Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Giveaway & Book Review: American Sniper by Chris Kyle

Giveaway info at the end!
To read an excerpt click HERE.

What a vividly charged book! "American Sniper" by Navy Seal Christ Kyle with Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice provides the "autobiography of the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history." I found myself nearly in disbelief at the toughness of this man who holds the most recorded sniper kills.

Kyle shares in raw, memorable, man-speak about what it was like to train as a seal and then be shipped over to Afghanistan where he served several tours on active duty. He paints the picture of what the war is like that our Americans are fighting over there -- and it isn't pretty. One of the things I most admire about this book is that Kyle says what many of our military personnel are thinking and that is the politicians really have no place in deciding how a war should be fought. Our military men and women are on the ground (and in the air and on the sea), risking their lives and know what kind of work is needed to succeed. Kyle also includes what life was like on the home front, written by his wife, Taya, who is also one tough woman. They explain the strains on their marriage and how Kyle's job impacted his feelings on fatherhood. Taya also writes about how Kyle changed.

I appreciate the humble attitude Kyle has towards the number of his kills (though the actual number is not released) and speaking out that it was just because he ended up getting opportunities and being in the right place at the right time. There is also honor given to our own warriors who fought alongside him. In his first-person account, Kyle speaks on being shot twice, other injuries he sustained, and what he went through when two close friends died.

The way this book was written it seems to mostly be in chronological order but snippets of different experiences are interspersed. It is easy to follow and easy to read. With all the different sections in each chapter there was no challenge to set the book down to do something and come back to it. I will admit that although the book is riveting there are some boring parts (to me, but probably not to others) where much technical information on his weapons is shared. Also, because of the nature of this book it was difficult for me to just sit and read it for long periods of time, like I usually do, just because of my emotional response to what Chris and our other seals/soldiers/marines were going through.

This is an amazing read, though, and I highly encourage almost anybody to read it. If somebody wants to understand more fully what is going on "over there" and what has gone on, I definitely recommend this book.

In fact, if you want to read a free excerpt on Scribd go HERE.
Or if you want to type it into your browser: http://www.scribd.com/doc/78641775/AMERICAN-SNIPER-by-Chris-Kyle


Now -- if YOU want to be one of 2 people who will win a FREE copy of this book here's how to put in entries:
  • Leave a comment to say you would like a free copy
  • Be a follower then comment that you are a follower
  • Blog about this giveaway and leave a comment with the link
  • Facebook about this giveaway and leave a comment telling me you did so
  • Come back everyday until the end of this giveaway and leave a comment
I'm leaving this open until Sunday, February 5 MIDNIGHT. (Let's be honest, I'll probably not pick a winner until Monday morning). Start your comments and best of luck! Winners will be chosen then the publisher will be sending your copy of "American Sniper" straight to you!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Before I procrastinate much longer

I should probably post about Christmas! Yeah, it was over a month ago... but better late than never!

We were in Washington for the holidays. At first the weather was absolutely beautiful with clear skies, perfect views, and not too cold. Then the days passed and the REAL Washington decided to show up for us. Rain. Overcast skies. Mud. Grey. Blah.

Anyway, we stayed over at my mother-in-law's house. My parents' house was a bit crowded with their exchange student, my one sister, and my brother already there.

Overall the trip was okay. I was a bit annoyed that plans consistently fell through on this trip! We were going to visit Ryan's dad and grandmother on a certain day but his grandmother was busy so we decided to go a different day. Then she wasn't available that day either... and by then Ryan had gotten a cold which nixed visiting his dad (he's in poor health and if Ryan passed on his cold his dad could easily get pneumonia). We planned to spend some additional time with Ryan's one aunt and uncle but the day we had available was the day they were out of town. Urgh. And our plans with Ryan's other aunt and uncle didn't work out because the morning we were to drive up they came down with a yucky sickness that they dealt with even after we returned to Albuquerque. My pans with different friends didn't work out either. I was just frustrated and irked by the whole thing.

We did have some pretty decent Christmases though. We ended up saving our little family Christmas for when we returned to New Mexico... so we celebrated on New Year's Day. Thankfully, family listened to our plea NOT to give the children a bunch of toys so we didn't have to ship boxes back home. We are truly blessed with our families and where we all are in our lives that we can all give to each other. It is always a fun time.

