, $38 and $72 and are available through Ticketmaster at or 800-745-3000.

As a special offer to my readers, you can use the discount code FERB to receive $5 off tickets.  The discount is not valid on VIP seating, or able to use as a double discount.  The discount code can be redeemed either at or by calling the 800 number.

The show will wrap up Fall Break for my kids, so I know they're looking forward to it!  I'll be sure to write after the show and let you know how it was!

*Disclosure: I am a Feld Family Ambassador, and in exchange for my time and efforts in attending shows and reporting my opinion within this blog, as well as keeping you advised of the latest discount offers, Feld Entertainment has provided me with complimentary tickets to Feld shows and opportunities to attend private Feld pre-Show events. Even though I receive these benefits, I always give an opinion that is 100% mine.*

Remembering the Mississippi Coast

One of my fondest memories when I was a pre-teen was going with a friend and her family for a weekend on the Mississippi coast.  We were living in Louisiana at the time, and her parents had a house on the coast that they visited every few months.  I remember wading out in the water with my friend dropping crab pots, and her mom boiling up those crabs that we brought back in later.  That was probably the best crab I have ever eaten!

I was wishing we could get away recently, and remembering Gulf Coast events, I checked out this website.  You know how I love the beach, but the beaches in California are always cold.  When Nate & I were in Florida this summer, he was amazed at how warm the water was at the beach.  It would be fun to hop on a plane and check out the coast in Mississippi again with my kids.

In addition to the beach, there are some interesting museums I'd like to visit in that area.  I try to visit museums wherever we go.  I bet we could also hop on a boat and take a deep sea fishing tour.  I know the kids would get a kick out of that!  Bo and I aren't gamblers, so I know we wouldn't gamble at any of the Mississippi casinos, but it can be fun to people watch!

Nope, I know we would spend a chunk of time at the beach, and a chunk of time checking out interesting museums and historical spots, and of course eating fresh seafood!  (Well, that's true for me, Nate & Lydia.  We'll have to find other food for Bo & Colin.)

I checked out airfare, and even mapped out the drive, and realized it's just not in the budget this year to visit the Gulf Coast.  But, that doesn't mean I can't dream and plan.  Who knows what opportunities may lie around the corner?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Review: Saint Catherine Laboure

I had a couple of doctor appointments last week, the day after I received Saint Catherine Laboure / And Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in the mail for a review.

The book is geared for ages 9 - 12, so I was able to finish it while waiting for my appointments.  I want to read it as a read aloud to the kids, but you can see that Nate picked it up and started reading it already!  That, alone, is a strong recommendation for this book.

The book tells the story of St. Catherine Laboure from her early childhood until her death.  I thought the author, Sr. Marianne Lorraine Trouve, did an excellent job of sharing the details of her life in an easy-to-read story. The message of her humility, faith and hard work were strong throughout.

I have worn a miraculous medal for many years, and while I vaguely knew the story of St. Catherine, I learned quite a few details of her life from this book.  One thing in the book that I really appreciated was the explanation that the medal is not a "good luck charm", but an "expression of faith."  It is a reminder to us that when we pray to Mary for help, she prays for us to God.

I think this is an excellent book for young readers.  It provides detailed information about her life, and is a reminder to us all of the importance of hard work and humility in dealing with life.  You can find the book at The Catholic Company's website.

*Disclosure: In exchange for an honest review, I received a copy of this book through The Catholic Company's Reviewer Program. No additional compensation was provided, and all opinions are my own.*

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Monday, September 10, 2012

Playmobil Soccer Game Review & Giveaway

My boys have been fans of Playmobil for many years.  Nate and Lydia also love soccer, so when we had the chance to try out the new Playmobil Take Along Soccer Match, I knew we had to check it out!

When it arrived, Nate was pretty excited to see that it was a soccer game.  The concept is great, because the field folds up into a handy storage box that holds all the pieces.  When the kids want to play, it's easy to unfold and set up the field so they can play quickly.

You can see in the video below that they have a great time playing the game.  We've had it for a few weeks, and they have played almost every other day.  Nate loves the fact that the players can kick the ball, and Lydia loves making her goalie jump around in the net.

I have always loved the unique playsets that Playmobil creates, and while it has always been a pricey toy, the play value and quality have always been high.  We have never been disappointed by a Playmobil purchase.

