Thursday, August 27, 2015

Lost In My Mind Book Review

** I received a copy of this book in return for my honest review. All opinions are my own. **

Some people are afraid of spiders, some have a fear of heights, even roller coasters. Now, I don't care for spiders, especially since they seem to think I am quite delicious! I don't mind heights and I have a serious addiction to roller coasters. My biggest fears has always been anything related to brain injuries, head injuries, TBI, and amnesia. Usually that one of my children are involved, sometimes myself, but, either way, it has become something that eats at me and causes more trouble than anything. (Imagine being one of my kids and falling or bumping your head or even thinking about skipping steps!)

I think this goes back to a movie I watched once about a girl in the 1800's who fell down the steps and suffered from a serious brain injury. She started to hear voices and had multiple personalities and she wasn't the same ever again. In fact, she ended up murdering her entire family and was placed in a mental institution for many years. But then I think this fear started before all of this and I think I can trace it back to some books and biographies I read when I was much younger.

I don't know what it is but something about the possibility of a head injury causing you to be completely different and not remembering your own family or even having the same interests that you once had. Then, I think I think to much and I end up reading stories online about TBI and the horror stories and how it affected people and I can't help but feel horribly sad for these people. (I have Tripp Halstead's Facebook page set in my notification alerts)

 I was scrolling through a list of books on a review list one day and, Lost In My Mind Recovering From TBI, caught my immediate attention and I applied to have this opportunity to read and share my thoughts on this courageous story. I didn't even know I was chosen as one of the reviewers, so, about 5 days later, a package arrived. I didn't expect this book and much to my surprise, there it was!

I was sitting on the porch when I opened the padded envelope and I was just mesmerized. I think I sat and stared at the cover, at Kelly Bouldin Darmofal, for at least 5 minutes. I was a bit relieved when I saw her face and her eyes are very bright, alert, comforting, but also, very wise beyond her years and you can tell she has a story to tell. I can't explain it, other then her photo has this peculiar way of saying, "Look at me! I have something to tell you!" and so, I opened it up and started reading.

I am a pretty fast reader and sometimes this aggravates me because when I am reading something that I am extremely interested in, I don't want it to end. Then it does. Then I'm stuck trying to decide if I should read it again or should I just hope for a second part or cut my losses and do something productive like, finish spring cleaning lol! I read this book in a couple of hours that Saturday afternoon and much like a fairy tale, this book captivated me in such a way that I will not be forgetting anytime soon.

Just like Kelly's eyes, the inside of this book grabs you and doesn't let you set it down. I even tried, a few times. I actually made a pot of coffee with this book in my hand, opened and reading and I only looked away when I had to pour the water in.

Lost In My Mind, tells the story of a 15 year old Kelly. A typical teenage girl who loved her friends, her family, cheerleading and was on her way to grab some food at Burger King, one night with some friends. According to Kelly, she was supposed to die on September 17, 1992. Fortunately, she didn't. However, her friend who was driving that night, turned to talk with another friend and ended up hitting a telephone pole. Kelly was in the passenger seat and hit the right frontal portion of her forehead, on the dashboard. This was her only injury in the accident. But, because she was struck on the right side of her forehead, her brain had a whiplash reaction, causing injury and bleeding to the back of the left side of her brain. She also suffered brain stem trauma.

The first half of this book is written by Kelly's mother, Carolyn Bouldin. who started writing a journal of sorts, for her daughter, so that she could have some memories as she got older. Carolyn's recollection takes you through one of the most horrifying things that a parent should never have to go through and she does an astonishing job. From the night of the accident that almost took her daughter's life to the very end, she covers everything about Kelly's accident, her feelings, the hospital, doctors, diagnosis, nurses, the people they met and ultimately, Kelly's new life after she was finally able to come home and start her recovery.

There are times when you are reading that you just want to reach through the book and grab some of the people they run into, especially at the schools. I have some not so keen experiences with schools and have had my fair share of fighting for my children's rights, but, nothing like what this family had to go through! You will go from angry to sad to wanting to hug her mom and tell her everything will be ok and yes, I suggest having a box of tissues nearby. You'll need them.

