Friday, May 31, 2013


Imagine a world...

~where my three year old can play outside all day and I don't have to worry about him being kidnapped

~where the food he eats isn't poisoning him from gluten, or GMO corn/other

~where the people next door, down the street, and across the world are not acting out of selfish gain, but for the greater good

~where everyone in the world thinks about how their actions affect others, not just themselves or their small circle of influence

At my oldest's Montessori school they talk about their love light and how things make it grow brighter or dimmer.  Imagine a world where we all cared for other's love lights as much as we did our own.

It all starts with me (and you).  At home, today, how am I choosing to make the love lights around me glow in everything I do?

This is a post prompt from The Gypsy Mama. Join in?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Hair Pretties

I think I may have a slight addiction... and the girls' hair isn't even long enough to hold most of these yet!  Can you guess what kind of hair clip stash I had as a girl with long hair growing up???

(I found some sweet deals at Target and so I think I maybe paid $30 for all of this in the past few months!)

A Great Wolf Lodge Adventure

We drive past Great Wolf Lodge pretty much every time we go to Oregon* and the bright colored tubes caught Cory's attention a couple years back.  So I showed him what it was online and ever since he has wanted to go.  It's not cheap so we saved up all our birthday money and miscellaneous change to finally go as a belated birthday celebration this year for both boys.

*there is an alternate route to Oregon from our house so we don't always go by it

Birthday boys
On Mother's Day weekend we met both sets of grandparents and a set of cousins for a wet and wild adventure!

Hanging on Daddy in the wave pool - Slap Tail Pond
You can start playing at 1pm even if your room isn't ready, but thankfully ours was since the girls needed a nap!  The boys were ready to dive in when we got there as they'd driven over with my parents and already been to visit NW Trek AND Cabela's.  It was quite the birthday weekend for them!

Noah in the wave pool - yay for complimentary life jackets!
The girls were really not quite sure what to think about the water after they got up.  Hope was actually climbing me to stay out of the water, but Joy was okay after a few minutes and got out of Grandma's lap to walk around in the water.

I'm not really awake yet Grandpa
My little fish Cory
Grandpa has a waterproof camera and it was so humid in the water park that he took most of these photos.  He even got a video of Cory doing somersaults underwater!

And while this is the Alberta Falls tube ride he actually took a video when we went on the Tornado... It's exactly 39 seconds long.  You can hear me scream.  Cory went with us and then asked to go again, twice!

Storytime in the lobby - all those critters are talking and singing!
After all that adventure we went back to the room for some microwave pizzas and quick change into jammies so we could head back down to the lobby for storytime.  We probably shouldn't have bothered.  Unless you were sitting in the center "cone" where the speakers were pointed you couldn't understand anything the critters were saying.  And they weren't really moving enough to keep the little guys attention.

Grandpa time!
The rooms are all equipped with a microwave and mini-fridge so you can bring food with you.  Their restaurants are all right, but too expensive to eat all your meals in.  We had breakfast in the buffet the next morning (book it with your room and it's cheaper and includes drinks) and it was a very good start to the day.

Joy loves to climb up in her chair
We booked the Wolf Den Suite and the boys were in awe when they saw it!  We even let Noah sleep on the top bunk.  Although it was kind of a mistake since the AC was blowing on him and he doesn't keep his covers on so he was whimpering a lot in the night.

The Wolf Den!
Right before bed we had everyone in our room... 8 adults and 6 kids!  We did all fit - sort of - so they're decent size rooms.  You can even request one with a balcony and from ours you could see the Tornado, complete with a neon flashing light show that the kids enjoyed!  But yes, just the 6 of us actually stayed in our room.

It's an I-spy! How many people in this photo?

After our great breakfast the girls took a nap while I packed up and all the boys enjoyed the water.  Then the girls were really into it and enjoying the baby pool. 

Hope climbed up by herself and then brother joined her

My water babies
I only had a few complaints about the whole trip: 1) that for a place dedicated to water there were no extra places in the room to hang wet swimsuits 2) there were no maps of the hotel/water park so it took awhile to get oriented and we lost some time (yes, I even asked) and 3) the entrance to the water park is on the 2nd floor and then the only way down with a stroller is to basically walk half the perimeter.  Not sure why they don't just have the entrance on the first floor, but it's kind of a pain.

Joy was pretty fearless in the water
Noah loved trying to shoot
Hope climbing again!
The inside of the waterpark actually isn't that big once you get used to it although unless you tell someone where you are/will be it might be awhile before you see them again.  There are one or two things for every age group so it makes a good place for families with something for everyone.

Noah in the waves
I actually did a few rides with my mom while the others had baby duty and the lines weren't too bad.  Because you have to stay in the hotel to play the number of people inside is limited.

Wave pool
the rest of the place


On the way out we bought souvenir cups for the boys with their favorite characters on them.

