Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Cherries

Not the greatest shot... but still fun to pick cherries on Sunday night.
Cherry season is AWESOME!
(after the 21 quarts, 2 dehydrators full, and 3 cookie sheets in the freezer that we processed yesterday...)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Book: Love's Pursuit

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Love's Pursuit

Bethany House (June 1, 2009)


Siri Mitchell


Siri Mitchell graduated from the University of Washington with a business degree and worked in various levels of government. As a military spouse, she has lived all over the world, including in Paris and Tokyo. Siri enjoys observing and learning from different cultures. She is fluent in French and loves sushi.

But she is also a member of a strange breed of people called novelists. When they’re listening to a sermon and taking notes, chances are, they’ve just had a great idea for a plot or a dialogue. If they nod in response to a really profound statement, they’re probably thinking, “Yes. Right. That’s exactly what my character needs to hear.” When they edit their manuscripts, they laugh at the funny parts. And cry at the sad parts. Sometimes they even talk to their characters.

Siri wrote 4 books and accumulated 153 rejections before signing with a publisher. In the process, she saw the bottoms of more pints of Ben & Jerry’s than she cares to admit. At various times she has vowed never to write another word again. Ever. She has gone on writing strikes and even stooped to threatening her manuscripts with the shredder.

A Constant Heart was her sixth novel. Two of her novels, Chateau of Echoes and The Cubicle Next Door were Christy Award finalists. She has been called one of the clearest, most original voices in the CBA.


In the small Puritan community of Stoneybrooke, Massachusetts, Susannah Phillips stands out both for her character and beauty. She wants only a simple life but soon finds herself pursued by the town's wealthiest bachelor and by a roguish military captain sent to protect them. One is not what he seems and one is more than he seems.

In trying to discover true love's path, Susannah is helped by the most unlikely of allies, a wounded woman who lives invisible and ignored in their town. As the depth, passion, and sacrifice of love is revealed to Susannah, she begins to question the rules and regulations of her childhood faith. In a community where grace is unknown, what price will she pay for embracing love?


I don't know what it is about these books, but I just can't seem to get into them. I read about a quarter of the way through this one and just had to quit. I didn't want to pick it up again and it was hindering me from going on to read something else (I'm a one book at a time girl). I think there was just such a sense of foreboding that I didn't want to deal with it.

I also think a large part of that is the way the book jacket descriptions were written for both this, Love's Pursuit, and A Constant Heart, which I never read. So perhaps it's more of a publisher's problem...

I hope someone else will enjoy them!
If you would like to read the first chapter of Love's Pursuit, go HERE

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Camping Adventures

Last weekend our Mom's Bible Study group was supposed to go camping at Banks Lake. Unfortunately 3 days before the date we discovered that the group campsite had been moved to "tick-ville" as Carisa, our fearless leader, so nicely put it. Basically the lovely grassy area with playground and full bathrooms had been designated as a day use only area and the group camp site was now an undeveloped area with "natural grasses". In other words, a field. Not exactly a good idea when the majority of people coming are bringing toddlers and pre-schoolers!

So the camping was moved to Carisa's in-law's house on the river. They are out of town and have a lovely area with actual grass...

It was fabulous other than the fact that Cory didn't sleep the first night. He was up half the night patting my face and talking. Then when Brian got up with him at 6am I thought I might get a bit of sleep... until the Mexicans showed up to work in the orchard next door and left their honky tonk music blaring. I decreed that I wasn't "sleeping" there again so I guess it's a good thing we were only half an hour from home rather than 2 hours so we could easily come back!

Other than that we had a great time! Cory had his favorite buddy here... Dylan!

Hero worship

There were shells and toys of all kinds to play with.

Especially cool ride-on toys and funky glasses...

My steam-punk boy! Taking after Daddy!

The water was a bit cold, but not too cold for jet-skiing!

Cory was too scared to go much, but Daddy and Mommy sure had fun!

The wading was more kid friendly... although out past a few feet it turned into ankle deep muck.
I discovered the muck when Carisa and I did the "polar bear plunge" the first day. I could handle the cold water better than the muck!

We had fun playing Blongo...

and generally sitting around talking even though it was too windy to really enjoy the fire.

Jason and Stella

Mommy Jenny making dinner in their camper

One night Russ cranked up the music and all the kids started dancing... well, and a few of the rest of us too!

Cory loves to dance...
Then he played the chicken dance and I had to teach Cory the proper moves.

