Friday, September 12, 2014

10 Most Influential Books to ME

My brother, Walker, mentioned I should participate in the meme going around Facebook where participants list their top ten most influential books. I laughed at first because he actually reads books that can actually influence. I read historical fiction romance with cowboys and pirates... But he explained it was suppose to be a list that influenced me personally for whatever reason. The more I thought about it, the more I figured I could do this. I should mention that I rarely read to research. I read to escape. I like to be lost in a book. I love happy endings. I love LOVE. So a lot of my books are going to fit into that category...

So, without further adieu I present to you-- the 2 people who still read my blog--  

TORI'S Top 10 MOST INFLUENTIAL BOOKS!! (in no particular order...)

1- Ghost Stories of Texas by Ed Syers - I read this book over and over again in elementary school. I can't even really say if the book was any good. But I do know it fueled my flame of the love of all things supernatural. (Shout out to Sam and Dean Winchester!!) I love ghost stories and ghost hunters and all things ghosts... 

2- UFOs, JFK, & Elvis: Conspiracies You Don't Have to be Crazy to Believe by
Richard Belzer - I've read this book 3 times. There's better conspiracy books out there, but I like the way Belzer presents his theories. This book helped me realize it's ok to ask questions and that I don't have to just believe what I've been told about anything. And I do not believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, if he acted at all.

3- Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler - This book was about forbidden love between a white woman and a black man during the Civil Rights Era. The reason this book was influential to me is because it stayed with me, for days... weeks. I could cry speaking about it. Forbidden love- especially because of race- infuriates me. Everyone thinks they are doing what is "best" for this couple and instead ruined so many lives. I'm getting frustrated thinking about it... Just let people love.

4- The Work & The Glory Vol. 4: Thy Gold to Refine by Gerald N. Lund - I read this entire series a couple of times 15+ years ago. This is the book that stuck with me the most. It detailed the expulsion of the early Latter Day Saints from the Far West, the massacres, the abuse, the prejudice... There was a legal "Extermination Order" in Missouri where Mormons could be killed for being Mormon. Most people don't realize the early Mormon pioneers were forced to FLEE THE COUNTRY in order to save themselves and to worship as they please. Utah was NOT a part of the United States at the time- it was a vast, mountainous, unknown wilderness. Their faith and determination are inspiring and the prejudice is sickening.

5- Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke - I'll be honest and admit I read this book because I saw the Hallmark movie. But wow- this book led me to read 15 other books by Oke and encouraged my love of reading, especially historical fiction. I hadn't read anything regularly since the Twilight series and that was years ago.... This book revealed my inner bookworm. I was reading the Love Comes Softly series when the 50 Shades of Gray frenzy hit. I'm glad I was too into my Christian romances to be bothered with Christian Gray...

6- Dusty Britches by Marcia Lynn McClure - This wasn't the first book by McClure that I read. I read The Visions of Ransom Lake first. That was a great read, but Dusty Britches won me over as a Marcia McClure fan FOREVER. Our library only has one MLM book, so every book I've read of hers has been through an Interlibrary Loan, which means extra waiting. I've read 40 MLM books and have loved them all. I own several now and have re-read half of the ones I read before. She is fun, clean, spunky, and can write kisses like no one else I've read. Yep, Ryder Maddox in Dusty Britches sealed the deal forever for my love of cowboys and romance.

7-  Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their Home and Life by Joshua Becker- Joshua Becker also has a blog I read regularly called Becoming Minimalist ... I think I've always been a minimalist at heart. "Things" aren't important to me. I've never had a dream car or dream house or dream shopping spree... This book helped with the "hows" and "whys" of minimalism and jump-started me on my journey of decluttering and living life. :)

8- Be the Miracle: 50 Lessons for Making the Impossible Possible by Regina Brett - I just loved that this book reminded me that I can do little things each day that seem insignificant to me, but could make a huge difference in someone else's day. :)

9- Don't Sweat the Small Stuff in Love by Richard and Kristine Carlson - I actually read this book in the midst of my divorce back in 2001. I can't tell you anything from this book except one piece of advice that I've always remembered and hung on to. Kris- the main author's wife - said to ask yourself "Who's quirk is in anyway?" In her example she said she found herself getting so frustrated because she would get a towel out for herself before her shower, but would inevitably get sidetracked. Her husband would take a shower first and use the towel she had set out. She was so bugged he would use "her towel" and thought he was so inconsiderate. Eventually she figured out that maybe SHE was the one with the problem. As far as her husband knew he had the most thoughtful wife who would set out a towel for him each day. He had no idea that she was irritated and thinking the worst of him. She started getting 2 towels out- one for him and one for her. It solved the "problem" that never was really a problem other than in her head. I've tried to remember to ask myself "Is this really MY quirk?" whenever "issues" arise in my marriage... I think it's awesome advice.