Waterlogged and ready for the long ride home.  Notes for the future: stay in a cheap hotel the second night so you can play late and not have to still drive home!

Kudos to you if you made it all the way through this post... I didn't quite know how to break it up into two and wasn't feeling particularly creative tonight!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Book: Once Upon a Prince

The Royal Wedding Series Book One: 
Once Upon A Prince

Susanna Truitt never dreamed of a great romance or being treated like a princess---just to marry the man she has loved for twelve years. But life isn't going according to plan. When her high-school-sweetheart-turned-Marine-officer breaks up instead of proposing, Susanna scrambles to rebuild her life.

The last thing Prince Nathaniel expects to find on his American holiday to St. Simon's Island is the queen of his heart. A prince has duties, and his family's tense political situation has chosen his bride for him. When Prince Nathaniel comes to Susanna's aid under the fabled Lover's Oak, he is blindsided by love.

 Their lives are worlds apart. He's a royal prince. She's a ordinary girl. But everything changes when Susanna receives an invitation to Nathaniel's coronation.

 It's the ultimate choice. His kingdom or her heart? God's will or their own?


If you liked the Royal Diaries series then you'll like this book.  Even though Susanna doesn't find out that "Nate" is a prince right away the story revolves around a simple American girl and a European prince.  There is a little bit of misunderstanding and a lot of needing to trust God.

I found myself feeling like the omniscient third person narrator at times during the story because it jumps between Nate and Susanna apart and while they don't know what's going on, you do.  It was an interesting place to be especially as Susanna's world is falling apart and she doesn't know what will happen next, while I could see the bigger picture.  Made me think about how we see life in general.

I'll be on the lookout of the next book in this series!  You can purchase your own copy here and read other reviews.


Rachel Hauck is the bestselling author of Carol Award winner "Sweet Caroline", and RITA Finalist "Love Starts With Elle", and of the critically acclaimed fiction collaboration with multi-platinum country artist Sara Evans, "The Songbird Novels". She lives in sunny, though sometimes hurricane plagued, central Florida with her husband and their ornery pets. Rachel earned a degree in Journalism from Ohio State University and is a huge Buckeyes football fan. She is the past President of American Christian Fiction Writers and now sits on the board as an Advisor.

I received this book from LitFuse in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


This is the view from the second floor dental clinic where I took my son today.  My son who fell while running with his toothbrush last night and spent the night whimpering intermittently.  His neck was so swollen this morning that I took him in first thing to the walk-in only to have them shuttle us up to the dentist.  He had better lights to look in anyway.

After an x-ray and close examination he determined there was no apparent damage from the toothbrush, but possibly a case of strep.  One more trip into town to see the pediatrician and we were off to the pharmacy for a prescription.

At the end of this very long day I'm thankful.  For friends who will come and play with your kids in the waiting room (and take pictures) while you sit with one who needs help.  For the availability of modern medicine to fix things so easily that would have been awful not so long ago.  For the sweet "hugs and tisses" I get from my Noah every day and that he will soon be back to his wild rambunctious self... sans toothbrush in the mouth!

This is a post prompt from The Gypsy Mama. Join in?

The Most Important Things

There is a war going on inside me.  A war about what's important.  How do I spend my time?

There is a list a million miles long of things to do, all of them vying for my attention.

At the top of course, my children and family, but other things that affect them are crowding just below.

*The food I feed them. Is it safe, genetically modified, sprayed with pesticides (the dirty dozen), fair trade?
*The clothes they wear. Did they come second hand, or from a brand that values their workers?  Were they made in the USA?
*The things I use to clean my house, the laundry soap, and the dishwashing detergent.  All of these are chemicals, but are they safe, organic and good for my family and the earth?

And what about the gospel?  Can I just chuck all of this out and say, what matters is if people know freedom in Jesus?  But didn't Jesus call us to care for the least of these?  And the people who work in the fields and labor over our clothes in inhumane conditions, aren't they the least of these?

Pick any one of those things above and you could easily have a full time job campaigning for reform, researching the best companies, making sure you only do business with the most ethical and green companies.

Then there are things like beauty, aesthetics, and pleasure.  I like to paint, read, photograph and scrapbook.  Is it a waste of my resources to spend hours painting murals on my children's walls if that could be used elsewhere?  Does it matter that my children love to show off their bedroom to any guests that come?  Does it matter that I have created beauty here if those resources could have been used to pull someone else out of poverty and despair?

What are we supposed to do?


Here's what I think I've finally realized.  We, as humans, and especially as Christians, are called to be stewards of the people and the earth around us.  But for each of us that looks a little different.

For me (with my chemistry background) it means being aware and proactive about the chemicals that are around us, be that in our food, cleaning products, or body products. (some of the reasons why)

Does that mean that the rest of it isn't important?  Not a chance!  And I do try to be as aware as I possibly can (thanks Lindsay!), but I simply cannot invest all my resources trying to solve all the problems at the same time.  I have to pick one.

