Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Book: Beyond the Storm

Beyond the Storm

After a tornado rips through her town, store owner Abigail comes across a piece of fabric from a wedding dress among the devastation. Abigail is moved to start collecting other swatches of fabric she finds – her neighbor’s kitchen curtains, a man’s necktie, a dog’s bed – which she stashes in shopping bags. As she pursues her seemingly absurd quest, horrible realities spark the question, “What kind of a God would allow such tragedy?”

As she struggles to reconcile her right to happiness amidst the destruction, Abigail begins piecing together a patchwork quilt from the salvaged fabric in hopes it will bring some peace. But a new relationship with Justin, a contractor, may require too much of her fragile heart. Will her pain and questions of faith give way to the courage to love?


This week between sickness and nursing issues I haven't gotten to much more than the mandatory.  So I apologize once again for no review.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Beyond the Storm, go HERE.

Author of 35 books, wife, mother and yes…hot (flasher), Carolyn Zane lives with her fabulous husband, Matt and their 5 children and 3 dogs in the scenic Willamette Valley in Oregon. When asked to describe her family, Carolyn likens her crowd to the Brangelia Bunch saying modestly, “Only we’re better looking.” Right now,Carolyn is back in the saddle with her new title: Beyond The Storm, coming out in October 2012! In the mean time, be sure to catch her on the critically acclaimed TOOHOTMAMAS Blog where Carolyn and Wendy tackle Marriage, motherhood and menopause: How to do all three and stay out of prison! They are hilarious! You'll wet yourself, guaranteed! Visit them at: www.toohotmamas.wordpress.com.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Friend Hopping: Study Abroad Edition

One of the things I do love about Facebook is the way it allows me to keep in touch with people I otherwise would have a hard time seeing.  The next friends we visited on our odyssey I hadn't seen since their wedding... 11 years ago!

Granted, for the first few years of that time they were still living back in Costa Rica where I'd met them and I didn't have much contact with them until Facebook came around.

Girlies showing off new skills: Sitting and crawling position (non-moving)

But Hilary graciously let us invade her home for 5 days.  She says it was a ploy to keep her occupied while her husband was away on business in a not-so-safe part of the world.  I'm not quite sure she knew what she was in for with our traveling circus!

Her boys are 6 and 8 so they had lots of boy toys around, and one night there were many neighborhood boys out playing in the cul-de-sac.  There were lots of swords and Nerf gun wars.

Cory educating Hope in Star Wars

Their playroom was full of Legos, many of them of the Star Wars variety.  I think I can safely say I know what's on the Christmas list with the new obsession that created.

Cory, Sammy, Noah, and Ben

It was really great to hang out and talk (until much too late) after all the kids were in bed.  Fun to reminisce about our school days with someone who was there with me!  Here's hoping our planned reunion might actually happen in the next year or two... since many of our classmates are also from the Pacific Northwest!

And somewhere along the line someone said that the back of my van looked like Tetris... yes, I did manage to pack enough stuff for a month on the road and then some!  There is actually another layer behind what you can see that also includes a few more bags and a pack-n-play.  That is a stroller and two high chairs there and I could still see out the back window.  I'm very impressed by the storage capacity of my van!

Now, off to Oregon for 10 days...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Boy Quotes #13

Noah in the car: "You lucky Mom, because you saw the dam".

Cory: Mom, what are man plates for?  You mean manhole covers?

Time is relative for Noah and everything past, present, or future occurs "dis afternoon".

After visiting some friends on our evacuation that have lots of Lego Star Wars things it has become an obsession in our house.  Every thing created with Legos is a light saber and Noah likes to go around shooting the "Stroopers" - otherwise known as Storm Troopers.  And every time he says it it reminds me of my totally over the top high school history teacher named Mr. Stroup!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Friend Hopping: Cousins Edition

My cousin moved to Seattle with her family a year ago and we have had a lot of fun hanging out with them more often now.  She so nicely offered to let us come and stay - my parents and their dog too - for as long as we wanted.

Hope: chewing on Cookie Monster chewing on her!

Other than bringing the puking sickness with us we had a fun time.  We went to the park one morning and the boys just had a general good time playing inside and out.  The weather was gorgeous the whole time we were there so that was nice!

Noah and Jackson were like long lost twins

Their back yard is kinda funky, it's a deck and then the lower level is a pickleball court.  With a little secret garden off to one side.  Oh, and a pool that's been covered so it makes a great dance floor!  Totally random, but lots of places to explore.

My cousin is short and her cupboards go all the way to the ceiling... so this is how she gets stuff down!

This is the view from that back deck... right out over Puget Sound and the Olympics.  And yes, that is haze from the fires all the way over in Seattle.  It wasn't so bad we couldn't be outside though and it gave us gorgeous sunsets!

