Thursday, September 30, 2010

30 Meals in One Day, Part 2

(Click here for Part 1. )

The title of the program is “30 Meals in One Day.”  But, one thing to keep in mind – and this is something that the author actually does point out in the book – is that without advance preparation, it’s really hard to accomplish all of this in one day.  Preparation is essential!

I must confess that I was not as prepared as I should have been.  Total efficiency takes practice, though, so I will definitely not give up after one month.  But, I will also learn from my mistakes.

Here’s what I did “wrong”:

  1. Not enough preparation.  We got some of the meat pre-cooked and pre-cut, but not all of it.  We also didn’t get fresh veggies chopped in advance.  Finally, a few recipes called for pie crust or bread dough.  Since we prefer the homemade version of both, I needed to make them.  I didn’t get them made before I started on Monday, so that took a good chunk of time out of my day.
  2. Lack of kitchen organization diligence.  I started off well.  I had a container ready for utensils that could be reused or had been rinsed, and I intended to only put in the sink those things that absolutely had to be washed and could not be reused.  I made it halfway through the first day with that system, and it went really well.  But then I started to get careless.  I paid for it with an insanely messy kitchen, limited work space, and limited ability to wash things when needed.
  3. Skipping ingredient preparation.  I intended to have all of my non-perishable ingredients out and accessible.  I forgot and launched into the first day of cooking without doing that.  I was continually having to pull one more thing from the pantry or spice cabinet.  I started with all my ingredients out on day 2, and it went much smoother.
  4. Lack of freezer preparation.  I did not make sure that my freezer was organized properly in preparation for this experiment.  So, I had to stop in the middle of everything and take the time to get it ready before I could really fill it. 

Here are some general thoughts from the cooking adventure:

  • Counting up the hours – including the amount of time it took to make up for the above mistakes and the time needed to meet family needs – I spent 13 hours over the course of two days and ended up with 29 meals.  That counts some clean-up, but not all.  Even with all of my issues, I consider that a very acceptable time investment!
  • Having used a combination of the author’s recipes and my own, I noticed a tendency in her recipes that increased the challenge a bit.  She includes no stove-top temperature or time guidelines.  For example, instead of “cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly, about five minutes” she would simply say “cook until thick and bubbly.”  Although I have enough kitchen experience to know what to expect most of the time, more detailed instructions would have been very helpful.
  • This system works well with just one cook, but it also is very conducive to multiple hands in the mix, evenKitchen helpers young ones.  The recipes are easy to read and follow, and the girls had no problem helping me.  Next time I may consider  printing multiple copies of the more kid-friendly recipes, highlighting what they can do, and setting up a work station for them.   Definitely a recipe for a family day!

Despite my blunders, I consider this a very successful venture.  Although I’m glad round two is a month away, I don’t dread it.  I’m excited about it.  I am already mentally contemplating how to be more efficient, and I plan to peruse recipes over the next few weeks and go ahead and create a new menu for November.  This program – and especially the computer software – was definitely worth the investment!

Again, I received no compensation for this review.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

30 Meals in One Day, Part 1

I know I said there would be pictures today, but I’ve had quite a few comments about the cooking spree I did Monday and yesterday, so I though I’d go ahead and post about that.

I am discovering more and more than it’s not necessarily cooking that I don’t enjoy – it’s walking into the kitchen and trying to figure out what to cook each day!   So, we menu plan.  Not only does it help my sanity, but it also helps us eat healthier and more economically.

But that hasn’t solved all our meal-time problems.  There’s also the issue of time.  We have our  big meal at noon, but I really need to be doing school right up to lunch.  It’s hard to teach and cook at the same time. 

30 Meals When a friend mentioned the 30 Meals in One Day system of cooking 30 meals to have on hand in the freezer, we were intrigued.  So, after a little investigation, we made the investment in the Dinner is Ready!  book and the “Three-In-One” software. dinnerisready_medium

Dinner is Ready! is divided into two primary sections.  The first  section is tips, pointers, and general information about planning, preparing, and carrying out a massive cooking day.  The second section is main dish recipes, divided into the categories mentioned in the first section.