I think this is true for each of us.  We have to pick the causes that we can make a difference in and let someone else work on their cause.  We can support each other while not looking down on someone else just because they think something else is more important.  We can share our knowledge around so that we all don't have to do the research individually.

Today I shared about the EWG's Skin Deep database with another mom in Target.  Someone I didn't even know, but we were both looking at the baby skin care products and I just couldn't help NOT sharing!


Sometimes I still feel like I'm chasing after nothing because this world will one day be gone and we will no longer be here.  But I am reminded that Jesus cared about more than just the future.  He cared about the here and now of the people he was with.  He provided them with healing and food - temporal things - while ministering to their hearts.  You can't have one without the other.

And so I will continue to advocate that we care for the earth and our bodies.  That we care for the temporal needs of those in other countries as well as their spirits.

This year at our church's missions weekend we had a speaker from The Eden Projects.  The people who work with this organization are mainly Christians, but it's not a Christian organization.  It's a group of people who believe that caring for the earth by reforesting the land will yield long term care of the people who live there.  It's an amazing organization and you really should check it out!

We will be putting some of our "time" - money into supporting this organization.  But it doesn't mean you have to, it's just one of the options.

So, what are the Most Important Things?  They are the things that are laid on your heart to show care to those around you, your neighbors next door and on the other side of the world.  And it will look different for you than it does for me.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

We went to a birthday party on Saturday that had face painting... the boys asked to be Ninja Turtles.  I feel like I'm reliving my childhood, the Turtles are quite big around here these days thanks to the Lego kits received for their birthdays!

Monday, May 20, 2013

14 Months: My little monkeys

Yes, I do call these little ones my monkeys because they want to climb anything... even the heater under the front window even though they can see out without needing to be up on it...

So yes, at 14 months these girls are very mobile.  I'm quite glad we have the baby wall so they are contained at home because while they do like to be together a lot I would not be able to keep track of both of them in my house all the time!

There are no words being said yet although we may be getting there with Mama. They will sometimes do a few signs, but mostly it's a little pointing and a LOT of yelling!  But my girls are sharp cookies and know what they want.  When I sit down on the couch and it's "that time" they will bring me the nursing pillow! (I don't think they're going to give that up easily)


The other day I was sitting with them while Noah was finishing watching a morning show and when it was done and kicked back to Netflix Joy got up and walked over to where the Wii remote was and tried to grab it because she wanted to watch some more!


Also, the other night talking to Grandma on Facetime and Grandma was blowing kisses.  Joy started blowing them back to her even thought that's not something I've ever showed her how to do.


Joy has become the shrieker and we're not quite sure what to do about that... it's LOUD.

Hope - all the ones below too
So, this pink bucket was supposed to be for the toys, but as you can see it's actually one of the best toys.  They dump all the toys out and then play in the bucket.  Hope is my little ham.  She was grinning and playing for me while I took pictures this morning.  She's very social and will be the first to smile at a stranger (from the safety of her car seat or my arms), but Joy is more daring.

We went to Great Wolf Lodge last weekend and Hope actually climbed me to stay out of the water at the edge of the wave pool while Joy got down from Grandma's lap after not too long and was walking around.  They both did enjoy the water the next day.

Basic stats: Hope finally got the matching tooth on the bottom so they each have eight.  They weigh 20 pounds and Hope has just a half pound more than Joy.  She feels more solid so I think Joy may be just a bit taller, but it's hard to measure babies...
Still wearing their 12 month clothes, but probably not for too much longer.  The pants yes, since they are skinny, but they need 18 months for tops and length in pajamas.  I think they'll be moving up in shoe size too.

Both girls LOVE books and will come and sit on my lap if I have one to read.  Unfortunately we can't just leave them out for their perusal anymore because they also love to EAT the books.  Neither of the boys did that, but the girls will chew on the corners and we got a couple almost ruined before I took them away.  But before I did that they would bring me books to read.  Our favorite (of all my kids) is Baby Talk and we have motions that we do for every page.

My girls are super sweet and for the most part get along.  I can't wait to see their personalities come through more!

And if you would please vote for the photo of Hope in her Tea Collection dress so we can win some more!  You can vote once a day until the end of the month.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Book: Pastor's Wives

What's it like when the man you married is already married to God? asks Pastors' Wives, an often surprising yet always emotionally true first novel set in a world most of us know only from the outside.

