Monthly Archives: January 2014

Book Review: The Barkeep by William Lashner

The Barkeep
by William Lashner
Available 2/1/14
Downloaded free from Kindle First program

Rating:4 bones

Finish Time: 6 nights. I wasn’t super excited about this book at first, but I’m trying to branch out from just NetGalley books, so I’ll try to pick one of the 4 books I’m offered each month through Kindle First.  Last month it went well (The Widow File), and I’m happy to report, this one didn’t disappoint either.  And I’m always honored to review a book before it’s release!

One thing that stood out from this book that I don’t usually notice or at least comment on, was the chapter titles.  Each one was cleverly named after a drink, which kept the bar theme going throughout the book.  I’m not a regular at a bar these days, but it was fun getting insight from a bartender’s point of view, things they do, see, how they treat certain customers, a kind of psychological bonus within the story!

The main character, Justin Chase, is a Penn grad (points for this because my husband is too!), with a law degree, that has decided to take the path of barkeep instead of using his training.  He seems to be quite a good one.  With mental issues himself, he uses that knowledge to read his customers and try to give them what they need, not always just a drink, but sometimes an ear to hear, or a sound board as they work through their own issues.  His current bar, Zenzibar, is full of characters, who we learn, follow Justin around from bar to bar.  They are all unique and have their own side/back stories which are fun.

The meat of the story is when an old man, Birdie, walks into his bar one day and claims he killed Justin’s mother.  Justin’s father is currently in jail for the murder of his mother and Justin never had any doubt in his mind, until now.  So the rest of the story follows Justin as he uncovers details about his parent’s marriage, and maybe things weren’t as perfect as he remembered.  There are some crazy twists and turns.  You never know who you/Justin can trust and until the very end, new details are being revealed, and I was surprised at the ending.  Throw in a bizarre romance, even a bro-mance (not how you are thinking – but a kind of twistedly sweet relationship), and this book really has it all.

A good read, worth your time, check out The Barkeep when it comes out on Saturday February 1st!

Description from Amazon:
Justin Chase is the perfect barkeep, tending bar as he lives his life, in a state of Zen serenity. At least until Birdie Grackle, a yellow-haired, foul-mouthed alcoholic from Texas, walks into his bar, orders a Mojito, and makes a startling confession.

Six years ago Justin’s life was ripped apart when he discovered his mother’s bludgeoned corpse in the foyer of the family home. Now Justin’s father is serving a life sentence and Justin, after a stint in the asylum, drowns his emotions in a pool of inner peace. But when Birdie Grackle claims to be the hit man who murdered Justin’s mother for the money, Justin is hurled back to the emotions, back to the past, and, most frighteningly of all, back to the father he has tried to leave behind.

Who hired Birdie Grackle to kill Justin’s mother? As Justin pieces together the truth, a merciless killing machine begins stalking the barkeep, leaving a trail of dead in his wake. Someone wants to bury the truth, and maybe Justin, too. As the terror closes in, Justin had better find some answers and find them fast, because the stakes have been raised, his life is on the line, and murder is so not Zen.

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Teaser Tuesday – January 28th

I had such fun with this last week (see here), that I thought I’d give it another go.  It’s also a good way to update y’all with what I’m reading, as I’ve been reading some longer books this year so far (or just going to bed a bit earlier!)

So I finished last week’s book – I Always Loved You – click it to check the review.

And now I’m reading, The Barkeep by William Lashner, courtesy of Kindle First.

Teaser p.225: (I’m letting my daughter tell me 3 random numbers to pick my pages on my Kindle since I can’t open a hard book!)

When the woman slipped off the chair, she took a few bills out of her wallet and dropped them on the bar.  “For the drinks,” she said.  “If you see him, please tell him not to come home.”

Description from Amazon:
Justin Chase is the perfect barkeep, tending bar as he lives his life, in a state of Zen serenity. At least until Birdie Grackle, a yellow-haired, foul-mouthed alcoholic from Texas, walks into his bar, orders a Mojito, and makes a startling confession.