If you are already successful at organizing mass cooking days or already know all the ins and outs of making food freezer-ready and then cooking it afterward, then the book is unnecessary.  If you’re like me, though, it’s exceedingly helpful, even if you just borrow a copy from a friend for a quick perusal.   Doug and I have, in the past, spent a cooking day making three or four recipes to divide into eight to ten meals and freeze.  But, we weren’t always satisfied with the end product, and we had no idea how to increase that to a total of 30 meals.  As I read through the book, the tips and ideas really helped to point out mistakes we had made and give pointers for correcting for those mistakes while also introducing greater efficiency to our cooking days.

But, the real “jewel” of this program is not the book.  In fact, I’m not sure that I would have been so enthusiastic about the program were it just for the book.  The real benefit is found in the computer software.

The software we chose includes all recipes from all three books – Dinner is Ready!, Lunch is Ready! and On the Side!.  As you select recipes for your cooking day, it automatically creates a menu list, a grocery list, and labels for each frozen meal which give the name of the meal and all cooking instructions. 

That in an of itself is a huge selling point for me, but there is even more to it.  Each included recipe can be completely altered.  Portion sizes, the number of servings your family can get from a recipe, and even the ingredients can be altered.  For example, I was interested in the Spanish Beefy Rice recipe, but it had no tomato sauce.  I wanted tomato sauce in mine, so I decreased the amount of beef broth to accommodate the tomato sauce.  I can make that change permanent in the recipe (and I can also later reset the recipe to its original form if I so desire). 

Also, I can easily enter my own recipes into the database.  Although it would be a daunting task to enter all of my recipes in at once, it is quite easy to pick and enter just the three or four recipes I would like to include in the mix each month.  The format is very user-friendly and requires very little effort to learn.

Of course, this is a review of the material itself, not of the process of making 30 meals in one day!  In order to avoid creating an insanely long blog post, I’ll post a review of the process tomorrow in “Part 2.”  So, stay tuned!

Just for the record, I did NOT receive this book and software for the purpose of review.  We purchased this material and I am receiving no incentives for reviewing the material.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Simple Woman

(Don't forget to click on the picture above and visit Peggy's site!)

For Today...September 28, 2010

Outside my window...a dark, still night; not quite as cool as the last couple of nights, but nice nonetheless.

I am thinking...about the fact that I had trouble fitting all our food in the freezer.  We have so much and some have so little.  I cannot forget to be both thankful and giving.

I am thankful for...the aforementioned food; the beautiful, cool weather; routine; FALL!!!!

I am wearing...bright pink t-shirt, bare feet (sandals nearby), jeans – not capris, but full-length jeans, thank you very much!  And I didn’t get hot once today!  Oh, and my hair has been down all day, too.  Even while working in the kitchen all afternoon!  Yes, I think fall is officially here!

I am creating...ideas, still.  And, Christmas is coming, so it’s a secret anyway!

I am remembering...our trip to NW AR not quite a year ago, and the year before that as well.  The trees were so gorgeous! 

I am have a “normal” day tomorrow – school, afternoon study and writing.  At least, that’s the plan.

I am reading...the girls’ school books.  Which reminds me – I need to read a chapter tonight!

I am hoping...the cool weather is here to stay.

I am hearing...vehicles passing by on the highway a block away; Doug tapping on his computer; the soft click and whir of the ceiling fan; nature’s night noises through the open windows.

On my mind...the MS house.  There was possibly going to be a showing of it today.  We haven’t heard anything.

From the learning in full swing as of this week. Kids remembering things well.  A new schedule.  The girls helping to teach Steven (that’s fun to watch, and so far they are all loving it!).

Noticing almost feels like we’ve always lived here instead of having just moved.  Not that the reality and memories of other places are by any means gone, but our home is so comfortably settled.  It’s nice.

From the kitchen...30 Meals (or, in my case, 29) in One Day (well, two afternoons).  Lots of intriguing new recipes.  I’ll be reviewing the book, cd-rom, and my experience with it all later this week.

Around the house...a bit of neglect since I’ve been cooking every spare moment the past two days.

One of my favorite things...FALL!!!!!!!

A few plans for the rest of the & church tomorrow; a trip to Arkadelphia with Doug (and only Doug – no kids!) on Thursday for the OBU Pastor’s Conference (I am SO excited!); a weekend with no real plans – the first such weekend since our move.

