Friday, February 20, 2009

Rocking Chair Torture

Have you ever tried to buy a rocking chair? Not the new glider rockers that are everywhere, but a real wood rocking chair?

We looked and looked for one when I was pregnant with Cory. Finally Brian found a kit that we could order online from Shaker Workshops. Well, we could have bought the finished chair, but that was twice as expensive. As it is we paid $375 for the kit.

Brian and my dad spent many hours sanding, waxing, and oiling this chair. I even have some funny pictures of Brian and Allison's then boyfriend, Joel, weaving the seat cover just a few weeks after Cory was born.

Finally it was finished... and I hated it. It is the worst rocking chair ever. I tried to be excited, but it's just not a nice chair. The back slats are so far apart I had to make a cushion for it. The arms are too wide and too high. It was labeled as the perfect chair for nursing mothers. NOT!

But the worst thing about it? It doesn't rock.

We could have bought a regular chair if that was what we wanted! It takes more leg motion to rock this chair than it does an overstuffed recliner!

I eventually emailed the company and told them how disappointed I was... No response. Their "satisfaction guarantee" says that you can return anything within 30 days for a full refund if it's in the original condition. I'd say that would have been kind of hard to do with a kit rocking chair.

What precipitated me writing this post almost 2 years later?

Well, today I went to Costco with my parents and found the perfect rocking chair! Made by Montana Woodworks it's on sale for $350 and we wouldn't even have to put it together!!! It's beautiful, comfortable, and best of all??? It rocks!!!

So, the lame Shaker chair is going on Craigslist ASAP and if it sells I'm going back to Costco to buy this one! Wish me luck!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

An Orchid Story

Last year my husband bought me an orchid for Valentine's Day. It was in bloom and those blooms lasted for more than three months! I remember specifically that it was still blooming on Mother's Day.

Then I killed it. I either under watered it or over watered it. I'm not sure which was the actual killer.

So I bought another one because they were on sale and promptly killed it by trying to re-pot it.

This year my husband bought me a new orchid. This one is prettier because it has character. I love the spots! (last year's was pretty too, but it was solid purple)

Our good friend, Sami, keeps orchids and I have asked her how to properly care for it this time. Here's hoping it will keep blooming for 3 months and also bloom again!

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Book: Tender Grace

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Tender Grace

Bethany House (February 1, 2009)


Jackina Stark


Jackina Stark retired from teaching English at Ozark Christian College after 28 years so she could spend more time writing and speaking. While Tender Grace is her first novel she has written two non-fiction books and published many articles in Christian Standard and Lookout. Her second novel, Things Worth Remembering, is due out this fall.

Jackina has lived in Joplin, Missouri for many years with her husband, Tony, and has 2 grown daughters and 6 grandchildren. She spends most of her free time reading, writing, enjoying her grandchildren, or sitting on the back porch drinking a Diet Coke and watching her husband till the garden!


Audrey Eaton awakes at three in the morning and gets up to retrieve her husband, Tom, from the recliner where he has fallen asleep watching a ball game. But when she enters the living room and looks at his gentle face in the soft lamp light, she knows their time together is over. Grief attacks her until all she can think about is how much she wants her old life back. Determined to find healing, she embarks on a journey to the one place Tom and she always intended to visit but never did. Along the way, she discovers, through shared experiences with friends old and new, the meaning of the "tender graces" God provides each and every day.

I've quit reading--even bestsellers, even the newspaper, even my Bible. I've also quit listening to music. This lack of appreciation for things I once loved is beginning to define me. More mornings than I can count, I say to myself before I open my eyes, "I don't want to do this." In the days shortly following Tom's death, that made sense, but what does it mean now? That I'm in trouble? One of the best qualities of the former me was thankfulness. As I was trying to sleep last night, needing Tom to be curled up behind me, his left arm slung across me, I realized to my horror that I couldn't remember the last time I was truly thankful. I think of a line from an old hymn: "Awake, my soul, and sing." I miss Tom. I also miss me. Determined to find healing, Audrey Eaton embarks on a trip to the one place she and her husband always intended to visit but never did. When things don't go as planned, will she embrace the unexpected graces that guide her journey?


While this is not exactly a happy story, especially in the beginning, I think it's one of the better books I've read. It doesn't shy away from the grief that Audrey still feels, even 15 months after her husband's death and that makes it more real.

The story is written in journal form, but there are enough details that you aren't lost in someone's inner ramblings. There was also a small element of suspense in the form of a person from Audrey's past that is not resolved until the very end.

I highly recommend this book. It's the perfect length and a really good read!

If you would like to read the first chapter of Tender Grace, go HERE

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Little Parrot

Cory spent last weekend with my parents while we were at the marriage retreat. They took him to church with them. He had actually gone the weekend before as well since he spent one night with them then. The pastor was doing a 2 part sermon on Passionate Worship. Cory heard him say it enough times that he kept repeating it whenever the pastor would say it!

This Sunday I took Cory to our church. When we stood up to sing Cory said "passionate worship" and then started going "la la la la". Of course we didn't make it all the way through the service, but it was cute nonetheless!