Kelly writes the second half of the book and starts around the time she returns home, after the accident and now has to not just struggle with being a teenager but with being a teenager with a traumatic brain injury. She goes into detail with everything and answers pretty much every question you may think of if ever you were interviewing a teenager or young adult with TBI. It is painful to read, just knowing that this is a true story and has actually happened to another human being. But, there are good parts and good endings and you will be amazed at Kelly's strength and determination and what she has overcome. (and continues to.)

One part in particular, just broke my heart... I'm not going to lie, a lot of her story broke my heart but something as simple as a teenage girl who just wants to be able to shave her legs by herself, but can't. It's the little things that are missed sometimes. It's very hard to imagine having to deal with any of these problems. Being to honest and blunt for some friends, friends not visiting as often, having to relearn everything, even walking. These are all things that a high school girl should not have to do. But, as with everything else, Kelly went above and beyond everybody's wildest expectations.

Lost In My Mind is an extraordinary look into the life of somebody who is recovering from TBI. You will feel so much joy when they find that Kelly is coming through and even more delight when she begins writing poems which offer a riveting look into Kelly's mind.

One of the things that really concerned me with this family's battles, was how Kelly and her family were treated at school and with cheerleading. I understand this took place in the 90's but even then, I would have expected the blatant discrimination to take place. I guess in a way, this was possibly part of the silver lining, since Kelly went onto college and became a teacher. (We need more teachers like her in our schools.) This is a story of triumph, dedication, strength, sorrow, friends, boyfriends, school problems, being disabled, fragmented memory, fear, hope, and faith.

I would recommend this for anybody who has a friend or family member who suffers from TBI, teachers, doctors, nurses, anybody who could use some strength and wisdom.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Pandora's Succession Book Review

** I received a copy of this book in return for my honest review. All opinions are my own. **

On the very first page, you are introduced to, Ridley Fox, who had just woke up after blacking out in Chechnya. You are immediately suffering from a pounding headache when you read the first paragraph and you are right there with Ridley, staring down the barrel of a Russian AK 108 assault rifle. Did I get your attention?

So, before I begin explaining a bit about what this intriguing, gripping, spy thriller is about, I must tell you, I am floored, (like, totally), with Russell Brooks' writing style. Honestly, I wish Clive Barker would take a few lessons here. (Yes, I said it. Yes, I mean it.) I just can't sit through a book when the author takes a page, or in Barker's case, a few pages, to describe the scene or the pain or the dress that the woman was wearing who walked by. It isn't necessary and I lose interest in books like that because I just don't particularly care so much about insignificant details.

What is fascinating about this book and this author, is that he is capable of painting the picture in a paragraph. Short, precise, detailed and onto the next thing. I found this to be true for the entire book and for me, this is something I envy and something I wish more writers would be able to do. Of course, writing styles are all unique and everybody enjoys something different. I just happen to like more of a story, more action and less of the "Look at me! I read a thesaurus today and I used all of the words instead of just a few!

That being said, I do wish this story would have lasted a tiny bit longer. It is a very fast moving, quick story that I feel has a few more chapters of life in it. I think at times, I felt a little rushed and some of the elaborations and "secrets" and different parts of the story that could have had more play, seemed to end abruptly. Sort of like the condensed version of the actual, entire book. Remember Cliff Notes?

This book fits in my favorite genre so, maybe I am being a bit partial but, this book has everything you would wish for in an action packed thriller, spy thriller, suspense, wherever you want to put this book. The story is good, the characters are interesting and it is delivered to you in a tight knit, well put together, little package. You won't be taking to many breaks with this one and you will ether be taking the book or your kindle to the bathroom if you start it. So, be sure to have some time available before beginning.

Ok, so, back to the book. Ridley Fox's fiance was murdered a couple of years ago and Ridley makes it his personal mission to hunt down the killers. It seems he gets in a lot deeper than what he expected or assumed he would be in, when he uncovers the terrorist group's plot to take over the world.

The Arms of Ares, are their name and they have a biological weapon called, Pandora. Ridley learns throughout the story, that Arms of Ares has been successful in infiltrating some of the world's highest organizations. (The British and the Russians!) He also meets, Dr Marx from the CDC and finds that Dr Marx is also aware of Pandora.

Pandora is an organism that feeds on DNA and not just Arms of Ares has this organism... Pandora could eat through an entire human in just a minute or 2 and there is no way to stop it.