A picture worth sharing...I will confess, I am lazy tired.  The pictures are on the other computer.  So, I’ll make up for the lack of picture today with a picture-filled post tomorrow. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ah, Boys

Right after lunch, I walked into Olivia’s room for some reason only to see her newly hung curtain rod badly bent and her curtains hanging at an odd angle.  Calling out to the children, I asked who could tell me what happened. 

Steven responded: “I did it.”

Thankful for his honesty (we’ve had issues with honesty from him lately), we still needed to get to the bottom of how exactly it happened.  He proceeded to matter-of-factly inform us that while he was jumping from the window sill to Olivia’s bed he needed something to hang on to.  So, naturally, he had to use the curtain. 

Doug sat on the bed while I tried to solemnly explain to Steven that we do not stand in window sills and we do not jump from furniture to furniture. 

I made the mistake of making eye contact with Doug before Steven was out of the room.  We had to send the boy out…quickly!

Amid the laughter, we both had one question we did not dare ask him…

Did he make it?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Simple Woman

(Don't forget to click on the picture above and visit Peggy's site!)

For Today...Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Outside my window...a sky almost white with haze and dust from the lack of rain and the burning of fields; another upper-nineties heat wave – hopefully the last gasp of intense summer.

I am thinking...about life and how quickly it passes.  How greatly I need to enjoy each moment.

I am thankful for...a hubby who is comfortable as a daddy and has no qualms about being either at home or out and about with his three munchkins, even when I’m not there.

I am wearing...yellow summer dress covered with orange flowers, hair braided, feet bare.

I am creating...ideas for homemade Christmas presents.

I am remembering...Jacob – a little boy (well, at least he was little five years ago!!) in Memphis who Olivia was determined she was going to marry one day.  His father has been battling cancer for years.  Today a local father with a son about Jacob’s age passed away after his battle with cancer, and it made me think of Jacob and his family.

I am do school planning today.  I can’t keep putting it off!

I am reading...I’m actually between books right now.  Trying to decide where to go next – so many books, so little time!

I am hoping...for fall to arrive soon.  I’m so ready!

I am hearing...the quiet of rest time – few sounds other than music playing.

From the learning rooms...the beginnings of school – math, Bible, read-aloud, etc.  We will officially start Core 4 on Monday, whether I’m ready or not!

Noticing that...the weeks are flying by.

From the kitchen...a new menu planning approach that I’m hoping will help smooth out the process.

Around the playing quietly or napping; small pockets of clutter that still needs to find a home; freshly folded laundry; the last few wall-hangings and curtains waiting to be hung.

One of my favorite things...fall – will it ever come?

A few plans for the rest of the planning, menu planning, grocery shopping, a cooking day (either this week or Monday), a wedding

A picture worth sharing...wonderful helpers.

Big Helpers

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sunday Afternoon Fun

Last Sunday afternoon the kids needed a bit of a diversion.  Just the night before I had dumped the contents of the last tub to be unpacked on the floor of Olivia’s bedroom – a pile of stuffies! 

I kept hearing talk of jumping in a stuffy pile, but I honestly wasn’t sure if I wanted to be involved or not.  In the end, though, I couldn’t resist getting pictures. 

Stuffie Jumping 1

Stuffie Jumping 2

Stuffie Jumping 3What will they come up with next?  Do I really even want to know? 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sweet Reunion

About midday on Labor Day, our cat Mina walked up the road and then decided not to come back.  Doug and I noticed that night that she wasn’t home and didn’t come when we called.  We didn’t say anything to Olivia, though.  Olivia is the only person in the family who Mina really likes, and Olivia loves Mina.  We just kept quiet hoping Mina would be back the next morning.  She wasn’t.  Olivia finally noticed on Tuesday evening as a t-storm was rolling through and both of the other cats came darting in – but Mina didn’t.  At that point we told Olivia that we hadn’t seen Mina in a day and a half and didn’t know where she was.  We all cried and prayed a little bit, and Olivia was at peace.  But, she still missed Mina greatly and kept looking for her to come home.

Finally, that Thursday morning rolled around.  As I walked into the living room, there was Mina in the window begging to be let in!  What a sweet wake-up surprise for Olivia!