10- The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay - I actually just finished this book yesterday. I haven't stopped thinking about it since. I don't even really know WHAT I'm thinking about. It's like I miss the characters. They got in my head so deep. They were so broken and perfectly imperfect. All I could think was "JUST BE NICE!" the whole time I read it. People are each fighting their own personal battles, whether we can see it or not. Just be kind. I loved Josh's description of how people treat you when you're grieving. Truth. I mourned with Sunshine and her loss. I loved seeing them both struggle with loving someone and allowing themselves to be loved. It was about healing and letting go; about realizing you can't "fix" other people, but you can love and accept them. It was beautiful, emotional, powerful, and unforgettable.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Stupid crappy Flappy Bird

You may have heard about the game app "Flappy Bird." My teens introduced it to me this past week. Basically you tap your screen to keep a bird in the air as you "fly" it through random Super Mario-looking pipe thingies. I've played it some and, well, I just suck. I do. I don't play it obsessively or anything, but I'm so bad that Liv beat me in her third try. My high score was 6. Yes, SIX.

I made the mistake of showing Seiuli this game. Sei is good at everything. Especially things that I suck at or have to work really hard to be good at. Take Guitar Hero, for instance... I would practice and practice one song, on medium, just to beat the high score and here comes Seiuli... He picks up the Guitar, puts it on hard or expert or whatever the hardest level is and beats my high score. No practice. No nada. He crushed my high score and my self-esteem as a hardcore gamer. ;) But I digress.
I introduced him to Flappy Bird and of course he's awesome. But I let him try it on my phone and he beat my amazing score of 6 his first try. He got 7. I yelled at him that it's rude to beat other people's high scores on their devices and to play it on his own phone. Y'all, it took me 3 days not to BEAT his score, but to TIE the seven. I'm that good.
We had a big discussion last night that lead to me crying because I was laughing so hard, about the correct part of the thumb to tap the screen with. He proceeded to show me and casually scored a quick 39 points. (That's not his high score. I think it's 43...) He even showed me how his thumb curves weird and that it was "made for Flappy Bird." Oh my. I didn't care because finally the 7 on my phone was MY 7 and not his. I even took a screen shot to commemorate the moment.
Imagine my surprise when I found this on my phone this morning:

What a weenie. Seriously. Who does that? My gamer self-esteem has again plummeted, much like the bird when I play. Sei was in training today so I had to text him. If you watch "Supernatural" you'll appreciate it a little more...

He is so lucky I love him.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Lots to catch up on

We were able to travel as a family to Missouri to see Tristan graduate from bootcamp! It was awesome and a fun trip. And so so SO good for my MOM HEART because I have been missing my boy!! The first day was "Family Day" on base. So basically Tristan had a pass to hang out with us on base... which isn't all that exciting, but it was exciting because we were with him!!!

Hanging at BK
Part of the Berlin Wall
So basically that day we ate at the Burger King, went to the PX, went bowling, and visited an Army museum. That was pretty cool. Tristan was so tired and I wished we had a hotel room on base, but we had too many kids so they were gonna charge us for 2 rooms... haha
The next day was the actual graduation. It was also Alec's 17th birthday!! My sister and her kiddos came from Kansas for his graduation. I thought that was way cool of them. We had a great time that day with Tara's family. I am so stoked they were able to come.
I loved the graduation ceremony and I'm pretty sure we cheered louder than any other family when Tristan said his name!
My soldier

We were able to visit his barracks that day, which we hadn't been able to the day before. We also visited the museum again with Tara.
A heart made of stone made by WWII POWs

Livie and her cousin!
Birthday dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings!
Crazy nights at the hotel!
Alec and Isabel left with my ex on Friday morning because they both had basketball tournaments to get to. Tristan went straight into AIT (advanced individual training). He is still at Fort Leonard Wood, while other soldiers left to new places. Sei and I took Taj and Liv to Branson for a little weekend vacay. I'll post more about that next. :)

Monday, November 04, 2013

Colorado Promise!