Pandora's Succession has a mole in the CIA, creeps from the CDC, new world order, terrorists, cults, enough action to keep your heart pounding and you can tell the author did his homework when having to write about biological warfare, weapons, other countries and intelligence operatives.

I am very interested in reading books by Russell Brooks and I hope to grab a few autographed copies as well. (I found on his website that you can order these and I think that is one of the coolest options an author offers and would be a prized possession!)

Beads For Every Occasion



I never put much thought into it until just recently when it occurred to me, (or my 8 year old daughter started her bead obsession.), that beads aren't just for making those little friendship safety pins we used to make in school. There are actually a lot of crafts and absolutely gorgeous things you can do with beads!

I consider myself a "DIY'er" however, I am limited to creating recipes, candle making, homemade beauty products, cheesemaking and my new fascination, mason jars and doilies and lots of pretty paints! I can't sew, (I know, weird huh?) My husband is in charge of fixing any buttons or hems or holes and I don't really want to learn at this point. I don't have the time, nor do I have the patience to even thread the needle. Sometimes, I think about all of the cute bags and things I could make if I only knew how to sew but then I get the needle and thread out and I'm ready to scream in about 5 minutes!

I stumbled across this website, that sells mill hill beads and after finding that beads just aren't the same anymore. (This is a good thing!) I think I may have to start a collection of different beads! I know my youngest daughter would go crazy over being able to make some beaded bracelets and design her own handbags, pencil cases, even bead dazzle a shirt or 2!

Now, if you are already a bead expert, don't laugh at me. When I think of beads, I just think of the typical, solid color beads that I used to buy by the bagful as a kid so I could make those totally rad safety pins to clip onto my backpacks. I didn't realize there are antique beads, glass beads, frosted glass beads, wooden beads, different shaped beads, I am completely shocked at the variety available!

If you are a newbie like me, you can start out with some kits and even try some wooden bead crafts first. I have been finding a lot of kid friendly and newbie friendly, bead crafts on Pinterest and on several craft blogs. I may be able to graduate to something really fancy and maybe make some beaded sleeves for my collection of mason jars! What do you think?

Maybe, after threading some beads, I will get the hang of it and be able to thread that sewing needle. Then, maybe I can get to these stacks of mix matched fabric squares I bought and make some fairy tale, drawstring bags!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Evgie Gift Card Giveaway!




We are in the process of remodeling different sections of our home. (Aren't we all, right?) It has been 8 years and we got a lot accomplished but as usual, something unexpected happens, breaks, explodes, lol, whatever the emergency, we have all been there.

We bought an old, ok, a REALLY old, house that used to be an inn with a barroom in the basement. It has a lot of character! (But, also has 2 floors that need completely redone since they are just as they were when they were built.) So, after a few years, we finally finished 2 bedrooms for the kids and we are in the process of planning for the youngest to have a new room and for our own bedroom.

I love creativity, originality, things that don't match and things that are unique! I can not wait to order some of these wall decals for the last 2 bedrooms! I may even have to order some for the other bedrooms! Which designs? I have no idea just yet because I can't decide between all of them. They are absolutely stunning!

Evgie is a great place to find wall decals. Their vinyl decals are made from high quality matte (made in Germany) vinyl which looks like it is painted on the wall. It is removable, so it’s simple to transform any room over and over again. Just peel and stick, it’s so easy! They will apply to most smooth surfaces. It’s also removable and won’t damage walls! Right now - the more you buy the more you save. You can save up to 25% on your order!

Check out some of our favorite designs!

Birches and Owl Bears with Honey Pot Space Monkey Deer, Teddy Bears, Birds and Trees


Safari Wall Decals

Panda Bears Wall Decals

 

Teddy Bears Wall Decals

Space Astronauts Wall Decals

Baby Nursery Wall Decals



They are also customizable. For example the Safari Wall Decals different colors are available at no additional charge and you can choose up to 7 colors from their color chart. With every order you get 3 FREE CUTE MINIATURE COPIES of their decals, your choice of monkeys, elephants or dogs or combination. You may put it on mirrors, glasses, your laptop or just hand it to your friends and relatives as it makes a great small gift.