Liv & Mina

Mina wore a path that morning back and forth between the food bowl and Olivia.  If Livie went outside, so did Mina.  Whatever room Livie was in, there was Mina.  When Liv left to ride the combine, Mina was not happy.  It was definitely one sweet reunion!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

One more…

Oh, and not to overload you with posts today, but I forgot to add this to our blessings post! 

Most of the time we were in Monticello, we were so blessed to be able to borrow a riding lawn mower from a church member whenever we needed it.  Then, God blessed us with a push mower for those last couple of months – and occasional breaths of cooler weather so Doug and I could take turns mowing without being totally overwhelmed by the heat. 

Well, moving here has not stopped the lawn mower blessings!

One of our church members owns a riding mower that she’s not using right now, so she sent it to our house on long-term loan…

Lawn MowerWith a machine like that, I could even start to like mowing! 

God is so good to take care of every little need, no matter where we live!  I love it!  And, I’m so thankful for the obedience of His children to let Him work through them to bless us this way!

Combine Ride #2

I’m a little slow on the posting this week…

Last Thursday we got a call asking if the girls wanted to go for their combine ride!  The Stones expected to have the rice in by Saturday, and they wanted to make sure the girls got their ride before the rice was done. 

Of course they were ecstatic!

Mary Ann came to pick them up for their ride, and Doug, Steven, and I decided to follow in the car to get a few pictures at the beginning of the ride.  And, more than even riding in the combine, I wanted to get to see it all in action – see how it all works!

The girls wasted no time climbing up and in.

Combine 1 Combine 3

Mary Ann followed behind them, and soon they were all off to harvest more rice. 

Combine 6

Meanwhile, we found a good spot near the cars to watch all the action.  Steven looks intense, but he really was excited to see it all from the outside this time.

Combine 2

We arrived right about the time Gary was ready to empty what he’d been harvesting into the tractor, so we watched as the tractor pulled up beside the combine and started rolling slowly alongside, the harvesting continuing the whole time. 

Combine 4

Once that task was done, the combine kept right on harvesting while the tractor pulled away to go empty its fresh contents into the waiting trucks. 

Combine 5Doug, Steven, and I headed back home while the girls finished their ride.  Definitely an enjoyable way to spend part of our afternoon! 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Simple Woman

(Don't forget to click on the picture above and visit Peggy's site!)

For Today...Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Outside my window...bright sunshine filtering through the wonderful shade trees in our yard; weather allowing the windows to be open, at least through the night and part of the day.

I am thinking...about friends – missing several of them more than usual today.

I am thankful for...aforementioned friends; a mostly organized house; the beginning of our new routine.

I am wearing...khaki capris and a red sleeveless top, bare feet, hair down (for now)

I am creating...curtains for the house – mostly just adjusting what we already had to fit our new windows, but I will have to make new ones for Angie since she now has her own room!

I am remembering...nothing, amazingly enough.  My heart and mind are very much in today.

I am start planning for the new school year today.  Yay!

I am reading...Dawn of a Thousand Nights by Tricia Goyer (in addition to several personal growth books that I’m still slowly reading through)

I am hoping...that our house in Mississippi sells before November 1; but even more than that I am hoping that everything related to that house will glorify God, including our attitudes while we stare into the uncertainty of that November 1 deadline.  (For those who don’t know, the renters who were planning to buy the house are instead moving out within the next few weeks.)

I am hearing...faint music from the next room, crickets and birds outside the open window, Steven playing happily in the room with me.

On my mind...friends & family and their prayer needs, the MS house, school planning, and contemplation of ministry opportunities here.

From the learning rooms...planning

Noticing that...we handle our days so much better when the whole family has planned activities through the course of the day.

Pondering these words... “There is nothing unnatural…in an increase of temptations, conflicts and pressures as the Christian goes on with God – indeed, something would be wrong if it did not happen.” J.I. Packer, Knowing God

From the kitchen...a pantry full of groceries thanks to the generous pounding of our new church.  And, an intense need to menu plan!

Around the house...the start of routine and scheduled chores as of today.  Much laundry being done, bathrooms are clean, most of the floors are vacuumed/swept/mopped.  Ah, nice!

One of my favorite things...routine (I’m sure that has not been very obvious!)

