Sunday, September 27, 2009

California Day 3

After a late night dinner on Day 2 of our adventure we woke up and Kelly and Julie practiced a lovely yoga pose for us.

Julie, unfortunately, had to go back to work so it was back to three of us to go adventuring this day. We started our morning in Disneyland...

Now, I haven't been to Disneyland since I was in 5th grade, but I seriously don't remember the rides being so jerky. Yikes, that was a bit hard on the back! But we did go on two rides that were closed the last time I was there, the Matterhorn and Space Mountain! The Matterhorn was particularly jerky, but Space Mountain was awesome! A roller coaster in the dark with tons of crazy lights everywhere! The funny part about this ride was just as we got to the end... it broke down on us! We were stopped in what we could tell was a tube-ish thing funneling back into the beginning of the ride with a car in front of us, but we could hear people still screaming on the ride behind us... I was a bit worried that we were going to get slammed in to!

Finally they turned all the lights on (bummer for the people out in the middle of the ride, take all the mystery out of it!) and said something on the intercom about there being an electrical failure. Some employees showed up and pushed the car in front of us around the corner and then pushed ours. We were super glad we weren't still in line and waiting to get on the ride...

Which reminds me. Have you heard of the Fast Pass system they have there? It rocks! At first I thought it was a pay extra thing where you got to go to the head of the line and I didn't think that was fair, but it is. You don't pay extra, it's part of your ticket. You get to use your Fast Pass once every 2 hours for some of the more popular rides (Splash Mountain, Indiana Jones, Space Mountain). It gives you an extra little ticket and tells you to come back in a certain time frame. When you do you get to skip about 3/4 of the line! Very cool. And in the mean time you can ride some of the less popular rides. Or go visit Innoventions like we did...

This was new for me. It's a large round building that has all kinds of new technology inside that you can play with. Some are practical and we'll be seeing them mass market soon I'm sure (touch screen computers?) others, probably not. But it was fun (and also air conditioned!).

Then we headed over to California Adventures. This park is literally right across a plaza from the entrance Disneyland and new since I'd been there (it was a giant parking lot before!).

(Getting up in this A was harder than I thought!)
The coolest ride at California Adventures was the Soarin' over California. You sit in a suspended hammock type chair and face a screen, like and IMAX screen. Then it shows you a video of hang gliding over California while gently rocking your chair and blowing wind on you (complete with orange grove and sea scents!). It was super cool!

After that we did the Single Rider line and rode the Grizzly River ride. We had to go in separate boats, but it saved us most of the hour+ long wait that we would have had going together. Once again, if you don't have small children and can afford to break up your party, this is a fabulous way to ride more rides in a short amount of time.

This time we got totally soaked and since it was late afternoon stayed wet most of the evening. After climbing around in the little kid's Adventure Trail (or something like that) we wandered out to the far end of the park.

We got a Fast Pass for California Screamin' and then got on Mickey's Fun Wheel. It looks like a ferris wheel, but only every 3rd car is stationary. The other two are on an elliptical rail so that once you go up past 9 o'clock on the wheel you slide in towards the center and swing like crazy! The same thing happens on the way back down. Super fun!

California Screamin' has to be one of the best roller coasters ever! It starts out by launching you uphill rather than ratcheting you up. So when you reach the top you are already at full speed and go flying over and down into the rest of the coaster. It was super smooth and insanely fast, but awesome!

After that we did dinner and headed back over to Disneyland for ice cream and watching the fireworks show.

Here's my favorite picture of Jamie with what I've learned from Ree is called bokeh (the lights in the background).

Then I found a spot in the middle of the crowd to try and get fireworks pictures... this is definitely my favorite one!

Getting enough light for the castle to show up yet not having too long an exposure (since I didn't have a tripod and was getting jostled) was tricky!

Yes, this is how many people were all crammed in to watch the show...

We got back to our room and I had to pack, but I wasn't supposed to fly out until 10 am so I could sleep a little bit... no such luck. We discovered that for some reason ALL the standby flights were booked suddenly for the next day and I was going to have to be there at 5am to hopefully get on any flight out! Yuck.