 

More Reasons to Shop at Evgie.com

  • 100% SATISFACTION – If it turns you don’t love your decal you may ship it back and they will refund your money!
  • FREE test decal for you to practice on and EASY Step-by-step detailed instructions!
  • They can adjust the decal size larger or smaller and add additional colors. Contact them for pricing!
  • They also offer custom designs. If you have an idea in mind of a custom design, let them know!
Make sure you check out some of their products. Hidden in a few product descriptions are a code to save 20% -35%off off any product! The code is valid from August 1 - August 17 at 1159pm EST.
Now for the giveaway! One winner will receive a credit to spend $200 on Wall Decals at Evgie. Details:
  • Dates - August 1 - August 17 at 1159pm EST
  • Open Worldwide - but if the winner resides outside the US they will need to pay the difference in shipping.
  • Prize - $200 To spend on Wall Decals at Evgie
This information is brought to you by Evgie Wall Decals and SavingYouDinero.com. Blogger is not responsible for fulfilling the prize.

Friday, July 24, 2015

If I Could Be Anywhere, I Would Be...



Ever since I was a little girl who wanted to grow up to be Holly Hobbie or Laura Ingalls, I wanted to travel to some of the most mysterious and alluring places. Here I am at 41 and I haven't left the continent yet! I dreamed of Austria, Hungary, (my ancestors came to the United States from there!), Poland, Russia, Australia, Iceland, Italy, Holland, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, and The Netherlands, 

I devoured every book, rushed to the library to borrow any VHS tapes I could find about any of these faraway places, I anxiously awaited assignments in school where we could choose a country to learn and write about. I even started listening to shortwave radio stations from as many countries as I could pick up on my little transistor like radios. Even today, I will sit and watch other people's vacations on Youtube and if you check my viewing history, you'll find every documentary known to man, (or the world wide web)

I started to collect pen pals from these places, but the only friends who would write back were from Russia and Indiana. (Yes, I know Indiana is part of the United States!) but, one of the pen pal organizations I signed up with, paired me up with a girl named, Anna Laybarger, from Indiana. (By the way, if Anna is reading this or somebody who knows her is, please let her know I think about her a lot and would love to reconnect!) 

As I got older and had children of my own, I still long to visit these enchanting places. Maybe even more so now, since I can search for anything I want to know and find images, facts, people, video, the whole world is at my fingertips. As much as the internet fascinates me, I long for the days when we had to use encyclopedias, imagine, write letters and mail postcards.. So, I try to keep doing things this way so that my children have those same experiences. 

Since I am older and my budget for travel is limited, (for now.), I have found that there are just as many extraordinary places right here in my own country, (The United States). There are so many places I would like to see across this country. I do hope that someday, I can travel through each state and eat the local food, shop at the mom and pop shops, check out the local attractions and ride any roller coasters they may have there!

I was recently asked to write a post about where I would like to go for vacation and after thinking about this for a few days, I decided that I would be thrilled to drive cross country. Williamsburg, VA was at the top of my list until I decided that maybe, if I zig zag and plan accordingly, I can hit all of the spots I have on my list and find all of the treasures I can. Maybe a scavenger hunt kind of vacation? I do love scavenger hunts so, that just might end up being what my change jars get cashed in for.

Now I can't get Depeche Mode's, "Get your kicks on Route 66" out of my head! I will probably stay away from Route 66 if I can, just because that will be all I hear!

I don't know how much time I would need to get across the country and back and visit every state I wish to visit. I plan on camping whenever possible and eating all of the local food and shopping at all of the unique shops. (Lewes, Delaware is one of my favorites for things like this!) But, since Wow Summit takes place in San Diego this year, I just may have to drive from Pennsylvania to Chicago (after a few zig zags of course!) and hop onto Route 66.

Well it winds from Chicago to L. A.
More than two thousand miles all the way
Get your kicks on Route 66
Well it goes to St. Louis, down to Missouri
Oklahoma City looks oh, so pretty
You'll see Amarillo, Gallup, New Mexico
Flagstaff, Arizona, don't forget Wynonna
Kingman, Barstow, San Bernardino




ProFlowers created this totally fun campaign, #MySummerStaycation. All you have to do is share your dream getaway on social media and don't forget to add the hashtag: #MySummerStaycation!

