Monday, December 30, 2013

Autumn Anthology Review

I was provided this anthology for my review and was not paid.  These are my honest opinions!

A Hound Dog Named Elvis by Heather Horrocks

A Chick Flick Clique story
All about how Kaitlyn and Joshua work their way back into each other's good graces after a silly breakup.  It's always funny to read about how good looking they still find the other person, and how they still ahve that connection.  It just amazes me that people break up, because of a misunderstanding.  I think talking really is the best idea, and then if you want to break up still, go for it.  Obviously that's not always an option, but talking always seems to work in romance books.  :)  Seriously though, Elvis and Priscilla sound like super fun hound dogs!  There's a little suspense, although you know who's threatening her the whole time.

Eye for an Eye by Stephanie Black

Mallory cleans a building early every morning in order to pay for her schooling, and of course there's a hottie that works there.  He thinks she's pretty good-looking too.  This one is more about the mystery than the romance.  She had a friend named Nelson in high school that went off the deep end and did drugs and killed her mom and then he was killed in a prison riot.  She felt bad about it, so she wrote his sister.  Then crazy stuff started to happen.  Her sister and brother-in-law (that she lives with) decide that she's a druggie, because they found drugs in her house.  Luckily she found a pretty good guy in the hottie-Darien, and he helps her through the madness that is her tormenter.  Yikes!  Edge of your seat kind of story!

First Heist by Heather B. Moore

An Omar Zagouri Novella

This is almost all suspense!  Mia is a spy, but finds she's nowhere near as good as the guy she's watching.  There are swear words.  Just know this book isn't for kiddos.  Mia and Omar have to work together to rescue Greek artifacts before their world comes crashing down, but that can't be it, there has to be more, right?  Right!

Letter for Two by Sarah M. Eden

Sophia and Ethan.  This was one of my favorites!  They live in a bungalow, one on each side and are constantly getting their mail mixed up, so they have a daily "meeting" at 5:30 to go through the mail together.  One day they find a very old letter addressed to someone they don't know.  They work on the mystery together and with the help of an awesome neighbor.  Such a sweet story!  I loved their conversations!

Silver Cascade Secrets by Rachelle J. Christensen

Jillian and Travis meet by chance, because she is a gardener at the park and he lost his keys while playing with his niece.  They talk to find out that they are more connected than they know.  She as to decide between Caleb (her boyfriend) and Travis.  Not a hard choice.  His brother-in-law was killed and she may just have the key to finding out who did it and why!  I think this one is a fun story, and I was surprised by the end!

Chocolate Obsessed by Annette Lyon

Whitney is awesome with chocolate, but so is Stephen.  Stephen keeps beating her in competitions, so she really doesn't like him.  But, as they have to work together a scary stalker guy approaches her and Stephen steps in as the knight in shining armor!  You know who the bad guy is, but you don't know what he's trying to accomplish!  Great story!  I love the ones where they find they have a ton in common and already like each other, but didn't really know!

Buy it!

  It's only $4.99!

European Collection Anthology Review

I was provided this anthology for my honest review, I was not paid and these are my own opinions!

War of Hearts by Annette Lyon

Great story based in Poland during World War II!  Anna is a reporter who is desperate to get away from home and forget her ex-boyfriend who dropped her without telling her why, right when she thought he was going to propose!  Of course, Peter (her ex) shows up as her photographer in camp.  This story is all about how they talk and realize what happened and why, as the war rages on around them.  I loved the characters and how things happened!  It reminds you how nowhere is really safe in war.

The Earl of Oaksey Takes a Wife by G.G. Vandagriff

This novella starts off right after Melissa and Thomas are coming back from Gretna Green, having just eloped.  If you have read about Lord Trowbridge's Angel, then you will get the background before this story starts.  They are happily in love when she realizes that he's poor and married her for her money, which doesn't make her very happy.  She gets even madder when he leaves her at her family home and doesn't come back for awhile.  She goes to his house and gets it all cleaned up and liveable and decides to live there while he lives elsewhere.  She, of course feels bad after awhile and sends him a letter, which he doesn't receive.  Then she gets sick so, her dad goes out to see him.  They talk and you can tell things are about to get better.  He's worried about her and still loves her, so he goes to take her home.  So sweet.  It's a great story about calming tempers and making good choices!