Thanks to Playmobil and My Blog Spark, I have a soccer match to give away to one of my readers!

To enter my giveaways, I ask that you fill out my simple giveaway entry form.  You'll find the entry form by clicking HERE.  When you get there, you'll enter your name, email, the name of the giveaway (below) and answer the mandatory question (also below).  Please do NOT leave a comment on this post to enter the giveaway.

Name of Giveaway: Playmobil Soccer
Mandatory Question: What's your favorite sport?

It's not required, but you will receive an extra entry if you like my Facebook page (

I will choose a winner on September 20, 2012.  Good Luck!!

“Disclosure: The information and gift packs have been provided by PLAYMOBIL USA through MyBlogSpark.”

Home Security Tips

When I first met my darling husband, he rarely locked his doors.  He does lock the doors now!  But, since we've lived together, I'm the one who tends to be the one who checks the doors each night before bed to make sure they're locked, and check that the windows are also locked.  I've heard that some burglars will knock on the door, and if there's no answer they'll try to open the door.  If it's not locked, it's pretty easy for them to walk right in!

I had the chance to look over a booklet about attempted home burglaries recently and read a few more tips that I found interesting.  In the US, 3.2 million homes are burglarized each year!  One of the best things you can do if you suspect a burglar is nearby (or even in your home!) is make noise.  They don't like the noise and will often leave to avoid any confrontation.

Another safety tip is to have a plan in case an intruder does get into your home. It may be something that you don't want to think about, but it's a good idea to  take the time to plan out your actions.  When faced with stressful situations, people tend to react quickly and without much thought.  If you think through a few scenarios, you will be able to pull that information into your head quickly.

Some good ideas are to be loud, as mentioned before.  If you think an intruder might be lurking close by, yell out to someone else in the home (even if you are alone.)  Turn the television up louder, or flip the lights on outside.  These actions can cause a burglar to leave your home and look for another that isn't as loud or lit.

We have a few home security products around our home for our protection.  It helps, too, that there are large dogs in a few of the houses near us that always bark when people approach our properties.  We've had vehicles stolen in the past, but thankfully nobody has ever entered our home.  I plan to do what we can to keep it that way!

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Tell Me Thursday #2 (Broken 60" TV)

Can you guess what this is?

It's the corner of our 58" plasma TV screen.

Did you know that if it is hit with the hard end of a Nerf sword, it would crack in this lovely starburst pattern and never turn on again?  Did you also know that you can't replace the screen (at least not cost effectively)?

Yep.  That happened Tuesday afternoon.  The boys were play-fighting with Nerf swords and a Nerf axe in the living room when suddenly there was quiet.  Silly Bo & I thought that they were actually off doing the chore we reminded them had to be done a few minutes earlier.

When they slunk into the back of the house a couple minutes later, they said "You know how you're always telling us to not fight in the living room because the TV might get broken?  We cracked the screen."

At first, we thought it was a joke.  Quickly, we found that it was not.

If you know my sweet husband, you know how he is about his televisions.  When we were dating, I was hoping for an engagement ring and he came home with a big screen TV in time for the SuperBowl in 1996.   (I did get my ring a couple months later.)  He loves television, and he loves watching on a high quality, large set.

He was literally speechless Tuesday afternoon.  He is wonderful about always putting the spin on things that things are just things and people are what matters -- but his belief in that was tested this week.  In the end, it's just a television set.   He told the boys he was most angry because they were doing something that we often reprimand them for, and that they should have been outside if they wanted to rough house.

But, his precious TV is still broken.

Tell Me Thursday #1 (Weekend Away From Kids)

The picture is a little dark, I know -- but can you see how relaxed I am?

Bo & I somehow convinced my parents to keep the kids overnight so we could have a getaway. Last weekend, we headed over to the Kierland Westin Resort in Scottsdale to check out Phoenix Cooks!  We went a couple years ago and had fun, so we thought it was time to see what delicious fare local restaurants are creating these days.

We sampled a ton of great food, sampled a wide variety of wines provided by Safeway, as well as some Alaskan ale and a couple different hard liquors.  The venue was crowded, but we weren't in any hurry, so we didn't mind waiting in line.