A few plans for the rest of the planning, menu planning, swimming in a neighbor’s pool if the temperatures allow, a Saturday trip to Judsonia (unfortunately having to be separate from Doug as he heads back to Monticello for a wedding).

A picture worth sharing...Doug and Steven discussing how to treat ladies.  It made my heart smile.

Facts of Life

Monday, September 13, 2010

Move Blessings

In every move there are ups and downs, goods and bads.  Just as when we moved from Mississippi to Monticello, this past move has seen many blessings in its midst.  I’ve been intending for quite some time to sit down and blog about them, but I keep forgetting.  Today is the day!!

  • Cooler weather!  In contrast with the scorching heat of the summer, the morning of our move was amazing!  Cool breezes blew, and everyone’s sweat was the sweat of exertion, not the sweat of just stepping outdoors. 
  • Fully packed!!!  I cannot remember a move when we could just focus on loading the truck.  I was always filling boxes as the boxes were being carried out.  Not this time.  God guided so amazingly with all our timing and packing organization.  We went to bed early the two nights before the move because there was nothing more to do!
  • Happy & helpful kids!  There have been some emotional moments as the chaos has stretched on week after week, but for the most part all three kids have handled this so well.  Happily and helpfully.  What a blessing!
  • No flooding!  Our washer is extra-large capacity and has a lot of water output.  The pipes in our last two houses have not been able to handle that output and the result has been flooding.  We didn’t know what to expect here, so Doug and I crowded around the washer with the first load to see if it would flood.  No worries!  That water gurgled nicely down the pipes without even a second of back-up!  YAY!
  • Water filter.  This may seem small, but it’s huge to us.  When we were shopping for a fridge four years ago, our big thing was that we wanted an in-fridge filtered water supply.  Moving down here, there was a fridge in the parsonage, and we knew that our fridge wouldn’t fit in the hole even if we were to bring it.  So, we said goodbye to our filter system.  Two days after we moved, Doug was curious why one side of the interior of our new fridge was so much lower than the other.  Come to find out, there was a filtration inside the fridge itself rather than being in the door like our old one.  Just one more little thing that God took care of!
  • Finally, Facebook.  One of the hardest parts of moving is leaving the day-to-day life sharing with people we’ve come to know and love.  Thanks to Facebook, we still have that privilege.  Not quite the same as being there, but still getting to share those little moments.  That’s fun and comforting.

God grants us the blessing of salvation, which in and of itself is far more than I could ever deserve.  Then, on top of it, He adds in all of these other things – these material blessings that just make our lives easier!  I long to take each one and intentionally direct the glory back to Him.  After all, there is no other true purpose for blessings than His glory!!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

One Hand, Two Hands by Max Lucado

I hope you will indulge the two book reviews in one week – I just couldn’t wait to review this new children’s book by Max Lucado!

One Hands, Two Hands

As the title suggests, One Hand, Two Hands  (Oh the ways we can help with our hands!), illustrated by Gaby Hansen, is – obviously – a book about hands.  I somewhat expected the book to launch immediately into the familiar litany of all the ways we can be helpful with our hands.  Lucado’s approach, however, was refreshingly different.

One Hand, Two Hands takes a beautiful walk through the day of a child showing the variety of things she does with her hands.  She can use her hands to lovingly play with and care for her animals.  Her hands can bend and flop, be wet, dry, clean, dirty, sweet-smelling or stinky.  They can help her care for herself and allow her to help her mommy and other members of her family. 

Lucado has once again used his mastery of words to turn simple  phrases into beautiful word pictures.  Hansen’s illustrations almost jump with action, adding even more meaning and depth to Lucado’s rhymes.  It seems that we cannot come to the end of this book without smiles on our faces to match the ones in the illustrations. 

Lucado wraps up his tale of hands with a discussion starter of sorts.  He gives three types of hands – Helping Hands, Kind Hands, and Loving Hands – and then lists examples of ways children can use their hands. 

The primary audience of One Hands, Two Hands is preschool aged children.  When we first received the book, four-year-old Steven and I delightfully moved through each page.  He loved “discussing” the thoughts provoked on each page, and he excitedly explored each new illustration.  If your family is like mine, however, you’ll find the older children willingly offering to read this sweet book to the younger ones, just for a chance to read it again themselves (and yes, my nine-year-old agrees!).  Max Lucado and Gaby Hansen have definitely produced a delightful treasure. 

This book was sent to me for review by Book Sneeze of Thomas Nelson Publishing

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Witty Attendant

The scene yesterday was quite hilari100_7875ous.

The girls were all dressed up - Angela was excessively extravagantly decked out as some foreign princess and Olivia was her plainer dressed attendant. Olivia was following Angela, carrying the parasol for her.

At one point in their play, I overheard the following exchange:

Angela: Can you please catch up with me?
Olivia: No, I don't have any ketchup.
Angela: No, I mean can you stay up with me?
Olivia: No, I'll be going to sleep in my own bed.

Angela couldn’t decide whether to laugh or be exasperated.  Doug and I couldn’t help but be proud – our big girl is definitely developing a quick wit!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Combine Ride

Any of you who know Steven know that he can be a bit timid about things.  He doesn’t like new things, big things, or loud noises.  He’ll talk a big talk about loving trains, airplanes, and tractors, but once he gets up close he’s not too sure.

Well, now we live in farming country.  For the first time in our ministry career, a good number of our church members earn their living by farming.  It’s exciting for us because we get to learn about farming.  Considering how little we know, there is lots of potential there! 

Part of that learning will involve new experiences, and on Monday evening we got a phone call offering one of the kids a chance for one such new experience – going for a ride on a combine!  All three kids will eventually get their chance, but on Monday Angie was already in the shower and it wasn’t a good time for Livie to go.  So, that left Steven. 

Doug and I debated on who should take him, knowing that he would probably freak out just a little bit at the size and overall experience.  We decided that he might be a little less clingy with Doug than with me, so the two fellas headed out to the field with Mary Ann Stone to go meet up with her husband Gary for the ride.

I was praying the whole time that Steven would not freak out.  After a little while, I got this picture from Doug…

Combine 5 I knew that at least at this point he was having fun!

When Doug got home, I discovered that an amazing miracle had happened.  Not only was Steven never once overwhelmed, but he ran right up to that combine and started climbing the big ladder all by himself!!Combine 2 Doug said he had to slow him down just to catch up and get the pictures!Combine 3

Off they went, busily harvesting some of that rice.

Combine 4

Steven even got to help with some of the controls!

Combine 1To say he had fun would be a bit of an understatement.  Doug and I are so proud of him for being such a bold big boy!  A big thank you to the Stones for the ride!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Boy Who Changed the World by Andy Andrews

 Andy Andrews is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors for his genre.  Known for his motivational speaking to corporate audiences, Andrews truly is a master of words and ideas. 

Andrews’ most rec_225_350_Book.236.coverent book duo is no exception.  The Boy Who Changed the World is the companion child’s picture book to The Butterfly Effect (check out Doug’s blog today for a review of that book!).  Both books deal with the reality that our actions, no matter how great or how small, have a farther reaching effect than we can ever begin to imagine – possibly beyond what we will ever know this side of heaven!

The Boy Who Changed the World is beautiful in every way.  The writing itself is beautiful.  It begins with the story of Norman Borlaug, the man who worked to develop grain seed that would thrive in places where starvation ran rampant.  He was “the boy who changed the world” by providing food to two billion starving people.  But, would it have been possible for God to work through Norman as He did had it not been for His work through Henry?  Or George?  Or Moses?  One by one, Andrews carries children back through history to see how God’s work through individuals built a growing foundation which allowed Norman Borlaug to accomplish the great feat of bringing a steady food supply to two billion starving people. 

The story is not complete, however, without Philip Hurst’s bold, colorful, full illustrations.  The words themselves literally come to life as they blend with and flow through the beautiful pages. 

It is unfair to review a children’s book simply based on my own opinion when I have three “experts” wandering around the house!  Nine-year-old Olivia was the first to grab The Boy Who Changed the World and read it for herself, even before I could flip through it.  She loved it!   The one catch was that she didn’t quite grasp the flow from one story to the next – the idea of four separate boys being “the boy who changed the world” needed a little clarification for her. 

When I think about the context of the book, however, I’m not sure that the need for clarification was bad.  This is the type of book that needs to be read together.  It needs to be discussed during snuggly story time.  This book just cries out for parent-child interaction.  It creates the opportunity for us as parents to explain to our children that when we are submissive to the leadership of the Lord Jesus Christ in our lives, He can do amazing and far-reaching things through us!

