Sunday, February 28, 2010

Danny the Dragon Review

This past week I received a cute little book to review called Danny the Dragon "Meets Jimmy," by Tina Turbin.  It is currently a finalist for the USA Book News Best Book Awards.

To begin with, I thought the illustrations were adorable (by Aija Jasuna).  The way the publisher printed these cute pictures really enhances the textural appeal of the paper they were originally created on- some sort of linen finish it seems- that just make you want to reach out and feel these pages!

I thought the book was sweet and R-Man definitely enjoyed it (a dragon?  Hello?!).  I liked that the children in the book have very good manners and are helpful- character traits I, of course, want to reinforce with my own kids.  Although I did think that the story felt a bit forced and scattered at times (to be completely honest), I still felt that it did a good job of introducing you to the characters and leaving a very open end to facilitate more books to come.  I also think that because Danny the Dragon can shrink and become very small it allows him to be very relate-able to children.

The Danny the Dragon website (where you can buy the book) is also very nicely put together with contests, information and an opportunity to learn more about the author, Tina Turbin.  You can tell that Tina has really poured herself into the success of this book and has done many readings around the country, including a number of hospitals.  Tina also helps families learn how to cook and eat gluten-free and you can find out more about her on her website as well.

Many thanks to Tina Turbin and Imagination Publishing Group for supplying this book for honest review!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Swaggin' Birthday!!!

Search & Win

If you have ever considered using Swagbucks to earn tons of virtual cash... actually, even if you haven't ever considered signing up for Swagbucks- TODAY IS THE DAY!!!!  All day long Swagbucks is celebrating their 2nd birthday and they are giving away massive amounts of bucks and adding all sorts of new ways to earn! 

Don't know what Swagbucks is or think it is some sort of scam?  Then let me back up and explain... trust me, I wouldn't steer you wrong!  Swagbucks is primarily a search engine (like Google) that pays you to search with Swagbucks.  Swagbucks are virtual dollars that can be used in their store to buy all sorts of prizes (legit stuff!), but most markedly you can buy gift cards to places like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Starbucks and more!  So, for doing something you ordinarily do anyway (searching for stuff on the web) you get rewarded!  It's that simple!  SERIOUSLY!  I am not pulling your leg!

There are people who bought almost all of their Christmas gifts this last year from the points they had accumulated all year- hundreds of dollars worth!  That is the goal my husband and I have for this year (well, at least to put a big dent in our Christmas spending!)!  And guess what?  When I went to bed last night I only had 105 bucks but when I woke up this morning I had 1,050 bucks because of the Swaggin' Birthday going on!!  Like I said, TODAY IS THE DAY to start Swaggin!

In addition to just searching you can gather Swag Codes (from newsletters, the blog, their facebook page, swaghunts and more), complete tasks, refer friends (you get up their first 100 bucks!), and a bunch of other stuff (games are soon to come).  But I think the best part is that you don't have to do any of those extra things to get rewarded!  All you really have to do to earn bucks is search, which I am doing all the time already, so someone might as well pay me!

The official party starts at 10:00am Pacific time, but events will be going on all day!  So go on, stop reading (trust me, that is the only time I will ever say that!) and hop on over to SWAGBUCKS and join!  You know you want to!  What have you got to loose?  (Hmmm... what other generic peer-pressure phrases can I think of?!)  Everybody's doing it!  Don't you want to be one of the cool kids?!  (Ok, yeah, I think that about does it!)

UPDATE: If you register for an account anytime from today (Feb 25th) through March 3rd then you can use the promo code “STSCODE” to start out with 60 (yes SIXTY!!) Swagbucks!  (NOTE: They are also changing the way they do the Swagbucks, so 60 Swagbucks is like 6 Swagbucks used to be).

Thanks to Surviving the Stores for the info!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Who says motherhood doesn't change you?

I don't exactly know what brings you to the point in your life when getting pee-ed on does not absolutely necessitate the subsequent immediate changing of the offended garment, but somehow I am there.

I think that every mother probably encounters this sort of phenomenon at some point in their baby years.

I know it is just a phase. 

I know that I will not always encounter the spray of a little boy who just experienced the inevitable draft of an opened diaper, and so relinquished his powerful little fountain, with the thought , "Eh, it'll dry."