My Little One's New BFF

** We received compensation in return for our review. All opinions are my own. **





One morning, we received a package in the mail and although I knew what would be inside of there, we had no idea which Necknapperz friend it would be. We already decided who would be able to call the new toy/pillow their friend and that was, Deegan. He's 5 and loves stuffed animals, Legos, dinosaurs, Minecraft, Tom and Jerry, all that typical little kid and little boy stuff. But, he loves to snuggle with his animals and his mommy, especially at night. He also needs something soft and cuddly when he builds his fort, fights Enderman, and tries to collect as many diamonds as his little heart desires!

All of the kids watched the Necknapperz video, over and over and over again and they each picked out their favorite ones. (Yes, I do need to order a few since we all fell in love with these adorable, soft, comfy, pillowy pals.) Deegan shrieked with delight when he saw his first pick inside, the tiger!

Not only is the tiger a cuddly friend who enjoys hanging out with teddy bears, all of the kids and even the Lego minifigures. But he is also a helpful friend when it comes to rest and relaxation.



Genevive is always super happy to borrow Deegan's Necknapper while she watches her favorite shows, reads a book, plays Minecraft or takes long rides in the truck. I think everybody's favorite part is the sweet little tiger picture on the pillow after you turn the tiger into a Necknapper.

You can choose from over 20 different Necknapperz friends. They have cool names like, Grizzly the Bear, Hopper the Frog, Oinky the Pig, and Diver the Dolphin. Just like my little ones say, "They only cost $19.99 so we can each pick a couple of Necknapperz!"

Our review of Necknapperz, is a 5 star review. They are well made, very comfortable, even my youngest can easily transform between his new best friend or an ergonomic neck pillow and you can tell each one is made with love. The tiger has the sweetest features and the extra special touch, adding the outline of the tiger onto the pillow, is much appreciated by little ones! Necknapperz would be perfect for families who travel by car, plane, boat, bus, or train. They are huggably soft and provide lots of relaxation and support. (and yes, the price is quite reasonable too!)

You can also find Necknapperz on Facebook.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Must Have For Sleepovers, Camping, And All Summer Long

These are the perfect addition for any slumber party! I am so happy I found an actual canister of 100 rather then having to grab a bunch of smaller packs and possibly running out. (Yes, the price is very nice to!)

We have been using these so often and you would think we would have run out by now but, we sometimes freeze some and reuse them. (This doesn't always work BUT it works sometimes.) It seems that the green and yellow work well for refreezing and I have no idea why. (If anybody knows why, please, fill me in!) I have 4 kids so, everything I buy or make, has to be a bit bigger or in excess of, so that everybody has their fair share. Plus, we always like to be sure we have enough for friends, guests, play dates and spontaneous princess parties!



 


This 100 pack of glow bracelets (or glow sticks if you don't want to use the included attachments), come in a nifty canister and are very reasonably priced! So far, we only had a couple of duds and that is expected. I actually expected more, since if I buy a 10 pack, I usually have a couple that don't work, at least.

The color selection inside the can also made the girls shriek with delight! Yes, there are pinks and purples and the boys were happy with orange and green. (The typical glow stick colors.) They sometimes end up making necklaces or glow stick circles to throw around the backyard and much to my surprise, these actually worked and stayed together quite well!

This is a product I would purchase again. Especially since we host several parties, sleepovers and have neighborhood kids over a lot. These make great party favors, they are perfect and inexpensive enough to hand out to friend's and neighbor kids and they make fun special treats for movie nights or sleep in the living room night.









I would also recommend these to anybody who needs extra prizes, treats for classrooms, your kid's sports teams, your community center, teachers, day cares, anything where kids are involved, these will certainly bring smiles to their faces!

I also use these for chore rewards, in our, "Behavior Bucks Store" (This is where the kids can buy items with their "behavior bucks" that they earned each  month.). We make our own "Healthy Happy Meals" and the kids love these because they have their favorite snacks, healthy foods and  a small prize inside. These work well for those too!

I think another fun use for these would be for games after dark, in the warmer months. Hide and seek maybe? I know you can come up with something! I would also love suggestions! Please comment with your ideas for family fun with glow sticks!