Thursday, October 29, 2009

PSF: Happy Halloween!

Every year we get pumpkins and every year it seems a race to actually carve them before Halloween... last year I don't think we even made it!

This year, success. Pumpkin size relates to it's owner, although Mama carved Cory's.

Cory doesn't really "get" Halloween, but he loves pumpkins (has been pointing them out to me for weeks), thinks being a lion will be awesome (complete with roar), and of course loves candy!

Now, here's hoping it doesn't snow on Saturday as it can and has been trying to this week!

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Carissa

Book: eye of the god *and giveaway!

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

eye of the god

Abingdon Press (October 1, 2009)


Ariel Allison


Ariel Allison is a published author who lives in a small Texas town with her husband and three young sons. She is the co-author of Daddy Do You Love Me: a Daughter’s Journey of Faith and Restoration (New Leaf Press, 2006). Justin Case, the first of three children’s books will be published by Harvest House in June 2009. Ariel is a weekly contributor to and has written for Today’s Christian Woman. She ponders on life as a mother of all boys at and on her thoughts as a redeemed dreamer at

From Ariel:
I am the daughter of an acclaimed and eccentric artist, and given my “unconventional” childhood, had ample time to explore the intricacies of story telling. I was raised at the top of the Rocky Mountains with no running water or electricity (think Laura Ingles meets the Hippie Movement), and lived out the books I read while running barefoot through the sagebrush. My mother read to me by the light of a kerosene lantern for well over a decade, long after I could devour an entire novel in the course of a day. Authors such as C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, George MacDonald, and L.M. Montgomery were the first to capture my heart and I have grown to love many others since.


eye of the god takes the fascinating history surrounding the Hope Diamond and weaves it together with a present-day plot to steal the jewel from the Smithsonian Institute.

We follow Alex and Isaac Weld, the most lucrative jewel thieves in the world, in their quest to steal the gem, which according to legend was once the eye of a Hindu idol named Rama Sita. When it was stolen in the 17th century, it is said that the idol cursed all those who would possess it. That won’t stop the brilliant and ruthless Weld brothers.

However, they are not prepared for Dr. Abigail Mitchell, the beautiful Smithsonian Director, who has her own connection to the Hope Diamond and a deadly secret to keep. Abby committed long ago that she would not serve a god made with human hands, and the “eye of the god” is no exception. Her desire is not for wealth, but for wisdom. She seeks not power, but restoration.

When the dust settles over the last great adventure of the Hope Diamond, readers will understand the “curse” that has haunted its legacy is nothing more than the greed of evil men who bring destruction upon themselves. No god chiseled from stone can direct the fates of humankind, nor can it change the course of God’s story.


I don't normally choose suspenseful novels, but this one just looked so interesting! I was going to have to write "I didn't have time to read more than the first few chapters", but I picked it up tonight at 7:30 and 4 1/2 hours later finished it. I was quite proud of myself for figuring out one twist in the story a whole page before it was revealed... :)

The story is told in modern context with Abby retelling the history of the jewel in flashbacks. It's quite interesting this way and breaks up the suspenseful parts so it's not quite as strong yet also keeps you reading to find out what will happen! I find this to be a very well written book!

If you would like to read the prologue and first chapter of eye of the god, go HERE

Giveaway! For some reason the publisher sent me two copies of this book so I have one to give away! Leave me a comment, what do you know about the Hope Diamond, do you like jewelry heist stories, a la Oceans Eleven? I'll pick one person some time next week and you'll get the second (unopened!) copy!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Wind Monsters

There are probably hundreds of these in the Columbia Gorge. They are larger than you expect. (according to my brother-in-law 250' tall and blades 100' long!)
If you click on the photo you can see in the lower left a set of power poles that will give you a size reference.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Oregon Coast Part 2

Okay, second half of our week at the beach...

We actually had one day of really nice sunny weather. While enjoying the beach we tried to fly kites. This is as high as a kite ever got. For being the coast it was amazingly calm that day!

"Walking" the kite became quite the exercise for Derald and Brian, trying to get one of the kites to take off!

We had a visitor a couple of times. This particular evening the back door was open while we were cooking dinner so I'm sure that's what drew him in. He probably would have come right in too, if we hadn't had the screen door shut!

Sunset from the house

We had to make a stop at our favorite glass float factory. Here the lady is making the glass ball that we will pick up the next day. In the reflection just to the left of her you can see some finished ones. This is the third one in our collection and we love them!

The glass factory is in this funky little strip mall/tourist trap area. It has life size pirate characters, sea animals, and this cool little pirate ship!

