Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Book Blast: Ginnie West Adventure Series and Giveaway!

Very excited to help introduce a new series for young readers! We are starting on the first book this week, I'll let you know what we think soon. In the meantime, this gives you a good sneak peek.

  Ginnie West Adventures - collage  

About the Books

Book 1: The Secret Sisters Club

The Secret Sisters Club - cover

Title: The Secret Sisters Club (Ginnie West Adventures, Book 1) | Author: Monique Bucheger | Illustrator: Mikey Brooks | Publication Date: March 18, 2012 | Publisher: True West Publishing | Pages: 238 | Recommended Ages: 8 to 13 Book Summary: Twelve-year-old BFFs want to be sisters. Tillie's divorced mom plus Ginnie's widowed dad could equal a lifetime of round-the-clock girl talk. Too bad Dad vowed to never marry again. Ginnie and Tillie come up with the perfect mission to change his mind: ‘Operation Secret Sisters.’ Before long, Ginnie suspects Tillie has turned ‘Operation Secret Sisters’ into a scam called ‘Operation Steal My Dad.’ Things get more complicated when Ginnie stumbles across her dead mom’s hidden journals. Ginnie can finally get to know the mother she doesn’t remember and Dad doesn’t talk about … until Dad takes the journals away.

Book 2: Trouble Blows West

Trouble Blows West - cover

Title: Trouble Blows West (Ginnie West Adventures, Book 2) | Author: Monique Bucheger | Illustrator: Mikey Brooks | Publication Date: April 13, 2012 | Publisher: True West Publishing | Pages: 234 | Recommended Ages: 8 to 13 Book Summary: Putting her body in motion before her brain is in gear creates a mountain of problems for 12 year-old Ginnie West. Ginnie is certain that defending her twin brother from the biggest bully in sixth grade was the right thing to do, but she soon finds out she couldn’t be more wrong. Bullies don’t like being embarrassed by girls at school—especially when they are being abused at home. When Ginnie figures out Pierce’s awful secret, she switches gears and decides to be his ally, because he won’t let her be his friend.  

Book 3: Simply West of Heaven

Simply West of Heaven by Monique Bucheger

Title: Simply West of Heaven (Ginnie West Adventures, Book 3) | Author: Monique Bucheger | Illustrator: Mikey Brooks | Publication Date: January 1, 2013 | Publisher: True West Publishing | Pages: 288 | Recommended Ages: 8 to 13 Book Summary: Twelve-year-old BFFs are matchmaking geniuses. They schemed to get Ginnie’s widowed dad to fall in love with Tillie’s divorced mom. Then Ginnie stumbled upon her late mom's journals, making life totally awesome sauce … until her dad confiscated the journals. Ginnie is counting on Tillie's help to make Dad change his mind, but Tillie's not sure the ghost of Ginnie's mom will make a good addition to their new family tree. When a blast from the past shows up and makes Tillie go nutburgers, Ginnie is torn between helping her BFF and having her questions answered.  

Book 4: Being West is Best

Being West is Best - cover

Title: Being West is Best (Ginnie West Adventures, Book 4) | Author: Monique Bucheger | Illustrator: Mikey Brooks | Publication Date: April 19, 2014 | Publisher: True West Publishing | Pages: 350 | Recommended Ages: 8 to 13 Book Summary: Twelve-year-old BFFs, Ginnie West and Tillie Taylor, are matchmaking geniuses. Together, they maneuvered Ginnie’s widower-dad into proposing to Tillie’s divorcee-mom. Sweet! Certain they are well on their way to sisterhood, each girl is floored when Tillie’s lousy-excuse-for-a-birth-father puts in an appearance after a six year absence. Too bad “lousy dad repellant” doesn’t come in a can. Even though Tillie’s dad has sobered up and is determined to make amends, Tillie would rather he just disappear again. If he stays, “Operation: Secret Sisters” may need to be renamed “Operation: Not Gonna Happen.”