When I got there in the morning I found out that the reason all the flights were full is because the last flight in from Dalles the night before connecting to Seattle had been late. So there were a dozen people who needed to get on before me...

I didn't make the first flight, but the second one had room at the last minute. So I got in to Seattle 2 hours earlier than I expected. I wandered around in the terminal before going out to baggage claim because I knew there was nothing once I left the security area...

Once I'd claimed my bag I sat and people watched for awhile... until I realized that I was missing the Mickey ears I'd hand carried home for my son. I immediately burst into tears! Oh the joys of little sleep and losing something! When I finally remembered where I'd left it (on the back of a bathroom stall - behind security) I went back to the exit and to see if they would have pity on me. There was a woman there and I'm half talking half crying to tell her that I left my son's Mickey ears in the bathroom. She yelled to the lady at the other end of the hallway that I was crying about Mickey ears. Thankfully the bathroom was just around the corner and that lady went and found them easily. She said she wouldn't normally do things like this, but she loves Mickey Mouse too...

After that drama my college roommate found me (and I watched a grandma and grandson meet their new adopted sisters from China!) and we went to the mall to hang out. We actually got to talk for about 3 hours, uninterrupted, until Brian could come pick me up (from training)! Fabulous!

And so ended my California adventure.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Book: Fields Of Grace

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Fields Of Grace

Bethany House (October 2009)


Kim Vogel Sawyer


Best-selling, award-winning author Kim Vogel Sawyer is a wife, mother, grandmother, author, speaker, singer of songs and lover of chocolate... but most importantly, she's a born-again child of the King!

A former elementary school teacher, Kim closed her classroom door in 2005 to follow God's call on her heart to write and speak. Now blessed with multiple writing contracts with Bethany House, Barbour, and Zondervan Publishing, Kim enjoys sharing her journey to publication as well as the miraculous story of her healing from a life-long burden of pain and shame.

Kim's gentle yet forthright testimony lends credence to the promise of Ps. 117:2--"Great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever."


Will their Mennonite faith be shaken or strengthened by the journey to a new land?

With their eldest son nearly to the age when he will be drafted into military service, Reinhardt and Lillian Vogt decide to immigrate to America, the land of liberty, with their three sons and Reinhardt's adopted brother, Eli. But when tragedy strikes during the voyage, Lillian and Eli are forced into an agreement neither desires.

Determined to fulfill his obligation to Reinhardt, Eli plans to see Lillian and her sons safely settled on their Kansas homestead--and he's equally determined that the boys will be reared in the Mennonite faith. What he doesn't expect is his growing affection for Lillian--and the deep desire to be part of a family.


I'm not sure what the conflict is in this book... I haven't had a chance to read it yet. I'm usually intrigued by books about the Amish, but have read very few about the Mennonites. I hope it's as good as it sounds!

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

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Brushing Teeth

Cory and Nana...

Book: One Imperfect Christmas

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

One Imperfect Christmas

Abingdon Press (September 2009)


Myra Johnson


Making up stories has been second nature to me for as long as I can remember. A select group of trusted friends back at dear old Mission High waited eagerly for the next installment of my "Great American Spy Novel" (think Man from Uncle) and my "All-American Teen Novel" (remember Gidget and Tammy?). I even had a private notebook of angst-ridden poetry a la Rod McKuen.

The dream of writing persisted into adulthood, although it often remained on the back burner while I attended to home and family and several "real" (read paying) jobs along the way. Then in 1983, while recovering from sinus surgery, I came upon one of those magazine ads for the Institute of Children’s Literature. I knew it was time to get serious, and the next thing I knew, I'd enrolled in the “Writing for Children and Teenagers” course.

Within a year or so I sold my first story, which appeared in the Christian publication Alive! for Young Teens. For many years I enjoyed success writing stories and articles for middle-graders and young adults. I even taught for ICL for 9 years.