There was some complications with Christmas, though. We knew before we went home that there was a conflict on Christmas day for Ryan's family dinner and my family dinner. After talking with both sides, Ryan's family said they would start their dinner an hour earlier and my family would delay the meal by 2 hours so hopefully we could get to both.

Well, that didn't really pan out.

The dinner with Ryan's family didn't come out right because some people who were supposed to show up at 10 didn't show up until almost noon. That didn't really affect the dinner, but it did affect the socializing. There was some slight set back on the turkey not cooking fast enough... but it turned out good and we were able to eat and talk and even headed out the door ON TIME. I was thrilled!

Then we got to the car.... and Will pooped his pants (he was having some issues that day). I couldn't make him sit for 2.5 hours in the car with poopy pants so I quickly changed that and we loaded up. We ran over to my parents' house (it was on the way) to pick up the kids' coats I left there as well as my keys. Well, the house was locked up and the spare key had not been replaced after its last use so I couldn't get in. Flustered, I returned to the car and continued our drive.

We had to stop briefly to pay the toll for the bridge. Awhile later Will started doing his potty dance and crying saying he had to go pee. I'm speeding along (as much as you can speed in Washington - 5 over) and knew we would not make it to the rest area in time. So we pulled off in Olympia at a gas station where Ryan ran Will inside for the bathroom. I would have just pulled to the side of the road... but it was pouring and we were in a city area so it was easier to make the stop. Then we continue our drive again.

Downpour after downpour. I'm not as used to driving in the rain as I once was... and the downpours were so bad that with the windshield wipers on full you still could not see the road. So that slowed us down quite a bit.

By the time we got to my family dinner in northern Oregon we were an hour late. There was no food left. People were kind of pissed off at me because they held dinner 2 hours so we could be there and then we don't even show up on time. Snarky remarks were sent my way by a number of people.

Oh, and there were about 70 people there... all family.

So that kind of dampened my mood. But then we hung out with my oldest sister and her husband (even crashing at their place) and we had a great time with them. In our almost 7 years of marriage, this was the first time Ryan and Kevin (my sister's husband) ever had the chance to just talk and get to know each other --- and they hit it off.

The next day we were able to spend more time with my sis and bro-in-law and visit my other grandparents then head back to Washington. A few days later we celebrated my mom's birthday... and then people started heading back to their homes.

And that is Christmas in a nutshell. It was nice to be home and visit family and have family spend time with the kids... but it's always nice to be home. As of now we do plan on coming home for the next Christmas as long as finances allow (it's kind of expensive to fly home and we have a move coming up). I'm not sure how or if we're going to do both sides of the extended family for Christmas though. After 3 years of stressing over it and nobody ends up happy... and we're the ones driving all over the freakin' place on Christmas day... I'm not sure it's worth it.

We'll just have to see.


Book Review: The Encounter by Stephen Arterburn

If you're looking for a quick, simple, and uplifting read "The Encounter" by Stephen Arterburn would be a good choice.

A rich, famous, angry Jonathan Rush ventures to Fairbanks, Alaska on the advice of his counselor to find out the reason his mother left him at 4-years-old. With the help of a new friend, Erica Bingham, he searches his past history for answers. When they come across a woman named Mercy they are sure she holds information essential to piece together everything... if only they can convince her to talk to them.

This was a pretty easy read and somewhat predictable. Arterburn weaves his story in a calm way taking the reader through Jonathan's and Ada Rose's points of view with their individual stories. "The Encounter" was not a very exciting book but the message of forgiveness and acceptance was beautiful and comforting. At the end the reader will have plenty to reflect over in their own life.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255


Monday, January 23, 2012

I have become a lurker

I've been a bad bloggy follower. I have not been commenting when I read and therefore have become one of those lurkers.

I'm not creepy, I swear!

Ever since I got my iPhone I'll check my subscriptions there and often the commenting windows don't work properly for me. After fighting and getting furstrated many, many times I just no longer bother.

Today I was ACTUALLY on my desktop and when I went to comment on a friend's blog it wouldn't work!

A friend of mine mentioned that she was having problems commenting so I may not be the only one.