Maybe it is a result of no energy.

Maybe it is the feeling that there are just bigger things to worry about.

Maybe it is that ever-nagging voice whispering from my laundry room that justifies the continued wearing of said garment, just so as to not dirty one more thing, thus creating more work for myself.

Whatever it is, right now... I am there.

Eh, oh well.  It'll dry.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Julie Powel Didn't have children!

Alright, after my experience with Mastering the Art of French Cooking last night, it became quite clear to me that Julie Powel's little Julie vs. Julia Project would not have been successful if she had had kids (refer to the book or movie Julie vs. Julia if you have no idea what I am talking about)! 

I mean, seriously! 

I started dinner at 5:00, hoping to have it done by 6:15-6:30 when my husband was going to get home from work.  When 6:00 rolled around, however, and all I had done was prepare the vinegar/wine reduction for a bernaise sauce (that never even ended up getting made), chop some asparagus, melt some butter, and nurse and get an 8 month old down for an evening nap, it was clear to me that this whole escapade was going to be a lot more difficult than I had originally anticipated!

Dinner actually got served around 7:40pm, and that wouldn't have even happened if it hadn't been for the help of my husband to hold our fitster (aka Lion Cub) while he was flipping the potatoes, reminding me that the asparagus was, in fact, still in the oven, and subsequently handling the total breakdown (complete with ugly weeping) that I had somewhere between melting more butter and tying the bacon around the fillet mignon (which he ended up doing as well!).  Poor man, there it was his birthday and he had to deal with all of this damage control! 

I reiterate- you are a good GREAT man Jeremiah!

In the end, despite all the craziness, the dinner did manage to make it on the table without being burnt or thrown out the window.  And even though I swore to my husband that I didn't want to actually obtain my own copy of that blasted cookbook until my children had graduated from high school, the food really was delicious.  Honestly though, how could it not be after being cooked in all that butter?!

Suffice it to say, by the end of my French-feeling day I no longer felt French at all.  In fact, I felt very American!  That's okay though, it was nice while it lasted and at least now I can say that I attempted the art of French cooking-mastering it will just after wait for another day!

Friday, February 19, 2010

I feel French today!

Last night I went and picked up my reserved copy of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking from the library, and today, in honor of my husband's 34th birthday I have been running all over town picking up food items from specialty shops to bless him with an all-out French dinner!  Complete with creme puffs bought at at a real bakery called Petit Chat (see- I slipped in French wherever I could!) and the finest cuts of meat from a real meat market, it is sure to impress and bless! 

Well, that is my hope any way!  In fact, I bought selections of different meats for him to enjoy throughout the whole weekend because what does a man really want for his birthday anyway other than a good helping of meat?  Oh, and apparently, according to Julia Child, lots of butter! 

Yes, I hope I dazzle his taste buds and make him feel honored.  He deserves it!  He works so hard for our family and is such a good daddy and husband! 

And to be totally honest, I am really enjoying picking up our food from stores that focus just one what I am buying- I really do feel European!  The bread is so soft and fragrant, the meats so perfectly wrapped in their paper packages, and as I carried it all into my house with a perfectly sized brown paper bag in each arm it felt nothing short of quaint!  I am sure it also helps that my grandmother is watching the boys so there is no hasseling with car seats and crying, just shear shopping bliss!

I digress.

You are a good man Jeremiah and I love you!  I hope you have the best 34th birthday one can possibly have and enjoy every minute celebrating with our little family!  
Happy Birthday my love!
You're my favorite!

Deathcab for iPhone!

My husband says that God killed my iPhone because it was my little idol.

I think it was Satan The Destroyer because he knew that I was doing most of my Bible in 90 Days reading on my You Version Bible App while I was nursing Lion Cub to sleep.

Either way, Lion Cub's 30 second use of my phone as a teether managed to reek havoc on my touch screen which is now unresponsive through a strip in the middle.  It is amazing what a little baby saliva can do! 

And now it sits in a plastic snack bag covered in rice to suck out the moisture, but sadly at this point, I have very little hope of it recovering.

I have now been without my phone for a week- my little portal to the outside world.  It has been difficult but surprisingly not as bad as I thought it would be.  Sure, I no longer have an alarm clock or instant access to my e-mail, I'm completely out of touch with Facebook and can't send a text, but somehow I am surviving. 