Lisa Takeuchi Cullen's debut novel Pastors' Wives follows three women whose lives converge and intertwine at a Southern evangelical megachurch. Ruthie follows her Wall Street husband from New York to Magnolia, a fictional suburb of Atlanta, when he hears a calling to serve at a megachurch called Greenleaf. Reeling from the death of her mother, Ruthie suffers a crisis of faith---in God, in her marriage, and in herself. Candace is Greenleaf's "First Lady," a force of nature who'll stop at nothing to protect her church and her superstar husband. Ginger, married to Candace's son, struggles to play dutiful wife and mother while burying her calamitous past. All their roads collide in one chaotic event that exposes their true selves. Inspired by Cullen's reporting as a staff writer for Time magazine, Pastors' Wives is a dramatic portrayal of the private lives of pastors' wives, caught between the demands of faith, marriage, duty, and love.

Real. That was the first word that came to mind when I finished this book.  And actually when I was only about a quarter of the way through.  Because it's based on real interviews with pastor's wives, this book reads equal parts expose and fully human.  Each of the three main characters tells the story from her point of view (with the help of flashback scenes) so you feel like you get inside their heads and understand why they would make the choices they do.

Having grown up in the church I can imagine some of the stress placed on the pastor's wife, being a very visible figure in the church, but I definitely can't imagine having to be in that position.  I think perhaps this book, while a fascinating read, will also help us have a little more empathy for the fact that they are people just like us, with hopes, dreams, expectations, and the extra burden of a husband who might at times seem to have a first wife, and it's not you.


Lisa Takeuchi Cullen was a longtime staff writer for TIME magazine. She now develops TV pilots for production companies and recently sold her first pilot for "The Ordained" to CBS. Born in Japan, Cullen lives in New Jersey with family.

I received this book from LitFuse in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Mechanical Minds

My old printer (from college!) finally died and the boys got to take it apart...

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Book: It Happened At The Fair

A transporting historical novel about a promising young inventor, his struggle with loss, and the attractive teacher who changes his life, all set against the razzle-dazzle of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. 

Gambling everything, including the family farm, Cullen McNamara travels to the 1893 Chicago World's Fair with his most recent invention. But the noise in the Fair's Machinery Palace makes it impossible to communicate with potential buyers. In an act of desperation, he hires Della Wentworth, a teacher of the deaf, to tutor him in the art of lip-reading. The young teacher is reluctant to participate, and Cullen has trouble keeping his mind on his lessons while intently watching her lips. Like the newly invented Ferris Wheel, he is caught in a whirl between his girl back home, his dreams as an inventor, and his unexpected attraction to his new tutor. Can he keep his feet on the ground, or will he be carried away?


Cullen and Della are participants in the Columbian Exposition of 1893.  Each goes with certain expectations only to find that they will be changed by the fair, and each other.

I loved the history wound into this book.  I visited the World's Fair in Vancouver in '86, but being only 6 years old I don't think I fully understood the meaning behind it.  Deeanne Gist has done her research and provides glimpses of the grounds, the buildings, and the feelings of fair-goers from rural America who had never seen things like this before.

The book is long, but it gives you a chance to really appreciate things from both Cullen and Della's perspective.  Sign language was frowned upon at the time, with the thinking being that it would set apart those who used it.  And Cullen faces some major discrimination because he is losing his hearing.  Della believes that using sign language is a hindrance to the deaf, this she teaches lip reading, but even her beliefs are challenged by her experiences.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book for a glimpse into a different time and a famous event in history.


Read other's reviews or purchase your own copy here:

Deeanne Gist---known to her family, friends, and fans as Dee---has rocketed up bestseller lists and captured readers everywhere with her very fun, very original historicals. She has received numerous RITA nominations, two consecutive Christy Awards, and rave reviews. Deeanne has a background in education and journalism and a degree from Texas A&M. She has written for People, Parents, and Parenting. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and has four grown children. She has a very active online community on her website at and at  

I received this book from LitFuse in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Dandelion Control

While it might not seem like it we do actually try to control the dandelions in our yard... just not with chemicals!

And look we actually half have a fence now, not the crazy blue tarps of last year or the pink flamingos and toilet growing strawberries we could see the year before!

Monday, May 06, 2013

Dandelion Wishes!

While we don't actually wish for more dandelions in our yard, I did get some cute pictures of the girls last night!  Hope doesn't like the grass yet so she'll just sit where you put her, but Joy has gotten over it and will just push herself up and walk around.  A little harder to get pictures that way! 

So I didn't get very many good ones of Joy as she kept walking away from me.  But I did get Cory to hand her one dandelion, albeit she was more interested in the stem!

Taking pictures of babies together? Not easy!  They also tripped each other right after this photo.

Hope did NOT know what to think of the dandelions at first...

Where did it go?

She discovered she could wave her arms and make the fluff disappear (yes, we are seeding our yard...)

And both of them tried to eat it!

Both of these adorable dresses are from Tea Collection and I entered one of Hope in a contest to win some more.  So if you have a minute would you please hop over to Facebook and vote for our photo?  Thanks!