Yesterday we spent at my parent's house while my dad and Brian went skiing. When they got back and we had dinner then my dad had to go to choir practice. That's a new word for Cory, but he picked right up on it.
This morning he's standing on the couch and found a piece of paper. He holds it up in front of him and says "choir" and starts singing "la la la la". I have no idea where he got the idea, but it sure looked like he was "reading music" and singing!

Cory can also tell you that we live in "Washington" and our city name and say them quite clearly! We have a book that the local high school student's created and he loves it. It's a Washington alphabet and he knows what most of the letters stand for.

Of course he also just found the conch shell that my parents brought back from the Bahamas a few years ago and while saying "fragile" proceeded to dump sand all over my couch...

Ah, joy!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Weekend Retreat

I'm still processing some things from this weekend, but it was nice, so nice, to get away.

We left Cory with my parents and went to Warm Beach for the Sacred Marriage retreat with Gary Thomas. Unfortunately we got off to a really bad start for our weekend. We missed dinner on Friday night (it was salmon) and then when we got to our room after the session we discovered that a) we had to make our own bed, which was a bit odd and b) they had left us with a full size fitted sheet for a queen size bed. Ugh.
Thankfully one of the other couples knew the camp and had the same problem so they went and raided the laundry room for some appropriate size sheets!

Obviously the premise of the weekend was to have time with your spouse and figure out how to get along better. I had heard about Gary Thomas before and really wanted to read his book, but I think it was good to get this intro with him in person. The tag line of his book is: What If God Designed Marriage To Make Us Holy More Than To Make Us Happy? His point being that marriage isn't easy, it takes work, and in the end it will work best if we focus on becoming more Christ-like.

There were quite a few couples who had been to this seminar before so he did an abbreviated summary on Friday night and then on Saturday one session each for the men and the women. Sunday morning was about forgiveness. Applicable to more than just marriage.

The food was amazing and Saturday night they had a chocolate fountain with all kinds of fruit and pound cake as well as a live pianist. That was really cool!

We left on Sunday and stopped at the outlet mall near Marysville. Even though we didn't have Cory with us we didn't forget about him... $100 later he has a new wardrobe in the next size of clothing that he will need sooner than I think! The kid is not even 2 years old and we bought all 3T clothing... yikes!

I needed a vacation from my retreat (I never sleep well in a new place) but it was really nice to have meals that didn't require cooling food and picking up after a toddler! Of course he had fun shoveling the snow at Grandma and Papa's house since ours is all gone!

Friday, February 06, 2009

An Imaginary Trip

Today I'm bringing you a review of a book that I was not given to review. Well, I was given it, but by my sister-in-law! She has the most amazing way of finding these books that resonate with me so much longer than most...

I'd like to take you on an imaginary trip and introduce you to Greg Mortenson. This is the story of his unlikely journey from world class mountain climber to the founder of schools for girls in one of the poorest regions of the world.

Three Cups of Tea tells how, in 1993 after failing to summit K2 in northeast Pakistan, Mortenson stumbles into a village off the beaten path and is warmly welcomed. When he awakens the next morning his course of life has been unalterably changed. The village leader shows him the children of the village at "school" on a barren cliff, scribbling their notes in the dirt. Dr. Greg, as he comes to be known, promises to return and build a real school.

He eventually does build the Korphe school, and over 50 more across the highest mountain ranges in the world in eastern Pakistan and Afghanistan through some of the craziest times - 9/11, the Taliban, and the US invasion of Afghanistan.

The story is masterfully told and the insights it brings about the Muslim peoples living in this region and the politics there are priceless.

I only wish I could have read it earlier!

You can find out more about the organization, the Central Asia Institute, at their website.

Oh, and before you click on the direct book link in the third paragraph, consider buying the book through the CAI website where they will get 7% of the proceeds to continue their work!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Book: Word Gets Around

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Word Gets Around

Bethany House (February 1, 2009)


Lisa Wingate


Lisa Wingate lives in central Texas where she is a popular inspirational speaker, magazine columnist, and national bestselling author of several books. Her novel, Tending Roses, received dozens of five-star reviews, sold out ten printings for New York publisher, Penguin Putnam, and went on to become a national bestselling book. Tending Roses was a selection of the Readers Club of America, and is currently in its tenth printing.

The Tending Roses series continued with Good Hope Road, The Language of Sycamores, Drenched In Light, and A Thousand Voices. In 2003, Lisa’s Texas Hill Country series began with Texas Cooking, and continued with Lone Star CafĂ©, which was awarded a gold medal by RT BOOKCLUB magazine and was hailed by Publisher’s Weekly as “A charmingly nostalgic treat.” The series concluded with Over the Moon at the Big Lizard Diner.

Lisa is now working on a new set of small-town Texas novels for Bethany House Publishers. The series debuted with Talk of The Town and continued with Word Gets Around. A new series is also underway for Penguin Group NAL, beginning with A Month of Summer (July 2008), and continuing with The Summer Kitchen in July, 2009. Lisa’s works have been featured by the National Reader’s Club of America, AOL Book Picks, Doubleday Book Club, The Literary Guild, American Profiles, and have been chosen for the LORIES best Published Fiction Award.