The Boy Who Changed the World would definitely rank high on my recommendation list for children (and adults!) of all ages.

I received this book for review from Book Sneeze

Monday, September 6, 2010

Birthday Fun!

We have celebrated Angela’s birthday for days now!!  It all started on Thursday.  Our dear friend Vickie was working in Stuttgart that day, so she used her lunch break to come and eat with us.  We, of course, were delighted. 

Bday 7

We made strawberry heart cupcakes with pink icing to begin the birthday celebration, and Vickie brought Angie full princess gear.  Do you think maybe she knows the birthday girl just a bit? 

Bday 8

On Friday we made the cake.  She made it easy for me this year.  She wanted a jello heart cake with whip cream.  So, I colored the whip cream pink and purple and used a super-size decorator to make stars and shells around the cake.   She loved it, and I loved how easy it was!

Bday 6

Saturday morning dawned and we were ready to celebrate some more! 

Bday 1

Of course, we were all in full-fledged Hog gear.  How exciting that the Razorbacks chose to honor our sweet little fan by playing their first game of the season on her birthday!

Bday 2

Lunch was her usual birthday fare – quiche!  This time it was chicken & bacon quiche with carrot sticks and homemade punch.  She was delighted, as always.  And, of course, the princess “dinnerware.”  Hot pink plates, princess napkins, and Tinkerbell cups.  Quite the combination!

Bday 5

She loved her gifts…a silver Tinkerbell charm from Nanny & Papaw, a pink ball and glove from Olivia and Steven (we love to play catch around here, even though none of us are all that good at it!), and a pink Lego cd player from Doug and me. 

Bday 3

Then today Doug’s parents came up to visit the birthday girl and see the new house/town.  Naturally I forgot to get the camera out while they were here, but we had a good visit with them.  We grilled burgers and gave them a tour of the house.  They gave Angie a little doll family to go with the doll house set she’d gotten for Christmas.  I believe she’s holed up in her room playing with it as I type!

All in all, a fun weekend of celebration for a sweet seven-year-old!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Celebrating Angela

Seven years ago today we welcomed our surprise baby into the world.   I just love how God knows the perfect time for every step of our lives, and He puts each step into place even when we’re not quite looking for it.  That is Angela.  And how thankful I am that He gave her to us in His beautiful timing!

Angie 5

In those first days, weeks, and even months, I never could have predicted the prissy pink-loving princess she has become!

Angie 3

She still loves dresses and skirts, dolls and frills, and anything pink.  Although her two rainbow blankets (bubbies) are mainstays, we never quite know which doll or stuffed animal  will hold place of honor each week.  One day it’s Sacagawea or her beautiful Polish doll.  The next it’s her huge, snuggly stuffed cow.  Or the little solid black cat named Black Susanna.  Or Sophie the wonderfully soft floppy bunny.  Or any of the others piled into her toy box, patiently awaiting their turn as temporary favorite. 

Angie 1

But nothing compares to the comfortable friendship of her books.  She has read and re-read The Chronicles of Narnia, the Little House on the Prairie books, Magic Tree House, and Box Car Children.  She loves books about princesses and friendships and books about the “olden days.” 

Angie 6

And then she acts out her favorite stories with her brother and sister, usually taking the role of the most prim and proper character. 

Angie 7

Angela is showing those signs of growing up – of being tossed about in that gap between little girl and big girl.  She still wants a Winnie the Pooh fork most of the time, but she loves to sit like a lady.  She still loves to hold my hand, but isn’t always sure she wants to sit in the child seats in the huge Wal-Mart carts. 

Angie 2

Angela has become the little mother hen in ways I never would have imagined.  She loves to take care of others, especially younger children.  And she loves to help.  Even with today being her birthday, she was the first to come and ask what she could do to help get breakfast on the table. 

Angie 4

She’s learning slowly but surely how to control and manage her emotions.  Still tender and feeling, she doesn’t quite cry at the drop of a hat.  But that huge smile is still incredibly infectious. 

Angie 8

Happy birthday, my sweet Angela!  We love you more than words could ever express!