Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Guest Blogger: Melody Carlson and Giveaway!!!!

Welcome back, ghouls and ghosts ; )
Today we have a very special post! Melody Carlson has written a short post on the supernatural for you all! How cool is that!? Without further ado, here's Melody!

Teens and Their Supernatural Pursuits

By Melody Carlson

Have you even wondered why some teens are drawn toward things like Ouija boards or psychics? Or why séances are still popular at sleepovers? Does it just have to do with Halloween and that spine-chilling need for a good scare? Or could it be something more? And, as a Christian, should you be concerned?
Those questions, as well as some confused reader letters, prompted me to tackle the “supernatural” in one of my teen novels (Moon White, TrueColors, Nav Press). And whenever I write an issues-based novel, I’m forced to research—and often in some dark places. So I began scouring websites, learning more about Wicca and the occult, trying to grasp what was really going on with today’s teens—and how I could write about it in a helpful and relevant way.
But, as usual, when I write a teen book, I go back to my own adolescence...trying to connect with my inner teen...and I suddenly remembered a short era when a friend and I got very interested in witchcraft. I had honestly forgotten about this time and was fascinated to recall how we scoured some witchcraft stores on a local campus—I think we even purchased a few things. Fortunately, this interest was short-lived and I became a Christian not long afterward.
However, as I reconnected with my inner teen, I had to ask myself—why had I looked into witchcraft back then? Why do teens dabble with it now? Suddenly the answer became crystal clear. I was searching. I’d been calling myself an atheist for several years by then, but I was spiritually hungry—starving in fact. Consequently I was looking for spiritual answers—something that would fill that empty void within me. I wanted a supernatural force in my life and I didn’t even care where it came from. I needed something bigger than me, more powerful than me, something to hold onto. I had no idea at the time that I was really searching for God.
This realization changed the way I viewed my research. Instead of feeling disgusted and dismayed by the witchcraft/Wicca sites (which are not particularly enjoyable) I began to recognize that these people (mostly girls) were simply searching too. They wanted a power source in their lives just like I wanted one in mine. They just hadn’t found God yet.
This led to another discovery. A girl who’s attracted to a religion like Wicca is usually seeking to gain some control over her life. Something is wrong and she wants to change it. To do so, she’s often enticed to purchase something—like “magical herbs”—to create a potion that will give her some control over her situation. Unfortunately, she doesn’t even realize she’s being tricked.
But think about it, wouldn’t you love to have control over a bad situation sometimes? Wouldn’t you love to be able to change the circumstances that make your life unpleasant? So what if someone offered you the “power” to do just that? Perhaps if you’re fifteen, you wouldn’t see that person as a charlatan and you would fall for it.
Which brings me to another important factor in understanding this generation’s attraction to the supernatural. Follow the money. The more I researched, the more it became painfully obvious that Wicca and witchcraft and the occult are money-making enterprises. Thanks to the internet, these savvy distributors sell anything imaginable—and many things you can’t. That leads to some serious motivation—these marketers want to hook their unsuspecting young customers and reel them in. Of course, these potions and trinkets and how-to books don’t come with a money back guaranty. Nor are they approved by the FDA. Yet they are a multi-million dollar industry.
So, in a way, it’s a perfect storm. Teens that are insecure, lost, unhappy, and searching...meet up with an unregulated industry that offers supernatural answers and power and control...for a price. And, oh yeah, I never even mentioned how this opens a door for Satan to slip in and wreak havoc. For that...you’ll have to read the book.

For more on Melody Carlson:

Wow! What an interesting post, Melody. I'll be honest, I had a Ouija board that I was given to me by my aunt in.....third or fourth grade for my birthday. Of course, my sister and I pulled it right out afterwards to check it out. As soon as my friends found out, I had to bring it to every sleepover! LOL! There really was an obsession with it. I never really thought about it until reading this post. It just kind of....was, if that makes any sense. I still have it, but we don't use it anymore. It's pretty much a dust catcher now, but holds a lot of memories. Lots of laughs, silly questions, and stupid scares from my friends and I! I have to agree with you though. I think it's just searching. Everyone longs for that power, that sense of something greater in their lives whether they admit it or not. By thinking that there IS a spirit in the room or whatever, it's the same as God but we probably haven't yet. That is an excellent point!