Then my girls grew up, and there went my live-in inspiration. Time to switch gears. I began my first women's fiction manuscript and started attending Christian writers conferences. Eventually I learned about American Christian Romance Writers (which later became American Christian Fiction Writers) and couldn't wait to get involved. Friends in ACFW led me to RWA and the online inspirational chapter, Faith, Hope & Love.

So here I am today, still on this crazy roller-coaster ride. Still writing. Still hopeful. Writing, I'm learning, is not about the destination, it's about the journey. My current projects are primarily women's fiction and romance . . . novels of hope, love, and encouragement. Novels about real women living out their faith and finding love in the midst of everyday, and sometimes not so everyday, situations.


Graphic designer Natalie Pearce faces the most difficult Christmas of her life. For almost a year, her mother has lain in a nursing home, the victim of a massive stroke, and Natalie blames herself for not being there when it happened. Worse, she's allowed the monstrous load of guilt to drive a wedge between her and everyone she loves-most of all her husband Daniel. Her marriage is on the verge of dissolving, her prayer life is suffering, and she's one Christmas away from hitting rock bottom.

Junior-high basketball coach Daniel Pearce is at his wit's end. Nothing he's done has been able to break through the wall Natalie has erected between them. And their daughter Lissa's adolescent rebellion isn't helping matters. As Daniel's hope reaches its lowest ebb, he wonders if this Christmas will spell the end of his marriage and the loss of everything he holds dear.


A little early for Christmas... and I'm behind in my reading so I haven't gotten to this one yet... It looks good though!

If you would like to read the first chapter of One Imperfect Christmas, go HERE

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Book: Boy-sterous Living *and Giveaway!

Today I'd like to introduce you to a book that will most likely be a lifeline for me in the years ahead! I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but I'm not giving my copy away!

About the book: Raising boys isn't easy. Life with them is loud. If it's quiet, they're probably up to something. Boys are messy, competitive, fearless, and proud. Living with them pretty much guarantees that you're in for an adventure.

In Boy-sterous Living, Jean shares a few of the priceless stories and laugh-out-loud lessons that she and her boys have experienced over the years. With humorous insight and practical advice, she offers encouragement and ideas to help both mothers and fathers impact and shape the lives of their sons. From understanding their love of sports to overcoming the superman complex, Jean shows moms how to find joy and contentment in everyday life by celebrating the laughter, passion, noise, and endless energy boys bring to our lives.

About the author: Jean is currently the Publishing Manager for MOPS International and she's been free-lance writing for 16 years. She has been published in a variety of local and national publications, including: Guideposts, MomSense, Today's Christian Woman, Christian Parenting Today, American Girl, Proverbs 31 Woman, Chicken Soup for the Mother and Son Soul, Chicken Soup Cookbook for the Busy Mom's Soul, Focus on the Family's Teen Phases, Guideposts Miracle Series, and others.

She also co-authored her first book, Where Women Walked: Powerful True Stories of Women's Perseverance and God's Provision. (Tyndale/Focus on the Family, 2004) This book was nominated for a Gold Medallion Award.

Jean graduated from the University of Colorado in Boulder with a Bachelor's (1987) and a Master's (1992) degree in Journalism. She lives in Boulder with her husband Zane; three boys, Josh, Jordan, and Jake.

Find out more about Jean here!

Buy Boy-sterous Living

Win it!
If you'd like to win a copy of this book please leave me a comment about your boy(s)! I will pick a winner next Monday (the 28th).

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Book: Dawn's Prelude

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Dawn's Prelude

(Bethany House - October 2009)


Tracie Peterson


Tracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than 70 novels. She teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research.

Ephesians 1:18 has become a cornerstone verse for a new non-fiction book she's been working on -- its also become a cornerstone in her life. The verse reads, "I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints."

Tracie and her family live in Belgrade, Montana.


Newly widowed Lydia Sellers discovers that through an unforeseen fluke, she is the sole recipient of her husband's fortune. But instead of granting her security, it only causes strife as her adult stepchildren battle to regain the inheritance for themselves.