Gift of Love by Michele Paige Holmes

This story starts off as Ethan is hoping that his wife Mary will live through childbirth along with their baby.  Sadly Mary dies, but the baby lives.  Amelia is in a convent about to take her vows when her half-brother shows up and takes her away to get her to marry Ethan, since he needs someone to bring him happiness and take care of his little girl.  The one thing Amelia was going to miss as a nun was having children, so she goes with him and marries a stranger.  This is all about how they get to know each other and she learns why he is so paranoid aabout horses and the beach.  There's some suspense as well, but I'm not going to give it away!  It's better to be surprised!

A Lesson in Love by Sarah M. Eden

This one cracked me up!  Lucy and Reed are newlyweds heading to London for their first married season.  Lucy is thrilled to finally get to go to parties with her husband, instead of having to worry about finding a partner.  Reed, on the other hand, is looking forward to quiet nights at home, since he's already attended all the balls and crushes he should have to now that he's a married man.  Needless to say, they aren't happy with the other's opinion of how things should go.  So, Lucy goes home to her family to make Reed court her again, because he doesn't think it's important to go with her to the season.  Her father and brothers (in-laws) convince Reed to fight against it and not give in to her demands.  This story is all about how things eventually get worked out.  Boys vs. Girls, who do you think wins?

An Ocean Away by Heather B. Moore

In this story Gina has given up hope of finding a suitor in New York , because her dad has scared everyone off.  They choose to vacation and are in France, when her love for reading Gothic novels in the garden gets discovered by Edmund, who happens to be from New York and is being sued by her father for shipping in his area.   They have to see past their situations in order to find what can happen next!  A super fun story!  I loved the banter, and the end!  So very romantic!

What Happens in Venice by Nancy Campbell Allen

Evangeline is living Cinderella's life with a terrible stepdad and two spoiled sisters.  She is an amazing artist, but her stepdad is being known for his art and they are in Venice to show off his work in a large art display.  She meets a mystery man at a party and he woos her.  It works, of course.  She finds out something and it puts her in desperate danger, but her mystery man can save her.  Can't he?

All-in-all a great anthology!  I loved the different time periods and the very different writing styles!  Some mystery, some romance, all good!

Buy it!

It's only $4.99!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Day After Christmas

Now that the flurry of Christmas is over, I can finally write what happened! The day before Christmas Eve, Scott and I got to go out for our "Sunday is our Anniversary, so we get to go out the next day" date! We went to Applebee's, which sadly isn't a great place here. It takes forever to have someone help you! We knew what we wanted to eat before she came to get our drink order. The good news is that we were able to order everything all at once! The drinks were yummy too! So yummy that I drank it quickly while eating our very crunchy onion rings. Our food came and Scott's was alright (his words) and mine was really skimpy on the sauce. Like barely any sauce. The breadstick was hard and tasteless. It was just sad. I was pretty thirsty, and still no help, so I ate some ice while waiting. We were almost done eating when we finally got the check. We had plenty of time to clean off our table, stack our dishes and silverware, while we waited for her to ring us up. Scott gave up and asked another waitress, who found our waitress and she rang us up. It took forever! We're super unimpressed! But, we did some grocery shopping to get all we needed for my family that was coming on Christmas! Then we picked up the kids. It was still freezing cold, but we went and played in the snow at the playground. I got some awesome pictures of the kiddos, before they started crying. Poor kiddos forgot snow is cold!
To make up for it, I made gingerbread dough and the kids got to cut out what they wanted, or put in their orders to me.  No gingerbread men for us!  

 At Applebee's
 With their cookies
 Kira finished first!
 Then Ben (although he made more than one)
 Leah added to hers up until she ate
 Cecilia just really liked peach rings
 Emma got a good mix!

Christmas Eve was crazy busy getting ready. I finished off our matching pajamas (and learned a lot about making pants)! Then we cleaned like crazy, I love it when my room is the cleanest room in the house! The kitchen will always have dirty dishes, so it's easy to beat! Anyway, we worked hard to be ready for Christmas! The kids all made snow "globe" ornaments!  It took a while for the kids to fall asleep, so I got to watch a whole movie while waiting!  Then I got the presents out and made it beautiful!  I cleaned up some more and got to bed at about 3ish.

After all the hard work!