GIVEAWAY TIME!!!!!! TWO (yes, two!) lucky commentors will be winners this time! We're giving away books :D Woot woot! There will be few books to choose from. The first winner pulled will get to choose two books they would like to recieve, then the second winner will get to choose theirs from what is left : )

~ Must leave an email address so I can contact you if you win

Extra entries:
+1 Become a new follower
+2 Let me know if you're an old follower
+1 Go to Melody's site and tell me one thing you liked, found interesting, etc
+1 Sign up to follow Melody's newsletter on her site

Books to choose from:
~ Clandestine Cover-Up by Pamela Tracy
~ Final Warning by Sandra Robbins
~ Twisted by R.L. Stine
~ The Locker by Richie Tankersley Cusick
~ The Trouble with Magic by Madelyn Alt
~ Steamed by Jessica Conant-Park and Susan Conant

This contest will run until November 1, at 12am! So you have all day next Monday to still get in your comments, if you're interested! I really hope more people enter this contest compared to the last one, it makes it more fun that way!
Have a great Wednesday, halfway through the week people! You can do it!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Brief Break from normal posts: Medical Update

Hey all,
You know how I like to do these for you guys every once in awhile. I don't know if you care or if anyone's even reading them, but I don't know....guess it makes me feel better since you all know I have medical issues O_o

So I don't have much news actually. I feel like my doctors have been neglecting me for awhile. Things still aren't good, definitely aren't right. I try to be patient, but I'm losing that. No diagnosis still, playing a major waiting game.

It's not easy for sure. I know most of us can relate from some time or another. It's just tough because you're praying wisdom for the doctors yet everytime you have an appointment they tell you "I don't know" or "it's in your head" or "It's 'just' a pain condition, I bet" or "you're a very....special case". I'm tired of hearing that, darnit! Lol very tired of it. They just start to sound like excuses after a little while. Seems like even though I felt like I'd gotten to the hardest part with this....the hardest part is yet to come. That's a scary thought because every single day is SO hard lately.

Anyway, a couple weeks ago I had 18 vials of blood drawn :O I know, right!? Craziness. It felt awful after haha. Basically my rheumy is attempting to test for any random, obsure, uncommon test there is out there to see if maybe, just maybe I have....well THAT. I honestly have NO clue what he was testing for to be exact, but something...? Lol....I dno't have the results yet, but most likely it found nothing like everytime else.

Then uhhhh let's see this past Monday I went to see my neuro again. I had my third Nerve Conduction test and EMG. When I saw him, he told me I've had it two times too much in one lifetime lol...for the nerve test, you lay down on a table with one arm at a time extended straight off the table. They attach wires all up and down that arm, moving them around when testing different nerves. This test involves fingers, palms, and the entire arm. It is an awful test! Since they're messing with your nerves....you get involuntary movements, for lack of a better term. Your fingers move to your whole arm swinging and whacking the nurse! The electric shocks start out very mild, you cant feel it usually. However, when they finish it is as strong as a live barbed wire fence. It hurts....a lot.

Then you move onto the needle EMG. Normally they choose whichever side is bothering you more. In my case, it was the right arm this time. The neuro does this part lol. He takes a needle and sticks it in different parts of your muscle in your arm. This needle is not a normal one, it measures the pulses being sent through your muscle and the reaction times. It is hooked up to a machine, so when the muscle is moving, you can hear it. It's a loud, static sound. He will wiggle the needle around and whoa baby that HURTS! Lol! He did it two places on hand and two places in the arm for me, after the shocks! It's a long process :/

My results were kind of as I expected. It's my ulnar nerve, which runs through your inner elbow. At this point, it is not protected at all, so it can become stressed or damaged. I will need surgery, but they don't want to do it yet. It is still an extremely dangerous surgery and paralysis is still in the running for results after surgery. I'm only 19, he wants to prolong it as long as he possibly can. So now, I have to wear elbow braces 24/7. This is what they look like:

At night, I have to flip them over so that I cannot move my elbows at all. I usually have to stuff a sock in each one to get it to the way. These are SO uncomfortable. The bands are too tight on my arms and this is the big size. So I tend to veto wearing them sometimes. *Bad Hannah*, huh? Lol....

Anyway, that's basically my update. I'm going to try calling my rheumy tomorrow to see about blood tests. Everyone say a prayer that after losing ALL that blood, we find something!
Talk soon, more giveaways and fun posts coming up : )

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Step into My Kitchen.....and Giveaway!!!

Step into my kitchen, ladies and gentlemen.....