I guess you could say that Lion Cub took Oprah's No Phone pledge a little too seriously (not that I ever texted at a red light... well, not in a long time!).

I think that biggest hit has been on my Bible in 90 Days reading.  I have gotten behind numerous times over the last week and a half and the amount of time I spend laying with Lion Cub trying to get him to sleep seems so much longer... and boring!  Yeah... that part is daunting.

But I refuse to buy a new phone right now!  I have a had my precious little 2G for two and a half years and I refuse to use my upgrade until the 4G with video chat comes out in June!  Somehow, I will make do... somehow.

Until then, however, I may need to find a new alarm clock.  Especially if I have any hope of reviving my Early Bird Challenge!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Journal transformtion!

 So my official journaling as an act of spiritual discipline project has begun!  Tuesday night I found this old scrapbook that I started when I was pregnant with R-Man but never completed.  Here is the cover I had made:

And here is the pathetic inside- yes, that is 1 stamp you see!  I actually did have a typed out page about finding out I was pregnant but somehow over the years it has been misplaced.

Well, here is what it looks like now:


It's amazing what a little paint and finish of Mod Podge can do!   Of course, R-Man wanted to get in on the action, so I let him help with the base coat and I completed the rest once he was in bed!

I now have the inside cover finished, yesterday's addition and have started on today.  I am filling it with lists, blurbs from life, what I'm reading, eating and the goofy things that R-Man spouts throughout the day!  It is also a place to record verses that I feel are speaking to me, prayers and things that I am grateful to the Lord for.

It has already been such a creative outlet and I think as I move forward it will take less time to compile but be just as rewarding!  Most of the pictures I am using I ripped out of old Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware catalogs and so far, the layout and visual appeal just feels like... me!

I am really excited about this project and how the Lord will use it to draw me closer to Him and add joy and beauty to the simplest part of my life!

To learn more about visual journaling and journaling as an act of spiritual discipline be sure to visit Ann Voskamp's blog A Holy Experience!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A little snippit from my other blogs!

I know that many of my readers only frequent this blog of mine, but lately my boys have just had some of the most precious pictures that I, of course, just have to share them with all of you!

Okay, I know I have a little bias, but they are just too cute, right?!  And the blue eyes?!  Killer!

If you want to hear more about our homeschooling adventures you can visit R-Man's blog at The World According to R-Man and for more on Lion Cub's life you can visit The Lion Cub!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Thoughts on Lent- a different perspective

I've never been a "lenter."  Growing up in a Calvary Chapel (which is a denomination- I mean come on, it even has it's own heading in the phone book!) lent was never something that we even talked about, let alone practiced.

This year I am participating in the Bible in 90 Days which will end right before Easter and I figured that was a pretty good spiritual goal in and of itself, not really feeling the need for anything more... until last night that is!  As I was giving my Google Reader one last glance last night I found this post at (in)Courage by Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience.  On her own blog she has an entire series about journaling as a spiritual discipline.  Um... wow!  Can you say inspirational?  And incredibly timely?!

For starters, I have always been drawn to paper, pens, journaling, and altered book sorts of art, so this idea of making a book of even your lists more beautiful, really strikes a cord with me!  I have actually toyed with the idea of some sort of artful journaling for quite some time and this post just seems to drive the idea all the way home.

Just the title of the post in and of itself "Life as Art," really speaks to me because lately I have been specifically praying about how I can add more joy and beauty to my life and the life of my family this year- how I can just make things a little bit more lovely.  The mixed cloud of spiritual warfare, financial hardship and bouts of postpartum depression that has plagued our home this year can seem so daunting and disheartening that I know I need to take deliberate steps towards joy and contentment, and last night I felt the Lord gently nudging my heart in this beautiful direction.

So my commitment for lent this year (a first) will be more about establishing new habits to gain more spiritual discipline than eliminating something from my life (other than maybe sleep!).  I am going to reignite my attempt at The Early Bird Challenge for starters and then I am also going to commit to journaling in some form, every day.  I hope that this will just be the beginning of a discipline that will continue throughout the rest of the year, and my life for that matter!  Of course, I will be documenting my process right here!  Haha- journaling about journaling!