Emma was the best dancer there!
And of course no camping is complete without watermelon!
Cory's favorite treat!

He wasn't a fan of the s'mores, but would gladly eat the chocolate and crackers separately! He wanted a marshmallow (or marshmelon as he called them!) and then would take one bite and hand it back to me. After a couple of half eaten marshmallows I decided he didn't really need them anyway!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Book: This Side of Heaven

I read another book lately (big surprise I know!) by an author that I hadn't heard of until recently. I'm quite happy to finally have a chance to read this one since the things I'd been hearing were rave reviews.

Hachette Book Group was kind enough to send me a copy of This Side of Heaven by Karen Kingsbury. Here's what the back cover says:

No one believed he had a daughter he’d never met . . . No one listened when she cried for the daddy she didn’t know . . . Now, in the ashes of tragedy, lies a vindication neither could’ve imagined.

Annie Warren always wanted the best for her son, Josh. But years of failure and bad choices created a heartbreaking distance that has grown far worse since the day Josh was hit by a drunk driver.

Now on medical disability, Josh has put his life on hold for years, waiting for the insurance company to send a settlement that never seems to come. Worse, he believes the story of a scheming woman who claims they have a seven-year-old daughter named Savannah.

Despite the unlikelihood and complete lack of evidence, Josh dreams of being a father and is determined to one day claim the child. His family doesn't know the full story. They don't know what happened the night of the accident that was worth the chronic pain Josh suffers every waking minute, or that he is turning his life around. They haven't seen that Savannah's eyes are his, and they don't know how desperately the little girl needs her family.

When the settlement that rightly belongs to Josh is threatened, Annie sets out to defend her son. But she might find a treasure more valuable than money, one she never expected, one that is the greatest gift her son could ever give her--THIS SIDE OF HEAVEN.

A story of family secrets, broken relationships, and a love strong enough to span an ocean – this side of heaven.


Let me just give you a fair warning. I cried through a good half of this book. You'll have to know that I do cry if a book is sad, but not usually for more than a few pages. This one was definitely tugging on my heart strings. And I won't tell you the story, but the character of Josh is actually based on Karen's brother. Wow.

I'm going to be looking for more of Kingsbury's books to read in the future. I thought it was very well written... I couldn't put it down! I finished it in just under 3 hours. That's a good read for me!

A Cosmic Joke

I've been thinking about this all day. I have about a hundred different things I could say, but I don't really want to say any of them. I don't want to have to explain myself. I wish I could wake up tomorrow and have this be a bad dream.

There is no more baby.

No more plans, no more happy news to share.
(just sucky news that I now have to "un-tell" everyone)

No "exchange" for not getting to have my Lasik surgery. Not that that is as important as a baby, but it still matters for all the pain my stupid eyes have put me through. Last night I had a migraine from my glasses.

Tonight I just have nothing. No baby and no relief in sight since God obviously said "no Lasik". It just seems like he has a twisted sense of humor to take that away by giving me a baby and then to take the baby away too.

There is of course the part of me that thinks this is my fault. I did get on the jet ski on Saturday without even thinking about it. If I'm so worried about the roller coasters in Disneyland next month why didn't I think about the bouncing of a jet ski? But I didn't. Is it coincidence that it's 3 days later? I don't know. (hey, look, now I don't have to worry about the roller coasters. some consolation prize that is...)

Is it the fact that I feel like my body's all messed up for the last while? Do I have any control over that?

Who knows why. All I feel like is that I'm sitting at the butt end of some cosmic joke. And it sure isn't funny from this end.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Timing is Everything

If it's Friday when you're reading this, I should have been getting Lasik surgery on my eyes today. The eyes aren't that bad, but the wearing of glasses is just so hard for me that we (I) decided that this might be the best route to go.

Now, you can't have Lasik if you're pregnant or "going to be" in the next 3 months or until 6 months after you've finished nursing. Obviously we've been trying for awhile now and nothing has happened. So I decided that I could take 4 months off if it meant less headaches, rather than having to wait 2 1/2 years or more.

However, I was also pretty freaked out about anything going wrong. Since my eyes are not super bad now and also since everything I love to do really involves my eyes (reading, photography, sewing, etc.). Then of course the liability waiver came in the mail with all the possible side effects and complications and that didn't help my anxiety.

I made all the appointments and even had my eyes dilated last week (wow, that was not an experience I want to repeat soon - I had NO IDEA how frustrating that is!) but I was still wavering about going through with it. I finally decided, God, if you don't want me to do this, then you'll have to make me pregnant. I didn't figure there was any way of us making that happen this month...

But then on Saturday I needed to take a pregnancy test just to be sure that I was okay for the surgery and lo and behold... oh boy, it shows positive!

So, now you know the reason for Cory's t-shirt and also why we can't keep this one a secret. I didn't really want to tell everyone that I "wussed out" on the surgery when that wasn't the real reason for not going through with it! But it's also early still so I hope and pray that things will be okay. (the baby is due sometime in February)

As for me... I'm kind of conflicted. Obviously on the one hand we've really wanted another baby for quite awhile. However, I don't do well with quick changes and I had been putting all my focus on the surgery and the schedule and things like that. Now we are heading in the opposite direction!

I'll get used to it and be happy, but it will take me awhile (in case you wonder why I don't seem as enthusiastic as I should be) because I am still trying to figure out what to do with my constant pressure headaches from the glasses and now I don't see any relief in the near future.

Obviously this was God's timing, but if you think of it, please pray for a healthy baby and some relief or solution to my glasses issues!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Book: A Bride in the Bargain

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

A Bride In The Bargain

Bethany House (June 1, 2009)


Deeanne Gist


Deeanne Gist, the bestselling author of A Bride Most Begrudging and The Measure of a Lady, has a background in education and journalism. Her credits include People magazine, Parents, and Parenting. With a line of parenting products called "I Did It!® Productions" and a degree from Texas A&M, she continues her writing and speaking. She and her family live in Houston, Texas.

Since the debut of those novels, her very original, very fun romances have rocketed up the bestseller lists and captured readers everywhere. Add to this two consecutive Christy Awards, two RITA nominations, rave reviews, and a growing loyal fan base, and you’ve got one recipe for success.


The Wedding Is All Planned...
Someone Just Needs to Tell the Bride

In 1860s Seattle, redwoods were plentiful but women scarce. Yet a man with a wife could secure 640 acres of timberland for free.

Joe Denton doesn't have a wife, though. His died before she could follow him to Seattle and now the local judge is threatening to take away his claim. In desperation, he buys himself a Mercer bride--one of the Eastern widows and orphans brought to the Territory by entrepreneur Asa Mercer.

Anna Ivey's journey west with Mercer is an escape from the aftermath of the Civil War. She signed on to become a cook--not a bride. When she's handed over to Denton, her stubborn refusal to wed jeopardizes his land. With only a few months before he loses all he holds dear, can he convince this provoking, but beguiling, Easterner to become his lawfully wedded wife?

This is the third book I've read by Deeanne Gist. All are pleasantly light, but I had a harder time feeling this was "real" due to the setting. I'm familiar with Seattle and have probably read too many stories about how really HARD it was settling there in the 1800's. This book didn't really talk about that much at all.

Other than that though it was an interesting story about an event that really happened. Women brought around South America by boat not knowing that they were bought brides! And the reason why Anna doesn't want to wed gives the story depth and a little something more I can relate to!

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Bride In The Bargain, go HERE

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Introducing Diane Birch

When the people at One2One Network contacted me about reviewing Diane Birch's new CD, Bible Belt, I thought I'd be getting a Christian music CD. Obviously I don't read my email very carefully!

But I was pleasantly surprised after all. I've been listening to it for the last few days trying to figure out what to call it. Mostly it reminds me of Norah Jones (who I love), but with different instrumentation and a bit more upbeat tempo on some of the songs. Overall though there's the laid back feeling that makes the whole thing easy to listen to.

The song I've had stuck in my head is called Mirror Mirror and I love the way it talks about our image.

Here's the official bio on Diane Birch:

For singer-songwriter Diane Birch, music was a refuge. Although Diane was born in Michigan, her childhood was spent on the move as the daughter of a preacher, living between Zimbabwe, South Africa and Australia, before her parents finally settled in Portland, Oregon. When she was in her early teens, Diane absorbed a unique and cosmopolitan perspective on life that shines through her music and makes a simple categorization of it impossible.

The result? Diane Birch sounds like an old favorite, with all the sparkle and magic of a breakthrough talent. People says she sounds like a combination of early Carole King, Linda Ronstadt and Stevie Nicks, with a little Joss Stone and Cat Power mixed in. Bible Belt is only her first record, but it’s one of the most accomplished albums you’ll hear all year. From the opening track “Fire Escape” to the closing “Magic View,” Diane’s stunning voice is mesmerizing.

