Thursday, November 14, 2013

Winner! Winner! Pope Awesome Chicken Dinner!

Hey! Maybe Cari can work on a cookbook next, because Pope Awesome Chicken sounds delicious and fits right in with her themes!

Without further ado, I give you Faith (taking the place of William, who was napping at the time of the drawing) drawing the name of the winner of a copy of Pope Awesome and Other Stories....

CONGRATULATIONS TO TRACY, FROM MAKINGTHETREK!! (Tracy, email me your mailing address so I can ship you your copy right away!!)

Theme Thursday: Cold

Welcome, welcome to all you Clan Donaldson peeps!! I'm happy to be guest-hosting this week's Theme Thursday for Cari! 

Today's theme is Cold, which I find highly apropos as the Chicago area is having a bit of a cold snap right now. This didn't stop my Faith from fixing herself what she refers to as a "grown-up's beach drink" (in her case, an iced tea with a lemon slice and a cocktail umbrella).

Let's see how you're chilling this week!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What We're Reading Wednesday: The Westing Game

Joining the lovely Jessica for this week's installment of WWRW....

Reliable Dwija over at HouseUnseen recommended this book to me a while ago. Since I was vetting several books for Maeve (thanks to all the parents out there who think reading any book is good, because "well, they're READING, aren't they?"), I didn't have time to read The Westing Game until this past week.

It's a young adult mystery (well, lots of mysteries, actually!), which makes it more difficult to review without spoiling the ending, but I will try.

The Westing Game is the story of the tenants of Sunrise Towers who are all
seemingly unconnected to one another but as the story unfolds, you begin to learn that they all have one person in common: Samuel Westing.

Westing is an eccentric old business tycoon who disappeared years ago and is rumored to be dead. His mansion is situated across from Sunset Towers, and one Halloween, the tenants see smoke rising from the chimney. (Cue the spooky music...)

From here on out, Raskin (who won the Newberry for this book) does a superb job of introducing you to each character while weaving a complex storyline. The book is less than 200 pages, but I was forced to read slowly so I wouldn't miss a single detail or clue. In some books, this is confusing and problematic, but that is not the case in The Westing Game

The tenants (from 13 year old Turtle Wexler to old Crow) are summoned by letter to the Westing Mansion as heirs, divided into pairs, with each pair receiving $10,000 and a set of 5 words as clues. They are told they have a short amount of time to solve the mystery of who took the life of Sam Westing.

From here on out, the reader is treated to the character development necessary to solve the mystery and to make one truly invested in the lives of these characters. Each character is a mystery within the larger mystery. It's fascinating.

I also enjoyed the overall theme of hope that came across as very pro-marriage and pro-life. A sense of this permeated the entire story and gained my trust -- which sounds weird, but it's true. The very ending let me down a little, though. And, without giving anything away, I will
tell you that my sense of established trust in the hopefulness of the storyline was violated by the decision of 2 of the main characters.

However, I still feel this was an extremely good book and totally appropriate for anyone high school age or older. (I would allow my 13 year old to read it, provided we discuss my feelings regarding the ending).

Monday, November 11, 2013

Monday Malaise

Hmmm... Catchy title.

I may just make this a link up. ;)

I'm caught up in the "betwixt the holidays" boredom. You know... The place in time when Halloween is finished, but you haven't yet been steamrolled by Thanksgiving and Christmas.

It's that weird place where you know you should be doing something but, goshdarnitall, the tasks that lie ahead seem overwhelming and costly, so it's easier to just mope around.

Yes, even us moms of large families find ways to mope around. Only... No one really notices.

Where the heck am I going with this? Darned if I know.

Sort of...

Let's play a game: I'm going to throw out a few ideas I have and you let me know if they're "crazy", "doable", or a "waste of time". 

What do you win? 
Well, you get to judge me -- which is not something I usually allow. And, if any of my ideas are great, you can steal them!

Ready, set, GO!

1) I'm toying with the idea of buying all matching, inexpensive Christmas stockings to replace our semi-matched set. AND, I want to embroider our names on them. I used to embroider when I was in grade school and jr high, but haven't done it since then. Crazy, doable, or waste of time?

2) Kyle and I are mulling over starting a LifeTeen group in our parish. We have no existing youth/teen group now, so this is only partially selfishly motivated. Crazy, doable, or waste of time?

3) I'm having Thanksgiving in my home for the first time EVER in our marriage! It will be only our family of nine, but I want to "do it up right", so I want to buy new cloth napkins and new glassware to go with my good china. Crazy, doable, or waste of time?

4) Stuffing from scratch?  Crazy, doable, or waste of time?

That's all I gots today. 

Weigh in!

And, don't forget to enter my giveaway for Pope Awesome! It ends this Thursday!

Friday, November 8, 2013

7 Quick Takes: Complete With A Giveaway!

Joining Jen for this week's takings of quick!

1) My friend, Cari, wrote a book! (Yes! I'm THAT famous! I know an author!!) She wrote a fantastic account of her conversion to Catholicism. It's chockfull (that's a word, autocorrect?) of hilarious and beautiful stories of her journey to motherhood and Jesus. It's titled "Pope Awesome and Other Stories". But don't believe me when I say it's a must-read; go check out her many awesome reviews on Amazon! Or, better yet, just ask Kyle. He loved the book so much he read it right-side up, then upside-down.

2) What's that? I convinced you? You want a copy? Well, lemme hook you up, my brutha (or sistah)! I am giving away one copy of Cari's book for the price of one comment! Yes, that's right! I believe so much in Cari's story, that I'm willing to pay postage to send it to one lucky winner (you're welcome, Cari!). Just leave me a comment below and Sweet William will choose the winner on next Thursday (11/14)!

 Now, on to Life With The Dempseys! 

3) Maeve is in the process of choosing high schools to attend next year. Although we aren't newbies to this process, we haven't had to look at girls' schools until now. Due to a scheduling snafu, Joe had to attend one of the open houses with us last night and declared that, while the school "still smelled like tears and pencil shavings", it also smelled "a lot better --more colorful-- than a boys' school.".
Amen to that.

4) My running class was going really well! I even started running a solid 3 miles --albeit r e a l l y  s l o w l y-- without stopping! But this weird pain in my knee kept bothering me on non-running days.  Turned out, I have a bruised meniscus. This means that I had to stop running and walking immediately, rest the knee, ice it, and take ibuprofen. It also means that I will never again be able to run on cement or asphalt, only a cushioned track or dirt. Boo. But.....

5) Kyle to the rescue! Since my esteemed physician suggested swimming and cycling as safe alternatives, Kyle encouraged me to sign up for the Fall special at our local hospital's fitness center! They have 2 pools, recumbent bikes, the whole shebang! Now, I'm kickin' it with all the local grannies in the locker room as we prep for our aqua classes. 

6) Thanks to good ol' Jessica, I tried out this recipe for Brazilian Black Bean Soup this week. I thought, "2 different pork products in the same soup CANNOT be wrong", and I was not disappointed. Because I'm (obviously) in a generous mood today, I'm sharing the link with you.
7) Finally, this has been the best video I've seen all week. Takes me back to 8th grade gym class with Mrs. Barnish and her Jane Fonda workout videos: