Monday, July 27, 2009

In A Stack...Report # 4

"We carry around in our heads these pictures of what our lives are supposed to look like, painted by the brush of our intentions. It's the great, deep secret of humanity that in the end none of our lives look the way we thought they would. As much as we wish to believe otherwise, most of life is a reaction to circumstances." -Paul Cook's Diary, from The Sunflower.

A few weeks ago I was in the public library with my little girls when Tara, my six-year-old, brought me a book that she had randomly pulled off of the shelves. She said, "Here's a book for you, Mama. It has a pretty flower on the front." That was how I was introduced to the books of Richard Paul Evans. I didn't want to disappoint my girl and the story piqued my interest so I brought it home. Once I began The Sunflower, I couldn't put it down (all fiction does that to me...I have to know it will be all right in the end...and fast!) Here are my thoughts on the two latest books I've read, both by Richard Paul Evans. If interested, please, give him a try and let me know what you think.

The Sunflower "is both an adventure and a love story. It is a story about sacrifice and faith. But most of all, it is a story about hope." With one week to go, Christine's fiance calls off the wedding. Christine's adventurous friend, Jessica signs them up for a humanitarian mission to Peru in hopes of getting Christine's mind off of her problems. While there Christine meets Paul Cook, an American doctor who is working in an orphanage called El Girasol - The Sunflower. Paul has thrown himself into humanitarian work to escape his own past, but the future is Paul's next hurdle to overcome. You will travel to Lima, Cuzco, Machu Picchu, and the Amazon jungle experiencing a variety of foods, customs, animals and people. It's exactly as mentioned above, both an adventure and a love story. For a real treat, click here to take the Sunflower tour on Mr. Evans website and see pictures of the places he wrote about in the book, including El Girasol.

A Perfect Day is the story about Robert Harlan, a man who pursues his dream of becoming an author. Robert finds success, but the costs of his career and fame are high. Robert meets a stranger who knows details about Robert's life...things no one else could ever know. The stranger tells Robert that his days are numbered and the countdown begins. What will Robert do with the short time he has left? He has only a short time to "discover the truth about himself: who he has become, what he has lost and what it will take to find love again." I loved looking inside the world of a best-selling author, with it's temptations, hectic schedules and insecurities. Again, Mr. Evans has written a book filled with hope and forgiveness.

Richard Paul Evans has been called the Godfather of Feel Good Fiction and I would agree. If you're looking for a "happy sigh" at the end of a good book, pick up one of his books at your library today. Happy Reading, Everyone!

P.S. Thanks, Tara, you picked a good one! :)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Little Too Honest

And just when you thought Katie was the only funny child around here...

My little girls have homework papers for their Sunday School class at church. This week we read the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15 and answered different questions. One of the questions asked, "What part of the story can you relate to in your own life?" Katie sweetly answered, "I love when my parents hug and kiss me." Awww. Tara, a little too honestly answered, " I spend all my money on things I don't need." Yep, I wrote it down. Hopefully, the Sunday School teacher will enjoy her answer as much as I did.

Have a great Sunday, everyone!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sleepy Little Secret

Want to know one of my "dirty little secrets?" (Why do they call it that?)

Most mornings I sleep in later than my young children, always have...always will.

From an early age I train (or in a dead sleep inform) them that they can get their own breakfast (cereal, poptart, then graduating to the toaster for a waffle) and a juice box. When my older kids were little, juice boxes were not so prevalent, so the night before I would pour their juices in sippy cups and store them in the fridge. If I didn't get that done, they got to pour their own...a feat they accomplished well before most of their peers. All of my kids became quite adept at managing their first meal of the day while Mom kept snoozing away in bed. Some say I'm a slacker; others say a genius. Either way, it works for me.

Well, my third-born, Katie, is a planner. Every night when we exchange hugs and kisses before bedtime she asks, "What is tomorrow?" If you can imagine, she has trouble saying "r's" in English, but has no trouble putting on a Spanish flair and trilling her "r's", so when she asks this question it actually comes out, "What is tomorrrrrow?" We never give her an answer...or we tell her something she doesn't want to hear (i.e. we're cleaning the house). Every once in a great while she hears something exciting(i.e. we're taking the train downtown). She must live for those moments, because she ALWAYS asks.

The following morning, Katie, who is usually the first one up in our house, comes to my bedside and says, "Mom, can I go downstairs now?" If it's before 7am, I make her go back to bed, if after then she can get up. Now that I've trained her to not get out of bed before 7am (she has been known to lay there watching the clock) all I have to do is grunt. Yes, grunt.

Well, Katie, being Katie, never restrained herself to just that one question. Her morning "greeting" usually went like this, "Mom, can I go downstairs and get a bowl of Reeses Puffs (yes, we eat junk cereal - another dirty little secret), watch Hi-Five, get dressed, go outside and check the weather, pack a bag for Grandma's house, etc. She just goes on and on with her plans for the day. One morning I had had enough! I snipped, "Katie, just say, can I go downstairs and not blah, blah, blah!" The next morning I got a short little question that I grunted to and we were back in business (sleeping, that is.)

A couple of mornings ago I was awake enough to hear Katie's morning question. It went literally just like this:

K: "Mom?"

M: "Huh?"

K: "Can I go downstairs and blah, blah, blah?"

M: "Uh-huh."

She leaves the room and I wake enough to think, "Did she really say what I think she said?" I then thought that I'd wake up the next morning to see if she said it again.

She didn't let me down. I got the "Can I go downstairs and blah, blah, blah?" I just cracked up! The third morning she said, "Mom, Can I go downstairs and all that other stuff?" All the while I'm feigning sleep and grunting, while inside I'm just splitting my sides. She just can't help herself. Those plans are a little more ambiguous, but she's still making them!

Don't you just love the way little minds work?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Crazy Love Free Download

While sitting in different doctor's offices this week, I read through some of my magazines that I had packed into a bag to take along. In Fresno, CA's Peoples Church May Newsletter, Executive Pastor Doug Holck recommended a new book. With his permission, I share his endorsement with you:

"Just finished reading Francis Chan's book, Crazy Love. It is about God's crazy, relentless, all-powerful love. He writes, "It's crazy, if you think about it. The God of the universe - the Creator of nitrogen and pine needles, galaxies and E-minor - loves us with a radical, unconditional, self-sacrificing love. And what is our typical response? We go to church, sing songs, and try not to cuss." He goes on: "Whether you've verbalized it yet or not...we all know something's wrong. Does something deep inside your heart long to break free from the status quo? Are you hungry for an authentic faith that addresses the problems of our world with tangible, even radical solutions? God is calling you to a passionate love relationship with Himself...Once you encounter His'll never be the same." This book is a must read." has a free download of Crazy Love by Francis Chan this month. I hope you'll get a chance to download it and spend some time thinking about God's love for you.

Thanks, for the recommendation, Pastor Doug!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Kids Say...

While driving in the mini-van today Rhett asked the little girls and I if we would listen to a new music piece that he is working on for a jazz festival. We agreed and he hooked up his Ipod to the car stereo and began playing a lively rag-time song. We immediately started giggling and speculating about what cartoon had used this as a musical score.

We all agreed that we could imagine Tom and Jerry running around and then Katie said, "Yeah, Mom, I think it was when Tom and Jerry were dancing and it was all black and know, in the OLDEN 2006!"

Rhett and I busted up laughing and both chimed in together, "Yeah, the OLDEN DAYS...2006!" The perspective of a 7 year old; gotta love it!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Dream Destination

Anyone care to join me? (We can always dream!)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Capital Fourth

I live in one of the greatest cities in the world, especially on the 4th of July! I've been to fireworks displays across our country and have loved every one of them, but none can compare to fireworks on the Mall in Washington D.C. They are awesome!

This year we had fantastic seats in an air-conditioned conference room with a balcony.

my gang acting a little crazy

our view

another view - Air Force Memorial with Arlington Cemetery in the background

wish you could have been there with us!

Saturday, July 4, 2009 long can it last?

On Thursday night I took back a stack of library books, all of which I wanted to check out again because I had not really read much of any particular one. Frustrating. I made myself a list in this little notebook and then lugged the stack back to the library (actually my hubby did the lugging for me - he's a keeper).

Cute, right?! Easy to take to the library with me.

In my little notebook there are numerous pages of book lists reminding me of all the books I've perused, but never really read. I finally got fed up with myself (at least for a little while) and have decide to choose 1-3 books at a time AND actually, read them.

half of the notebook is full of lists...I think it's time to READ!

As you can see on my sidebar, I have deleted my long list and am now limiting myself to just a few selections. We'll see how long this lasts! I'm hoping that I'll actually be able to delete some of those books off of the lists sometime soon. Plus, if you'll remember this post, I would like to recover my nightstand at some point in my lifetime.

So you don't think I'm a total delinquent, here's:

In A Stack Report 3.5 (only gets a half point because I'm only commenting on one light read!)

A Treasury of White House Tales by Webb Garrison and Beth Wieder is a light read - perfect for those times you have just a few minutes to read a small chapter or two. The book is adequately written and the stories are engaging and enjoyable. One reviewer on Amazon stated she thought the book should be required in History classes since an enjoyable story is more likely to be remembered rather than impersonal facts. I enjoyed the book for these reasons and I think any 6th grader on up would enjoy them for the same. If you find Presidential History fascinating, then you'll love these anecdotal glimpses into the White House.

Happy 4th of July, Everyone!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Fireworks Flowers

Want a quick and easy patriotic craft to do with your kids with items you probably already have at home? Have I got the craft for you! (My tribute to the late Billy Mays.)

In January my 5-and 6-year-old kindergartners made these fireworks flowers as table decorations for our American Heritage Girls Awards Ceremony.

Colorful "flowers" make the buffet line festive

They were so easy and fun to make, although there was a little drying time between painting and assembling.

I thought I'd share the idea with you, JUST IN CASE, you were desperate to add one more thing to what I'm sure is already a busy weekend.

Here's the link to the Fireworks Flowers craft. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

It's the First Step that Gets You

The famous Sears Tower has just added an attraction to their observation deck. Check it out:

Part of my childhood was spent living in Chicago and whenever I went up into the Sears Tower I was rarely brave enough to get close to the window to look down. I hated the shaking of the floor and the sway of the elevator going up so high. I'm hoping the Sears Tower has also added defibrillators 'cause I know if I were to take that first step, it might be one of my last. I'm sure I'm not alone.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Countdown to Cold

I've been organizing recipes today...getting them into my computer, printing them out for my 3 ring binders that store my recipes. I've spent some time putting together some posts for my cooking blog and will be sharing some yummy goodness with you throughout July.

I generally don't like to cook during the summer months. I don't know if it's just too hot outside and I don't want to generate more heat with the oven or if I'm just lazy because of the heat! :) I love when the weather turns in the autumn and I can dig out recipes for soups, stews, hearty casseroles and homemade breads. That's just my favorite time of year to cook. Must be a personality thing since it's my favorite season, with winter as a close second.

I read a post recently by Sarah about seasonal depression. How true for me!! All you folks who lament about the lack of sunshine, heat, color, etc. in winter...well, some of us like to lament about the lack of shade, cold, icy stillness, etc. in summer. Ha! Sarah counted down the days until October (her calendar is shorter than mine, btw) and since it's the 1st of July I can count too...91 days until October!! Maybe if I don't pay attention it will fly right by!(or is that "bye"?!) just kidding.

Until we get there I will stand over every available air vent or hang out in the fridge thinking of Sarah and wondering what to cook!