So I'm still around and I'm still reading and I'm determined to fix my lack of comments!


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Oh wait... He's dead

Dreams are weird. They just are.

This morning instead of getting up "early" I decided to milk the slumber until it could not happen anymore.

Hence: strange remembered dreams.

I'm not going into detail but I will set you up that I was somehow selected to go through an old, run down amusement park and make suggestions for improvements that had just been purchased to be renovated by non other than Michael Jackson.

In my dream he was surrounded by his entourage and other than brief eye contact and an approving nod from him there was no interaction. He seemed very thin and fairly weak.

The dream goes on and weird stuff happens. You know what dream world is like.

Anyway, I eventually wake up and shake off the images, strange as they were.

Hours later I'm cleaning up the living room and the realization hits: Wait! Michael Jackson is dead and has been dead for a couple years now! What the heck??

No idea how he ended up in my subconscious.

What about you? Ever had strange dreams that leave you turning them over in you mind hours and days later?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Creative Title Here

Days are flying by and I forget that I should post about what's been going on.

Some good news: Ryan has been officially taken off the deployment he was scheduled for! Whoot! Paperwork came down and now we're that much closer to leaving for AFIT.

Some some-what annoying news: We have to enroll in the EFMP (Exception Family Member Program) since Will is considered "special needs"... so we've been working through the BIG stack of paperwork to have that over and done with. The doctor appointment one is completed, the dentist one will be completed (hopefully) tomorrow, and we still have a couple more to work though. It's not very fun. We did hear that our new city has wonderful services and offers more than Albuquerque, so that's good. Oh, and at the doctor appointment this week I learned some helpful information that can get William at least an hour of private speech therapy covered by insurance... let's see if I can work it out!


I've been sick... AGAIN! I don't get sick like this, or really very often, and it's driving me nuts. I'm not sure what happened but I woke up at 3 am Tuesday morning and puked my guts out. I then spent the rest of Tuesday feeling incredibly nauseous, weak, wanting to sleep all the time, and dealing with diarrhea. The only thing I could think of was that I had made eggs for dinner and while the rest of the family enjoys theirs scrambled, I prefer mine over-easy. Perhaps I didn't cook it thoroughly enough?? Wednesday morning I wake up feeling perfectly fine... but by Wednesday late afternoon I felt crummy. I had stomach pains and gas cramps. As the night progressed they got worse.

Let me just say that "passing gas" is a beautiful thing when you are so full that you feel like your insides are going to explode. Today I've been better but still not feeling great.

Been taking Pepto Bismal and it does seem to help, but not completely.

And I've taken 2 pregnancy tests in the past week and both are negative so I'm NOT pregnant! And no, we are not trying.

Moving on:

Ryan contacted base housing in Ohio today to find out about what we qualify for and attempt to get on the list. We've decided that we can hear the stories from people we know who've been stationed there about the housing, but it is best for us to see it for ourselves and make up our own minds. There was some appealing news (like AFIT students getting some nice incentives to sign a 2-year lease) but we'll just have to wait until we see what the houses are like.

And I think that's about all I have to share for the night. I have 2 more book reviews to do soon and a very probable book giveaway! Keep checking back!


Monday, January 16, 2012

A birthday dinner

We had an absolute BLAST Friday night.

There is an amazing restaurant in Albuquerque called Tucanos. It is a Brazilian grill place. There are only 4 of these restaurants: Albuquerque, Boise, and 2 in Utah.

If you sign up for the birthday club you receive a FREE meal during the month of your birthday. Totally cool.

What we love about it is it is all you can eat as well as a "salad buffet" that totally rocks. You sit at your table and cute servers come by with these hunkin' skewers of meat varieties and grilled veggies. You get what you want. So yummy!

Since Ryan's birthday is this month I contacted a bunch of our friends and invited them to join us. Several of them did... around 12 or so. We ate, and ate, and joked, talked, ate some more, and laughed abundantly.

I even got the servers/waitresses to come over and sing their birthday song to Ryan. He enjoyed it and was shaking the instrument they handed him like a pro! It was hilarious!

After nearly everyone left we sat and talked with 2 of our friends for more than an hour... by then we could actually walk out to the car!

All in all it was a great night and Ryan said it was probably the best birthday dinner, if not the best birthday, he has ever had. We have made some amazing friends here, that's for sure.

Too bad there is no Tucanos in Ohio...
Tegan & Mike
Some of the yummy food

Debbie & Robert (holding Tegan's daughter Daphne)

Darrin & Erin, Berto, and Mike

Tim, Derek, and Tarah

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Book Review: Home and Away by David and Nancy French

A great book for military families or anybody interested in knowing what life is like during deployments. Home and Away: A Story of Family in a Time of War by David and Nancy French was an enjoyable read.

David, a 37-year-old lawyer, feels the tug that he should join the military after reading a story in the newspaper of a father being wounded in Iraq. He tells his wife and shortly thereafter we find him joining up with the Army Reserves and practically volunteering for a deployment. Nancy is left alone with their two kids facing a new life she never imagined for herself.

The book chronicles the year long absence. It is interesting to see insight on what was really going on "over there" from a JAG Officer point of view; dealing with detainees, losing comrades, information on how the war was being raged, and life at the Forward Operating Base. But you also get the other side with the wife taking on more responsibilities, staying busy, getting help where needed, trying to uplift her children in their times of need, and doing what she can to support her husband. Readers are shown what special things David and Nancy did to maintain their relationship despite the distance. Difficulties were not sugar coated. And regardless of the homecoming dreams, things don't always work out the way you thought they would.

As a military wife myself I could relate to some of what Nancy's story was. For a part of the book I felt like she seemed a bit whiny -- but then I realized that she was completely new to the military, her husband was gone, and she was no where near a military base to get a lot of the support that others of us have. I think she took on the deployment well. David's story kept me riveted. Getting a glimpse into what life is like over there can be intriguing and he shares it plainly. Realizing so much of the cultural differences between our countries, it sort of clears up some of our public views on war. His emotions on the loss of his friends was pointed and I truly felt for him: the sadness, the rage, the need for justice.

Not too long of a read with plenty to think over even after the book is finished. I think many military families will find a lot to relate with and encourage this read for them.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255


Monday, January 9, 2012

Wheel chairs vs. Bikes

Just got back from the Focus Conference at Copper Pointe Church. That is not my home church but an outstanding place to go if you happen to be in the city. It isn't necessarily our "style" of church for regular worship, but it can give quite a punch to outreaches and conferences and such. Wonderful job!

The speakers I was able to hear were amazing. I'm so thankful my friend Angel reminded me it was happening this weekend + Monday.

In other news, I'm sort of holding my breath on some stuff for Ryan. He's been accepted to AFIT and we're mentally preparing to go, getting documents in place, and hope to be physically preparing soon. Unfortunately, the deployment slot he was lined up for hasn't been pulled yet. There's a possibility that the Air Force will still send him to the far off desert, screwing his AFIT slot and, very possibly, completely messing up his future and career. I'm praying that all things work out well and I know God will take care of us. It's just frustrating because one higher-up has to do something fairly simple and all will be put right.

Anyways... what else is going on...

Will's feeding therapist was disappointed to see the steps back he has taken in his progress. It had been over a month since she had seen him and he did not do very well in his session today. Guess we have extra work there. He is making improvements at school though. It took him a few days to get back into the swing of things... but he's getting there.

And I should share that Will is now saying 3-word sentences. They are not clear and very few people understand him, but they are 3 words! He is also commenting on more things and situations in his surroundings and using more than 1 word to express that. It is fun to have him in the car and he points out the moon, motorcycles ("bites"), dogs ("pup-ee"), and tells me when Lana has fallen asleep ("Lana seep"). I'm am truly enjoying getting to know more of what is going on in that sharp little mind of his!

Lana is also increasing her vocabulary and speech. I really do think Will and her are both learning bits from each other. Right now Will is slightly ahead in his speech still, but Lana isn't too far behind. She doesn't have his comprehension and as much receptive language but she's age appropriate. When she tries to put two or more words together in a sentence to repeat she usually mixes up the words and sounds. This girl is so funny though --- her personality is loud! Right now she's really into Elmo. Her choice of movie is ALWAYS "Tangled." I picked her up from her class on Sunday and she was decked out in a knight's vest, a crown, royal robe and was carrying a broom. Like I said, she's hilarious!

Oh. So I wanted to share this:

With having to take Will to his different therapies we happen to be around a lot of people (mostly kids) who have special needs. Several of these children are in wheel chairs or have other devices to assist them. It has become normal for me to be in these environments and not feel awkward (that wasn't always the case). Will and Lana see these things all the time. Well, Will and Lana have decided that wheel chairs are bikes. Every time we see a person in a wheel chair, one or both kids will point out and happily exclaim "BIKE" and get louder until I comment that, yes, I do in fact see the wheel chair. I tell them it is a wheel chair and it helps people move around who need them. To their young minds they see bikes.

Not that long ago we were waiting for an appointment and Will goes up to the chair of a teenaged girl with cerebral palsy and starts petting her wheels. He was just so enthralled with them since they are much larger than what he has on his tricycle. The girl just laughed.

We're working on that --- wheel chairs are NOT bikes. At least it's a nice ice breaker...


Friday, January 6, 2012

A "major, raging" one

So the holidays totally snuck up on me and I neglected to post about our fun time at Thanksgiving and at this point I'm not even sure I'll get to it. Tegan posted about it and I was there... so if you're really interested go check it out.

And I'll EVENTUALLY get around to posting about Christmas and the vacation... but not right now.

I will say that I've discovered I don't want to live in Western Washington again when Ryan gets out of the military. All that overcast sky and rain is really, REALLY dreary -- especially after living in one of the sunniest places in America. Things get depressing, I think, faster than they get soggy. It is a beautiful place... but I like my desert.

Anyway, life is returning to normal now. Will is back in school. My activities are picking up. Ryan will start classes next week. Hope to start Alanna's potty training in a week or two. Things are going good.

Since we returned home Ryan and I are working on re-training the kids on bedtime. As in: go to bed and stay in bed. If you wake up and don't want to sleep in your bed then sleep on the couch 'cause mommy and daddy want their bed to themselves.

It's mostly Will, but now that Alanna is in a toddler bed she has a difficult time staying in her bed at bedtime. Thankfully she can't turn doorknobs to open the doors so she's at least contained. Eventually she gives up her crying, lays down and goes to sleep.

We have had several nights of little sleep. Never fun.

Wanna know what else isn't fun?! A horrible and painful "infection" in a very sensitive area. ARGH! I've never experienced this before and after waiting over a week before seeing a doctor apparently it was a "major, raging" one at that. Now I don't feel so bad about complaining to Ryan and wanting to burn off my clothing in that region.

There's a special pill you can take which will get rid of it. Since I have such a bad case I have 2 of these special pills -- 1 that I had to take today and another to take in several days that should totally finish everything off. I also got some lovely, soothing ceam. I hope to never again experience this awfulness. That is unlikely since I am a woman. But at least now I know how it feels and some of the early signs so if it does ever return I can easily be treated with over-the-counter meds.

Geez... I'm full of fascinating information tonight, aren't I?

I'll end this now so you can move on. *wink*


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Year For Books

So we are 4 days into the new year and I have finished reading 4 books. Well, technically 3 since I finished one on December 31 and I can't really count that one.

I basically devoured the Hunger Games Trilogy. Wow. I really couldn't put them down! The first book is the one I completed on the 31st (I started it around 9 pm on the 30th). Then I quickly read through Heaven is for Real - cute and inspiring. Then I bought and ravaged the 2 remaining books from the series: Catching Fire and Mockingjay.

It isn't often I have the opportunity to read like this, though I thoroughly enjoy it. Get a good book in my hands and I will put off sleep to get into them -- and for a mom of two kids who have been severely fighting bedtime that's saying something.

Anyway, my friend Poekitten at Many Waters told me about a book tracking challenge being hosted by Aubrie Anne at Who's Your Editor? It is fun and no stress on absolutely reading a ton of books... just do what you can. Set your own goal!

I'll be signing up soon but thought I'd help spread the news so others could join as well.

How can you join? Head on over to Aubrie Anne's page HERE and let her know you are participating. Then read books that are at least 100 pages and keep track of how many you read (reread books and school books also qualify). There are more details on her page so go check it out!