My girlies did really well, Nana and Papa were there to help hold them and they had lots of little kids to watch running around!

The cousins crew!

So, me and my children look like ghosts next to Jenny and her family.  They are not from my side of the family that's Scandinavian!

We'll go back soon under better conditions and hopefully this time The Sick won't prevent us from going to the zoo!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Christmas Card Planning (with Giveaway)

This week we had our family pictures taken for our Christmas card.  I seriously LOVE how the pictures from last year* turned out and I can't wait to see this year's with the girls!  The photographer is a friend of my brother's who did his wedding and I went to high school with his wife.  Yes, we live in a small valley...

Anyway, I know it's still only October, but when I want to get my Christmas cards out in a reasonable time with 4 kids, I've got to start planning now!  For the last few years I've designed my own cards, but this year... probably not going to happen.  Something about those 4 kids?

So I turned to Tiny Prints and all their fabulous designs.  There's something for even the most picky of card senders and the best part is if you find a card you love, but there's just one little thing you'd like to change about it?  Their designers will make it happen.  Great cards and great customer service.  What's not to love?

I'm pretty sure I already know just which of these Christmas Cards I'm going to use, but I'll reserve the right to change my mind based on what picture(s) I want to use.  I may have to find a card with room for a dozen pictures!  Whatever it is, I'll have fun getting it done!


How would you like to win a $50 credit to Tiny Prints for some holiday cards of your own?  (or anything else your heart desires!)

All you need to do is visit their site and tell me your favorite card.  Leave a comment below and make sure I know how to get a hold of you if you win!

Giveaway will close on October 28th and winners have 24 hours to respond to prize notification.

*The photo in the header of the blog is also from last year's shoot.

This post and giveaway sponsored by Tiny Prints, but my love of their products is all my own!
Prize does not include shipping and may not be combined with other offers.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Book: Against The Tide

Against The Tide

Love and Lives are Threatened in Camden's Latest Offering

As a child, Lydia Pallas became all too familiar with uncertainty when it came to the future. Now, she's finally carved out a perfect life for herself--a life of stability and order with no changes, surprises, or chaos of any kind. She adores her apartment overlooking the bustling Boston Harbor, and her skill with languages has landed her a secure position as a translator for the U.S. Navy.

However, it is her talent for translation that brings her into contact with Alexander Banebridge, or "Bane," a man who equally attracts and aggravates her. When Bane hires Lydia to translate a seemingly innocuous collection of European documents, she hesitantly agrees, only to discover she is in over her head.

Just as Bane's charm begins to win her over, Lydia learns he is driven by a secret campaign against some of the most dangerous criminals on the East Coast, compelled by his faith and his past. Bane forbids any involvement on Lydia's part, but when the criminals gain the upper hand, it is Lydia on whom he must depend.


I really dislike having to post reviews when I haven't had a chance to read the book. :(  I did finish the one I started last week (and couldn't put it down), but I just haven't had time to pick this one up yet.  I requested it on the strength of her first novel (my review) since it was so engaging.  At least one of the names seems to have come from that first novel so while this isn't listed as a sequel it may go together with it, but still be a stand alone. 

If you would like to read the first chapter of Against the Tide, go HERE.

A Word from Elizabeth Camden:

I am a college librarian in central Florida by day, but by night I can be found pounding out inspirational historical novels the moment the sun goes down. I love writing books about fiercely intelligent people who are confronted with profound challenges. As a rather introverted person, I have found that writing is the best way for me to share my faith and a sense of resilience with others.

I married relatively late in life, which turned out to be an odd kind of blessing. I had gotten very good at leading a solo life, and although I was not particularly content being alone, I had become reconciled to it. Most importantly, it taught me never to take my husband for granted. I give daily thanks for the blessing of being able to share a life with my favorite person on the planet.

As for who I am? I love old Hitchcock films, the hour before sunset, a long, sweaty run through the Florida countryside, and a glass of good wine. After spending my entire adult life on a college campus (either as a student or a librarian) I have finally been able to pursue my ultimate goal of writing professionally.

Wordless Wednesday: Mug Shots

We need passports for the kids for a trip we're taking soon so I took some passport photos... my kids are pros at the mugs I guess!




Technically Cory doesn't need one until next summer, but he wanted to get in on the mug shoot... and he was allowed to smile (and make silly faces).  I've got some great outtakes of the other kids too!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Seven Months Old!

Well, this past month has flown by obviously!  Lots of changes for my girls!