Amazon | Print Books Signed by Author


About the Author: Monique Bucheger

Author picture Monique

When Monique Bucheger isn’t writing, you can find her playing taxi driver to one or more of her 12 children, plotting her next novel, scrapbooking, or being the “Mamarazzi” at any number of child-oriented events. Even though she realizes there will never be enough hours in any given day, Monique tries very hard to enjoy the journey that is her life. She shares it with a terrific husband, her dozen children, sons-in-law, and adorable grandchildren, cats, and many real and imaginary friends. She is the author of the Ginnie West Adventures series, picture book, Popcorn, and plans to write plenty more.

Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Google+ | Goodreads


About the Illustrator: Mikey Brooks

Mikey Brooks

Mikey Brooks is an author/illustrator that specializes in children’s art. His picture books include the best-selling ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures, Trouble with Bernie and Bean’s Dragons. He is the illustrator of several picture books such as Popcorn by Monique Bucheger, Bongo Flo by Carolyn Quist, and Lucius and the Christmas Star by Jim Long. He is the author of The Gates of Atlantis: Battle for Acropolis, The Stone of Valhalla the best-selling middle-grade series The Dream Keeper Chronicles. You can find more about him and his books at: www.insidemikeysworld.com      

*$25 Book Blast Giveaway *

Amazon 25 gift card 

  Prize: One winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash (winner's choice) Contest closes: November 27, 11:59 pm, 2014 Open to: Internationally How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the Monique Bucheger and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com. 

MDBR Book Promotion Services  

Friday, October 24, 2014

Word of the Week: Respite

By noon on Monday I already knew that my school plans for the early part of the week were simply not going to be happening. Not because of anything negative, I could just see the resistance, the desire to do anything else. And when that manifests in my kiddos, I take it pretty seriously, because, after all, our "school" involves a great deal of fun, so when they are drained, it's a sign that they truly need a break.

So I gave them one. We took the whole week off, instead of just Thursday and Friday as I had planned.

They loved it. Monday afternoon was spent mostly taking turns playing on my computer. I made cake.

Tuesday the kids got new bikes. We had been waiting for the weather to cool, and the time felt right, and the day, sort of perfect. They love them.

Grace is still trying to bravely learn to balance and ride without training wheels, which is going to take some time, but she's working very hard at it.

Zak is in complete sensory heaven on a bike. I had forgotten how instantly regulating it is for him. He is different after he rides, calm, organized. His motor slows for just a little while.

The helmet alone was worth the entire investment for Kit. Crazy cute! And her tiny balance bike is so light, even she can easily lift it and move it from one place to another. And it came with a bell. I mean, there is no word for the exponential adorableness of this child and her bicycle.

And to make a great week even better. Their time off led right into mine.

My amazing hubby bestowed upon me the most perfect gift. Four nights, by myself, in a cabin in the woods. I'm not sure he even understands how perfect a present this is for me. I have a huge stack of books, a fridge full of fruits and veggies (and other scrumptious ingredients to cook without timelines or children melting down as they bicker and a three year old tries to climb me as I attempt to drain pasta), coffee, tea, fuzzy slippers, a deck with a view of nothing but trees, and Gilmore Girls on DVD.

I love my family fiercely. I will always strive to meet the needs of those I love as best as is within my reach. And because of that love,  and to sustain my ablilities to be able to continue supporting these amazing people, I will take this time to nurture myself as well. They have many busy plans to keep them occupied and happy while I'm here. We will all be giddy when I return. So I feel no guilt, just gratefulness for this much needed and deeply beloved...


Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Good morning friends!

I'm very pleased to share with you this link over  to Jocelyn at The Reading Residence so you can read her Blog Lowdown featuring...me!

Yes, I have had the wonderful privilege of being featured, so please head over there to read the whole interview. And while you're there, check out a few of her other posts and features as well. She's a super sweet mama, with a great blog!

Thank you, Jocelyn! It was fun.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Toy Review: H2O-La-La

I have not been compensated in any way to provide this review.(Except with loads of fun.) 

We got our container of H2O-la-la as part of Kit's Preschool Curriculum back in August. It took us a while to pull it out and discover that it totally ROCKS!!

