Monthly Archives: March 2013

Book Review: Screen Play: A Novel

By Chris Coppernoll

Downloaded Free on 3/26/13

Finish Time: 4 days.  I’m going to keep this review short and sweet, just like this book.  It was again an easy read (I’m on a bit of a streak with those type of books) and the word that keeps popping in my head is sweet.  It may be the jelly beans I’m eating or all the sweets this time of year for Easter, but it was a good book to reflect the season (the candy side of it at least!)

Harper is a very likable main character.  Realistic?  Maybe, I’m not a Hollywood actress, nor would I want to be, but I know that profession has a stigma that comes with it.  She is a newer Christian, but impressively devout.  She looks at each situation as an opportunity to grow in her faith and to tell others about it.  A trait that is very admirable.

The book begins with Harper traveling from California to New York to work as an understudy in a Broadway play.  That quickly escalates into a much bigger role and her career quickly takes off.  She is just coming off a time in her life where she was very depressed, during which she found her faith.  A sub-plot to the book is her entry into online dating where she makes a long-distance connection with Luke.  Her BFF through the book is Avril and she was another character I really enjoyed getting to know.  Every decision Harper makes is through her heart and her faith.   The action really picks up towards that end and I found myself holding my breath until I finished.

I’ll say it again – sweet Christian fiction book that I would recommend.  Now to try and find something a little more challenging for my next book…

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Good Friday and Happy Easter!

“Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe, sin has left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.” 

I woke up with those words in my head this AM.  From the song “Jesus Paid it All (O Praise the One)” this version sung by Kristian Stanfill (based on the original hymn written in 1865 by Elvina Hall) .  Beautiful song – take a listen below and I’ll even put the lyrics because they are so good!  Given the day, Good Friday, I think God put that song on my heart to keep the true meaning of today and this season in perspective.  How awesome and amazing is it to think that TODAY many years ago our Lord and Savoir died on a cross for US.  So we can live FREE and our sins (yes ALL our sins) are washed away because of JESUS!  Wow.  And in 3 days we get to proclaim HE IS RISEN!

Amidst chaos, confusion, unknowns, and life in general, I hope that we all can find PEACE in Jesus today and always knowing He died for ALL of us and LOVES us all unconditionally. May you REMEMBER what our Savoir did for us so many years ago and rejoice in it!  Have a blessed Good Friday and a wonderful Easter!

“Oh praise the One who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead!”

Jesus Paid it All:

I hear the Savior say, Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray, Find in Me thine all in all.

Chorus:
‘Cause Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.

Lord, now indeed I find Thy pow’r and Thine alone,
Can change the leper’s spots and melt the heart of stone.

’cause Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
my Sin had left this crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.

It’s washed away! all my sin,
and all my shame

And when before the throne I stand in Him complete,
“Jesus died my soul to save” my lips shall still repeat

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
(Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow)2x
(He washed it white as snow)2x

(O Praise the one who paid my debt
And raised this life up from the dead)5x
well praise the one who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead
Jesus(2x)
You are the one(2x)
The son of God!
conqueror of death!
King of kings!
The sacrificial Lamb!

(O Praise the one who paid my debt
And raised this life up from the dead)3x
well praise the one who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead
Jesus

After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. John 17:1-5

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1 month with Baxter!

IMG_2517 Well it has been a month, a full 4 weeks to the day since we have welcomed home our newest little man, Baxter.  Let me just tell you, these little boys are something else!  Both LM and Baxter keep me on my toes and there is never a dull moment around here.  I guess that is also true with a 3-year old LL who knows it all as well and isn’t afraid to tell you also!  Throw in the removal of Steven’s wisdom teeth, some new teeth for LM, and a neutering, and I’m ready for all my boys to all be better and some down time (haha)!IMG_2487

So yes, little Baxter had his little boy parts removed (ouch!) on March 19th (that is him on the way over there.)  Thanks to Dr. Vince and the great staff over at Animal Medical Clinic in Peachtree City, he does not seem to be phased one bit from this!  He came home a little teary-eyed and groggy in his “cone of shame” and I felt bad for about an hour until he tried to play with the girls and run around.  Trying to control a puppy, 2 kids, and 2 other dogs, made for a very hectic few days of “rest” for him, but somehow we survived and Baxter is back and crazier than ever.  Not that this should be a surprise, but somehow this little conniving dog roped us in with perfect behavior the first couple weeks, has now turned into a full puppy.  He still is very good for the most part (still house-trained and sleeping through the night), just very energetic, a bit mouthy, and can get two nine and ten year old dogs going like puppies too!  It is great for Devon & Zevon, but they get loud and very rambunctious – which there is a time and place for – but our bedroom at 5:30am is NOT it!

