Monthly Archives: January 2013

The Snow Child: A Novel

Link to book description here.

By Eowyn Ivey

This book was lent to me by my mom (with raving reviews)

I will be the first to admit – my book reviews need a little help.  I don’t like to summarize the whole book and I have trouble putting my thoughts into words.  When discussing this with my husband, a writer by trade, he suggested trying to measure how much I like a book in a different way.  We quickly learned that the speed in which I finish a book is a good indicator.  Not that that is breaking news but I thought it was a good start.

The Snow Child – I read the first 2-3 chapters and it sat on my nightstand.  The hour or two at night that I set aside to read – I would find other distractions – games, puzzles, browsing for more free books.  I read a few more chapters, and there it sat again.  I’m not a quitter, so I decided I just need to power through.  Not an inordinate amount of time – but over a week to finish a book is a lot for me.  But I am happy to report that I did finish and I’m very happy I did!

The book is divided into 3 parts.  Part 1 was not the hook that I usually like to get entranced in a book.  It sets the scene of the book.  An older couple leaves a comfortable, yet predictable life in the contiguous US and moves up to Alaska to live off the land and develop their “homestead” in the 1920’s.  It’s hard to imagine why anyone would do this and those first few chapters of Jack and Mabel barely speaking, living in the middle of nowhere, having 6 hours of sunlight a day, and scraping by don’t help to answer that question.  There is very little dialogue and while the author is definitely gifted at writing, I felt it just dragged on and on.

Part 2 – enter in the “fairy tale” part of the book.  I tend to not like books with things that can’t actually happen (fantasy, scifi, etc…)  This wasn’t outlandish and worked well into the story.  The addition of Faina to the story was very welcome and I began reading faster to learn about her.  Jack and Mabel had a definite shift in their personalities and the book reflected that and became much more enjoyable.  The author continued with beautiful descriptions and really drew you into the story.  I had to get past a few of the “roughing it” parts – I could have lived without knowing how to dress a moose, but it does paint a very descriptive picture of Alaska in the 1920’s.

Part 3 – I read this section in just a few hours.  Could not put it down!  The books goes in a direction that I did not see coming.   I was furiously turning pages until the very end.  Without giving away the ending, I will say that it is not the type of ending I usually like, but it was perfect for this book.  It leaves something to be desired, but I think that is what the author wanted.  It fits with the entire book and leaves the reader thinking, which I believe is the sign of a good book.

So thank you mom.  I am glad I stuck with it and could write, what I feel, is my most thoughtful review to date.  But that is what I hope to do throughout this blog – get out of my comfort zone and say YES to books that I may not have picked up on my own (especially if they are FREE to me!)

If you would have asked me a few days ago, I would not have recommended this book.  But having powered through and completed it – I would say stick with it and you will be very happy you did.  I was.

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Atlanta RV Show

Yesterday we headed up to the Atlanta Camping and RV Show.  We’ve always talked about owning an RV to explore the country.  We’ve also heard from many people to do it while kids are young and that it is a great memory maker.  While we are not quite financially or informationally (ok I made up a word – but we have a lot more research to do!) ready – it was fun to go and dream.  MANY were excessive, many were very basic, but lots in between that could meet and more than meet our needs for exploration and being comfortable in the process.  Having done NO research, we were actually pleasantly surprised by the pricing.   A basic model can start around $10k and a deluxe, top-of-the-line house (luxury house albeit) on wheels can set you back a mere $300k.  Ofcourse everyone needs a fireplace, 6 tv’s, surround sound, granite countertops, and a stainless steel full size fridge on wheels!  It was the beginning stage of our research, but a great way to spend a Saturday.  LL had a blast showing off all the features of each and every RV and may have some spokes-modelling in her future!

Here are a few pictures I found on Google of “extreme” RVs.  We didn’t see any quite like these but we did see some pretty lavish ones!

 

And here are some pictures of our experience:

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So what does this have to do with anything?  As I’ve been thinking about this – maybe it could play a part in my calling.  I recently read a book Following Daisies – A True Story About One Woman’s Adventures Finding Happiness, Fulfilling Dreams and Becoming Herself by Heather Pardon (borrowed free from Amazon Prime).  It is an auto-biography of the author’s journey of self-discovery across Canada in her daisy-covered RV (See below and read more about it on her blog here.)  Her wildly decorated RV was an easy conversation opener with strangers throughout her journey and brought unexpected joy to many unsuspecting people.  So maybe we could use our future RV as a source of spreading joy on our travels?  Or possibly the word of God?  Am I being called to spread His message through an RV? (Not quite like the picture below – but just shows it could be done!)

In the midst of the show, we found a few little non-camping or RV related gems.  A pocket pet squirrel anyone?  That was a bit creepy.  Through displays of stun guns, knives, candles, and dip, we found a little booth with a lot of heart.  I truly felt pulled to this particular booth, both by little hands, but also by my heart.  In the middle of RV craziness were the 5 warmest hearts with the coldest noses, those of 5 rescued greyhounds courtesy of the Southeastern Greyhound Club.  I felt a tug back to where I know God has placed my heart and my passion – rescue dogs.  So I’m not sure if it will be welcoming a greyhound into our home one day or a bigger purpose for an RV – but it was definitely a message I couldn’t ignore.  Maybe our RV could be a source of transport for rescue dogs or an aid during a disaster?  But it was just a small glimpse at what could seem like an extravagant purchase may be part of my bigger purpose (thus prompting a post here!).  We’ll have to wait and see!

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Overall a great day!  Lots more research and saving to do, but very excited to see what the future holds.  Any other ideas for our future RV?

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LL’s 3rd Birthday Lego Party

I’m happy to report that I got my second wind.  December (and well November) was my super-planning months; shopping, LM’s birthday party, LL’s school Christmas party and Christmas (and lots in between!).  Needless to say – I was exhausted by the time Christmas arrived.  Lucky for us – we get to celebrate another birthday just 9 days later!  LL turned 3 on January 3rd.  Her golden birthday!  Since we were still on school break we decided to push her party till January 12th after school was back in.  I had a super cute invite planned in my head, but since I wanted to get the word out pre-Christmas, I had to suck it up and send out an e-vite.  Legos, Chick-fil-A, and cake.  Simple.

Too bad simple doesn’t seem to be in my vocabulary.  2013 rolled in and I feel refreshed and ready to plan!  Our theme was Legos.  LL loves to build and I am all about catering to that (I’m sure we aren’t too far off from princess parties.)  Based on my short Pinterest research, my party is simple.  Primary colors, simple food, and easy activites.  Afterall the party is for 3-year olds.  Oh the things I could do…with all the time and money in the world that is!

We also took a trip up to LegoLand at Phipps Plaza on December 30th for inspiration.
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Party details:

Food –

Chick-fil-A nuggets – because they are LL’s favorite and they are just plain good!
PB&J – kid-friendly remember!
Ritz Bits, Pretzels, and Grapes – sticking with my “round” theme.
Juice Boxes  wrapped like Legos
Lemonade/Tea/Water
Lego Block cakes – this is probably my extent of baking.  Not beautiful – but I think make the point!  Decorated with cookies (see next) and a “3” made out of legos.
Sugar Cookies – I always make the year in cookies.  And I went with simple dots.
M&M’s – again round and bright primary colors
Yellow table cloth, red plates, blue napkins.

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Activities

CONSTRUCT your own Lego creation (I bought 2 650-count LEGO boxes and 3 baseplates)

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BUILD your own minifigure (Lego Minifigure sticker book proved to be a GREAT purchase!  Separated out heads, bodies, and legs and let them go crazy!)

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DESIGN your own door hanger (I put each kids name on it in foam stickers and they get to decorate with more stickers!)

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Others

Nametags – we picked out a Lego minifigure sticker from the book mentioned above, and put each child’s name in foam stickers, on a small lego made from construction paper, and attached a jingle bell (that was LL’s touch – and didn’t hurt that we got them 90% off after Christmas!)

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Gift Bags – Decorated as Legos in Red, Yellow, and Blue, name tags attached in my attempt at Lego font.  They included a sugar cookie in their initial, a bag of M&M’s, a mystery Lego minifigure, stickers, a clapper, and a bouncy ball.  (Many of LL’s favorite things!)[000002]
And my favorite was this awesome shirt by Ready, Set, Create on Etsy.  So many compliments!  Great seller!

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We kept the headcount small, 7 kids total, and I think the overwhelming consensus is that everyone had a blast!  I should have taken a picture of the “after”!  Really it wasn’t too bad and LL was very happy!  I was exhausted, but proud.  I have a lot to live up to now!

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Grow up!

January is missions month at First Pres (maybe all over too?) with that comes lots of sermons directed at finding your mission, your purpose, living out God’s purpose for you.  Today’s topic, as preached by Pastor David, was growing up.  You are never too old to grow up, keep learning, and growing in your relationship with Christ and your faith.  He quoted a pastor (I can’t remember his name though) “If you’re not dead, you’re not done.”

Again another week where I felt the message directed towards me!  Growing up, figuring out my purpose is exactly what I have devoted this season of my life to and in turn, this blog.  Although the growing in Christ is something I plan to keep doing until my time here is complete. Each week I am inspired by speakers who come to speak about their mission or group who are devoted to doing God’s work here in GA or as far as Africa and Asia.  Not only are their missions amazing, but I’m so inspired by individuals who have heard God’s call and are acting on it!  I want to do that!

Today’s verses were Ephesians 4:14-5

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.

Pastor David gave 2 tools for growth.  1. Trouble and 2. Temptation.  Yes we learn and grow through bible study, church, and fellowship, but its through the trials, tribulations, and temptation and how we react to them that we get to apply those teachings and training and really GROW!  Psalms 119:71 says “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.”

Everyone is tempted, we never outgrow it, and it is only a sin when you choose to fall into it.  He then gave 2 helps to get through temptation; 1. Focus your thoughts and 2. Commit to an accountability partner.

My prayer this week is to continue to seek out ways to “grow up” and find that one person I can be authentic with.  And that God will continue to speak to me and help me grow in all aspects of my life.

Special prayers this week go out to Steven’s grandmother who passed away in her sleep on January 19th.  We pray that she is safely at home with our Father, not suffering, and watching over us always.  We love you Grandma J!

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Book Review: Back to You

Book description can be found here.  Borrowed for free through Amazon Prime Lender’s Library (My January Book)

By Priscilla Glenn

Another book that kept me up late and turning pages.  The main characters in the book are Lauren, Del, and Del’s young daughter Erin.  The book skips around a lot between Del’s childhood, Lauren & Del’s high school years, and present day.  It is done well and clearly labeled so it doesn’t feel choppy.  Throughout the book one “event” is referred to over and over again as a defining moment in Lauren and Del’s life.  It is not revealed until very close to the end and I have to say didn’t live up to the build-up.  It did tie everything together though and throughout the book you find yourself routing for a certain outcome.  The characters felt like friends of mine and I could almost picture people I went to high school with in these roles.  The daughter throws a bit of a twist in there, but you quickly fall in love with Erin and Del as her father.

Very enjoyable read and I would recommend it as a light, entertaining read.

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Book Review: Lily’s Redemption

Click book for description.  (Downloaded free through Amazon 1/10/13)

By Jeffrey Allen Davis

A quick Christian novel about redemption (ok that is obvious from the title).  A story about a young widowed father and his young daughter in a small town in MO.  A bit of mystery, a love story, and a story of God’s redeeming love.  I finished this in a few short sittings, you did want to keep reading to find out what happens, although pretty early in the book it becomes clear what is going to happen.  The characters are likable and it’s a cute story.

Many of the free books I read, I am embarrassed to admit.  That is not the case here, but other than being predictable, some parts to be were a little far-fetched.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a Christian and believe in second chances and am thankful everyday for a God of unconditional love.  What I am skeptical of is the unconditional, no questions asked love of others.  I’d love to live in a world where that is true, like this book, but unfortunately that is not the case most times.  As a mother of young kids and a wife, I would be more questioning and less trusting of someone new in my life.  That being said it is a prime example of a happy ending Christian novel.  Worth every penny I paid for it!

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Book Review: From Notting Hill with Love…Actually

Click book for description.

By Ali McNamara.

This will be my first book review, but probably the 100th free Kindle book I have read in the last 2 years.  Many of them are pretty cheesy, cute romantic stories that will entertain for a little, but really don’t make me feel any differently (smarter, happier, whatever) afterwards.  I figured this would be another one of those, but surprisingly I was wrong.

I enjoyed Love Actually and had maybe seen a few of the other movies (Sleepless in Seattle, Bridget Jones’ Diary) mentioned throughout this book, but most I had not (Notting Hill for example).  There may very well have been references I had missed but most I felt were weaved into the story line as the main character, Scarlett O’Brien’s mission throughout the book was to prove that real-life could be as good as the movies.

The book takes place around London and Notting Hill, so there is a short adjustment to the  language, i.e. the go to the cinema (not the movies), but really gives you the feel of being in England.  Scarlett is likeable from the start and I really felt I was along for the ride on her journey to find her mother and is true movie love really exists!

There was romance, a mystery, fun characters, and enough action to keep the pages turning.  Very enjoyable read and highly recommended!

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My dog-eared purpose

Alright God, I heard you today, loud and clear!  Maybe this isn’t exactly what you had in mind, but it is a starting place and I’ve always heard the first step is the hardest, so here we go!

It may be the New Year, it may be my youngest turning one, or it may be spending the last year of my life at home with my kids; whatever it is – I’m ready for it!  Just exactly what “it” is has yet to be determined.  I am referring to my calling or today a word that is sticking with me – my purpose.  I’ve been toying with the idea of starting a blog for a few weeks now.  At first I thought it was a bit cliché – I’m a stay-at-home mom now with some time to fill.  I have a lot of interests, some of which I receive my inspiration from other moms and blogs.  Not one BIG one that stands out just yet – but then I thought – that is what I need to do – figure out just what God is calling me to do and focus on.  I have a few inklings, and as I set up this blog and begin documenting my interests, passions, and what consumes my time, maybe some common themes will arise and I can see just how God is working in my life and where He is leading me.

This morning at church, Pastor David’s message couldn’t have been more directed to me.  Ok – I know it wasn’t to ME but I think that is the sign of a good sermon – one that I could argue with anyone that he was talking to and knew my circumstances exactly!  But it started out with asking yourself “what is my purpose?”  He quoted Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life (which I am thinking about re-reading as a start to finding my purpose) “You were born by His purpose and for His purpose.”  And also Matthew 22:37-39 as a starting point:

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

So my prayer today is that I can open my heart fully to God and the world around me.  And through doing this I pray doors (or I’ll take windows) will be opened up or even shut to lead me into living out my purpose (once I figure out what that is) to His full glory.

Welcome, thanks for stopping by, and I hope you can take this journey with me because I know I am not meant to do it alone!

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