H2O-la-la are fizzy color tablets that can be added to bathwater, or any other container of water to make crisp, bright colored water!

The container contains a combined total of 300 large and small tablets that, according to the packaging, "fizz, swirl, and color the water!"

And that is indeed what these amazing little tablets do!

The tablets are "kid safe, lab tested, no soap or fragrance". But the label still warns that the tablets are not to be eaten. This product is labeled for kids 3+, so use caution with younger children, especially if they like to drink the bathwater.

We love them. Kit loves them. She loves choosing a color for her bath each night!

The tablets come in the three primary colors, yellow, red, and blue. But they can be combined in multiple ways to make several other colors and shades.

Kit's first bath was "pink!". We used first one, then added a second large red tablet to make the color even richer. Kit loved it. But I didn't get any pictures of that one as I only was able to glimpse into the bathroom on my way out the door leaving Daddy in charge of bath time.

I did get to oversee her green bath though. We started out with one large blue tablet. When the tablet hits the water, it immediately starts to fizz, much like Alka-Seltzer tablets, and release a stream of color which indeed does sort of swirl around.

After the blue was well mixed, I added a yellow tablet. Kit was delighted and giggled and squealed as the water gradually developed spots of green amidst the blue. She lay down on her belly and wiggled and splashed, acting as a human mixer. The water turned bright green! Like green eggs and ham! It was awesome! 

Friday, she got a purple bath. We started out with two large red tablets to made the water a rich pink. Then we added two large blue tablets. It was beautiful to see one side of the tub a lovely rosy pink, while the other side was turning lavender and the colors swirled and mixed.

The end result was the perfect purple! 

She asked for a purple bath again the next day. And this time we put both a red large tablet and a large blue tablet in the water at the same time. The tap was still running to fill the tub, so the resulting swirls were so pretty!

The end color was a bit blue still, so we added a second large red tablet, and the purple this time was a lighter lavender rather than the royal of the night before, but Kit was happy.

Watching the tablets dissolve.
I'm trying to convince Kit to let us make orange, but she's currently in a purple phase.

A word of caution: The tablets release a high dose of heavy color once wet. When Kit picked the tablets up out of the water, the color soaks the skin. I always made her put them back in the water and after a few minutes in the bath water, her hands were completely color free, but it could probably stain the skin for longer if it isn't washed off immediately. When the bath is saturated however, there were no traces of color on her skin upon getting out, even after a relatively long bath, about 30 minutes. Nor was there any staining on the towels we used to dry her off with or to mop up her happy splashes.

Grace used these as a color experiment in jars with water as well. This is definitely a versatile and fun tool and toy.

But they can also be purchased from Amazon.

Your kids will love these. And they are great for sensory seekers like mine, but I suspect they could convince even the most reluctant bather to give it a try.

These have certainly made a big splash around here!!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Word of the Week: Colorful!

This week has been all kinds of busy, some fun, some productive, some in the opposite directions of those two. But throughout the busy, and much more noticeably, this week has been very...


From play dough, to story book pictures, and playground to pjs, we've had a little extra color everywhere.

Kit has had different color bathwater every day, and not from getting gross and grimy. She had pink on Monday, green on Tuesday, and purple on Wednesday and Friday! I'm writing a whole post on these very cool bath tablets, but here's a little sneak peak!

Our shopping trip on Tuesday resulted in several new t-shirts for Zak,  plus a new light jacket since he has outgrown everything from last year, which honestly, barely fit him then. But this one should last him a good number of years now.

Kit also got a new jacket, not because it's cool enough to wear yet, but because the stores are selling them now, and this one was bright pink and super soft and her Daddy and I probably love it even more than she does! And two new sparkly princess skirts!

Grace was hoping to find a bathrobe, but we'll have to look elsewhere, they had none. But she came away with a super sparkly clear nail polish, so she was quite satisfied! She doesn't actually wear nail polish very often, she uses it mainly to accessorize her Littlest Pet Shop animals.

School has been colorful this week too! With water beads, marker drawings of an Olmec head statue, and painting portraits for art.