In the next few days look for my review of Colorado Promise by Charlene Whitman!!! Historical Romance is my favorite genre of book and I am excited to review this one. :)

Colorado Promise
Book One in the Front Range series – Historical Western Romance

In this passionate sweet Western Historical Romance, author Charlene Whitman introduces Emma Bradshaw—a high-society young woman from New York, who is forced to move out to the untamed Front Range in Colorado and finds that true love can withstand all the dangers the West can throw at her.

Greeley, Colorado, in 1875 is a town built on a promise . . .

. . . but to Emma it is a desert prison in the middle of a hostile and dusty prairie. Emma had hoped to go to Vassar College, to pursue her dreams of becoming a botanical illustrator. But when her father, struck with “Western fever” moves the family out West, Emma’s dreams are shattered. Her only consolation is that her childhood friend, handsome Randall Turnbull, has moved to Greeley to work for his railroad baron father. Her heart sparked by his comforting presence, she hopes Randall will fall in love with her and marry her.

But promises often turn bitter . . .

. . . as Lucas Rawlings, veterinarian and horse lover, well knows. Lucas has lived on the Front Range for three years at Sarah Banks’s horse ranch, after stumbling down from the Rockies consumed with grief. Since losing his precious wife and baby in childbirth, he doesn’t think his heart can bear ever loving again. But Sarah, a half-Cheyenne with a medicine woman for a grandmother, has a vision showing it’s time Lucas married again. He scoffs until he rescues Emma in a sudden hailstorm and their lives become intricately entwined.

Emma must choose—and fight—for the man she loves, at the risk of all she loves . . .

Emma yearns for the comfort and familiarity of Randall’s company, but Lucas’s easy confidence and gentle ways snag her heart. Facing a new life beset by grasshoppers, drought, and blizzards is hard enough. But when murderous ranchers try to force Sarah off her land, and her brother takes up dangerous company, the lives of her family and the man she’s come to love are threatened. It will take a miracle—and the strength and promises of true love—to come through unscathed in this untamed land.


Colorado Promise is now live. Here is the Amazon link:
 Print book, here it is:

About the Author

Charlene Whitman spent many years living on Colorado's Front Range. She grew up riding and raising horses, and loves to read, write, and hike the mountains. She attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins as an English major. She has two daughters and is married to George "Dix" Whitman, her love of thirty years. Colorado Promise is her first Historical Western Romance novel.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Strange things are afoot...

So I mentioned a couple posts ago that I was taking a self-defense class. I finished the course and it was so awesome. It really was. In fact, in the final test where we fight our way out of the room was recorded so we got to watch ourselves at the end. The instructor actually had the guy back my video up so we could watch me deck this cop in the face again. It was awesome. (We were all suited up so I didn't hit his actual face.) I can't post the video because they asked us not to, but I really left the class feeling more confident and assertive and prepared.

I mean, I was already pretty safety cautious and always uber-aware of my surroundings. Seriously- ask my husband. He taught a safety awareness class at our church and he asked me for all my ideas that I already do... So, I always try to aware of what's going on around me... But since finishing that class 2 weird things have happened to me.
A few weeks ago at the grocery store I was loading my groceries into my van when a car parked beside me. It was an old Crown Victorian that was obviously an old cop car that was sold in auction. The windows were tinted way too dark and even though I couldn't see in the car, I could feel someone watching me. No one got out of the car so I kept me distance and finished what I was doing. Then as I was closing my trunk the driver side window of the car rolled down. I could see 3 people clearly. There may have been a 4th. This is the conversation that took place:

Driver: Hey, can you come here for a minute?
I didn't answer, but I took a step back, angling myself so the bumper of my car kind of protected me some.
Driver: I'm not from around here... Can you hear me way over there?
Me: Yes. (still standing in a cautious contact stance)
Driver: Do you know how to get to the mall?