Then at 7:30 the kids woke up, so we made them put on their matching jammies!  Which was very interesting considering most of the pants didn't quite cover their rear as well as I would have liked.  Oh well!  Then most of them split their crotch inseams, so I spent the first half of the day cooking Christmas lunch and reinforcing inseams.  I was the only one that didn't need it, because I made mine maternity size!  My family came and we opened presents before the turkey finally finished!  It turned out fantastic and was super juicy, so HURRAY!!!  I was pretty excited that things turned out so well, late, but well!  Everyone liked their presents!  Josh was so excited about his bed!  My Dad and Scott put it together, with Josh watching!  He even helped put the sheet on the bed he was so excited!  We went to the hotel my family was staying at and got to go swimming!  Cecilia dove right in, and Sam had to save her.  I wasn't there yet, so I just heard about it!  Poor baby!  I held Josh most of the time!  When his lips turned blue, I decided to get him out to hang out with the warm and dry grandparents.  Lots of fun!  Then we had the opportunity to find a place that was open for fast food on Christmas.  Kim and I found that our family's favorite Taco place was open!  Woohoo!  So, we got a ton of food from there and made the poor guy working the hotel front desk jealous as we ate in the lobby (he said we could)!  We really should have ordered extra for him!  We even cleaned up behind ourselves before we headed out!  

 Wearing Cecilia's Princess Sophia shoes

 Helping with the sheet!
 And ready to take a nap, although he didn't.  And he didn't want to sleep in it last night, he wanted his crib back.
 Leah getting her hair cut, so now she's not a 80s Rocker chick.
 At the pool
 My poor little partially drowned Cecilia and scared Leah.  
 Playing peek-a-boo in the hotel room curtains.
Eating El Pastorcito yumminess

We went home and the kids still didn't go to bed for awhile!  Josh just cried and cried until we put his mattress back in the crib and let him sleep in there.  Poor baby, it was a hard day!  Lots of new things!  I crashed by ten thirty (After I got the pictures on the computer)!  
Today we slept in, which was oh-so-happy!  My family came by for a little while.  My Mom and Dad posed for some pictures, got all they needed to bring down south and headed out to Louisiana!

 My kiddos with their Mamaw and Papaw
My beautiful sisters and me!

My sisters stayed a little longer and played my new game Scrabble Scattergories with me!  It was super fun!  Scott and I tied for the win!  Always nice!  Then they headed out to have lunch and head home.  It was a whirlwind trip, but I'm so glad they came!  It will probably take us a couple of days to recover and get the house clean again!

Awesome books for $1.99!

I decided to make life easier, so you can find the cheap books here!  I'll add more as I find them!  A couple are only 99 cents!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Fun times again!

I never knew how bad December would be at school, since we were able to take an early break last year during student teaching.  I had no idea how crazy it would be!  My poor Kindergartners were so excited about Christmas, and then we had a full moon and lots of cold days (inside recess)!  Wow!  They loved getting a present and goodie bag at the Christmas Party!  I loved how happy they were to get a book!  Some of my kiddos wanted to wait and open it for Christmas.  So sweet!  One of my kiddos gave me a Smencil (smelly pencil)  and another one gave me orchids and chocolates!  So incredibly nice!  I LOVE my orchids, since I have never had orchids before!  Scott's taking good care of them for me too!  We had a work day on Friday and now I'm free for two weeks (except for finishing entering in report card grades, but my hands were hurting so bad I decided to wait)!
My kiddos loved their parties, and my older kiddos loved getting to go see Frozen, I think it's almost everyone's favorite movie!  All I have to do is pull up one of the songs on youtube and they'll come running!  They also loved seeing the Live Nativity at church!  They even had apple cider for us!  Hurray!
Today we cleaned some.  The boys' room looks pretty good now, and the girls' room is pretty clean too (although they did theirs on their own)!  We made pizza for dinner, with breadsticks!  They were all gone in no time!  Then we had snow ice cream for dessert.  We ended up with five different kinds (obviously, the kids really liked it)!  We had grape (koolaid), peach mango (koolaid), creme de menthe, peppermint stick (frosting creation), and cherry (pie filling) with white chocolate flakes.  YUM!!!  We have plenty still in the freezer for later too!  My kiddos had a blast clearing off the car for us!  Then Scott went out and cleared the driveway too, so we're ready in case we get to go to church tomorrow!
Our plans for next week are to keep our house clean, and even cleaner (if possible)!  I'm going to make our matching Christmas PJs (hopefully that turns out okay)!  And if that goes well, I'm going to work on the girls' matching skirts that are already cut out, they just need to be sewn and put the elastic in!  Then if I still have time (or just don't want to sleep), I'll make my girls some new bows too!  We'll see how it goes!  My family is coming on Wednesday and leaving on Thursday!  I'm thrilled they are coming!  Even if it's only a day (if that).  We will see what else we do this week, but we'll probably be making yummy treats and going caroling!
I LOVE Christmas!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Awesome Thanksgiving