And the big kids got to go with Daddy to the fair Wednesday evening, and the weather was perfect! The sky was gorgeous, and the bright rides against the crisp blue were nostalgia inducing. And who doesn't love it after the sun sets and all the lights shine bright and sparkling!

Plus a huge bonus! Much to my great delight, the weather has been much more comfortable, and I was even able to wear my fuzzy, spotted slippers around the house a few days this week. I crazy love slippers, guess it kinda goes with my love of all things wintry.

So, what word would describe your week? Share with me in the comments, and check out everyone else's here at Word of the Week on The Reading Residence!

The Reading Residence

Homeschool Highlights Week of Oct. 13

Okie doke, so in addition to daily math, the kids kept busy this week doing GeoPuzzles, math and thinking skills games on the computer, and actual reading out of science books.

I was also reminded by a fellow homeschool mom that the fair was accepting entries to the exhibition hall. I had forgotten, but when I mentioned it to the kids, they really wanted to participate, and both of them found something they have previously done to enter. Grace entered her watercolor called "Bird", and Zak entered an ink sketch he titled "Dream."

And guess what? Zak won first place! Though I don't think there were many other entries that shared his medium in his age bracket. I'm bummed that Grace only got a participant ribbon, because I seriously love her painting. We literally took it off our living room wall and brought it, frame and all, to the exhibition hall. But she seems un-phased, and both kids are looking forward to next year when they will have time to work on new and more pieces to enter.

Kit and I soaked some water beads, and she has been playing with them quite happily for the last several days.

She also has been thoroughly enjoying "painting" the chalk board. I give her a wet paintbrush and she gets busy. She has even taking to getting her own paintbrush,  scampering to the bathroom to stand on the stool and run water on the brush, so she can "paint" by herself. Very Mommy approved!

In history we read about the ancient Olmec people from Central America. Pretty much the only testimony to their civilization left standing are these giant sculpted stone heads. Presumed to be leaders and perhaps deified in stone. We looked up pictures of them, and what was most impressive to me was how very individual each one is, making the argument that they represent specific individuals very convincing. So the kids assignment was to drawn one of their own, with a person for scale and lots of details. They did a fantastic job!

The weather was beautiful this week (it's about time!), so we spent a lot of time playing outside. Chicken photo bomb courtesy of Daisy.

Grace found an earthworm Friday, which just so happened to be the absolute perfect creature for her to find this week. Her reading from her science text has been about habitats,  and she had just read about how to make an earthworm habitat. So she lost no time in making one of her own!

Hello, Wormy.

For art this week, we skimmed through a book on portraits, paying attention to the pictures, not the words so much. Then we all sat down to make some of our own. Grace and Kit went in the direction of Abstract, and I was pleasantly surprised at how similar a style Zak and I had in the facial features we painted. That was completely coincidental. 

Kit's on the left. Zak's on the right is called "Walking in the Mud".

Grace's on the right features the face of a sun in the middle, blowing out his rainbow rays. She called it, "The Windy Sun".
Mine,  on the left, is called "The Look" because that is what it made me think of. We are not likely to get hired as portrait artists anytime soon, but we had fun.

Zak came to me on Friday and said that he read out of his book earlier in the week and was there anything else he could do for science? I told him to find an experiment. He wandered off. I was giving Kit a bath after painting when I started hearing a lot of squeaking noises from the other side of the bathroom door. I chalked it up to Zak being bored. Until he came to me and asked to show me his discovery. He said he had experimented, and figured out how to make a notebook whistle. He grabbed a section of pages and slightly adjusted them so they made a bit of a tapered edge. Then he started blowing into them, looking a lot like he was administering CPR sideways to the spiral bound notebook. The ensuing warbles sounded more like duck calls than birdsong, but he was indeed making the notebook whistle. He worked on that for about twenty minutes before coming to show me. Yes, I let him count that as science. Plus he had a blast!

Hope all of you have had a wonderful week. Check out what other homeschoolers were up to at The Weekly Wrap-Up on Wierd Unsocialized Homeschoolers!  And hop on over to The Saturday Evening Family Friendly Free-For-All on Mommy Crusader!