Lydia, longing to put the memories of her painful marriage behind her, determines to travel to Alaska to join her aunt. Lydia's arrival in Sitka, however, brings two things she didn't expect.

One is the acquaintance of Kjell Bjorklund, the handsome owner of the sawmill. Second is the discovery that she is pregnant with her dead husband's child. What will this mean for her budding relationship with Kjell? And what lengths will her stepchildren go to reclaim their father's fortune? Lydia soon finds her life--and that of her child's--on the line.


My understanding is that Dawn's Prelude is the first in a series... I can't wait to read the rest of them! The "twist" in this story is very good and I wasn't sure how it would end.

I really like that Lydia is struggling through the story and she isn't given any "easy" answers. The other thing to note is that the story does take place in the late 1800's, which isn't obvious from the book description and adds a different dimension than I was expecting.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Dawn's Prelude, go HERE

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: My Own Photo Shoot

My son told me the other day, "I want to take pictures of my bunny." So I tried to take pictures of him inside and he said, "No, outside by the fence." Which is where we took the last bunny pictures 6 months ago! He has an amazing memory and definite sense of what he wants...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

California Day 2

All right, so after our crazy first day in Cali we didn't get going too fast the next morning. When we did we headed for the Getty Museum on the north side of LA and just west of Hollywood. It's free to get in, however parking will cost you $15.

I wasn't too familiar with the museum before we went other than having multiple people tell me we had to go there! The Getty Center (there are two different locations), where we went has 5 buildings that present a collection of Western Art from the Middle Ages to the present. It was pretty fascinating!

Or course we had to start at the beginning... with illuminated manuscripts.

These are done by hand! Seriously cool. When I was in college we took a special tour to a local monastary with one of our history profs who had training in handling these manuscripts so they allowed her to take them out of the cases (white gloves on) and we got to see them up close. Then they had some old ones that weren't "worth anything" in the basement that we actually got to touch!

Moving on to the first large artworks. Many of these, if not most, are from churches and they all depicted the saints.

There was also an exhibit in the first building about casting sculptures that was just fascinating. The particular process had something like 16 steps and could only be used once. So if something messed up in the middle (and the artist wouldn't know until the end) he would have to start over entirely!

We didn't make it to all 5 buildings, we got a little sick of looking at paintings! But we did go to the photography exhibit (the modern part!) where of course, no photographs were allowed. Also the traveling exhibit of French sculptures was pretty interesting.

Then we toured the outside of the museum, which was just as spectacular as the inside. All the buildings are made of white marble which a guide told us came from somewhere in Europe and took about 200 ships to bring to the US. They're absolutely gorgeous though!

The view looking down over LA.

There was an outdoor garden that was very cool. The first thing that caught my eye was these iron haystacks that had flowers planted in the middle so they grew up and over the top. Very cool!


Another shot of the marble and rebar flower haystacks!

My three amigos, Jamie, Julie, and Kelly.

Looking up from the garden to one of the buildings.

Being a flower connoisseur...

These shots are kind of backwards, but at the top of the hill there is a small fountain. The water runs out along a raised channel and then through a hole in the floor. It cascades down an urn (see below) and then runs down this stream and into the pool that the labyrinth is in. It's all very beautifully designed.

The urn where the water comes from above.

After spending way more time at The Getty than we had planned we ran out of time to visit Universal Studios. Because we had a dinner date in Disneyland... for 9:40pm! Oy!

But one of the things that Kelly and Jamie really wanted to do was have dinner in the Pirates of the Caribbean restaurant and those reservations are hard to come by! So 9:40 it was! We got to the park in time to see a bit of the evening show and ride a couple of rides, including Pirates. I must say it's quite a bit better than I remember it from 5th grade...

The restaurant is in the beginning of the ride. See that blue wall behind my friends? That's the lagoon where you enter the ride and you can see the diners from your boat as you glide by.

The cost of the meal was more than I would normally spend, but was it ever good! They were out of one dish that both Julie and I wanted, but I got some beef shortribs and I swear I have never had meat that was so good!

Now for the funny story...
Kelly decided that she wanted to have the "Lightning McQueen" drink (it was Raspberry Crystal Lite or something since they don't serve alcohol in the park) saying as she ordered that it was "for her nephew". Since my son absolutely adores Lightning I decided quickly that I would get one too and said that it was "for my son".

Now either our waiter was a really good actor or he was genuinely surprised because he said something to the effect of "no way, I thought you guys were like 16". A little schmoozing I suppose, but that lead us to tell him that no, we were all turning 30 this year and this was our special trip and birthday dinner (thanks Kelly's mom!).

Then, when we were all done he brought us each a dish of chocolate mousse with a candle on top for our birthdays! It was very sweet (and so was the mousse!).

Happy Birthday to us!

The mousse had sprinkles on it in the shape of Mickey ears. Very fun!

And finally our second day in California came to an end as we headed back to our hotel room...

ZZZZZzzzzzz.... in the elevator!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

California Girl Adventures

After the fun that was the Corvette weekend, Brian left for Olympia to work while I took Cory home... for one night! Then I left him with my parents and flew off on a crazy California adventure with some girlfriends from high school.

We left Monday night after Jamie got off work and got to Seattle about 9pm. Staying at Kelly's uncle's house so that her dad could get us to the airport at 4am... yeah, we had a flight leaving at 6am and no, I did not choose that!

No worries until it was time for bed. Jamie sits down on the bed and says "this is a brick". I'm thinking, okay, so it's harder than normal. No, it's really quite literally a brick! When I sat down the bed did not give at all. It was like sitting down on a wooden park bench! Thankfully I always travel with an extra pillow so that helped, but... between the brick bed and having to get up at 2:30am (because some people take over an hour to get ready no matter where they're going - and no, that's not me) there was not a whole lot of sleep to be had!

Getting to the airport and on the plane was no problem even though I was flying stand-by. However the seating arrangements were quite amusing. Jamie and Kelly were together and I was one row back across the aisle seated amongst 5 ladies who apparently were traveling together. The row behind us was entirely empty so after their musical seats it turned out that I had a row to myself and the seat next to Kelly and Jamie was also open. So without even having to say anything I got to sit by my friends. Not that it really mattered since we all tried to sleep the way there.

Arrival in LA was at like 9am and after picking up the rental car we were ready to go. Our hotel was just blocks from Disneyland, but who lets you check in at 10am? After fighting with the gates in the parking lot (I guess they really don't want other people to park there) we decided to go to Knott's Berry Farm for the day.

Which would be were I got this lovely shot:

Not too far out of character for Kelly actually.

We chose to go on the wooden roller coaster called The Ghostrider first. Also the first mistake. Since it's wooden it doesn't go upside down and all you get is a lap bar. I guess I didn't get mine tight enough because every time we went down (and there were a lot of those!) I was about 6 inches off my seat. Talk about scary!

The best part was Jamie sitting behind me and going ah, ah, ah, ah, aaaah, ah, ah, ah, aaaaah, the whole ride. We kidded her about that for the rest of the day!

The best ride we found was called the Silver Bullet. It's like the Batman ride at Six Flags where you hang and your feet are free swinging rather than sit in a car. It was so smooth and fast it was awesome!

The only not awesome part was the very last circle that was so tight your feet were tingling from all the blood rushing to them. And after going on the ride twice in a row (there was no line) we all kind of had head aches from lack of blood to the brain!

The other really cool part about the day was seeing the Everybody Loves Snoopy ice spectacular.

It was in a theater, but the stage was an ice rink with a walkway around the edge - a semicircular bit that stuck out into the audience. There were about 20 college age skaters, very professional, and then half a dozen Peanuts characters... on skates! And they were doing more than just skating around too. The show was only half an hour, but it was fabulous! I was so impressed with the choreography and the way they tied it all together. It was very fun, and a good rest in the afternoon for us!

After a few more rides we were all done in and Jamie was feeling a little ill. So we headed back to our hotel to meet up with the 4th member of our posse, Julie, who lives in LA now.