Written entirely by Diane, Bible Belt was recorded in New York City and New Orleans with an impressive team of Grammy-winning producers: S-Curve Records founder Steve Greenberg, soul legend Betty Wright and Mike Mangini, in their first project together since producing Joss Stone’s first albums.

And here's a link to the first song on the album to check out for yourself: Fire Escape

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Dogwood

This is another photo I'm considering having made into note cards. Opinions?

Monday, June 08, 2009

Technology Sucks

So, this weekend I noticed my header for this blog was randomly missing. I went hunting and discovered that for some reason my hosting service *cough*imageshack*cough* didn't have the picture anymore. Weird. (and yes, it's back, I didn't do anything and I have no idea why!)

But I decided that meant it was time to swap out some pictures and put up a new one.

So I went to find the CD's that have all my pictures on them. I was looking for one in particular and thought it was in March of last year. Well, that CD would not load on this new computer. I took it out and behold, it was horribly scratched. I have no idea how it got that way as it was in a stack with all the other burned CD's and none of them are scratched, nor do I hardly ever move them or even touch them!

I tried the scratch repair kit with no luck. I tried to "un-delete" on my laptop in hopes they were still around.

Finally today I called the computer repair guy that fixed my laptop last year and he lent me his Disc Doctor. It seemed to make the scratches less noticeable and we have managed to get a few of the pictures off, one at a time...

However, then when I started loading some other disks onto this new computer they would get halfway and get stuck. We tried a few things to make it easier on the computer, but no luck.

Now I have a feeling that something is wrong with our DVD drive and I'm actually scared that it is damaging the discs that we put in even though it should only be reading them.

This computer is still under warranty, but it's in Seattle. Thankfully we are already making a trip there in a week and a half, so here's hoping that it's the DVD drive, they will replace it, and we'll be good to go.

In the meantime I'll just be over here hyperventilating... because the pictures on that CD? Were of Cory's 1st birthday.

Technology sucks.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Water Slides!

I think having a faster computer is definitely helping me post more pictures... now if only I could get my camera back and have it work...

These pictures of us at the water slides today are courtesy of my mom, Nana, as she is trying to get Cory to call her.

We bought passes this year so hopefully Cory will get more and more comfortable and really enjoy it. Not the he didn't today, on no!

My mom doesn't slide as fast as I do (ask my camp friends how fast I go on water slides and how I got my nickname...) so she got the honors of taking Cory down the "big" slide for most of the time.

But really all he wanted to do was play in the water and they have a fantastic kiddie pool complete with water toys.

Oh, and this was last summer at the water slides... oh my, where is my baby gone to?

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Photo Shoot

My first real photo shoot. This was my favorite one! Coraline is a cutey!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Book: Breathe

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


(David C. Cook; New edition June 1, 2009)


Lisa T. Bergren


Lisa T. Bergren is the best-selling, award winning author of over thirty books, with more than 1.5 million copies sold. A former publishing executive, she now splits her time between writing and freelance editing and parenting her three young children with her husband Tim. She lives in Colorado Springs.


To make a new life, she'll have to learn how to breathe again...

By the time Dominic and Moira St. Clair get their ailing sister, Odessa, to Colorado Springs in the winter of 1883, she is nearly dead. Odessa has been seriously ailing for the past year from consumption, an illness that claimed the lives of four of her younger brothers, prompting her father to send his only surviving children west to chase the cure.

Moira is beautiful and dangerously headstrong; and pugnacious Dominic is charged with establishing a new arm of the family business--a business he doesn't want.
Several days after her arrival, Odessa witnesses what she fears is the murder of miner Sam O’Toole, friend and neighbor to the charming Bryce McAllan.

What’s more, Sam leaves her a poem containing clues that seem to direct her to his mine, which is purported to carry a fantastic vein of silver. But if she is ever to rise from her bed again, she must first concentrate on conquering the giant that threatens her─consumption. Indeed, she must learn to breathe again─daring to embrace her life, her future, and hope in her God.


This is a 400 page book that I read in 2 days. I've read some of Lisa Bergren's books before, but this one is great! Unfortunately it's the first in a series and then next one isn't due out for another year. Drat!

Breathe is almost more of a mystery than a romance, but it never gets too scary or too sappy! And once again I have learned something new about our country's history. I highly recommend this one!

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