Saturday Evening Family-Friendly Free-For-All

Happy weekend!

One Very Long Drive

Kit had a very rough Tuesday evening. 

She did okay in Walmart that afternoon, but it was good that we were only there for a few items and able to keep it a very short trip.

On the way home she started to fall apart. She was very very tired.

It was a quarter to five, so I told Victor that after the bags were unloaded, Kit and I would take a drive. 

A quiet drive after a busy activity often makes her sleepy, so I figured once the kids were out of the car, and things were calmer that she would knock out, and get a 15-20 minute snooze, and maybe that would help her to be calm enough to go to the Kingdom Hall for the meeting that night. 

But her little mind was struggling. And her evening was taking an entirely different shape that looked nothing like a peaceful rest.

She cried the entire twenty minute drive to the next town over. 

She had told me she was done with her gum, so I took it and wrapped it up in a napkin. Then she asked for a new piece, which I did not have, as the gum had come from Zak, and Zak was now at home. As was his gum. She couldn't handle this. 

Her meltdown centered on the same few sentences, pleadingly repeated over and over, no matter what I tried to offer as alternatives. I was really hoping she would at least calm just enough to let her sleepiness have a soothing impact, but it seemed the opposite effect was in place that evening. Thankfully, she wasn't hysterical, just very very overtired and unable to soothe. And I just couldn't fix it for her.

When I turned around to head back she saw a playground and started crying to go to it. 

Might sound strange, since that seems like an obvious aid to get her to calm down, but I wasn't up for turning her loose in that kind of disorganized state on an unfamiliar playground. That has major issues writen all over it. Way worse than driving a long way with a crying preschooler. 

But I also knew that she was going to cry the entire twenty minute drive home if I didn't find a way to help her calm down. So I offered to take her to play at the "green play park" that was closer to our house.

That helped, but she was still highly anxious. And she kept asking me repeatedly, "we are going to play at the green play park?" To which I would say yes, but then she would ask again. And then I remembered something that I had read in this post by Jess from Diary of a Mom

In her post she tries to portray as best as she can understand what ten minutes in school might feel, look, and sound like to her autistic daughter. I was moved by the whole piece, but one thing especially really stuck. In her scenario, her daughter, who is terrified of fire drills, says to her teacher "the firemen won't be here today." Her teacher nods, but does not say it back. So Brooke asks her teacher "Could you tell me that the firemen will not come today?" and her teacher tells her "Not right now, Brooke" and then tries to redirect her focus. But Brooke cannot move past her anxiety about a potential fire drill until she hears someone say the exact words she needs, "The firemen won't be here today." As a result of her teacher not understanding that she needs to hear the exact words, amidst the barrage of other overwhelming sensory stimuli, the root of Brooke's anxiety cannot be resolved despite her knowing that she needs to work on her math sheet. It's simply too much for her. 

When I read that, I instantly recognized this about Kit. She often cannot move forward until we answer her question using the exact words that she is using to ask it. And sometimes several times exactly the same way, probably so she can feel sure that the answer is true.

I realized that this was probably what she needed as we drove. So instead of just saying yes, I told her, "yes, we are going to play at the green play park." And instantly, she calmed moved on to other questions about the park, I was amazed. 

She never did fall asleep. She instead, while talking asked if I could see her. I told her "yes, I can see you in my mirror, right here" and I tapped the mirror that lets me see her in her seat.

"Touch it again."

I tap the mirror.




Tap...and again and again and again. 

At one point, I was feeling done. "Baby, I'm done now. I don't want to tap it anymore."

"Taaaaaaaaaap it agaaaaaaaaaaain!!" 

"Fine, but this is the last one. Deal?"



Let's just say we had a lot more fun at the "green play park" than on the forty minute drive preceding it. 

She still cried when we left, and the entire two minute drive back to the house. But the park was fun and the weather, finally, was beautiful. And after a bath, and stories and singing with Daddy, she finally got what she needed most the whole time...