Cory likes driving it!

Here's another of our favorite Free Willy pictures like I posted earlier this summer.

On Friday we girls went to find a quilt show I'd seen advertised. We were kind of bummed when we found out it cost money and almost didn't go in... but it was so worth it!

I swear this picture is straight... does it look like it to you? This quilt was my favorite just because of the optical illusion it created! It doesn't hurt that the color scheme is one of my favorites...

The picture below is a collage of the rest of my favorites. I made it larger than normal so if you click on it you'll get a decent image you can scroll around on for close ups. The above pictured quilt is twin size and if I had to pick a favorite that I could use on my bed it would be the blue one in the center right. It was called Alaskan something and it was just gorgeous. They had used colors of fabric that kind of faded into each other.

The top right quilt was a geometric quilt made out of the same 8" hexagon cut in different ways. It was amazingly well done! Bottom left and right quilts were oriental in nature with the one on the right being a tribute to the 1000 cranes story.
And finally the top center one was done entirely by hand... you probably can't see the quilting, but the white portion of the quilt is all quilted to within less than 1/2 an inch and it's incredibly even!

While we were at the quilt show my dad and Brian went deep sea salmon fishing! They caught a ton of fish, but had to throw most of them back (you can only keep hatchery fished, identified by the dorsal fin being clipped off). They had a good time though and Brian had bought into some crab pots which netted a total feast! 25 crabs for $20 and fresh too! Too bad I don't like crab...

The whole crew: Grandma, Grandpa, Allison, Cory, Papa, Nana, Me, and Brian

Where will we go next summer???

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Oregon Coast Vacation

After our adventures in Olympia with Brian we went on down to Portland for the weekend. There was a special birthday for a family friend of Brian's that lives in China. I had never met her so that was fun! (sorry, no pictures, what was I thinking???) We also got to stay with Aunt Priscilla, Uncle Dan, and their two puppies.

We dropped Brian off for his last week in Olympia and Cory and I came home. I was so tired and I was amazed that my little man stayed awake the whole car ride home until 11pm and kept me up! It was kind of fun actually and I was so glad he had!

I had one week at home to arrange things, Brian came home, we went to a Montgomery Gentry concert Friday night, and then Saturday morning headed back south for our real Oregon vacation...

Welcome to August!

First stop, Jason and Amber's house!

Cora is one year and one day younger than Cory. She's working on potty training so we thought Cory might be interested. (As of this writing we're still working on it...) It was pretty funny to watch though!

Rub a dub dub, two kids in the tub!

Then it was off to Newberg for church (where we went in college) and lunch with our lovely friends, the Cadds, who live in Kenya! Lucky for us we got to see them since they were leaving the next day to go home! Once again, silly me, no pictures.

And finally Sunday afternoon we arrived in Newport for a week's vacation with the grandparents. Unfortunately I apparently hadn't read the house description quite well enough and we were short one queen size bed... so Brian and I played Leave it to Beaver all week on twin beds. He even got one that was listing! Appropriate since the house was entirely nautical themed.

Cory was in heaven with both sets of grandparents there plus Auntie Allison! I must admit it was pretty nice for me to have all those extra hands. I was a bit grumpy due to a) the house situation b) pretty sure the house was moldy (hi, Oregon coast) and I have allergies and c) I was feeling nauseous constantly due to the pregnancy, but couldn't tell anyone. So sorry Mom for not being great company! I was only at 6 weeks and we just didn't want to tell anyone quite yet just in case...

The weather was typical coast weather, but we did get at least one day of sun and a few more with no rain!

Grandpa showing Cory how to dig... or is it the other way around?

We could see the beach from the house, but it was up on a cliff so quite a hike to actually get down to the beach. Once again, poor reading of the house description on my part. But did I mention that this was the house Brian's family spent their summer vacations in when he was growing up? Yeah, that was the main reason for staying there. It was also quite cheap and, I must admit, had quite a bit of character!

We found this old board on the beach and used it as a teeter totter. Cory wasn't quite sure what to think of it, but we had fun!

Cory and Grandpa... I think they were talking to Mr. Yellow Slicker (who you can see in the picture below). Also, notice the beach is quite a ways below!

Grandpa and Cory playing cars on the road that Grandma made for Brian when he was a boy! Grandpa brought his Corvette car to play with and during the week bought Cory a Lightning McQueen die car. It is one of his most prized possessions!

Of course no trip to Newport is complete without a visit to the aquarium! Cory thought it was pretty cool, but after about 10 seconds in front of each tank he would say "I want to see something else" so we saw the whole thing in record time!

I particularly like their seals, sea lions, and sea otters and they were all swimming around for us to see! Cory wasn't so sure about the touch tank (with manta rays!), but maybe next time!

Cory, Nana, and Brian

And that was just the first half of our week...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Playing with Bubbles

My favorite
click for larger view

(do you know how hard it is to take pictures of moving bubbles? :)

My bubble blower takes his job VERY seriously!

Can you spot the reflection of the boy waiting to pop this one?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Book: Watch Over Me

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Watch Over Me

(Bethany House October 1, 2009)


Christa Parrish

Christa Parrish graduated high school at 16, with every intention of becoming a surgeon. After college, however, her love of all things creative led her in another direction, and she worked in both theatre and journalism.

A winner of Associated Press awards for her reporting, Christa gave up her career after the birth of her son, Jacob. She continued to write from home, doing pro bono work for the New York Family Policy Council, where her articles appeared in Focus on the Family’s Citizen magazine. She was also a finalist in World magazine’s WORLDview short story contest, sponsored by WestBow press. She now teaches literature and writing to high school students, is a homeschool mom, and lives with her husband, author Chris Coppernoll, and son in upstate New York, where she is at work on her third novel.


Her rescue might be the thing they needed. Things like this don't happen in Beck County. Deputy Benjamin Patil is the one to find the infant girl, hours old, abandoned in a field. As police work to identify the mother, Ben and his wife, Abbi, seem like the obvious couple to serve as foster parents. But the newborn's arrival opens old wounds for Abbi and shines a harsh light on how much Ben has changed since a devastating military tour. Their marriage teeters on the brink and now they must choose to reclaim what they once had or lose each other forever.


This is the second of Christa Parrish's novels and in both her writing is just superb. The characters are so real you feel like you know them, yet the story is told in more of a journalistic style so you aren't overwhelmed with their emotions (and there are plenty!).

This story has a parallel story line told by a deaf boy, which I really enjoyed. Seeing the world through those eyes is a totally different perspective. It also highlights the stresses and realities that our soldiers go through coming home from the war zones, another thing I haven't had much exposure to.

I highly recommend this book!

If you would like to read the first chapter of Watch Over Me, go HERE

Friday, October 16, 2009

Hand's On Children's Museum

Since Cory and I had a full day in Olympia to ourselves while Brian was working I'd put out a call to the Seattle Mom Blogs members to see if anyone had any suggestions for things to do with small children in Olympia...
Someone suggested the Hand's On Children's Museum and someone else offered to contact them for me...

Basically they gave Cory and I free passes to come and play. Even without the free, if I had known about this place I totally would have gone! It's beyond awesome!

We spent about 3 hours there and could have easily doubled our time. As it was we missed one entire section and I was kind of pushing Cory a bit so we could see as much as possible!

We started in the market section where they had a garden with veggies you could pick. Then there was a produce delivery truck. Finally the actual market where you could pick your food and buy it at the cash register.

There was a dairy case, a seafood case, and a bakery section, all just like in a regular store. Groups of children could easily pretend to be various employees here.

Just beyond that was a child sized kitchen complete with all the pots, pans, utensils, and play food you could want. I'm sitting at the small table where the cooked food could then be served.

Next up, ambulance with doctor's office in the background. We didn't spend any time in the doctor's office, but all the kids size cars throughout the museum were a hit with my son!

On to the other side of the museum where they had some truly unique exhibits. A section with "moon sand" to play in was super fun! There was also a vacuum tube wall that you could arrange sections of pipe, put plastic balls in and then push the button to watch them be pushed along with air.

The water table was by far the biggest attraction! It's such a cool thing I could have played with it for quite awhile! The water starts at one end and then you direct it however you want with little plastic dams. Then there are all kinds of things you can put in the stream and watch them float down.

Another room had a giant size pin wall. You know those little 5 x 7 size boxes with hundreds of metal pins in them that you can push objects into to get their silhouette? Well, this one was big enough to push your entire body against. Way cool!

There was also a kids size dump truck, large plastic rocks, shovels, and hard hats so you could be a construction worker...

Finally we visited the toddler room which was nicely padded and had some fun stuff. Of course trains were the first thing Cory saw!

There was also a bucket of play-dough and some cookie cutter things. This was a hit since we don't have any at home.

Unfortunately by then it was nap time and we had to go for lunch, but we could have easily stayed much longer! And no, I haven't mentioned even half the exhibits they actually had there.

If we had reason to visit Olympia more than once a year I would definitely be buying an annual pass. For the cost of 4 or 5 visits (parent and one child) you can buy an annual pass and go as often as you like. They also have options for grandparents and other combinations of people.