Ok, so I kept my distance, answered quickly, and got in my van, locking the doors. I started watching the car as they backed out and you know what? It didn't drive to the street I told them to go to. It circled around the parking lot going up and down the parking rows. When I told Seiuli he told me I should have called it in as suspicious activity or whatever, but I didn't. But it was WEIRD. Even weirder? I saw the car last week in our neighborhood and I now see it parked regularly in front of a house near Isabel's friend's home. I don't know if they moved here recently or if they loaned their car to a friend visiting when they approached me. Maybe they really didn't know how to get to the mall. Or maybe they, according to Sei's cop-brain theory, were going to gang rape me. I don't know- but it was eery and creepy. Why would you ever say to someone "Hey, can you come here for a minute?" and "Can you hear me way over there?" I was like 8 feet away?!

That was weird experience #1. Weird experience #2 happened yesterday... I often like to walk or ride my bike to random places. Just call me Elizabeth Bennet...
So I decided to walk to the library. I had on workout clothes, my headphones in listening to a book, and a small backpack that had a couple books I needed to return, my wallet, my gun, and chapstick. (What!? My lips are dry!) So it was pretty obvious I was out WALKING, not stranded because my car broke down or something. This big, black truck drives past me and pulls over and parks in front of this lake thing at the front of my neighborhood. I thought he was on his phone or stopping to help a turtle in the road... So I kept walking although I did walk as far away from his truck as possible AND got my lethal key chain off my backpack. It makes it easy to swing your keys into someone's face, but anyway... I noticed him and was aware he was there. I started walking past his truck and he said something to me. I had my headphones in, but the volume was low enough so I can hear things going on around me. I just didn't understand what he said. So, I took another step further away and pulled out an ear bud and said, "Excuse me?" and he said, "Wanna a ride?" Ok WEIRD!! 1st off- Do people actually ACCEPT rides from strangers?!!? Don't people know what can happen?! You end up a sex slave in a box under a guy's bed for 7 years. That's what happens! And 2ndly, WHY would you ask someone who is obviously out for a walk if they need a ride?! I just said, "Um, no thank you?!" and kept walking...quickly. I'm sure my face was like, "Seriously guy? You think I'm gonna ride with you?!" He drove off. Is that not weird?! And don't even get me started about the teenager walking with headphones in that kept "rapping" the same part of a song over and over and over... for like 1/2 a mile. I was on a sidewalk parallel to his and I wanted to yell "Learn the rest of the words! Oh and pull your pants up." People are weird.

Friday, October 18, 2013

"What excellent boiled potatoes..."

Ahh, Mr. Collins... Gotta love him... Poor, socially awkward man...

Lately I've been slightly obsessed with "Pride & Prejudice." I prefer the 2005 movie with Matthew Macfayden as Mr. Darcy. He's so cute and ridiculously introverted, bless his heart. The thing is... I can soooo relate to his quote:
 "I do not have the talent of conversing easily with people I have never met before."

 Amen, Mr. Darcy. Amen. Some people, like my husband, can talk the paint off the wall. Not in an annoying way... He can just converse easily. I am not good with small talk with random people I don't know. I don't even do well in a group of people I DO know because I have no desire to be the center of attention. And I really enjoy listening and people watching. But for some reason, this introversion is seen as a personality flaw rather than just a personality trait. I'm often told that I need to "come out of my comfort zone" or "practice talking to people" or "socialize more." And here's my question:

I'm not socially awkward- at least I don't think I am... I'm not even really shy. I have friends. Not a ton, but I have friends who I know I can trust and I'm cool with that. I prefer small groups. I don't feel the need to have a "Girls Night Out" every week or talk on the phone constantly to my friends. I actually prefer to hang out with my kids, my husband, or alone. I'm perfectly ok with being alone. And I'm here to proudly declare:

I don't mind if no one sits by me in class at church. I don't mind if they do either. But I don't have this overwhelming NEED to be around other people. And no, it's not imperative that I make comments out loud. I don't need people telling me "It's ok to comment once in a while" like I need their permission. I don't need "assignments" that require me to talk to people like I'm some kind of experiment or something that needs to be "fixed." I'm not broken.
All the ladies LOVE Mr. Darcy. Why is that? He seemed like a prick in the beginning, right? He wouldn't talk, he said things like, "She's perfectly tolerable, I dare say. But not handsome enough to tempt me..." and he couldn't even propose right- although he makes amend for that... But we love him because we learn he is "loyal" (Col. Fitzwilliam called him that), kind, intelligent, "good-natured and generous" (as his house servant described him), and ultimately MISUNDERSTOOD. We don't try to change him. We don't tell him to come out of his comfort zone, because once he was comfortable and ready he said rad things like this:
So if you know an introvert don't treat them like something is wrong. I married an extrovert. My closest friends are extroverts. We balance each other. There is no "wrong" or "right." And anyway, how boring would it be if we were all the same? We all remember what happened to Spongebob when he became "normal" like everyone wanted him to be...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