I am torn as to what was my favorite -- either the Lobster Mash that topped mashed potatoes served in a martini glass by Mastro's or the unbelievably tasty chicken meatball and sauce served by NoRTH Modern Italian Cuisine.  I think the meatball may win because if I had to choose only one restaurant to visit, it would be NoRTH!

Bo's favorite bite was a pulled pork taco that unfortunately we lost the name of the restaurant!  If anyone was there, and knows what I'm talking about, please leave a comment and let me know.  His second favorite was that meatball.

I was excited that the event was held at the Kierland Westin because that is the same location the National Stuttering Association is holding this summer's conference.  I had never been there before, so I was glad we had a chance to visit, and thanks to my parents we spent the night.

The resort was gorgeous.  Service was top notch (and I can be so picky some days!) I liked the fact the rooms had real glass glasses (I don't like drinking out of plastic) and I liked that they included tea with the coffee maker (since I don't drink coffee.)  The room was large and comfortable, with a small balcony.  It was clean and welcoming.

After eating all day, we really didn't think we needed a regular dinner, so we stopped into the Waltz & Weiser Saloon on property for a drink and appetizers. We couldn't decide on an appetizer, so ordered the nachos, wings and chicken quesadilla.  The nachos were huge!  We could have fed a half dozen friends with the pile of nachos, but they were also delicious.  As were the ribs and quesadilla.

As we were sitting in the gorgeous lobby upstairs, I was thinking about how fun it will be in July when the halls are full of members of the National Stuttering Association.  I have had such an amazing time at the last 2 conferences that I can't wait until they all come here to my home to have a blast!

We headed home mid-day Sunday, after a relaxing, luxurious morning.  It was a fabulous weekend!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Wordless Wednesday #2

Wordless Wednesday #1

Monday, September 03, 2012

Arbor Mist Review

We celebrated Labor Day today with a small pool party.  Where we are in Arizona, we probably have at least another month of pool weather to enjoy, which is awesome!  But, any opportunity to sit around the pool with good friends and drinks can't be passed by!

Thanks to Arbor Mist and SheSpeaks, I had some new beverages to try.  As part of a review program, they sent me 3 different varieties of Arbor Mist's new frozen wine cocktails -- Blackberry Merlot, Strawberry White Zinfandel and White Pear Pinot Grigio.

I love slushy drinks and these packages take all the work out of it for me! Simply pop the package into the freezer for a few hours (or a few days) and when you take it out and tear off the top, you'll have a perfectly slushy, icy, cool drink to enjoy.

We enjoyed all 3 varieties today and were pleased with the flavors.  They were the perfect drink to partake in at poolside.  I really enjoyed how easy they are, since there is no preparation needed except to squish the packet a little bit before pouring into a glass.

Their alcoholic content is similar to the Arbor Mist wines - 6%. The sugar content was high in all 3 varieties, and they were pretty sweet, but as an occasional treat I think they are fun and tasty.

They are something that I will definitely keep on hand in my freezer for when we have guests over.  You can find locations to buy them at the Arbor Mist website.

*Disclosure: I received sample product from Arbor Mist and SheSpeaks in order to facilitate this review.  No additional compensation was provided, and all opinions are my own.*

Review: Stress Proof Your Marriage

Bo and I celebrated 15 years of marriage early last month, and celebrated the 17th anniversary of our first date just a couple weeks ago.   During that time, we have experienced our share of stress -- sometimes as a result of outside sources and sometimes as a result of internal conflicts. Through it all, we've managed to maintain our sense of humor and remembered our commitment to each other to weather both the good and the bad.

This quick read from The Catholic Company, Stress-Proof Your Marriage, is full of tips from a married couple. The book is only 61 pages long, so it doesn't take long to read through it.  It was written by a married couple, who shares, with humor, tips about remembering what's important and avoiding negative stress in your marriage.

A few years ago, Bo & I were part of the Engaged Ministry at 2 different parishes and enjoyed meeting with couples on their journey to marriage.  This small book would have been a great complement to those meetings, as well as easy reminders to any married couple. 

We all go through periods of high stress, and it's nice to find some support and ideas to get through those times more easily.  At $4.95, I think this book from The Catholic Company is a bargain.

*Disclosure:  In exchange for an honest review, I received a copy of this book through The Catholic Company's Reviewer Program.  No additional compensation was provided, and all opinions are my own.*
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