If you're only going to be in Olympia for a visit check out their discount page and see if you can get a cheaper price (they have discounts for homeschoolers and military families too!) We totally could have used the out of town coupon!

And to top it all off they are in the process of building a new museum right on the waterfront that will be bigger and better! It will open in the fall of 2011.

The Hand's On Children's Museum gets a big thumbs up from our house!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

To Olympia We Went

Alright, we're still in July... after my Mom's Night Out I had about 3 days at home and then Cory and I drove to Olympia to meet Brian. Along the way we met for dinner at our lovely friends' house, the Bakers.

I have known them since I was in middle school and they went to our church. Mama Smurf, aka, Judy, and her husband founded the camp I spent summers working at. After her husband died she married Dave, Papa Smurf. They are both just super special to me!

After dinner we explored their garden and had a few remaining raspberries and some snap peas for dessert! Nothing like veggies picked fresh off the vine!

Cory and Dave

They also have some lovely flowers so you know I was interested in them... I think this one may end up as a note card!

I found a spider friend that looked really cool...

Same flower, different angle.

Unfortunately I didn't have long to play since the sun was going down and the light was fading.

After that we headed to our hotel in our separate cars and the whole way there (about an hour) Cory asked me every 5 minutes, "where's Daddy?" I told him he was in the car in front of us, but I think he was a bit anxious since he hadn't seen him much for almost 2 weeks! It was good for us to go there and spend a couple days at least seeing him at night!

The hotel was right near the waterfront in Olympia so we took a nice walk the next night looking at all the boats.

Dinner was in a fun restaurant and when we realized we left Cory's sippy cup there I went running back to get it... I'm still kicking myself that I didn't take the camera because a) the sunset was gorgeous and b) the spot where I was standing by the bar in the restaurant had the coolest reflection of the bar wall in the window and then the sailboats around it where the light wasn't so bright. Who knows if it would have turned out, but I guess I'll never know...

Cory was awfully cute napping all by himself in a king size bed and then snuggling with Daddy!

Cory and I also spent one morning at the Olympia Children's Museum, but that deserves a post all it's own!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Book: Things Worth Remembering

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Things Worth Remembering

Bethany House (October 1, 2009)


Jackina Stark


Jackina (pronounced with a long “i” to rhyme with China) Stark recently retired from teaching English at Ozark Christian College to spend more time writing and traveling.

Jackina says: "Although I loved my subjects and my students, I retired to do more writing and speaking, to spend more time with my family, and to travel with family and friends (including trips to encourage two missions in Cambodia). I have also spoken nationally and internationally at many retreats and seminars and enjoy running into many readers and former students. I have written frequently for both Christian Standard and Lookout, periodicals of Standard Publishing. Years ago I wrote two non-fiction books, published by College Press, but currently out of print. These days, I’m exploring fiction. My first novel, Tender Grace, was released by Bethany House January 30, 2009, and Things Worth Remembering, is the second. I’m working on new projects, including a third novel, as time permits. Whether speaking or writing, I love the opportunity to tell about Him whom Jesus called “Holy Father” and “the only true God.”

She has been married to her husband, Tony, for forty-two years. They live in Carl Junction, Missouri, and have two daughters and six grandchildren.


Kendy Laswell and her daughter, Maisey, used to do everything together--until one fateful summer when Maisey witnessed something she shouldn't have, and their relationship fractured. Now, Maisey is back home to get married and Kendy realizes this is her last chance to reconnect with her daughter. Will Kendy and Maisey be able to reclaim the bond they once shared?

Maisey asked for a bride doll the Christmas she was five, mesmerized by her aunt's wedding the fall before. Since then I've been dreaming of the day, or days, we would shop for her wedding dress. A mother helping her daughter find just the right creation for that momentous walk down the aisle strikes me as one of life's happiest endeavors. The night she called to tell us she'd bought her "dream of a gown," I sat beside Luke on the couch, a striking contrast to Maisey's exuberance.
My dejection seemed a tad inappropriate. "Being hurt because I wasn't included is silly, isn't it?" I asked.

"Not so silly," he said.

Will I ever quit longing for the Maisey who was once mine?


This is the second of Jackina Stark's novels I've read and it was every bit as good as the first one. I love the alternating points of view between mother and daughter and how it really helped you see the story from both sides. It's also told in a bit of a flash back style so you don't get the whole story up front. It keeps you interested to find out what happened to cause this rift between mother and daughter.

This is a tough story, but it has a great ending!

If you would like to read the first chapter of Things Worth Remembering , go HERE