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We are working on training.  Working on are the key words.  I feel like a bit of a hypocrite.  Over the years we have been complimented on Devon & Zevon many times on how they are so good on leash, with kids, in public, etc.  How did we do that?  Our answer was simply – take the time to train BEFORE KIDS!!  It frustrates me so much to see families add a puppy to their home with young kids and then have to get rid of it because it is “bad” or put up with bad behavior because of lack of time and training.  The dog person in me strongly feels that there are not bad dogs, just bad owners (which is now a view I share with kids and parents too!)  We are trying not to make that mistake, but it is really hard to find time to train and puppy while you are training (raising) young kids (duh?).  When Steven and I were single doggie-parents, we both took the time to attend obedience classes with our respective dogs.  That all being said, Baxter found us and we are trying our best (with the help of LL, Devon & Zevon) to turn him into a good doggie citizen.

We are proud to report he has gained 4lbs!  He follows the girls around like the little puppy dog he is, seeking their approval at every turn.  LL has officially claimed him as hers.  “Mommy has Devon, Daddy has Zevon, I have Baxter, now LM needs a dog!”  NO!  It is impossible for any of us to turn a blind eye towards a dog in need, but just praying for the time being none happen to cross our paths.  I know that there are SO many out there (and I can’t ignore that) and I truly hope someday we can figure out a way to help more, but for now, we’ve changed the life of Baxter and I’ve renewed my faith in my knowing that I am called to somehow speak for those who cannot.

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Baxter’s New Collar to match the rest of the family: (and matching leash!)

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Here is my attempt at walking my 2 little people and 3 dogs: (yes we take up half our street!)

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Book Review: Daughters

By Florence Osmund

Click book for description.  (Downloaded as my free March Prime borrow)

While this book was enjoyable and a quick-read (5 nights), I am glad it is over.  Also I’m really sick of having John Mayer’s “Daughters” stuck in my head!  Seriously, I’ve been singing it since I downloaded this book and it’s not really one of my favorite songs, although it does have a good message.   It does take some time to figure out why the book is titled Daughters (plural), but it is appropriately titled and has a very sweet ending.

Daughters is the sequel to The Coach House, my last review.  I enjoyed that book, but felt it was lacking and left me hanging.  So I had high hopes for this book as it picks up right where The Coach House leaves off.  It continues the story of Marie, who recently discovered who her birth father, the beginning of their relationship, and her struggle with who she recently discovered she is, set in the 1940’s.  Marie left behind a home and husband in Chicago to start a new life for herself in the first book.  Her husband was in some shady business and had mob ties, so she was always on the run and you never knew when Richard would show up.  A little bit of this continues into this book, but is quickly remedied and ended.  Good for Marie, not so good for the reader as that was one of the few more exciting parts!

The book focuses on some hard issues like race relations, parent/child relationships, illnesses, and death.  At times I felt many things were over-analyzed and discussed and I wanted to scream “THERE IS NO USE IN WORRYING – JUST LIVE AND DEAL WITH IT THEN!!”  I kept waiting for action, and while there were a few mildly entertaining parts, overall I felt it was pretty low-key.  The author again does a very good job at character development and I enjoyed getting to know and see Rachel grow throughout the book along with some new and old characters.  It was overall a decent book with a sweet ending for Marie and I’d recommend as a follow-up to The Coach House to wrap everything up in a neat little bow!

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Book Review: The Coach House

By Florence Osmund

Click book for description.  (Downloaded free on 3/3/13)

Finish time – 3 days.  It was a quick, page-turning read.  I enjoyed the book overall for the story, but there were a few things that really bothered me.  First, the title – The Coach House.  I guess I had in my head that the Coach House would be some historical house (like my favorite book The Swan House) and would be the center of the story where all the events took place.  Instead you don’t even find out until 2/3rds of the way through what the Coach House even is, and even then it is insignificant.  I don’t judge a book by the title or cover, but for the record, this one is misleading.  I’m terrible with titles but maybe a better one would be something like “You Can’t Hide” or “Running from Richard”.  Those are terrible, but if you read the book – you’d understand.