Lauren Eldridge thought she'd wiped the dust of Daily, Texas, off her boots forever. Screenwriter Nate Heath thought he was out of second chances. Life's never that predictable, though. Cajoled by her father, Lauren is back in town helping train a skittish race horse set to star in a Hollywood film. But the handsome screenwriter gives her more trouble than the horse. And Nate is realizing there's a spark of magic in the project--and in the eyes of the girl who is so good with horses. Daily, Texas, has a way of offering hope, healing, and a little romance just when folks need it most.


While I liked the storyline and theme of this book it was way too wordy for me. The characters spend more time in reflection and sharing their thoughts than they actually do interacting with one another. It's also a bit confusing trying to remember which character is talking since the chapters switch back and forth between the two leads. It was a cute story, but much too slow for me.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Word Gets Around, go HERE

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

22 Months

Well, once again I am a week late in posting this... we had nasty colds all last week and they are still hanging around. No fun at all.

This month Cory is talking more than ever. He's started putting 3 or 4 words together, especially if it's something you want him to say.

My Little Prince

He always wants to "snuggle pillow" which means that he wants to go in on our bed and lay down, usually on Daddy's pillow! It's awfully cute! And lately he's been coming up to me and laying his head on me and saying "snuggle pants" or "snuggle shirt", whichever body part he happens to be snuggling!
He also thinks that being cute will get him out of finishing his dinner... in the case of "hug you Mama" or my personal favorite "hug-a-mama".

We got a very brief dusting of snow a couple weeks ago. We've had nothing since all our snow melted and blew away in a wind storm at the beginning of January. So I quickly put on Cory's snow clothes and took him outside. He immediately found our shovel and wanted to help...

He was having a bit of trouble with it falling down on him, but I finally remembered he had his own that we got him for Christmas... he had a blast!

Here he is coloring a picture for Auntie Allison. He told Brian to "hold it" so that he didn't have so many crayons in his hand and could color properly. Then Brian sneezed and he said "bless you".

Just last week Brian was fixing one of Cory's little cars and he thought the tools were so great that he was trying to "fix it" later. So Brian went and bought him his own tool set... he took Cory with him and came home saying he would never take a kid down the toy aisle again. I could only laugh!

The set came with a pair of goggles. Brian told Cory he would put the goggles on and then he could go to work. With goggles on Cory walked over to the door and started saying "work, work" as if he was leaving because we always say Daddy's going to work when he leaves in the morning!

When I take a picture of Cory then he says "see Cory" because he knows he can see himself in the preview screen!

Here he is with his bunny! Sorry for the poor quality of this picture. Do you know how hard it is to pose a toddler when all he wants to do every time you put the camera up to your face is "see Cory?"

He's finally figured out how to climb up on couches by himself. We didn't really encourage this since it was easier to keep him off the end tables! We had a little tool box that he could use as a step stool to get up on the one couch, but now he can get up on any of them...

And no, this was not posed. He climbed up with a book all by himself and I just managed to grab a picture! I'm so glad he likes books like his mama!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Book: Desires of Her Heart

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Desires Of Her Heart

Avon Inspire (February 10, 2009)


Lyn Cote


Lyn Cote married her real-life hero and was blessed with a son and daughter. She loves game shows, knitting, cooking, and eating! She and her husband live on a beautiful lake in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. Now that the children have moved out, she indulges three cats: V-8 (for the engine, not the juice), Sadie, and Tricksey. In the summer, she writes using her laptop on her porch overlooking the lake. And in the winter, she sits by the fireplace her husband installed with the help of a good neighbor during their first winter at the lake.

Lyn's inspirational novels feature American women who step up to the challenges of their times and succeed in remaining true to the values of liberty and justice for all. The story of America is one of many nationalities and races coming together to forge our one nation under God, and Lyn's novels reflect this with accurate historical detail, always providing the ring of authenticity. Strong Women, Brave Stories.


A New Orleans lady and a half-breed frontiersman become unlikely allies as they travel the wilds of Texas.

In 1821, when circumstances make it impossible for her to remain in New Orleans, Dorritt and her family head west to join Stephen Austin's settlement and recoup their fortune in Texas.

Quinn is a man of the frontier who has made a name for himself as a peerless scout. But as he and Dorritt's party begin a grueling trek across untamed Texas, the success of their journey is in grave doubt. Mexico has broken with the Spanish Crown, and armies from both countries—plus marauding Comanches—roam the pine forests and prairies. And one of the party is plotting destruction.

Now, with their lives joined in a virgin land fraught with peril, can Dorritt and Quinn put all their trust in God and receive the desires of their hearts?


I must admit that I enjoyed my book reviewing break so much that I didn't realize it was almost February and this book was up immediately! It looks good if you like historical romantic fiction (which I usually do!).

If you would like to read the first chapter of Desires Of Her Heart, go HERE