Well? What do you think?! I love to spend time in my kitchen....experimenting ; ) Or whipping up some concoctions. I have some stew on the stove right now as we speak! You're all welcome to some later, if you want! Can you guess my secret ingredient?
I've also got some other things around, but I wanted to make one of my favorite treats on a chilly, October afternoon!

Caramel Apples
Caramel apples are a favorite with our kids we babysit. They request them every year : ) This year we tried something different and it was the BEST technique yet soooooooo that's how we're doin' it, folks. We like to use Kraft caramels

And Cortland apples because they are so crisp. You do not have to use this type, however when picking out apples to use, especially for our technique, you need a firm apple so that the stick will stay in it!

Now, take a bowl or we used a mug and unwrap your caramels. I would suggest probably starting with half the bag, depending on how many apples you plan on dipping. REMEMBER: when you leave melted caramel out, it will cool off and more impotantly stick in whatever it's in. Therefore, as soon as it's warmed, USE IT. Then get it OUT of the pan! Lol truuuuuuuuust me :P It will not take too long to melt the caramels. Start with about 25 seconds and go from there. Yes, you can burn them and noooooo you don't want that. Here's our melted caramel:

Next, wash your apples, then cut them into quarters. Yep, you heard me. Cut them. They are sooooooo much more managable, especially if you're doing this with kids. Then using sticks of your choosing, stick them in on one end of the apple slice. We recommend finding the wide popsicle sticks because they stay a lot better in the apple. Dip the apple slice into the caramel. You have a choice of whether you'd prefer to dip the entire slice or just the peel side like a normal caramel apple. We only did the peel side because there's a lot of sugar in caramel and that's a lot if you did the whole thing! Lol...but your choice! Be mindful that the caramel could be really warm! How do you think ours came out?

We also recommend covering your cookie sheet (that you put the dipped apples on) with foil. The apple will come right off and it's easy clean up! Feel free to top off your fun apples with some sprinkles too : ) It's so fun for the kids or big kids too!

Now, time for the giveaway! You have the chance of winning a complete caramel apple kit made by....yours truly : ) It will include everything you need except the apples because those wouldn't be so good to ship! Lol! You will definitely have fun making these!!!

~ Be a follower of my blog
~ Leave your email address so I can contact you if you win
~ Tell me about one of your favorite fall or Halloween treats!

Good luck to everyone! Enjoy :D

Friday, October 14, 2011

Special Video: Hide and Seek (kinda creepy!)

Welcome to the weekend!! Well almost :P Weekend for me anyway lol. Today, I have a video that my best friend, Josh, made! It also stars our friend, Jake, and Josh's lil brother, Caleb! Josh is in the white shirt and hat, whereas Jake is in the green Celtics shirt. Caleb is....well...you'll be able to figure that out!

I'm going to warn you, I can't remember if there's any swearing in this (sometimes these videos can get out of hand lol) but the content does involve a fake gun and shooting. I promise you it is hilarious though!!!!! And it's creepy too ; )

So....sit back, relax, and enjoy today's video!

If it does not play: Hide and Seek

Now, how was that!? Kinda creepy, right?! But I hope it made you laugh too : ) I know it does for me! Do you guys have any creepy hide and seek memories? I know I have one that I'll share if you all tell me yours :P
Can't wait to hear!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Welcome to Hannah's Haunted October Party!!! Enter if you dare....

Walking up a long dark driveway, trees surrounding you on either side, you come across a house. The rickety gate opens slowly with a creeeeeeeeeak. Walking hesitantly up the walkway towards the spooky looking house, you see a figure in the upstairs window. Just a shadow floating by. At the bottom of the steps, you look up ominously at this house, yet again, chills running down your spine. The door opens, but no one's there. Gathering up the last bit of courage you are able to find, you slowly step up the stairs. Eeek, squeeeak, creeeak goes the stairs. Through the doorway you pass and into a room you step. A moth eaten rug lays under you feet. A long winding staircase ends (or is it begins?) in front of you. Turning to the left, you see a sitting room. A fire is crackling in the fireplace. It is a spooky house for sure, but nothing to be afraid of...or is there? Suddenly someone stands up from the chair whose back is facing you. The unhurriedly step, step, step until they come into the light.
"Welcome to my house," I say in a hushed voice. "I've been expecting you."

Here, ladies and gentlemen, friends and newcomers, all are welcome to my Haunted October Party. Please spread the word, as spooks and scares and giggles galore may ensue.

You are all welcome.....and I've been expecting you. The fun's about to begin.