The book takes place in Chicago in the 1940’s.  Marie, the main character, is a designer with Marshall Fields and a recent newlywed to Richard.  Again looking to learn more about a different city in a different time period, other than costs of things and some racial comments, I didn’t feel transported back.  Not that I have any reference other than movies and television shows, I just didn’t get the true feel of being in the 1940’s.  One example is Marie holding down a full-time job away from the house and Richard being the “cook” in the house.  I’m all for progressive females and marriages, and maybe I’m just being too stereotypical, but it just didn’t feel right.

That all being said, I really did enjoy the book.  I felt part of Marie’s journey to discover more about her past, who she is presently, and where she is headed.  The author does a great job at making the reader feel the emotions Marie is feeling and really setting the scene so you can picture it.  All the characters were easily pictured in my head, and I especially enjoyed Marie’s relationship with Karen and can’t wait to see where her relationship with Jonathan goes.  The book concluded leaving me not completely satisfied and some story lines still open.  But luckily for me (and I guess the author), a sequel has just been released (3/7/13), so I dove right in to Daughters, and that will be my next review.

I just looked back at the book description to see if I missed anything and I couldn’t help but laugh – the entire description is “”The Coach House” is about how a young woman in the 1940s deals with complicated relationships, adversity, ethnicity, and fears.”  I would have to agree.  If you are looking for a good historical fiction (as I most times are), this is disappointing on that front, but if you are looking for a good story to keep you interested, I would recommend this book.  Stay tuned for my review of the sequel! (Which I was very excited to be my free Prime March download!)

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An Afternoon of Worship

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March 17th 2013, our backyard was transformed into a concert arena as we hosted An Afternoon of Worship with Jay & Abby Akins.  Jay & Abby are an amazingly talented, God-loving, beautiful couple who are raising awareness and funds to record their first worship album.   They have led the contemporary worship service at First Presbyterian Church in Peachtree City for as long as we have been attending (and longer before that) and are truly an inspiration as I strive to find what I am called to do.  This event was the first in a series of “Living Room Sessions” Jay & Abby will be performing over the next few months in private homes.  It was an acoustic, raw, introduction to their very own songs.  Combined with stories of inspiration, verses, and prayers, this was an event full of emotion that brought many to goosebumps and even tears (in a good way!)  We feel blessed to have them in our lives and yesterday in our backyard.  .

During warm-up:

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The spread: (Drinks were outside)

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Thank you to Danette from Mercy Drops (and Jay’s baby sister!) for the beautiful cupcakes!  Check out her summary of the event and importantly her recipes for those mouth-watering cupcakes here.  And I have to note that the cupcakes are displayed proudly upon our cupcake tower used at our wedding!  (We like to break it out and any and all events since we do own it!)  Thank you to Danette & Jay’s mom for the pickle/olive/cheese/meat/cracker spreads.  Thank you to Ms. Gayle – Jay & Abby’s “tour manager” for helping organize the event and for bringing sodas for all to enjoy.  Thank you to my parents for the popcorn machine – which were the perfect “grab & go” snack for the concert. And my contribution (in addition to the venue) was the chocolate and vanilla music note lollipops (and some chocolate dipped pretzels for the kiddos).  My first time trying chocolate molds and I think it went pretty well and I may be hooked!  I bought the molds (CK Products 2-Inch Music Note Sucker Chocolate Mold), chocolate (CK Products Merckens Candy Coating 1 Pound Bag, White), and sticks (Wilton 1912-1001 4-Inch Lollipop Sticks, 150 Pack) from Amazon.

Steven (and LM)  introducing Jay & Abby (and Corey on Guitar & Chelsea on Cello) and beginning with prayer:

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During the concert:

(I love it!  Both the concert and the way the back patio and yard looks filled with musicians, music, and friends)

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Thank you to Jay & Abby and all those in attendance.  It was a beautiful day to worship and celebrate what God is doing through Jay & Abby and their music.

Lastly a few more shout-outs to Steven, LL, and my parents, who helped ready our yard by power washing and putting down 18 yards of mulch and 50 bales of pinestraw!  Nothing like a good event to get the yard in great shape for Spring!