And I was so worn out, I'm just now posting!  We left here right after I got done with the After school Program on Tuesday (last week), got pizza, while Scott gassed up the van and we headed north to our families!  It was Ben's birthday, but he didn't complain!  He was thrilled to go up north!  His teacher was super sweet and bought him cupcakes, since he ruined his on the way in and we had cupcakes to snack on on the way too!  We got in super late and then I talked to my mom for awhile!  It's so nice to spend time with family!  Wednesday was the Zoo and Games at my Sister-in-law's house.  It's an amazing house!  They've worked super hard on it, and it shows!  It was great having kids my kids' ages to play with (since my husband's brother has 7 kids and most of them are close in age to ours)!  Our kiddos loved being with cousins!  We went back to my family for my kids to spend time with another cousin when they woke up on Thursday morning.  My family is so sweet and they let me sleep in everyday I was there!  It was amazing!  We had our Thanksgiving lunch there and then Thanksgiving lunch again an hour or so later with my husband's family.  We got to play more games.  We especially liked the Round Robin Ping Pong and Ultimate Frisbee!  Then we went and saw the lights at the nearby park and they were awesome too!  The kids loved picking out favorites and seeing what the lights were doing!  I liked the fish jumping out of the water and back in!  We left later, and went back to my family.
Mandy and I went out Black Friday shopping after we got the kids in bed (I did a little online shopping at Kohl's before we left).  We went to Target, Old Navy, Bath and Body Works, and Build-a-Bear.  We had our after midnight meal on the way back and got in about 2.  Not bad!  There weren't any lines, since I refused to go earlier and miss out on time with my family to shop!  I was very excited about our buys!
Then on Friday, we girls went to a Matinee showing of Frozen.  I LOVED it!!!  I'm buying it when it comes out, so we can watch it again and again!  I love the family ties, and the true love angle!  We went over to Scott's mom's house and did our little Christmas gift swap.  We all love our presents!  We all worked hard together to get lights hung up outside the house, even I took a turn, although it scared everyone to have a pregnant woman on a ladder.  It scared me more to have my kiddos on it!
Later we went to Powerplay to celebrate Ben's birthday!  No cake or anything.  Ooops!  He had a blast and even played laser tag for the first time (with Scott).  He ended up telling me that it wasn't an ego booster and that he had gotten his first taste of war.  It was fun watching him play!  At one point he ran up behind an opponent to shoot him.  The bad news is that he was doing something wrong with his gun, so none of the shots actually connected!  He did great on the beating up Crocodile game!  Our little kiddos enjoyed the kiddo playground!  Josh was so cute jumping in the bounce house and trying to grab balls!  Cecilia and Leah did a great job going up all the slides!  We had a lot of fun!
On Saturday morning, Kim and I headed up to the Temple.  It was great seeing family there!  My dad was in charge of our session, which was super cool!  I LOVE the Temple!  It's so peaceful, and beautiful, and you can feel the Spirit so much easier!  We went back to the house and Dad picked up a piece for our van.  Poor Dad spent a lot of time working on our van this week!  We didn't get enough done, but did get a car top luggage carrier and jogging stroller from some friends, which was much needed for all of the Christmas presents we had to bring back!  We ended up staying the night and we left after we ate lunch after church.  Church was great, especially since Mandy took Josh with her to Nursery!  Nice!
We made it home safely, phew!  We unloaded the car and went to bed late.  Then we woke up to sick kiddos.  So, Scott stayed home with them for a couple of days.  He went into work last night, worked day today and will work tonight (Friday night).  We're all exhausted!  But, tomorrow's Friday!

Christmas Newsletter

We just made it, so it's doubtful that it will get to everyone in time!  In the meantime, we have four days of actual school and one teacher work day until two weeks of Winter Break!  We're so excited!  I get to spend time with family and deep clean!  I've already started and got the girls' room clean (just have the closets to go)!  I can't wait to see how excited my Kindergartners are to make things for their parents!  They love art projects (and we don't have art)!  We don't have any recent family pictures which is a bummer!  I have material to make matching skirts for us girls and matching pjs for all of us!  Now to get my sewing machine working!
Westhoffs’ 2013 Update
Scott- Scott is super busy here in Liberal!  He is in charge of the facilities at church and also teaches Spanish and English classes at church!  He is enjoying being a stay-at-home dad as he works to get his online marketing business going.