Six years ago Justin’s life was ripped apart when he discovered his mother’s bludgeoned corpse in the foyer of the family home. Now Justin’s father is serving a life sentence and Justin, after a stint in the asylum, drowns his emotions in a pool of inner peace. But when Birdie Grackle claims to be the hit man who murdered Justin’s mother for the money, Justin is hurled back to the emotions, back to the past, and, most frighteningly of all, back to the father he has tried to leave behind.

Who hired Birdie Grackle to kill Justin’s mother? As Justin pieces together the truth, a merciless killing machine begins stalking the barkeep, leaving a trail of dead in his wake. Someone wants to bury the truth, and maybe Justin, too. As the terror closes in, Justin had better find some answers and find them fast, because the stakes have been raised, his life is on the line, and murder is so not Zen.

Stay tuned for my review later this week, and feel free to post your Teaser Tuesday link below!  I was so excited last week to make some new friends and add some books to my never-ending “to-read” list!  Thanks!

Here are the rules by:

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

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Let it Go and Defy Gravity

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I can’t stop singing “Let it Go” from Frozen.  I took my LL to Frozen, her first movie (see above!) in December, and I can’t stop singing!  With no expectations, I was completely blown out of the water with this movie.  The soundtrack is Broadway worthy, and it took me a few weeks to put this together, but I’ve learned a few things.

  1. I may be Idina Menzel‘s biggest fan.  She has been in Rent, Wicked, and now Frozen.  Her voice and songs bring me goosebumps and tears.  I seriously love her. (picture pulled from her website)
  2. “Let it Go” has so much similarity to “Defying Gravity” (from Wicked), which is one of my all time favorite songs.  I pulled it up today to show the kids, and by the end, LL asked why I was crying.  I absolutely love this song, it’s meaning, Wicked, everything.  Take a listen – it’s amazing.

The two songs have such a similar message too, I guess I’m not the first to link these songs (check out the cool images I found above), but I thought I would put a little lesson together, as they both have such a great message for everyone, but especially the target of Frozen, young girls.

Elphaba from Wicked, is a misunderstood green-skinned girl.  Her love for animals is one of the many reasons I love her so much, but she already doesn’t conform to society in looks alone, so she embracing that, and her “coming out” song is “Defying Gravity”.

“Something has changed within me, Something is not the same
I’m through with playing by the rules, Of someone else’s game”

Elsa from Frozen, has always been different and isolated from the outside world.  At an early age, she discovered powers that her parents told her to “conceal not feel.”  So “Let it Go” is her coming out song.

“I don’t care, What they’re going to say
Let the storm rage on, The cold never bothered me anyway”

These two characters, unlike their peers, are finally “free”.  If you’ve seen the musical/movie, you will know this does not come without consequence, but they finally discover who they are, publicly declare that, and move on.  This is hitting me in two ways.

  1. As much of a “real” rule-follower as I am, I don’t “go with the flow” and I have a partner that is the same way.  Steven and I talked about that this weekend, our decisions don’t always line up with the norm, that is just how we roll (and you may see evidence of this coming soon!)
  2. And isn’t that what it is like to be a Christian?  Knowing that you a child of God, and in his eyes, you’re perfect.  And with only that knowledge you can be free, like really free.

A few verses, then I’ll let you enjoy the song.  The message is the same, do not conform to the world, be yourself, be comfortable in that, and my added message, if God is for you and you love and obey Him, you can’t be stopped! (But use your power for good please!)

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:2

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy,let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching;
Romans 12:6-7

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7

Take a listen, I hope you enjoy as much as I do.  This has become my anthem.  Not only the message of being myself, even if that is different from everyone else, but also just letting go of the little stuff and putting God first.

As Elsa says:
It’s time to see what I can do, To test the limits and break through, No right, no wrong, no rules for me, I’m free”

And as Elphaba says:
“It’s time to trust my instincts, Close my eyes and leap!”

Thanks for stopping by.  Please share, I had fun writing this post.  Amen.