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Book Review: Maids of Misfortune: A Victorian San Francisco Mystery

By M. Louisa Locke

Click book for description.  (Downloaded free on 2/24/13)

Has it really been almost 2 weeks since I finished my last book?  That may be a (bad) record for me!  Blame it on the time change (tired) or just too much going on, but I think I only averaged a chapter a two a night, thus the 13 days it took me to finish this book.

And don’t hold your breath, it’s not anything that blew my socks off.  I downloaded this book (for free) thinking that it had two things I enjoy; mystery and history (haha I rhymed!)  I love a good historical fiction book and mystery thrown in keeps the pages turning.  The only thing really historical about this book was the horse-drawn carriages and maybe the role of women in the late 1800’s.  It (obviously) took place in San Francisco, but I really think it could have been anywhere as I did not learn anything about that city in particular.

I don’t mean that harshly, I mention as it was not what I was expecting from the 4 star review on Amazon.  The characters were likable.  Annie is a great main character, you find yourself routing for a certain (happy) ending for her.  The mystery side of it keeps you reading and hanging on until the very end.  It centers around the death of Matthew Voss.  Authorities have deemed it suicide, but Annie and a few others suspect foul play.  At many points in the book you suspect different characters, so I enjoyed that it wasn’t one of those books where you know right from the start (or maybe you will – who knows!)  But it held my interest as a mystery.  I do not think I will pick up another book by this author though.  My one criticism, as mentioned above, is the lack of historical details.   I am far from a history buff – so I enjoy learning (relearning) history facts through stories and feeling (maybe) a little smarter when I finish!

I think I’m going to give another “historical” book a go next – we’ll see if this one fits the bill!
The Coach House

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What a friend we have in Jesus

Happy Sunday all! We had a beautiful service this morning at church at First Presbyterian PTC to match the glorious 72 degree weather we are having in GA today.  The perfect start to a new week (I am tempted to say end because sometimes that how Sunday feels – but I’m uplifted and hope to carry that through this coming week!).  This past week was a trying one.  Nothing terrible or life-ending, just minor frustrations (first world problems as I have heard them referred to).  But I found myself turning to the only place I know -prayer.  For patience, strength, and understanding, especially for things I cannot control.  This song “What a Friend”, sung  this AM by the beautiful Abby Akins (and ofcourse Jay too!), brought me goosebumps as the words sunk deep into my soul today.  Read the words below and see the link to the original song on YouTube (although I wish I had a recording from the AM – it was even more beautiful!)  We are so blessed to have a Savior who will listen to our sins, griefs, trials, temptations, knows us from the inside out, and LOVES us still.  That is just awesome and amazing and I pray I can keep that knowledge with me always.

May your week ahead be blessed!

What a Friend 

Kathryn Scott

What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer

Oh what peace we often forfeit
Oh what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer

Have we trials and temptations
Is there trouble anywhere
We should never be discouraged
Take it to the Lord in prayer

Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share
Jesus knows our every weakness
Take it to the Lord in prayer

Oh what a friend we’ve found
What a friend we’ve found
What a friend we’ve found in You

Isn’t He beautiful
Isn’t He wonderful
A friend like no other to me

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Baxter is here to stay

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Yes – it’s Bret Michaels.  He’s still here.  I was looking for something (anything!) to not like about this dog.  But he really is a good dog and has won us all over.  Yes – he has some puppy issues, but I really can’t blame him for picking up a few kids toys around the house (there are an awful lot of them and LM makes the same mistake with dog toys!)

It’s been a week, the initial craziness is over…just a few minutes added to our AM/PM routine and an extra lap around the house before we leave to get him in the crate (I could use the exercise anyways!)  We scheduled his “snipping” in 2 weeks.  And I don’t think I’d have the heart to pull him away from LL.  She continues to tell everyone we bought her a puppy.  Usually a pretty big decision for a family.  Apparently not ours (see below for a few reasons).  The girls (who we often dub the high school cheerleaders) have accepted him pretty well, and it is so good to see their inner puppy come out as the play with Baxter.   And at bedtime – they all assume their positions (Zevon with LL, Devon with us, and Baxter under our bed) and sleep through the night!