We've moved up into 6-9 month size clothes while we were away (Brian had to dig out the box and bring them over one weekend so I could switch them out!).  Last Friday we went for a check up and while they are not nearly as big as the boys for twins they are right on track.  Just under 50% each.  Joy was 15 pounds 5 ounces and Hope was 15 pounds 3.5 ounces.  Which is basically the equivalent of a wet diaper.  Hope measured slightly longer at 26 1/4 inches while Joy was 25 3/4, but again... accuracy when measuring a wiggly baby?  So they are effectively still the same size.

Hope was the first to get a tooth, just a week after 6 months.  Then Joy got one 2 weeks later (incidentally the same day as cousin William!).  Now Hope's second one just popped through and I expect Joy won't be far behind.  It's made for some cranky babies at times.

Joy started getting up on her hands and knees first while Hope has more balance when sitting.  Now both of them are rolling all around the room, going after toys or whatever catches their attention.  They each get up on hands and knees and sometimes toes, but haven't figured out the forward momentum yet.

Joy is a Mama's girl.  If she's down and sees me walk by she starts to cry to be picked up.  She's also a lot harder to get to go to sleep without soothing.  Hope is just kinda chill on her own.  She will however reach for your face if you pick her up.  It's the sweetest thing!  Joy does too, but she's happy just to be picked up.  They both have the best laughs when you can get them to laugh.

Both girls are eating like champs now, still pureed baby food, but we've given them Kix to chase around on their trays.  Joy can actually manage to get a few in her mouth, but Hope just sits and shrieks until you put one in her mouth.  Both of them actually shriek quite a bit, but Hope is worse, especially at meal time.  I never knew girls were so different than boys in this... so high pitched already!

They really love their toes and it can make diaper changes difficult when all they want is to play with their toes or try to roll over!

Oh, and next to my friend at Bible study's 3 week old new baby... they are huge!  Hard to imagine they were smaller than he was when they were born!

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Great Smoke Out 2012

So, it's been a bit quiet around here lately... mainly because I've been trying to claw my way out from under the piles in my house.  That's what happens when you leave town impromptu and don't get to come home for almost a month!

The fires started on September 8th from a lightning storm.  The smoke started to get bad that week so we left town.  We finally arrived home again on October 8th.

In between we stayed with 2 different friends, my cousin, and finally 10 days with my in-laws in Oregon.  We managed to visit Great Grandpa and attend a family birthday party that we otherwise wouldn't have.

The air was still mildly smoky this week, but on Friday we finally got a good breeze and then yesterday rain!  Hallelujah!

We came home at just the right time.  I was so ready to be home, but looking back... it was good to be able to go to Oregon.  My sister-in-law and her family were also there as they are leaving tomorrow to move to Swaziland for a couple of years.  They were planning to come up here for a weekend, but this way we got to spend so much more quality time with them.  Brian still only got to come for a weekend, but that couldn't be helped.  I got to know their adorable baby son, William, who is only 5 weeks older than the girls and they got to know the girls since we haven't seen each other since last Thanksgiving.

There will be pictures to come, but since I've barely managed to get them off the camera it might take a bit!

So, readers, what's going on in your life right now?  Fill me in!

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Book: Full Disclosure

Full Disclosure

Ann Silver is a cop's cop. As the Midwest Homicide Investigator, she is called in to help local law enforcement on the worst of cases, looking for answers to murder. Hers is one of the region's most trusted investigative positions.

Paul Falcon is the FBI's top murder cop in the Midwest. If the victim carried a federal badge or had a security clearance, odds are good Paul and his team see the case file or work the murder.

Their lives intersect when Ann arrives to pass a case off her desk and onto his. A car wreck and a suspicious death offer a lead on a hired shooter he is tracking. Paul isn't expecting to meet someone, the kind that goes on the personal side of the ledger, but Ann Silver has his attention.

The better he gets to know her, the more Paul realizes her job barely scratches the surface of who she is. She knows spies and soldiers and U.S. Marshals, and has written books about them. She is friends with the former Vice President. People with good reason to be cautious about who they let into their lives deeply trust her. Paul wonders just what secrets Ann is keeping, until she shows him the John Doe Killer case file, and he starts to realize just who this lady he is falling in love with really is…

If you would like to read the first chapter of Full Disclosure, go HERE.


As evidenced by my complete lack of posting here the past 2 weeks I've been in a bit of a whirlwind.  We just got home last night and I did manage to read a couple hours of this on our drive home (since I had a main driver!).  I'm not usually into mysteries, but this one looked really good and so far I'm hooked.  The story is fast paced and drops you into the middle of it so it keeps your attention by the fact that you're trying to figure it out along with Paul.  Here's hoping I have time to finish it before I forget some of the details!


Dee Henderson is the bestselling, award-winning author of 15 previous novels, including the acclaimed O'MALLEY series and UNCOMMON HEROES series. She is a lifelong resident of Illinois.