(All images or videos link to the original source)
Lyrics from Wicked & Frozen

 

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The things we hang on to. #tbt

Sounds like a book I would read, huh?  This is actually going to be a rather embarrassing post, but hopefully amusing.  I’m in spring cleaning mode, even though we are in full-swing southern winter here (it’s about 40 today!)  So today I tackled my closet.  A room, way bigger than I ever thought I would need, but overflowing with stuff.  Now that (most of) the baby weight is gone – the excuse I’ve been using to NOT clear out for the last few years, it’s time.  And even better – I’ve been seeing TBT all over – so this fits in perfect for a Throw Back Thursday!

Today, things are going into three categories.  Keep, Donate, Trash.  Can you guess which each of these falls into?  (Hint – if these things have survived 15-20 years with me, they may stick around longer…)  Although now that I have documented, maybe I can finally let go!

So here goes (I apologize for all the wrinkles – like I said – some of these have been with me awhile!):

Field Hockey Jerseys

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One of my first pairs of Doc Martens

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Every bridesmaid dress I’ve worn (and my wedding dress – not pictured)  I even have shoes to match some of these.
(Sorry – Didn’t feel like displaying these – so bad picture)

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The dresses I wore to both my high school and college graduation

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Overalls – short and long (praying someday these will come back in fashion – love them!!)

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Hot Flops (a previous client of my husbands – will these ever be cool?)

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Bell-bottoms from a 70’s theme party in college

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“Devon” shorts.  Ugly – but they have the name of my dog on them (and the town I grew up in)

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Foo Fighters Shirt (a very early gift from Steven – way too small now and see-through)

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Happy Valley Shirt – A drinking town with a football problem – I need a new one – love this shirt!!

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Random Russian Shirt (from my visit in 2003) no idea what it says or is for.

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A sampling from EVERY 5K/Race I’ve ever run.  Proof that I used to run!

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And my piggy bag.  Awww!

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What is lurking in the back of your closet??  Thanks for stopping by today!

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Book Review: I Always Loved You: A Novel by Robin Oliveira

I Always Loved You: A Novel (click book for description and product page)
By Robin Oliveira
Publication Date: 02/04/14
Provided free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

My Rating:  4 bones

Finish time: 9 nights.  After my last book (here), I was hoping for a bit of an easier read, but somehow I ended up on this one that took me almost as long.  And centered around art again too.  Hmmm.  Not a bad thing, just kind of funny.  I had a love, hate relationship with this book, but after thinking about it the last day, I did like it, and it’s prompted me to want to learn more on a topic 10 days ago I had no interest in.  So I’d take that as a sign of a good book (see the bottom for some of my “research.”

Having no background in art history, I could recognize some of the names, but I had no idea much more about them.  And this is a random comparison, but what kept popping into my head after I finished on how to describe this book is: Real World: Paris, 19th Century  Or the Impressionists.  And the people all happened to be artists.  Renoir, Manet, Monet, Cassatt, Degas, Morisot, Pissaro (and many more).  Some names familiar to me, others not, but in my brief Wikipedia research, they all were real (and quite the motley crew), as were the other characters in the book.  I guess it was also a “before they were famous” story too.  A bunch of starving artists spending their days dreaming, painting, partying, trying to make a buck, and preparing for the next exhibition.

The main character in the book was Mary Cassatt, an American painter, invited to join the group, and her struggle to fit in among the Paris natives, and make a name for herself in the Paris art scene.  Her relationship throughout the book with Degas is a fun, yet very frustrating one.  Her family comes to join her in Paris too and even in the 1800’s, her struggles with them were so easy to relate to.  I especially enjoyed her relationship with her sister Lydia (again who I confirmed was real – see her portrait by Mary below.)

File:Cassatt Mary At the Theater 1879.jpg

Fun facts were thrown in all over the place, like her friend Abigail Alcott, whose more famous sister is Louisa May Alcott, the author of Little Women.  At some points, I felt a map of Paris would have been helpful as they discussed a lot of landmarks, not a bad thing, and not that I know Paris, but would have been fun to see in the book.  But overall the book was just packed with great stories, complex and compelling relationships, and a ton of history.