Tamera- I graduated this year with honors!  I LOVE teaching my Kindergartners!  I have 40 half day Kinders!  I also do the Afterschool Program and have 11 kiddos there (one is Emma)!  We’re learning to like our small town and are looking for the perfect house!

Ben- He’s in 5th grade and is learning to play the bells!  He’s trying to change the world, one invention at a time!  If he had the time and resources, he would create some super cool things!  He is an awesome reader and actually tested above the 11th grade level! 

Kira- She’s in 4th grade.  Her teacher chose her to be a Student Ambassador for her class, plus she got Student of the month last month!  She also loves Activity Days, and that her mom is in charge!

Emma- Finally started school this year!  She is one of the smartest kids in her class, thanks to the extra year she had to learn before she started!  She loves having me next door and being in my class for the afterschool program! She loves to paint and drum!

Leah- Will be starting Kindergarten next year (after a whole lot of work over the Summer to get her ready)!  She still likes to take naps, and LOVES makeup and art!

Cecilia- She is turning 3 at the beginning of the year and is a crack up!  She is super sweet with Josh and will run and open the cabinet door to let Josh throw away his diaper every time!  Then she claps and cheers for him!  She is also very creative, as evident by the many pictures she draws on our walls!

Joshua- He is almost one and a half, but wears size 2t-3t!  He LOVES cars!  He has some wall stickers and has to touch each of them every night before he’ll go to bed!  Two of the few words he uses regularly are “car” and “mom.”  He is a dancer!  Even at church he’ll dance to the hymns!  He is also talented at pulling up the html code for random websites. 

Upcoming Baby due May 30th, growing well (about a week ahead of Schedule) and we have another ultrasound at the end of the month, so we’re hoping to find out if Samuel Parker or Samara Ashlyn will be joining our family!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sickness and Health

Our poor kids were worn out from our trip, so their sickness took hold!  Scott had to miss work on Monday and Tuesday to be with sick kiddos.  They made it to the Doctor on Tuesday and Josh had a terrible cough, an ear infection and pink eye.  Cecilia just had the cough and the pink eye.  It was gross, so I won't upload a picture.  Either way, they're doing much better now!  Josh doesn't like the pink medicine, which boggles my mind!  Of course, he doesn't like ice cream either!  Silly boy!  He LOVES his new soft Cars pajamas!  He kept touching the cars on his legs.  We chopped his bangs, so the pink eye wouldn't spread.  So, now I have to be brave enough to cut the back.  GULP!!!
Cecilia has decided that our bed is better than hers, so she keeps sleeping with us.  Apparently she noticed that I put her back in bed, because she came back early in the morning.  Oh well, she's still cute, even if she's a "bed frog" (not a bed hog).  She wants her snuggles and books read every night.
Leah has been sleeping a ton!  I'm a little worried about her!  She sleeps in late every morning (and is beyond hard to wake up).  Then she doesn't want to get dressed by herself.  She takes a long nap too!  I'm worried about her no longer doing the things she could do before.  She can still do them, but it's ridiculously hard.  I already had her on watch for bipolar disorder.  Now, I want her seen ASAP!  Poor kiddo needs all the help she can get!
Emma is doing awesome at school.  She always tells me that she hasn't clipped down once!  Since I talk to her teacher regularly (of course, since we're next door to each other), I already know how she's doing.  She's getting enrichment on a SIT Plan, because she's doing so well.  I've had an extra year to help her at home, and Kira loves teaching her things too.  So, Emma knows random facts like 6x2=12, and 100+100=200.  Funny kiddo!  She loves drawing pictures and writing them to people.
Kira is doing fantastic!  She is really understanding more, so she is growing by leaps and bounds.  She moved up two groups in spelling, so she's going to actually study again!  She was getting 101 on every spelling test for two months.  They have a Christmas Shop at school and she's already budgeted out how much she needs and how she can get something for her loved ones.  It cracks me up though, because I'm getting a mom pencil, and the kids all have to share a lava light thing, I can't remember who's getting the big ticket items.  Either way, it'll be interesting to see what she comes up with with the budget I actually give her. She has quite the mouth on her and is quite a smart aleck.  We're working on it.
 Ben has been sleeping a lot too!  But, he's doing well in school.  His IRC teacher gives him a book when he does well, and he's almost earned one!