Signs we are crazy dog people;
1. We are strong believers that our dogs find us (as shown by our 3 rescue pups)
2. We keep an extra crate (or 2) in our garage.
3. We have extra leashes, collars, bowls, beds…
4. We bring a puppy into our home with no planning (and one of us out-of-town!)

And bless my wonderful husband, all of this happened while he was traveling for work.  He is also a big supporter of signs and dogs and me, so he graciously left the decision in my hands!  It also didn’t hurt that he LOVED the name we picked out – Baxter!  He keeps referencing Anchorman – which I now see there is a sequel to coming out. (See clip below) That was NOT on my mind – I’ve just always liked names with X’s.  LL’s suggestions included Boy Devy or Pluto.  While he would be the correct color for Pluto and it would be nice to look back and remember this stage of life where everything is Mickey Mouse, I started frantically throwing out suggestions and this one took.  Luckily Daddy agreed!

Along with picking a name that we could live with for say the next 10-20 years, Steven’s telltale sign that the dog was not temporary in our house was the fact I bought the 40 lb bag of dog food!  I argue it was because it was a good value, but maybe subconsciously there was a deeper reason!  Now to solidify our decision, I have scheduled his neutering at Animal Medical Clinic and ordered his official family dog collar.  (My family has always ordered from Satin Stitches by Sue – so we were a bit sad to see she has retired – but hopefully her predecessor will do a good job!)

So help me welcome the newest member of our household, our 3rd dog – Baxter!  Stay tuned for lots more adventures and updates!

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Anchorman Clip:

Steven playing in the yard with Zevon & Baxter on a cold AM while the kids looked on:

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I think he’s made himself comfortable:

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Book Review: The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby
By F. Scott Fitzgerald
We own this book – click on book for description.

I’m not quite sure where to start on this review.  I don’t believe that I am actually comfortable reviewing a Great American Novel and what “The Modern Library named it the second best English language novel of the 20th century.” (Borrowed from Wikipedia description.)  I will say it took me 5-6 nights to finish – usually only reading one chapter a night.  I found it a challenge (which is good) and enjoyed reading it, but also found myself searching the internet today to find out more, as I wanted to fully understand and make sure I didn’t miss anything (which I did!)

It is widely read in high school, I don’t recall ever reading it then.  Most people have heard of it.  And many current characters are said to be based on Mr. Gatsby; i.e. Don Draper of Mad Men. (example provided by my husband!)  Introduced as Nick Carraway’s (the narrator of the book) next-door neighbor known for throwing lavish extravagant parties, Jay Gatsby is a man of mystery, the subject of countless rumors, who the reader finds themselves wanting to know more.  Throughout the book, you take the journey with Nick, just a regular Joe thrown into the mix of Gatsby’s world.  The journey to find out just who this Gatsby is as you weed through rumors, lies, and eventually him opening up to Nick.  As I discussed the book with my husband, I had mentioned that I didn’t quite understand who Nick was and why he was chosen to narrate this story.  He pointed out – that that was the point.  Nick was just a normal guy, similar to the average reader, thrown into this lucrative world.  So it was very easy for me, the reader, to relate to his point of view.  He’s so smart 🙂  The ending sent me to the internet, as mentioned before, just to clarify what exactly happened.  I can’t say it was a happy ending, but it ended how it should have.

I am glad I read it, as one of the reasons I picked it up is the upcoming movie.  I recently saw the trailer (see below) and cannot wait to see the movie – May 2013!  Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby and Toby Maguire as Nick.  I saw the trailer before reading the book, so I had their faces already in my head, but I think the casting seems pretty spot on!

It’s directed by Baz Luhrmann who directed a few of my favorites such as Moulin Rouge and Romeo & Juliet.  Similar to the book and Gatsby himself, the trailer leaves so much to the imagination, it draws you in and you want more!  At least I did!  I also have been fascinated with the 1920’s.   After reading a few books set in the Jazz Age (like Bright Young Things) and seeing Midnight in Paris (awesome movie!), it’s just such a glamorous, carefree time, and it is fun to be transported to such a different era!

The Great Gatsby (2013) Poster

Maybe I should have had Steven review the book, or I will direct you to thousands of amazon reviews if you want to know more, as this hasn’t been the best review of a book I’ve done.  But I wanted to document it and aren’t you excited about the movie?  As you can tell – I am!

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