As a family we will also be starting a new book for our family devotions called "Leading Little Ones to God" which should hopefully arrive by tomorrow from Amazon.  I will be talking all about that over at The World According to R-Man, so hop over there for more on that!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Bible in 90 Days- Half Way Through!!!

Bible in 90 Days promo button

I can't believe it!  In the last month and a half I have actually read the entire first half of the Bible!  Sure, there have been days that I have gotten a little behind, or had to reread passages a number of time to actually get my brain to calm down and pay attention, but as of right now, I am entirely caught up and soaking up Proverbs!

This last week has been an especially powerful one, treking through the Psalms!  They really couldn't have come at a better time since I have been feeling as of late that our family has been experiencing a significant increase in spiritual warfare hovering around our house and I really needed to be reassured that God was not only still there, but protecting and loving me all the way through!  And if one thing is for sure it is that you can't go through digesting large chunks of Psalms every day without being reminded of God's abounding and never-stopping love for us, His compassion and grace, His ever present hand in our lives!  Powerful stuff!  I found myself getting emotional as I read of His fatherly character, getting so wrapped up int he words of praise that I just didn't want to stop reading!

I am also finding just how beneficial it is to read such large chunks of scripture at once- something I had originally been wary of.  Now, when I read references to Og the King of Bashan I actually know and remember who the author is speaking of because I just read about him a few weeks ago, among others of course!   Reading the Bible as a novel instead of a bunch of disjointed books has given me such amazing perspective and blessed me so much more than I really ever expected!  It has been worth every minute!

It is so difficult to pick out but a few of the many verses that touched my heart as I read this past week, but here are a couple that I just love:

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.  
Psalm 67:19

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor His anger forever;
He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is His love for those who fear Him;
as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him;
for He knows how we were formed, He remember that we are dust.
Psalm 103:8-14

Oh and I definitely can't end this post without sending out a HUGE THANK YOU to the people at who just awarded me a scholarship Bible, participant's guide AND The Essential Bible Companion!  In all honesty I had assumed I was not going to receive them, then one day out of the blue last week a lovely and heavy box showed up on my door step with much more than I bargained for!

Catch up with other bloggers making this amazing journey at Mom's Toolbox and be sure to stop by our twitter meeting tonight at #B90Days!  I am really hoping to attend this week for some sweet fellowship with other ladies participating!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Love Letter #5- February 5

Dear Love Button

I am going to take a little break from a direct love letter to my hubby, just to brag about him for a bit to all of you!

I don't know how aware you all are of it, but I am married to an AMAZING carpenter!  I mean, seriously, he is such a creative, ingenuitive, perfectionist when it comes to his craft... it leaves me in awe.  He never does anything half way, and if you give him the room to create, he will deliver some of the most unique, classically stunning work out there!

Okay, this just a small and silly little example, but check out the adorable little doors that he made for the cubby room (which he also made) that is underneath our stairs between our bedroom and R-Man's.

R-Man's Side

Our Side

Oh, and did you notice the cool shadow boxing he did in each of our rooms?  Yeah, I love it!  And those are such small examples of his brilliance and craftsmanship!  Check out this house he is basically building for a friend (the friend is a mason, so he did the brick work but my hubby is doing pretty much everything else!)... oh, yeah, it's a castle!


He can pretty much build anything I want, including my dream home... someday... and I love that!  I love going to his jobs and seeing what he has created.  I am so proud of him!  Yup, he is pretty handy to have around!  And he creates pretty cute kids too (with my help, of course!) but that's a post for another day!

Babe- I love you and think you are the best at what you do!

P.S.  I know he will say that I over-talked him in this post... blah, blah, blah... but I don't care!  He really is amazing at what he does and if he isn't going to toot his own horn then by golly, what's a wife for?!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Love Letter #4- February 4

Dear Love Button

Jer,  I love the dreamer in you!  One of my all time favorite things to do is dream with you!  Our long talks about everything from house plans, to family, to travel, fuel my spirit.  I cherish when we can be creative together- even if it is just in talk and plans.  We have so much in common and I think we draw on each others' ideas to form even better and more unique ideas.  I value your opinions and input- they are priceless to me!

So won't you come away and dream with me for a bit?  This Saturday maybe?  Even if only for a short car ride... it would be my favorite part of the date!


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Love Letter #3- Februaury 3

Dear Love Button

Jer- I love your smile!  I mean, seriously, LOVE your smile!  When it is genuine it is priceless!

And your laugh makes my day!  I love to see what things you think are funny when we are watching a show.  I love to hear you laugh at the goofy things are boys do and say- ESPECIALLY when it is something you are trying really hard not to laugh at and your eyebrows go all high and surprised as you try to fiend seriousness!

It brings me so much joy!

And totally cracks me up!

Oh, and I really love when you laugh at something I said... if I meant to be funny (otherwise, shame on you!  :-P ).  Sometimes just having my wit appreciated is enough to truly lighten my mood, and let's face it, our 3 1/2 year old doesn't always catch on!

So thank you for your friendly face!

And I love you!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Love Letter #2- Februaury 2

Dear Love Button


I know I tell you all the time, but I love you.  I love hearing your truck pull up after work.  I anxiously wait for you to walk in the door and give me a kiss.  I love being wrapped in your strong, safe arms.  I love cuddling up next to your warmth on a cold night (or a steamy one for that matter! :-) )  I love that we have so much different and yet so much the same.  I love that there are things only I know about you.  I love our dreams for the future and the possibilities that await us.  Yes, I just love you, my handsome husband!  I do, I do!


Monday, February 1, 2010

Love Letter #1- February 1

Dear Love Button

Dear Jer,

I adore you for loving me, in spite of me!
I know that there are times when I drive you to the brink of near insanity,
but somehow you still love me. 
I can be annoying, and naggy, and entirely selfish,
but somehow you still love me.
I can entirely fail to meet your expectations, or worse yet, just flat out fail,
but somehow you still love me.
I can mess things up, make a mess, and look a mess,
but somehow you still love me.
I can burn dinner,
but somehow you still love me.
I can forget to wash your socks,
but somehow you still love me.
I can be wasteful,
but somehow you still love me.
 I can loose my temper, yell and scream, and even slam doors  (gasp-it's true!)
but somehow you still love me. 
You may not always like me,
but you always love me...
and I love you for that
Have a letter you would like to share?  Check out the details here & link up below! 

Love Letters and such...

"Officially" I am not back.  "Officially" I still have work to do in order to pay the dreaded visit to our accountant (who should be facilitating a hefty return for us, so maybe I shouldn't dread it so much).  But, "officially" I said that I would be back in February and there are just so many things happening right now that I can't keep myself away any longer!

First order of business- today Tyndale publishers are launching a brand new website and, as a blogger, I think that their new features are pretty appealing and exciting!  Some of them include:
-          Links to all of Tyndale’s social media sites
-          A list of all Tyndale authors and their blogs, Facebook and Twitter accounts, etc.
-          A place where you can share stories about Tyndale products that have had an effect on your life
-          Under product details you can post reviews with a link to your own blog so others can see the exciting other books you’ve been reviewing
In honor of their launch, they are hosting 4 book giveaways a day (kids, Bible, fiction & non-fiction) for 30 days!  You can enter every day of the month, so head on over there to celebrate and sign up for their blogging program!

The other piece of news I want to share with you is a contest going on over at Focus on the Family called The Love Letter Contest.  Basically, every day between now and February 11 Focus on the Family will pick the four best love letters written on the topic of "Why you want to grow old with your spouse."  Then, on February 12 they will pick one lucky couple to receive a trip to the simulcast Focus On Marriage event in Colorado Springs on February 27!

In honor of the contest I have decided to write some sort of love letter to my husband every day between now and Valentine's, maybe even for the whole month- we'll see how it goes!  As you may have guessed, this little project is going to formulate the bulk of my husband's Valentine's gift, and I thought that some of you might want to join me in this little project!

Here is what you can do to participate:
  1. Blog love letters to your spouse, linking back to this post (you are welcome to use my button- found in this post and the left sidebar).
  2. Blog about the creative way you are going to present these letters to your love ('cause we all love a good project!).
  3. Link Up!  Come back each day and enter your specific posts in that day's MckLinky so that we all can see!

Dear Love Button

I can wait to spread the love and the creativity!  I will be posting my first letter later on today, so be sure to stop back by and link up!