Room service was had and then to bed to get ready for a full day... but who ever heard of a hotel room that still has double beds? Craziness! Which did not help our sleeping!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Mine

This is the piece I want, Nana, right here, with all the frosting on it!

(I only caught the picture, I'm not sure if he climbed on the table by himself or not... but it was pretty funny!)

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Book: The Blue Enchantress

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Blue Enchantress

Barbour Books (August 1, 2009)




M. L. (MaryLu) Tyndall grew up on the beaches of South Florida loving the sea and the warm tropics. But despite the beauty around her, she always felt an ache in her soul--a longing for something more.

After college, she married and moved to California where she had two children and settled into a job at a local computer company. Although she had done everything the world expected, she was still miserable. She hated her job and her marriage was falling apart.

Still searching for purpose, adventure and true love, she spent her late twenties and early thirties doing all the things the world told her would make her happy, and after years, her children suffered, her second marriage suffered, and she was still miserable.

One day, she picked up her old Bible, dusted it off, and began to read. Somewhere in the middle, God opened her hardened heart to see that He was real, that He still loved her, and that He had a purpose for her life, if she'd only give her heart to Him completely.

She had written stories her whole life, but never had the confidence to try and get any of them published. But as God began to change her heart, He also showed her that writing had been His wonderful plan for her all along!


Betrayed by the man she longed to marry, Hope Westcott is about to be auctioned off as a slave to the highest bidder on an island in the Caribbean . After enduring a difficult childhood in an unloving home, Hope's search for love and self-worth have led her down a very dangerous path. All she ever wanted was to find true love and open an orphanage where she could raise children with all the love she never experienced as a child. But how can a woman with a sordid past ever hope to run an orphanage, let alone attract the love of an honorable man?

Determined to overcome the shame of his mother's past, Nathaniel Mason worked for many years to build his own fleet of merchant ships in an effort to finally acquire the respect of Charles Towne society. Ignoring the call of God on his life to become a preacher, he forges ahead with his plans for success at a distant port in the Caribbean , when he sees a young lady he knows from Charles Towne being sold as a slave. In an effort to save Hope, he is forced to sell one of his two ships, only to discover that her predicament was caused by her own bad behavior. Angry and determined to rid himself of her as soon as possible, Nathaniel embarks on a journey that will change the course of his life.


I find that I always love the history and the seafaring stories that M.L. Tyndall writes. They're so different from the life we live today, not even including the way that women lived back then.
The Blue Enchantress is no exception, with much of the book taking place aboard various merchant and pirate ships! This is the second book in the series, but it stands alone fairly well.

The Blue Enchantress is a bit different than some other books I've read in that it's fairly heavy on the supernatural. Even more so than the first book, The Red Siren. Obviously there is some literary license, but it's a reminder that there is evil at work in the world that we can't always see.

For me, this was another of those, stay up to 3am to see how it will all work out, kind of books!

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Blue Enchantress, go HERE

The first book in the Charles Towne Belles series is The Red Siren.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Corvette Show Weekend

I am loving having a super fast computer and the new version of photoshop! It's a bit different, but thankfully all the keyboard shortcuts I'm used to still work! Now to edit 2 months worth of pictures...

Back in July Grandma and Grandpa came up for the Corvette Show in Leavenworth.

The guys getting it ready for the Show and Shine. I kid you not when I say the judges go over the car with white gloves. Grandpa won last year and got third this year... but we think one of the judges was overly harsh. Still pretty good considering he drives his car up from Oregon and other people bring theirs in on trailers to avoid any road dust.

Yes, this picture is under the hood. How many of you could eat off the underside of your hood? Or your engine? It's that clean!

Final polish in the hotel parking lot before "rags down" and judging begins.

About 2/3 of the cars present show in this picture.

A little photo shoot by the river. Grandpa, his car, and his only Grandson. Life is sweet!

Cory thinks Grandpa's "blue Corvette" is the coolest thing ever... especially when he gets a ride! (don't freak out anyone, it was just on a private road around a golf course!) When they got back he cried because he didn't want to get out!

Grandpa's and Cory's love each other!