As you can guess from the title, a love story too, but what’s fun is that it actually could be a few love stories.  A lot of plot lines are intertwined, and I was confused at some points, but as I said when I started, the more I thought about it, the more I liked it.  Look out for it in just a few weeks.  This is the perfect historical fiction.

And here is the result of some of my research and some notable art mentioned throughout the book.  All taken from Wikipedia.

Degas Little Dancer (a sculpture discussed a lot in the book):

File:Dancer sculpture by Degas at the Met.jpg

Mary Cassatt’s & Edgar Degas’ Self Portraits:

Mary Cassatt - Portrait of the Artist - MMA 1975.319.1.jpg Edgar Degas self portrait 1855.jpeg

Berthe Morisot as painted by Edouard Manet (2 other fascinating characters in the book):

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And then a lot was centered around the ballet.  Degas painted the dancers, while Cassatt painted the crowd.File:Edgar Germain Hilaire Degas 004.jpg

Cassattopera.jpg

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Teaser Tuesday – January 21st

I’ve been wanting to participate in this for a while – but never seem to be able to sit down to write on Tuesday!  Thanks to one of my favorite book blogs, Cleopatra Loves Books, I’m finally able to share this with you!

Here is what she writes about Teaser Tuesdays, then you’ll see mine below:

Teasing Tuesday CB
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Mine is from “I Always Loved You” by Robin Oliveira, due out February 4, 2014 (review to come later this week!)

“She could not bring herself to answer, but she meant no just as much as she meant yes, and in that noisy silence he kissed her again and then there was no more no.  There was no drawing, either.”

Description from Amazon:
The young Mary Cassatt never thought moving to Paris after the Civil War to be an artist was going to be easy, but when, after a decade of work, her submission to the Paris Salon is rejected, Mary’s fierce determination wavers. Her father is begging her to return to Philadelphia to find a husband before it is too late, her sister Lydia is falling mysteriously ill, and worse, Mary is beginning to doubt herself. Then one evening a friend introduces her to Edgar Degas and her life changes forever. Years later she will learn that he had begged for the introduction, but in that moment their meeting seems a miracle. So begins the defining period of her life and the most tempestuous of relationships.

Thanks for stopping by today!

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Book Review: Before We Met by Lucie Whitehouse

This great book is out TODAY! Check out my review below and click the book to see more on Amazon!

My Dog-eared Purpose


Before We Met
By Lucie Whitehouse
Available 1/21/14
Provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Finish time: 4 nights.  I’m going along frantically turning pages and if there isn’t enough suspense already – BAM!  Wow, didn’t see that one coming, this book takes a sharp turn and when you think its about to end – THWACK!  (Seriously – emphasis added – it’s crazy!)  None of this is bad, but definitely not like anything I’ve read recently.

I’m not quite sure how to review this book without being extremely vague, I don’t want to spoil anything about this book and you really just have to read it.  The beauty of the book is the little nuggets of truth and information that are tactfully placed throughout the whole book.  At the beginning, I was wondering if there would be much dialogue, and there is, just wait for it.  But I’d…

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Lift My Life Up – I Surrender!

Rest in the Lord and be willing to wait for Him.  Psalm 37:7

Wow, what a week.  More to come soon, hopefully.  It’s one of the weeks where I think God is answering a prayer.  A prayer I’ve been praying for quite sometime, and now it’s one of those times, where I’m spending more time in prayer asking “really?”  One of those times, that don’t happen often, where God throws in something completely off the wall, that I just need some time to process.

I don’t mean to be vague as nothing is clear yet, but my prayer this week is to give it all in surrender, my worries, my hopes, my questions, everything.  To open up my ears to hear, and heart to process, what God is saying and surrender to His will.  For God to have His way in me.  The Unspoken song below has been on my heart and hitting hard right now.

“All my dreams, all my plans Lord, I leave it in Your hands”

So I’m keeping this short today.  Meditate on this song, and know He will guide us where He wants us to be and it’s all part of the plan (that we may not know yet!)  I’m thinking maybe next week – Trust will be a good topic.  Amen – Happy Sunday!

Unspoken
Lift My Life Up

You brought me this far so why would I question You now
You have provided so why would I start to doubt
I’ve never been stranded, abandoned or left here to fight alone
So I’m giving You control

I lift my life, lift my life up
I give it all in surrender
I lift my heart, lift my heart up
You can have it forever
All my dreams, all my plans
Lord I leave it in Your hands
I lift my life, lift my life up

Have Your way in me
Have Your way in me

If peace is a river then let it sweep over me
If I’m under fire I know it’s refining me
When I hear You calling out I follow now wherever the road may go
I know You’re leading me home

I lift my life, lift my life up
I give it all in surrender
I lift my heart, lift my heart up
You can have it forever
All my dreams, all my plans
Lord I leave it in Your hands
I lift my life, lift my life up

Have Your way in me
Have Your way in me

Take my life and let it be all for You
Take my life and let it be all for You

I lift my life, lift my life up
I give it all in surrender
I lift my heart, lift my heart up
(Take my life)

I lift my life, lift my life up
I give it all in surrender
(Take my heart)
I lift my heart, lift my heart up
You can have it forever
All my dreams, all my plans
Lord I leave it in Your hands
I lift my life, lift my life up

Have Your way with me
Have Your way with me
Have Your way with me
Have Your way with me

Take my life and let it be all for You

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Happy 1-year Blogiversary to me!

Can it really be 1 year since I started this blog?  Wow, does not seem like that long.  I’ve had my ups and downs, figured a few things out, still working on quite a few others, but most days am glad I have stuck with it.  I wish I had some great, ground-breaking news to share, like I figured it all out, but not yet – probably not ever.  But I have come a long way – see my first post here – My dog-eared purpose.

But I’m okay with that, and I think that is what I am taking away from 2013 and this 1st year of blogging.  I may not have discovered my one “purpose”  and I may not ever, but have figured out a few along the way:

  • My purpose is to raise up my 2 precious children to know, love, and tell others about God.  Through both words and how they act and treat others.  And it’s my job to be a model of this.

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  • My purpose is to be a good, Godly wife.  To support and love my husband unconditionally as he works hard for us and has to make tough choices that aren’t always easy.

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  • My purpose is to love and raise my 3 (mostly) sweet dogs.  To show others that pets are part of a family and should also be treated as such.  And with all animals – to speak for those who cannot.  (Hoping to put more emphasis on this for 2014)

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  • My purpose is to be comfortable in the skin (or clothes) I am in.  I may not be trendy (although I may try to be), I may wear clothes from Target, or last season, but if my family is loved, fed, and cared for, I’m good.  I know God does not care what I look like on the outside and although I do “try” to maintain a good outward appearance to feel good myself, it’s definitely not all that matters.
  • My purpose is NOT to have all the answers.  I want my kids to see I’m not always perfect.  I want them to see me accept blame if something is my fault and not be quick to point fingers at others.  I want them to know mistakes happen, and we need to apologize, try to make it right, learn from it, and move on.  (Still working on this!)
  • And in all these things my purpose is to love God unconditionally, thank Him everyday for the good and bad, and let His light shine through me, my family, and this blog.

I did update my tag-line to “taking it one book, song, and day at a time.”  That is all I can do, I can plan all I want, but things are not always going to go as planned, and although this is hard for me and will take a lot of prayer and disappointment, it’s all I can do to survive.  Life, kids, jobs, circumstances are always changing, but if I stay anchored in my faith with God as my guide, He will give me all that I need.

Lastly, I’ve seen on a lot of blogs and Facebook posts lately people choosing a word to represent their year ahead.  I never outright stated it, but I think my 2013 word was PURPOSE, and my word for 2014 is INTENTIONAL.  To be intentional in all my actions, words, blog posts, whatever.

in·tent : the thing that you plan to do or achieve : an aim or purpose
in·ten·tion·al: done on purpose; deliberate.

So stay tuned for more book reviews, more inspiring songs and verses, more vacations and family fun, more dog posts, and hopefully some surprises!  I have no idea what 2014 has in store, but I can’t wait to find out through being INTENTIONAL and faithful.

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Thanks for stopping by and God Bless your 2014!

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Filed under Calling, Canines, Celebrations, Chapters, Children

Fun afternoon at the #AtlantaBoatShow

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Big thanks to The Uncoordinated Mommy for her review of the Atlanta Boat Show and the chance to win tickets.  I found her blog through Atlanta’s Frugal Mom blog (another new favorite) just yesterday and she had a quick contest and I’m happy to report I won!  So lucky for you – you can check out my review – along with hers here.  I never would have known there were so many things to do – so a great way to spend a wet weekend!  (Which actually turned out pretty nice and 60 by the afternoon!)

ATL-suaYou may remember, or if you are newer, be sure to check this out, my review of the Atlanta Camping & RV show.  We had a blast there.  While we actually may be in the market for an RV in the next few years, a boat is probably not on a list (we’ll stick to enjoying our friends – like this super fun one in AR).  My husband will be the first to tell you that our family is not “a sea-fairing folk!”  But its still fun to see how much you can customize a boat and see some other fun things too!

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A view from one of the boats of the massive showroom of boats.  As the kids pointed out, big boats, little boats, fast boats, slow boats, party boats, you name it – they had it.  Our little princess especially liked the “glitter boats”, of which there were a ton!

Ofcourse, like any show there were tons of giveaways.  In my efforts to reduce clutter, we were actually very good and walked away with only a towel, keychain, and picture (at top) from the Progressive booth (which was huge since they were the sponsor!)  They also had a few little games, like throwing fish in bigger fishes mouths, for the kids which was fun!

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We actually only set foot on one boat I believe.  There were lines wrapped around several of the larger boats (like the one pictured above with me and LM in front of.)  While it would have been nice to see how the rich and famous boat, we weren’t interested in waiting in line.

The only thing we waited for was our opportunity to trout fish.  They had little fishing poles and the kids attempted to fish in the middle of the boat showroom.  On a tip from the blog we won tickets from, I asked for a new brightly colored bait (not a fisher – so don’t mind my lack of knowledge of fishing terms!), and sure enough, me and my LM caught a fish!  Lucky for me, it’s catch and release, but it was fun for everyone to see!  As I was busy reeling it in (ok – I was just holding the poll looking for help!), I wasn’t able to snap a pic, so you’ll just have to take my word for it!

And what seemed to be the most popular of all was the Swampmaster Gator Show.  Seriously people we saving their spots an hour before show time.  We decided to grab a bite to eat first (which while there were some nice choices of food – it was far from affordable) and take our chances on seeing.  But lucky for us, we gave the kids “head-rides” and they could see just fine.  The guy was absolutely crazy tackling a wild alligator, but it was amusing and everyone seemed to enjoy.  I was really glad to hear and actually read before going, that they only use the alligators for 5 days and then they are released into the wild.  And as I promised the kids over the last day, at the end the baby alligator was revealed.  Unfortunately the line to see and hold and take pictures with him was way too long and we were ready to leave at that point, so no pictures to share of that.  But here are a few from the show:

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Overall, so much to see, kept the kids and us entertained.  A few more highlights included were the fish tanks (pictured below), a random mermaid (I guess promoting one of the boat companies?), floating chairs (LL liked!), tons of bars, a few more kids activities (face painting, balloon animals, sand necklaces), demonstrations, contests, and I’m sure more that we didn’t even catch.

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Crazy traffic, between the boat show and Monster Jam next door (possibly on the agenda for the kids in the future as it looks like a few of our friends went and had a blast!), but fun afternoon evening, and a great view of ATL after dark.  Thanks for stopping by!

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