My kid's tougher than your kid ;)

Every recruit who goes through basic training undergoes nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) training, and is subjected to training in the gas chamber. They are required to remove their gas mask and answer questions while in the gas house. Overall, this is to help the soldiers gain confidence in and learn the importance of their equipment, such as their gas mask. Tristan did that this past week. Seiuli has done this in the past during SWAT school. We have a video of it and as a family would watch, and laugh, at the men coming out of the gas house. Seiuli looked tough. He didn't fall to his knees or throw up.... 
So, I'm sure memories of our family watching this video came in to Tristan's head before he entered the gas chamber... If the pictures I found say anything- He ROCKED it. I'm so proud.
I also finally got an address!!! I sent my stack of letters... like 8 envelopes... And I've mailed 2 more today. Livie is so cute because she'll write little notes and want me to mail them immediately. I'm gonna go broke... :)

Basic training photos found at:

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Some days...

Some days I have great days. I think about my soldier in training, and miss him, but I'm ok. Other days are like today... They suck. I had a dream Tristan jumped out of an airplane without his parachute. I nearly had a heart attack. It sounds stupid and funny now. Let me assure you- IT WASN'T. So that started today off pretty crappy. I've been teary eyed most of the day. In fact, I literally *burst into tears* a few minutes ago. Burst- like the tears spurted out of my eyeballs. It wasn't pretty y'all.
And for some reason about 5 different people just today have asked me if I have Tristan's address to write him at. No. No I don't. And I think my mail lady is going to press stalking charges against me soon. It's only been a little over 2 weeks since he left, but it seems like
 But it hasn't been and I will just have to be patient. I guess... Like I have a friggin' choice...

So, I'm gonna list a few HAPPY things from the last week or so to take my mind off the sad part.

1) Seiuli and I celebrated our 12th anniversary!!! We went to see Weezer at Winstar Casino. It was a GREAT show. They sound fabulous live. It was also Sei's first concert ever. My little Seiuli is growing up... Here's a pic... Nevermind my "flash face." :) Oh- and I won $70 on the Wheel of Fortune penny slots to pay for our concert tees. What what!?

2) My husband has a hot beard. Seriously, I'm diggin' it. Yeah, sometimes it goes up my nose when we kiss, but y'all he looks like a bad boy and I love it. I'm sure that's why my celebrity/character on tv/in a book crush is currently Khal Drogo from Game of Thrones...

3) I've been taking a self-defense class with the local police department. I really enjoy it. And the head instructor, who is trained in a ton of different martial arts styles- asked me, "What are you trained in?" after I punched the pad he was holding. YES! I don't punch like a girl!!! He said I have excellent form with my punches and said I was "a kicker" with my kicks. What what?! I also broke his watch doing an elbow jab.YAY! AND I totally took Sei down to the floor with a knee strike while I was practicing at home. That was on accident because I didn't do it hard and I didn't follow all the way thru, but apparently a little goes a long way... ;) I get to "fight" my way out of a room next week for "graduation." I'm actually really nervous- and they aren't even real bad guys. ;)

4) I found a song I really like. I heard it playing at Del Taco of all places... I downloaded it and added it to my "Happy" playlist. It's called "The Sound of Sunshine" by Michael Franti & Spearhead. It's not actually a "new" song- just new to me. :)  Actually listening to more of their music I'm kinda diggin' most of what I've heard. :) It makes me feel happy.

5) I got a very short and very unexpected letter from Tristan. He attended church up there and they mailed me a letter and picture!!! I was totally surprised and so happy!! I also found a few pictures of him on a website from Fort Leonard Wood. YAY!

So, those are a few things that have helped me not wallow in my sorrows. haha I know Tristan is working so hard and has it harder than me. So I'll suck it up... But I reserve the right to burst into tears any time I feel like it. :D

Basic training photos found at: